Column

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

The Day That High Fidelity Died

Artist Arlo Guthrie
Other tags technologySpeakers

I've become very disenchanted with digital.  I tried that route and was Uneasy Matt the whole time.  I compare my records with the slow food movement.  Savor it, take in the whole analog aspect, and enjoy the interaction.

There's certainly something to that, Matt. I have a friend in her early 30's who is an avid vinyl collector.  She doesn't buy into vinyl sounding better. For her, it's about the ritual of putting on an album, sitting down for 20 minutes in one place and taking it all in. It's a bit like tea bag v tea ceremony.

Crazy Eddie! 

My daughter has one of those.  I switched to using a BluRay player for home listening.  It's suprising how many CDs have somewhere between stereo and 5.1 played that way. I'm enough of a cynic to see that the interposition of monopolistic intermediaries (Amazon, Apple, Spotify etc) will end up with the middle people screwing over the customer and artist once the old ways have been consigned to landfill. I take Matt's point on vinyl but the quality of the product is frequently poor - possibly because download cards make for more convenient listening.

I would say I find it sometimes to be inferior but not very often these days. 

fine stuff as always BUT what I really want is a 24 x 36 poster of the photo which leads off the article, the one with the 80s tv stuck in on the right.....if you publish a poster I'll buy it!!

Ed, we're about the same vintage and I totally get your rationale for removing the clutter. I even bought Marie Kondo's book. ("The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing".) It's here somewhere.

I can't imagine, however, that I'll ever discard my original copy of Live At Fillmore East. It would be an insult to the memories of Duanne and Gregg, and Tom Dowd. And Butch and Berry. It would just break my heart.

Of course, that vinyl album got played to death. It's all crackles and pops now. So I can't part with my original single CD version, either.

Or The Fillmore Concerts, the 2CD version (with the colour cover photo) that brought in "Mountain Jam" and more from Eat a Peach. I thought that was the ultimate Allman Brothers album when it was released in 1992.

Then along came At Fillmore East Deluxe Edition, and "Midnight Rider" is included for the first time. Deluxe Edition pretty much made Fillmore Concerts redundant. But my friend Gordon bought Fillmore Concerts for me in London. It has sentimental value.

Can you have too much Fillmore? The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings arrived in 2014. All four concerts from March 1971, plus the final Fillmore East show that June. Six CDs, or three Blu-Ray discs with a multi-channel mix. How do you choose? I have both.

 

@Steve: I totally get the sentimental part, which is why it’s taken me so long to get to the point of even thinking about it. In all candor, earlier this year I had a health problem that started out scary and ended up fine. But it put the thought in my head that I’m not going to be around forever, and part of this process is not leaving my things for others to clean up. And like you, I have many albums sitting on the floor that it’s been hard to part with. But there’s this undefinable weight on me and I guess I want to go out the way I came in: naked. Metaphorically of course. 

I'm slowly heading in the same direction, Ed. Nobody is going to want this stuff. My 35-year-old son doesn't even have an optical drive in his home - no CD, DVD or Blu-Ray - not even in a PC or laptop.

 

 

My 20 year old daughter has a turntable, laptop, and CD player. I like real things not vapor that doesn’t really even belong to you. 

My 23 year old son has a laptop, cassette deck, CD player, turntable, accordion, keyboard, my old pedal steel guitar  and a degree in music. Oh...he also has about a half terabyte of digital music collected over nine years. It’s all as real to him as the Allman Fillmore East albums are to Steve. I think listening or making music is about emotion and creativity, not about material possession. Some of my best memories are of cruising the highway with the radio turned up high, listening to stuff that I guess didn’t really belong to me. There’s no absolute here. 

Interesting as always, but I'm happy to live in a place where I can still afford a modest house and don't need to get rid of all my cool audio crap. In fact, a friend has taken advantage of the good prices you currently see on the big used stuff Ed et al have ditched to fill his house with killer stuff...just the speakers are Klipsch, Altec, Legacy, DCM, and some awesome old JBLs.

To each his own, I reckon.

Some day each of us will be in a stage of life when we will want to get rid of a lot of baggage, of course. If we're lucky! 

Lovely, felt relaxed listening to it.

Ed, maybe you should read a few Jack Reacher books. His possessions are the clothes on his back, which he replaces once they need washing, and a toothbrush. He doesn’t have a permanent address but he does see much of the country, kicking bad guys asses along the way as needed.

You know, I’ve always meant to check out the Reacher series but never got around to it. I’ll add them to my list. Thanks. Now I need to decide on library, bookstore, Amazon, Kindle, Nook or iPad. Damn. 

You won’t learn anything but you will have fun.

Play the Dan Auerbach “Waiting On A Song” record through whatever means. What a fine listen!

Good column Ed...my day of reckoning is coming soon I think...I still have about 600 vinyl albums and some singles that date back to age 5 when my dad would buy me a 45 a week and I was collecting Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard...I had maybe 3,500 vinyl albums and sold most of them about 15 years ago to a friend who sold them at flea markets and then opened a used vinyl store...there's a few I'll never part with, but I need the space...need to clear out the old Sansui 180 watt amp and JBL's of similar vintage to yours too...I can't really hear well enough anymore to even justify having that stereo...I have one of those Boze Wave CD/radios, and it sounds as good as the stereo to me these days...too many loud concerts, playing in bands turned up too loud, and working in a Gm Plant where the low hum takes it's toll over the years.  I too like Alexa, and probably will get one at some point...as you noted, it sounds really good and costs a fraction of what that other stuff does, and shipped free to boot...you are right about one thing...age changes the game...I'm going to part with the stuff that doesn't make sense for me...going to sell the stereo and most of the records to people like Matthew who are in the phase where they really value a great stereo and vinyl...I don't disagree with Matthew at all, but my stuff has no value to my kids or wife, and it's lost a lot of it's intrinsic value to me because of hearing loss and the desire to use space I have on things that matter more to me now, like my musical intruments.  Depends on where you are in your life I guess...it's not a "wrong or right" thing.

I think that was my point....it's largely an age thing for me. But it's also interesting that I work with mostly people in their mid-twenties to early-thirties who are avid music listeners and they've grown up living and loving digital music. There is very rarely any conversation on things like speaker or headphone quality, compression or pondering how a musician can make a living on streaming. But they listen constantly, share playlists and are open to all sorts of genres. And they do go to see live music, although mainstream ticket prices for larger acts and venues are usually beyond their means. 

Thanks for the reminder to everyone...take care of your feakin' ears!! 

What?

You beat me to that one Matt...well done!

I value the interaction of sound and space which is not only sound but vibration and whether it's headphones or wired computer speakers they just don't deliver the experience.  I have two kids - one streams through his phone to quality headphones.  He used to listen to music on a record player but says the connections got dodgy and he ended up with a lot of interference in the sound.  My daughter bought a vinyl player and enjoys that as well as streaming; she will buy the LP of something she really likes and browse via spotify.  Both go to live shows.

I was thinking back the other day to how when we were in our teens we'd go to the local record shop and listen to music in the booths.  In a small town the stock was restricted and the radio even more so.  Can't help wondering how music in the 1950s and 1960s would have spread and developed if there had been widespread streaming then.

That’s an intersecting question to ponder. I’m amazed how classical music managed to be learned, heard and passed down through time when there was literally no carrier device. 

...except the miracle of sheet music, in the hands of orchestras large and small, teachers, students and individuals. 

All the "folk" music got by on word of mouth, I guess. 

But how much of it vanished without ever being heard or if heard by so few it was gone?

How much music in this current era has and will vanish? There are hundreds of indie labels that closed since the mid-2000s and most of the masters were never digitized or even archived. On the major label front there are thousands and thousands of songs that languish in vaults due to clearance issues or simply because nobody cares. I’ve been talking about this for years. Wish we had a working government...hilarious laughter...that would appoint an arts commission...hilarious laughter...for archiving. 

That would be nice Ed...an arts commission...we had one of those at some point didn't we?

Don't worry.  Once the super returns arising from the trickling down of the profits of the newly liberated wealth creators, generously funded philanthropic foundations will spring up to conserve the nation's culture for posterity.

Ok...I won't worry, I am an optimist by nature like yourself...I forgot how well that "trickling down" thing worked for us back in the 80's...I suppose I forgot that since they cut taxes the first year Reagan was in office, then raised them seven years in a row and then credited economic prosperity to the tax cut... 

Just so you know, I'm not all that young.  52. But I'm sure there will come a day in my 70s or so where I'll decided to pass my records on.

I was born in 52. 

I am vintage 1954...In 1972 I went to see Grand Funk Railroad at the Coliseum on the Indiana State Fairgrounds (sorry but they were really big in the midwest, like REO Speedwagon...it's not pretty to have to admit it, but I did think Grand Funk was cool at that moment)...Marshalls stacked to the dome practically...my ears rang for 2 days after that...I guess loud translated to good back then...that's probably where it all started...I can still hear, but the dynamics and nuance is somewhat lost...it's funny...your brain fills in the parts you can't hear anymore on the old stuff that I listen to...I have hearing aids, and they work pretty well and you have to look pretty hard to see that I wear them...I can adjust them to concert settings and hear pretty well, especially acoustic stuff...

as Tommy Lee Not Jones has said, if your ears are still good protect them...ear plugs at electric shows, in factory settings, mowing the yard etc...all that stuff takes it's toll in little increments...

I’m following this discussion and thinking given the general age range here if we were to meet in person for happy hour we’d be ordering Pile Drivers at 3 pm.  

I'm still running 35- 40 miles a week...so that would not be my mixed drink of choice...runners are nothing if not regular...

But the analogy was a good one...

Make no mistake, Grand Funk WAS cool in '72!

Earplugs, on the other hand, were virtually unknown. 

I stuffed some napkin pieces in my ears at an incredibly loud Hot Tuna show, got a nice ear infection.

I'm just being fitted with a hearing aid on the left ear.  I asked about music and they said to just experiment and see if you like listening better with it on or off.  I'm betting off as I seem to hear my music pretty well.  What have you discovered?

I wear them at concerts normally, not at home listening...like I said, I'm not sure I hear little nuances, so on new music  I listen to, I am not sure how much I miss in the mix...it isn't a problem if I am listening to "For Everyman" or "Late For the Sky"...your brain fills in the stuff you don't actually hear if a song is fading out at the end or something...I know every note David Lindley plays on those records so I hear them anyway...

 

I would bet you will opt for not wearing them for music listening myself, butI agree you should experiment...

I understand the impulse to simplify. One of the ways it manifested for me involved an initial complication.

I hated the stacks and racks of CDs, which often made a search for something I wanted to hear difficult and time-consuming. And of course, things got forgotten never to be played again. I kept wishing that I had a way of accessing all my music in some easier way.

And then I found it. A company called Slim Devices, later acquired by Logitech, created a system centered around a computer-based music server that allowed me to store all my digital music at CD quality, and access it whenever I wanted through my stereo -- or my smartphone with ear buds, or my laptop with high-end headphones. Logitech has dropped the product line, but there is still a fanatical community of music lovers that continue to support it. You can still buy the products occasionally.

Anyway, I ripped all my CDs to the server; when I get a new CD the first thing is that it gets ripped to the server and never sees a player; mostly I buy (mainly lossless) music as digital files. No plastic garbage created. I copy playlists or new albums to flash drives, and play them in my car, one of my favorite ways to focus on new music.

I still really like listening to the music in a space, as opposed to through direct-to-ear devices. There is something luxurious about sitting back and queuing up (through an app on my smartphone) something new and wonderful, and soaking it all in.

What do you do with the CDs after ripping them? 

Box them up and store them? 

What about the liner notes etc?

Just curious. 

I keep them in piles in the stereo cabinet until it gets full and then I box them and put them in the storage room. Not too many of them these days, mostly get things as downloads.

The liner notes are a bit of a casualty. There are some recent releases that have wonderful carefully crafted packages, with great detail. I like to keep those around. Some downloads give you the full graphics, with liner notes, but not all. 

At least you and I have some storage space!

Ed, and many apartment dwellers, aren't so lucky.

It's too bad Logitech stopped selling those servers. I wonder if there are other comparable products available now.

It wouldn't break my heart to get rid of those CDs, as I have never opened a box to access one. Important to back up the files, though.

Sonos would be a brand that serves some of the same function, but more internet-streaming-oriented.

And you can still buy the Logitech hardware, often new, through resellers on Amazon or eBay. I see a bunch of Transporter SEs on eBay, and at least one used Touch at a lower price. Personally, I think the Transporter is the better bet, although it's kind of pricey. But no more than it was when Logitech discontinued them. Note that the item details for the Touch mistakenly show info about a different product, the Radio.

Do note that the server itself is a chunk of software that you install on a computer, along with all your music files. The server than sends the digital stream to the device (Transporter, Touch, etc), which is connected to your stereo. You need to have an in-house wifi network. You control the music through an app for a smartphone, or through the small remote that comes with the device.

The support forum (which still has one Logitech employee present and helpful) has a lot of very knowledgeable users anxious to help anyone who needs support setting up or problem solving.