Did you watch last night's Grammy Awards? The big winners for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Dance/Electronica Album, Best Rock Album, Best Americana Album, Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media, Best Jazz Vocal Album, Best Musical Theater Album, and Best Choral Performance are all available in HD-quality from HDtracks and Qobuz. Not some geeky category like Best Sounding Classical Guitar Album of Led Zeppelin Covers or Breathiest Female Vocal but the real popular deal. Cool, no?
Tasty. Maybe that's not the best choice of word, but its the one that kept coming up as I listened to Warpaint's eponymous sophomore release. Tasty. While the band has been together in one form or another since 2004, this is only their second full length release but it certainly doesn't sound green. It sounds ripe.
What's the bad news? As I see it, the bad news about the fact that Mogwai's new album Rave Tapes is available as a 24/96 download from HDtracks (get it here) is the fact that Mogwai and Sub Pop don't tell anyone about it on their respective websites. What better way to promote the availability of higher quality versions of your music than to promote the higher quality versions of your music?
BitPerfect have announced they will be rolling out a DSD-capable version of their media player software for OSX (which still costs $9.99). Since BitPerfect uses iTunes as its library manager, and iTunes as we know does not support DSD, they've come up with an interesting work-around for this sticky situation. Unlike Pure Music and Audirvana which create proxy files within iTunes that point to the DSD file so your DSD music shows up in your iTunes library, BitPerfect have come up with a clever alternative:
Last night at the Producers and Engineers Wing's seventh annual Grammy party, which "will Highlight Sound Quality", Neil Young was given an award "for his commitment to excellence and ongoing support for the art and craft of recorded music." And Neil gave a speech. Here's a part of it (and the video of the entire thing):
Regardless of how you look at the data, the truth of the matter is hard drives fail. Some sooner than others which is the good news/bad news aspect illustrated by this fairly exhaustive, more so for the Seagate drives apparently, 27,000+ drive study by cloud storage provider Backblaze. While this is certainly worth a full read since Backblaze talks about specific models (hint: if you want the most reliable, pick Hitachi) the take-away point that anyone with music stored on a hard drive should take away is—Back Up Your Music!
A Musical Vault
The Bluesound Vault is in a category all by itself, at least for the time being. The Vault combines 1TB of Network Attached Storage (NAS) with a DAC and digital volume control so you can connect it directly to your hi-fi with a pair of regular old RCA interconnects. Using the very slick Bluesound app on your smart gadget or tablet of choice you can be playing scads of music in no time flat. No computer or external storage need apply. But that's not all.
The M1 DAC is built by Bricasti Design, a small private Massachusetts company that was founded in 2004 by Brian Zolner and Casey Dowdell ; both ex-Harman Specially Group employees. Brian previously worked for 20 years with Lexicon where he ultimately became VP of worldwide sales. Casey also worked for Lexicon as a dsp software engineer and helped develop the algorithm for the surround processing Lexicon Logic 7 that was able to distribute multi-channel sound on two-channel media. It should come as no surprise that the first product offered by Bricasti Design was the M7 Stereo Reverb Processor. The M7, introduced in 2007, is now used by many top recording engineers and studios. The M1 DAC was introduced in 2011; its development made possible from the financial success of the M7.
After CES I wanted something else. Nothing too slick, nothing too Daft Punk ("Giorgio By Moroder" being the most popular show tune at CES 2014). I'd downloaded Mutual Benefit's Love's Crushing Diamond a few weeks back but it didn't take hold until this week. It was the salve I needed. Just what the doctor of music ordered.