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2013 Head-Fi Summer Buying Guide (Music)

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Head-Fi Meets Music


In the last guide, we covered the Chesky Records binaural album released earlier last year called Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show! Since then, Chesky Records and HDtracks.com have already released two more binaural albums (both using Chesky's Binaural+ technology).

Sessions from the 17th Ward by Amber Rubarth


This album by singer-songwriter Amber Rubarth has grown into one of my favorites this year. It started for me when David Chesky sent me a few preview recordings to listen to.

I told David I couldn't get over how beautiful the performance was of "Storms Are on the Ocean," and asked who it was. He told me it was Amber Rubarth, and I felt like I'd stepped on a spike at that moment, as I had a chance to be at that recording session, but was unable make it. I could have heard that live

The Carter Family's version of the song is, of course, a classic, sung in old 20's Carter Family folk style--there's no substitute. But Amber's version is so sweet, delicately lilting through the song, where the Carters set straight through it. I can't think of that song anymore without thinking of Amber's version.

So, no, I wasn't able to make it to Amber Rubarth's recording session for this album. But I've been to the Hirsch Center with Chesky, and heard him and his team faithfully capture the magic of performances there, using high-res binaural recording techniques. So I know when I cue up Sessions from the 17th Ward and close my eyes, they've put me right there in the her recording session, sonically, even though I was unable to make it there in person.

The rest of this album, a fetching mix of covers and originals, is also superb. Sure, sometimes I feel like I'm hearing wisps of Alison Krauss here, and strands of Emmylou there; but Amber's tone, her phrasing...she's truly an original, she's her own thing.

I hope Chesky has her down for more albums. I'd be thrilled to hear more of Ms. Rubarth in binaural. And if that happens, I'll do everything I can to actually be there for the recording sessions next time.

>Click here to listen to the album's sample tracks.

Dreams of New Orleans by Wycliffe Gordon


Wow! What more fun way is there to charge the acoustic at Hirsch Center than with a trip back in time to a rousing romp in pre-1920's New Orleans? This music sounds like an attempt to get as much rip-roarin' sauced merrymaking in before the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act pushed that kind of fun underground.

just picked up this album a day or two before the time of this writing, so I'll just say this about it after only one listen through it: If this album doesn't make you smile from ear to ear, if it doesn't get your feet tapping, or your body shaking or swaying, then have someone nearby check your pulse.

Click here to listen to sample tracks from Wycliffe Gordon's latest album, the third Binaural+ album from Chesky Records released this year.

Please Support the Chesky Records Binaural+ Projects

David Chesky and his team want to record more albums, in many more genres, using their constantly improving Binaural+ techniques and technologies; but it's a project that absolutely needs this community's support. Please help keep these projects coming by buying the Chesky Records Binaural+ albums on HDtracks.com as they're released.

To read more about Chesky Records and their first binaural project (which explains more about binaural recordings and how they can place the listener in the performance space), please click here.



Comments (2)

While I agree that the Amber Rubarth recording is just about the sweetest thing I've ever heard - vocals and instruments sound wonderful - I just can't enjoy the perspective of my head being in the middle of the band.

Because the music's so good, I've listened to this recording a few times but I still have not warmed up to the perspective.
Maybe musicians like this in-the-band feeling, but it's completely foreign to me. If I found myself sitting in that position the first thing I'd do is move back at least ten feet.
Now, I can appreciate a good parlor trick. The "hair cut" on the Chesky binaural sampler is astounding, as is the one with David talking from various spots around the church. But other than a few situations, like organ pipes in the four wings of a church, we don't listen to live music this way. Most (all?) binaural recordings seem to share this characteristic look-what-we-can-do presentation. Demonstrates the technology but doesn't serve the music. A parlor trick.
That said, I think I'll go listen to Amber right now. The music is indeed fabulous. And, I will be looking into the Wycliffe Gordon too. New Orleans jazz is one of my favorites. But what I'd really like to hear is a good binaural recording where the head/mic is placed in a audience perspective.
Unfortunately these binaural recordings don't work with my personal HRTF so the imaging ends up being up and down rather than front and back. To test this out I laid face down and sure enough, sounded like a band was in front of me :) Luckily the "headphone" cross feed in J.River works pretty well for me.
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