I remember just before the CD was introduced 30 years ago thinking that digital audio would be a giant leap forward in fidelity, but as soon as I heard a few CDs I knew digital wouldn't do a thing to make music sound more realistic. The CD was vastly better than LPs and cassettes in terms of noise and distortion, but voices still didn't sound like they do in real life, and pianos didn't sound as big and powerful as they do in Carnegie Hall. That mystified me; those early digital recordings were compression-free, and I was … Read more
This might be a tough question for a lot of people: defining what good sound is, and separating sound from music isn't easy. It might be impossible to distill it to just one album or song. We tend to like the sound of music we like, and conflate good sound with good music. That's understandable, but when the sound jumps out and draws your attention, take, for example, the sound of Jimi Hendrix's feedback. It was Hendrix's distortion, not his songs, that forever changed the sound of electric guitars.
Paul McCartney said it was the sound … Read more
The New York Audio & AV Show starts today at 3 p.m. and runs through Sunday at the legendary Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Sony isn't a company I normally associate with high-end audio, but it will be at the show demonstrating its award-winning SS-AR1 speaker. VPI turntables will be giving away a Scout turntable worth $1,800, with a handmade Soundsmith phono cartridge. Local dealers Audio Doctor, Sound by Singer, and Innovative Audio/Video will be on hand and they are promising lots of new gear presentations.
There will also be a full slate of seminars, including &… Read more
Have you ever really thought about the difference between the way older and present-day recordings affect you? I'm not so much talking about sound quality; older recordings have a very different feel. They have more juice, more soul, more life, and that's why they connect with people in a completely different way than hyperprocessed contemporary music does.
Today, for example, Auto-Tuned vocals are so ubiquitous that my friend, mastering engineer Dave McNair, exclaimed, "The only way to know for sure a vocal hasn't been Auto-Tuned, is an out of tune vocal." So once a new … Read more
In real life a folk singer isn't as loud as a rock band, but once her recording is compressed she might be as loud as Metallica. Of course, with most types of music the sound isn't turned up to 11 all of the time.
There are quiet passages, and only the loudest parts, like the hardest drum hits, are really loud. We have the technology to accurately record music, but few record companies choose to make lifelike recordings.
CNET Audiophiliac Steve Guttenberg (not that one) is back on the show and telling us why iPod docks, Beats Audio, and Spotify are ruining the music industry. Steve also has a few ideas on how to make one last buck off said music industry, and advises us on the rules of listening to music in public.
He still also has a pair of V-Moda earplugs to give away to a few lucky 404 listeners, so be sure to add him on Twitter and mention both of us in a Tweet for a chance to win!The 404 Digest for Episode 881 Spotify and the search for meaning in music. Steve says: " They should stop making CDs." Do people really care how their gadgets sound? Planet Money podcast: Manufacturing the song of the summer. Episode 881 Subscribe in iTunes (audio) | Subscribe in iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS Video… Read more
Anyone can listen to music on $10 computer speakers, free earbuds, or a crappy car audio system. The only thing a good-quality hi-fi brings to the party is sound quality, which is something fewer and fewer people really care about. For audiophiles, sound is a big turn-on, and I figured that out when I was 13 or 14 years old. I was always saving up to buy better-sounding gear, and would spend my nights reveling in the sounds of Led Zeppelin and Doors albums. The sound was so fresh, and the layers of textures and spatial effects were endlessly fascinating. … Read more
High-end audio shows are a great way to see and hear the very best gear. I'm getting good feedback about the goings-on at T.H.E. Show: Newport being held this weekend at the Hilton Hotel at the Orange County Airport in California.
There are oodles of outrageously priced, groovy turntables; gorgeous amplifiers; and statuesque speakers on display; and lots of great music to buy. More than 100 high-end audio companies will be demonstrating their best products in rooms throughout the hotel.
T.H.E. Show: Newport is also presenting a series of seminars on computer audio; tips on … Read more
More people are listening to music than ever before, but the record companies are all in dire straits. Starting in the 1980s the CD brought booming sales and profits, and the record business fell head-over-heels in love with digital audio. CDs were selling for double the price of LPs at the time, so profits soared.
But what about the music? The 1980s wasn't such a great decade for music; it peaked early with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in early '83, and then rock music stagnated. Rap and hip-hop, born in the digital era, were the only new … Read more
Reports of the death of the CD have been greatly exaggerated. With sales hovering around 326 million units in the U.S. in 2010, the CD still generates a sizable hunk of income for the music business. You may not give a hoot about that, but if you care about sound quality, it still makes sense to buy a great-sounding CD player. I buy one or two CDs a week on average, and as I recently pointed out, it may be a very long time before iTunes or Amazon ever get around to selling CD-quality downloads. Why waste your money … Read more