Stephen Mejias' Pick 6!
I've spent this entire week writing those little 100-word blurbs that make up Stereophile's semi-annual "Recommended Components" feature. Every day, from around nine in the morning until around eight in the evening: distilling, trimming, summarizing, finding new ways to say "this" lacked "that" but nevertheless excelled at "this."
The QB-9 is an asynchronous transfer mode, USB-input DAC with Ayre's minimum-phase digital reconstruction filter implemented in Field-Programmable Gate Array. It uses a Texas Instruments TAS1020B chip, supporting sample rates up to 96kHz and word lengths up to 24 bits. High-resolution digital files "popped with life" and were marked by a natural flow and physical impact that allowed WP to form a deeper emotional connection with the music. JA: "Ayre's QB-9 is well engineered, offering excellent performance in both the analog and digital domains, and is not compromised by its having just a USB data input." JI felt the QB-9 exceeded the YBA WD202 and Benchmark DAC1 USB in terms of spatial detail, depth, and width, while adding a touch of seductive clarity. "Wow!" The latest version of the QB-9 uses an XMOS XS-1 microprocessor chip and supports sampling rates via USB 2.0 up to 192kHz. Earlier QB-9s can be upgraded for $250. Stereophile's "Joint Digital Source" and "Overall Component" of 2009. (Vol.32 No.10, Vol.33 No.6, Vol.34 Nos.7 & 11 WWW)Some of my best work. Highly recommended.
So, when ML asked if I'd like to participate in a new AudioStream feature called "Pick Six," I saw the opportunity as a reward for finally completing the seemingly endless task of blurb-writing. Hell yeah, I'd like to participate.
The idea, ML explained, was that participants would pick six favorite recordings. Recordings must be available as downloads in CD-quality or hi-rez file formats.
As I'm in the mood of celebrating, I've broken the rules a little bit. While I have picked six recordings, all of which are available as FLAC downloads, I haven't actually heard these recordings yet. I do, however, believe they will be awesome. Call it an educated guess. In a sense, I'm just shopping.
Here are the six recordings I'd buy today, if I were celebrating the completion of "Recommended Components."
1. Wiley, Evolve or Be Extinct
This is the second album released by Wiley in the last six months, and word on the Internet is that this record is even more adventurous and exciting than the last, 100% Publishing. The dude is obviously on some sort of creative expressway, and I have a feeling he's saved his best for this one. I need it.
2. Pete Swanson, Man With Potential
On this record, Pete Swanson combines good old fashioned, angular noise with some pretty impressive beats. Who knew? I should have bought this one when I had it in my hands at Other Music. Vinyl editions are now hard to find. Good thing there's FLAC, I guess. Everything on the Type label is worth owning, in any form.
4. Gonjasufi, MU.ZZ.LE
This one's getting mixed reviews, but I don't care. I couldn't get enough of the strange, fried, mystical wanderings of A Sufi and a Killer, so I'm anxious to hear what else Gonjasufi's got in store.
5. Various, The Best of Disco Demands: A Collection of Rare 1970s Dance Music
Um, I would buy this one just for the album art. What?
6. Jeremy Bible & Jason Henry, Vector
This combines field recordings and electronics with cello, piano, and voice. Everything released by Experimedia is beautiful, thoughtful, and alive.
There you go. The pleasure I get from introducing people to new, interesting music is far, far greater than the pleasure I feel upon completing a task like "Recommended Components," so I hope you've enjoyed the list. Thanks, Michael!
If you'd like to participate (I would like you to), just email me your Pick 6! list. Just remember CD-quality or better—MP3, just say no.