Records to Die For 2017 Page 2

Thu, 01/26/2017

COMMENTS
BradleyP's picture

If you like Jon Iverson's recommendation of Tikiyaki Orchestra, you'll also like "The Exotic Moods of Les Baxter." Only it's 50 years older. It's one of those 50s recordings that leaves you shaking your head convinced that stereo recording hasn't gotten ANY better since then. It's a beauty.

dalethorn's picture

Interesting collection! It sounds almost like they used a different studio for each track, so you not only get a different composition each time, but a different presentation too. BTW, the Baxter album in question is one of the most highly reviewed albums on Amazon.

Bluejimbop's picture

We lost the universally admired Bobby Hutcherson in August of 2016.

Allen Fant's picture

Another great list of recordings. Stick with R2D4.

alank's picture

I picked up a quad pressing several years ago in great condition which was manufactured in Germany.I had an sq
set in the 70's.I still have a cartridge for four channel with a shibata stylus.I'm thinking of perusing ebay for a decoder for sq.The record sounds great in stereo and I might plug it into my home theater receiver and see how it sounds in surround mode.

Mrubey's picture

For those of us lucky enough to live in the Texas Hill Country this album is one of our treasures. Back in the day I played it until the grooves wore out. I have always assumed that the elderly right hand on the cover belonged to Johnny "Hondo" Crouch. Hondo owned Luckenbach and was the spiritual inspiration to much of the Texas creative impulse of the time. I was blessed to have known Hondo when I was just a boy. His influence has never left me. I can still picture him whittling a ball inside a cage while chewing plug tobacco and opening doors to secret worlds in a oak leaf. Hondo let me know that there are such a things as magical people in the world. It is due to him that my faith in humanity has endured.

freejazz00's picture

What serious record collector or audiophile would leave records un-sleeved sitting flat on the floor? This is not a well-thought-out image for a Stereophile article.

GLADYS ZYBYSKO's picture

That's how cats get to appreciate your LPs.

Bluejimbop's picture

Liquor is a harsh mistress.

Herb Reichert's picture

Hello John Swenson . . . interesting pairing. Way back in the 1970s in New York City, Mark Bingham (post Indiana pre-New Orleans), hung with old friend Kevin Teare (MX-80 Sound) and my artist/painter gang in Tribeca. Late late nights Mark would play the Meters, Longhair, and the Nevilles. Mark, Kevin, and Brian Kelly turned me on to a lot of the music I love now. That's is one of the ways music binds us all together.

low2midhifi's picture

I have seen this periodic summary before. While the assessment has always been excellent, the Stereophile staff has assembled the broadest, and most interesting, range of recordings that I've seen yet.

I look forward to seeing this line-up in greater detail. I also look forward to purchasing some of these recordings.

For fans of the Tiki-torch orchestra, Youtube put this full album of a related theme in the "you might like this" section of their webpage. It appears to be another classic of the late 1950s early 1960s exotica:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSlis0PuSV0

gbroagfran's picture

Wait,

Should this be titled

"records that died 30 years ago?"

rschryer's picture

Great music floats above the pap-du-jour to live on indefinitely. That's how you know for sure it's a R2D4.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Not only is Robert Schryer's comment about the timelessness of music right on, but I'm afraid you've missed a helluva lot of the listings. The first page alone has 4 recent issues, and one newly available historical issue. The second page has 5 recent issues, plus several newly available remasterings that show the music in best light. The third page has four new recordings, and others that are certainly less than 30 years old. My two choices are of retired classical sopranos, one now dead, who have never sounded this good since their original LP issues... which is to say, that the digital engineering has finally begun to catch up to the original analog sound.

gbroagfran's picture

What I meant by new music is not a recording that is from 1967 and reissued. I mean new music, that which has been written and recorded in the past year or two. Something that someone younger than 60 might have heard of.

rschryer's picture

You like to exaggerate, don't you?

gbroagfran's picture

Well, I am on cheap, crappy drugs, so I guess I must have hallucinated that new would mean a year or two old.

Maybe to you, records to die for means new copies of the same old stuff, but not for me. I already have lots of classic rock and jazz albums. The records to die for in my life are the ones that make me stand up and say," Wow, what was that?" It isn't the job of these reviewers to find just technically good records, but stuff you have never seen or heard. They are record reviewers, but apparently, not very adventurous.

rschryer's picture

"The records to die for in my life are the ones that make me stand up and say," Wow, what was that?"
Couldn't agree more. It's exactly what I asked myself when I heard Paul Messenger's R2D4 pick of The Incredible String Band's 5000 Spirits... album. It came out in 1967.

gbroagfran's picture

Ah, 1967. I had a Weathers turntable, old dual-mono tube electronics and custom speakers. I also had two hits of good acid, a handful of joints, a cute, furry hippie gal with no underwear and every record the String Band had made. I still have the records. I like them. That's my point. Now, in 2017, for "oldies", I want to hear Hank Three and Kammerflimmer Kollecteif.

In the last couple of months, I have purchased vinyl by the following artists;

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Goat, Kadaver, Dave Alvin, Seasick Steve, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Fat Boy Slim, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Doc Pomus, SCOTS, and a compilation of 40s-50s voodoo music from the Caribbean.

What have your purchased that might interest the readers?

rschryer's picture

As a music lover, I enjoy the familiarity of the old and discovering the new. But here's the thing, as far as I'm concerned: It's all about context. This segment is called R2D4, not Album that Caught My Fancy in 2017. There's a weightiness at play here that I think should not be overlooked.

I believe that for a record to merit the distinction of being one to die for, hyperbole aside, its music has to have proven itself with the listener/R2D4 judge OVER TIME. Like true love.

The albums you've listed may be great, but will they stand the test of time FOR YOU? Those that continue to find a place in your heart over, say, a 10 year period, will have earned their nomination as a R2D4. The rest, however fun they may have been to listen to in the spring of 2016 but never again, will not.

Bottom line: I believe that time is of the essence when it comes to choosing one's R2D4.

gbroagfran's picture

1. I clearly stated that I like the Incredible String Band and have listened to their albums for 50 years. I have been a stereo fan since 1959. I have seen more than most.

2. Hundreds of other albums, none of which appear on these lists, have stood the test of time of 5-50 years for me, but most audiophiles have never heard of them because they only listen to 100 albums, over and over. They are generally looking for the records that make their systems sound better. My system exists to make my records, all of them, sound better.

3. How about a "rule" that a piece of music can only appear once on these lists? Once a record has appeared, you can easily go back and look at the previous years' lists. Personally, I find almost all remixes and remastered records worse than the originals. Elvis should sound like he is coming out of a car radio. Pink Floyd should sound very loud, bass and 60's. Phoebe Snow should be played on a Quad system from the 70's. That's historically relevant.

rschryer's picture

"My system exists to make my records, all of them, sound better." This statement, as far as my experience goes, better sums up the audiophile ethos than your 100-album cliche that precedes it.

And again, R2D4 is not a list of arbitrary album reviews. It represents albums that are, for personal and unique reasons, meaningful to those who picked them. On this basis, it wouldn't be fair to prohibit a writer from listing a R2D4 because someone else beat him or her to the punch.

gbroagfran's picture

My friend has a collection of 60,000 records. Even he says he listens to the same 100 over and over. Everyone does.

Pages

Records to Die For 2017

Never in the history of our venerable "Records To Die For" feature has the word Die come to mean as much as it has in the past year. Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg, Rudy Van Gelder, Maurice White, Glenn Frey, Otis Clay, Blowfly, Bob Cranshaw, George Martin, Steve Young, Chips Moman, Lonnie Mack, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, Leon Russell, Ralph Stanley, David Bowie—all died in the past year. So to drive away any evil spirits that may be hovering over this year's R2D4 extravaganza, we may need to think of this 2017 installment more as "Records to Live For."
Thu, 01/26/2017

Phono Cartridge Event in Phoenix Saturday

Saturday January 28, 1–6pm, Esoteric Audio (111 West Monroe Street, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85003) is presenting the first public showing of the DS Audio DS 002 Optical Phono Cartridge System. This is a lower-priced version of the DS Audio Master1 that Michael Fremer reviewed for Stereophile in September 2015.
Thu, 01/26/2017

Dealer Events in New Jersey Thursday and Chicago Saturday Sunday

On Thursday January 26, from 5–8:30pm, Hi-Fi Sales (1732 Route 70, East Cherry Hill, NJ 08003) is hosting an event featuring the Technics Premium C700 Series of components and the new SL-1200GAE/G turntable.

On Saturday January 28, 10am–7pm, and Sunday January 29, 11am–5pm, the Paragon Sight & Sound Fine Audio Show will present world-class, high-performance, home-audio products in the private rooms of Chicago's world-renowned Symphony Center (220 South Michigan Avenue).

Wed, 01/25/2017

CES 2017: An Unlikely, Impromptu Duet at the Venetian.

On the final day of the show, our special guest, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and our very own Jason Victor Serinus came together to form the most unlikely of duos. We originally attempted to film this while in a moving gondola but were sternly prohibited from doing so by the gondola ride manager.
Tue, 01/24/2017

Boulder Amplifiers 2150 monoblock power amplifier Measurements

Tue, 01/24/2017

COMMENTS
wineandwires's picture

When do we get to read your comparison of the AudioQuest Hurricane (high-current) and Shunyata Research Zi-Tron Sigma HC?

supamark's picture

'"I'm a recording engineer, so I value accuracy," said a panelist in a discussion—titled "How to Read Between the Lines of Audio Advertising"'

Was your response to this statement deliberate trolling or are you really that unfamiliar w/ what recording engineers do? He meant, and I can't believe I have to explain this to you, that what comes out of the amp should be the same as what went in, but amplified. Jeez.

It's like your silly trolling of people (some of whom are also trolling) who say they prefer digital to analog. The correct answer is neither is better than the other, they each do different things well and really it's a matter of which distortions one prefers.

Note, I worked as a recording engineer in the early 90's - classical, jazz, rock, and pop; I did it all.

mallred's picture

I've wasted a lot of money in this silly hobby thinking if I moved up to the next level, I'd get better results. Experience and approx. $80k (over the years) I know better... Of course, maybe if I had of pushed up even further to Boulder/etc., I would've finally gotten "there"...

supamark's picture

Not sure what this has to do with what I wrote... but if you can't hear the difference between, say, a well designed Class A amp and a well designed class AB or D amp then the problem may simply be that your hearing (or ability to discern fine grain differences in sound) is not up to snuff. Most wine, to me, tastes like grape juice mixed with vodka but I don't doubt that's not the case with most people who actually like wine (I obviously don't), and an experienced wine taster can glean a lot of information from shades of flavor most of us cant discern.

I spent about 5 years where my job was, essentially, to listen carefully (recording engineer). I could hear the distinct differences between two Steinway 9' grands we had my at first job at UT Austin (the Hamburg had more scintillating high harmonics, the NY had fuller low mids) and a Baldwin 9' grand we had (less high end "air" than either Steinway, more pronounced mids than either - no wonder 70's rock bands liked 'em - better at cutting through a mix). I could tell musicians the exact point where they stopped just playing and started thinking about playing (nothing kills feel like thinking about it). Clear differences between different compressors, different EQ's, different reverbs, etc. Audiophiles like to rag on rock/pop recording engineers, but the truth is we pay almost fetishistic attention to the sound but it's the artist and label (the boss) who determine what the final product sounds like (i.e. hard limited, clipped no dynamic range EQ'd to hell and back ear torture of the "loudness wars").

That's something that I like about Stereophile - many of their reviewers have either played or recorded music professionally (or both) so I know they've done a LOT of listening. Also, unlike, say, TAS, they publish measurements of the gear they listen to.

es347's picture

..seriously?

A. Hourst's picture

“Can you measure "dry"? Probably not—but you can hear it.”

Of course you can measure dryness. It’s the lack of harmonic distortion or reverberation in space to which our ears are continually exposed and become accustomed to. You feel something is missing, and you call that dryness. You can say the same of a music hall which absorb an unusually high level of reflections. We call that “dry” because we don’t hear the multiple layers of sound that we hear otherwise.

Anyway, I just wanted to correct this unfounded belief that you can’t measure everything you can hear. Sean Olive even demonstrated that you can measure “good sound”, despite the very subjective nature of this concept. There is consistency in nature. A very few things are arbitrary, even if you’ll find some aberrant data and some people who have developed a dislike for accuracy (and will advance the hypothesis that it doesn’t even exist).

kevon27's picture

Mr. A. Hourst, you should be employed by Stereophile as a reviewer.
Reviewers use words like cold, warm, dry, laid-back, etc, etc. No one ever explains what those words mean or in terms describing sound.
I always believe if you can hear sound, you can measure it.

mrkaic's picture

I buy and read Stereophile because they publish measurements; I would not buy/read it otherwise. I read the measurements section almost exclusively, since I think that everything else in Stereophile (and especially subjective reviews) has very little value.

But the measurements are worth the price of subscription!

A. Hourst's picture

"everything else in Stereophile (and especially subjective reviews) has very little value"

I can't agree more. For example, Mr Fremer, in this review, avoid saying that there exist some "good enough" amplifiers that will sound exactly the same for a fraction of the price. Once you're below a certain threshold of distortion and output impedance, and have enough power, the differences become imperceptible.

Boulder still has a lot of merit for engineering such a stellar measuring amplifier.

Herb Reichert's picture

"Once you're below a certain threshold of distortion and output impedance, and have enough power, the differences become imperceptible"

Imperceptible ? to whom? Sir, I have been listening critically to amplifiers driving loudspeakers since 1966. Many of my best friends (even back then) were (and still are) brilliant amp designers. Not one of them, nor I, would make that statement. Have you personally experienced this phenomenon ? Also....Neither they nor I believe a quality amplifer is easy or inexpensive to make.

I am certain MF is one of the most experienced audio listener/observers on the planet, and I personally, place great trust in his observations. (Perhaps we should compare an vintage Hafler DH-500 to this obviously well-engineered Boulder? Do you think you could hear the difference?)

A. Hourst's picture

Mr Reichert,

Distortion and frequency response variations (which are typically very low in any well-conceived amplifier), are the only factors that can alter the sound of an amplifier. There’s no dispersion pattern like in loudspeakers, so it’s pretty much a straightforward 2-D signal very simple to measure. All your typical audiophile discourse about “bright” or “dark”, “rich” or “dry”, “musical” or “analytical” is embedded in those two parameters. Each one of them represents either an alteration of the frequency response or the signal integrity. I mean, how else could it be? People who have problems with this assertion invariably fail to 1) measure, 2) match the level within 0.1 dB or 3) listen blind. Usually, they even reach their conclusions based on memory. The problem is you can’t free your mind from its numerous prejudices (a 100 000$ amplifier will surely sound better than a 1000$ one) and aural memory is very fragile, since we tend to listen to something different every time music is played.

I do not question your or your friend’s experience or human qualities. I question the methodology, or lack of, that usually goes into the evaluation of most electronic devices.

And since you make this very personal, no I don’t place Mr Framer as an audio authority.

supamark's picture

You're completely ignoring that the amplifier and speaker(s) are a system that interact quite a lot... and a lot of other things. I'm sorry you don't have the ability to hear a lot of these things, maybe spend more time listening - it's a fact that the more time you spend doing something, the more neurons your brain will devote to it. Just as an experienced wine taster can discern shadings of flavor you can't, so can an experienced listener.

There is a lot of sillyness in high end audio (like claiming a power cord coming directly from a wall outlet having an effect on the sound ignores 100 feet of Romex upstream in the wall - assuming both cords are of the same gauge of pure copper wire there won't be a difference) but this isn't one of those things.

Fun story - I once was auditioning a Tandberg preamp (used) to replace my old NAD preamp circa 1990. The sound was significantly different (it sounded like George Massenberg gear - he invented parametric EQ btw) and excellent but I ended up not buying because the RCA jack was poorly designed and the sleeve came off when removing an interconnect. That was just a preamp... if only the build quality had been better I'd have bought it - Tandberg gear was top notch.

A. Hourst's picture

Did you match the level to 0.1 dB?
That's a major "difference maker".
Those interactions you're talking about are the result of high output impedance.
My experience is that the sound of electronics is extremely overrated.

supamark's picture

good to know that you're just talking out your ass. If you want to know what George Massenburg's equipment sounds like, compare 2 Flim & the BB's albums, anything from DMP (Tom Jung engineered) vs "New Pants" on Warner Bros. If you cannot hear the difference (no level matching required), you are not qualified to comment on audio, at all.

A. Hourst's picture

I understand you don't like what I'm saying...

supamark's picture

I don't respect what you're saying, because you don't actually know what you're talking about.

ChrisS's picture

Many, many fewer regard you A. Hourst as an authority of anything...

ChrisS's picture

Why are you here?

IgAK's picture

Interesting mention of Boulder's avoiding resonating fins, a legitimate concern if a fine point. That is why one of my amps with large fins has dampers inserted between every fin. Running a hand across the fins before that produced obvious ringing, yes. Even after the dampers they try to a little but I did not want to compromise the cooling too much so I stopped where I did.

Did I hear much difference after the dampers? Not a lot but enough to say that there was an improvement and the cost-free tweak was worth spending a few minutes on and something anyone can take care of themselves. The amp is not overtaxed so it does not run super hot, still, after many years the foam dampers are still in fine shape. It should be noted that that amp was being used on only the woofers in a triamped system so additional harmonics would have been cut off by that factor or I may have heard even more of a change. But that this matters became provably true and Boulder's attention to that detail is appropriate to a product costing that much and admirable.

Pages

Boulder Amplifiers 2150 monoblock power amplifier Associated Equipment

Tue, 01/24/2017

COMMENTS
wineandwires's picture

When do we get to read your comparison of the AudioQuest Hurricane (high-current) and Shunyata Research Zi-Tron Sigma HC?

supamark's picture

'"I'm a recording engineer, so I value accuracy," said a panelist in a discussion—titled "How to Read Between the Lines of Audio Advertising"'

Was your response to this statement deliberate trolling or are you really that unfamiliar w/ what recording engineers do? He meant, and I can't believe I have to explain this to you, that what comes out of the amp should be the same as what went in, but amplified. Jeez.

It's like your silly trolling of people (some of whom are also trolling) who say they prefer digital to analog. The correct answer is neither is better than the other, they each do different things well and really it's a matter of which distortions one prefers.

Note, I worked as a recording engineer in the early 90's - classical, jazz, rock, and pop; I did it all.

mallred's picture

I've wasted a lot of money in this silly hobby thinking if I moved up to the next level, I'd get better results. Experience and approx. $80k (over the years) I know better... Of course, maybe if I had of pushed up even further to Boulder/etc., I would've finally gotten "there"...

supamark's picture

Not sure what this has to do with what I wrote... but if you can't hear the difference between, say, a well designed Class A amp and a well designed class AB or D amp then the problem may simply be that your hearing (or ability to discern fine grain differences in sound) is not up to snuff. Most wine, to me, tastes like grape juice mixed with vodka but I don't doubt that's not the case with most people who actually like wine (I obviously don't), and an experienced wine taster can glean a lot of information from shades of flavor most of us cant discern.

I spent about 5 years where my job was, essentially, to listen carefully (recording engineer). I could hear the distinct differences between two Steinway 9' grands we had my at first job at UT Austin (the Hamburg had more scintillating high harmonics, the NY had fuller low mids) and a Baldwin 9' grand we had (less high end "air" than either Steinway, more pronounced mids than either - no wonder 70's rock bands liked 'em - better at cutting through a mix). I could tell musicians the exact point where they stopped just playing and started thinking about playing (nothing kills feel like thinking about it). Clear differences between different compressors, different EQ's, different reverbs, etc. Audiophiles like to rag on rock/pop recording engineers, but the truth is we pay almost fetishistic attention to the sound but it's the artist and label (the boss) who determine what the final product sounds like (i.e. hard limited, clipped no dynamic range EQ'd to hell and back ear torture of the "loudness wars").

That's something that I like about Stereophile - many of their reviewers have either played or recorded music professionally (or both) so I know they've done a LOT of listening. Also, unlike, say, TAS, they publish measurements of the gear they listen to.

es347's picture

..seriously?

A. Hourst's picture

“Can you measure "dry"? Probably not—but you can hear it.”

Of course you can measure dryness. It’s the lack of harmonic distortion or reverberation in space to which our ears are continually exposed and become accustomed to. You feel something is missing, and you call that dryness. You can say the same of a music hall which absorb an unusually high level of reflections. We call that “dry” because we don’t hear the multiple layers of sound that we hear otherwise.

Anyway, I just wanted to correct this unfounded belief that you can’t measure everything you can hear. Sean Olive even demonstrated that you can measure “good sound”, despite the very subjective nature of this concept. There is consistency in nature. A very few things are arbitrary, even if you’ll find some aberrant data and some people who have developed a dislike for accuracy (and will advance the hypothesis that it doesn’t even exist).

kevon27's picture

Mr. A. Hourst, you should be employed by Stereophile as a reviewer.
Reviewers use words like cold, warm, dry, laid-back, etc, etc. No one ever explains what those words mean or in terms describing sound.
I always believe if you can hear sound, you can measure it.

mrkaic's picture

I buy and read Stereophile because they publish measurements; I would not buy/read it otherwise. I read the measurements section almost exclusively, since I think that everything else in Stereophile (and especially subjective reviews) has very little value.

But the measurements are worth the price of subscription!

A. Hourst's picture

"everything else in Stereophile (and especially subjective reviews) has very little value"

I can't agree more. For example, Mr Fremer, in this review, avoid saying that there exist some "good enough" amplifiers that will sound exactly the same for a fraction of the price. Once you're below a certain threshold of distortion and output impedance, and have enough power, the differences become imperceptible.

Boulder still has a lot of merit for engineering such a stellar measuring amplifier.

Herb Reichert's picture

"Once you're below a certain threshold of distortion and output impedance, and have enough power, the differences become imperceptible"

Imperceptible ? to whom? Sir, I have been listening critically to amplifiers driving loudspeakers since 1966. Many of my best friends (even back then) were (and still are) brilliant amp designers. Not one of them, nor I, would make that statement. Have you personally experienced this phenomenon ? Also....Neither they nor I believe a quality amplifer is easy or inexpensive to make.

I am certain MF is one of the most experienced audio listener/observers on the planet, and I personally, place great trust in his observations. (Perhaps we should compare an vintage Hafler DH-500 to this obviously well-engineered Boulder? Do you think you could hear the difference?)

A. Hourst's picture

Mr Reichert,

Distortion and frequency response variations (which are typically very low in any well-conceived amplifier), are the only factors that can alter the sound of an amplifier. There’s no dispersion pattern like in loudspeakers, so it’s pretty much a straightforward 2-D signal very simple to measure. All your typical audiophile discourse about “bright” or “dark”, “rich” or “dry”, “musical” or “analytical” is embedded in those two parameters. Each one of them represents either an alteration of the frequency response or the signal integrity. I mean, how else could it be? People who have problems with this assertion invariably fail to 1) measure, 2) match the level within 0.1 dB or 3) listen blind. Usually, they even reach their conclusions based on memory. The problem is you can’t free your mind from its numerous prejudices (a 100 000$ amplifier will surely sound better than a 1000$ one) and aural memory is very fragile, since we tend to listen to something different every time music is played.

I do not question your or your friend’s experience or human qualities. I question the methodology, or lack of, that usually goes into the evaluation of most electronic devices.

And since you make this very personal, no I don’t place Mr Framer as an audio authority.

supamark's picture

You're completely ignoring that the amplifier and speaker(s) are a system that interact quite a lot... and a lot of other things. I'm sorry you don't have the ability to hear a lot of these things, maybe spend more time listening - it's a fact that the more time you spend doing something, the more neurons your brain will devote to it. Just as an experienced wine taster can discern shadings of flavor you can't, so can an experienced listener.

There is a lot of sillyness in high end audio (like claiming a power cord coming directly from a wall outlet having an effect on the sound ignores 100 feet of Romex upstream in the wall - assuming both cords are of the same gauge of pure copper wire there won't be a difference) but this isn't one of those things.

Fun story - I once was auditioning a Tandberg preamp (used) to replace my old NAD preamp circa 1990. The sound was significantly different (it sounded like George Massenberg gear - he invented parametric EQ btw) and excellent but I ended up not buying because the RCA jack was poorly designed and the sleeve came off when removing an interconnect. That was just a preamp... if only the build quality had been better I'd have bought it - Tandberg gear was top notch.

A. Hourst's picture

Did you match the level to 0.1 dB?
That's a major "difference maker".
Those interactions you're talking about are the result of high output impedance.
My experience is that the sound of electronics is extremely overrated.

supamark's picture

good to know that you're just talking out your ass. If you want to know what George Massenburg's equipment sounds like, compare 2 Flim & the BB's albums, anything from DMP (Tom Jung engineered) vs "New Pants" on Warner Bros. If you cannot hear the difference (no level matching required), you are not qualified to comment on audio, at all.

A. Hourst's picture

I understand you don't like what I'm saying...

supamark's picture

I don't respect what you're saying, because you don't actually know what you're talking about.

ChrisS's picture

Many, many fewer regard you A. Hourst as an authority of anything...

ChrisS's picture

Why are you here?

IgAK's picture

Interesting mention of Boulder's avoiding resonating fins, a legitimate concern if a fine point. That is why one of my amps with large fins has dampers inserted between every fin. Running a hand across the fins before that produced obvious ringing, yes. Even after the dampers they try to a little but I did not want to compromise the cooling too much so I stopped where I did.

Did I hear much difference after the dampers? Not a lot but enough to say that there was an improvement and the cost-free tweak was worth spending a few minutes on and something anyone can take care of themselves. The amp is not overtaxed so it does not run super hot, still, after many years the foam dampers are still in fine shape. It should be noted that that amp was being used on only the woofers in a triamped system so additional harmonics would have been cut off by that factor or I may have heard even more of a change. But that this matters became provably true and Boulder's attention to that detail is appropriate to a product costing that much and admirable.

Pages

Boulder Amplifiers 2150 monoblock power amplifier Specifications

Tue, 01/24/2017

COMMENTS
wineandwires's picture

When do we get to read your comparison of the AudioQuest Hurricane (high-current) and Shunyata Research Zi-Tron Sigma HC?

supamark's picture

'"I'm a recording engineer, so I value accuracy," said a panelist in a discussion—titled "How to Read Between the Lines of Audio Advertising"'

Was your response to this statement deliberate trolling or are you really that unfamiliar w/ what recording engineers do? He meant, and I can't believe I have to explain this to you, that what comes out of the amp should be the same as what went in, but amplified. Jeez.

It's like your silly trolling of people (some of whom are also trolling) who say they prefer digital to analog. The correct answer is neither is better than the other, they each do different things well and really it's a matter of which distortions one prefers.

Note, I worked as a recording engineer in the early 90's - classical, jazz, rock, and pop; I did it all.

mallred's picture

I've wasted a lot of money in this silly hobby thinking if I moved up to the next level, I'd get better results. Experience and approx. $80k (over the years) I know better... Of course, maybe if I had of pushed up even further to Boulder/etc., I would've finally gotten "there"...

supamark's picture

Not sure what this has to do with what I wrote... but if you can't hear the difference between, say, a well designed Class A amp and a well designed class AB or D amp then the problem may simply be that your hearing (or ability to discern fine grain differences in sound) is not up to snuff. Most wine, to me, tastes like grape juice mixed with vodka but I don't doubt that's not the case with most people who actually like wine (I obviously don't), and an experienced wine taster can glean a lot of information from shades of flavor most of us cant discern.

I spent about 5 years where my job was, essentially, to listen carefully (recording engineer). I could hear the distinct differences between two Steinway 9' grands we had my at first job at UT Austin (the Hamburg had more scintillating high harmonics, the NY had fuller low mids) and a Baldwin 9' grand we had (less high end "air" than either Steinway, more pronounced mids than either - no wonder 70's rock bands liked 'em - better at cutting through a mix). I could tell musicians the exact point where they stopped just playing and started thinking about playing (nothing kills feel like thinking about it). Clear differences between different compressors, different EQ's, different reverbs, etc. Audiophiles like to rag on rock/pop recording engineers, but the truth is we pay almost fetishistic attention to the sound but it's the artist and label (the boss) who determine what the final product sounds like (i.e. hard limited, clipped no dynamic range EQ'd to hell and back ear torture of the "loudness wars").

That's something that I like about Stereophile - many of their reviewers have either played or recorded music professionally (or both) so I know they've done a LOT of listening. Also, unlike, say, TAS, they publish measurements of the gear they listen to.

es347's picture

..seriously?

A. Hourst's picture

“Can you measure "dry"? Probably not—but you can hear it.”

Of course you can measure dryness. It’s the lack of harmonic distortion or reverberation in space to which our ears are continually exposed and become accustomed to. You feel something is missing, and you call that dryness. You can say the same of a music hall which absorb an unusually high level of reflections. We call that “dry” because we don’t hear the multiple layers of sound that we hear otherwise.

Anyway, I just wanted to correct this unfounded belief that you can’t measure everything you can hear. Sean Olive even demonstrated that you can measure “good sound”, despite the very subjective nature of this concept. There is consistency in nature. A very few things are arbitrary, even if you’ll find some aberrant data and some people who have developed a dislike for accuracy (and will advance the hypothesis that it doesn’t even exist).

kevon27's picture

Mr. A. Hourst, you should be employed by Stereophile as a reviewer.
Reviewers use words like cold, warm, dry, laid-back, etc, etc. No one ever explains what those words mean or in terms describing sound.
I always believe if you can hear sound, you can measure it.

mrkaic's picture

I buy and read Stereophile because they publish measurements; I would not buy/read it otherwise. I read the measurements section almost exclusively, since I think that everything else in Stereophile (and especially subjective reviews) has very little value.

But the measurements are worth the price of subscription!

A. Hourst's picture

"everything else in Stereophile (and especially subjective reviews) has very little value"

I can't agree more. For example, Mr Fremer, in this review, avoid saying that there exist some "good enough" amplifiers that will sound exactly the same for a fraction of the price. Once you're below a certain threshold of distortion and output impedance, and have enough power, the differences become imperceptible.

Boulder still has a lot of merit for engineering such a stellar measuring amplifier.

Herb Reichert's picture

"Once you're below a certain threshold of distortion and output impedance, and have enough power, the differences become imperceptible"

Imperceptible ? to whom? Sir, I have been listening critically to amplifiers driving loudspeakers since 1966. Many of my best friends (even back then) were (and still are) brilliant amp designers. Not one of them, nor I, would make that statement. Have you personally experienced this phenomenon ? Also....Neither they nor I believe a quality amplifer is easy or inexpensive to make.

I am certain MF is one of the most experienced audio listener/observers on the planet, and I personally, place great trust in his observations. (Perhaps we should compare an vintage Hafler DH-500 to this obviously well-engineered Boulder? Do you think you could hear the difference?)

A. Hourst's picture

Mr Reichert,

Distortion and frequency response variations (which are typically very low in any well-conceived amplifier), are the only factors that can alter the sound of an amplifier. There’s no dispersion pattern like in loudspeakers, so it’s pretty much a straightforward 2-D signal very simple to measure. All your typical audiophile discourse about “bright” or “dark”, “rich” or “dry”, “musical” or “analytical” is embedded in those two parameters. Each one of them represents either an alteration of the frequency response or the signal integrity. I mean, how else could it be? People who have problems with this assertion invariably fail to 1) measure, 2) match the level within 0.1 dB or 3) listen blind. Usually, they even reach their conclusions based on memory. The problem is you can’t free your mind from its numerous prejudices (a 100 000$ amplifier will surely sound better than a 1000$ one) and aural memory is very fragile, since we tend to listen to something different every time music is played.

I do not question your or your friend’s experience or human qualities. I question the methodology, or lack of, that usually goes into the evaluation of most electronic devices.

And since you make this very personal, no I don’t place Mr Framer as an audio authority.

supamark's picture

You're completely ignoring that the amplifier and speaker(s) are a system that interact quite a lot... and a lot of other things. I'm sorry you don't have the ability to hear a lot of these things, maybe spend more time listening - it's a fact that the more time you spend doing something, the more neurons your brain will devote to it. Just as an experienced wine taster can discern shadings of flavor you can't, so can an experienced listener.

There is a lot of sillyness in high end audio (like claiming a power cord coming directly from a wall outlet having an effect on the sound ignores 100 feet of Romex upstream in the wall - assuming both cords are of the same gauge of pure copper wire there won't be a difference) but this isn't one of those things.

Fun story - I once was auditioning a Tandberg preamp (used) to replace my old NAD preamp circa 1990. The sound was significantly different (it sounded like George Massenberg gear - he invented parametric EQ btw) and excellent but I ended up not buying because the RCA jack was poorly designed and the sleeve came off when removing an interconnect. That was just a preamp... if only the build quality had been better I'd have bought it - Tandberg gear was top notch.

A. Hourst's picture

Did you match the level to 0.1 dB?
That's a major "difference maker".
Those interactions you're talking about are the result of high output impedance.
My experience is that the sound of electronics is extremely overrated.

supamark's picture

good to know that you're just talking out your ass. If you want to know what George Massenburg's equipment sounds like, compare 2 Flim & the BB's albums, anything from DMP (Tom Jung engineered) vs "New Pants" on Warner Bros. If you cannot hear the difference (no level matching required), you are not qualified to comment on audio, at all.

A. Hourst's picture

I understand you don't like what I'm saying...

supamark's picture

I don't respect what you're saying, because you don't actually know what you're talking about.

ChrisS's picture

Many, many fewer regard you A. Hourst as an authority of anything...

ChrisS's picture

Why are you here?

IgAK's picture

Interesting mention of Boulder's avoiding resonating fins, a legitimate concern if a fine point. That is why one of my amps with large fins has dampers inserted between every fin. Running a hand across the fins before that produced obvious ringing, yes. Even after the dampers they try to a little but I did not want to compromise the cooling too much so I stopped where I did.

Did I hear much difference after the dampers? Not a lot but enough to say that there was an improvement and the cost-free tweak was worth spending a few minutes on and something anyone can take care of themselves. The amp is not overtaxed so it does not run super hot, still, after many years the foam dampers are still in fine shape. It should be noted that that amp was being used on only the woofers in a triamped system so additional harmonics would have been cut off by that factor or I may have heard even more of a change. But that this matters became provably true and Boulder's attention to that detail is appropriate to a product costing that much and admirable.

Pages

Boulder Amplifiers 2150 monoblock power amplifier Page 2

Tue, 01/24/2017

COMMENTS
wineandwires's picture

When do we get to read your comparison of the AudioQuest Hurricane (high-current) and Shunyata Research Zi-Tron Sigma HC?

supamark's picture

'"I'm a recording engineer, so I value accuracy," said a panelist in a discussion—titled "How to Read Between the Lines of Audio Advertising"'

Was your response to this statement deliberate trolling or are you really that unfamiliar w/ what recording engineers do? He meant, and I can't believe I have to explain this to you, that what comes out of the amp should be the same as what went in, but amplified. Jeez.

It's like your silly trolling of people (some of whom are also trolling) who say they prefer digital to analog. The correct answer is neither is better than the other, they each do different things well and really it's a matter of which distortions one prefers.

Note, I worked as a recording engineer in the early 90's - classical, jazz, rock, and pop; I did it all.

mallred's picture

I've wasted a lot of money in this silly hobby thinking if I moved up to the next level, I'd get better results. Experience and approx. $80k (over the years) I know better... Of course, maybe if I had of pushed up even further to Boulder/etc., I would've finally gotten "there"...

supamark's picture

Not sure what this has to do with what I wrote... but if you can't hear the difference between, say, a well designed Class A amp and a well designed class AB or D amp then the problem may simply be that your hearing (or ability to discern fine grain differences in sound) is not up to snuff. Most wine, to me, tastes like grape juice mixed with vodka but I don't doubt that's not the case with most people who actually like wine (I obviously don't), and an experienced wine taster can glean a lot of information from shades of flavor most of us cant discern.

I spent about 5 years where my job was, essentially, to listen carefully (recording engineer). I could hear the distinct differences between two Steinway 9' grands we had my at first job at UT Austin (the Hamburg had more scintillating high harmonics, the NY had fuller low mids) and a Baldwin 9' grand we had (less high end "air" than either Steinway, more pronounced mids than either - no wonder 70's rock bands liked 'em - better at cutting through a mix). I could tell musicians the exact point where they stopped just playing and started thinking about playing (nothing kills feel like thinking about it). Clear differences between different compressors, different EQ's, different reverbs, etc. Audiophiles like to rag on rock/pop recording engineers, but the truth is we pay almost fetishistic attention to the sound but it's the artist and label (the boss) who determine what the final product sounds like (i.e. hard limited, clipped no dynamic range EQ'd to hell and back ear torture of the "loudness wars").

That's something that I like about Stereophile - many of their reviewers have either played or recorded music professionally (or both) so I know they've done a LOT of listening. Also, unlike, say, TAS, they publish measurements of the gear they listen to.

es347's picture

..seriously?

A. Hourst's picture

“Can you measure "dry"? Probably not—but you can hear it.”

Of course you can measure dryness. It’s the lack of harmonic distortion or reverberation in space to which our ears are continually exposed and become accustomed to. You feel something is missing, and you call that dryness. You can say the same of a music hall which absorb an unusually high level of reflections. We call that “dry” because we don’t hear the multiple layers of sound that we hear otherwise.

Anyway, I just wanted to correct this unfounded belief that you can’t measure everything you can hear. Sean Olive even demonstrated that you can measure “good sound”, despite the very subjective nature of this concept. There is consistency in nature. A very few things are arbitrary, even if you’ll find some aberrant data and some people who have developed a dislike for accuracy (and will advance the hypothesis that it doesn’t even exist).

kevon27's picture

Mr. A. Hourst, you should be employed by Stereophile as a reviewer.
Reviewers use words like cold, warm, dry, laid-back, etc, etc. No one ever explains what those words mean or in terms describing sound.
I always believe if you can hear sound, you can measure it.

mrkaic's picture

I buy and read Stereophile because they publish measurements; I would not buy/read it otherwise. I read the measurements section almost exclusively, since I think that everything else in Stereophile (and especially subjective reviews) has very little value.

But the measurements are worth the price of subscription!

A. Hourst's picture

"everything else in Stereophile (and especially subjective reviews) has very little value"

I can't agree more. For example, Mr Fremer, in this review, avoid saying that there exist some "good enough" amplifiers that will sound exactly the same for a fraction of the price. Once you're below a certain threshold of distortion and output impedance, and have enough power, the differences become imperceptible.

Boulder still has a lot of merit for engineering such a stellar measuring amplifier.

Herb Reichert's picture

"Once you're below a certain threshold of distortion and output impedance, and have enough power, the differences become imperceptible"

Imperceptible ? to whom? Sir, I have been listening critically to amplifiers driving loudspeakers since 1966. Many of my best friends (even back then) were (and still are) brilliant amp designers. Not one of them, nor I, would make that statement. Have you personally experienced this phenomenon ? Also....Neither they nor I believe a quality amplifer is easy or inexpensive to make.

I am certain MF is one of the most experienced audio listener/observers on the planet, and I personally, place great trust in his observations. (Perhaps we should compare an vintage Hafler DH-500 to this obviously well-engineered Boulder? Do you think you could hear the difference?)

A. Hourst's picture

Mr Reichert,

Distortion and frequency response variations (which are typically very low in any well-conceived amplifier), are the only factors that can alter the sound of an amplifier. There’s no dispersion pattern like in loudspeakers, so it’s pretty much a straightforward 2-D signal very simple to measure. All your typical audiophile discourse about “bright” or “dark”, “rich” or “dry”, “musical” or “analytical” is embedded in those two parameters. Each one of them represents either an alteration of the frequency response or the signal integrity. I mean, how else could it be? People who have problems with this assertion invariably fail to 1) measure, 2) match the level within 0.1 dB or 3) listen blind. Usually, they even reach their conclusions based on memory. The problem is you can’t free your mind from its numerous prejudices (a 100 000$ amplifier will surely sound better than a 1000$ one) and aural memory is very fragile, since we tend to listen to something different every time music is played.

I do not question your or your friend’s experience or human qualities. I question the methodology, or lack of, that usually goes into the evaluation of most electronic devices.

And since you make this very personal, no I don’t place Mr Framer as an audio authority.

supamark's picture

You're completely ignoring that the amplifier and speaker(s) are a system that interact quite a lot... and a lot of other things. I'm sorry you don't have the ability to hear a lot of these things, maybe spend more time listening - it's a fact that the more time you spend doing something, the more neurons your brain will devote to it. Just as an experienced wine taster can discern shadings of flavor you can't, so can an experienced listener.

There is a lot of sillyness in high end audio (like claiming a power cord coming directly from a wall outlet having an effect on the sound ignores 100 feet of Romex upstream in the wall - assuming both cords are of the same gauge of pure copper wire there won't be a difference) but this isn't one of those things.

Fun story - I once was auditioning a Tandberg preamp (used) to replace my old NAD preamp circa 1990. The sound was significantly different (it sounded like George Massenberg gear - he invented parametric EQ btw) and excellent but I ended up not buying because the RCA jack was poorly designed and the sleeve came off when removing an interconnect. That was just a preamp... if only the build quality had been better I'd have bought it - Tandberg gear was top notch.

A. Hourst's picture

Did you match the level to 0.1 dB?
That's a major "difference maker".
Those interactions you're talking about are the result of high output impedance.
My experience is that the sound of electronics is extremely overrated.

supamark's picture

good to know that you're just talking out your ass. If you want to know what George Massenburg's equipment sounds like, compare 2 Flim & the BB's albums, anything from DMP (Tom Jung engineered) vs "New Pants" on Warner Bros. If you cannot hear the difference (no level matching required), you are not qualified to comment on audio, at all.

A. Hourst's picture

I understand you don't like what I'm saying...

supamark's picture

I don't respect what you're saying, because you don't actually know what you're talking about.

ChrisS's picture

Many, many fewer regard you A. Hourst as an authority of anything...

ChrisS's picture

Why are you here?

IgAK's picture

Interesting mention of Boulder's avoiding resonating fins, a legitimate concern if a fine point. That is why one of my amps with large fins has dampers inserted between every fin. Running a hand across the fins before that produced obvious ringing, yes. Even after the dampers they try to a little but I did not want to compromise the cooling too much so I stopped where I did.

Did I hear much difference after the dampers? Not a lot but enough to say that there was an improvement and the cost-free tweak was worth spending a few minutes on and something anyone can take care of themselves. The amp is not overtaxed so it does not run super hot, still, after many years the foam dampers are still in fine shape. It should be noted that that amp was being used on only the woofers in a triamped system so additional harmonics would have been cut off by that factor or I may have heard even more of a change. But that this matters became provably true and Boulder's attention to that detail is appropriate to a product costing that much and admirable.

Pages

Boulder Amplifiers 2150 monoblock power amplifier

"I'm a recording engineer, so I value accuracy," said a panelist in a discussion—titled "How to Read Between the Lines of Audio Advertising"—at last October's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I, too, was on the panel, which was moderated by Brent Butterworth, a writer for the SoundStage! Network of online audio magazines.

"Accuracy is overrated," I interjected from the other end of the dais. "Accurate to what? To your sonic tastes? To what you hear on your preferred loudspeakers? Other than one's personal preferences, I'm not sure the term accuracy has much meaning."

Tue, 01/24/2017

Pages