Steely Dan Aja as reference for testing speakers

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by SuperLead100, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. Justgotohm

    Justgotohm AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Fred Norris the sound drop guy on the Howard Stern show mentioned that when this album was released it was so well engineered most HiFi stores used it to demonstrate their equipment. The topic came up as Howard was stating his disdain for the song No Static and the movie it was written for.
     
  2. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    A truly great system portrays what is played back with less distortion, with less addition, with less subtraction. It should 'conceal' nothing, but if it is that good, it will more than likely hit a home run with regard to expressing the emotion in a performance/recording. The 'flaws' are there sure, but you are more genuinely presented the music as well. It is with the most impressive work of art recordings that you see deeper into the ability of the system. The great recordings have so much hidden resolution that they are sufficient to assess the system chain from start to finish.

    The best systems find a way to convey clearly the 'musical point' that a piece of music is offering. This should be evident on all grades of recording from the sublime to the abysmal. A great system conveys everything which is sublime(which by inference means the musical message) and everything which is abysmal which comes back to the recording technique/ mastering captured on the Master Tape in many instances.

    A great system can offer astonishing musical satisfaction without needing to resort to imposing a 'characterful' sound in an attempt to mollify the real world limitations of myriad recorded music
     
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  3. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected

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    I was betwixed at first myself.
     
  4. 4343

    4343 Super Member

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    That would be "FM", both the song and the movie are called FM...
    The lyric is "FM, no static at all", in reference to FM radio vs. AM radio.
     
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  5. 4343

    4343 Super Member

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    The best old recording I ever heard was of Bing Crosby. They used to play it at the Ampex museum in Redwood City before it closed.

    Full track mono, 30 ips, played on one of the original Ampex machines from the 40's. It was dubbed from the master, which they said was recorded on one of the original German Magnetophon tape machines, so just second generation. (Although, at the time master meant "edited master" which was a dub of the spliced original recordings.)

    No idea of the rest of the system, but it brought ole Bing back into the room like I'd never heard before.
     
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  6. 432HzBob

    432HzBob AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yea Aja was hyped and is a decent record sound. Almost too clinical for me, which is probably what the Steely sDan was doing then.
    Nothing I ever thought that was so superior to most PF, ELP, Alan Parsons or alot "old" records and labels.
    Earlier refernce to Bing Crosby was a great story.
    I find myslf now measuring "good sound I like anyway)" and speakers-cans is with an old fashioned mic in front of someone.
    The kind of Neuman mic Elwood Blues traded the old Bluesmobile for.
    I now use this old Johnny Cash album for a well engineered (original 180g) and clean sound.
    Early stereo too so there are artifacts from the room.
    ..Or Alan Parson's Eye in the Sky was as good sounding engineered as Aja and more interesting maybe even...
    The debate will last forever but for now we have in "great sounding records I appreciate" are these.
    johnny cash bitter tears.jpg
     
  7. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Super Member

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    I tend to disagree with this theory--but that is just me. I prefer to audition gear/speakers with music that I am very familiar with and listen to on a regular basis. I know how it sounds on my current equipment and what expectations I have for how it "should" sound via the new/different equipment I am listening to it on. If I audition using music that I am only marginally familiar with or totally unfamiliar with, I have no "baseline" for a valid comparison. Ideally, all speakers should play all types of music well, but we all know that is not true--different speakers are better suited for different types of music. Audio dealers know this (and have since the beginning of time), and they "optimize" their demo selections for different speakers--a CV dealer is not going to play Mozart as his main demo, and a Maggie dealer is not going to pick the hottest rap/hip-hop track as his demo. I always come armed with my own demo tracks--stuff that I listen to and know what my expectations are. After all, it only matters if it sounds good to ME, and in the end, I have to live with my choice.
     
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  8. jbailey930

    jbailey930 AK Member Subscriber

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    Aja is in my rotation to play a few times a year. As is katy lied and gaucho. Good dinner prep music. Back in the day - the local hifi dealer, Myer-Emco in DC area, would allow us teenagers to audition gear we didn't have the $$ for, and the sales associates turned us on to Aja. Good memories for me
     
  9. 2DualsNotEnough

    2DualsNotEnough Super Member

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    Actually Ry Cooder's Bop Till You Drop was the first digitally recorded popular LP in 1979.Aja was released in 1977,Although Nightfly was digitally recorded.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bop_till_You_Drop
     
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  10. m6erfan

    m6erfan BT Subscriber

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    I like Steely Dan and listen to Aja from time to time. It's good but I never considered it a 'reference' recording. On that album 'Peg' would be my pick for more critical listening, Chuck Rainey really rips on the bass in that track.

    Fun fact, Phil Hartman (the SNL comedian) designed the Aja album cover
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2018 at 12:00 PM
  11. Wildcat

    Wildcat Spring ain't here... Subscriber

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    MFSL did that, one of their first three pop titles. Sounds terrible--no highs to it. When I had tone controls, I had to crank the treble almost all the way up to make it listenable. Disappointing after looking for it for decades. MFSL also did a hack job on the Aja--it swings in the opposite direction and is too bright in the highs--they messed up on the EQ on that one. Best Aja vinyl cut is the long out of print and expen$ive Cisco remaster by Kevin Gray. This thing's begging for another good remaster treatment. Their whole catalog is, for that matter. 45 RPM, please. ;)

    I don't think there's ever been a really good digital version. The remastered CDs from the mid 90s used CEDAR noise reduction (per Glenn Meadows, who I know worked on those with Walt and Don at Masterfonics in Nashville). One of the early Aja CDs was mastered by Steve Hoffman--that's probably the truest version out there as it is unfutzed. The current SACD (Japan import?) is lacking a bit.
     
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  12. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    Both the MoFi of Aja and the MoFi of Crime are not the best pressings of either. I have the Cisco pressing of Aja and my US ABC gatefold pressing is heaps better than the Cisco.
     
  13. Ds2000

    Ds2000 All About every cool stereo component. Subscriber

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    I think I have that Hoffman original pressing. It was a US pressed disc, 1984, and is pretty good sounding.
     
  14. Nixxuz

    Nixxuz Active Member

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    It's actually the "Steely Dan III from Yokohama".

    And after a good non-distracted listening today, I would put Herbie Hancock's "Headhunters" right up towards the top of my reference albums. The soundstage, imaging, frequencies...all top notch. From what I've seen, all of Hancock's stuff is very high quality as far as recording and mastering goes.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
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  15. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected

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    Rockit still sounds as fresh to me today as when my classmates were breakdancing to it in the 80s.
     
  16. drew_t

    drew_t Well-Known Member

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    You say that as if it would be a bad thing.
     
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  17. m6erfan

    m6erfan BT Subscriber

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    LOL
     
  18. johnebravo

    johnebravo I should be practicing

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    I'm in agreement with this sentiment. I'll just offer a brief, completely contrary view to the kinds of recordings that have been proposed thus far: to me, the only real way to do this is to use recordings of completely acoustic instruments. Acoustic instruments that you've heard live and are familiar with are essential. Therefore, anything which involves instruments which typically use electric amplification is out. Of course, for most people, this is exactly what they listen to all the time, so such a proposal seems absurd. But the fact is that it's completely impossible to say what a recording of amplified instruments is supposed to sound like. You can only say if you like it or not -- do you think it sounds good?

    But if you use a standard of at least trying to accurately reproduce the sounds of acoustic instruments, at least you have an independent criterion: you know what such instruments are supposed to sound like because you've heard them for yourself. A recording of a chamber ensemble with a few strings, wind instruments, and piano is perfect. A small jazz group with piano, stand up bass, and a horn or two works nicely. An acoustic guitar with voice would work too.

    I can judge pretty well for myself to what extent a recording approximates the sound of a live piano, but how am I supposed to judge if a recording sounds like Steely Dan did in the studio when they made a record? But, again, this is just how I do it, and for most people, this is useless.
     
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  19. toddalin

    toddalin Super Member

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    Can't really agree with this. There are too many people who know what a Fender Strat through a Marshall or a Hammond through a Leslie sound like/should sound like. Doesn't have to be acoustic..., just familiar.
     
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  20. Nixxuz

    Nixxuz Active Member

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    Oh come on now. I put together my main system to listen to sine waves! The music part is just for when I'm bored.
    :beatnik:
     
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