May 27, 2018152 views

Headphone food


Lately I've been knocked out by the exceptional sound quality of certain YouTube tracks I've been listening to. Not sure why theses particular tracks sound so especially good, but you'll hear it from the very first note in this track (by Boz Scaggs):
And this one:
Both tracks are from his "Dig" album. I downloaded the MP3 versions from iTunes and they sound just as good on my equipment (MD's JBL 3 series monitors and MD's Sennheiser 6XX headphones). Not sure why recordings sound so distinctly different but, I suspect some of you will be able to explain it to me.
And, if you're with me so far, here's a bonus, wild-card selection from a guy (Otis Taylor) I'd never heard before but who blew me away with my first listen to this song:
If Boz or Otis is too you taste, their's lots more of each on YouTube; enough to decide weather you want to add any of it to your collection. Would be most interested to hear your impressions of the music and the reason why these recordings sound the way the do...
Duncan and Evshrug

Anyone know this guy--you should!
A couple I've discovered:

Youtube channel "The A.V. Club" has an AVC Sessions playlist (the above Lake Street Dive 'Take On Me' cover is from a different playlist on that channel) has nice recording's two from it:

All good; especially dig’n “Meri Jann”! —much thanks.
Yep, from all I've heard, recording quality can make even more of a difference than say the pianist in classical music, let alone the format. However, to my ears, under 192kbps the music quality deteriorates sharply.
The short version: the mastering quality makes a huge difference.
A bit more: Audio Engineering/Production is a skill, and it’s equally important as the quality of the recording gear. The microphones were appropriately placed, the different instruments were carefully mixed and edited to make really good use of the dynamic range of quiet and loud volume extremes, and much effort throughout the process was made to keep the recording very clean. Some tracks, albums, and sometimes it seems whole genres are intentionally softened and over-processed to gloss over imperfections or to sound further away from someone singing in a moderately sized empty room. You may have heard of the “Loudness Wars,” and the (volume) compression used in that engineering decision has a large effect on that sense of liveliness and subtlety.
Some other examples of really well mastered “Headphone Food:” ‘Aja‘ by Steely Dan, ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ by Pink Floyd, ‘Roadhouses and Automobiles’ by Chris Jones (the CD album, not just the song that appears on the ‘Smoke and Noise’ album), ‘2001’ by Dr. Dre, ‘Random Access Memories’ by Daft Punk... of course the list goes on and on, but I just wanted to drop a few samples :)
Shocking to think all music isn't recorded according to that recipe! Thanks for the suggestions; I'll check them all out and get back to you...
Check out NPR Tiny Desk concerts on YouTube. Many great performances that sound superb with my 6xx.
Will do, thanks for the tip.