MacFixIt Answers is a feature where we answer questions e-mailed to us by readers. This week, we have questions on the application services not appearing in Safari, Time Machine drives not being set up correctly, an AirPort Express unit not working as a WiFi extender, and burned CDs not mounting or ejecting.… Read more
Decent-sounding records are becoming increasingly rare, so I'd like to point out the great-sounding ones that have come my way in recent months. For more good stuff, check out my previous "Top 10 must-have CDs" lists from 2009.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Live Anthology
First, I have to admit I'm not a big TP fan, but I love this four-disc live collection culled from a database of 3,500 songs, including 169 takes of "American Girl" performed between 1980 and 2007. The tunes aren't arranged in chronological order, but the sound quality remains high from start to finish. Vocals are clear, dynamic range kicks butt, and you hear the fans whooping it up to good effect. Petty does a lot of covers, my favorites run from "Goldfinger" to the old Fleetwood Mac tune, "Oh Well."
Drive By Truckers, "Live From Austin, TX"
This show, from September 26, 2008, has something for everyone: it rocks, it smokes, and it's very easy on the ears and eyes. You can buy the CD or the CD packed with a DVD of the same show. That's what I have, and the band really does put on a terrific show. Sound is clean and clear; I don't think they mucked around with it very much, though I do prefer the CD's sound.
Owen Pallett, "Heartland"
Owen Pallett, aka Final Fantasy, isn't exactly your average rock musician. For starters he plays violin, and if you're a fan of Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, or Beirut, you've heard his sound. "Heartland" is an expansive work, with densely orchestrated tunes, but don't get nervous; it still appeals to an indie rock crowd. Sound quality, on CD and 45 RPM LP, is spectacularly good. You're going to see "Heartland" on a lot of best-of-2010 lists in December, but why wait?
The Doors, "Live in New York"
The Doors' "Live in New York" contains all of the Doors' performances at the Felt Forum in New York in 1970. All four shows were recently mixed and mastered by the band's longtime engineer, Bruce Botnick. Sound quality is, and not just for a 40-year-old recording, exceptional. It's very dynamic and totally vivid. This six-CD set ain't cheap, but Amazon is listing a "Live in New York" LP that'll come out in March for a lot less than half the price of the CD set. … Read more
Like many people, I have a fairly sizable collection of CDs sitting in a storage room collecting dust. It's literally been years since I even touched a CD, let alone played one. So why am I hanging onto them?
Forget Craigslist. Forget eBay. Forget garage sales. Do you want to spin that jewel-cased straw into gold? Head to iPodMeister, where you can trade your old CDs for a brand-new hard drive, iPod, or even iPhone.
Here's how it works: You pack up your CDs (or DVDs), then e-mail the company to let them know how many boxes you … Read more
Faced with heat from iTunes and other digital downloads, the nearly-three-decade-old music CD is slowly melting away.
iTunes-purchased songs now account for 25 percent of the overall music market--both physical and digital--in the U.S., says an NPD Group report released Tuesday. However, CDs are still the most popular format for music lovers, winning a 65 percent slice of the market for the first half of 2009.
Digital music downloads have jumped in recent years, said NPD, hitting 35 percent of the overall market for the first half of this year, compared with 30 percent last year and 20 percent … Read more
This is Part 2 of a list of my favorite sounding CDs of late, in no particular order. My preference is for realistic-sounding recordings, recordings that allow the band to sound "live." And sure, I still like a lot of recordings that are heavily processed, but I wouldn't by any stretch use them to "test" the naturalness of a speaker.
The first half of the top 10 CD list appeared in the previous Audiophiliac.
Savage Aural Hotbed, "Wreckquiem"
Talk about heavy metal, Savage Aural Hotbed is a (mostly) industrial percussion group. They rhythmically hit, scrape, or smash pipes, barrels, tenor and baritone snorkelhorns, electric power tools, and drums. I love SAH records for their dense textures and searing dynamics and this new one will give your system an aerobic workout while dazzling your ears with its mesmerizing charms.
Rosanne Cash, "10 Song Demo"
OK, this one's from 1996, but it's withstood the test of time. True to the title, it's just Cash accompanied by a small group of players, Production is minimal, so if your system is good enough the music can sound very, very real. The music's a perfect 10.
Gerald Clayton, "Two-Shade"
Clayton's nimble piano trio delivers hard-driving pieces and explosive improvisations that'll push your hi-fi to the limit. The piano, bass, and drums balance is, musically and sonically, as good as it gets. It may be Clayton's trio, but it's a band of equals. The stereo image is set back, behind the plane of my speakers, so it doesn't have the claustrophobic, up close perspective of most contemporary jazz recordings. … Read more
Making a cassette mixtape in the 1970s was a labor-intensive effort.
Cueing up a LP or 45 single, dropping the needle and releasing the recorder's "pause" button required a deft touch. If you didn't get it just right, you'd either have too much lead-in groove time before the tune started, or start too late and cut off the first second of the next song.
Mess up, and you have to stop, back up the tape, recue and start the process over again. Oh, and you'd have to carefully match the record volume level of each new tune, or suffer the consequences of a too loud/too soft varying volume mixtape. The horror!
Sometimes in the middle of a mixtape session I'd stop and review what I had so far. That could be scary, especially when I discovered the fourth song of the eight I laid down interrupted the flow. I'd have to go back and start again after the third song. It could easily take seven or eight hours to make a 90-minute tape. … Read more
I read the news today, oh boy: The entire Beatles catalog has been remastered for CD and is coming September 9 of this year. Sounds like deja vu all over again; these rumors pop up all the time, but this time it's for real. Maybe.
That said, I'm happy no one's saying the phrase "Remastered for MP3." That's too scary a concept. MP3 sounds so awful, remastering hardly seems necessary.
Each CD will be packaged with replicated original UK album art, including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. Two new Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released, one box features the mono mixes favored by some die-hard Beatles fans. Why, I have no idea.
The original (British) versions of the twelve albums were first released on CD in 1987; they sounded thin and bright, without a hint of the LPs' analog warmth. It was hardly an auspicious beginning for the digital Beatles music.
The "Let It Be... Naked" CD, released in 2003, was remixed and reedited, there was no attempt to be faithful to the original album. It sounded a bit better than the 1987 version, but just barely. So all we can do is hope the newly tweaked versions are worth waiting 22 years for.
I bought the two Capitol four-disc sets, "The Beatles: The Capitol Years Volumes 1 & 2," when they were released a few years ago. They sounded fine, though hardly revelatory. My original American, British, and Japanese mastered LPs sounded better.
Actually, the best sounding Beatles CDs so far are "The Beatles Anthology" releases from 1995. Those were cleaner, more dynamic, with more extended bass, and clearer treble than the earlier CDs.
Whatever, here's hoping the new CDs sound more like the Anthologies. No matter what, I'll buy 'em and see for myself.… Read more
Daylight-saving time really messes with the guys of The 404. Today, we realize how old we are when compacts discs are 30 years old. Obviously, teens prefer MP3s over CDs; audiophiles die a little. Another teen creates Muziic, a program that lets you build a music library from YouTube. And finally, Walgreens starts to sell sex toys.
With music, pictures and now your documents living online, it's not going to be long before your pr0n collection moves there. Justin feels pretty compelled to write guidelines on how to do this. As a matter of fact, he's become quite the expert on how to do it in your \System32\ folder on your Windows partitioned, disguised as a temporary cache.
Congratulations to Elizabeth for winning a copy of House of the Dead: Overlord for the Nintendo Wii. Right now, "The Nerdy Dirty" is leading our contest for a 404 motto, but we're waiting to see what our community comes up with the phrase "Not found." As always, call in at 1-866-404-CNET (2638). Or send us an e-mail at the404 [at] cnet [dot] com. We've got more giveaways coming up--I know, it sounds like we're bribing you, but you gotta do what you gotta do to get those listeners.EPISODE 294 Download today's podcast… Read more
Consumers are increasingly willing to pay for songs they acquire over the Internet, but declining interest in CDs is dragging down overall music consumption among Internet users.
During the third quarter, there was an increase both in the number of people buying digital downloads and in the number of tracks sold, according to market researcher NPD Group. Legal music downloads were up 29 percent from the same period last year, and sites such as iTunes and Amazon MP3 chalked up an additional 2.8 million music buyers, to a total of 15 percent of Internet users.
That jibes with reports … Read more
Stereophile magazine writer Wes Phillips is a friend of mine and we occasionally trade mix CDs. A few months ago, we were sitting around listening to our mixes over Wes Bender's tweaked out hi-fi--and this shot perfectly captured the vibe. I Photoshopped this image, shot by Bender.