Discovery 2011

~ 27 december 2011 ~

Upgraditis

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~ 13 december 2011 ~

Fear & Conviction

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~ 6 december 2011 ~

Talking about Art

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~ 29 november 2011 ~

The Biggest Obstacle for Getting People into Audio is. . .

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~ 22 november 2011 ~

Stretching

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~ 15 november 2011 ~

H.C. in D.C.

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~ 8 november 2011 ~

The More You Learn. . .

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~ 25 october 2011 ~

Discover Links

The Discover Page will soon be linking with [art]by[odo]. The reason, to provide you a steady flow of thoughts and insight on audio, music & art.

Be looking for it come november.

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~ 12 august 2011 ~

Who?

MIles_Gurtu, the title of the album. Miles, a.k.a. Roberto Concina, d.j., producer and "progenitor of electronic dream music," and Trilok Gurtu, eclectic drummer and superlative percussionist of jazz, fusion and Indian classical, team up to create an exceptional mix of indescribable music. It's jazz, sorta, maybe. It's Euro-House, no it's electronica, it's. . . inflected with Space, infused with Dance, and spiked with touches of Theremin-esk riffs (an early electronic instrument that makes those eerie horror film sounds). And it's loaded with exceptional bass playing, Jon Thorne on double bass and Paul Falloon on electric. But this album can't, won't, shan't be pegged. Layers upon layers of rhythm and surprise treat the ears and the viscera. I've had this recording for months, and I've been wanting to write about it, but it's kept me stumped. Loved it from the first listening, and it gets better every time, revealing with each listening more of its inner mystique. All I can say is these guys team up to make one of those mixed bag, crisscrossed, hybrid mongrels that's intriguingly creative and aurally captivating. Warning : the album is out-of-print and hard to find. Some sellers want a ransom for it—shop diligently.

Rating : Music — A || Performance — A || Recording — A

Miles_Gurtu, Miles_Gurtu, Shakti Records, 2004.

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~ 12 august 2011 ~

Simplicity

To get better sound you need to start with what makes the sound : the speakers. Then work backwards from there. The next step is amplification. This should be the last step before the speaker drivers turn the electrical signal into sound, but quizzically, the majority of speakers (even ones costing more than the US average annual income) put an obstacle in the way. They take the amplified signal and send it through yet another circuit, a passive crossover. Imagine that! Post-processing of the high level amplified signal is totally bass ackwards. Signal processing is accomplished most efficiently, effectively, and easily only at low power levels, that is, line level. Why do it the hard way? Follow this by nixing all ports and passive radiators. They're another form of post-amplification processing, in this case, acoustical processing of the driver's back wave. Nix panel speakers, ribbon tweeters, line-source and D'Appolito configurations as they are comb filter generators. Carefully thinking it through and eliminating the unnecessary complications caused by passive crossovers, ports, and large or long radiating surfaces, leaves you with an easy to sort through short list of simple options. The way to getting better sound is simply simplicity. Check out these links : Marketing Nonsense & Measurement Fear.

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~ 8 august 2011 ~

Above & Beyond

Sometime ago I reviewed the Sennheiser MM200 Bluetooth stereo earphones. You never really know much about a company until you have a problem. Then you get to see their true colors. Read the review and make special note of the update at the end. Sennheiser and the MM200.

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~ 13 july 2011 ~

Heebie Jeebies

A.k.a. jitter, that sneaky little digital nasty. It's caused by timing errors in the bitstream. Many people have tried to explain how it sounds using exquisitely detailed descriptors. . . continued. . ,

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~ 15 june 2011 ~

Welcome to the (new) Website

For those of you who have been here before, welcome back. The site has been refreshed, revised and reorganized. For new visitors, be glad you missed out on the old site. It had three years of additions, updates, and accumulated changes that were cobbled together, page after page hanging on with virtual duct tape. It sorely needed work. Hope you enjoy the revitalized format. Whether you're a new or old visitor, comments and suggestions are always appreciated. Click on > Suggestion Box.

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~ 27 april 2011 ~

Amazing Tweak, WOW!

T'ain't no such thing. . , and I don't have to prove it.

The proponents of every goofy, "how could this be?," cheap, or just as often not so cheap tweak always slough off the burden of proof onto the naysayers. Overlooked in their dodging is that these tweaker-geeks have done no honest investigation to backup what they claim to hear—zero, zip, zilch. Their "experiments" are not controlled or documented. Nothing is supported with consistent, repeatable results. All they've done is twiddle and piddle. No matter how weak their position, they adamantly insist it's, "weally, weally twue," without offering even a remotely plausible hypothesis. Such silly tweaks always rely on mystery. They ironically lean on the crutch of ignorance, the eery unexplainable, or, their number one favorite lame-o-comeback line, "Don't knock it 'til ya try it." With these feebleminded excuses they attempt to intimidate the "closed minded" unbelievers who challenge their veracity. It's not a choice between open mindedness or closed mindedness. It's a choice between intelligent skepticism or naïve gullibility. You choose.

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~ 21 april 2011 ~

arrrgh! ! !

I thought I was on a winning streak in the last batch of CDs with Russell Gunn and Rodrigo Y Gabriela. There was one more from my favorite jazz guitarist who just released a new CD. I had high hopes for it. The music is kick-ass, the performance is rockin' fab, the recording stinks. The drums and percussion are undermixed— sounds like they're o-f-f i-n t-h-e d-i-s-t-a-n-c-e. The string quartet, which plays on a few cuts, sounds like synthesizer. The dynamics are compressed. What were they thinking? Every cut has been way over processed. Some of it was recorded in NYC, Miami, LA; mixed & mastered in Budapest; all in all a total of six different studios and eleven engineers pissed on this music. From now on I promise never to complain about compression or other recording weaknesses. If I can't give an album at least a B in every category, it won't get reviewed, period. Peace man.

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~ 15 april 2011 ~

Rod & Gab

That's Rodrigo Y Gabriela, the Mexican acoustic guitar duo whose energy and enthusiasm is unquenchable. They're cocky, opinionated, brash, and it shows in their music. Everything you hear on this self-titled album is simply the two of them and their guitars. [Except one cut with a very out of place violin solo by Roby Lakatos.] What they can do with a guitar is as amazing as what Take Six does with their voices. Their musical style is, well. . , ah. . , influenced by pop, rock, metal, and any kind of Hispanic style you can imagine. It's too bad this album can't earn a triple A. It suffers 1) from dynamic compression, some cuts compressed to f***in' hell and back, and 2) although all but two of the compositions are "original," their pieces are so derivative that they sound like arrangements of other composers' work rather than Rod & Gab's own. No matter, the brilliance of their musical performance totally makes up for the shortcomings. [They're young—there's hope. See this review of their 2nd release.]

Rating : Music — B || Performance — A || Recording — C

Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, ATO Records, 2006.

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~ 14 april 2011 ~

Gunning Down Miles

It's been too long since posting a music review. I've acquired many new recordings, but no triple A to speak of until this. Tribute albums are always a high risk endeavor. They usually turn out to be a vapid imitation of the originals that do no honor to either the tributee or the tributor. Russell Gunn's album, Plays Miles, is a major exception. Gunn takes Miles Davis compositions spanning from well known early works, such as All Blues and Nardis, to mid career, Bitches Brew, through late period, Tutu, then exerts his imagination. With some electronic FX, fresh beats, inventive harmonies, unexpected phrasing Gunn honestly put his own mark on each number while respecting the flavor of the originals. That's a tough act to pull off, but with his outstanding sidemen, The Elektrik Butterfly Band; Orrin Evans on keyboards; Mark Kelley, bass; Montez Coleman, drums; Kahlil Kwame Bell, percussion, adding their own creative juices, it all comes together in a splendid spread of hot and cool. A real tribute, a real treat.

Rating : Music — A || Performance — A+ || Recording — A

Russell Gunn, Plays Miles, HighNote Records, 2007.

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~ 14 april 2011 ~

Spinning Wheel Gotta Go 'Round

Have you seen the virtual systems audiophiles post online? They upload pics and an equipment list to show their stuff and get comments. The median investment is between—are you ready for this?—$10 and $20 thousand USD. It's bewildering how much time and money is thrown at, what is in most cases, a sorrowful display of squandered efforts. Reading the forums you can also sense the huge emotional investment they've put in their rigs. Admittedly, I've been guilty too, so why the harsh criticism? Because the single most important factor for excellent sound starts with the source. No, no, no, not the CD player, not the DAC, not the turntable, and no, it's not the preamp either. It's the forgotten source of it all : the recording. No matter how much I rant about speakers, the first-line variable is the recording. Microphones, mic placement, mixing and mastering all combined to profoundly effect sound quality. The variations can be heard even through chain-store electronics. Of course, better equipment helps get you the full charge out of great music. That's the whole point of audiophilia. But with so much variation from one recording to the next, getting too caught up spinning your wheels over hairsplitting changes in the gear ignores the dancing gorilla shaking his booty in your face.

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~ 28 february 2011 ~

Measures Bad—Sounds Good

There's a joke about a guy who goes to the doctor. The doc asks, "What's wrong man? You look terrible." The guy says, "Yeah doc, that's my problem. Everyone keeps telling me I look bad, but doc, I feel good." (I'll spare you the punchline.) It makes me think about audio equipment that "measures bad, sounds good." We've all heard the excuses for poorly measuring stuff that someone says sounds good regardless of the bad specs. Yet, when a subjective listening test is done blind in a direct head to head between two items, one that measures good and one that measures bad, the conundrum collapses. The good measuring unit is judged the winner, hands down, by both experienced and inexperienced listeners. Yes, you read that right. There is consensus (even among a'philes) on what subjectively sounds better, and you got it, it measures better too. The conundrum only arises when our perception is clouded by prejudging from the looks, the price or what we think we should hear. Clearly our other senses are distracting us. The added sensory inputs interfere with our hearing. Measurements can also be deceptive. They can be poorly executed, incomplete or misrepresented, but when properly applied, they are a reliable window into the quality of the sound we hear. Don't be fooled by "measures bad-sounds good" ever again.

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~ 15 february 2011 ~

The Right Toole for the Right Job

At long last, a book on audio that takes subjective listening preferences and bolsters them with objective measurements. Not well known, and certainly not readily available, there has been more solid scientific study of sound reproduction and hearing than has been reported. You may occasionally come across a reference to some study or another, but nowhere is there a source that puts together the shear quantity of it in one neat bundle. That is, not until the release of Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms, by Floyd E. Toole, Focal Press, © 2008. If there's only one book to read about audio, this is the one. Is it perfect? No. The last word? No. But it doesn't throw hearsay and speculation at you and try to pass it off as truth, rather, Toole backs up his claims when the evidence is supportive, and clearly points out his personal opinions when the evidence is weak. Thanks, Floyd.

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~ 24 january 2011 ~

Latest Update

The lastest observations on Omnidirectional Loudspeakers : Soundstage, Imaging and Placement is now available. To read the entire page from the top, click on Omnidirectional Loudspeakers, or jump directly to the update.

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~ 20 january 2011 ~

Listen Up

This past december my time was consumed with a special project—a construction project. The long awaited plans for building a dedicated media room finally became a reality. After months of planning and several weeks of work, the new media room is up and running. Now the Parallel Audio system can be auditioned in the New York City area (woo-hoo!) as well as Chicago. Sneak a peak.

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~ 2 january 2011 ~

Discovery

My latest (new )discovery is the BBC radio program Discovery.

The featured topic for 29 december, 2010 took a look at the scientific side of how musical instruments make their unique sounds. The first episode of The Acoustics of World Instruments talks about the human voice and a few of the many incredible variations of singing techniques. Three episodes in all. Sign up for their free podcasts—here's the link : BBC Discovery.

~ More Discoveries ~

Discover Archive 2010

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