Tag Archives: DIY

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
——————————————————

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

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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