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A Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing New Binaural Album By Chesky!

post #1 of 145
Thread Starter 

Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show!

 

Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show!  That's the name of the latest binaural album from Chesky Records (made especially for Head-Fi'ers), and that title describes exactly what this album is. Using Chesky's new "Binaural+" technology, this is the first-ever album of its kind--a binaural album that can be played on loudspeakers. It's the ultimate binaural trip, with incredible binaural tracks that include surround imaging tests, bass tests (that include deep bass extension), fun demonstrations of the realistic out-of-head placement possible with binaural, and, most importantly, great music (in several genres) presented with unprecedented immersion and sense of space--and a feeling of being there, live. For headphone audio enthusiasts, this album ushers in what I hope is a new era in recording and audio.

 

A little over a year ago, Chesky Records released its first binaural album, Explorations In Space And Time (which was also made for Head-Fi'ers). If you're wondering what a "binaural recording" is, and why it's so significant for headphone audio enthusiasts, let me re-post this bit from the article I posted last year about that first binaural album from Chesky:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jude View Post

...In case you're not familiar with what a binaural recording is, let's discuss what it is, and why it's so very relevant, so very cool, for Head-Fi'ers: Many here would agree that excellent headphone systems can open up a recording's innermost details and subtleties like few loudspeakers can. From a price/performance standpoint, headphones, in my opinion, almost always outperform their loudspeaker counterparts in several respects. Still, though, headphone listening has its shortcomings, key among them imaging--when it comes to imaging, headphone listening is fundamentally flawed. As HeadRoom describes part of the problem:

 

Quote:
Originally by HeadRoom:
So here's the problem with headphone listening in a nutshell: the sound in the right channel is only heard in the right ear and the sound in the left channel is only heard in the left ear. What's missing in headphones is the sound going from each channel to the opposite ear, arriving a short time later for the extra distance traveled, and with a bit of high frequency roll-off for the shadowing effect of the head.

 

If you've tried crossfeed, then you know it can help solve some of the imaging issues inherent with headphone listening, helping to form a more cohesive image, but still unable to take the image out of your head. To achieve convincing, realistic imaging through headphones requires much more than a crossfeed circuit can achieve; and this is where binaural recording comes in.

Rather than try to explain the science and mechanics of binaural recording in great detail, let me instead give you links to pages that do a far better job of explaining it than I could:
 


Simply put, the intent of binaural recording is to capture sound exactly as the human ears hear it. Even more simply put, one of the most common ways to do that is to place high-resolution microphones inside the ears of a purpose-built dummy head, its ear-shaped molds designed to simulate the fleshiness/pliability/resonance and shape of actual ears. (This can be taken further still with a full simulated head/neck/shoulder/torso setup.)


So, given what binaural recordings are (and especially because of how they're made), an obvious challenge comes to mind: One cannot simply take existing recordings from Chesky's catalog and create binaural versions of them. You have to start from scratch--you have to capture the performances that way from the get-go. None of the prior recordings in Chesky Record's catalog were recorded binaurally. In fact, look at the libraries of all labels big and small, and you'll find very little--next to nothing--in terms of available binaural recordings. So to produce binaural recordings means having to record new material using the aforesaid recording techniques...

 

Having been there for the recording of that first album, I can say that through headphones the binaural version of Explorations In Space And Time was a fantastic capture of not just the music that was played, but also the space it was played in. Listening to that album continues to thrill me to this day (over a year later), vividly bringing me back to the Hirsch Center for those exciting days of recording. 

 

Since then, David Chesky has redoubled his commitment to the science and art of binaural recording. Working with his team, Chesky Records has come up with something called "Binaural+." With Explorations In Space And Time, Chesky included two different versions of each track on the album--a soundfield version for playback on loudspeakers, and a binaural version for headphone listening--doubling the number of tracks on each album. With Binaural+, Chesky has developed filtering techniques that allow the binaural recordings to also be played back through loudspeakers, eliminating the need to have two versions of each track.

 

(video) David Chesky introduces Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show! and Binaural+.

 

The second binaural album from Chesky--and the first to use the new Binaural+--is the just-released Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show!, and it's outstanding! After the release of the first binaural album (which was almost entirely percussion music), the request we received the most was to offer binaural recordings with a greater variety of music. After hearing so much rhythm in binaural, listeners were ready for Chesky to expand to something more melodic done binaurally. With Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show!, music from several genres--folk, jazz, Arabic, classical (including some deeeeeep bass organ work), rock, percussion (including a couple of tracks from Explorations), choral, funk, and New Orleans--is combined with binaural test tracks and fun binaural demonstration tracks.

 

I love the whole album, but do have a few particular favorites:

 

  • Track 1, Amber Rubarth singing "Storms are On The Ocean." From the gentle guitar, to the ethereal, airy string accompaniment, to Amber's serenely sung vocal (intimately placed at center front), this track is representative of my hopes for the future of binaurally recorded music. I usually listen to this track not just once, but a few times each time.  It is entirely immersive, simple, beautiful.
  • Track 4, The Brooklyn Funk Band playing "Pamafunk." Okay, I'm partial to a funky groove. One that surrounds you thoroughly, completely and charges every molecule of air in the venue...well, that I'm even more partial to.
  • Track 11, The Manhattan Chamber Ensemble playing "Mozart Divertemento in D Mov 1." You're a VIP. The Ensemble has come to your home or office, and opens up with some lighthearted Mozart--all just for you, front and center. That's what this one is.
  • Track 12, Sukoon playing "Raqs el-hawanim." Close your eyes, and you're completely surrounded by a place that is likely very far from home (unless you live in the Middle East). If your head isn't bobbing, your feet not tapping, have someone check your pulse.
  • Track 14, Choir of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament performing "Bach Jesu Joy Of Man's Desiring." This one was performed and recorded in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City, the beautiful voices of the choir atop the deep, gentle, cascading accompaniment of the church's sonorous organ.

 

(video) David introduces Lars (the dummy head), and Nick Prout and Alex Sterling explain the setup used to record Amber Rubarth.

 

Again, I love the whole album. And the test tracks are a blast! Hear David Chesky walk to you and whisper in your ear. Have the barber give you a virtual haircut with scissors--or have David give you a virtual buzzcut. Deeeeeeep bass down to 16.35Hz? Do you want that via acoustic bass or organ? And there's more in this album.

 

The liner notes by Steve Guttenberg and Chesky are also awesome (and fun).

 

so wish I could have been there for the recordings for Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show! Though I was invited to attend the recording sessions that made up the bulk of this new album, scheduling conflicts prevented me from being there. I'll attend as many future Chesky binaural recording sessions as I can, but I know from my experience with Explorations that David and his team have the ability to transport me to the sessions via the resulting albums even when I can't physically be there for the recording of them. As David said in the new album's liner notes:

 

Quote:
Originally by David Chesky:
We need to establish and understand that binaural is not a gimmick with sounds popping out on the sides all the time, it provides a live concert perspective, and that’s it.

 

 

Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show! is an exciting hint of where we can go from here, and I hope for more binaural albums (from Chesky and other labels) in the future.

 

Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show! is available in CD-quality 16/44.1, and better-than-CD-quality 24/96, and master-tape-quality 24/192. The regular price of these albums is $11.98, $17.98, and $24.98, respectively. For a limited time, Head-Fi'ers can get the album for 20% off by using the coupon code drcheskyhf20

 

CLICK HERE to pick which version of the album you want, and to listen to sample tracks!

 


 

An Important Note:

 

What we're working toward is very regular releases of binaural albums by Chesky, spanning virtually all genres. Every time David thinks of binaural recordings, he thinks of the Head-Fi community. But this is not an inexpensive endeavor (and David and his team are always working to improve binaural techniques and technology), so it requires our support. If you listen to some of the demo tracks on HDtracks.com and you like what you hear, please support our goal of seeing several new binaural releases from Chesky every year by buying Dr. Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, And Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show! and future Chesky binaural releases that are already being worked on.

post #2 of 145

I'll be picking this up soon enough for test tracks and just Binaural fun. Been curious since the ads started running.

post #3 of 145

Not really a fan of their pricing method.  Why not just have one flat price for all quality levels?  It's not like it takes much to change the quality level of a file.  Not only that it has all sorts of implications about the quality of a file compared to the value of the actual music.

 

25$ is too much for a digital album.  I don't care about the quality level or what tech you used to record it.  Not only that, if the master tape was already there to begin with, why are you charging extra just to let others hear it?  It's kinda silly if you ask me.  Seems like another way to take advantage of the audio enthusiast market.

 

Anyway sorry to bash without actually listening or commenting on the music.  That's just my first impression.  If they weren't trying to break my wallet just because many people who love audio are willing to pay extra for it, I'd actually be pretty into this.  Even if a vinyl ends up being 25 I get pretty sad about paying for it, but at least then I get the huge art.

 

10$ for 16/44 is average though I'll admit.  Just seems a little strange that the other stuff costs extra :)

post #4 of 145

I'm hoping "Binaural+" will become a standard in all Recording Labes,Loudspeakers doesn't lose a thing from this particular type of recording while headphones have everything to gain.

 

Go Chesky!

post #5 of 145

I would imagine it has to do with the file size differences. Well...I think that's part of it. I do feel a little bugged by their 24/192 prices as well I'll admit, but that's usually the excuse sites use for Lossless upgrade charges.

 

Beatport practically doubles their prices if you want Lossless.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Llloyd View Post

Not really a fan of their pricing method.  Why not just have one flat price for all quality levels?  It's not like it takes much to change the quality level of a file.  Not only that it has all sorts of implications about the quality of a file compared to the value of the actual music.

 

25$ is too much for a digital album.  I don't care about the quality level or what tech you used to record it.  Not only that, if the master tape was already there to begin with, why are you charging extra just to let others hear it?  It's kinda silly if you ask me.  Seems like another way to take advantage of the audio enthusiast market.

 

Anyway sorry to bash without actually listening or commenting on the music.  That's just my first impression.  If they weren't trying to break my wallet just because many people who love audio are willing to pay extra for it, I'd actually be pretty into this.  Even if a vinyl ends up being 25 I get pretty sad about paying for it, but at least then I get the huge art.

 

10$ for 16/44 is average though I'll admit.  Just seems a little strange that the other stuff costs extra :)

post #6 of 145
I got the album a few days ago; the unusual advert with Dr. Chesky staring at my soul got the best of me. :P Overall, the "binaural effect" isn't as present/obvious as in Explorations in Space and Time (of which some tracks are featured in Chesky's compilation), but the sound quality is top-notch, and I discovered a few great artists through it, namely Amber Rubarth, who performs divinely in Storms Are On The Ocean. Highly recommended album! Be sure to get yourself a copy. ;)
post #7 of 145

While I use them as test tracks I honestly didn't like 'Explorations in Time and Space'. It was just...weird to me. A few things I liked but mainly felt like it was just gloriously recorded noise. :p

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin6264 View Post

I got the album a few days ago; the unusual advert with Dr. Chesky staring at my soul got the best of me. :P Overall, the "binaural effect" isn't as present/obvious as in Explorations in Space and Time (of which some tracks are featured in Chesky's compilation), but the sound quality is top-notch, and I discovered a few great artists through it, namely Amber Rubarth, who performs divinely in Storms Are On The Ocean. Highly recommended album! Be sure to get yourself a copy. ;)
post #8 of 145

Just finished listening to the album and...WOW!! :)
 

post #9 of 145
Quote:
Originally Posted by Llloyd View Post

Not really a fan of their pricing method.  Why not just have one flat price for all quality levels?  It's not like it takes much to change the quality level of a file.  Not only that it has all sorts of implications about the quality of a file compared to the value of the actual music.

 

25$ is too much for a digital album.  I don't care about the quality level or what tech you used to record it.  Not only that, if the master tape was already there to begin with, why are you charging extra just to let others hear it?  It's kinda silly if you ask me.  Seems like another way to take advantage of the audio enthusiast market.

 

Anyway sorry to bash without actually listening or commenting on the music.  That's just my first impression.  If they weren't trying to break my wallet just because many people who love audio are willing to pay extra for it, I'd actually be pretty into this.  Even if a vinyl ends up being 25 I get pretty sad about paying for it, but at least then I get the huge art.

 

10$ for 16/44 is average though I'll admit.  Just seems a little strange that the other stuff costs extra :)


Agree and now Chesky wants to make millions more reselling his record again.  Wow

post #10 of 145
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Llloyd View Post

Not really a fan of their pricing method.  Why not just have one flat price for all quality levels?  It's not like it takes much to change the quality level of a file.  Not only that it has all sorts of implications about the quality of a file compared to the value of the actual music.

 

25$ is too much for a digital album.  I don't care about the quality level or what tech you used to record it.  Not only that, if the master tape was already there to begin with, why are you charging extra just to let others hear it?  It's kinda silly if you ask me.  Seems like another way to take advantage of the audio enthusiast market.

 

Anyway sorry to bash without actually listening or commenting on the music.  That's just my first impression.  If they weren't trying to break my wallet just because many people who love audio are willing to pay extra for it, I'd actually be pretty into this.  Even if a vinyl ends up being 25 I get pretty sad about paying for it, but at least then I get the huge art.

 

10$ for 16/44 is average though I'll admit.  Just seems a little strange that the other stuff costs extra :)

 

This isn't going to be #1 (or even #100,000) on Billboard or iTunes, guys. Ultimately, over the life of the album, sales of this type of thing are usually very limited. Chesky hires engineers, equipment, rents musical instruments that may be needed (which they rented quite a lot of for Explorations), hires the musicians, consults with experts in 3D audio, rents out the venues (and the recording sessions typically span days), and incurs the day-to-day costs associated with being a business. And then, if all goes well, there's hopefully some profit at some point--no venture can continue without it; no more albums of this type can be made without at least some reasonable hope of it.

 

Albums like this are obviously part of a very niche, very specialty market right now, and will likely be so for a long time to come (and may remain so forever). This is high-resolution, binaurally recorded music, and most of the folks who care to buy an album like this one are people like us, and we're not exactly the broader market. And, to the best of my knowledge, nobody is putting more effort and passion into it than Chesky.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank I View Post

Agree and now Chesky wants to make millions more reselling his record again.  Wow

 

Millions? Really? Even if 100% of the $24.98 price of the 24/192 version was profit (which obviously it cannot be), Chesky would have to sell 40,000 units to make one million (and over 50,000 units at the discounted price)--again, that's with the ridiculous hypothetical of 100% of each sale being profit. So, millions? Really?

 

I hope Explorations turned a profit. I hope this album turns a profit. Passionate as he is about all of this, even David cannot continue to make binaural albums if they do not turn a profit.

post #11 of 145

i'm sure no one cares a hill of beans about my unsolicited opinion.

but, since this is head-fi, i'll gladly share it.

 

i was very jazzed about the album when i saw it featured on Inner Fidelity.

and bought it straight away in 24/96.

 

however, as was mentioned in an earlier post, the binaural effect on this recording is quite subdued.

actually, disappointingly subdued, if i'm being honest.

 

also, there are quite a number of test tracks at the end of the record which are only of passing interest, and only bear replay when a new piece of equipment needs to be put through the paces.

 

and, as far as the musical content, i have to say it feels pretty light weight. 

 

a very safe sounding reading of a classical piece here, a doe-eyed folk song there.  a stilted rock performance here, an exotic stringed instrument work-out there...  it's all very fine and pitch perfect, but i found it a bit on the boring side.

 

My biggest overarching criticism of the record, however, is one of my criticisms of quite a number of Chesky's recordings - he spends too much effort recording the space, and not enough effort on the performance.

 

The egalitarian treatment of each performance on this recording - AKA "stick 'em in a church and let's hear those darn reverb trails" - is unsuccessful more often than not here.

While the opening track, Storms are on the Ocean, benefits from the recording space, other tracks like "Binocerous" or "Pamafunk" become a bit of a mess.  Not literally, as the sound is quite pristine, but the acoustic setting is strangely antithetical to the musical content.

 

I am and will continue to be a happy supporter of interesting music.  And am a voracious consumer of music - laying my wallet gladly at the altar of HDTracks and other marketplaces. 

But, as much as i wish everyone would support Chesky and other leaders in our hobby, i can't recommend this record.

 

Instead, get "Explorations in Space and Time", and then patiently wait for Chesky's next single-artist recording... 

Let's hope it's a good one...

post #12 of 145

Seems to me that, as a budding enterprise, and the fact that there are significant costs to develop the process and acquire the machinery, the time consumption in assessing a new method, as well as the relatively small audience, it's a good and respectable way to participate in a new adventure/venture. Go Chesky and your ilk!

post #13 of 145

I thought the OP was talking about Chesky's prices, in general.  They charge a lot of money for their "HDTracks" and, sometimes, they turn out to be resampled 16/48 files cough Frampton Comes Alive cough.  The production costs of most of their catalog were recouped years ago.  Some of the HDTracks material is very good; a lot is pretty OK.  For example, the Stones Beggar's Banquet is outstanding, the aforementioned Frampton Comes Alive is no better than the CD, and not as good as my (first pressing) album.

 

The notion that they are simply charging what the enthusiast market will pay is spot-on, in my opinion.

post #14 of 145
And that's exactly what it is worth, SeeHear. Products are worth what the market will bear. And, as has been mentioned, the market for this album is niche and wealthy by world-standards, therefore the album is worth the price they are charging. If you aren't willing to pay that much, that just means the album isn't worth that much to you. I probably won't be buying it anytime soon, but I'll be bookmarking the product page for the future when I (hopefully) have more disposable income.
post #15 of 145

Complaining about the pricing scheme is kinda silly - since there is no proof of an audible difference, and the math indicates that 192/24 could potentially sound worse, everyone should be buying the $11 album anyways :D 

 

 

I just bought the album, it is downloading now.  I'll hopefully get around to posting some impressions later :D

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