Gerard Rejskind and Christian Wolff interviews [Listen 41:22] – S02 Ep06 (2of 2) – Slowly turning yourself into a composer with Christian Wolff
Interview Date: January 9, 2012 @10am EDT
Special guest (Audio) (part 2 of 2) – Christian Wolff is one of the most respected and revered modern composers of our time. Starting out composing with a group of extraordinary artists and composers (what became to be known as the New York School Movement) consisting of Morton Feldman, Earl Brown, David Tudor, (choreographer) Merce Cunningham, and John Cage. It was Wolff who changed John Cage's musical direction forever by giving him the 'I Ching.' In addition, he worked with other leading 20th Century Composers like Frederic Rzewksi and Cornelius Cardew. He has gone on to compose well over 200 compositions, dating back to the early 1950's. His compositions are often improvisational, complex, and sometimes political.
Special guest (Print) (part 3 of 3) – Gerard Rejskind is a High-end stereo/Audiophile expert and the chief editor of UHF Magazine. With over 30 years of experience behind him, Mr.Rejskind has also taken his knowledge and written three books of particular interest to the industry. In addition to this, what he is probably most famous for are his "State of the Art” columns at the back of his magazine; which, in my opinion, is a wellspring of audiophile knowledge. He was nice enough to answer some stereo and turntable questions that I asked on behalf of our fans, fans of High-end, and those who are just getting into vinyl and High-end audio. (Note: Photo of Mr.Rejskind receiving the lifetime achievement award at Salon Son & Image) Congratulations you deserve it!
UHF website, or to order your subscription HERE.
GoingThruVinyl's Interview with UHF Magazine's Chief Editor Gerard Rejskind (Final)
GTV - I understand you have three audiophile books that you can buy from your site. Would you like to describe each one briefly, and what knowledge can be gained from them? The World of High Fidelity- The UHF Guide to High Fidelity- State of the Art-
GR - The original book, The UHF Guide to High Fidelity. was intended to bring together a number of articles on the principles of high fidelity, including articles that had been published in UHF itself. It was a runaway best seller, paying its costs in just six weeks. The second book, The World of High Fidelity, had the same general theme, but expanded some topics not covered in the first one, such as how to shop for audio, and how to do long-term planning of a system. State of the Art is of course the title of my last-page column in UHF. The book includes reprints of the columns from the first 60 issues, with new introductions.
GR - I save them up, actually. I keep running across ideas that I really should be writing about, and some of them lend themselves well to one-page treatment.
GTV - Do you have any favorites yourself?
GR - I think my all-time favorite is from UHF No. 16, titled Music and Numbers. I wrote it on an early portable computer while I was waiting for my car to be serviced. To my surprise, I was able to publish it without changing a word.
GTV - What is your experience with record cleaners? (do they work, how well, what will they take out?) Can you take out dirt or static out of a record? I’ve heard that there is material in the grooves of a new record that a record cleaner can take out for a better sound.
GR - Paraffin was is used in the record molding process, and grains of it can lodge in a groove, causing not only a click but a groove skip. I don't believe in cleaning fluids, except in conjunction with vacuum cleaning machines.
GTV - Is the first time you play a record always the best sound?
GR - If it were, it would make our reviews difficult. No, I don't believe that. Indeed, perhaps the 200th time you play it will be the best, because by then you'll have better playback gear.
GTV - Can you offer some useful advice about buying vintage audio?
GR - Avoid products we now know to be obsolete: pre-Linn turntables, old phono preamps, old DACs. Be aware of what parts are likely to have limited lifespan: capacitors, speaker surrounds, and anything with moving parts. It may be best to consider buying vintage gear (as opposed to used gear) as a hobby rather than an economy measure.
GTV- When I first got introduced to the high-end world, I found that a lot of the terminology used was unfamiliar to me. Would you clarify some of the terms for the inexperienced.
What is “Sound-Floor” and “Noise-Floor”?
GR- The noise floor is the steady low-level noise that is added by the music medium, CD or LP, and by the playback equipment. It can consist of hiss or hum, but often both. The LP is the noisiest medium, as is well known, but our surroundings add noise too (think of your refrigerator, or your heating system, or passing traffic), and so it may not be meaningful. Note that, despite the "masking" phenomenon, by which a louder sound can hide a softer one, it is possible to hear detail that is below the noise floor.
GTV- What is “background” surface noise?
GR - I've never heard the term, but perhaps it refers to the constant noise background on an LP, as opposed to ticks and pops, which manifest themselves now and then.
GTV - Imaging: What is it and what are some ways to better achieve it?
GR - Like accuracy of timbre, imaging -- the placement of each instrument or other sound where it is presumed to have been in the concert hall or studio -- depends on accurate reproduction of very fine information details. It is influenced by the entire audio chain, but also by the acoustics of the room, and of course by speaker placement. It's a vast topic, and some critics have underlined the fact that a real-life orchestra may not provide pinpoint instrument placement. True enough, but what you don't want is the impression that just one speaker is playing, and the other is shut off.
GR - The very soft part of the audio signal, responsible among other things for accuracy of timbres and the reproduction of acoustic space. Low-level information gets wiped out by systems that don't have adequate resolution.
GTV - Distortion?
GR - Technically, distortion is any difference between what goes into the system and what comes out. We tend to concentrate on harmonic and intermodulation distortion, because instruments for measuring them are commonly available. They may not be the most significant forms nowadays.
GTV - Clipping?
GR - This is the chopping off of the top of the signal wave. The usual cause is that the system (amplifier, digital system) can go no louder. Clipping generates a rich trove of harmonics, which sound awful and can even destroy speakers. Not a good thing.
GTV - Bi-amp wiring?
GR - The use of separate cables to feed the woofer and the tweeter of a two-way speaker. If cables and connectors were perfect, this would be of no use whatever, but with real-life systems it can be an advantage.
GTV – A goal in setting up a speaker system is to arrange the speakers so that they all fire at one location, giving you the best sound the speakers are capable of. This is called the “sweet spot.” How does one know if they have set up their speakers correctly? How big are sweet spots?
GR - I don't believe in sweet spots, except as a failing of music systems. A poor system will not reproduce a stereo illusion except for a listener seated dead centre (and possibly not even then). Real musical ensembles don't have sweet spots, and neither should hi-fi. I sometimes deliberately sit off-centre to see whether that puts me outside the "sweet spot." If it does, the system needs work.
GTV - I hope I’m not breaking any “record store” or “vinyl code of conduct” but I am by no means a purist in some stubborn “Vinyl is the best and I don’t want to hear anyone say different.” If you are like me then I would also say that this means High-end audio could be off in a whole new direction. Have we reached the possibilities of sound (sonically) and pushed what a piece of equipment is capable of? We are close if not already there as far as duplicating or surpassing the sound of a record. Am I right and what does this mean for stereo stores?
GR - High-definition digital files may be the future, unless Internet service providers continue to choke off bandwidth. High-definition digital and analog can both sound excellent. For many users, vinyl still offers an advantage over digital, but digital will continue to improve. Of course so will analog.
GTV - We have seen incredible advancements in film and TV recently; there has also been advancements in high-end audio equipment. Do you think we have reached all we can from audio equipment?
GR - Whenever we have thought that, we have been in for a surprise. A happy one, I might add. I wouldn't bet against further progress.
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