On 25/07/2013, Tom Fine wrote:

> Hi Kevin:
> I'm sure we've all dealt with a "Golden Ears" with no taste. I have
> another friend who hand-built a really superb home-theater system and
> only likes to watch what I consider horrid mainstream dreck on it
> (including using one of the worst movies ever made, "Jumanji" (sp?) to
> demonstrate the bowel-loosening power of his built-in many-speaker
> subwoofer system).
> There is a whole class of records, going back to the earliest days of
> "Hi-Fi", which are much more about the sound than the music. What I do
> like about the latest vinyl-reissue fad is that no one has budget to
> go and make new "WOW- CHECK OUT THIS SOUND" records, so they reissue
> stuff, and the market demands stuff, that is beloved and most of it is
> beloved for the music more than the sound. Some of it also got a
> really raw deal on the first round of CD reissues, and now it can be
> heard in better quality. This is very true of the stuff that Fantasy
> Group put out under Original Jazz Classics in the 80s. They were doing
> a Good Thing, reissuing a ton of great music at budget prices on the
> new mass media. But they couldn't achieve good sound with their
> early-era digital transfer and mastering systems. Now the best titles
> are getting the Chad Kassim treatment so we can really hear the great
> music.
> One other friend story. My best friend is and has always been a true
> music nut. He's seen more live music than anyone else I know who's not
> a musician. Over the years, he's built up a very good collection of
> LPs and CDs, always buying for the music and not the sound. Until very
> recently, he was spending hours each week listening to one of those
> awful Crosly (sp?) "phonograph"/CD/radio contraptions. The turntable
> isn't as much of a groove-gobbling record-wrecker as an old Garrard
> changer, but it's not very good. I finally scraped together the pieces
> of a good little simple stereo system to fit his apartment (old
> Technics receiver that sounds better than it should, little Theile
> (sp?) speakers, older but well-made and gentle Marantz turntable with
> new Shure 97 cartridge; he uses his DVD player for CDs). He recently
> did me a big favor so the time was right to present him with the
> stereo. He says it really is better to listen in higher fidelity
> ("didn't realize all those records had such good bass to them"). He's
> definitely the guy with the crate of dog-eared LPs and a messy pile of
> CDs, and it is always fun to spin the music and pop the beer lids at
> his place, especially now that we can hear all the notes!
I find the performances are more expressive when the sound improves.

This applies both to the quality of the transfers from tape or shellac
to DVD and to the engineering of the playback equipment.

An example of the former is the recent DSD transfer of Horowitz playing
Schumann's "Kreisleriana". You can hear subtleties in the playing which
were not audible on LP or on the older CDs.

The same applies to much small group jazz which has been reissued in
better transfers. 

As for equipment, I think it is best to buy solidly made gear from
companies with established reputation. And buy seldom - my main speakers
have been the same pair of Quad ESL-63 for about 30 years. They give a
clean and neutral sound with no character of their own. Their newer
models are said to be even better.

Don Cox
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