Wax Cylinders vs. Dolby TrueHD

I just came upon this interesting post on CrunchGear about a research computing the effective bitrates of all the major audio media, from wax cylinders to Dolby True HD, and of course MP3.  In other words, it answers such questions as “How does CD scientifically compare to vinyl?” (or any other contenders).

While the relevance of it is much discussed, I can certainly relate to that quest for objective criteria. Assessing audio quality should be a simple matter of trusting one’s ears, but sometimes I just can’t. The trouble is I know too much about perception to ignore that it can easily be deceived, especially by oneself  (“Wow, that SACD sounds better than anything I’ve ever heard! But, then again, does it really?”).

Read the post on CrunchGear
Read the original article on EnjoyTheMusic.com

To Beatles or not to Beatles?

Virgin and the press are pressuring me to buy the Beatles boxed set. This limited and remastered extravagance is tempting, but, as I have yet to listen to one entire Beatles album, I think I’ll pass.

Morning MoFee

Our nice postwoman got me out of bed this morning, delivering my latest Amazon order: 3 new CDs from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (aka MoFi).

I’ve become a fan of MoFi since I bought their CD release of Natalie Merchant’s Tigerlily (1995) last year. It really blew me away, and it remains one of my favorite CDs in recent years.

MoFi specialize in remastered audiophile editions under license from record companies. They often work from the original master tapes. They do both CD and vinyl. Their releases are strictly limited and fetch high prices on the second-hand market as soon as they go out of stock. You can read about their history here.

I now own (and treasure) 14 MoFi CDs but I have yet to try their vinyl (somehow, as objects, I prefer vintage LPs, and I haven’t gotten over my disappointment with Classic Records — more about that maybe later). Some of these CDs are in fact hybrid SACDs, but I’ve only played the CD layer, since my SACD player died on me.

Among a selection of critically acclaimed and technically perfect albums — most of them classics — you can’t go really wrong with a MoFi CD. This time I chose 3 albums from artists I had never listened to: Beck’s Sea Change (2002), Linda Ronstadt’s Hasten Down the Wind (1976) and Ricky Lee Jones’ Pirates (1981).

So far, Beck is living up to its promises (“The sonic chameleon shocked the world in 2002 with this warm-sounding folk-pop album“). I will be playing it a lot.

Ronstadt is holding nice surprises, both artistically and sonically (she was the outsider in the lot, I added her to the basket to round things up).

I’m saving Ricky Lee Jones for later, but I’m sure she’ll fulfill my appetite for songstresses.

Further reading on Wikipedia:
Beck – Sea Change
Linda Ronstadt – Hasten Down the Wind
Ricky Lee Jones – Pirates
Natalie Merchant – Tigerlily