Category Archives: Media

4 MQA Songs to Try (1 Free) – CD to Hi-Res

Introducing you to MQA with 4 songs.

UPDATED Jan 18, 2017
These 4 songs now download for $4. There is 1 free track available
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Here is how MQA Ltd. described me in their newsletter this week (emphasis is mine):

MQA Artist Release
Sound quality has been a driving motivation for singer-songwriter David Elias since he started recording his music digitally more than 20 years ago. On listening to some of his earliest recordings encoded with MQA, David noted, “The original intention and sounds are much more accurately represented [with MQA] and are therefore much, much more enjoyable to listen to. The convenience of MQA’s smaller file size is an additional no-brainer.” 

This paragraph says a lot for me because I’ve lived with CD and its problems with sound quality as long as everyone else. In fact I had no CDs long after many did, sticking to vinyl and even my own mix tape cassettes (analog ruled) for years after the CD deluge. It sounded better. I liked album covers. What can I say.

I broke my teeth on CD quality recording in 1995 making my first CD in a home studio setup. I recorded to Hi-8 Video Tape at 16/48 on an 8-track Tascam DA-88. I’d recorded myself at times on various tape machines and a few digital boxes for almost 20 years but this was much different.

I listened to a lot of everything I put on tape through that whole process of recording, mixing analog (lengend original Mackie 1202!) to 16/44.1 (Sony TCD-10 DAT) and then mastered on a DyaxisII Workstation. It sounded good and in fact better in the studio than on the final CD that was printed.

Those early CDs and many later recordings were either created or converted to PCM to be moved online one way or another. All my released songs are on YouTube Music now for example, as audio, as well as lots of other places, like 50 or more. The more they travel in the Etherspace the worse they sound generally.  They get downsampled and converted into whatever suits the retailer or streaming radio like Pandora (one of my least favorites for sound quality).

But shoots, I want to get heard…otherwise I wouldn’t put music I write out there in the first place.

Enter MQA… I started listening to it in February on hi-res converted music from 2L in Norway. Classical works. I knew some of them from 10+ years prior as SACDs I had actually been given by Morten Lindberg there. 2L put MQA converted masters (DXD conversions which are PCM at 24/352.8) online to try as well as other hi-res formats. I was using a Meridian Explorer2 MQA DAC connected to my Dell Windows 10 notebook running the latest JRiver.

All I can say is I didn’t hear anything I didn’t like, and in some cases heard some things I really really liked.

So I started listening to other MQA encoded tracks. MQA is not a new audio format. It is still linear PCM, just has its own corrections (aka filtering) applied to the encoding of the music.

 What I started paying attention to more and more and hearing more and more were the timing coherence corrections in the playback. What PCM has always done to my ears, along with countless others, is present a very sharp unnatural edge to the sound that can get worse for me the louder or harder the music is played. It doesn’t flow like vinyl, cassette, or DSD. Usually it kind of attacks quickly, then disappears. It’s not relaxing, let me put it that way.

MQA encoded tracks I listened to had lost much of that sharp attack, no decay characteristic. They were well presented and much easier to listen to. They positioned things more clearly in the stereo space noticeably including the front and back locations in addition to left and right. The soundstage was then more 2 dimensional with depth as well as 3 dimensional with up and down.

This listening started with a lot of music I didn’t know, yet I was happy to listen to it with open ears so to speak.

Over the next few months, I decided I wanted to hear some of my PCM recordings as MQA and started making inquiries as to how I might do that. In the end, I became an MQA artist partner and have converted my catalog and archives to MQA encoded PCM.

I’ve actually had most of my catalog online as PCM on the Bandcamp site (http://davidelias.bandcamp.com) as CD quality up to 24/88.2 for a couple years now. Now most of that has been updated to download in the smaller FLAC or ALAC MQA encoded files.

Overall, MQA sounded better to me than any CD or hi-res PCM master I had. It doesn’t need much more proof to me. I have read a lot about the “what it is” and “why it works” to understand that better, but after my intro through reading and some YouTubes, I just started listening a lot. I still am.

What About The 4 Songs…  The first album on the page at the link above is a free download. You can also stream it as much as you want. Bandcamp lets you download songs in a variety of formats. The default is MP3.  Don’t download it as MP3! 

MQA requires what’s called a lossless format — The 4 big lossless formats being used out there are the original WAV (PC) and AIF (Mac) and their file (not audio) compressed counterparts FLAC (PC) and ALAC (Mac).  Choose one of those when you download from anywhere no matter what the site or music! It is not missing some of its music from the original like MP3!

FLAC and ALAC are roughly 1/2 the size of WAV and AIF. They sound identical and are better at carrying the magic metadata or tags that include all the song and album info for the media player to display when playing the track.

MP3 and Apple’s AAC use math to remove audio data in an original CD or hi-res audio master to make it a much smaller file (in general about 1/10th the size). That was the strategy from the beginning when everyone was dialing up the Internet on modems. It made sense then as one didn’t want to stay online for hours or days to download an album. Apple cemented that approach since iTunes Store came online in 2004. How long will that go on? As long as people buy it I guess.

 Excuse Me, What About The 4 Songs…  Ok, I have a lot of MQA encoded music I am really kind of hearing for the first time myself. This includes both very good and some not so great recordings (like live public hall stuff through a single $99 Sony stereo mic to DAT).

Most of it got created as a PCM recording. The MQA encoded versions of these tracks changed how they sound to me and took me a lot closer to the original performance whether was studio or live stage. It sounds more like the sound in the room at the time and what was played and I am relaxed when I listen to it because of that.

Go here and try 4 songs at 3 different PCM resolutions, all encoded as MQA

https://davidelias.bandcamp.com/album/mqa-track-sampler-any-player-works-1-free-track

If I went into too much detail this email might get long :)

Here’s the (short) not so fine print:

1) If you have an MQA DAC you can hear the full resolution up to 24/352.8 or the limits of your MQA DAC.

2) If you don’t have an MQA DAC you can just play it anyway at 16/44.1, 24/44.1 or 24/48 depending on source track

3) If you get an MQA DAC later (or the media players do it for you) you’ll hear the hi-res then

 The song audio resolutions range from CD (16/44.1) hi-res (24/96) to DXD (24/352.8). They are all only about as big as a CD file to download (about 700MB), maybe a little bigger.

CD’s sound better as MQA to me with or without the MQA DAC gear. You can just play them. I’ve had different people tell me the same thing about my stuff. So far I have heard its biggest benefits on the lowest res recordings. I might even know why.

If you have questions you can reply to this email, it just comes to me…I hope you try downloading the tracks. If you have an MQA DAC, don’t stream them, download them!

Thanks For Listening!

DE
http://www.davidelias-mqa.com (MQA Downloads)
http://www.davidelias.com/dsd_downloads (DSD Downloads)
http://youtube.com/davideliasvideo

Australia World Media – finally breaking into New Age…

on da internet radio… new age… poor polly…
trancendental deprivation part ii – straw dream…

You can listen online… here’s the link:

www.2maxfm.com.au

Here’s the date/time in California (18 hrs behind Australia broadcast):


October 8th (Wednesday) – 4pm to 5pm


WHAT’S NEW

CONTEMPORARY INSTRUMENTAL VOCAL AND NEW AGE MUSIC

1.    David Elias   Slipper DSD Sessions

       Poor Polly

       Track   2   Play list   Native   8.30

 

2.    Will Ackerman   Visiting

       Hawk Circle

       Track   3   Play list   Visiting   5.06

 

3.    Trysette   French kiss  

       Insane 

       Track   Play list   French   3.26

 

4.    Sherry Finzer and Darin Mahoney   Transformation

       Confused

       Track   2   Play list   Transformation   7.12

 

5.    Stanton Lanier   A Thousand Years

       Always in Blossom

       Track   8   Play list   A Thousand   4.32

 

6.    Mala Ganguly and David Vito Gregoli   Prana

       Sa Native-Mix

       Track   7   Playlist   Prana   4.26

 

7.    Lawrence Blatt   The color of sunshine

       Jaune  ( Yellow )

       Track   7   Play list   The color of   5.08

 

8.    Fiona Joy   Portrait of a waterfall

       3rd.movement    “ The Ascent”

       Track   6   Play list   Portrait   6.43

 


October 8th (Wednesday) – 5pm to 6pm


NEW AGE NEW RELEASES

 1.    Walkin’ Jim Stoltz   The Vision

       Windsinger

       Track   5   Play list   The Vision   5.08

 

2.    Steven Vitali   Language of the soul

       Soul healing

       Track   13   Play list   Language   6.15

 

3.    Steven Chesne   Moments form the life stories of strangers

       Glory story number 2

       Track   5   Play list   Moments   5.06

 

4.    Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman   Winds of Samsara

       Heaven is here

       Track   6   Play list   Winds   6.02

 

5.    Ray Spiegel Enaemble   Moksha

       Soul at sunrise

       Track   3   Play list   Moksha   6.28

 

6.    Adam Andrews   Road to Ambo

       Hope and joy

       Track   3   Play list   Road to   4.39

 

7.    Matthew Schoening   Narrow path

       Frolik 1

       Track   6   Play list   Narrow   4.31

 

8.    David Elias   Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions

       Transcendental Deprivation Part II – Straw Dream

       Track   13   Play list   Acoustic   9.25

 

**** Programme is sponsered by Little Hartly Music Fiona Joy’s label ****

 

Amarra – Sonic Studio’s amazing audio engine for iTunes

Easy Apples…

If you are an iMac or MacBook or Mac Tower user and like iTunes but have been wondering what you might do to get better sound out of it, or how to support hi-res formats that iTunes does not, check this out.

Amarra – The Purist Music Player

From Sonic Studio, Amarra is a software app that can install and link to iTunes on a Mac OS X computer. By link to iTunes I mean Amarra will run along with iTunes and take over the playback of your audio tracks whenever it can (which is most of the time). You can also create playlists in Amarra itself and run it without iTunes.

What you hear as a result is a much better quality playback than what you are used to hearing because the audio engine (for playback) used by Amarra is far superior to iTunes.

It’s that simple even though 20 some years have elapsed since Sonic Studio’s technology started being used for professional mastering and playback in major studios for CDs and films.

You can get the benefit of their hard work boiled down to a very simple and spiffy app called Amarra. Here’s how they describe it:


Deep, analog, natural, and musical; these are words we hear our customers use when describing their Amarra listening experiences.

With Amarra, you’ll have many “OH WOW!” moments even with tracks you’ve listened to for years. That’s because Amarra enables your music to sound the way it was intended to be heard – beautifully.

If you’re looking for the best sound, try Amarra in your system.


MY HAPPY OFFER TO YOU – Save 50% off Amarra

If you buy any of my HRA/DSD64 + FLAC 24/88.2 download albums “The Window“, “Crossing“, “Acoustic Trio – DSD Sessions” online at http://www.davidelias.com between now and Memorial Day, I will send you a link/coupon that allows you to buy Amarra for about 50% off the $189 retail price. It’s then only $99 for you to buy and register Amarra.

To those of you who know me as a PC guy, the answer to your likely question is: Yes I’m using an iMac at home and it has the lastest Amarra player version 2.6.

Feel free to email me with questions…contact me here

I like good sounding music and here is as much a no-brainer to that end as I’ve ever heard. I also have tens of thousands of songs in iTunes which I’ve been hearing for a long time… Amarra gave them all a new life for my ears without having to do more than install it.

Aloha,

DE

Go Get Some…Hi-Rez…

What’s New and How You Can Get Some…

David Elias - Independent Acoustic

David Elias – Independent Acoustic


I have been watching and listening to the way online music is changing further towards higher quality on almost a daily basis. One of the latest rockets here is that Sony is now opening their vault of master archives and letting the hi-rez bug put their titles online as downloads in the DSD format.

What’s that mean to you? I think it means a lot for anyone who has listened to vinyl, analog tapes (reel-to-reel), or other HD quality downloads from the ever increasing number of sources that give you something beyond the CD quality we’ve grown accustomed to, but not comfortable with.

You can watch the supposed 500 titles from Sony start appearing at http://SuperHiRez.com now through the end of the year. There are already a few hundred HD (FLAC and ALAC to 176.4k, 24-bit) and DSD64 downloads up there.

Click on the “Digital Downloads” menu in the left column to select specific formats. I’m still in their Top Seller 25 list with “Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions” and “The Window” so thank you if you helped with that.


As you must know by now, I care a lot about how things sound, mostly because there are ways to record and produce things that others can listen to (discs, downloads, videos, streaming mp3’s…) and cause them them say things like: “How did you make that sound so natural and real?”, and “How do you get the bass to sound like that?”, and “I never heard that on the CD!”, and “This is almost as good as my vinyl”, or “This is the best #**@#$(#$ thing I ever heard!”…

So listening to music gets fun again and more relaxed and more enjoyable as a pastime, and not necessarily as a background sound filler.  That is something I like a lot!

If you are into Classical and Rare Audiophile Recordings, try browsing High Definition Tape Transfers…They have HD and DSD for Baroque, Chamber, Orchestral, Symphonies, Jazz…You can find my DSD albums there as well. Thanks Bob!

The new release of the “Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions” recorded by Charlie Natzke at Slipperworld.net is a set of 14 songs recorded in 3.5 hrs. by me (acoustic/vocal/harmonica), Charlie (acoustic/vocal), and Chris Kee (upright bass).  We had the windows open (you can hear the redwing blackbirds on one track). We were standing about arms length from each other in a circle. We had our mics bleeding into each other…

We recorded to Sonoma DSD64 live with no overdubs. Nothing was edited.  I mixed this on Sonoma in a day and a night. The Sony mixer card allowed me to do that without ever converting the source tracks from DSD to anything else, even to analog and then back to DSD. The result is 100% pure DSD.

So it is a very live acoustic natural reproduction of a studio performance of the trio. Some people feel this is my most “authentic” recording. Their impression may be so because there are only 3 instruments to pick out and spatially they are represented in stereo in just the way they were recorded.  As I told a friend online, you have to stop thinking of “L/R” (left/right) and think of a performance of 3 guys standing in a circle and you sitting or standing there with them.

I now have the HD version of this album as an 24-bit, 88.2kHz FLAC download for those not using DSD playback hardware or software.  In addition, you get the smaller files as MP3-320 (320kHz) to use in your Smartphone or tablet.

The HD version is now online for $14.95.

The DSD (which also includes FLAC and MP3-320 copies) is also there for $24.95.

You can find these downloads at http://www.davidelias.com

If you have any questions, just reply to this email. Hardware and software for DSD playback is getting easier and cheaper to find. If you are interested in learning more about it, I can try to answer your questions. Two good sources to search for info are Positive Feedback and DSD Guide.

Thanks for Listening!
If it sounds good, it is good…


If you are interested in creating a DSD multitrack recording of your own, contact Charlie Natzke via email – He’s in La Honda, CA at Slipperworld.net.

Charlie is the studio and DSD engineer behind my “Crossing” and “Acoustic Trio” recordings. Another new DSD album release I hope to get out this year is one more project Charlie setup the studio for, recorded to DSD on Sonoma and mixed as analog. He’s da man!

My song “Silver Pen” online for download now is a single from this next DSD album release. It lets you compare different audio formats to hear the differences for yourself. It cost $4.99 for all 5 formats (DSF, FLAC 24/96, WMA Lossless 24/96, WAV 16/44.1 (CD), MP3-320).

Aloha!

– DE

DSD Bartender — Give Me A PCM Sandwich!

Direct Stream Digital (DSD)

The great news is that hi-rez (aka hi-res, HRA, or HD) audio is getting lots of renewed attention these days, by the likes of Sony and all kinds of audio loving creators and consumers.

I think that’s a great thing because if we would all just remember to slow down a little and maybe sit down and just listen to some nice music more often (like many of us used to do every day!) then we might all feel just a little better about the rest of what’s going on around us.

At 80 years old, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. wrote that without music our civilization would have ended long ago. I’d have to agree with that. Pursuing a certain quality to whatever kind of music we might listen to is worthwhile. Music isn’t a distraction to many. It’s an essential part of our civilization and our lives.

DSD (Direct Stream Digital) is the High Resolution Audio (HRA in Sony’s acronymous world) that has been around as the media format behind SACD (Super Audio CD) which came out nearly 15 years ago. SACD kind of went invisible for awhile due to lack of the music industry’s support, but now is coming back around for big press and lots of attention and ears (new and renewed).

It has been reborn in the form of DSD Downloads, with the same audio quality of any equivalent SACD.

My question is:  How many people out there think they are listening to DSD and are actually not hearing DSD but a PCM conversion of their DSD source track?

DSD DISTILLED CORRECTLY…

Frequently DSD is being changed (converted) by hardware and software alike into the more ubiquitous PCM format before it reaches your ears.

What’s confusing, or worse is completely unknown to many listeners and audiophiles, are the proper steps required to actually play DSD in its native format. Despite the years that SACD has been around at this point, the proper direct DSD playback from both SACD discs as well as DSD Download audio files (DSF or DFF) is still elusive to or misunderstood by many.

Surprisingly, both SACD’s and DSD Downloads often have similar problems getting played correctly in their intended DSD hi-rez format.

This seems to stem from the ways that audio hardware and software have evolved. They have both followed a PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) dominated path that was based on most of the digital music being recorded and played as CD (PCM) since the early 80’s.

That’s a long, long, time and a whole lotta CDs and iTunes downloads ago… We’ve all been listening to PCM since vinyl LPs, cassettes and 8-tracks went out the window…

So the DACs (Digital to Analog Converters) that were first developed catered to PCM, the same format as CDs (WAV/AIFF). As far as I know, the DACs to this day still require different circuitry to support both PCM and DSD.

The bottom line is that it is neither simple nor cheap to support both standards (DSD and PCM) in the same product. Yet they both exist. In September 2013, Sony announced they felt the CD audio quality consumers were being fed for the past 30 years was not nearly good enough. As a result, they decided to back their own HRA format: DSD! This approach removes the edgy and compressed feeling to the sound you are listening to and instead provides a much more natural and ambient analog-like sound your ears are more comfortable hearing.

When software media players such as Winamp and QuickTime came out in the 90’s, they were meant to play the popular PCM formats (WAV and AIFF)  as well as the ubiquitous compressed MP3 (lossy – meaning audio quality is lost), AAC (Apple lossy) and then the more accurately compressed lossless (meaning quality is not lost) formats such as FLAC for the PC and ALAC for the Mac.

There are many more audio encoding formats and what are called containers for video and/or audio playback. I can show you a list of audio/video encoding formats and containers that is a long as your arm! They all have different approaches to compression vs quality and player compatibility.

By the way, notice any pattern here?  The PC and the Mac never really support the same encoded audio files! The Mac will now even run Windows (under a Lion OS X dual boot), but it won’t play a PC FLAC file…Give me a break!  Things are not better on the PC Windows side playing the Mac ALAC files…Give me 2 breaks! Even the mighty “cloud” won’t help you with this one…

A similar discrepancy has occurred in the HRA world of playing DSD through software media players including Winamp, QuickTime, JRiver, Audirvana, AudioGate, Pure Music, and all the rest. The circuitry does not exist inside the PC or Mac to decode the 1-bit DSD directly to analog!  This is pervasive, but perhaps not that well understood.

There is insufficient hardware (specialized chips) in the typical PC and Mac to play DSD as DSD without PCM conversion. Instead it must first get converted (via software) to PCM to then be played directly through its speaker or headphone audio out jack. (For historical reference, the Sound Reality chip in older Sony Vaio computers could in fact play DSD as DSD but that chip no longer exists in the newer Vaio computers.)

If you are using any of the popular media players such as Audirvana Plus, JRiver, Pure Music, AudioGate, Foobar2000, and if you are listening to DSD without an External DSD DAC (see below), then you are not listening to DSD, you are listening to PCM.  Here’s a list of media players from HighDefTapeTransfers.com

IMPORTANT NOTE: Korg’s AudioGate software does not support an external DSD DAC! There’s no way to hear DSD from the Korg software. You can only hear DSD directly output from one of its MR-series recorders (MR-1 or 2, MR-1000, MR-2000). AudioGate software always plays DSD files (DSF, DFF) as PCM!

AudioGate is a great tool for mastering and converting between many hi-rez audio formats including DSF/DFF (I use it a lot), but it does not offer any DSD playback without converting to PCM, nor does it integrate with USB DSD DACs.

THE DSD DAC SOLUTION

Fortunately, there is a way to listen to native DSD from a PC/Mac without converting it to PCM first.

The solution is to add an external DSD DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) to decode the DSD stream to analog and feed it from there to your amplifier, etc.  The DAC typically connects to your PC/Mac via a USB cable. More recent DSD DACs are USB sticks that connect to the PC/Mac directly and also act as headphone amplifiers…this approach (like in a product called GEEK) just might blow the roof off the cost/value proposition in the market! Other interfaces for popular DACs (old  and new) include Firewire, S/PDIF, AES/EBU and Toslink. DSD DACs usually support PCM as well.

In addition to the original Meitner (EMM Labs) DAC products, DSD DACs now are becoming a beautiful audio bouquet of selection from companies such as Mytek, exaSound, TEAC, PSAudio, and others. Some good DSD DAC lists exist at Positive Feedbackand AudioStream…

SAMPLE THIS….

There are differences in the sample rates supported by all of these things so that’s one more thing to pay attention to as a futureproof type of purchasing if that’s important to you. The original DSD 1-bit sample rate was at 2.8 MHz. This is referred to as DSD64 or 64fs or 64x because it is 64 times the sample rate of the CD (aka Red Book CD) standard of 44.1 KHz (44100 x 64 = 2,822,400).

To achieve even better sonic results, DSD sample rates have increased by factors of 2x (DSD128 at 5.6 MHz) and 4x (DSD256 at 11.2 / 12.2 MHz). Different software and different hardware have different capabilities in this regard. exaSound’s e20 and e28 DSD DACs are some of the early adopters supporting DSD256 in stereo and 8-channels! Pyramix and Horus from Merging Technologies also support DSD256.

DSD – NO PROBLEM……PCM – NO PROBLEM…
IF IT SOUNDS GOOD…IT IS GOOD!

I have no dispute to settle. I like good sound. I like to make good sounding recordings. It can be on a cassette in a boom box or DSF file being played and sent analog to that same boom box. It can be an iPhone sitting on a pallet out in the yard turned up like an AM radio from the 70’s. And no, not everything sounds good to me…

In many ways, listening carefully to DSD since 1999 has taught me to appreciate a good recording no matter what device or media it is playing through. I have come to call this the Art of Listening.

Roger Powell gave me the confidence back in the early 90’s to accept the fact that “if it sounds good, it is good. Thank you Roger!  I was trying to make the first “really good” recordings of my life at that point, having done lots of messing around for the previous 20 years. The digital DIY revolution was breaking and I was hooked

I was hoping not to screw up. A lot of things that I used and did for those 90’s recordings were dirt simple at the time, yet still just sounded good (honest, accurate, clean, natural) compared to most of what I was listening to on home recordings and many pro recordings. My sound was nearly all acoustic so that made it easier to evaluate for these attributes of clean, natural, etc.

Roger’s answer to my “is this good quality?” questions gave me the courage to stay on my track. Before too long I would be introduced to DSD by Gus Skinas. I’ve never had to look back or look anywhere else for a truly excellent audo quality resource. I’m not alone. If it sounds good, it is good! DSD has been all of that for me from the very start.

BARTENDER, GIVE ME A SANDWICH!

Say you walk into a bar famous for their home infused jalapeno margaritas. In fact they specialize in all kinds of infused drinks with deep colored bottles lining their shelves.

You sit at the bar and say “Bartender, give me a sandwich!”

He looks at you and shrugs and then goes somewhere and scrounges up a ham and cheese sandwich (maybe from the take out next door) and gives it to you, (Give the customer what they want!). You eat the sandwich and are not too impressed.

Then you go back home to your “Famous Bar Review” webzine work and write something about the poor quality you experienced at what you thought was supposed to be a very high quality establishment.

I’m afraid that this is what too often happens to DSD in its evaluations and comparisons to any other format (analog tape, vinyl, PCM, etc.).

A lot of people are listening to DSD as PCM. This happens if you don’t use the external DSD DAC as described above.  This is also likely to happen if you play the DSD from an SACD player that is using HDMI to connect to an amplifier/receiver or to even a video monitor to display its menus. The transport over HDMI (at least prior to HDMI v1.2) in the mainstream pro and consumer world is always for PCM encoded audio, not DSD.

This is only recently overcome and not usually implemented on the HDMI side of things. Prior to HDMI v1.2 DSD gets converted to PCM for transport to the amp/receiver. With newer HDMI versions, BDP players such as OPPO are now supporting the improved integration with some A/V receivers (some Onkyo, Integra and Yamaha models) where the DSD is preserved over the HDMI transport. There are apparently licensing issues here so DSD support is not guaranteed. You have to check with the manufacturer and spec for each model at both ends.

They have also gotten around this on the software USB side (PC/Mac media player to DSD DAC) using what’s referred to as DoP (DSD over PCM). DoP manages to keep the DSD intact and unconverted when it leaves the software player and arrives at the DAC. Other software drivers called ASIO and WASAPI also exist for similar USB DSD DAC integrations.

So….The hardware and software both cater to the PCM market — no problem…unless you want to hear native DSD and you don’t carefully setup and configure the hardware and software you are using for direct DSD.

The default settings for all these products are to convert the DSD to PCM before it is output.

=======================================================

I’ve seen this so many times now that I had to write this post.

=======================================================

It’s like asking that bartender for a sandwich instead of a jalapeno margarita. The finest most exotic and delicious specialty of the house is skipped for what the customer is most used to…

I’ve been on an education type track with hi-rez since well before 2009. I started recording with DSD in 2000 and recorded the self-produced “The Window” in 2002. In 2003 I was taking my SACD disc around to the hi-rez audio retailers in the SF Bay Area asking about all the gear that could play it and testing it out their audition rooms.

Similar issues always existed with the HDMI integration of amplifiers and receivers to SACD players. There can be other default player settings that just convert DSD to PCM for no apparent reason unless you turn it off in the setup configuration. I’ve seen this on Sony BDP players as well as others. Software will always convert to PCM unless you have the right path for it not to (to an external DAC) and set it up (with the right DSD drivers) properly.

People often want to hear my DSD recordings.  If they end up listening to my DSD recordings as PCM conversions, they may be nonplussed with the results, especially as sonic comparisons to other (PCM) recordings they have. I want to help them configure their systems to actually hear the DSD recordings in their native formats. Since they were recorded as DSD, they should be played as DSD.

Usually the response to a changed DSD playback configuration starts with: “Wow!“. The same benefits apply to any other SACD disc or DSD Download audio file played on the same system.

WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO…

So I recently created my own checklist for setting up DSD playback. This is so anyone can hear the DSD directly, and not as PCM masquerading as DSD.  It is a pretty confusing product world from one standpoint, but the checklist I came up with is pretty simple.

It is the mental list I’ve used when helping others listen to DSD recordings in their intended way. This list has changed as the whole thing continues to evolve.

So here’s my current Checklist to try to help others listen to native DSD if at all possible. There may be exceptions! In fact, I can think of a few. No matter. It is written for the general and common systems out there.

DE’s DSD PLAYBACK CHECKLIST

1. BEWARE: If you are using a computer’s analog audio jack (headphones/audio or line output), then software as a PC/Mac Media Player ALWAYS plays DSD as converted to PCM, not native DSD.

2. So….An External DSD DAC connected to a PC/Mac via USB is required in order to play the native DSD from a Media Player. This also includes a requirement for proper hardware (DAC) driver configuration on the computer. (The “driver” is software!).

Popular External DSD DACs are available from companies such as exaSound, Mytek, TEAC, Meitner, PSAudio and many others. A good list is here from AudioStream…

3, BEWARE: HDMI (v1.1) converts DSD to PCM before playback and therefore should be avoided when critiquing or trying to fully enjoy DSD audio quality. You can investigate HDMI (v1.2 and later) to see if DSD playback is being supported by your specific BDP (player) and A/V Receiver or Pre/Pro products.

CAUTION
: Enabling HDMI Output on your SACD/DSD player may cause DSD to automatically be converted to PCM on any direct output. This is currently true on OPPO 103/105 models. Check with the manufacturer for your player.

4. The best and simplest audio quality solution from a DSD/SACD player is usually to seek the configuration/setup that sends DSD directly to the analog RCA outputs (L/R stereo or 5.1 Mch).  You also need to enable DSD (instead of PCM) on SACD Output!

5. Finally, most DSD players (hardware and software) give some indication on a screen somewhere of what they are really playing based on their configuration.

Read the screen! 

This can be the media player (software) screen, or the SACD/Blu-ray player (hardware) display.  If it doesn’t say “DSD” or “SACD” and says “PCM”, or AIFF or ALAC, or WAV or FLAC or anything else, then it’s probably converting the DSD to PCM before it sends it to your amplifier or elsewhere. You may need to disable HDMI Output and/or enable DSD on SACD Output.

ONE MORE SIDE NOTE…… If you are using an OPPO BDP (103/105) and are playing DSD Downloads that you have on a USB stick, the OPPO and HDMI video screen displays do not tell you whether you are listening to PCM or DSD!

This is true for the latest firmware dated July 2013.

I was told by OPPO that the player will follow the SACD setup when playing USB DSD file (DSF/DFF).  So if you see “PCM” in the display when an SACD disc is playing, then you need to fix your setup as described above (HDMI Output = Disabled, SACD Output = DSD).

Then go get a good margarita and enjoy yourself!

dsd

dsd

 

new beginnings … 20 years in the making

With the 2013 Autumn Equinox, I am releasing a collection of recordings that was made about 20 years ago. It was the beginning of my work as an independent acoustic artist in the SF Bay Area. I began performing my original songs back then in a retro solo coffeehouse style approach to live music.

I also began recording at my home studio with the encouragement and assistance from Gus Skinas and Roger Powell who helped set me up with gear (which included a nice 100-year commemorative Gibson Gospel guitar!). I recorded to Hi-8 video tape on a Tascam DA-88 8-track PCM 16-bit recorder at 48kHz. Gus loaned me 3 very good mics which was probably the biggest quality influence on the whole setup.


… A CDBaby is Born …

Those are my beginnings as a DIY musician and the first effort yielded my first self-released CD called “Lost in the Green” in 1995. A few years after that I found out about a brand new online retail outlet called “CD Baby” (what a name!) for independent arists.

I had 2 CDs released at that point (“Time Forgets” was recorded in 1997 and released in 1998) so I called Derek Sivers in Woodstock, NY who in 1998 had started this brainchild of hanging anyone’s self-made CD in his storefront window and letting the artist control 100% of everything about the sale through their online account.

This included the retail price and all the info about the release. It could be changed by the artist at any time. Derek provided the warehousing of the inventory and did all the online transactions with Visa/etc. and shipped the package to the customer. Then he told the artist about it via email and kept the history of the transaction online.

To this day, I can look up the first CD I sold through CDBaby online in about 5 or 10 seconds. That’s 15 or more years ago! CDBaby has not changed the price it charges to provide their service to me ($4 per disc no matter what the disc retails for).


 … Getting Online … Slowwwwwly ….

At this point, in the 20-year horizon of how I was encouraged to produce my work and find my way into the Internet and DIY music, I looked back to the first recordings I made. This was all before CDBaby, before iTunes, before Hi-Rez, before Napster, myspace, Dreamweaver, DSL and cable modems, and lots of other things I gratefully forgot about…

I was staying up late nights into early mornings writing HTML in a Notepad text window and uploading it to my account with Netcom.com out of San Jose, one of the first ISP’s in the Bay Area. I didn’t have a domain name of davidelias.com. I didn’t think I’d need one…

But I did use the Alta Vista search engine (no Yahoo! or Google yet) to find the web sites and playlists for public and university folk and country radio shows. In the days of 19.2k, 33.6k dialup modems that everyone had, there was no streaming of music online.

You could upload and download mp3’s and then play them through things like Winamp (which I still use sometimes) but the radio stations weren’t part of that. What they did was show you the programs they had scheduled and the playlists of what went out over the air in recent shows by the different DJ’s. (They were using the web to try to push you to the air waves!!) They often had email addresses for their staff.

So I started emailing those DJ’s who were playing songlists that I felt my work would fit in with. I let them know what I was doing as an independent artist with a web site, writing, performing and self-producing CD’s and asked them if I could mail them a disc to audition for their show. They usually said “Wow – you must be crazy and when do you sleep and sure send a disc to me”.

I could then track my work appearing in shows in the US and other places as far away as Hong Kong. I maintained my web page by hand and added radio info and pictures and mp3 downloads as time went by. There were very few rules as to the “right way” to do things…This was still quite a ways off in the future…maybe it still is…

MP3.com went online in 1997. It let anyone upload their music to the web to be accessed by the universe of listeners, many of which were also artists. I was in heaven!

I don’t remember any other artist songs as covers or copies like the YouTube of today. I remember all this original music. Maybe I’m glorifying it, I don’t know.

Before too long there were a million songs online at MP3.com from independent artists like me. By 1999 MP3.com went public and all the artists online there were offered an IPO price on some (small) number of shares of the stock. Good times!

A shared music platform with free exchange of styles and motivations. Too good to be true? Yep…MP3.com produced some very big rumblings in the record industry that was sitting back watching music being given away…. lawsuits and the rest followed as MP3.com departed. (It first got locked in a drawer by Vivendi, then went to CNET and exists today in another form.)


… Napster (free) … iTunes (not!)  …

In the wake of MP3.com, Napster and others, there emerged a new unfolding of the retail motherlode of digital downloads…iTunes. I had been online almost 10 years with free MP3 music downloads at that point.  But suddenly there was this very huge RETAIL thing looming in front of the independent artists. CDBaby took us (lowly unsiged artists) to that front door, and all the other OMD doors…

Since then, iTunes has sold some 28+ billion downloads…that’s a lot of noteworthy hamburgers so to speak…CDBaby is the Online Music Distributor (OMD) of my catalog to over 50 download retailers including Spotify, Rhapsody, Amazon, Napster, MusicMatch, EMusic and last.FM. There are over 350,000 albums on CDBaby alone (2+ million songs!) that can be purchased as CD and/or downloads right there.  That’s just CDBaby, that’s not iTunes!  You want to make a living as a musician with some songs recorded?…uh you have a few competitors out there…

MP3.com proved that there could be a huge music community of artists and listeners using the web as a conduit for the exchange of music. MP3.com was visionary in this regard. they were ahead (meaning occured before) things like Ecommerce and ad-supported web pages. But they didn’t charge anyone anything to post music or to download music. It was just about the music for them, or so it seemed anyway. I, and I think millions of other people as artists and music lovers, liked that a lot.

Steve Jobs saw and seized the opportunity… iTunes became the vending machine for delivering music to a BUYER not necessarily a LISTENER. People who were involved in the approach (software) used to encode and compress the music files as MP3 were not necessarily happy with the resulting quality of the recording compared to the original. But modem speeds and expensive disk drives at the time were both catering to smaller files to download.

So iTunes jumped on the wave and created what I still think is one of the best media manager software packages out there. I spent years telling people that if they wanted to just catalog their CD libraries they could download iTunes software for free and do just that and play the music from the computer (or send it to their stereo system) or iPod or iPhone if they had one, and never buy a single download from Apple.

iTunes lets you rip CDs to WAV (if you change the settings) so the CD and resulting digital file sounds are identical. I don’t think most people understood how useful that was and still is. You can also sequence songs you want and easily burn a new CD with the same audio quality.

Newer software that can also play DSD now exists so iTunes hasn’t quite the same clout that it did…Still most media player software integrates WITH iTunes, it does’t try to REPLACE iTunes. Talk about market share…

What iTunes also did however, was assign a value ($.99 to be exact) to each song on the web. What a concept that Jobs had!  So free music became less interesting to a whole lot of people on both sides of the equation from then on.

The record industy had its serious competition forevermore; music lovers had to start being more judicious (mainstream?) about their choices of music; and starving artists (or some version of that) got this new gleam in their eye that said “hey if I could only put the right song up on that iTunes I could probably make….”).

Also In the wake of iTunes came a host of new challenges and opportunities, all of which I managed to get tangled in without a lot of guidance because most people didn’t know much about the How-To either.

Some were quite fun really as technology got kind of bolder on the desktop and then notebook then notepad computers. (Today I’m using an old iPhone as my portable tablet!) Plus I’m a persistent type so I don’t mind doing the research and experimenting for my own education.

A memorable list of emerging technology for music during those times is: webcasts, podcasts, live streaming broadcasts, highly stylized and customized media players, standardized media players and eventually videos.  Most if not all of these are still around.

So the waves of independent artist music grew large and poured out over the web, with me right in them.

Derek Sivers has since sold his CDBaby business (2008) which had grown to include HostBaby (where I’ve hosted my web site since he started that around 2000 I think) and other things. But the mechanics of how CDBaby works are the same.


DSD Wobbles Around and Then Sits Up Straight After 10 Years or so…

Time sure did race by… Now in 2013 I am 20 years into being an independent artist and also 10 years into the creation of the planet’s first independent (unsigned artist) hi-rez SACD recorded and mixed for stereo and 5.1 surround sound.

I made “The Window” available as a DSD Disc (stereo DSF files) download in 2009 – another first – to anyone interested in accessing hi-rez over the web as opposed to on an SACD disc. These were mostly being played on some of the 30+ million Sony PlayStation3’s out there that supported DSD Disc.

This same format (DSD as DSF / DFF audio files) was just this month, 4 years since my DSD Disc release, announced and embraced by Sony as part of their new High Resolution Audio (HRA) campaign that encourages DSD Downloads. Good friends to have in the DSD Download market!

You can read about their initiative through these links

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/personal/2013/09/03/cea-to-tout-high-resolution-audio/2758871/

http://www.cepro.com/article/sony_releases_8_hi-res_audio_products/

You can now also find my released DSD recordings online with the record label DSD Download crowd online at http://www.SuperHiRez.com — there lots of press and buzz about this:

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue68/hi_rez.htm

I’m just happy that there is a (rapidly?) growing community of artists, producers and labels that care about how good their recordings sound.  They (Sony and retailers) might say it’s because their surveys say that the market wants good sound, but I think they have to want good sound as much or more than anything else… let it happen!


Independent Acoustic Roots…

This new release is where I started with this world-connected music. I’d already been playing guitar and performing my songs for 20 years (I know, I know…). But that’s another story. Everything changed with the digital technology that enabled DIY CDs to be created and web connected communities of art started flowing into retail pretty quickly.

So here are 16 songs that are from the Big Bang of my Independent Acoustic DIY universe as a singer-songwriter. Playing guitar is one of the things I’ve cared about my whole life as a young guy then young student, then young adult then … what am I again now?

It doesn’t matter. Music is timeless. You can find the track downloads online at www.davidelias.com right now.  They will be online at iTunes and the rest of the web download machine any day now. “Lost in the Green” never made it to iTunes for personal and then some bureaucratic reasons. So adding this release to my catalog on iTunes and the other download sites helps complete my story online for Independent Acoustic.

Thanks for Listening and thanks to all those who have helped and encouraged me to be Independent along the way.

Enjoy the change of season with the Equinox.  9/22/2013…4:44pm EDT


About the new release…

Independent Acoustic Roots — these are solo acoustic bare bones performances, original mixes. As a result there is only one overdub on these tracks. Calvin McElroy plays mandolin with me on “Season of the Fall”. John Caulfield added his fiddle part to “Time To Sleep Corrina” as an overdub.

Some of these tracks were used later in multitrack mixes for the release of “Lost in the Green“. Some were unreleased. 4 tracks are written by Townes Van Zandt and recorded during the same time in 1994. Only two of these appeared on “Lost in the Green”.

 1. The Great Unknown (David Elias)
 2. Season of the Fall (David Elias)
 3. Dollar Bill Blues (Townes Van Zandt)
 4. Lost in the Green (David Elias)
 5. Time to Sleep Corrina (David Elias)
 6. May People (David Elias)
 7. Field of Wood (David Elias) *
 8. Nothin' (Townes Van Zandt)
 9. Every Hour, Every Day (David Elias)
 10. Eye on the Wind (David Elias) *
 11. Mainland (David Elias)
 12. Hair of the Dog (David Elias) *
 13. Rows, Desolation & Angels (David Elias) *
 14. Stormy Early Warnings (David Elias) *
 15. Waitin' 'round to Die (Townes Van Zandt) *
 16. A Song For (Townes Van Zandt) *

* Does not appear on “Lost in the Green”

“Independent Acoustic Roots” is online at http://www.davidelias.com


   16 acoustic tracks from the DIY digital dawn... NEW Release! Original Acoustic Tracks from 1993/1994

songs from the future past – independent acoustic roots

We all have roots – and the more I think about it (just in these past 3 or so seconds) the more that could be a lot of what we are all really about.  Not the roots themselves, the recognition that we have them…

Independent Acoustic Roots

Independent Acoustic Roots

I have a song with lyric:

“where you are is what you are
geography is everything”

I’ve always believed that history occurs (as much as anyone can really remember what happened which is not that good a recall IMO) very influenced by where it occurs. The where almost determines the what in other words.

With that in mind, I wrote a bunch of songs in the early 90’s while living in the SF Bay Area and was very focused on a few different musical things that I had carried within me at first and then they popped out in spectral ways. It was a spectral root!

These things included: songwriting, acoustic coffehouse-like performances, Irish music, digital recording and DIY CD production, music sharing on the brand new Internet.

They all kind of came into my life at the same time and people I hadn’t known before came in with them. Some of the most spiritual friendships I know grew out of those years. Over the years since a lot has happened to me musically, but even though I had been playing acoustic guitar at that point for a good 20 years (yeah I know) and had written some songs and played lots of shows in different guises, nothing was quite like the acoustic flower that bloomed in the 90’s in my universe.

friendship

friendship

I was introduced to some heavy magic in the forms of: Irish/Celtic music that was being played by strange faces and then suddenly friends and brothers in the SF pubs and elsewhere in the Bay Area; The art of home recording on digital media with simple but high quality results in a digital/CD world; The World Wide Web that quickly reached out to independent musicians like myself and said “put your music up here – you can get listened to by all kinds of people all over the world including DJ’s”. It also said “there’s a heck a good other musicians doing the same thing right now — check ’em out.”.

So I did. Day or night for many years. I learned how to create a web site writing HTML in a text editor like Notepad. At the beginning, I was encouraged by my friend Gus Skinas to record my songs. I said I didn’t have the means to get involved with any studio or whatever was invovled… He said I could do it myself at home. Now I was interested in that!

So a short time later I had borrowed some equipment from Gus and another musical buddy Roger Powell. Before long I had a home studio setup in a bedroom in my home. I started learning how to record myself on an 8-track Tascam DA-88 that Rog loaned me. I had recorded myself on 4-track cassette since the 80’s and lots of other stereo and multitrack recordings to tape dating back to the 70’s.. But this was pretty new and wonderful.

The result over time with the help of others was a home produced CD that was professionally manufactured by Discmakers (also new at the time). It was called “Lost in the Green”.

reach

reach

Now a good 20 years later I have traversed the landscapes of MP3.com, DIY CD’s, CDBaby, iTunes, podcasts, webcasts, Amazon, digital music players, myspace, Hi-Rez, SACD, videos, DSD Downloads, tons of shows, and everything in between. The paths are many.

The message was always for me Independent Acoustic – a term I came up with in the 90’s after getting asked 828 times by human and non-human queries what genre I was in.

This summer I had to kind of stop and take a look over one shoulder or another to see a little more of where I had come from with music in a public interconnected world. I rediscovered some of those early acoustic recordings that marked the beginning of a long and windy adventure into the heart of much of what I’ve always been about.

So I took that time capsule of recordings and made it a release for downloads…I’m hoping it will be available in time for the Autumn Equinox in a couple days on September 22nd. Equinox is a great event to recognize. I’ve worked with friends many times staging large music and party events on the one Equinox or another. All special legend moments and memories…

So releasing my next new/old CD type album on the 2013 Equinox (which I think occurs at 4:44pm EDT for you spiritual numerologists..) is a good omen for me. It’s a new path with old and trusty, well if not trusty at least not rusty roots.

skyline1

skyline1

There are 16 songs on the album. Many of them appeared on my first CD “Lost in the Green” which unlike all my other CD’s since (about 8) never went online to iTunes. So to most people “out there” it’s all new. To those people “back there” it is actually still 90+% new. This is because I used only my solo acoustic takes from the early recordings I was trying out then. There are 12 of my songs, some of which never appeared on any CD/SACD I released. There are 4 songs by Townes Van Zandt, an icon of Acoustic and Music Independence for me for all time.

The full announcement for all this will come out sometime soon when everything online is hooked up and working.

But in the meantime, I’m still an independent acoustic musician and I have something new to share with anyone who wants to listen.

So….. here is a link to a song called “Field of Wood” that I recorded in 1993 or 1994, a nice 20 years ago. It never made it onto “Lost in the Green” (a different live version with Roger Powell and Scott Beynon recorded in San Gregorio General Store came out in 1998 on “Time Forgets”).

“Field of Wood” is for me a lot of stories wrapped into one song — so I want to share that one from this new release “Independent Acoustic Roots” with everyone here.

https://www.hightail.com/download/OGhlU2VuT2JqY3FVbDhUQw

This is a FLAC file in an HD format of 88.2kHz sample, 24-bit (24/88.2).

I hope you download it and listen to it and then think about any music that has been in your life for 20+ years or 10+ years or some meaningful amount of time and has carried you through things you could never have survived as a rooted individual without.

That’s where all this is coming from.

Aloha!

PS – you can check my home page http://www.davidelias.com to find anything about downloads, DSD or otherwise, that I’m doing at any point. You can also sign up on my email list there which helps keep the new news going out. I only put a helter-skelter version of things here and on Facebook.  Thanks for listening!

PPS – I just realized (coming back inside) that I have to send you the link to another track from Independent Acoustic Roots:  Season of the Fall!  Have a great Equinox!!! *****

https://www.hightail.com/download/OGhlU2V1ZDVWRCswYjhUQw

push me some surround – multichannel dsd downloads

Direct Stream Digital (DSD)

Direct Stream Digital (DSD)

It was bound to happen, I just didn’t know when. But as of today I have added the 5.1 multichannel mixes for my 2 released SACDs “The Window” (2003) and “Crossing” (2005) to my online DSD Download offerings.

This is not completely coincidental to the fact that Sony and several audiophile retail outlets have recently announced their commitment to a Hi-Res Audio (HRA) initiative that includes consumer audio products (players, amplifiers, etc.) that support DSD (Direct Stream Digital, the hi-res digital format) as well as DSD download services.

Check out what Sony is doing with DSD Downloads as of just the past week’s annoucement:
http://discover.store.sony.com/High-Resolution-Audio/

More on all of that on an upcoming blog post…it’s draft title is:
when music matters…climbing back out of a sonic hole

DSD Downloads Grow Up…

I released the first DSD Disc download of “The Window” as stereo DSF files in November, 2009. This year I released the same DSF file format for “Crossing”. It was only a question of time before I put the 5,1 surround sound mixes (multichannel or MCH) online for downloads, now that some of the media player software such as foobar2000 supports it, and some of the external DSD DACs out there such as exaSound’s e28 also support it.

It’s a new ready-to-sit-down-and-listen world all over again. We recorded “The Window” directly to DSD almost exactly 11 years ago, in the 3 days prior to the Thanksgiving weekend in Boulder in 2002. Most of the world was still on 56k dialup modems and ISDN BRI was running at 64k. You wouldn’t try downloading a 500MB DSD MCH file (one song!) under that setup.

You can read Brian Moura’s High Fidelity Review accounts of both of these original SACD works when they were first released the links below.  His post this afternoon of my new DSD MCH downloads is at Quadrophonic Quad

The Window (High Fidelity Review – 2003)
http://www.highfidelityreview.com/da…est-album.html

The Window

The Window – DSD stereo and MCH download

David Elias – Acoustic Guitar, Vocal & Harmonica
Sally Van Meter – Dobro, Weissenborn & Lap Steel
Matt Flinner – Mandolin & Bouzouki
Ross Martin – Electric & Baritone Guitars
Eric Thorin – Upright Bass
Marc Dalio – Drums
John Magnie – Keyboards & Accordion

Album Tracks
1. Freedom On The Freeway
2. Summer Wind
3.
Go Down Easy
4.
The Old King
5.
Something About You
6.
Half An Hour Away (Intro)
7.
Half An Hour Away
8.
Her Name Is A.
9.
Transcendental Deprivation Part III
10.
Season Of The Fall
11.
The Window (Intro)
12.
The Window
13.
Picture Of Nothing
Crossing (High Fidelity Review – 2005)
http://www.highfidelityreview.com/ne…und-sound.htm

Crossing - DSD stereo and MCH download

Crossing – DSD stereo and MCH download

David Elias – Acoustic Guitar, Vocal & Harmonica
Sally Van Meter – Weissenborn Guitar & Dobro
Matt Flinner – Mandolin
Eric Thorin – Upright Bass
Eric Moon – Keyboards & Accordian
Marc Dalio – Drums
Chris Kee – Upright Bass
David Philips – Pedal Steel
John Harvard – Electric Guitar
Peter Tucker – Drums
Reid Dennis – Percussion
Eric Humphrey – Organ

Album Tracks
1. Crossing (Lonely Bells)
2. Mend My Mind
3. Close My Eyes
4. Morning Light / Western Town
5. Rodeo On A Ridge
6. Red Tail Guide
7. Heaven’s Destiny
8. One More Savior
9. Above The Creek
10. The Riddle Song
11. Changing Down
12. If I Had My Way

Why Surround?

There were some very specific goals that I had in mind for these surround projects which Brian’s articles refer to.  To list them succinctly:

  • minimal micing
  • live studio stereo mixes of the performance and the room to provide natural reverb in the mixes (stereo and surround)
  • a minimal 8 tracks on the Sonoma DSD recorder to be able to more directly recreate the ambient surround characteristics of the band in a semi- (The Window) or full circle (Crossing)
  • live performances in good studios to capture the natural bleed and ghosting of the instruments across the mics using no isolation, even for the drum kit
  • no edits or overdubs for 99% of the sessions to accomplish accurate acoustic reproduction
  • lots of space :)

From Brian’s articles there are quotes of mine stating both projects’ intentions:

“The Window has gone from being simply an idea of recording an acoustic band, live in a studio, to being a Super Audio CD (SACD) in Surround Sound (Multichannel). We recorded material live as a full band for 3 days. The multichannel result is something you don’t often get to hear. A 5.1 surround sound playback of a live studio recording without cut/paste edits or overdubs. Both the texture and the space come through in the playback, and are most present when listening to the disc on an SACD multichannel audio system. If it sounds “really live” it’s because it was recorded that way in Direct Stream Digital (DSD) with multichannel playback in mind. It’s as if you are sitting in the middle of the studio listening to the band recording.”

On Crossing…

“Philosophically and creatively I really prefer 8 tracks if possible. This keeps micing to a minimum which has benefits and I think lends to the more natural recreation of the ambient space in both surround and stereo. The other advantage for me with 8 tracks is that the DSD recordings are digitally mixed on the Sonoma which keeps it first generation all the way through to the DSD layer you are hearing.”

“Most of these songs were recorded as live takes with no overdubs. Exceptions to that approach are tracks 4, 9 and 12 [Crossing] which introduced the electric instruments as overdubs. This SA-CD was recorded directly to DSD and captured the natural ambient characteristics of the band and the room with the intention of mixing for both Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound. With that in mind, we used a minimal approach to microphones and seated the musicians in a circle.”

Brian’s summary critique reads like this:

“When describing the sound of Elias’ previous Super Audio CD release The Window, I described it as ‘a reference quality recording’. Crossing is clearly in the same category and some might even say it sounds a bit better.”

Why DSD??

This post just went up on Positive Feedback Online as a reblog of mine. Chief Editor David W. Robinson was kind enough to do the layout and post it with photos and text I had provided him with. It is relevant to the whole discourse here… My Blogosphere Thoughts on DSD

If you are an audiophile and are getting into multichannel DSD playback or are thinking about it, both of these album downloads ($24.95) are Pure DSD without edits and overdubs except the electric guitar and pedal steel added to the 3 tracks mentioned above. I’m thrilled that the consumer products out there in the forms of both software media players and hardware DSD USB DACs allow the discerning listeners to get to the very very nice artistic side of tech + art = art...

I sure hope all this paves the way for more artists to turn to DSD as their recording media of choice,

Aloha!

Feel free to post your comments!

Feel equally free to contact me with questions you have using the contact form on my web site!  http://www.davidelias.com/contact.html

Just Say NAK…

train through southern cal near the arizona border

train through southern cal near the arizona border

Just Say NAK – The Art of Listening: Part II

We might not think about it this way often, but we are all message driven. The multimedia culture we’ve created for ourselves worldwide makes this clearer every day. However the types of messages we choose to receive and send are of course just that: our choice.

But often (i.e., incessantly) we are confronted with messages that make every attempt to disregard those choices and so be delivered without our recognition or agreement. In data communications there have long been different protocols for sending messages. A favorite standard is referred to as ACK/NAK which stands for Acknowledgement/Negative Acknowledgement.

In an ACK/NAK world, messages are sent (say as a stream of characters as text) one at a time, perhaps controlled by the number of characters (say a fixed length of 128 or any other number), or perhaps controlled by a special character or two that indicates the end of the line of text (say a carriage return/line feed).

There may also be other information in the message to help ensure the integrity of the data being received. This is usually referred to as a checksum which is just a number calculated using the content (character by character) of the current message. The receiving end does the same calculation and compares its result to the checksum number sent, hoping they match indicating that the data received is “good”.

The beauty of the ACK/NAK protocol is that the receiving end must either acknowledge the receipt (and integrity) of the last message by sending an ACK character back, or deny it by sending a NAK character back. The receiving end may also end up doing nothing!

The only way the sender can continue its delivery of messages is to receive an ACK back! It essentially lives for ACK. If anything else happens, like nothing comes back or it receives a NAK instead, it may try to resend the last message. But that will only go on for a limited number of retries before the sender quits….This result is bliss to me.

Maybe the message I’m sending here is “Just Say NAK“…if you choose to. You may have to say it more than once, but before long, that message you’re NAK’ing will cease to come back. You can also say nothing with the same result. I’ve learned from applied statistical probability theory and strategic planning of different types that doing nothing (no decision) is often a very good choice to make!

I’ve developed ways of saying NAK to messages and media that suit my lifestyle. These include avoiding being bombarded with negative news and information that seems to have completely dominated the common media. Predominately we are confronted with bad news on a fairly never ending basis through typical sources of information like newspapers, web giants, and television. In fact I’m beginning to believe there is only one source feed of all media worldwide. But where is it coming from?

By not ACK’ing that source, I am keeping my channels open for receipt of other messages that are more beneficial to my well-being. That’s my direction anyhow. I am often surprised by where the messages I do receive and acknowledge are coming from.

no-barking

The other interesting thing to me is the idea of applying the checksum to everyday communications. As years go by, it seems more and more obvious to me that no two people witness the same event the same way, at least in recollection. The event can be as simple as a short conversation between two people. Neither one will recollect the conversation the same way.

The words change and all the extra information entwined in body language, the weather, the mood, the time passed, all change completely, even within each retelling of the story from the same source. No checksum!

It is always someone’s story (version) of what happened and what was said. We expect accuracy in the story’s retelling but it is never probable or maybe even possible. This is due to our lack of skills in listening…

So instead of tuning up and tuning in to our observational, listening and memory apparatus it appears to me that culturally we have moved to a much simpler but woesome way to achieve accuracy: We put cameras and other recording devices everywhere, everywhere, everywhere…

The documentation of what happened everywhere is captured by data recording, video and still camera gear everywhere from yours or my driveway to the first traffic light we come to, to the first public or private building we walk by or into, to the first GPS’d phone call we make, to the first no-cash-accepted-here transaction we make, to the first Google search of the day we make, and then back again. Woesome.

As much as I like photography and video for their artistically expressive capabilities, I shudder and say NAK to the incessant recording of my daily activities.

It is our own societal escape from the Art of Listening in action. We don’t want to pay attention to what we hear or even see it seems.

We let devices do it for us. And so what is it then that we are doing?