Mike’s new homepage favorite album

Mike’s new homepage favorite album

My new album is Threshold of a Dream, by the Moody Blues.

What’s with albums that we grow up with?

They get into your blood, into your bone structure, into your head.

They become like another appendage that you can barely use, like the small toe on your left foot.

“If we could just …try… harder… we will be sitting back in our old room, a kid again, but also an adult – grokking our whole life as just one single experience.

 

If we could just wiggle our nose like Samantha. Or blink our eyes like Jeannie.

[Ha. Good. The spell checker knows the word ‘grok’. At least Heinlein had more lasting impact than just ‘Starship Troopers’ 🙂 Though IMO Stranger in a Strange Land was his last great book. Just like Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd’s last great album. Getting rich changes a person / people / a band.].

This Moody Blues album is not so new agey, like many of their others, that it becomes inaccessible without leafy green balast. Just nice tunes with several, not all that arcane, meanings and comforting views of reality.

“I’ve miles And miles Of files, Pretty files, of your forefather’s fruit…”

Well, we [most of us] don’t use much magnetic ink on magnetic tape anymore, but they had the right idea.

 

moody-blues-threshold-of-a-dream-back-cover

 

I never noticed that ‘DERAM’ is DREAM, but it must have already been trademarked by someone else by the time the Moody Blues wanted it.

“Face piles and piles of trials with smiles. It riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave. And keep on thinking free”

And these days, perceiving the web they weave ain’t all that difficult, but keep smiling anyway.

Here is the album over on Amazon Smile

A Favorite Test Album: Radiohead Amnesiac

Radiohead’s Amnesiac album is a favorite test album here. It tests many things about a high fidelity audio system that most other albums do not.

Many people say test tracks must be music where the musicians use exclusively acoustic instruments. That one can only compare a reproduction of the sound of a musical instrument to an instrument whose sound one is familiar with in the real world. The ‘absolute sound’.

First, people who use this technique aren’t any better, in my experience, at understanding what they are hearing when listening to a system than anybody else. And maybe a little below average at that.

Second, real acoustic instruments have a wide variety of sounds e.g. all guitars do not sound alike. So, which one are they comparing the sound on the stereo to?

Third, most acoustic instruments are extremely easy to reproduce. All percussion, flutes, most instruments in a 3- or 4-piece jazz composition, etc.

Fourth, classical music, the gold standard of acoustic music, is usually recorded so badly that it is largely just a wall of sound. Great systems help; but still, poor, so poor, oh so poor quality.

OK. Back to Radiohead. Back to heavily processed very complex very well-recorded music.

Using consensus-based evaluation, after listening to a track on many different systems, at least some of which do not suck, one learns where sounds are supposed to come from: their location in the sound stage, how far away they are, how large they are, where the are moving to, what the decay is supposed to be, etc.

One learns that some systems can disambiguate a pair of notes and some cannot.

One learns that some systems can communicate that the vocals are full of angst and others the vocalists always sound bored [voice is the only overlap with the ‘absolute sound’ people, though they seem to not pay much attention at all to this ‘most popular acoustical instrument EVER’ that we all are so familiar with – especially those with talkative spouses :-)]

One learns that many of the sounds on these tracks are so weird that they are extremely hard for inferior systems to reproduce at all well – it often will sound like something is broken (though sometimes that is the way it is ‘supposed’ to sound 🙂 ) [whereas reproducing a violin or piano, possibly the most complex acoustic instruments, can be done by the most modest of stereo systems well enough to fool some people all of the time].

Anyway, Radiohead in general is great for testing hifi systems, and especially the later albums where the quality continues to improve. Amnesiac is just the first Radiohead album that I happened to fall in love with.

Anyway, that is our opinion and these techniques have worked well for us. For example, they are extremely useful when we want to know immediately the capabilities of an unknown system.