Tag Archives: music

5 Of My Personal Favorite HiFi Audio Gadgets Under $500.

NOTE: I’m not a gear reviewer, just a serious listener for my own enjoyment as well as recording artist trying to get the best sounds on my budget for preparing and editing my own music.

I’ve always had the need to buy things that were on the economy side as much as possible. But my needs for high quality in a lot of the things I am most fond of, particularly music never wants to bend to economics.

So over the years I’ve become persistently good at finding the right products in my price ranges that give me the best sound and best operation overall for music. In our world of virtual realities this is true of guitars, computers, software, microphones, DACs, Preamps/Amplifiers, Internet access, speakers and other disparate things never lumped together in the past so intimately.

I have some favorites for listening to good recordings!

Feel free to contact me via my web page if you have questions about anything I wrote about here. The revolving product I have to buy every 3-5 years that is not listed below is the PC notebook I use for computer audio, a huge part of my world. I spend $250 to $400 on these and can always find the high end portable notebook I need (currently 6GB RAM, i5 Intel quad core 2.6gHz, 1TB 7200rpm drive, 3 USB, 1 HDMI, 14″ screen, CD/DVD RW, Win7 Pro x64).

Aloha!

~ DE


OPPO HA-2  –  $299
While this product has been updated at OPPO by the HA-2SE model at the same price, I have been using the portable HA-2 headphone amplifier, DSD/PCM DAC, iPhone recharger for several years now since its release.

oppo-ha2

It might be easier to describe this beauty in terms of what it doesn’t do as an optimal mobile HRA device (my term), since it has so many interrelated functions. Overall it is the perfect mobile or home device to handle the digital to analog conversion of music on your computer or iPhone/Android and deliver it to either your headphones/earbuds or wired home stereo/studio.

In addition it has a good 4+ hours of battery that will provide DC voltage to your iPhone while traveling in airplanes and the like. It is portable enough to fit in a shirt pocket or banded together (they provide the thick bands…) with your iPhone in a jean jacket.

The HA-2 charges my iPhone 5S at least 1.5 times during travel, so a fully charged iPhone to begin with can play music with the HA-2 handling DSD64 or 128 and any bitrate PCM you throw at it for flights across the mainland or to Hawaii.

The software player I use to handle hi-res audio files I load onto the iPhone is Onkyo’s HF Player. You download the free version first, then upgrade for $9.99 to handle the hi-res which hands DSD audio to the HA-2 using DoP up to DSD128. All PCM and MP3/AAC can be upsampled to DSD in this mode. Nice!  High Precision gives you better signal to noise ratio (i.e., better sound) at a battery use price.

Onkyo’s HF Player app is accessed from the iTunes setup of your iPhone to load the hi-res files (beware this is klunky but can be done). Otherwise it easily finds and plays all your iTunes songs on your iPhone better than the stock Apple music app (reread the upsample to DSD above).

All in all the HA-2 is an incredible value for delivering the highest quality digital audio to your headphones or your home stereo setup. There is both a line out and headphone jack. The analog volume control gives you precise control over gain on the headphone side. I use it this way to feed my preamp too.

Here’s the PDF user guide:
http://download.oppodigital.com/Docs/HA-2%20User%20Manual%20US%20V1.1.pdf

Oh, and it has a patented fast charging AC adapter that recharges the HA-2 in no time.

 

Meridian Explorer2 MQA DAC – $299

This is the product that for me broke the floodgates of what a listener can actually experience with PCM masters, from CD to hi-res DXD at 24/352.8 or 24/384. It was  the first DAC to hit the streets that decoded MQA in lossless PCM master files of any format (WAV, AIF, FLAC, ALAC, etc.).

explorer2

In 2015 I’d been reading about MQA and all the trials and tribulations of its definition and promises for producing digital audio content as artists and producers had at least heard it in their mastering studio, if not necessarily intended (my humor). It was interesting reading to say the least and the more I read the more interest I had in hearing it.

Using the Explorer2 beginning in February 2016, I started hearing masters created by some of the highest regarded studios in the world, including Norway’s 2L. I was familiar with and owned 2L’s early SACD releases and now saw some of those titles released as MQA DXD downloads.

What I then heard was unlike any PCM master I’d listened to before in the natural sounding reproduction of especially acoustic sounds (my favorite kind).

For $299, the listener had a full PCM DAC up to 24/192 with two outputs for headphones as well as line level to a home stereo/studio setup. That price hasn’t changed as I write this.

This portable (very small and weightless) convenient way of hearing excellent quality PCM of any quality recordings can now be attached via its USB connector to any computer and used to decode streaming music from TIDAL at full “unfolded” rates.

So the streaming bitrate is roughly that of a CD (1.411mbps) depending on the master format (FLAC/ALAC are typically <1.0mbps), but the unfolded bit rate can be as hi-res as 24/192k (9.4mbps, upper limit of the Explorer2, not the limit of all MQA DACs).

My one complaint is the finicky USB connection for this DAC. It seems to lose its USB connection to the PC at the slightest movement. No substituted USB cables seem to improve this condition. It is also slightly annoyingly upside down based on the USB connector orientation which leaves the LEDs facing down.

I believed in the authenticity and comfortable enjoyable listening of what I heard as PCM using the Explorer2 so much that I became an MQA Ltd. artist/content partner and with their help converted all my CD and hi-res masters to MQA encoding for others to download or stream.

 

OPPO PM-3 Closed Planar Magnetic Headphones – $399

Prices for headphones are as volatile in ranges as the Dow month to month. What sounds good sometimes works for some, even as studio/industry standards, but either costs at least twice the PM-3 price, or just doesn’t sound as good to others.

What I found with this comfortable setup is a highly unintrusive sounding headphone that shields me from outside noise distractions (I hate those) and is comfortable enough to wear for a few hours at a time. They have a clean alive sound that isn’t biased towards either sizzling highs or thumping bass lines and kick drum samples.

oppo-pm3

OPPO loves good sound as represented by all of their products and these are no exception in a price range many can afford compared to other big names in studio quality headphones.  A single stereo 1/8″ cable comes with this which is convenient for wearing as well.

You can read about planar magnetic approaches to speakers and headphones elsewhere. I like them because of their flat honest sound reproduction abilities.

 

Zipbuds Pro – about $25

I found and ordered these a couple years back on a whim based on price and the description of the product which included reference to a military grade fibers that don’t decompose in the weather and rain (Hawaii weather decomposes everything from cars to houses to electronic gear in no time).

Also descriptions of the care taken to complete the audio quality as well as patented zipper approach to no-tangle were attractive. A (very very good) noise cancelling mic for iPhone use was a coup de gras.  For $25 what the heck (list may be closer to $50 but easy to find online for $25 or so).

zipbudspro

I had hated earbuds forever, but Zipbuds allowed me to recover from that remarkably. Their product description did not even mention solving one crucial factor that has had me rejecting all earbuds since the earliest Apple iPhone set in 2007: They really hurt my ears to wear.

Zipbuds fit your ears at an angle. There is a soft rubberized attachment fitted in the 3 sizes (SML) they include. The angular thing greatly helps both comfort and sound problems. I never take the Zipbuds out because they are starting to hurt my ears. That is remarkable.

There is clearly a left and right for fit and sound (which changes dramatically if they are reversed). While the R/L is not well marked on the Zipbuds themselves you just need the logo on the zipper facing out and you got it right.

I have also found more than subtle differences in SQ based on how firmly the Zipbuds are inserted in my ears. If I want more bass, I simply push them in a little further. Is that design or simply the convenience of fate?

I’ve shared these as gifts with lots of people, strict audiophiles and otherwise. Without exception they have been received with the same enthusiasm as I have for them.  My second or third set came with  a note in the box with the CEO Rob’s phone number saying to call if I wanted.

So I did call Rob one day and had a great conversation with him about hi-res in general. They are working hard to make it feel and sound right for their customers and have been at it a good long time now in Internet years.

For travel and on the go, nothing beats Zipbuds for quality of sound and convenience. I eagerly participated in their 2016 Kickstarter campaign for their new Catalyst product which is not shipping yet (ok, they are late by a month or two so far…).

Catalyst is a very high quality Bluetooth wireless set of balanced (fitted/weighted) earbuds that deploy AptX and AAC for lossless delivery of sound to the listener without wires.  Check it out.

No wires – 16 hrs battery for playtime, lossless sound quality, comfortable fit. Wireless is where I’m headed in every aspect of what I’m doing with electronics.

 

iFi Audio Micro iTube preamp/buffer – $329

Another great product I have is the original version of this product. It refers to itself as the Swiss Army Knife of Audio.

An iTube2 was just released by this highly innovative and nimble company. iFi-Audio.com has some killer products they deliver to audio lovers at great economy worldwide. Everything from portable DSD/PCM DACs to headphone amps to USB filters and special cables.

ifiaudio-itube

Here’s the relatively new setup I now buy into with my ears: Tube preamplifiers are the best staging device for any good solid state amplifier.

I place the iFi-Audio iTube in between my OPPO 103 SACD/DVD/Blu-ray player and the amplifier I am using (currently NAD 906 multichannel). Having used other preamps and AV processors (all solid state) I immediately found the tube result to be a much more natural sounding delivery from the amp to the speakers.

Everything just sounds better but most noticeable was the serious bottom coming through my Monitor Audio Gold Series towers. I can’t get that acoustic upright or electric bass and kick drum to sound any more coincidentally solid and spacious in the room (wood floors and ceilings) any other way. Voices and instruments also lost edges and yes, even shimmered.

Another huge benefit here for the $329 price is that it will allow many who are mistakenly playing DSD as converted PCM in a player such as the OPPO 103 to now correctly configure the OPPO to convert native DSD directly to analog to send to the iTube preamp.

NOTE WITH CAUTION: To do this make sure OPPO is set to play SACD as “DSD” not “PCM” and disable Audio on HDMI. ****** Be sure not to set SACD playback to DSD unless you have volume control through a preamp or other means – Otherwise you can send 100% gain to your amplifier and do some damage to your speakers, ears and maybe more.******

You can read more on this from my post in 2013: Bartender, Give Me A Sandwich.

I typically use the iTube “Digital Antidote” feature that notably reduces ringing and digital distortion.  I typically do not use the 3D Holographic sound feature.

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Two Track Mind is an MQA encoded CD - plays on any CD Player

One of the planet’s first MQA CDs

This new release of all new tracks on CD, all solo acoustic, is encoded with MQA. That means if you play the CD in a computer audio or CD player setup that decodes MQA, you will get the full sound quality of the tracks.

You can Two Track Mind – Solo Acoustic” here at CD Baby: http://cdbaby.com/cd/davidelias19

However it can play on any CD player including in your car. It sounds great. The MQA encoding is beneficial especially to my ears at CD quality resolution regardless whether it is decoded or not. There is no hi-res to unfold on this master so there is nothing missing!

Just a new way of creating good sounding CDs. You’ll may see a lot more MQA CDs out there in the future…

davidelias-twotrackmind-cdcover-artwork-mqa

You can rip this CD like any other. The MQA is preserved as long as you rip to a lossless format like FLAC or ALAC or WAV or AIF.  The ripped tracks are then identical to what’s on the disc.

A new world in digital music no doubt.  Mahalo!

~ DE

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

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

History is a Drunken Sailor

What we recall from history rarely takes the form of a timeline, no matter how popular that notion is. Rather we are all more like walking containers of piles of unsorted photographs as snapshots of memories connected by many associations that we (our minds) have constructed.

This at least is how I have always thought of my recordings. Each one (both released and unreleased) is very much a snapshot in time of what I was writing, where and how I was living and often who I was playing music alongside with at that time. The recordings are then to me much more time capsules and life outtakes if you will in their own right.

This is not much different from the way we all recall history. It is tied by associations in little bundles to all kinds of faces and situations that are scattered around in the history containers we call minds. No two filing and retrieval systems are quite the same, therefore the story changes at each telling and re-telling.

When the songs get arranged for a CD or playlist of any kind, they are in fact telling a story by the author and producer. Creating an album in this regard is then very much the same process regardless of whether that album is one of digital/paper photos or of songs. The videos I started creating since moving to Hawaii also go through this process but use multiple artistic media sources, usually my still photographs and my music.

Time here becomes irrelevant, as it yields to the story being told, not the other way around.

Most of us were or are lucky enough to have vinyl LP’s (records — as in filed info?) as part of our experience. With records and albums, the essential message of the musical recording was always tied to the album cover itself. Double albums were more than twice as powerful since the inside cover was suddenly a landscape layout that could be and often was used to expand the experience.

These album covers were not iconic, they were physical and tactile. They contained photos, lyrics and other precious info to gaze into over and over again while listening to the recording. Sometimes they contained a poster to extract and put up on the wall. It was truly ritualistic and quite beautiful when I think about it. Even the storage of the albums was significant as they required quite a designated space as well as climate control issues separate from everything else. The arrangement and presentation of the music, as physical albums in a room, were a special part of each collector’s personal and usually shared musical experience. It all had a signature feel to it. How were the albums maintained and organized or disorganized? How many were there? What genres did they cover (anyone could see at a glance through the stacks)? Where we’re they located (i.e., what priority status did they get)?

All of this got iconized by degrees as we drifted away from LP’s in the early 80’s to CD’s and then drifted away from CD’s in the early millennium to iTunes and beyond. Now our collections are invisible to us. The containers don’t even exist. There is total abstraction between the music and the artist for the listener. The artist has essentially disappeared from the scene. There is no personalized connection between the media (that used to be an aged record cover with say a distinct coffee cup ring stain on it from that day in late summer when so and so sat down to listen to it or a wine ring stain from that party where so and so was moving to Copenhagen…) and the listener. Nor are there any more messages given by the artist and producer to the listener as something to physically grasp and review over and over while contemplating the recording. The listener’s focus inherent in that contemplation may not exist now either. It was a listening tool that has been removed. It is all abstract now. It exists in a cloud as they say…