Peter Frampton was the lead singer and guitarist for the Herd when he was just a lad of 16, and a couple of years later he co-founded Humble Pie. That band's "Performance: Rockin' the Fillmore" is one of the best live hard-rock albums ever. But most of you probably know him best for his solo work, and one of the top-selling concert albums of all time, "Frampton Comes Alive." A true classic.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Peter in New York City. He was in town to talk about his new album, &… Read more
Mastering engineers, like Alan Silverman of Arf! Mastering, make music sound better.
Of course, by the time the mastering engineer gets to hear the music, it's already been recorded, mixed, and fussed over by at least one recording engineer, record producer, and the band for weeks, months or even years.
The mastering engineer brings a fresh set of ears to the project and (hopefully) the necessary skill set to eke out the very best from the music. Silverman has mastered music by Norah Jones, Keith Richards, Dolly Parton, and Rufus Wainwright.
When I visited Silverman a few weeks ago, he was finishing work on Medeski, Martin, and Wood's upcoming CD, "Radiolarians 2." I'm a big fan of MM&W's free-form funk jazz, and these guys always make great-sounding recordings. It figures Silverman is involved with the upcoming CD.
I heard from friends that Silverman's newly updated playback system is not only super accurate, it sounds like an audiophile system. That sort of truth and beauty are a rare combination so I brought along some of my reference recordings and was thrilled by the sound. Silverman uses Revel Ultima Studio2 speakers and a McIntosh MC252 power amplifier.
Of course, in the real world just a handful of people are listening over a system like that. So for Silverman, "It's about how the music 'translates.'" A great mastering engineer knows how to make the music sound the best it can over all sorts of systems, played back in differing environments: headphones, car audio, plastic computer speakers, and high-end audio systems.
That's why Silverman hopes he will soon be doing multiple versions of a recording: a highly compressed mix for iPod or car, an uncompressed CD quality version for home listening, and a high-resolution one for audiophiles.
But now that so many bands are recording themselves mastering engineers play an even more crucial role in making the most of the music. When I asked if recordings ever come in that are so awful Silverman turns them away, he said "No, not at all, although in rare cases one of the best things you can do for client is advise them to do a remix. In general, though it's easier to make a poor recording sound better than improve a recording that's already really great. With those you worry if you're really making them better or just different. In those cases sometimes even the smallest tweaks add extra dimension and life to the music." Toby Wright, 3Doors Down's producer, uses Silverman and raved about his work: "So much better, it's silly."… Read more
Sure, it looks like everybody's doing it, but you've never downloaded music. I understand, downloads, be they iTunes or MP3s, even some of the DRM-free varieties sound awful and you're an audiophile, or just really care about sound quality. Downloads are "good enough" for most folks, but they're not good enough for you.
Enter HDtracks, a sound quality oriented download "store," where you can get 100 percent uncompressed, DRM-free, bona-fide CD quality downloads and burn them to CD. HDtracks also supplies each CD's full liner notes and cover art as a PDF.
I wrote about HDtracks before, but now that they're offering a free eight song sampler you don't have plunk down any dough to find out if their UNcompressed AIFF files, lossless FLAC files, or even 320kbps MP3 downloads would work for you. Burn the FLAC files to CD and play 'em in your car, or the boombox, or if you're hard-core, over your hi-fi. If you're so inclined you can put the music on your iPod as well.… Read more
XP SP3 is out today! (oh wait… never mind)
iPhone coming to Canada http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9931208-7.html
Psystar in the wild http://gizmodo.com/384526/exclusive-video-psystar-in-the-wild
OQO hacked to run Leopard, now world’… Read more
Even hardcore audiophiles have to face the music--brick and mortar record stores are fading fast--and it's starting to look like the CD is on its way out. Sure, no card carrying audiophile would be caught dead downloading MP3s or iTunes, the sonic sacrifices are too drastic. Well, what if there was a site that offered bona fide CD quality downloads, would audiophiles go for it? That's HDtracks' prime directive, but I don't think the high-resolution download store is just for audiophiles.
Then again I never understood why anyone would pay more or less the same price for … Read more