Elliot Mazer on HD Digital, Analog, and Audiophiles (it's not all good)
I was following one of those interesting Internet threads based on and around Elliot Mazer. For those of you that don't about producer, executive, technologist, and project leader (according to Wikipedia) Elliot Mazer, he has been in the music business for decades as a record producer for many classics including Neil Young's Harvest, Janis Joplin's Cheap Thrills, and the music for Martin Scorcese's Last Waltz to name just three very heavy hitters. Mazer also helped develop AirCheck, a system for monitoring when songs are played on the radio and TV, which was eventually sold to Radio Computing Services, Inc (RCS). Lately, he's been consulting to among others, Orastream which is where the string started for me.
If you recall, Orastream was involved in the high rez streaming service for Neil Young's newest Psychedelic Pill. I went from Mr. Mazer's Wikipedia page to Google which lead me to this interview in Sound On Sound and this nice quote:
"With 192kHz, the recording medium is not there, which is slightly different than when you use the best analogue system. The 192kHz format makes listening to digital pleasurable, and it does not sound digital. It moves me more. I feel the same about DSD [Sony's one-bit, super-high sample rate technology used in the Super Audio CD format] but 192/24 PCM is my favourite, and 192 sounds better than 96 by a long shot. I'll bet that 384 will sound even better. The differences are in the width, depth and height of the recording." ~ Elliot MazerThere are interesting parallels to comments made by Barry Diament and Bruce Brown in their respective Audiostream Q&As. Here's Barry:
"When I first heard properly done 24/192, it was a jaw dropper. For the first time in my experience, those reservations I have always had about digital, where I felt there were some things the best analog did better, simply evaporated. This is, to my ears, a bigger jump up in quality over 24/96 than that was over 16/44. It no longer feels like a great digital recorder or a great analog recorder. It feels like the recorder has been effectively removed from the equation and I am listening directly to the mic feed." ~ Barry DiamentAnd Bruce Brown:
"To fully capture the nuances of tape, I feel the only way to do that is into either DSD64fs via a Grimm AD1 or to DSD128fs. That is the closest I’ve heard digital to master tape. That is how good tape can be. It trumps everything else." ~ Bruce BrownInteresting, no?
Then I came across this interview with Mr. Mazer from Tape Op magazine which is where things take a turn for the worse:
Does the audiophile still exist today, or is this a dying breed?Ouch! I quickly ran to the nearest mirror and was relieved to see that I am not, in fact, disappearing (if anything, the opposite is true). What's more is when I add up all of these quotes, I have to wonder who Mr. Mazer thinks the audience for 192kHz and DSD recordings is/are? Hint: Audiophiles. And what's more is we are driving the market for HD download outlets like HDtracks, Qobuz, and Linn Records for remastered HD versions of classic records, not just "high fidelity" pap. Harumph!
The audiophile breed is disappearing. They mostly don’t listen to music anyway - they listen to sound. There are a few record labels that specialize in that market. They produce “high fidelity” recordings of music that sells equipment.
I'd like to track down Mr. Mazer and see if I can interest him in a Q&A for AudioStream and also let him know that audiophiles come in all shapes and sizes and do not compress so neatly into such a small and unattractive package (but I admit that some audiophiles fit his description to a beefy-T).
I'd also like to thank him for such wonderful records and ask—What's up with Pono?