Acoustic Sounds
Dorothy Ashby With Strings Attached 1957-1965

In his Downbeat review of jazz harpist Dorothy Ashby's 1965 release "The Fantastic Jazz Harp of Dorothy Ashby" (Atlantic 1447), "K.D." wrote : "Flighty" has Miss Ashby gliding in a Wes Montgomery-like style of octave approach. But it's obviously very much her own creation." K.D. compares bassist Richard Davis to Segovia. What a well-written, perceptive and interesting review, I thought to myself. Then I looked in the box... Read More

Comments: 7
The Fabulous Phonograph

Here are notes on a selection from my favorite books on the history of recording technology, the history of the record business, and the interactions between recording technology, the record business, and the art of music.

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Following "Making Vinyl" in Minneapolis, which was the best-attended most significant of these events (though the one at Hansa Studios in Berlin was the most exciting) and attended by 500 industry people from around the world, I took a short Uber ride from downtown Minneapolis to Audio Research inMaple Grove.Managing Director Dave Gordon took me on an "after hours" tour of the factory you're sure to enjoy. The company moved to this somewhat... Read More

Comments: 4
Vashti Bunyan, Terry Callier

Vashti Bunyans's Just Another Diamond Day (1970) and Terry Callier's The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier (1965) are classic, collectible folk records from artists who never got their deserved attention. Both have been reissued by The Electric Recording Company, makers of limited and very expensive reissues of often quite rare recordings.

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Solti Das Rheingold DECCA Vinyl Reissue

Frequently cited as "the greatest recording ever made", Decca's first studio recording of Wagner's seminal masterpiece remains a lodestar in the annals of the recording industry, over 60 years since the first sessions took place in Vienna in 1958. Part 3 goes over the different versions that have been issued - on vinyl, CD and SACD - including the brand new 2022 remastering on vinyl and digital. Then I conduct a detailed listening comparison and make some recommendations. Plus a breakdown of some other recordings of the Ring, and a survey of non-vocal, purely orchestral records of music from the Ring on vinyl and CD.

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Comments: 19
KLAUDIO Turntable

Pacific Audio Fest organizers released this teaser today. At the show KLAUDIO will debut it's new turntable featuring the company's pivoted tangential tracking tonearm, which features a number of interesting set-up innovations.Price was not announced. I'd planned on attending the show, which was really great last year but too much travel in May and early June made yet another trip problematic so it's a no go this year. It should be a really good... Read More

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Hana Umami Blue

The new $2,500 Hana Blue moving coil cartridge is the talk of the town and looks to fill the gap between the company's highly regarded Hana ML and flagship Hana Umami Red.

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Frequently cited as "the greatest recording ever made", Decca's first studio recording of Wagner's seminal masterpiece remains a lodestar in the annals of the recording industry, over 60 years since the first sessions took place in Vienna in 1958. Part 2 of this in-depth look into the making of this historic set of records begins with Decca's struggles to record a complete cycle "live" at Bayreuth in 1955, an experience that paved the way for the eventual studio recording in Vienna three years later. You'll discover how producer John Culshaw assembled a crack team of Decca's sound engineers to tackle a myriad of practical, technical and aesthetic challenges, while conductor Georg Solti marshaled the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and an unmatched cast of singers into creating a true classic of the gramophone.

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Comments: 5
Jerry's Records

I'm in Pittsburgh, PA visiting nearby Iron Mountain where Universal Music Group archives much of its recorded tapes and other assets. Amazing video coming soon. While I was there I visited Jerry's Records, a famous Pittsburgh used record store recommended to me by my colleague Jacob Heilbrunn. Here's some just shot video. Read More

Comments: 1
Iron Mountain Vault

I spent today at Iron Mountain Entertainment Services where Universal Music Group archives much of its music assets. It was a day filled with open eyed wonder at the richness of the tape and video archives, at how the material is being catalogued and at the Iron Mountain facility itself, which should be labeled the 8th wonder of the world. Video coverage coming soon!Can you see that black rectangle at the back of the room? That's another equally large room filled... Read More

Comments: 4
Solti's "Ring Cycle"

Frequently cited as "the greatest recording ever made", Decca's first studio recording of Wagner's seminal masterpiece remains a lodestar in the annals of the recording industry, over 60 years since the first sessions took place in Vienna in 1958. Recently reissued in a brand new remastering on vinyl and CD/SACD, we take a look at the work's pivotal place in not only classical music but also popular culture, discuss the making of this set, and assess the sound quality of its many incarnations. Part 1 covers the history of opera up to the "Ring"; the cycle's creation, and how it radically changed not only opera and classical music, but also theatre and popular culture in the 20th century and beyond.

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Comments: 3
Joni and Brandi at Newport Folk 2022

June 8, 2023: When Joni Mitchell mesmerized the Newport Folk Festival audience last summer with a surprise performance, she “breathed new meaning into some of her most famous lyrics” (New York Times). Today, the powerful live recording of her beloved hit “A Case Of You” is available digitally. Originally released in 1971 on Blue, this new live recording features vocals by Marcus Mumford and Brandi Carlile.

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Previn, West Side Story

Many have long forgotten, if they ever knew, but for a brief spell in the mid-to-late 1950s, André Previn was one of America’s most popular jazz musicians, at least judging by record sales, and his cover of West Side Story, released in 1960, marked his high point in that realm. It was his 6th and final album devoted entirely to a Broadway score—the first, in ’56, was My Fair Lady, which remained the best-selling jazz album for the next three years. It also marked pretty much his farewell to jazz, after which he turned to arranging unabashed mood music and then, in a total switch, to conducting classical symphonies.

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Comments: 2
CH Precision Factory Tour

Following High End Munich, I took a train ride to Zurich, Switzerland with members of the CH team: CEO and founder Florian Cossy, publicist Louise Ford, Head of International Sales, Kevin Wolff, and software developer Eduard Kohler. Then, in a whirlwind visit to the heart of Swiss watch making territory, I toured CH Precision in Préverenges as well as Telsa, the company that does CH's "board stuffing". Also in this video you'll see the machine shop... Read More

Comments: 36
Stillpoints Apertures

The Stillpoints Aperture Acoustic Panels, available for quite some time now in their original or Series II form, have been reviewed numerous times including by our own Michael Fremer. These reviews have consistently praised the panels' positive impact when placed at the first point of reflection, between or behind the speakers.Over the years, I have utilized them in my listening room in all these positions. However, during AXPONA 2022, when I entered the... Read More

Comments: 1
Rhino High Fidelity "The Cars"

Like most "overnight successes", the individual members of The Cars knocked around for years working to find the right setting and musical formula before hitting it big with their debut album. Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr met in Cleveland, both moving to Boston in the early '70s and releasing non-charting albums in various "folkie" type groups including Milkwood and Cap'n Swing. The Cars formed in 1976 with guitarist and Berklee student Eliot Easton joining Ocasek and Orr (the three had been in Cap'n Swing) and keyboardist Greg Hawkes, who had been in a previous group with the duo but left to tour with musical comedian Martin Mull plus drummer David Robinson late of The Modern Lovers. Hawkes didn't join until early 1977. Whew!

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Comments: 16