Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Sound Quality: The Real Tragedy
Cliff Walker | Portland, Oregon | 02/25/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Being a retired sound engineer (forced into retirement by a massive infection that ravaged both otic nerves), I appreciate all the more the work that DCC engineer Steve Hoffman and others like him have done over the years. I can tell (through my audio instruments) that many of these digital remasters are incredibly good sounding, and only wish I had the hearing to appreciate the subtle nuances.
While I cannot appreciate the original intent of the remasters and original two-track re-issues (these nuances; the incredibly good sound quality), my impaired ability to hear CAN appreciate the difference between, say, a CD that was dashed off from a copy of the commercial cassette (the first several editions of Paul Kantner's "Blows Against The Empire," for example) and one that's obviously been taken directly from (or even enhanced by) production tapes or the original two-track masters ("Aqualung" and "Waiting For The Sun"). The extra "lift" that my hearing gets allows me to even hear the music detail at all! My ears are not good enough (any more) to filter out the distortion and noise, but with the remasters, they don't have to work as hard and I can finally hear what's going on.
THAT SAID, I must comment on this particular Steve Hoffman compilation, "The Best Of Tragedy." This music, here, is right up my alley for reasons I will not get into here! Ordinarily, the name of Steve Hoffman speaks for itself, and I can trust his work sight unseen (as listening goes). While transferring this package to MP3, I noticed some strange things going on, particularly during the Bobbie Gentry track, "Ode To Billy Joe": I opened up the WAV file in the Adobe sound studio and examined the portions in question.
The problem caught my eye immediately: almost the entire album is plagued by what audio engeneers call a "parasitic oscillation." This is an unwanted high frequency (supersonic) component that gets triggered by certain conditions in the original wave form: In the case of the Bobbie Gentry track, the oscillation appears to be most easily triggered by something that's going on when she sings (plays) the parts of the song that are in the Eb7 chord (capitalized: "Today Billy Joe McAllister jumped OFF THE TALLAHACHIE Bridge"). Parasitic Oscillations are like that: often it takes place only when the wave form is at a certain amplitude, and never in louder or quieter components! Because the resultant distortion can be heard in all three of my players, I deduce that the problem is in the disc itself.
This defect is always the result of analogue electronic equipment that is in need of calibration or repair: it cannot be created or transferred digitally. However, anybody with good hearing (and I assume Steve's is among the best, like mine was at one time) should be able to detect the distortion that is introduced by a parasitic oscillation!
No, this was sent directly to the etching laser without having been given a critical listen. and this is my point: I still cannot fathom someone like Steve Hoffman letting something like this pass muster! I'm sorry that this package is not something that I can listen to in comfort. The good thing is that all tracks are available elsewhere.
THIS PROBLEM IS QUITE COMMON, really. Several of the Rhino-product releases, such as the Cold Blood albums, are fraught with a parasitic oscillation, obviously introduced during the production of the CD. This is so common in Rhino products, actually, that they'd do well to hire someone whose only job is to look for this one problem.
Okay, now, don't get me started on tracks and albums that are digitized at lower-than-reasonable VU levels!