Sunday, September 28, 2008

Black & White

Don't get all up in arms he only uses records that are already to damaged to be playable. Check out his website here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The making of Led Zeppelin LP's

Below is a short video on the making of the recent "Mothership" and "The Song Remains the Same" records.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We're Gonna Groove

Today marks the 28th year since the death of John Bonham and the end of Led Zeppelin. John was a family man who hated touring and the rock star lifestyle. He preferred to go to the local pub and talk to farmers about how every body's crops were doing. He didn't just own a farm, when he wasn't recording or touring he worked his farm. He was as proud of his prize winning cows as of his gold records. There are many stories about his angry outbursts but for the most part he was depressed about being away from his family. Everyone who knew him described him as a warm and giving person.

Led Zeppelin had one of the most varied list of influences imaginable. Bonham and Jones were into Soul, R&B, and Jazz. Plant loved Blues, West coast psychedelia, pop, and Indian Music. Page was fascinated by Blues, Early Rock N' Roll, Folk music, and world music. When people call them the first Heavy Metal band that's an insult. No heavy metal band has their knowledge of music history or their ability to play just about any type of music they decided to attempt. How many band could play blues, folk, hard rock, punk, reggae, country, and pop? Add to all of those the songs that simply defy categorization.

In interviews both in 1980 and since every band member has admitted that they felt that the band was stagnating and they were hungry to explore new directions and conquer new territory. Were they on the verge of another great period or were they about to head down a creative dead end? If their track record was any indication another great success was in their future. They were always risk takers. Even ending the band was a brave move. They had to know that none of them would ever achieve that level of success as individuals. Led Zeppelin is perhaps unique, with the exception of The Beatles in the fact that they decided to end it and go out on top. A wise move as no one would have been able to fill Mr.Bonham's drum stool. They never won a Grammy during the band's existence, they have since been honored with a Lifetime Achievement award.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A giant among men

Sadly many people haven't heard of Les Paul. In addition to being a great guitarist he is a great innovator and even an inventor. He invented the solid body electric guitar, thus greatly reducing the problem of feedback on stage. He also invented the idea of over-dubbing allowing one musician to record many parts for a single work. Not to mention his innovation of synchronizing a number of recording machines to allow for multi-track recording, thus making mixing after the performance possible. Modern recordings simply couldn't exist without his vision.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Have you ever wondered what review's systems look like? Below are pictures of Robert E. Greene from "The Absolute Sound" two systems.

System 1:

Harbeth speakers on make shift stands, Bryston amp setting on the floor, components stacked on top of one another and a turntable that's on a flimsy looking stand. This can't be the recipe for great sound. Sadly this isn't a joke.

System 2:

Looks to be a Bryston Preamp sitting on top of a Sunfire amp (a H-U-G-E, HUGE no-no because the power supply of the amp MUST be radiating noise into the preamp which contains delicate signals) hooked up to a cheap direct drive turntable and a cheap looking CD player all setting on a fire place mantle.

None of this is to say that those systems can't sound great but the chances are very, very slim. Now, for a few pictures of MY system from a couple of years ago. While not perfect the set up is much closer to what the majority of the audiophile community would consider ideal. Lacking a digital camera this is the best photo that I can provide.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wearing the Inside Out

Today it was announced that founding member of Pink Floyd, Richard Wright passed away after a short battle with cancer. While he didn’t have many song writing credits after "Dark Side of the Moon" or many appearances as the lead singer his contributions behind the keyboards defined the Pink Floyd sound. It's absence from their album "The Final Cut" insured that album's failure as a "Pink Floyd Album" and guaranteed that it would forever be seen as a "unofficial Roger Waters solo album." With only a small guest appearance on "A Momentary Laps of Reason" he couldn’t stop that LP from being anything more than a David Gilmour solo album that had Mick Manson doing a bit of drumming. His full return for the "Division Bell" album revitalized the sound for a new phase of the band that was far too short. It is impossible to imagine a singer more perfect for harmonizing with and complimenting David Gilmour's voice so seamlessly. The song Echoes from The Floyd's highly underrated Meddle is a prime example. His 1978 solo album, "Wet Dream" which is unjustly out of print is a wonderful collection of songs well worth the trouble of seeking it out. Mr. Wright's family released only a short statement and asks for privacy.

At the very end of "Time" Richard Wright sings

"Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines.
Hanging on in quiet desparation is the English way.
The time has gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say . . ."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Acoustic music is better at diagnosing the sonics of a component simply because the listener has had a chance to hear it in real life. I've always felt that if a component could reproduce the tonality of acoustic instruments accurately, their reproduction of the tonality of electronic instruments must inherently be accurate. However, I would agree that if a trained listener had heard a recording of non-acoustic instruments on a system that is known to be extremely accurate because of it's performance with recordings of acoustic instruments in real space enough times that they could then use that recording with some authority.

Don’t get me wrong it isn’t a bias against rock and pop, or a preference for jazz and classical. It is perfectly acceptable to use acoustic rock as a reference. Drum kits on rock and pop are, as long as they acoustic also a perfectly acceptable instrument to use for evaluation purposes.

While the sound of an electric guitar MIGHT be as complex as a flute, acoustic guitar, or grand piano it is unknowable. By that I mean that unless you were in the recording studio with the guitar player on the day of the original session your understanding of the sound of that guitar can only be in the broadest of terms, not exact terms. There are just too many variables that affect the tone of the guitar. The list of factors that I can think of off of the top of my head are:

1. The Guitar (make, model, and year)
2. The switch positions on said guitar
3. The nob settings of said guitar
4. Custom modifications to the guitar (if any)
5. The foot pedals (not only type but brand)
6. The nob positions on those pedals
7. Any customization of those pedals (if applicable)
8. The Guitar amp (make, model, and age)
9. The setting of knobs and switches on said amp
10. Any customization of the amp (if there are any)
11. Recording mic (model and type)
12. Mic position
13. Tweaks of the mic (if any)
14. Room position of mic
15. Room acoustics
16. String choice on guitar
17. Choice of guitar pick
18. Tube type in guitar amp (if applicable)

Now lets look at the variables for recording a flute:

1. The flute (make model, and year)
2. Recording mic (model and type)
3. Mic position
4. Tweaks of the mic (if any)
5. Room position of mic
6. Room acoustics

Because there are so many variables in the way an electric guitar CAN sound it is completely unsuitable as a reference to determine the accuracy of reproduction. So if a piece of audio gear slightly changes the tonality of electric guitar it’s tough to know because the slightly inaccurate reproduction is still somewhere on the continuum of what an electric guitar MIGHT sound like. It’s pretty obvious that the chance KNOWING in exact terms how a particular performance on electric guitar is supposed to sound is an impossibility. While KNOWING how a flute is supposed to sound in absolute terms, though difficult is possible.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Occasionally I've been THAT guy! But only when customers really, really had it coming.