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Reference Cuts for Evaluating Gear?

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  • Reference Cuts for Evaluating Gear?

    One thing that I always try to do in my reviews is to always include a few currently available [analog] music sources.

    15 ips Tape

    Lou Harrison: Canticle Number 3 from Smoke and Mirrors, Yarlung Records (also available on LP/CD/DSD)

    One can't go wrong whether it's Smoke and Mirror's first or second recording on Yarlung Records (this album earned a coveted PF POY award from me three years ago). Energy. Monstrous dynamics. Full range sound reproduction. Incredibly fast transient attack. A harmonic envelope surrounding each of the instruments. A tremendous sense of space, Oh, did I mention the room rattling low end? A simply amazing performance and music. This recording has it all and more! Most of all, when the system is hitting on all cylinders, it's like you are there.

    "Arabia" from Grisman-Garcia, The Tape Project (also available on CD/LP)

    This cut is a superb test for naturalness. There shouldn't be any edge to the music yet the mandolin should possess lots of energy and ringing. Each member of the quartet should be solidly placed in it's own space on the soundstage and timbrally correct.

    33 rpm LP

    "The Worried Drummer" from Mallets, Melody and Mayhem, Columbia CS8333

    Call this album Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. More than almost any album in my collection, MMM can sound like Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde. Simply stunning on one system and boring on another. Much of that phenonema is directly traceable to the system's ability to reproduce the upper octaves and harmonic overtones of the different percussion instruments. Listen to the shaking of the sleigh bells and whether you can make out each individual bell.

    "Alter" from Imada's Now, Three Blind Mice

    One word describes this recording: stunning. Closely miked like most TBM recording, this track just is a wonderful test for the subtlest of nuances and low end tightness and definition. Instruments have a real presence and the sax should have a lot of energy without crossing over to nasal or strident sounding. The double bass is placed front and center, the piano to the left and sax to the right. When all is right, there's just an uncanny sense of snap and tonality to the bass. The reverb can be both obvious and it's decay very subtle.

    "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegroove" from Dead Can Dance: Into the Labyrinth, MOFI (also available on CD)

    One of MOFIs best reissues and a recent addition (thanks to Josh from Music Direct) to my reference list. A stunning rock recording that swims in three-dimensionality, atmosphere and a tremendous sense of space. Instruments should literally pop out of no where on this recording. The low end will test the mettle of many a system.

    Third movement from "Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee" from Gunther Schuller, Mercury SR90282 (was released as part of three record set by Speakers Corner)

    Either side of the album is a great test for large scale music reproduction (as is the Tape Project's Arnold Overtures). I love the music and purposely chose this cut for it Gershwin-esque jazz treatment. Just an amazing sense of musical and dynamic shadings and tone color here.

    45 rpm LP

    "" from Waltz for Debby, The Tape Project and Analogue Productions (available on CD/digital file?)

    "Peace in the Valley, Side 4" from Elvis '57, Analogue Productions (also available on CD)

    Elvis '57 is arguable Analogue Production's best reissue and this cut among the album's finest. I use this album in particular for the midrange tonality and nuances of Elvis' voice and the differentiation of the voice among the back up singers. The better the system, the more the nuances are revealed. In addition, Elvis should be solidly place to the left (yes it is early, early stereo) and present in all his glory; the Jordanaires-- and the better the reproduction--should be easily separated and each singer separated from the group.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor,

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 440 and 1000 Nextgen mono amps
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, vdh Colibri Master Signature, Mutech Hayabusa,
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Skogrand, Kubala-Sosna, Audience FrontRow; Audience FrontRow, Genesis Advanced Technologies , Goldmund and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.3+ platforms.