The Bitstream Blog :: Seneschal Technical Profesional Services

An Exercise Regime for 2018

I recently moved into a new home we purchased, and this holiday season our house is festooned not with garlands and boughs, but with boxes, moving blankets and furniture in a random location. It will take until summer for me to make some sense of my new listening room, which happens to also be our living room, but one feature of our new abode was unexpected and is quite welcome.

It’s a small thing, but next to the toilet is a magazine rack. It allows us to catch up on new magazines and catalogs as we sit on “The Throne,” and helps me stay up to date on audio, engineering and hobbies. My job requires that I read pro audio magazines, including Mix, Tape Op, Pro Sound News, the SMPTE Journal and audioXpress. My avocation compels me to read Stereophile, The Absolute Sound, and hi–fi catalogs to stay in touch with what’s desirable in the world of audiophilia. I don’t always agree with what’s presented, but I always learn something I didn’t already know.

Like a shark, I must keep moving. I also must keep learning, both out of curiosity and a need to know more. Nasreddin Hodja, a 13th Century Seljuq Sufi, was familiar with the trap of relying on book learning and staring too long at cat videos instead of living in the moment. His take on the value of testing the world around you rather than counting on conjecture and hearsay was succinct, “Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.” As any high schooler knows, you have to poke at the envelope to better discern its boundaries.

Too often these days, we fall into over reliance on our machines to tell us what to do. For matters strictly objective, that’s a good thing. That said, audio is certainly not strictly objective, no matter how hard we try and fit that big round subject into a square little box. In 2018, I urge you to learn something new every day for you work or play; to question your assumptions, and to test your theories rather than assuming you are always right. Stasis is death, and both me and my work/hobby of all things audio must evolve to encompass new tastes, trends and technology or perish on the Great Heap of Laughable Tech where lazy and smug companies go to die.

As Marcel Proust once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Seek out and value the opinions of those who disagree with you. Take a chance once in a while. You may be pleasantly disturbed to find your viewpoint shifting in a new or novel direction!

Happy Holidays and, keep on listening!

Rocking A Long Strange Trip…

News this week about Nugs.net offering MQA–encoded content got me thinking about jam bands, and The Dead in particular. Now news from the NY Times about a new Dead rockumentary made me want to share it with y’all… Read more…

The Trials of a Mastering Engineer

Unless we were born with the proverbial silver spoon in our mouths, we have to pay our dues during that slow, 10,000 hour march toward mastery. George Geurin, owner and chief engineer at DES Mastering in Dallas, has seen it all during his quarter century career in digital audio mastering. In a recent ’net posting, he recounted a story of the fun stuff folks often have to endure to keep the lights on…

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AKA Doc Pomus

There have been quite a few finely polished glimpses into popular music lately, the most recent from PBS. Soundbreaking: Stories From The Cutting Edge Of Recorded Music is a wonderful overview of pop music told in eight installments. As the press release stated:

“Produced in association with the late Sir George Martin, the series features over 150 artists, including Paul McCartney, Bonnie Raitt, RZA and many more sharing behind-the-scenes stories in a music-driven celebration of the art of recording.”

Stream it on PBS’ site, it’s well worth the time investment… Read more…

Vintage King Releases Al Schmitt Documentary

On July 12, 2016, pro audio dealer Vintage King released a new documentary on the legendary Grammy-winning engineer Al Schmitt. The Art of Recording a Big Band got its world premiere at Capitol Recording Studios in Hollywood California.

Available as a limited edition DVD release, the 70 minute film was directed by Shevy Shovlin during a two day master class at Capitol, with recording engineers Schmitt and Steve Genewick, and features Chris Walden’s Grammy–nominated 18 piece jazz big band.

The film focuses on the studio method of Schmitt, winner of 22 Grammy Awards. During his career, Schmitt has recorded and mixed more than 150 Gold and Platinum albums. His credits include hit records with Henry Mancini, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis, Jr., Natalie Cole, Thelonious Monk, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Michael Jackson and many more.

For more information, visit Vintage King…

http://vintageking.com/the-art-of-recording-a-big-band-dvd

Self–Censorship, or the Art of Saying “No, Thanks.”

As an equipment reviewer, a fair amount of new gear comes across my desk. If you’ve ever seen my office, you wouldn’t be surprised at the resulting clutter. I request equipment based on either my limited experience with the product at a trade show, or via a positive recommendation by someone I trust. Unfortunately, like on–line dating, expectations do not always hold up to critical evaluation. Read more…

New Behlmer Interview

Hey Sports Fans,

Some of my favorite Hollywood shows, including Braveheart, The Thin Red Line, L.A. Confidential, Shrek and the Star Trek reboot all owe some of their impact and lasting value to the talents of a mostly unsung hero of the mixing console, re–recording mixer Anna Behlmer.

Read more…

Rockumentaries

Lest we forget that, for all our frenzied activity surrounding audio electronics, the result should be a better appreciation of music. For many of us, the very thought conjures up images of great performers belting out an aria, classic show tune or even a jazzy Dixieland piece. That said, there are many of you whose life has been defined by one single genre; rock. Whether it’s aging Mods helicoptering or reliving your youth with leather–clad hair metal bands, most of us have rocked at one time or another. Read more…

“High Resolution Audio,” Quality & Critical Listening

Hello Happy Reader,

Though I’m “out of the office” for the holidays, I’m still dutifully cleaning my e–mail accounts so I won’t be swamped after New Year’s. As the owner of a standard yellow PonoPlayer, I was catching up on comments over at PonoMusic, and one in particular caught my attention, a note from Allen Farmelo at Farmelo Recording linking to a Tape Op blog entry. Farmelo’s dispatch, The Problem With A-B’ing And Why Neil Young Is Right About Sound Quality, makes several valid points, one of which is that A–B tests are not necessarily that meaningful… Read more…

The 16th C. Roots of Computing

Hello Happy Reader,

What with the holidays and plethora of pipe organs in the Twin Cities, I hit a couple of concerts recently. The most recent was a Olivier Messiaen piece, La Nativité du Seigneur, as played by Raymond Johnson, the Director of Music at St. Mark’s Cathedral here in Minneapolis. It was dissonant, angular and altogether challenging, though I did enjoy it as an accompaniment to stained glass (not Glass, Jonah!) viewing.

Since big organs get down to the very lowest octave of our hearing, and are usually installed in a large, reverberant space, they can be lots of fun. When I heard that someone was giving a historical talk about French organs, I thought, “Way kewel,” and signed up. Extra points were awarded as the speaker is the fellow overseeing the current restoration at the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. I attended Mass once at Notre Dame, and it was a transcendent experience. Read more…

RMAF 2013 – Ella Lives Pt. 3

Ciao Gentle Reader,

In Parts One & Two of my RMAF 2013 report, I discussed activities at CanJam, always fun, and some of the suites that caught my fancy. This last installment continues with coverage of individual rooms that I enjoyed, starting with April Music…

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RMAF 2013…Ella Lives Pt. 2

Hey Audio Fans,

In Part 1 of “RMAF 2013…Ella Lives,” I discussed many of the stuff at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest’s CanJam gathering. This year, it was bigger and better than ever, with some amazing high end headphones, and some budget ones that kick serious butt. In this, the second part of my RMAF 2013 coverage, I’m continuing my discussion of the remainder of the show: the suites, where it was all loudspeakers, all the time… Read more…