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Feb 26, 2003

Well today I got to spend some time listening to Alvin Foster’s audio setup (dipole/line array ribbons with 4 15-inch subs). I think it goes without saying that I was blown away. My prior experience with ribbons has been mixed, but his speakers opened my eyes. They were apparently custom-built for him. I brought over some of my CD’s and we just spent time listening. One thing I will note - his system is so good, it was immediately apparent just how badly most CD’s are mastered. Not just pop music, even classical CD’s. Most of the CD’s we listened to had no headroom, and lots of clipping - both of which could be verified by the spectrum analyzer and Lissajou display he has coupled inline with his system.

We had discussions about the state of CD recording today. One thing is clear: before we start looking at 24bit/96kHz CD’s, how about we get the 16bit/44.1kHz format correct first?

FYI, it turns out that my Empire Strikes Back soundtrack CD (from the Star Wars Trilogy boxset), the Return of the Jedi SE soundtrack CD, and the Titanic soundtrack CD were the best performers out of the dozen or so CD’s we tried. The pop CD’s (Janet, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, EPMD, a few others) were the worst, but I’m sure that comes as no surprise. As Alvin put it: “we buy the CD’s despite the recording quality because we like the music.” Sad but true.

Finally: a DIY list member recently brought up the topic of having a get-together in the North East. Since I was meeting with Alvin, I asked if the BAS would be willing to host and meeting, and he seemed excited to do one, probably at a BAS member’s home. Preliminary plans are to have it during the BAS June or July meeting. If you’re interested in coming, drop me a line. Stay tuned for further details.

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