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About HiWire

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    Member of the Trade: Oppo Digital Marketing
  • Birthday 07/30/1976

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  1. HiWire

    Inexpensive decent earbuds...

    I've been using the Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear wired headphones on public transit... under $100. The stock ear tips are silicone and isolate moderately, but I immediately upgraded to Comply tips. I just tried them with moderate music volume and I can't hear anything with ambient air conditioning blowing. A coworker also strongly recommended the 1More Triple Driver headphones to me. They don't go in that deep, but people seem to like them and they come with a variety of tips.
  2. HiWire

    What are you listening to Part the Third

    My dad's friend dumped a bunch of old CDs on him, which he in turn dumped on me... the Pogues' album was the big win as well as Neil Young's Harvest. Also included were The Who's The Kids Are Alright, Simon and Garfunkel, The Best of James Taylor, the soundtrack from Pump Up the Volume, and Bryan Adams' mediocre Into the Fire. All in all, a decent assortment of old rock – you win some, you lose some. I don't turn down free CDs unless I have them already. I was also listening to old cassettes on the weekend. Lenny Kravitz's Are You Gonna Go My Way held up surprisingly well and Guns N' Roses' "The Spaghetti Incident?" is still a decent covers album. Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way Jimi Hendrix – The Ultimate Experience
  3. HiWire

    What are you listening to Part the Third

    The Pogues – If I Should Fall from Grace with God
  4. HiWire

    What are you reading now?

    Aldebaran by Léo – gorgeously illustrated and brilliantly written
  5. HiWire

    What are you listening to Part the Third

    Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It's Blitz! I haven't listened to this one for a while... this is one of the rare occasions where the music critics and I agree (it made almost all the Best Albums of the Year lists when it was released). A gorgeous, exciting listen with impressive polish throughout. Just epic.
  6. HiWire

    Sony UHP-H1

    Dexter Gordon's Go! is a fun instrumental session... Gordon's fluid, expressive saxophone pairs deftly against Billy Higgins' propulsive drums. There is a real sense of being in the same room as the performers, and the ebb and flow of free-form jazz with a few humorous pop phrases thrown in keeps your mind relaxed and stimulated at the same time. The performances are flawless and it is a delight to hear such joyful, varied playing from such brilliant musicians. Olivia Ong's self-titled 2010 (mostly) covers album is an oddball in my collection. The songs are varied, going from the 1960s to the early 1990s, but sung in a delicate, heartfelt way by the bossanova girl. Ong's approach is a little restrained, but you can't fault the variety, the cleverness of the pop arrangements, or Ong's commitment to the songs. Suzanne Vega's Luka is probably the high point of the album, allowing Ong to dig deeper in her emotional range. The recording makes Ong's voice float over the instrumentals, which is fairly appropriate, considering her lightweight singing style. The instruments are well played, but the recording seems almost over-produced, which is common in the asiapop market.
  7. HiWire

    Goodbye Tyll. Happy Travels

    Happy retirement and thanks for all your hard work!
  8. HiWire

    The analog thread.

    How ironic that the first comments that show up below the article discuss Depeche Mode's Violator SACD... makes you wonder what people are going to play and record on these things.
  9. HiWire

    Sony UHP-H1

    Not a big deal for me... there might be a cracked firmware out there anyway. I haven't tried its DAC function yet either. I've got enough SACDs to keep me busy for a while and the Arcam does an excellent job with CDs, which comprise the bulk of my music collection. I think the limiting factors are my ears and my floors... the bass is probably going right through there. I haven't had any complaints so far and I want to keep it that way. My ears get tired if I do too much critical listening (it's tricky to get the right volume level for some albums), so I won't do more than two hours in an evening and I'll take a day off in between sessions. I used to prefer long albums but now those 30-minute discs are more welcome than ever. The "problem" with new audio toys is that you spend a lot of time listening analytically after you buy the equipment. I haven't listened this much on my speaker system for months. I had previously retired it from music in favor of listening to my then-neglected headphones. The speakers were mainly used for movie and TV watching. First world problems: too many toys. I listened to Rebecca Pidgeon's The Raven tonight, which I haven't heard for years. This is a Chesky recording, and Pidgeon's voice is sweet and as clear as a bell. The instruments are all acoustic and there is a minimum of production interference. There is a purity and simplicity to the folk-tinged songs on The Raven that works in Pidgeon's favor... you don't get the exaggerated cynicism in Joni Mitchell's type of songwriting here, for example. There is a lot of atmospheric presence in the presentation of every instrument, and you get the full range of expression and control in Pidgeon's performance. Since there weren't a lot of pounding drums in this recording, I cranked the volume up. Everything stayed smooth and delicate, with a lively, neutral presentation. The lesson here is that source matters. I strongly recommend this album if you haven't heard it.
  10. HiWire

    Head Case Haircut

    I bet porpentines are big fans of in-ear monitors. No muss, no fuss. Too much product can turn anyone into a porpentine...
  11. HiWire

    Sony UHP-H1

    I forgot about the remix since the previous SACDs I played stayed very close to the original masters. I did some searching on Amazon yesterday and I found that I have a lot of the major SACD pop and rock releases (so few), barring Norah Jones and Diana Krall. I'm glad that the classical labels appear to be committed to the format... I've still got a bit of catching up there. A copy of Depeche Mode's Violator SACD showed up on eBay a few days ago, but I let it go as the price went up. I'm not sure I love the album enough to spend big dollars on it, as the music on the standard CD is ok. It's becoming a pain to get a hold of the discs, though. Many SACDs are going out of print and I'm forced to consider joke bands like Yes, the Police and the Scorpions (just kidding).
  12. HiWire

    Sony UHP-H1

    I decided to stop messing around and put my favorite album in (after using Duran Duran's Greatest CD as a warmup... inconclusive results there due to low volume): The thing you have to know is that the SACD layer of Roxy Music's Avalon is a different mix. It took me about a third of the album to realize that... at first I was just, like, whoa, blown away. Bryan Ferry's voice sounds clearer, the familiar instruments are better separated, drums are more impactful, and there is even a sense of vertical space added. I've listened to this album over a hundred times, but only on the Red Book layer. If you're only familiar with the CD or the vinyl versions, it's going to be an odd experience. It's exactly the same album, but everything is a little different. Wikipedia claims the stereo mix is identical, but I am telling you that it is not. I wasn't expecting much from my cheap Sony player, but this session told me that I've been missing a lot on my hybrid SACD discs. I thought that it was a downmix of the surround version, but if Wikipedia says the stereo mix is identical to the original, then the difference must come solely from the SACD encoding. I don't actually believe that, though, because many of the stereo elements sound like they are placed differently (and each voice or instrument fades in or out more distinctly, like Andy Mckay's distinctive oboe)... perhaps the UHP-H1 is ignoring the stereo mix and downmixing the surround mix anyway. The principal impressions I got from the SACD layer are clarity and separation. Voices and instruments that are mixed together in the original version seem to be pulled apart and they are more clearly defined... the effect is not that subtle. Once again, it's more theatrical, like a concert performance. I'm not entirely sure if I like it, since I'm so familiar with the original mix. I'll have to listen to it a few more times, especially on my headphones. If you have this SACD, I strongly recommend flipping between the layers if your player allows you. It's a bit like getting two albums for the price of one. This album is probably even more fun with a 5.1 surround system. I'm not usually one for gimmickry, but this was fun. I'm hoping the next few SACDs are as entertaining as this one.
  13. HiWire

    Head Case Haircut

    I think it's the long hair (I try to clean my ears at least once a day in the shower). My hair is relatively fine and straight, so I don't think it's poofing out the headphones that much, either. Having longer or more hair could have an effect on regular hearing (it certainly makes your head warmer), but I keep getting surprised at the "haircut effect" each time it happens. I was listening on my Grado HP-2 yesterday after the haircut and didn't notice any changes, but that was because I haven't listened to them for over a week. P.S. the Breeders' Last Splash doesn't sound so great on hi-fi equipment (too revealing of the recording's limitations). I'll try it again on the Alessandros tomorrow. They're more forgiving on pop-oriented material.
  14. HiWire

    Head Case Haircut

    Anyone else notice their headphone hearing changes after a haircut? It's gotten so I anticipate it each time I'm due... it was pretty bad this time, being about two months overdue. However, the benefit is that my Alessandro MS-1 sound a lot better today (at the same volume level)... highs and overall clarity and imaging improve. Having longer hair must have some kind of HRTF effect (I made sure my hair was never covering my ears when it was long).