Audio News

Audio News for June 25, 2013

New York Philharmonic Digital Archives; Neil Young’s Pono & Meridian Visit; Discovering Fidelity from the Other Side

Published on June 25, 2013

New York Philharmonic Digital Archives – were inaugurated in 2011 and now include 1.3 million pages, with scores, music, business documents, photographs and other resources connected with the history of the New York Philharmonic. Leonard Bernstein changed the programming of the orchestra radically, although its board had considering programming more unconventional modern music. Alan Gilbert, the orchestra’s new music director, has launching a monthlong festival which features an evening celebrating symphonic jazz, a Stravinsky blowout, and a revival of a rare 1940s opera. One of Bernstein’s innovations was the Thursday night Preview Concerts with a relaxed atmosphere and Nehru jackets for the orchestra members. Gilbert’s informal Contact! series will feature Nehru jackets for orchestra members. Some of Gilbert’s miniature explorations encore Bernstein’s fertile programming period: his Carl Nielsen symphony cycle, and the Bach Variations. John Cage and his contemporaries had been wooing Bernstein for some time, and finally got their chance with an Avant-Garde Festival in 1964. It was almost universally decried. Cage said of the booing audience, “They are a group of gangsters…criminals.” Bernstein backed off a bit, but included at least one piece of 20th-century music in each of his programs.

Neil Young’s Pono & Meridian Visit – Pop star Neil Young aims to “confront the compressed audio inferiority that MP3s offer” with his proposed Pono music download service, player, and special audio format. The Big Three record labels have all agreed to remaster their music catalogs for the device, which is described as a potential competitor to Apple’s iTunes. Pono is a Hawaiian word for “righteousness.”  Details about the service are still unclear, but it has been criticized in the press, saying that  studies found no audible difference between standard CD and 24-bit/192K formats, and that playing music in a 192K format may be detrimental to sound quality on many devices, which are designed for best performance with lower bandwidth signals.

Young dropped in for a meeting with Bob Stuart, founder of Meridian Audio in London. Stuart demonstrated for him various Meridian system, and a Meridian-equipped Range Rover.  He also visited the Meridian production lines. There may be a tie-up of some sort between his Pono concept and Meridian to bring hi-res audio to the portable and home hi-fi market. Young’s connection with the manufacturer of high-quality high-end audio products would be a technological boost for his system. Pono says the “perfect Sound Forever” promoted by the developers of the compact disc was a bust, and the “CD quality” of iTunes and the creators of MP3 was only an inkling of the flawed format they were hoping to emulate. The Pono experience is described as “Your own personal time machine, to take you back to the place and time of the original musical event, and let you feel music in ways you’ve only felt seeing it live.”

Discovering Fidelity from the Other Side – An editor for the British auto magazine Winding Road is no audiophile, but he became exposed to better sound systems in testing various cars for the publication. He was basically a Napster/iTunes sort of fan of digital music. He noticed fellow writers around the office with upgraded headphones from the awful white Apple earbuds, and started experimenting with ear buds that cost more than $20, which was a big step for him. He ended up with the $60 Grado entry-level SR-60i headphones, and could tell that they were something unlike what he‘d ever listened with before. Music sounded less saturated and he could hear more in total. He was hooked, and they matured as he listened more.




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