Nice to see you
It's been a long time
You're just as lovely
As you used to be.
— Conway Twitty Hello Darling (1971)
aka Harold Lloyd Jenkins (September 1, 1933 – June 5, 1993)
Volume 7b because I'm not going to give myself credit for writing two newsletters in the same week. As I wrote in Volume 6, depression has a big determination on my extracurriculars. Unlike in the past, I am writing these as I love talking about music. And when it isn't fun, I just won't write. Ain't no one needs a repeat of angry bitter Clif, although my wit is a little sharper when I am 'in a mood'. And occasionally, I can be more critical of technologies that promise more than they bite off. Technology is only as good as it is useful, stable, and people use it. Every article I read about new technologies seems to embrace the pie in the sky aspect, and I hope that I never get there. It is all ripe for abuse, and when half-baked, often means a great idea will lie on the cutting room floor for eternity because the promise didn't live up to the hype.
As you recall from (editors note: when did we send out the last link), Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) is currently streaming. Of note, the greatest upgrade for musicians seems to be both lossless audio, as well as spatial audio introduced into the public sphere. I am not convinced about lossless audio -- having spent a lot of time in studios, having sat on stage -- or just off stage as friends performed -- I have NEVER heard audio that sounded anywhere close to what enveloped me while sitting in creation. I have friends that have upgraded their studios over and over and over and over. I have others that look at numerical specs and tell me that it is obvious that the higher numbers are better not realizing numbers are often a lie: if an audio interface has a dual clocked AD/DA chip, as most do, the brick wall will still be within the human range of hearing, even if it is superimposing another range above it that supposedly brings frequencies that one can 'feel'. Even though no third-party double-blind study can find even those that claim to have the most sensitive ears can discern beyond random chance.
Having worked with audio instrument and interface manufactures and somehow being allowed to be placed on internal mailing lists of said manufacturers has only increased this belief. Regardless, if you believe that you are right, nothing I say will dissuade you from your faulty and just plain morally wrong beliefs.
I just want a return to 12-bit audio re-recordings of overplayed wax cylinders.
If you want better audio, ask for better components within your audio. Conversely, learn to shave the resistors within the equipment you own or find a company that does it for you to have matched resistance throughout and find the sweet spot for your preferences.
Additionally, if you want to get an even deeper dive into bettering your audio equipment or building custom circuitry, friend of Sonik (and former administrator of Sonik 1.0) C.K. Haun has praised this DIY Oscilloscope. It only $26 and while you need to put it together, solder the pieces, and find a case for it, folks have raved about this same technology in that it is on par with equipment far more expensive.
https://amzn.to/2RCGvlV (note: affiliate link where Sonikmatter may earn between fifteen cents and fifty-seven cents if you buy this…i.e., it won’t even buy my fruckochinni from Farsucks).
In a recent posting on Billboard, Eddie Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, spoke to the venerable magazine about the two technologies.
"I've been waiting for something in music that was a real game-changer. The quality of audio has not been able to really rise because there hasn't been anything out there that when you listen to it, it truly is differentiated to everybody. It doesn't matter whether you're eight years old or 80 years old, everyone can tell the difference and everyone knows this one sounds better than the other one.
And the analogy to that is obviously the first time you ever saw HD on television: you knew which one was better because it was obvious. And we've been missing that in audio for a long time. There really hasn’t been anything that's been substantial. We'll talk about lossless and other things, but ultimately, there's not enough difference.
When asked if the new killer technology will be lossless:
"There's no question it's not going to be lossless. Because the reality of lossless is: if you take a 100 people and you take a stereo song in lossless and you take a song that's been in Apple Music that's compressed, I don't know if it’s 99 or 98 can't tell the difference."
"But when you listen for the first time and you see what's possible with Dolby Atmos with music, it's a true game-changer. And so, when we listened to it for the first time, we realized this is a big, big deal. It makes you feel like you're onstage, standing right next to the singer, it makes you feel like you might be to the left of the drummer, to the right of the guitarist. It creates this experience that, almost in some ways, you've never really had, unless you're lucky enough to be really close to somebody playing music."
And with this, you'll need to read the rest on Billboard's site. If you don't have a subscription I apologize -- look for your local library to see if they have an institutional subscription that allows for access beyond the paywall.
Given that quite a few of the former Sonik readership were Logic Pro X users, it is only fair to note that Dolby Atmos is making the leap to the app natively later this fall. For folks on other platforms, third-party plug-ins currently allow for the mixdown into stereo with the expansion into 3D audio with the right playback system.
Of all the information shared this week, spatial audio is the one I am most interested in as a musician.
If you are interested in seeing the entire WWDC conference but want to skip everything that isn't interesting (editor note: is this really 'entire') a 15-minute cut of the conference is available here:
Are You Ready to Get Back to the Festivals?
In a couple of days, the Kronos Quartet's annual festival will be streaming online for free. June 11 through the 18th, and remaining online until mid-August, the Kronos Quartet will feature 20-performers and collaborators.
"Art, activism, and the fight for civil rights are key themes in Kronos’ works, represented at the festival in pieces by Sahba Aminikia, Nicole Lizée, Bill Morrison, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Eiko Otake, Pete Seeger, Valerie Soe, Vân-Ánh Võ, and Zachary James Watkins. Many of Kronos’ signature works are featured, including Clint Mansell’s ‘Lux Aeterna’ from Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, ‘God-music’ from George Crumb’s Black Angels, Frank Zappa’s None of the Above, Terry Riley’s ‘One Earth, One People, One Love’ and Vladimir Martynov’s The Beatitudes. Also featured are eight pieces that were commissioned as part of Kronos’ groundbreaking Fifty for the Future project."
I have a feeling that I will be streaming this while attempting to focus on my jobbie-job. Stream while 'working' your own jobbie-job here:
What am I watching?
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights.
Ok, this may be the "what do I want to watch" section of the newsletter as I haven't had a chance to check this out other than listening to bootleg audio of the musical. It may not be as iconic as Hamilton, but it is a reason to go back to the theatres and listen to one of America's greatest artists do what he does best.
“In the Heights” stars Anthony Ramos (“A Star is Born,” Broadway’s “Hamilton”), Corey Hawkins (“Straight Outta Compton,” “BlacKkKlansman”), singer/songwriter Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera (TV’s “Vida”), Olga Merediz (Broadway’s “In the Heights”), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway’s “Rent”), Gregory Diaz IV (Broadway’s “Matilda the Musical”), Stephanie Beatriz (TV’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Dascha Polanco (TV’s “Orange is the New Black”) and Jimmy Smits (the “Star Wars” films).
Instagram of the Week
Dedicated to retro and vintage synths and the musicians that use them. Featuring interviews, playlists, and a podcast that as of today only has one episode with a feature on Wendy Carlos.
Speaking of Wendy Carlos, take a gander at her 'vintage' website. It looks as though it were designed in HoTMetaL in the early '90s! don't let that scare you away, I've always loved the MySpace vibe when we all had in the beginning of the internet, and this makes me think Tom was always my first friend!
It is Pride Month in the USA and through much of the rest of the world. I try to keep our community as politically free as possible, but as a musician, I celebrate anyone and everyone that wants to live their most authentic life and so I celebrate Ms. Carlos even if this is the least interesting thing about her. I hope to one day live in a world that we don't have to celebrate this aspect of her life because we accept people for who they are and not what they do behind closed doors.
The first video of her is in her "70's hair" wig and parody costume, though the second video is in her more natural form and features one of the first videos of Keyboard Cats.
Sonikmatter: Mind + Music + Technology
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Thank you for reading, please share this newsletter if you find it mildly interesting, and with any hope, we will get back to our publication schedule of one issue every eleventy months.