Welcome to the 70th issue of the web magazine for audio, music and home theater - transitioned from the former national radio program AUDIOPHILE AUDITION, which was heard for over 13 years on public radio and commercial classical stations coast to coast. We are dedicated to your auditional wellbeing.
We continue to review more SACDs & DVD-As than any other publication web or print, and this issue we have 42 Hi-Res disc reviews - DVD-A & SACD, multichannel and stereo. Claudio Abbado's SACD of Mahler's Fifth Symphony is the Disc of the Month. Our Special Feature this month is from the founder of the Dutch Channel Classics label, who issued the first classical SACD. Our component reviews this month include Element's Power Harmony AC treatment box and HeadRoom's Total BitHead USB portable headphone amp. Among the 24 Classical CD reviews are a wild collaboration by Asian composers and the Bang On A Can musicians, and a klezmer version of Peter and the Wolf called Pincus and the Pig! Our DVD video reviews begin with a dozen Music Videos, including Mozart's Magic Flute, two programs on cellist Jacqueline du Pré, the Who at the Isle of Wight, and a trippy visual feast to classic recordings by organist Virgil Fox. Among outstanding feature DVDs for your collection are two Star Trek series and two Alfred Hitchcock films. Our 15 Jazz reviews make a total of 118 discs reviewed, with more to come later this month.
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IS HI-RES A NECCESSITY?
An uncredited item in the Open Forum of the latest Boston Audio Society newsletter struck me with the same amazement as reading about the $170,000 loudspeaker or Monster Cable buying the name of the baseball stadium. Titled Hi-Rez Necessity?, the writer was dismayed by Robert Stuarts lead article in the March 2004 AES Journal on the better sound offered by high res audio. The writer claims that no test he knows of has demonstrated that 99% of music reproduction in the home requires any more than 44.1K sampling rate and either 14 bit with dither or 12 bit with companding. Not only does this person feel the standard CD format delivers just as good sound as any hi-res approach, he insists that even 16 bits is painting the lily. He proposes a test feeding a high-res signal to a standard DAT recorder set to 44.1/16 bit (they also allow recording at the higher-res 48K - does he think there was no reason for that?); then comparing the DATs output to its hi-res input.
To me this smacks of a flat-earth mentality even more than the conservative audio faction which holds that all amps and CD players sound alike and specialty cables make no difference whatever. This person has obviously never compared the standard CD layer of a good SACD with its SACD layer on a high quality system. (And the CD option isnt nefariously being made to sound bad in relation to the hi-res version as some have alleged.) If it doesnt sound any different why have so many of the leading recording engineers in the industry - such as Jack Renner, Tom Jung, Jared Sacks, Mark Waldrep and Ralph Couzens - gone to the extra effort and expense of recording on and releasing on SACD or DVD-Audio? And why have many labels still issuing primarily standard CDs switched to making all their master recordings on DSD or hi-res PCM? The flat-earther does state in conclusion that the only benefit of hi-res systems is for multichannel uses. Since he ends there we dont know if hes part of that perhaps larger misguided faction who say that multichannel reproduction of music is also completely absurd. Whether on your own system or at a friends or a dealers, Use Your Own Ears and decide for yourself.
- John Sunier
STAFF WRITERS This Issue: Donna Dorsett, Dalia Geffen, Tom Gibbs, Laurence Vittes, Gary Lemco, Brian Bloom, John Henry, Peter Bates, Calvin Harding Jr., Ron Legum, John Sunier.
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