LATEST ADDITIONS

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 11, 2014 50 comments
Here are eight excerpts of Vivaldi's "Concerto for 2 Mandolins" from the audiophile sampler record Chasing the Dragon (VAL007) produced and engineered by Mike Valentine. Also find the entire 96k/24 bit file generously provided by Mr. Valentine that you can enjoy as well as use as a "control" in helping you determine which mat (if any) helped produce the most accurate vinyl rendering of the file.

The original 96/24 Nagra digital recording used three Neumann M50 tube microphones in the classic "Decca tree" configuration.

The turntable/tonearm used was the recently reviewed Zorin Audio combo fitted with a Lyra Titan i feeding a feeding the recently reviewed Swan Song Audio Cygnet MC phono preamplifier. The A/D converter was the Ayre QA-9 currently under review. The files are 16 bit/44.1K WAV.

The mats were: 1) the stock carbon fiber one supplied with the Zorin 2) a Boston Audio Graphite mat 3) "The Simple Mat" made from synthetic cork 4) a now discontinued one of what feels like ultra-thin 1/16th of an inch cork from a fellow who shall remain nameless and whose mat was nameless so I'll call it the Brooklyn mat 5) the Hideinthesound suede mat 6) the Hideinthesound split mat with suede on one side and a smooth hide on the other side, 7) The Music Hall cork mat with the raised discs 8) the Moo mat made of cow hair and hide.

There are dozens of other mats worthy or coverage but we'll start with these.

Please download the files and listen. The plucked, percussive mandolin is an ideal instrument to demonstrate differences (if there are any) among the mats in terms of transient speed and clarity, sustain and decay—especially given the recording technique, which produces stable, three-dimensional images.

There's no "best" or "worst" (assuming you hear any difference at all). It will just be interesting to see if a consensus develops around one or two of them.

After voting, please leave a comment about what you heard and why you voted as you did.

File "1"

File "2"

File "3"

File "4"

File "5"

File "6"

File "7"

File "8"

Master File

Master File "redbook"

A "gift" for you

Do Record Mats Really Make a Sonic Difference? And if So, Which of These Do You Prefer.
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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 11, 2014 31 comments
“Bloated Blimp”. That’s what I called the band after hearing this album for the first time. I also thought the Hindenburg disaster album cover in bad taste. But then I was in law school in 1969 and trying the straight and narrow after “widening” (not around the waist) in college.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 04, 2014 Published: Jul 03, 2014 12 comments
It’s no secret that Pro-Ject builds Music Hall turntables to Music Hall’s specifications and design parameters using mostly “off the Pro-Ject shelf” mechanical components. Before getting to the 11.1, perhaps you are wondering why Pro-Ject would want to compete with itself.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 02, 2014 38 comments
Dylan's previous album Bringing It All Back Home arguably contains the first rap song ("Subterranean Homesick Blues") and is associated with the first rock video—the one where he holds up those cue cards with some of the lyrics—but this album made Dylan a rock star. The cover photo remains iconic and enigmatic: Dylan as The Mona Lisa?

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 01, 2014 30 comments
On his posthumous album The Sky Is Crying, Stevie Ray Vaughan covers "Chitlins Con Carne", the opening tune on this seminal 1963 jazz/blues release. The annotation includes a quote from brother Jimmie who said that the album was "...a tribute to Stevie's heroes...." among whom was Burrell. Despite his undeserved reputation as a "note-slinger", SRV's version evokes the delicacy, nuance and open spaces found on the original.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 29, 2014 13 comments
Peter, Paul and Mary brought gospel fervor to the staid folk revival of the early '60s. Though they got their live chops at Paul Colby's Bitter End, the brick wall of which serves as the cover's backdrop, it was this album that propelled them to pop music-like mainstream stardom.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 28, 2014 Published: Jun 27, 2014 25 comments
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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 27, 2014 4 comments
Michael,

There was a time when I started buying records out of sheer boredom with Compact Discs.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 27, 2014 24 comments
Why has the blues been banished from popular music? Probably because young people today don’t have the blues. For one thing they seem generally more happy and well-adjusted than previous generations—certainly in matters of sex, though recently a youngster who couldn’t get any indulged his self-pity with a mass shooting. Perhaps had he learned to sing or even listen to the blues, some soothing could have stopped him.

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