Everybody But Me
My new Pioneer DVD burner allows me overburn not just audio CDs, but data discs as well. This means I can squeeze an extra folder or two on my mp3 CDs for the iRiver or the car.
Listening to music on a really good pair of headphones is a unique experience. The ability to shut out the rest of the world (not possible while commuting) and just concentrate on truly hearing the music is something that allows one to immerse oneself in the sound (It's also a good reason to hang on to a turntable if your LPs are in good shape).
It has been a long time since I have done this at home, but now, with all the time I have, I am finding opportunities to reacquaint myself with my collection.
I had a pair of nice Denon headphones that I used for my iRiver, but the attachment to the headpiece broke. The headphones still worked, but they were quite unwieldy. I bought a new set, Seinheisser this time, for portable use, and retired the Denons for home use only. They are covered with tape, but still sound amazing.
I usually would use the headphones for making mix CDs, but the other day I had the hankering to plug them into the stereo and listen to some tunes.
Since music is recorded in stereo, headphones are ideal, but films are not optimally served by stereo reproduction, as most DVDs are geared towards multichannel sound. I like sometimes to listen to films on headphones because one can pay more attention to the music in that format, but unfortunately, an optimal stereo mix is not available on many DVDs.
Happily, all of the DVDs for the Lord of the Rings movies have stereo surround soundtracks in addition to the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and, in the case of the extended versions, DTS ES 6.1. Listening to the stereo mix of these films, with special attention to the music, is exhilirating.
The music is not necessarily louder in stereo than in the multichannel tracks (although it tends to be more present in the DTS incarnation than the Dolby version), but playing the sound through the home theater often causes other sounds to take attention precedence over the music (as is supposed to happen; while the music is excellent, its purpose is to support the film).
However, sitting down with these films and going through them only reinforces my contention that Howard Shore has written some of the best music ever for these films.
SACD Player Back Tomorrow
Speaking of music and high-fidelity, my 5 disc DVD/CD/SACD changer is coming back tomorrow. In preparation for this event, I bought the aforementioned 5.1 SACD of The Who's Tommy and the Bob Dylan box set.
While I have not had the chance to sample the Super Audio content of these discs, I have put them in to check out the regular CD layer, and I was quite surprised to find distinct improvements in the new edition of Tommy from the previous MCA CD. The older Bob Dylan discs all sound much better, but that is par for the course as the older CDs sounded brittle.
I have to say, I was disappointed by the fact that Tommy and several of the Dylan discs did not have CD-Text (the first disc of Blonde on Blonde had the text of the second disc's TOC as well). This has been an aspect of the SACD format from the beginning, and I am quite disheartened to see that the standards are lowering.
This is how a hybrid SACD works. The top layer is readable in any CD player. The lower layer contains the Super Audio content and is only readable in SACD players.
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
Sony Multi-Channel/Stereo SACD Only
The original three track tapes were transferred directly, without mixdown. The smoothness of the sound and infinite repeatability of this album makes it a cornerstone of my collection.
Jerry Goldsmith: Film Music
The London Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
Telarc Multi-Channel/Stereo Hybrid
Although none of the material here is particularly new (it is actually very close to the program of one of his live concerts), the performance is quite spirited, and the sound is outstanding. No, the sound is absolutely thunderous. A particular highlight is the closing of his "Motion Picture Medley" concert arrangement. A bold, in-your-face reading of his percussive main title from The Wind and the Lion will blow the roof off the house.
Carl Orff: Carmina Burana
The Philadelphia Orchestra Conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Sony Stereo SACD Only
This blistering recording of the classic is the only one you need, and the pristine-sounding SACD replaces the rather rough-sounding Sony "Great Performances" and "Essential Classics" CDs. The brass section is given the chance to really shine. There is a little bit of hiss, but the clarity of the sound more than makes up for it.
Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells
Virgin Multi-Channel/Stereo Hybrid
This release features a 5.1 remix designed to replicate the discrete quadrophonic remix of the album. There is no "literal placement" as far as the soundfield imaging is concerned, and musical voices often move from in front around to the sides or rear. The results are a fascinating musical experience intensified.
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
Capitol Multi-Channel/Stereo Hybrid
If you ever needed further proof that stereo was for pussies, look no further. James Guthrie's crystal-clear 5.1 mix of this classic album is like listening to it for the first time again. Voices and sounds emanate from all over the soundfield, adding extra dimension to this kaleidescopic masterpiece. Many of the effects were originally intended for the quadrophonic release, others were smoother than what would have been possible in 1972. You haven't heard "Time" until you've heard it in multi-channel SACD.
I will post notable DVD-Audio discs in my collection soon...
Hey, what happened here? I just heard a snippet of that Cars song earlier while driving and this just showed up on my Live Journal!
I wonder how that happened...