Hi-Res Audio

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Steven Plaskin  |  Sep 27, 2012
The Hoff Ensemble Quiet Winter Night 2L (192/24)

This wonderful recording is a blend of jazz and folk with Norwegian songs sung by Norway’s top vocalists including Helene Boksle, Sondre Bratland, Unni Wilhelmsen, Tomine Harket and Cecilia Vennersten. Now I have never heard of any of these singers, but the album fits together beautifully. As the title suggests, this is quiet reflective music with a touch of melancholy that is very well recorded. A large acoustic space with deep bass. And yes, this recording has dynamics; an overall DR13. Another 2L showpiece.

Steven Plaskin  |  Sep 07, 2012
Blue Coast Records is offering a free group of performances recorded at the 2012 California Audio Show. To access the downloads you must register with Blue Coast Records. The recordings were made live direct to 2 channel using the Sonoma System at 2.8 MHz.
Steven Plaskin  |  Aug 24, 2012
Linn Records download of Sasha Cooke with the Colburn Orchestra If You Love for Beauty is my download pick of the week. Yarlung Records uses minimalist audiophile recording techniques and prefers to record in concert halls as opposed to studios. This 88.2/24 recording has wonderful acoustics for this mezzo-soprano with terrific performances of the Mahler "Ruckert Leider". I also enjoyed Chausson’s "Poeme de L”Amour et de la Mer".
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 19, 2012
Great news for non-USA HD download lovers, Linn Records has added Universal Records to its roster of HD downloads that includes records from John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and Bob Marley to name just three. Linn calls their HD downloads "Studio Master..." which are offered in FLAC and WMA formats. In Linn land, a "Studio Master" appears to be any recording delivered with a bit depth of 24 and sample rates from 48kHz up to 192kHz.

If you browse the Linn Records website, you'll also notice a lack of 'provenance' information for these "Studio Master" recordings which is a hot topic around these parts. Hmm...Did I miss the 'where's my HD download provenance outrage' aimed at Linn?

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 12, 2012
Based on the comments from Part 1 of our Q&A with David Chesky of HDtracks, I sent along some additional questions. I should say that this process is not perfect and David's answers are obviously to a large extent a reflection of my questions. That being the case, David has offered to continue this dialog so consider this a work in process.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 10, 2012
From the Press Release:
For the first time in Europe legends of rock, pop, soul, funk, jazz a selection of classical music and new releases will be available as high-resolution music download from Warner Music.

Berlin, 08. June 2012 - HIGHRESAUDIO wins Warner Music Group as third major record label for the distribution of high-resolution music downloads. Warner Music now offers international and local releases in 24-bit, 96kHz and 192kHz studio master-quality for download via www.highresaudio.com. Aimed at the quality

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 08, 2012
I'd imagine most of you already know about HDtracks. If not, I'll just say that HDtracks is a music download service, specializing in High Definition downloads and if you want to know more, follow that link or let Google show you the way. What you may not know is HDtracks was founded by David and Norman Chesky who also own and operate Chesky Records, the Grammy Award winning record label, and David Chesky also happens to be a musician, composer, record producer, and audiophile. At the risk of sounding not impartial, if we were to create a wish-list for one of the people at the helm of one of the largest HD music download sites, I can't really think of a better resume. But that's just me.

Over the years, there has been some controversy over some releases sold by HDtracks and there are some ongoing issues and concerns mainly related to the quality and provenance of HD remasters. I recently had an opportunity to speak to David Chesky by phone and talk about some of these issues and concerns.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jun 01, 2012
Da Pacem (Give Peace) featuring the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Christopher Bowers-Broadbent on organ led by Pärt perfectionist Paul Hillier spans nearly 30 years of the composer's output. Here we have a collection of short-form sacred choral works both a cappella and with organ accompaniment and they are sparse, minimal, medieval, monastic, and lovely. If you go for that sort of thing.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 31, 2012
I recently received an email from Brett Rudd, the man behind the Find HD Music search engine and thought it well worth sharing. Here's the important part:
I was reading with interest your article about 'Geographic Restrictions' on music downloads. I thought you and your readers might be interested in a feature on the FindHDMusic (www.findhdmusic.com) search engine that tries to partially address the problem.

While it doesn't overcome the geographic restrictions, the FindHDMusic site will indicate if the album can be purchased from your country and hopefully this will help eliminate the frustration of searching for an album and then going though the purchasing process only to be told that you can't buy the album.

Excellent, no?
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 25, 2012
George Gershwin

In honor of Memorial Day, I thought a pair of related American masterpieces would be especially fitting. First up we have Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue from a June 10, 1924 performance featuring George himself on piano and Paul Whiteman and his Concert Orchestra (abridged arrangement by "Ferdie" Grofé). You'll most likely have already noted based on the recording date that this is an "acoustical" recording meaning the sound was captured by a horn not a microphone (otherwise it would have been an "electrical recording") so it is an early example of HD (horn definition) music.

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 19, 2012
Mel Tormé Mel Tormé Swings Shubert Alley

I can remember first hearing the phrase "perfect pitch" when my father played me some Mel Tormé when I was just a wee lad and he explained how Mel had it. While Mel has never lit my fire as much as other crooners, this record is a poster child for all that's marvelous and stupendous about recorded music. I was reminded of Mel and this record (and my father) by this post from David Chesky of HDtracks on Facebook:

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 18, 2012
Beach House Bloom

Any Cocteau Twins fans out there? If you go for dreamy washes of keyboards, fluid guitar, and angelic vocals floating over the top, all wrapped up into songs that are not afraid to sound beautiful, you may very well like Beach House. Bloom, released on Sub Pop!, is the fourth full-length from Baltimore-based Beach House who is Alex Scally (electric guitar, electric bass, piano, organs and keyboards, background vocals) and Victoria Legrand (vocals, keyboards, organ and piano) joined here by Daniel Franz on drums and percussion and Joe Cueto on Viola for "On the Sea". Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, !!!, Grizzly Bear, Deadbeat Darling, Blonde Redhead, and more...) gets co-producer credit.

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 10, 2012
Thanks to John Atkinson yet again for giving us the heads up (I'll let the Press Release handle the heavy lifting):
San Francisco, May 10, 2012—Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: DLB) announced today that e-onkyo music, the high-quality music distribution service managed by Onkyo Entertainment Technology Corporation, a subsidiary of Onkyo Corporation, will be the first online music distribution service to feature Dolby® TrueHD 5.1-channel surround sound. Expected to launch on May 30, 2012, in Japan and in fall 2012 elsewhere in the world, this service will enable users to download music from 100 album titles (about 1,000 tracks) in Dolby TrueHD 5.1-channel surround sound. The new Onkyo® A/V receivers (AVR) TX-NR818 and TX-NR717 will support the service.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Apr 26, 2012
BBNG2 by BADBADNOTGOOD

Thanks to reader Guilherme R. for turning me/us onto this free 24/96 FLAC download from all-around bad boys in a good way BADBADNOTGOOD's latest BBNG2. Mainly a three-piece consisting of piano/keyboards, acoustic and electric bass, and drums/sampler, if you like your music all modern and jazzy with an attitude, you may very well like BADBADNOTGOOD. I know I do. Then again, you may hate them. Did I mention BBNG2's free?

Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 10, 2012
As a follow-up to The Emperor's Old Clothes: In Theory Is Where I Do My Best Practice, I thought it worthwhile to point you to Soundkeeper Recordings who offer various versions of the same music for download in different bit/sample rates. For free. Here's why...
One thing that comes up repeatedly in discussions with other music lovers and audiophiles regarding CD vs. high resolution digital formats, is the fact that most folks have no means of making a valid comparison. Often, the high resolution version of a record is mastered at a different session, sometimes by a different engineer. At many so-called "format shootouts", one hears level differences, EQ differences, etc., making a true comparison of the formats impossible. Astute listeners realize these are comparisons of different masterings and not of the formats themselves.

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