As you all know, I read all of the comments posted on this site prior to approving them for everyone to see (I have never rejected a comment…only the spam goes to the trash). Most of the time they’re simply comments about the day’s post. However, sometimes they include a reference to an external website when something I’ve written is quoted. This morning I followed the thread back to Chris Connaker’s very popular Computer Audiophile site. The post is titled, “Mark Waldrep is claiming that PCM 24/96 is superior to DSD”, which is a guaranteed trigger for DSD advocates to begin pages of comments. Never mind that it’s true.
First, I’m somewhat dismayed that one of CA’s readers would lift my entire article and post it on Computer Audiophile. A reference to a post…fine, but taking the entire piece is an inappropriate overreach IMHO. The piece they “quoted” was about the Sound Liaison conversion of 96/24 PCM to DSD and the premium prices of the converted files. The headline about my claims of 96 kHz/24-bit PCM being superior to DSD 64 is absolutely true if you actually take a spectragraph of both formats and compare them. For example, take a look at the image below:
Figure 1 – The spectra of simlutaneous PCM and DSD recordings of the Wayne Horvitz Trio. Notice the ultrasonic noise in the DSD. [Click to enlarge]
There are many knowledgeable people contributing to the CA site. But there are also novices that chime in as “experts” with heavy handed criticism about things that they don’t really understand. An acknowledged hobbist recording engineer when asked about my recordings said this about my technique of miking a piano, “My advice? Go on his web-site and order one of his samplers. They have jazz, rock and some classical. They sound fine if you don’t care about stereo, because they are all multi-channel mono (he stereo mikes his pianos, but with both mikes under the piano’s lid, you end up with the low-end of the keyboard in the left speaker, and the high-end in the right speaker -Yeccchhh!)”
I’m pretty sure I know the ideal sound that George wants from his recordings and others…and obviously they don’t match my own. The traditional way to present a jazz band or classical ensemble if with minimal mikes located some distance away from the source. He’s entitled to his opinion. But his assessment of my recordings is lacking. I don’t even know what “multichannel mono” is but I’m sure that all of my releases aren’t produced that way. I use many stereo pairs of microphones because it’s the way our human auditory system works. My doctoral studies included a great deal of research on binaural hearing and the technologies best able to capture it. I was inspired by many of the things I learned during my research.
The inclusion of a discrete stereo mix for customers interested in two-channel stereo on my discs is a plus for stereo fans. Why would he say that I don’t care about stereo. I prefer surround but I don’t ignore stereo. And the whole discussion of miking a piano has been covered before (click here for an explanation of my process). I do use two stereo pairs close to the harp of the piano. George may not like the results but pianists and reviewers have raved about the sound I achieve. I’ll give more weight to them than a hobbyist recording engineer.
When I read comments that challenge my credentials or criticize my recordings, it’s unpleasant but it comes with the territory. It would have been nice to have Chris Connaker chime in with his thoughts on the system he heard in Chicago and the surround music that I played. Maybe next year.