Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1
Adam Golka, piano
Adam has studied with Alfred Brendel, Sir András Schiff, Leon Fleisher, and Murray Perahia, all Beethoven specialists.
Adam has studied with Alfred Brendel, Sir András Schiff, Leon Fleisher, and Murray Perahia, all Beethoven specialists.
John recomposes the planet. He has composed the ocean, the desert, the earth itself. He has done it in the Atacama Desert in Chile, in the interior of Alaska - and in Montana.
Brahms’ last pieces for the piano and how they were inspired by his love for Clara Schumann and by his summers in the German Alps.
Live in Concert, a fruitful feast of music in different genres (sonata, preludes, fantasia, variations, nocturne, etudes), under the strings of influences that passed on from one to another; from Mozart’s refined simplicity to Chopin, and from Chopin’s operatic and colorful music to Debussy’s dreamy musical pictures.
Pedja Muzijevic in an eclectic program of music by Scarlatti, Cowell, Granados, Satie, Debussy, Cage and Schumann recorded live in concert at Tippet Rise Art Center in 2018.
Not New Year's resolutions, but hi fi resolutions. Promises that we make to our brains to hear more clearly, to savor, one day, the quality of the air itself.
We spend a lot of our lives listening. If we were unhappy with the hard-edged sound from our computer, or even our headphones, we used to go out and get a receiver and a pair of speakers. Today we can just add a converter.
The size and price of a Walkman, this small device will turn the metal, tin, and plastic in your computer into woody reeds and violin strings.
What you get with the "24/96" formula (each sound has 24 parts to it, recorded 96,000 times a second) are beautiful, well-written words. A beautiful recording. What you get with DXD is poetry. A sound now has 32 parts to it, recorded 384,000 times a second. Notes are no longer part metal, part wood, part computer algorithm. They become integrated harmonies, floating in a wood-paneled drawing room. No longer is sound a "recording" that some machine translates for you. Instead, you are transported to the hall itself. As if there were no middlemen, no machines, involved. It's just you and the piano.
24/96 produces a much fuller sound than a CD. DXD sounds even better. But the final human touch is added when you put a converter and headphones on your computer.
Rather than notes, if you want to hear the twilight, the sound of a distant river, the fading laughter of children in the park, leaves fluttering in the sunset, you will hear them all in DXD. What DXD adds are the connotations, the marginalia, the shimmer of heat waves on the sea, the roar of surf on a distant reef. The small sounds that make our summers memorable. Or the way that snowfall muffles the world in stillness. The indefinable elements of the winter, which we remember forever.
What a great difference 24/96 makes. So many websites offer tens of thousands of tracks in this vibrant formula. DXD just adds the indescribable edge, the little things that make a recording sound like reality.
DXD lets me hear the sound the way I remember playing it. I can say, "Yes, I remember the light in the room, the sound the bass makes, bouncing off the floor. I can hear the way I touched a key." All the adjectives come flooding back. The space in the room is suddenly hearable.
We hope you enjoy both resolutions, 24/96 and DXD. In this devastating year, when we want to add as much meaning as we can to the calm and relief we take from music, DXD will help.
Make sure you can hear other things, like YouTube. Make sure the volume is up. Check Settings: Sound.
If you still can’t hear anything, your computer may not be able to play DXD files.You can simply add a converter (see our converter listings below). You can then plug headphones into the converter.
Make sure the sound bar is all the way up in Setting: Sound, and on your computer dashboard.
If it’s still too quiet, you can simply add a converter (see our converter listings below). You can then plug headphones into the converter. The headphone volume control on the converter will provide excellent volume.
It’s a combination of sampling rate speeds and how many digits are used to give the computer feedback about the boundaries of each note. This is called “digital word length.” It can be 16 bits (CD sound) or as much as 32 bits (DXD).
It sounds like you’re actually in a good recording session. If it’s a great piano or violin or cello, you can tell. You can hear the instruments as if you’re right in the room with them.
There’s 24/96, 24/192, 24/356, 32/384, and 32/768 (the highest). The first number shows the bits used for each digital “word.” the second number shows how many times (in thousands) the word samples the original sound.
The higher the sampling rate, the more accurate the description. The computer actually visits the original master tape as many as 768,000 times a second. This is written 768 kHz (kiloHertz, or a thousand vibrations), as in 32/768.
Originally, performers were recorded in 17 channels by RCA. But no one could figure out how to put more than one channel into the side of each groove. So vinyl became mono and then stereo (two channels). After a few plays, vinyl begins to sound scratchy. It also thumps as the physical vinyl disk wobbles, because the plastic mold warps over time. Dust on the disk causes pops.
DXD has the same warmth as the original master tape, but without the pops, thumps, and scratches of vinyl. It also has the potential to play back as many as 10 channels.
A cheap $60 pair of Dr. Dre “Beats” headphones sounds as good as a stereo costing an awful lot. Headphones sound better than speakers generally because their sound goes immediately into your ear, with no friction from the air or from distance to degrade the sound waves. When you sit 10 feet from a speaker, you lose a surprisingly large amount of the sound by the time it reaches you.
There are great headphones from Sony, AKG, Sennheiser, Bose, Beyer, B&W. Grado, Focal, Audeze, Stax, Shure, HiFiMan, and Sonoma make more expensive headphones, with diminishing returns.
Yes. Apple computers can play files up to 32/384. Using the headphone
miniplug, just plug in your headphones and hit play on the computer. Other computer brands may need a converter plugged into their USB port (with headphones attached) to play resolutions higher than 24/96.
A converter is a unit which converts sound waves from digital modes (which the ear can’t hear) to analogue waveforms (which is what our ears can hear). Digital files, vinyl records, compact disks, DVDs, and Blu-rays need to be translated into the waveforms which our ears hear as frequencies.
The technical term for a converter is a Digital-to Analogue Converter, or DAC. Today, you can plug a DAC the size of a pencil sharpener into one of the ports of your computer and then plug headphones (or speakers) into that DAC.
Many headphones sound just fine by themselves. Other kinds require a boost in volume. Many DACs have amplifiers in them, so you just plug and play.
Not always. For instance, the iFi Nano “LeDAC,” for $139, can handle files up to 384 kHz. You can spend thousands of dollars for a DAC with the same chip and the sound will be exactly the same.
A chip is a minuscule wafer with wires in it. The wires form an integrated circuit, which conducts electricity. Sometimes wires aren’t full conductors, like copper, but can be made of very inexpensive materials like silicon (sand) or even biomaterials which use human biological material. There are various bands. Sabre chips can make an inexpensive converter sound as good as an expensive one which also uses Sabre chips. Burr-Brown chips, now made by Texas Instruments,
are also very good. Different models of these chips are hard to tell apart. The Topping DX7 retrieves more detail from complicated classical files, and thus produces greater depth in the music. Crystal, ESS, and AKM all produce fine chips.
Using different materials and different designs of circuits will produce different results, so you pay for the “room” or the configuration in which the chip is seated, not the chip. For instance, a moderately sized engine in a Tesla or a Lexus will produce faster acceleration than a Ferrari, because an electric motor has no gears and thus no friction to slow it down.
Headphones and cellphones can produce only two channels of sound for our two ears. But a stereo system or a home theater nowadays may have five or more speakers to create the effect of being surrounded by sound.
Two stereo channels over headphones can capture so much accurate and deep sound that you don’t need a room with a dozen speakers. That being said, if you have guests for dinner, the most practical way to listen to music or a movie is to have a stereo system so everyone can hear at once.
If you have more speakers, the music seems to come from everywhere, rather than just one point. This creates the psychological effect of being in the original hall where the music was recorded. The music vibrates more, and is thus more “reverberant” or “resonant.”
Curtains, rugs, and couches absorb sound. Concrete walls and floors make sound bounce back and thus reflect sound, although they can be harsh sounding. If your room has a nice balance between being absorptive and reflective, then your speakers will sound better. Too much furniture absorbs too many frequencies. Cement walls echo too much. So you need to compromise, and have a room that is well “tuned,” or “balanced.”
Then you need good amplifiers with the same power on every speaker, and good speakers. Speakers are mostly directional, so the chairs have to be in the “sweet spot,” where all the frequencies come together. The incredible sound from DXD surround makes it worthwhile, if you want to feel like you’re in the original hall.
$70 headphones and a good $140 DAC will sound as good, if only one person is listening.
Yes. You can buy a “splitter,” which splits the signal to two different sets of headphones. Some headphone amps and DACs come with two jacks for two sets of headphones.
Apple phones can play “FLAC completely lossless,” “ALAC uncompressed lossless,” and “AIFF lossy” codecs. But this requires fast bandwidth transmission speeds. Apple Music transmits at 256 kbps (thousand bytes per second), so that any cell phone can play Apple’s streams.
Deezer Premium, Spotify, Slacker, Tidal Premium, and Google Play require 320 kbps. Napster requires 320 kbps for the ideal quality in streaming its files. Pandora requires 300 kbps for the best results. But you can have mediocre results at 150 kbps.
Deezer Elite requires 5 mbps for FLAC files, and 10 mbps for multiple FLAC streams. Tidal HiFi requires 1.411 mbps.
The Apple “Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter” has a built-in lightning port, which works on Apple cellphones.
There’s Sony’s DSD, or Direct Stream Digital, which uses a “Delta Sigma” waveform, which is digital, but strangely has the same shape as a similar audio wave. SACDs use this DSD format.
The wave shapes we use aren’t DSD, but PCM (pulse-code modulation), which we feel conveys more dynamic range and accurately conveys sudden shifts in volume, such as a sudden drum beat or a lunge at the piano during a Beethoven sonata.
Many of the DACs recommended below also read DSD high-resolution files, which many people prefer for their smoothness.
Here is an incomplete list of some converters that I’ve run across which provide high resolution and cost below $1,000: themasterswitch.com has up-todate listings for all sorts of audio components, such as speakers, amps, and DACs.
Audiolab MDAC Nano ($195) 32/384 kHZ
Audio Adapter HD ($199) 32/384
Resonessence Herus ($350) 384kHz
FiiO Q1 Mark II ($100) 384kHz
TEAC NT-503 ($899) 384kHz
Chord Mojo Portable DAC ($579) 768kHz
iFi Audio xDSD ($399) 768kHz
iFi Nano iOne DAC ($199) 384kHz
iFi Micro iDSD Black Label ($599) 768kHz
iFi Nano iDSD Black Label DAC and Amp with MQA ($199) 384kHz
iFi xDSD Portable DAC Amplifier with Bluetooth ($409)
768kHz, MQA, DSD 256
iFi Nano iDSD LE DAC ($139) 384kHz
iFi Nano iDSD DAC ($199)
ifi Micro DAC2 ($379) 384 kHz
Optoma NuForce High-Res Mobile uDAC5 ($199) 384kHz
Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus ($349.99) 384kHz Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital Preamplifier
and DAC ($399) 768kHz
Pro-Ject DAC Box S2 Plus ($249) 768kHz
NuPrime uDSD USB DAC ($179) 384kHz
AKG K240 semi-open pro studio headphones ($69)
Sennheiser closed open-back studio headphones ($150)
Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones ($139)
Sennheiser HD200 Pro Headphones ($68)
Grado SR80e Prestige Series Wired Open Back Stereo Headphones ($99)
Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Pro Monitor Headphones ($76)