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October 2014
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Senseless Ramblings
In A Time Of Universal Deceit - Telling The Truth Is A Revolutionary Act.
    – George Orwell 
Plus... Is digital really better than analog?
Plus there's a cold war happening and you're part of it... sort of.
Article By Steven R. Rochlin

 

  So let's being with the upcoming hi-res initiative shall we? For years Apple has demanded record labels send them digital music that are hi-res (read: at a resolution higher than 16-bit/44.1kHz). Sure we all know the major music labels <cough> might have misrepresenting <cough> the resolution of said files, since currently selling 'hi-rez' music files have been proven by various magazines, which have analyzed the frequency spectrum of said files, publishing their test results accordingly. Upsampling a CD or 44.1/16-bit file to 96kHz/24-bit does not really make it a hi-res file in the opinion of many within the high fidelity audio and recording / mastering industry. David Chesky agrees with us within the interview we did with him for Enjoy the Music.TV. CD players and DACs have been upsampling CD's 44.1kHz/16-bit audio for decades free of charge per se. Why would anyone pay yet again for virtually the exact same digital music file that has been upsampled by perhaps a lower quality algorithm? Why is it the record labels did not tell you it was the CD or 44.1kHz/16-bit file upsampled to begin with before you purchased what you felt was a hi-res file from the online music stores? I can make an 8-bit audio file into a 24-bit/192kHz one, yet that does not truly make it a hi-res audio file now does it?

As we are on the precipice of the major record labels, and to some extent PonoMusic, HDtracks, iTrax, 2L and others, getting some exposure per se from The DEG's (Digital Entertainment Group) possible hi-res music initiative, I feel this is an excellent time to be a bit proactive. We simply need to remind those who provide digitized audio files that if they plan to mark a file hi-res, it should state the origins of said file too. Calling an 8-bit file 192kHz/24-bit is akin to consumer fraud, and none of us would want to deal with Class Action Lawsuit as it pertains to truth in product and advertising. Not just within the USA, yet also in Europe and other countries that have a very strong and longstanding precedent in upholding consumer's rights when it comes to misrepresenting a product. So instead of just waiting it out like pretty much every other magazine seems to be doing, we here at Enjoy the Music.com want to help the music industry to more clearly, and honestly, label the future digitized audio they plan to sell called hi-res.

During the history of recorded sound, there have been many 'formats' (Edison cylinder, metal wire, magnetic tape, DAW, etc) employed to record music. Thus there is little doubt some compromise needs to be made in said labeling. Regardless, there is an 'envelope' that can broadly let consumers know what they are purchasing to keep things honest and above board. When the music industry is honest with their customers, you can rest assured that many of us within the high fidelity audio industry will applaud their effort and welcome recordings that are honestly labeled. On the other hand, if things go awry, am sure there are lawyers who love the big paycheck, and fame, that comes with winning a Class Action lawsuit against companies with very deep pockets. So, let us explore what I humbly suggest to help The DEG and major record labels achieve a sound way of labeling their digitized audio file products.

 


Historic

 


Analog

 


Digital 44.1/48kHz

 


Digital 88.1/96kHz

 


Digital 192kHz On Up


Upsampled

Note: The red dot tells you there are larger images and the naming is there only for you to see what they mean. Thus the red dot and text (i.e. Historic, Analog etc.) are not to be included within the image that will appear to inform consumers. They are shown here so you better understand the images' meaning. You can download the zipped psd of all files here. These are 100% freeware and no licensing fee or attribution is required.

 

Change the text within the circle to reflect the actual number/type, thus the example of 48kHz is '48' (as shown here) would be numerically changed to '44' for Redbook standards. Form follows function as '88' would appear instead of '96' as appropriate. At 192kHz is where 'the future' is made and surely we'll be seeing 384kHz and more within recording studios in the decades to come. These images scale nicely imho up and down for resizing and will stand out well against any background color.

Like CD labeling approved decades ago, there needs to be three images. One marks the original/source file type/resolution, the next the mastering type/resolution, and last the resolution of the digital audio file being offered for purchase. Thus, if a record label used a Redbook standard CD 16-bit/44.1kHz digitized audio file and upsampled it to 24-bit/96kHz to send to Apple, PonoMusic, HDtracks, etc the three required logos would appear as below.

Of course compromises needed to be made and thus i dropped the bit depth, as odds are anything over 48kHz will be @ at least 24-bit depth. DSD files should employ the same trademarked logo that Sony uses within the same allotted logo size requirements (give or take a little for their logo width difference), as this is their own trademarked proprietary format. Yes we can debate the sound quality of the variety of analog and historic 'master tapes', yet again compromises need to be made to keep things simple and non-confusing. Confusing consumers is the last thing any of us desire. 

"Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

 

Is Digital Really Better Than Analog?
Neil Young A Letter HomeYes, no, well, depends who you ask and in what circumstance now doesn't it? Loved how some people panned Neil Young's recent release of A Letter Home album. "Oh no, it was recorded in some low-res booth instead of a state-of-the-art XX-bit/YYYkHz studio." Yeah, how dare an artist, who just so happens to be a creator of music, use anything other than the very best in recording equipment. They also panned the rock band Rush many years ago in a scathing article, but they did rave about Rush over a decade later so live and learn I guess. As a fan of many genera's of music, yes including the 8-bit digital variety (i.e. the original arcade game Pac Man, Donkey Kong and the like), who is to tell an artist that they can only use whatever 'canvass' you feel is best. It is musical art ferchrissakes! That's why we call them musical artists (duh). Yes, some people hate abstract art, other might hate cubism, and some might not ever see the genius/madness of Salvador Dali. Me? I hate everything equally, and some things more equally than others <grin>. We generally buy what we love, and don't what we dislike. That's all part of a consumer-driven economy and all that. Sure, you are free to speak your mind and argue that analog is better than digital or visa versa, yet someone else might have the other side of that debate. In the end market forces will win... only if they/you actually cares about the market to begin with. Think about it.

 

The Cold War
Make no mistake, some publishers of magazines, not just those pertaining to high fidelity audio, are suffering. Constrained by bean counters who demand constant content that strains their writing staff, we are all only human and thus can only do a certain amount of things during a given timeline. Offering higher pay makes no difference either (imho) because if money is the motivator then one should question their real motives to begin with. If you're not already doing the best job you can, than what is holding you back? Why? How can you make adjustments to achieve whatever goal(s) you are seeking to achieve? Are your goals in alignment with whoever is keeping food on your table? Would you do what you're doing even if it did not put a single morsel of food on said table? Think about it.

So as I sit here watching the high fidelity audio industry, it makes me smile. As a guy who came from the bottom rung with literally two pennies to his name, and enjoys being in that position (or feeling that way), it is always good to be 'hungry'. Hunger usually makes one a bit more motivated, since the world is about six meals away from possible anarchy. Go ahead and try it. Starve everyone in your town for six meals without any hope of future nourishment and see what happens. Wow, I really go off track there huh? Ok, now what was I trying to convey? Oh yeah, magazines...

When someone puts a magazine under the handcuffs of limiting content until more revenue is achieved, this is a false model IMHO rife with pitfalls. Like an artist, they need to have full freedom to create and whatever they choose to create/produce. If it brings critical acclaim and, dare we say it, higher revenue that is generally considered a good thing within today's society norms. Of course all generalizations are wrong, because if you limit creation due to lack of achievable funding, then you are producing a compromised product. So, are you happy as an artist when you create a compromised product due to outside constraints? If not, then you have a decision to make and you know in your heart what the answer is. Think about it.

As for Enjoy the Music.com and Enjoy the Music.TV, there are zero constraints. That's the beauty of artistic freedom, as you can do what appears to be whimsical things from outside forces because, you know, you feel like it is fun to do and hopefully others 'get' what you're doing. If others appreciate your art that is great, yet any true artist basks in the glory of their creation and not the 'rewards' it may or may not realize. Since you are reading this, odds are you might have met me during a show. "He's crazy" you say. Yes, and damn proud of it! The funny thing is, there are many types of crazy, and if you felt I was being crazy before, well then, you have not seen anything yet! Would say more, yet my brain-trust and investors are all extremely happy with the upcoming Act II of this proverbial 'play'. In fact as I type this I am giggling like a little school girl. Why? Because it is always fun to try something, well, fun! Does anybody remember laughter? Of course if you give someone enough 'leash' they get more freedom to create.... or enough rope to hang themselves. Ah, we all walk a tightrope in life. The real skill is within your ability to balance.

And so that rounds out this senseless rambling. If you did not like it, I will gladly refund the full purchase price. Oh, wait, this content is free just like other review sites, those that offer free PDF downloads, many excellent discussion boards, etc. Let freedom ring!

And before I forget, let us all highly support the hi-res music about to reach the mainstream. Am fairly sure Neil Young desires his PonoMusic initiative not to offer CD resolution music, right? Neil is far smarter than that, right? He never said CD was hi-res and am sure that is not his intent as an artist trying to sell things to his 'choir'. Of course the same can be said for the major record labels too. If little, puny, tiny, miniscule labels like Chesky Records, Linn, TACET, 2L, iTrax and others can offer true hi-res music recorded at 24-bit/96kHz or higher for many years, well then I am sure major labels who have sent 'hi-res files' to Apple for years with their far higher budgets can do it too. If music labels do the right thing and label/sell their releases honestly, the world will once again have great sounding music for us all to enjoy, just as The DEG members keep saying, as the artist(s) intended.

As always, in the end what really matters is that you... 

Enjoy the Music (two songs, with lyrics modified, to accentuate my feelings),

Steven R. Rochlin

 

Begin the day with a friendly voice
A companion unobtrusive
Plays that song that's so elusive
And the magic music makes your morning mood

Off on your way, hit the open road
There is magic at your fingers
For the Spirit ever lingers
Undemanding contact in your happy solitude

Invisible airwaves crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle with the energy
Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free

All this machinery making modern music
Can still be open hearted
Not so coldly charted
It's really just a question of your honesty
Yeah, your honesty
One likes to believe in the freedom of music
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity

Invisible airwaves crackle with life
Bright antennae bristle with the energy
Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free

For the words of the prophets were written on the studio wall
Concert hall
And echoes with the sounds of salesmen

 

 

[1. Tide Pools]

When the ebbing tide retreats
Along the rocky shoreline
It leaves a trail of tidal pools
In a short-lived galaxy
Each microcosmic planet
A complete society

A simple kind mirror
To reflect upon our own
All the busy little creatures
Chasing out their destinies
Living in their pools
They soon forget about the sea...

Wheels within wheels in a spiral array
A pattern so grand and complex
Time after time we lose sight of the way
Our causes can't see their effects

[2. Hyperspace]

A quantum leap forward
In time and in space
The universe learned to expand

The mess and the magic
Triumphant and tragic
A mechanized world out of hand

Computerized clinic
For superior cynics
Who dance to a synthetic band

In their own image
Their world is fashioned
No wonder they don't understand

Wheels within wheels in a spiral array
A pattern so grand and complex
Time after time we lose sight of the way
Our causes can't see their effects

[3. Permanent Waves]

Science, like nature
Must also be tamed
With a view towards its preservation
Given the same
State of integrity
It will surely serve us well

Art as expression
Not as market campaigns
Will still capture our imaginations
Given the same
State of integrity
It will surely help us along

The most endangered species
The honest man
Will still survive annihilation
Forming a world
State of integrity
Sensitive, open and strong

Wave after wave will flow with the tide
And bury the world as it does
Tide after tide will flow and recede
Leaving life to go on as it was... 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's no time for us,
There's no place for us,
What is this thing that builds our dreams, yet slips away from us.

Who wants to live forever,
Who wants to live forever.................?

There's no chance for us,
It's all decided for us,
This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us.

Who wants to live forever,
Who dares to love forever,
When love must die.

But touch my tears with your lips,
Touch my world with your fingertips,
And we can have forever,
And we can love forever,
Forever is our today

Who wants to live forever,
Who wants to live forever,
Forever is our today

Who waits forever anyway?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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