Finding new music has never been easier, and music podcasts are my favorite discovery path. I prefer shows with hosts that put music in context. That's why I like discussion and music sets, and occasional interviews with musicians and live performances. The shows listed below (for the most part) can be downloaded and played back when you're ready to hear them.WNYC's John Schaefer has two daily programs, Soundcheck, which features a wide mix of music genres, interviews, and live-on-the-radio performances; and New Sounds, which, if anything, covers an even wider range of music styles. Each episode … 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
Regular readers of this blog know that bad sound comes from a variety of sources, and not just MP3s; there's no shortage of crappy-sounding CDs and LPs. But I know one place that delivers great-sounding music day after day: Soundcheck on WNYC. Right, it's a radio show, but one that features live music, and I certainly can't name another daily show that's as entertaining as Soundcheck.
Sony's XDR-F1HD HD Radio has developed a real buzz among my audiophile pals; on second thought maybe buzz isn't the right word. It's the quietest, noise-free radio I've ever used.
These guys can be real snobs and only listen to ultra-high-end components, and some wouldn't be caught dead using mainstream gear with their hi-fis, and yet they're all going ga-ga over the Sony. We're all thinking it's too good to be true.
I originally heard about the Sony from Steven Stone, a writer friend, and then from an engineer at an American high-end audio company known for making awesome tuners that sell for thousands of dollars. The engineer was positively gushing about how good the XDR-F1HD is; not just that it sounded great, but also because it pulls in tough-to-receive analog stations with lower noise and distortion than tuners that sell for big bucks. You can read my full CNET review here.
I rushed right out and bought an XDR-F1HD from Amazon, and sure nuff, it's true, the little Sony is no baloney. Analog FM stations came in like gangbusters, clean as a whistle, and HD stations, like my favorite jazz station WBGO had "CD quality" sound. That phrase is tossed around a lot, but this time it's for real. I listened to WBGO with the Sony over my high-end system with Magnepan 3.6/R speakers, and the sound was amazing. It's day and night better than what I get from Sirius Satellite Radio, which is almost unlistenable over those speakers. … Read more
Producer T Bone Burnett talked passionately about sound quality, or lack thereof on a radio program, Soundcheck, from WNYC on Monday. Burnett produced Robert Plant and Allison Krauss' awesome Raising Sand CD; the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack; as well as records by Bob Dylan, Los Lobos, Elvis Costello, and Counting Crows.
Turns out Burnett's no fan of CDs or downloads, stating that CD's inadequate sampling rate loses too much of the sound he heard while making and mixing records. He put it this way, "We've been fighting digital sound since it came out twenty years ago...music's gotten to a place that's harder to listen to."
Wow, the guy sounds like an audiophile to me, and he goes on about the degradation of sound from what he heard in the studio, "It's stepped down from tape to digital to compressed digital, so people are now listening to a Xerox of a Polaroid of a photograph of a painting." Tell it brother, but it's interesting Burnett never brought up vinyl or analog, though he did mention that it's only in the last few years that digital's gotten really good. I agree.
Digital losses have all taken their toll on the way people relate to music, so it's mostly background to other activities instead of the primary focus. Digitized sound is diluted to the point is ceases to connect with people on a visceral level. It's just there, a ghostly shadow of its original intent. … Read more