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Thread: When you bought new audio equipment...

  1. #26
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Usually this (CD), but not allways.

    Talk Talk - "Happiness Is Easy" (but when the organ and childrens choir sets in, the sound gets muddy)
    Ozric Tentacles - "Spyroid" (check that bass synth (it should be as rock-solid as possible, clear notes) and sprinkling clear top)
    Paga - Urantia & Jazzobizz
    Laurie Anderson - Mr. Heartbreak
    King Crimson - People
    Art Zoyd - Konzo Bélé (or Phase IV)
    Stravinsky/Boulez - Le Sacre (Cleveland orchestra 1992)
    Jean Guillou - The Great Organ of St. Eustache, Paris (deep organ)
    Jan Garbarek & The Hilliard Ensemble - Officium
    Other ECM albums I have.
    I try to find some well recorded piano too, but most of what I have, is because of the music, and just ok sounding but not superb)

  2. #27
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    A few years ago I made myself a "Speaker Torture Test" CD-R with test tone sweeps, phasing and imaging tests, and clips from the most extreme or hard-to-reproduce music I've ever run across -- all on one 20-minute CD. Very few systems escape unscathed.
    Here are the musical contents:
    1. "The Reluctant Cannibal" by Flanders & Swann. One of George Martin's first productions (1959), it's just piano and singing, on stage, with Donald Swann banging on his piano to simulate drums. The recording is entirely unfiltered, with a low end that goes down to the sound of Michael Flanders' wheelchair rolling across the wooden stage. The realism of the stage presence as the performers move about, and the 3-dimensionality of the audience, is incredible on a good system.
    2. "Champagne Polka" by Johann Strauss. One of the earliest DDD recordings, using something very similar to real champagne corks to simulate champagne corks popping. The noise is right in your face, and really tests the tweeters.
    3. "Pizzicato Polka" by Johan & Josef Strauss. A whole orchestra of plucked strings in unison -- from violins to cellos to basses. Similar to above, but across the whole audio spectrum. Some lovely delicate triangle work in the middle.
    4. "The Typewriter" by Leroy Anderson. The sound of a manual typewriter -- with bell -- in front of a big string orchestra. A fun track, more than anything.
    5. "Burlesque for Contrabassoon" by Susan Nigro. Susan really knows how to growl a contrabassoon. The sound will rattle your trousers.
    6. "Hary Janos Suite" by Zoltan Kodaly. Woodwinds, tubular bells, brass, drums, crash cymbals, woodblocks... all recorded together in one big hall. The depth and dynamics are unparalleled.
    7. "Lieutenant Kije Suite" by Sergei Prokofiev. Pizzicato strings (lots) plus blaring French horns and pipes plus percussion -- one of the most dynamic recordings ever made. Featured in some Woody Allen film, have loved it ever since.
    8. "March from 1st Suite for Orchestra" by Gustav Holst. Kettle drums and full orchestral swells, enough to test any woofer.
    9. "Explosions Polka" by Johann Strauss. Recorded with REAL CANNONS. I took the original files and used DAW software to take out the clipping, so these are now CLEAN CANNONS from a couple feet away.
    10. "Disconcerto for Piano & Orchestra" by Gerard Hoffnung. Another unfiltered live recording with unbelievable presence, in a fun piece. The audience laughs at every musical joke.
    11. "1812 Overture" by Peter Tchaikovsky. Real cannons again, this time from the back of the hall. Guaranteed to rattle the walls.
    12. "Pastime With Good Company" by Gryphon. The huge skin drum in this stress-tests any woofer, the crumhorn and recorder test any tweeter.
    13. "Coffee Drinker's Lullaby" by Donal Hinely. Glass harmonica is a lovely, delicate instrument, very difficult to reproduce without coloration. Add struck glasses, pizzicato cello, and small handheld percussion to create a recording tour de force.
    14. "Little Potato" by Metamora. Pizzicato strings, trinagle, unison singing (included an ultralow bass!), and small percussion again make a startling sound picture.
    15. "Traffic Jam" by James Taylor. James sings over a shuffle drumkit. The studio resonance is real (I think) and sounds very realistic if the phasing is correct. Clapping in the middle, and kick drum conclusion.
    16. "The Spirit of Dun Dun" by Steve Smith. Modern full-range recording of a drum solo, with low tuned toms, a low kick, and splash cymbals. Very dynamic and hard to reproduce.
    17. "Far More Drums" by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. A 1959 recording of Joe Morello's drumkit, with low tuned toms, snare, cymbals. The lifelike 3-dimensionality of this recording has never been equaled, to my knowledge.

  3. #28
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
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    Something with some low bass frequencies.




  4. #29
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StarThrower View Post
    Something with some low bass frequencies.


    There's nothing in the DiMeola (mentioned above) below 50Hz (as is common for most recordings) -- even in the drum in the middle section -- though the Flora Purim has a nice big resonant drum similar to my Copland example.
    Last edited by rcarlberg; 4 Weeks Ago at 04:16 PM.

  5. #30
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
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    I used it to demo speakers because it's a high quality recording with some good sounding bass. I never had any idea about the exact frequencies. It still sounds very powerful produced by a good pair of loudspeakers.

  6. #31
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's a nice piece. So's the music.

  7. #32
    Member nosebone's Avatar
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    Bruford -One of a KInd and Steely Dan Aja back in the day!
    no tunes, no dynamics, no nosebone

  8. #33
    Obviously Aja is the go-to here. How can it not be, what with those effusive liner notes in the inner gatefold, that read like one of those Enoch Light stereo demonstration percussion records from the 60s.

    The first two Blue Nile albums, being made for an audiophile company, are also useful for this purpose.
    Confirmed Bachelors: the dramedy hit of 1883...

  9. #34
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    The Blue Nile are nice studio productions, very heavily processed, pretty to listen to, but not particularly hard to reproduce and certainly not anything that reveals the finer points of imaging or soundstage.

    Aja, as I've stated my opinion here before, isn't even a particularly good recording. It can't hold a candle to E.S.T. or any of the examples I listed above, for instance Metamora.

  10. #35
    Member Mythos's Avatar
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    I have about 2,000 CDs and the same number of albums, but my favorite CD for demo'ing speakers (including the Focals in my SUV) is:

    Simple Minds: New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) Remaster 2002 release (Virgin #78644221)

    The drums POUND, the bass THUMPS, the guitar SCORCHES and the vocals are CRYSTAL CLEAR...

    YRMY... (your results may vary)

  11. #36
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Aja, as I've stated my opinion here before, isn't even a particularly good recording. It can't hold a candle to E.S.T. or any of the examples I listed above, for instance Metamora.
    I've been listening to Aja again, to verify my memory, and my opinion hasn't changed. But I wanted to make a comparison.

    Aja, recorded in January-July 1977 at The Village Recorder in West L.A. by Gary Katz -- to my ears at least -- sounds an awful lot like L.A. Express's 1st LP, recorded at A&M Studios, Los Angeles, 1975. Partly this will be due to overlap in personnel: Victor Feldman (keyboards) & Larry Carlton (guitar). But the instruments where the sound is most distinguishable as a "mid-'70s overproduction" is the bass & drums, and those are entirely different players, surprisingly. On both albums the kick drum is damped down with a mattress inside it (sounds like) and there are felt pads on the cymbals or something because they have absolutely no 'ring' to them at all. The bass is played with fingers through a Fender Bassman or similar amp, using flat-wound strings, giving a very dull & rumbly low end. In fact the basslines don't sound like a stringed instrument at all to me, and could just as easily have been played by a synthesizer (though they weren't). As was common though by no means universal for pop recordings of the '70s, there is zero low end below 70Hz, to accommodate the limitations of the LP. (By the way I'm comparing to the 2017 remastering of L.A. Express, which sounds much better in all regards than the original vinyl.)

    But by far the most egregious problem with these recordings, for me anyway, is the gawdawful mixing.

    On "Black Cow" everything is recorded monaurally then mixed to fill the stereo field. There is no "room presence," no ambience, no studio decay, no sense of proportion on any of the instruments or vocals. The Clavinet has a very-obvious plate echo in the left channel, which only emphasizes the artificiality. On the title track the piano is nicely mic'ed, though unaccountably filtered below 400Hz. The marimba would've been a nice touch if it'd been mixed audibly. I'm also bothered by the startlingly-bad tape splice at 2:08. Again, the instruments have no interplay, and their relative volumes are all wrong. "Deacon Blues" has possibly the worst drum sound ever waxed -- what's he playing, cardboard boxes? "Peg" has some nice interplay between rhythm guitar and bass, and is the best-mixed track on the album. On "Home At Last" you really miss the lowest two octaves, as the bass & drum underpinning to the piano should have provided some foundation. Instead they hang like a limp noodle. Again on "I Got News" the lack of any low end weakens what was supposed to be a funky rhythm track (I'm sure it was "AM-friendly.") The horns have no bite; they were either mic'ed with bass mics or extremely off-angle. Carlton's guitar solo is the highlight of the track. "Josie" has the best balance between instruments of any track, but it has all of the same recording limitations as the tracks that went before.

    Yeah, I know. Nobody cares what I think. The album sold zillions of copies, was a radio staple for a decade, and people love the music. But "a good recording" it ain't.

  12. #37
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    And just to avoid being 100% negative, here's a quite decent recording from the same era. Compare A to B.

  13. #38
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    I've been listening to Aja again, to verify my memory, and my opinion hasn't changed. But I wanted to make a comparison.

    Aja,
    But by far the most egregious problem with these recordings, for me anyway, is the gawdawful mixing.
    Agree - I haven't seen them as being particularily well sounding either.
    But there was SO much hype about how much time & money they spent on them, so they just had to be good.

  14. #39
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    But there was SO much hype about how much time & money they spent on them, so they just had to be good.
    Kind of like the Chip Davis Mannheim Steamroller records. They were widely touted as state of the art -- and priced accordingly -- but they weren't even comparable to the early digital recordings of the same period.

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