by Dave Segal
on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 3:11 PM
Peter Johansen (disclosure: I worked with him at Everyday Music about a decade ago) has launched his Numeral Nine Music Blog with a post dedicated to defending the rebuked and scorned audio format known as the compact disc. Johansen gives five reasons for his positions and gets deep into mathy rationales in his argument for CDs’ merits, and then couples this audio science with his own well-argued personal preferences for the shiny disc. The man makes some fine points.
Here's one of 'em:
While MP3s are fine for ear-buds, the CD produces an objectively better sound when experienced on any decent loudspeaker or headphone. Using algorithms to remove data that is (hopefully) unnecessary, 256 or 320-kbps MP3s might not be significantly inferior to 1,411 kbps CDs, but few argue against the basic premise that lossless CDs can offer a superior sonic experience over compressed MP3s. The best that computer audio can do is to match CDs in terms of quality. FLAC, AIFF, and other file formats do apparently get there, though they represent only a small fraction of the music downloaded.
I prefer vinyl, but I will never be one of those people who jettison their entire CD collection. I don’t trust the cloud as far as I can throw it. Artifacts! I wanna touch ’em and hear ’em!
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 10:53 AM
"The SubPac is going to revolutionize how people experience music forever," says Todd Chernecki, co-founder of SubPac. According to SubPac's website, the product "is a high-fidelity portable tactile audio device that quietly and directly transfers low frequencies to your body," at a price similar to that of premium headphones. For people who think it's not enough to simply hear music but to feel it, SubPac could be a real game- internal-organ-changer.
SubPac has endorsements from such top-flight musicians, labels, and organizations as Adrian Sherwood, Kode9, Mala, Joker, Pinch, John Tejada, Hyperdub, and Decibel, so maybe there's validity to the grandiose claims. One wonders if it's going to come in various sizes, though. Seems like the larger one's back is, the less impact the SubPac will have.
Looking to update your jams with Nirvana's patented sound? Need an organ for your organ? Beat your fingers on over to Craigslips and gaze upon an advert for Kurt Cobain's $3000 Farfisa organ. Do it! Click right here!
You're looking at a picture of a picture of the internet on the internet.
Now, it would be common for a person to be skeptical about the past ownership of this fa-fa-Farfisa, but don't fret. It comes with "an appraisal and authenticity document from a world renowned appraiser of fine and important antiques." So ease your mime, John Nash.
But they mean LITERALLY. Ha-ha! Not hip with the kids, I hadn't heard of this magic machine that makes seemingly anything a keyboard until I was researching farm science on a public radio website. And what was recommended to me? This article, with this video:
I can't tell if this is (a) the most Brooklyn thing ever, i.e., a man with a very deliberate hair situation in a ratty old sweater covering a '90s song on a DIY musical instrument on the hardwood floor of his apartment; (b) pretty adorable—I mean, those GRAPES!—or (c) just the best pun-bait ever. "You give a whole new meaning to the word 'producer,'" reads a top comment. ZING!
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 4:18 PM
Watch this video to learn about the Numark Orbit DJ Controller, "the world's first handheld MIDI controller" with "no detectable latency." This device could be a real game-changer in the digital DJing realm. Have fun with that, early adopters. I’m going to keep spinning records on turntables, if it’s okay with everyone.
The Numark Orbit DJ Controller is available this spring for $99.
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:18 AM
This 20-minute documentary, Bassline Baseline, about the Roland TB-303 bassline-generating synthesizer has been around since 2005, but you may have missed it, as I did. It’s an informative, breezy look at the invention, history, and utility of this crucial piece of gear in electronic/dance music (hiphop, electro, acid house, Big Beat, minimal techno, etc.). If you were ever going to use the annoying word "game-changer," you'd be justified in dropping it in regard to the TB-303.
Also, you gotta love (or hate) how the film’s narrator/director, Nate Harrison (who let me crash at his pad in Manhattan a long time ago; respect!), expresses way less emotion than the 303 itself.
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 10:08 AM
At the next TROUBLE disco night Fri. Jan. 11 at Q Nightclub, the first 100 people who arrive after 10 pm can score free USB flash drives in the shape of a pill. They contain mixes by Optimo's JD Twitch, Jason Justice, and Trouble. The latter two plus Justice's DJ partner at the beloved TRUST party, Treasure, will be spinning their usual impeccably selected disco jams.
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 10:09 AM
Humans can now make records with a 3-D printer, reports Wired magazine. They sound like crap and will murder your turntable's stylus, but, hey, some kinks still need to be worked out. Nevertheless, the technology behind this is amazing. Just don't expect audiophile-level quality for a while yet.
Seattle native Amanda Ghassaei, assistant tech editor at the San Francisco-based Instructables, printed discs of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Pixies' "Debaser," and Daft Punk's "Around the World," the first two of which you can hear in the video below. Wired writer Nathan Hurst explains how Ghassaei accomplished this:
To create the 3-D model for the record, Ghassaei essentially reverses the process of ripping an MP3. As the groove of a record is a microscopic image of the analog audio, she starts with the digitized waveform, using Python to take it directly from the MP3 file, and renders the shape of it into an STL wireframe using Processing, an open source tool that automates the file generation. She then uses the software to wrap it in a spiral on a 3-D 12-inch disc, varying the depth of the groove to match the waveform. Compared to a normal record, hers have increased amplitude and groove depth to account for the coarse resolution.
Read more about this development—which will likely give Mike Nipper an aneurysm—here.
A few months back, I signed up for iTunes Match ($24.99 a year), the service that backs up your iTunes library to the Cloud and allows you to stream your music or stream and download your music to your device. Also, my mobile service provider is AT&T.*
So here's the problem: With Match enabled, every time you sync your iPhone to your computer, Match wipes the slate clean. Whatever you bothered to download last time you were out and about or before last time you left the house gets zapped back up into the Cloud—reverse lightning. Then next time you go out into the concrete gymnasium, you have to stream all your tunes. And because you're streaming with AT&T, your tunes sputter, cough, and wheeze their way into your ears. It's a lousy way to experience music on the go, which is one of the most pleasing times to listen to the stuff. It's a cost of convenience.
I'd rather curate my mobile library occasionally, when the mood or inspiration strikes. It's almost not worth the peace of mind facilitated by knowing your entire library is backed up, with redundancies. (Apple states that if you cancel your subscription, you get all your songs back.)
So after I spent several months and several paragraphs whining about this, I decided to look into it (such is, sadly, the same way I approach many minor annoyances in life.) and the workaround, thankfully, is very simple. Turn off Match on your phone, and manually manage what music goes on it. Your library is still backed up (assuming it's not just on your phone), and you get the songs you want with no stream stalling. Now then, what else can I complain about?
Okay, I wrote the first half of this post, like, last week. The fix didn't work! Verdict: STUPID. There is an option "Sync only checked songs and videos," but the default mode checks the things when you import them to iTunes. Who wants to go through their entire library and uncheck everything they don't want to hear when they go out for a trip. Then, this happened, and then, two days later, this godamn shit happened.
If there's a non-stupid way to decide when you want to sync your stuff, I take this all back. Except the part where it should be way more intuitive. If you know this way, kindly chime in. Also, who's backed up their music library to a cloud and is happy with their experience? Chime in in the comments section.
*If you're not familiar, AT&T provides notoriously subpar cellular/digital coverage.
by Dave Segal
on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 10:23 AM
When writing this post about the extreme coolness of the clavinet, I neglected to mention the Politicians’ “Funky Toes,” a song from the Detroit group's 1972 LP whose excellence you can hear below. (DJ Spooky sampled it for his track “Galactic Funk (Tau Ceti Mix),” a highlight from his 1996 debut album, Songs of a Dead Dreamer.) Now you know.
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 12:04 PM
One of the most common—and heinous—mistakes most bands make is not having a clavinet in their music. To state the bloody obvious, the clavinet creates one of the coolest sounds in the history of instruments. It's a keyboard with a husky, staccato twang in its DNA and it's played key roles in some of the funkiest tracks ever by Billy Preston, Sly & the Family Stone, Edgar Winter Group, the Commodores, Steve Miller Band, Parliament-Funkadelic, George Duke, etc.
Yes, clavinets are rather scarce in the wild, but, damn it, groups need to try harder to obtain 'em—unless they want to continue to handicap themselves with a clavinet-free sound. Use your connections, be resourceful, build one yourselves—do whatever it takes, people. Your music is too important for it not to have clavinet in it.
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Wheels of steel on wheels? Not quite, but this dude with his CDJs, mixer, and speakers mounted on a bicycle has taken the term “mobile DJ” to its logical limit. What ingenuity! (I hope it's not a fixie....) Gawk at the unique setup here.
At midnight last night, Sacramento based Death Grips released their new album, No Love Deep Web, for free. The cover art is a picture of a penis with the album title written on it in Sharpie. (Click link above for your viewing pleasure, if you are 18, and not surrounded by children or people that would be offended by seeing a dick with handwritten words on it.) The date of the album release seems to have been a point of contention, with Death Grips' twitter saying:
The label wouldn’t confirm a release date for NO LOVE DEEP WEB “till next year sometime”
The label will be hearing the album for the first time with you
So it’s out. And it crushes. Death Grips are a three-piece armada. Rap-heaves of electronic brute pissing kerosene on a fire.
An artist named Breakbot has released a record titled By Your Side that's made out of chocolate. It can be played three to five times before the grooves get worn out. Then you eat the damn thing... unless you're a hardcore vegan or you hate chocolate. If you don't think this music's the shit, just wait a while—it will be.
Check it out: A jockey of discs precariously perches his Pioneer CDJs and mixer on a scooter (the wheels of rubber). It's doubtful you've ever seen a more makeshift DJ setup... but if you have, please let us know about it.
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 at 9:59 AM
If you’re adept with tools, possess knowledge of electronics, have access to wood, and can accurately find the center of a platter, you can make your own turntable. With Technics ceasing manufacture of its industry-standard SL-1200 series, this skill may come in handy.
German Charles Altmann—of Altmann Micro Machines fame—has provided a detailed how-to photo guide to constructing your own record-playing device. It’s a daunting task, but Altmann has gone to great lengths to lead you through the delicate, precise process. The rewards of accomplishing this feat will be immense, of course. Read all about it here. Godspeed—at 33 1/3 and 45 rpm.
It's been taunting me for weeks now. Hawthorne Stereo, the audiophile's wet dream/nightmare,* on Roosevelt has got this sale going in which you get 10 percent off the first thing you buy in the used room, then 20 percent of the second, and—you guessed it!—30 percent off the third. If I didn't already have two perfectly good stereo systems (one of which I'm considering setting up in the basement with my drum kit because no one will join my new band called Buckaroo Highrise) I probably would have already have fallen victim to this because there is so much great stuff in there that it makes my nerd-brain want to explode into a million bits of data. I finally went in there yesterday for a bit of masochistic self-deprivation—sort of like watching a snowboard video in the middle of summer. TORTURE. The sale ends Labor Day, which everyone knows signals the slow march into the throes of Old Man Winter's seasonal-affective disorder marathon, for which you know you want a great stereo. Consider it an birthday present for someone else that you just took home and plugged in!
Secondly, I was pleased to confirm that Hawthorne carries needles/styluses and they will check yours out for you. This is great news for me, because the current turntable I'm using I found on the side of 10th Ave while jogging about six years ago. There was a note on it that said "Works—just needs new stylus!" But then the guy at J&S told me the stylus was fine.
Two more reasons you should patronize Hawthorne Stereo: 1) Their slogan is "A pretty nice place" and 2) They've been in business since 1946.
See some of the deals that made me want to cry and then work in a more lucrative field after the jump: