Hi-Fi-Insight News and Reviews
Released at the start of last week, Rebecca Ferguson's debut single Nothing's Real But Love has made the top 10 and with an album to follow on December 5th, things look promising for the 25 year old from Liverpool.
The album, Heaven has already received a very positive response from the critics with the Daily Telegraph's Neil McKormick giving it five stars which from a serious Music journalist means that this isn't the usual X-Factor dross to ooze out of Syco Records aimed purely at the under twenty fives. Indeed it is extremely refreshing that the show has managed to produce someone who for one can actually sing and secondly hopefully has a geniune future in the business and can appeal to a wider audience. Cynical people may just see this as a way of Cowell tapping into the market that Adele has managed to secure for herself with her first two albums, but the reason she has been so successful is because she has real talent and that shines through on both her albums to date. All the X-Factor has managed to do is find someone who should do the same. [...]
I first came across Sinatra at the Sands when I took a punt and purchased the original Reprise CD about seven years. Whilst not a big fan of Frank Sinatra, I had always admired his music although I had no previous knowledge of this particular recording. However as this album was a live recording with the legendary Count Basie Orchestra and had been arranged by Quincy Jones, it seemed Sinatra at the Sands would be good listen and I was not wrong. Move forward five years when trawling the internet for high definition recordings and I came across mention of a DVD audio version of Sinatra at the Sounds. It took about four months to get hold of a copy without paying silly money (although the copy I bought was not cheap) but it was worth the wait and the outlay.
If you are a fan of Frank Sinatra and high definition audio, then the DVD audio version of Sinatra at the Sands is an absolute must. First of the all the DVD audio has been mixed by the godfather of Surround Sound, Elliot Scheiner and contains not only a pristine 24bit/96khz 5.1 mix but also a 24bit/192khz two channel mix, both of which sound superb. Personally I prefer the standard two channel mix although the presentation of the surround with Frank Sinatra in the centre of the room is clever and it does add to the overall effect of being sat on a table in the middle of the Sands listening to Sinatra and the orchestra and the noise coming from the other tables around you. [...]
Using a PC to decode AC3 audio via a spdif from a satellite set top box has always been something that has interested me for several years, given my determination to avoid home receivers and stick with a good quality sound card driving multiple power amps instead, but until I could never get it work satisfactorily.
Some of the Creative Labs cards such as the Audigy will do SPDIF-in-decode from AC3 in Windows XP, but the feature was dropped in Vista and has only recently been restored for Windows 7. Up until recently, I used a Creative Extigy external sound card to do the AC3 decoding which it did very well, but the trouble was, the sound quality was not in the same league as my main audio sound card, an Asus Xonar D2 PCI. What I ideally wanted was some way of decoding the AC3/SPDIF signal in real-time and then sending the PCM signal to the Xonar - Fortunately I found a working solution and was able to ditch the Extigy. [...]
Jamie Cullum’s second album, and his first for Verve was his best selling to date and firmly established him as a Jazz star in the making. The album’s range of material is very broad and will appeal to not only jazz aficionados but also those people with more mainstream tastes. The album was recorded entirely in analogue by Stewart Levine (Simply Red’s Picture Book and A New Flame) and benefits from virtually no overdubs as virtually all the tracks were recorded live. Given the lack of post production on the album, it is an ideal choice to really test the sonic abilities of 24/96 PCM recording.
The American Dual Disc of Twentysomething contains a DVD audio version of the album that not only offers a 24/96 5.1 soundtrack but also a separate two channel 24/96 soundtrack. If I am being honest, I have no interest in these surround mixes but the two channel high definition audio played back through a high quality DAC offer a far superior listening experience than CD. [...]
I originally purchased a 2004 Rudy Van Geller CD re-master of this album about six years ago purely on a whim as I was keen to explore Coltrane’s music and as it was on offer at £4.99 at the local HMV, it seemed a good value. “Blue Train” is one of Coltrane’s finest albums and was originally released eight years before the “A Love Supreme”.
Given that this album was recorded in 1957, the sound quality is excellent and I assume it was originally recorded on a ‘tube’ tape machine. Whilst the CD re-master sounded OK, I have always felt it was a little sterile if I am being critical. Fortunately the two digital soundtracks on this double sided DVD will more than satisfy any audiophile as both have been mastered to a very high standard. Although I can listen to 192khz digital audio via my computer’s Xonar D2, my preferred digital listening is PC digital output (bit perfect) to a Quad 99CDPII which will accept up to 24/96 via SPDIF. [...]
Hi-Fi-Insight News and Reviews