This was a pretty fun year in music for me. (For last year’s fun, go and read my 2013 post!)
I upgraded the ole stereo with a pair of new Omen Def Mk.I.B. speakers from Zu. Like the Omen Dirty Weekends that I had last year, these speakers combine with my Audio Research VSi60 to create a genuinely remarkable sense of immediacy and enough detail to satisfy my vague hi-fi tendencies. The most fun has been listening to some mono recordings from Miles Davis and The Who. Since I’m not a turntable guy, I haven’t quite managed to get myself fully aboard the mono band wagon (and obscurely, but seemingly wonderful mono cartridges) much less the 78 rpm revival movement, but I can understand the excitement.
Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald
I also updated my source after my long-serving Mac Mini died. It had be running continuously for almost 5 years and had barely complained, but it finally gave up the ghost. So after a brief period of mourning, I decided to go with a dedicated, audiophile-grade, digital source for my music and got a Sony HAP-Z1ES and finally retired my old Cambridge Audio DacMagic. Needless to say, the Sony sounds much better than the Cambridge, and has brought me into the 21st century with the ability to play DSD files as well as absurdly high resolution files in other formats. As much as I’ve loved hearing great high-res versions of my favorite music (the high-resolution version of the Bill Evan Trio’s “Waltz for Debby” is breathtaking), I can’t help but still love my old Nakamichi CD4 spinning shinny, plastic disks and decoding through its almost-ancient Analogue Devices 1864N chip.
I also have this idea that I might write a monthly column here on the blog about audiophile things. I know it strays a bit from the “archaeology of the Mediterranean world” theme, but I also figure that, you know, it’s my blog and I can do what I want (or, that some diversity might build a bit of a different audience, or maybe I’ll try to look at audiophile trends and media with a historians’ eye or something). In other words, I have a few more ideas that I hope to develop over the next few weeks.
Finally, for the folks who miss my “What I’m listening to” feature in my Quick Hits and Varia, here’s my complete list of albums that I enjoyed over the past year:
Duke Ellington, (with Charles Mingus and Max Roach), Money Jungle.
Bob Marley, Kaya.
Wooden Shjips, Back to Land.
Frank Sinatra, A Swingin’ Affair.
Laura Marling, Once I was an Eagle.
Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat.
Frank Sinatra, Songs for Swinging Lovers.
Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours.
Miles Davis, My Funny Valentine (Recorded 50 years ago this year).
Bob Dylan, Times They Are A-Changin’ (Released 50 years).
Angel Olson, Burn Your Fire For No Witness.
Nina Simone, Sings the Blues.
Nina Simone, High Priestess of Soul.
Beck, Morning Phase.
St. Vincent, St. Vincent.
The New Puritans, Fields of Reeds.
Beck, Sea Change.
The Twilight Sad, No One Can Ever Know.
New Order, Low Life.
War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream.
Unwound, Rat Conspiracy.
Lanterns on the Lake, Until the Colors Run.
Lightnin’ Hopkins, The Herald Recordings.
The War on Drugs, Slave Ambient.
Mac DeMarco, Salad Days
The Budos Band, III.
EMA, The Future’s Void.
The Moles, Flashbacks and Dream Sequences: The Story of the Moles.
Amen Dunes, Love.
Black Keys, Turn Blue.
A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Sea When Absent.
Owl John, Owl John.
Phosphorescent, Here’s to Taking It Aasy.
Half Japanese, Overjoyed
Ty Segall, Manipulator.
Portugal. The Man, Evil Friends.
Duke Ellington, Ellington at Newport 1956.
Aphex Twin, Syro.
The Velvet Underground and Nico.
Nick Drake, Pink Moon.
Willie Nelson, Stardust.
The Vaselines, V for Vaselines.
Ex Hex, Rips.
Jawbreaker, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy.
Melody Gardot, The Absence.
Thurston Moore, The Best Day.
The Twilight Sad, Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave.
Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins, Duke Ellington Meets Coleman Hawkins.
Mekons, Curse of the Mekons.
The Who, The Who Sells Out.
Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street.
Velvet Underground, Velvet Underground 45th Anniversary Edition.
Anthology of American Folk Music
Steven Gunn, Way Out Weather.
Matthew Ryan, Boxers.
Maybe you can find something that you like!