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Positive Feedback ISSUE 53
january/february 2011

music

 

MA Recordings High Resolution Audio Data DVD discs
by Teresa Goodwin

 

MA's high resolution audio data DVD discs finally bring their high resolution recordings to music loving audiophiles. Todd Garfinkle (owner, producer and engineer) passed on DVD-Audio as it never was economical for a small music labels like his. In 1992 while most were still recording 44.1kHz he began producing and engineering 96kHz high resolution recordings.

The Data DVDs are pressed DVD-ROMs that must be loaded into your computer as their high resolution WAV files do not play in DVD audio or video players. Along with the music files are complete program notes, very high resolution album artwork and session photos.

First I load the MA data discs onto my Mac Mini computer. The WAV files on my computer do not support album artwork thus I must convert to another format. On my Mac Mini when I convert WAV to the other uncompressed format, AIFF it changes 24/176.4 to 16/176.4 which is unacceptable to me. I have always found this odd as I can download 24/176.4 AIFF files, I just cannot make them myself without my computer converting them to 16 bit. However Apple Lossless keeps the files as 24/176.4 so I convert to that. Even though compressed it is supposed to be bit perfect when uncompressed still some people claim to hear a difference. I am one of those but I actually prefer the Apple Lossless version as it sounds warmer to me than either the uncompressed AIFF or WAV. I do not know why, I can only assume it is a has to do with the packing and unpacking of the music file. At any rate all of my high resolution music files are stored as Apple Lossless which does up 192kHz.

Next I edit the "info" tab and make any corrections to make it uniform with my other music files, such as in Classical Music listing the composer with last name first.

As is common with WAV files I've downloaded, the MA data discs only have information in the the "name" field of the "info" tab. For example:

01 Chiquita 176.4kHz 24bit

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After I load all the WAV files I then highlight all the files and click on "Get Info" and enter all the missing data common to the entire album, such as the album title, names of the artists, etc. I do this by copying and pasting from the provided album program notes so I do not make any typographical or spelling errors. Then I go into each single music file and remove the track number from the name field and add it to the track number field. I also move any other information besides the actual title of the track to the "comments" field. Thus all that is left in the "name" field is the title of that track.

Next I convert all the tracks to Apple Lossless and delete the originals. Finally I copy and paste the high resolution cover art work into the "Artwork" field.

The completed "info" tab:

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And the summery tab:

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The 96kHz recordings were played back in their native resolution. The 176.4kHz recordings were downsampled to 88.2kHz as I am limited to 96kHz by my core audio. I will be trying a Firewire DAC soon in an attempt to get around that restriction and if I am successful I will revisit the 176/4kHz recordings for sonic improvements.

Será Una Noche

Será Una Noche

Pedro Aznar (vocals) Marcelo Moguilevsky (clarinet, bass clarinet and flutes) Gabriel Rivano (bandoneón) Gabriel Kirschembaum (spanish guitar) Martin Iannaccone (cello) Santiago Vazquez (percussion and tabla)

Malena, Soledad, Quedémonos Aqui, Vals en mi, Como dos extraños, Nublado, Malena, Zamba de la Viuda, Quejas de Bandoneón, Tanguito del 2000, Andrea en La Boca, Tristezas por un ano, Volver

MA Recordings Data DVD with True High Resolution 96KHz 24bit WAV files M052A-HR

96 kHz, One Point Digital Recording, June 1998 Monasterio Gandara, Argentina

Microphones: Bruel + Kjaer 4006 (1 pair)

MA Recordings Custom Mike Amp: Junichi Yonetani

Mike Cables: Cardas Golden Cross

mikes to mike amp: 2 meters/mike amp to recorder: 10 meters

Recorder: Pioneer D-07 High Sampling DAT, modified by Junichi Yonetani

Monitored on Stax Lambda Signature Pro Earspeakers w/balanced driver unit

Recording engineered, portrait photography and packaged designed by Todd Garfinkle

Produced by Todd Garfinkle & Santiago Vazquez

Prepared from original sources, by Todd Garfinkle, using Korg AudioGate software.

Monasterio Gandara is in the middle of nowhere and there is very little chance of noise from RF or external AC influences. The original 96kHz files were not subjected to any audio processing whatsoever.

As an extra bonus, included are four 2.8 MHz DSD files converted from the 96kHz files with Korg AudioGate software. These can be played back on Korg recorders, as well as burned to "DSD-discs" playable on Sony PS3 machines, all Sony VAIO computers made after late 2005, and a few other select machines on the market, including the Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD Player. See http://www.ps3sacd.com/dsddiscguide.html on how to make a DSD Disc.

Tango was born as instrumental music to accompany dancing, but the voice was added in the very early stages, while Tango lyrics developed into a poetical form with its own themes and character. Recently, in Argentina there are a great many young and dynamic musicians playing Tango. Most of them play old arrangements and compositions from before the 1960s. A few compose new music using the traditional idioms of expression, but with lyrics relevant to present day. As for the dance aspect of Tango, it has continued developing, based mostly on the records of the great orchestras of the 1940s and 1950s. In addition to "free" and "open" versions of traditional tangos, there are other rhythms from the Argentinean folklore, and a few of Será Una Noche's own original compositions.

Será Una Noche's music is often very rhythmic and percussive rich. Lots of nice warm ambiance and both voice and musical instruments have very realistic timbre accuracy. A real reference recording of beautiful music, wonderfully played in state-of-the-art sound. The third song "Quedemonos Aqui" is really cool with all manner of percussion instruments and even a kalimba (African finger piano).

Será una Noche: La Segunda

Será una Noche: La Segunda

Lidia Borda (vocals) Santiago Vazquez (percussion, mbira, and effects) Marcelo Moguilevsky (clarinet, bass clarinet, recorders, harmonica, and whistling) Edgardo Cardozo (guitar, requinto, guitarron, tiple, and vocals) Martin Iannaccone (cello and vocals) Gabriel Rivano (bandoneón)

El Choclo - tango milonga, Nocturna - milonga, Cuando Silba el Viento - habanera, Gricel - tango, Milonga del Puerto - milonga, Betinotti - milonga, Vals - vals, El Porteñito - milonga, Taquito Militar - milonga, Nunca Tuvo Novio - tango, Malevaje - tango, Boedo - tango, Arrabal Amargo/Pedacito de Cielo tango/vals, La Roca - aire de zamba, El Tren de Quito - aire rivereno, Tinta Roja - tango, Una Señal - baguala

MA Recordings Data DVD with True High Resolution 176.4 kHz 24bit WAV files M062A-HR

176.4 kHz one point digital recording, January, 2003, Monasterio Gandara, Argentina

Microphones: MA Recordings' Original

DC powered, line level with DPA mm0042 capsules designed by Junichi Yonetani

Microphone cables: 12 meter pair by George Cardas

Recorder: Fostex DV-40 DVD-RAM Master Recorder

Monitored on Stax Lambda Signature Pro Earspeakers with balanced drive unit.

Engineered by Todd Garfinkle

Produced by Todd Garfinkle and Santiago Vazquez

This second "Será una Noche" album is an eclectic album in which there are instrumental and vocal pieces, original compositions and traditional pieces from very different periods of the development of tango. Most of the traditional pieces were composed around the beginning of the 20th century, when tango was young, and in some of the pieces one can detect the influence of older musical styles that "came" with immigrants, blending and creating what we know as tango.

Lidia Borda's voice on Cuando Silva el Viento is soulfully beautiful and the music is pure magic. Overall this second recording by Será una Noche has excellent sound quality and is very enjoyable. Although I like their first album (above) considerably better as this one was not as intriguing or as exciting instead being more intimate and soul searching, however it too is a great album!

Puente Celeste: Nama

Puente Celeste: Nama

Edgardo Cardozo (guitar and vocals) Marcelo Moguilevsky (clarinet, bass clarinet, recorders, whistle, harmonica, vocals) Luciano Dyzenchauz (acoustic bass) Lucas Nikotian (accordion, piano, percussion) Santiago Vazquez (percussion, mbira, guitar and vocals)

Chiquita, Aire Seré, Toto, La Noche Murmura, A, Gincana, Tal, Milonga del bicho feo, Uña, Pinche tirano, Generala I free improvisation Calma, Mundos que se tocan, El Amor, Generala II free improvisation No hay después

MA Recordings Data DVD with True High Resolution 176.4 kHz 24bit WAV files M084A-HR

5.6 MHz WSD (DSD) pure sterophonic, one bit recording

Recorded at the Goethe Institut Buenos Aires; April, 2010

Puente Celeste perform beautiful melodic, original compositions that combine both structure and ever changing creative improvisation with poetry, energy and sensitivity.

While Puente Celeste has a dedicated fan base in their own country, the group has a much smaller following outside of Argentina.

This recording is not as rich or reverberant as normal for MA, it has to do with the recording location, the program notes go into great detail on the specifics. The sound is intimate, immediate and very rich but also on the dry side of the sonic spectrum.

They chose the title "NAMA", which actually means raw or live in Japanese. The album was recorded "live" to 2 track, without overdubs and possesses a very vivid sound, as opposed to the polished, yet "removed" studio sound that most people are used to.

The resulting sound is intimate and realistic, sonics similar to those M&K RealTime direct to discs from yesteryear. The music is in the same veil as the unusual jazz music on the Songlines label.

Mathias Landæus Trio: Opening

Mathias Landæus Trio Opening

Mathias Landæus (Hamburg Steinway Concert Grand Piano) Palle Danielsson (bass) Jon Fält (drums)

Opening Song, Höghussommar, What A Wonderful World, Boy Cow, Angela’s Place, Strip Comic, Can’t Help Falling In Love, Family Tree, Perfect Harmony, 23 and Waiting, Surroundings

MA Recordings Data DVD with True High Resolution 176.4 kHz 24bit WAV and 88.2kHz 24 bit FLAC files M081A-HR

An MA One Point 5.6 MHz DSD Recording, April, 2009,

Recorded in Studio 2, Swedish Radio Broadcasting Studios, Stockholm

Microphones: MA Recordings Original, utilizing DPA mm0042 capsules designed and built by Junichi Yonetani

Cables: Crystal Cable Ultra with Switchcraft XLR connectors (3 meter pair)

Recorder: Korg MR-1000 Mobile DSD Recorder

Cover photo: Shoji Ohnuma, Tokyo, Japan

Package design and layout: Todd Garfinkle

Engineered, Mastered and Produced by Todd Garfinkle

"Opening" is Mathias' first non-Swedish release. His approach was then and now, personal and sensitive. The trio includes Palle Danielsson called the "Swedish Papa of Jazz Bass" and one of the top players in the world, most famous for his work with Keith Jarrett, being a member of Jarrett's extremely popular European Quartet. On drums is Jon Fält, (pronounced "Yon Felt") who has been active for many years as the drummer of choice for Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson, one of the most revered and respected among jazz pianists in Sweden today. "Opening" was recorded in Studio 2 at the Swedish Radio station in Stockholm which is actually more like a concert hall with seats set up for live concert recordings. And, it has a great sound! Most of the tunes are Mathias' originals, except for "What a Wonderful World" made famous by Louis Armstrong and "Can't Help Falling in Love" the popular Elvis adaptation of the 18th century French tune, "Plaisir d'Amour" written by Jean

Paul Egide Martini.

Since the end of the 20th century, pianist Mathias Landæus has emerged as one of the most personal voices of Swedish jazz. His music is characterized by honesty, spontaneity, passion, and playfulness. His recorded output ranges from straight ahead jazz to free form to electronica. He vitalized the

local scene by creating an oasis for jazz musicians and listeners at the small club "Glenn Miller Café" where he led the house band several nights a week.

This is one of the best Jazz trio (piano, bass and drums) recordings I've heard since the famous Eddie Graham Trio: S'Wonderful Jazz LP on Wilson Audiophile. This one is a little mellower and not as rambunctious but just as realistic.

Llama

Llama

Ravid Goldschmidt (Pentatonic & Aeolian Hangs) Sílvia Pérez Cruz (vocals)

Gitana, Vestida de nit, Hipo, Flood, Nina  , Drop, Flemi, Afrika, I'm All Smiles, Claro la luna, Spiral, Floating up, Gallop, Clara, Los Sliencios de los Desiertos, Lullaby for Yali

MA Recordings Data DVD with True High Resolution 88.2 kHz 24bit WAV files M081A-HR

"Llama", pronounced "yama" in English and means either "flame" or "fire" is one of first recordings in which the "Hang" is featured prominently, in this case, the only instrument, except for the wonderful voice of Silvia Perez Cruz. The "Hang" of course, are the UFO-like instruments under the garden gloves pictured on the album cover. Inspired by the steel pan drums of Trinidad and Tobago, but built to perfection by two instrument designers, Felix Rohner and Sabina Scharer, of PANArt in Bern, Switzerland.

Ravid has played drums all his life, mostly Brazilian influenced, but began concentrating on the "Hang" when he first heard it played by a fellow musician at a music festival in Israel. Since that time, he has been developing his own voice on this unique instrument and "llama" is a documentation of that development.

Silvia Perez Cruz, besides being an excellent singer, also plays jazz saxophone, though she only sings on this recording.

The venue for this recording was a little church in the Barri Gotic quarter of Barcelona. MA's own custom made, DC powered, line level microphones with Bruel and Kjaer capsules were used. The high output of these mikes was then fed thru 3 meters of Crystal Cable "ULTRA" XLR cable, directly into the DCS 904 Analog to Digital converter at 24 bit 88.2 kHz, which was placed close to the microphones. The digital signal from the AD converter was then sent via a 12 meter AES-EBU digital cable (also by Crystal Cable) to the Fostex FR2 Field Memory Recorder which records on Compact Flash Memory.

While I like the sound of the Hangs better than steel drums and the singer has a very beautiful voice, there was not enough variation in instrumentation to hold my interest, if they do a second album I would recommend adding some additional instrumentalists to add color to the music. My favorite pieces are the ones where Silvia Perez Cruz sings as Ravid Goldschmidt plays the hang. The solo hang pieces are definitely an acquired taste, so listen to sound samples before purchasing.

These first high resolution music files from MA Recordings are an impressive bunch and Todd Garfinkle says these retain the actual sound of his high resolution masters. He believes that any type of processing degrades the sonics. The idea of WAV files is that there is no (or minimal) processing. Also, with computer audio, one does not have as many audio transmission problems as experienced with standard digital cables. A good USB or FireWire data transmission should be superior.

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