Vinyl Follow Up: In Mourning – Afterglow

  In Mourning’s superb 2008 debut album Shrouded Divine instantly made me a fan, and was a nice kick in the ass for a Swedish metal scene that had gotten rather stale by that point. The album weaved together progressive and melodeath cues quite well, with standout tracks like “Amnesia,” and “Past October Skies (The Black Lodge Revisited)” demanding repeated listens. The band returned two years later with Monolith, which while perhaps a bit more simplistic and straightforward than its predecessor, was still a very enjoyable melodic death romp nevertheless. I eagerly awaited In Mourning’s third release, The Weight Of Oceans, and then,...

Them Schiit Boys Did It Again Jul29

Them Schiit Boys Did It Again

When I talked about the Schiit Bifrost Multibit DAC late last year, I figured that was about as low as they could get on the price scale with a modern R-2R DAC – not something based on a chip that Philips made a million years ago. Modern resistor ladder DACs are considerably more difficult to design and engineer than the usual cookie cutter Delta-Sigma DACs, particularly at the entry-level where most of them are a very similar collection of off the shelf op-amps and chips. This is primarily because R-2R DAC chips intended for audio are no longer made on a large scale, and so companies are either left with adapting chips intended for...

What About The Wax? Jul22

What About The Wax?

Since Alex thoroughly broke down the excellent new versions of Agalloch’s Pale Folklore, The Mantle, and Ashes Against The Grain remastered by Colin Marston, I thought I should cover the analog versions for those that may be curious. Starting with Pale, the album was first released on vinyl in the North American region in 2005 by Profound Lore (PFL 012). There were 400 copies of the double LP pressed on blue, an ultra limited, 40 copy white version, and an unobtanium, 60 copy limited wooden box set hand numbered by John Haughm himself, with the vinyl on white/blue splatter. Since all of these are impossible or near impossible to buy today,...

The Myth And Reality Of Mastering Jul15

The Myth And Reality Of Mastering

A little while back, Pitchfork posted an article written by Jordan Kisner about the “dark art” of mastering music. Unusually, the article lead with a brief overview of what went wrong with the production of Death Magnetic, or rather, what fans perceived had gone wrong. This is unusual because when most conventional outlets talk about mastering, the first rule of the Loudness War is you don’t talk about the Loudness War. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives generally end. After a cursory explanation of what mastering is, the article gets to this gem: The mastering engineers I spoke to for this story kept using the same phrase when...

Review: Henry Audio USB DAC 128 MKII Jul08

Review: Henry Audio USB DAC 128 MKII

Introduction Truth be told, the entry level, sub $300 desktop DAC market is not something I normally pay a lot of attention to. At this price level, engineers are usually so constrained by cost controls that there just isn’t a lot of room left to differentiate one product from another, especially when dealer margins and overhead have to be factored in. Most of these DACs just don’t offer enough of a sound quality benefit over products like the LH Geek Out or AudioQuest Dragonfly series to really be worth the sacrifice in portability. However, at Metal-Fi, we definitely have a soft spot in our otherwise black metal hearts for rule breakers...

Unified Theory Jun29

Unified Theory

Loudspeaker designer Andrew Jones became something of a household name (at least in the electronics world) when he created the baby BS21 bookshelf speakers for Pioneer, but Jones had been working at Pioneer and their uber high-end subsidiary, TAD, for some time before he re-wrote the rules on what you could expect from a hundred bucks worth of speakers. Probably his biggest contributions at TAD, (and also at KEF in prior years) where his concentric driver designs. Concentric drivers, also known as coaxial drivers, differ from the full-range/whizzer cone drivers which have been around pretty much since the dawn of Hi-Fi in that they use a...

A Breath Of Fresh Air Jun22

A Breath Of Fresh Air

I was certainly happy to see Be’lakor’s sophmore album get a proper vinyl release with a dedicated dynamic master in late 2014, but what really made that release in particular such a big deal wasn’t the vinyl itself, but the fact that anyone could access that master as a stream or digital download from Bandcamp. It’s not as if special vinyl reissues are anything out of the ordinary. Typically five hundred or a thousand lucky souls get to hear a great sounding version of a particular release, and everyone else is left out in the cold (“A very loud cold.” -Alex). Thanks to Bandcamp though, everyone who appreciates great sound can...

Angry Metal-Fi: Finding Provenance

Angry Metal-Fi is a series of articles that are cross posted on Angry Metal Guy and Metal-Fi as a collaborative effort to evangelize dynamics in metal. A little over two years ago, I attempted to separate fact from fiction, and explain the reality of music on vinyl as opposed to the most common misconceptions. This is still an area where I see a lot of confusion though, so I believe the time has come to finally set the record, as it were, straight. First, let’s talk about how your favorite metal album makes its way onto that 12” piece of wax. Once the final digital master has been locked down by the mastering engineer, it’s sent to the...

Know Your Phono Jun02

Know Your Phono

iFi Audio has really been on a tear lately with new product introductions, and with updated variants of the company’s DACs, headphone amplifiers, and USB power source now available, it was time for their popular iPhono phono preamp to go under the knife. Low cost phono preamps are typically either MM only with fixed 47K Ohm impedance and ~40dB of gain, or selectable between MM and MC with a ~100 Ohm impedance option for moving coils, and 60dB of gain intended to provide a compromise between low and high output MC carts. Spend a few hundred more, and you’ll likely get a few gain options between 40-60dB, and a couple of choices for MC...