Recording sound and product creation for consumers isn't a subject that you can cover in a Twitter tweet or Instagram post. The forums got too unwieldy for me to spend a lot of time on. But after the recent revelations of mastering processes brought havoc to the audiophile world, I decided to take a more active role attending forums.
The forums, the youtube videos, the emails, the questions.... We'd all like the processes of how music is made to be simpler to understand, but the reality is that audio engineering has a huge learning curve. In answering a question that came to me, I thought it could be interesting for our readers as well.
For many years I gave a presentation at audiophile conventions and professional audio engineering shows I called "The Six Stages of Degradation" or as I sometimes referred to it as "The Six Degrees of Degradation". Not everyone cares about sound quality, but audiophiles do.
With the viral spiral of the MoFi vinyl mastering situation it became clear how the misunderstandings of how DSD is recorded, mixed, mastered and delivered came to light. Not only with the audiophiles, but with professional audio engineers. We've tried talking to people directly, but unfortunately, the misinformation has spread too deep. So rather than try to talk to each person who spread misinformation, we thought we'd set the record str
Today we're trying something out a little differently... I'm writing this after I've written my Cookie's Corner email. If you'd like to get your coupon code, you'll need to read the email and follow the instructions to get the code. But more than the discount, you'll probably enjoy playing music producer in one of the challenges we face on every album....
The term "Audio" is used a lot today in the press. But if you research, you'll find "spoken word" or podcasts is what all the fuss is about.... it's not about music. So what's happened to music in a world where streaming dominates?
Some people might say the microphone... or the room... or the format... but really... what matters the most are the musicians themselves. Can the musician hear themselves or the people they're playing with? If not, then you might have a problem with your recording. So what do you do?
Make sure to check the newsletter for a special treat.....
Most of you know I'm a woman. I say that because a few of you don't know. Sure I talk about audio, built a recording studio 40 years ago and talk about sports all the time. But, at the end of the day, I'm the daughter to my father who inspired and taught me early on to have an appreciation for audio and sports.
Hidden behind the fabric of the music industry, are the little known legends... Dave Smith (founder of Sequential Circuits, early developer of MIDI and inventor of the Prophet 5) passed away just before NAMM at the young age of 72. He had just revitalized Sequential and recently brought back an incredible updated version of the Prophet 5. He seemed rejuvenated in his youtube videos and I was looking forward to chatting with him.
This is a very thorough interview by Greg Simmons of Audio Technology about how we recorded Fiona Joy Hawkins (piano and voice) and Rebecca Daniel (violin and voice) for the album Heavenly Voices. Thank you to everyone involved!
Those of us who have played in bands or orchestras, in duos or quartets always knew that there becomes a 'hive mind' and unspoken bonding whether you're performing a concert or even a rehearsal. Now, at the University of the Pacific, they have research available the helps prove the point.
When we recorded Meghan Andrews' version of Bruce Springsteen's classic song I'm On Fire, Meghan was 9 months pregnant. It was one take... recorded live with no headphones, no overdubs direct to E.S.E. This is why we created Extended Sound Environment... so that artists like Meghan can truly be appreciated for their extraordinary talent. Now, we have the youtube video of that very performance.
Some of our audiophile friends have been creating tutorial videos, equipment review videos, videos of measurement test... videos of videos. One interesting video comes from our friends at PS Audio who are champions of DSD audio. The video tries to answer the question "Is DSD hard to record?"
You've asked and we've been able to answer.... Many of you had issues using PayPal's Guest system for bypassing PayPal to purchase using a credit card. Finally, we were able to bring in a new payment processor that allows you to bypass PayPal altogether! Woo Hoo! We're as excited as you are ... but it didn't come without a lot of pain points. Read on if you'd like to know what owning a website store means......
I'd like to celebrate Women's History Month by giving a shout out to all the women I have met or will meet that challenge society's norms every day. In case some of your aren't aware, I am a woman. I realize with a name like "Cookie" it could go either way and I've caught a few people off guard. :)
As Bob Dylan said it so well, "The Times They Are a Changin' '" ... War, pandemics, social media, the news... sometimes you just want to get a good night's sleep or even a 20 minute nap. We may have some music and video to help.
We get a lot of email from fans and this one was particularly heart warming. Paul McCandless is one of my oldest friends in the world. Thirty-five years ago he took a chance to have me produce (and record) his first album on Windham Hill called "Heresay". The album has so many wonderful stories around it, I won't try to tell all the tales today, but know that they'll be coming.
Today post from Paul McGowan had interesting observations about opinions and experts. Below is the link to the responses. It's an audiophile forum that can get a little snarky at times even though Paul is as kind and gentle as can be. Paul owns PSAudio, a well known high end device manufacturer. Today he tips his hat to Jim Austin of Stereophile for saying...
It's great to be back in the studio working with some of my favorite people who happen to also be amazing musicians. Last week we had Dayan Kai recording for two days... one of the original Blue Coast Artists who performed on the first Blue Coast Collection.
If you're a football fan, then you might have watched the NFL Conference Championship games. The 49ner's lost to the Rams and many of us were sad about that. You might have also heard the debate whether CDs will make a comeback. What do these unlikely conversations have in common?
I wasn't sure I would write this year's list of predictions... they have a funny way of coming true. But this year I'm feeling hopeful, determined and more confident about the possibilities. Here are a few predictions I think may be coming for next year.
It was August 2010 when we first met Motoyuki Sugiura - we called him Yuki. Sony had called a meeting in Denver that included Gus Skinas, Ray Kimber, Chad Kassem and myself to discuss the future of Sony's hifi involvement with the executive AV team from Sony Japan. We were introduced to the speaker that would become the AR-1 - Sony's amazing top of the line speaker.
When we started delivering HD downloads back in 2008, we thought it was a good idea to have a different name for our downloads store. Mainly, because other labels wanted to sell their music in high resolution audio that we didn't record to DSD. We called the store Downloads NOW! and we sold singles and albums. As a reminder, we were the first people to sell 9624 WAV files and later the first to offer DSD downloads in this fashion - direct to you by download.
So happy to announce this... "Dream" - a track from Jenna Mammina/Matt Rollings album Mutineer - has been chosen by the Amazon crew as one of the Best of 2021:Jazz. The song is in good company with John Coltrane, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.
Thanksgiving is always a time that is special for us. The beginning of a long holiday season that finds many of us listening to our music and appreciating everyone involved. From our music lovers to the artists and our crew, I offer the deepest gratitude for taking us around the sun for one more revolution! Thank you for staying in touch and appreciating our music.
NFT - Non Fungible Tokens. Have you heard of them? Think of them as collectable with digital provenance and the ability to pay the creators and owners of the NFT. Here's a good article on the ABC's of NFTs and why these could be a game changer for musicians and creators to earn a living on what they create.
Yes, it's just that simple. If you already own the music, you can still help support our music by viewing our videos at the new YouTube channel - Blue Coast Music. We're going to be releasing videos in the next year that tell our stories. From the artists to the fans, from the engineers to the dealers, from industry pros to innovators - we want to immerse ourselves in videos about the people who love music and sound. Here's the channel for
When we're in the studio making records, we hear fascinating stories about how artist, engineers and other creators got their start. We hear about their influences and what motivated them to be a creator. Behind every new song is a story of how it was sparked to exist. We enjoy those stories and thought you might be too.
It's Grammy voting time! For the next two weeks, those of us with the power to vote on our favorite new music choose a few categories of dozens and pick 5 of our favorite albums fo the hundreds that are submitted in our selected categories. In two weeks, those choices are added up and the top 5 entries become the nominations for The Grammys. We voting members then go back and vote again. In January, the winners are announced on the day of the show.
You might be an audiophile or a musician or have aspirations to record your own music one day and have aspirations to mix or record your own music one day. Great! So the questions that come up are often about how you're listening to music in order to make decisions about how the final stereo track will sound. Do you want to buy the most expensive headphones? Have the biggest speakers? Listen off your laptop computer?
Sometimes you have to put pressure on yourself to get something done. Well, here it is.. The beginning of our new youtube channel "Sleep Relax Dream".... for (you guessed it) Sleeping, relaxing and dreaming.
We haven't posted the music videos yet, but they are in the works. If you want to be the first to be alerted to the ambient music and nature videos we plan to help guide you to a blissful time of relaxation, sign up here!
Before I was an audio engineer I was a full time musician and music teacher. I had aspirations for a career composing soundtracks, playing jazz and performing in orchestral situations. When I started the studio, it was really to have a place to make recordings for 'the band' -- isn't that why everyone builds a studio?
Two days ago we received the same letter many others received. It was the news none of us wanted to hear, that Rocky Mountain Audiofest had been canceled. And even worse that Marjorie and Marcie were not going to pursue ever putting it on again.
"I want an instrument that Arthur Rubinstein and Art Lande would be happy playing." It took Sheldon a year to find a worthy piano and then another year to rebuild the instrument that would eventually land at my home. Read the rest of my Steinway piano tale by clicking here.
We were anxious to get back into the studio and do what we do best: record musicians playing live. Little did we know what would happen when we took on the project with the International Space Orchestra.
There are two illusions that many music lovers think happen when you're in the studio. One is that all the musicians are set up. We put up a couple of mics and the musicians just play to perfection as you hear it on the recording.
Recently we've had a lot of requests from labels wanting to be part of our Blue Coast Music store. Unfortunately, most of the other labels don’t record the music in DSD. While we at Blue Coast Records and our associated studios feel DSD is the best format for recording, it's not always the easiest format for most engineers to access or record to. For that reason we offer mixing and mastering to DSD through our studio.
Last year Apple announced it was going into the HD music area. At the time, we didn't know what that meant. Yesterday they announced that in June 2021, they will release products in lossless audio and Atmos immersive sound at no extra charge. So while this seems interesting to the consumer who's never listened to HD before, is it really going to crush the artists and labels?
If you're a recording engineer, you are probably no stranger to Al Schmitt and his contributions as one of the finest engineers that ever lived. Last month he left us at the age of 91, always working to nearly the day he died.
Sparked by a post by George Peterson about his Tascam tape recorder, I was thinking about my 1885 Steinway B that gets daily use. Then I looked around at the cast iron pans I use daily that belonged to my grandmother (making them probably 100 years old). The Wusthof knives I bought when I was a teenager were the first purchase I made when I moved out of my parents house for college.
Anyone that met or heard Sonny Simmons has a story to tell. Some stories seem not believable, but with Sonny anything could happen and often did. I was lucky enough to have a few stories to tell and experience life with a jazz musician who stood beside John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy and many other greats.
Every now and then we stop in our tracks and say, "How long has this been going on?" Well, it happens that 2022 is going to be a big year for anniversaries and celebrations so we thought we'd start now.
A few weeks ago, Jason Weissman told me about his adventures in podcasting and being an audiophile. He asked about an interview with me, but it's really a conversation between two people who love music, live performance, and a tribute to how many terrific musicians are making music.
No, not the pandemic, a siege on the Capitol Building incited by the sitting President of the United States. Wow. If in any way you agreed with what happened at the Capitol Building this week, please stop reading now and go to another website. But, if you're like most people in the USA and the world who were horrified at what was going on, you might need healing and unity as so many of us do.
If 2020 was a fiction novel, no one would have believed it possible to have this kind of year. Pandemic aside, we had the worst fire year ever, economic depression, riots, and challenges to our democratic elections. Good-bye 2020! And good riddance!
The holidays seem to bring on the desire to catch up with old friends. This year, more than most. Maybe because we've all been asked to stay home with COVID on our heels. So, this weekend I decided to call my oldest friends in the world, those that knew me before I was a music producer or recording engineer. Those friends who knew me as a musician.
Blue Coast Records is a label. What does that mean? It means Blue Coast Records owns the masters and creates a brand around the kind of music we choose to record. That music has been guided by my personal taste in what I enjoy hearing. Sometimes the artists overlook their own best feature: the ability to perform fantastically live whether in concert or in the studio. Blue Coast Records chooses to capture those intimate moments.
2020 has been a monumentally strange year for almost everyone. Redefining who we are and what we do, locked in with ourselves and our creativity, and finding great pleasure in small steps with people who appreciate what one does hasn't always been easy. But somehow, as much dread as there is in having the “perfect” Thanksgiving holiday, the days have been a welcome relief.
Introductions on email are always interesting, you never know where they're going to go. I'll do a little research and more often than not, after 40 years in the music business, you find a common thread. After that, I'll write a brief history of “then to now” with that thread of commonality. Today's introduction reminded me of my days of bluegrass, Americana, roots and jam-band music.
Tony Furtado and I have been working together since the early 90's when he asked me to produce an album for Rounder Records. It was the beginning of a long and fruitful musical relationship. Today Tony posted in Facebook about a particular memory of recording a song that I had forgotten about.... Boat's Up The River. Hearing the story and song again brought me right back to the day and experience as Tony told it....
Many of you aren't aware that before I started Blue Coast Records, I had a thriving commercial recording studio business. We opened the doors to OTR Studio back in 1982 and for 20 years had the opportunity to record then-emerging artists who would later become key figures in today's music. Yes, I used to record large ensembles with the musicians isolated in their rooms. Yes, I recorded to tape. Yes, some of the music I forgot and some of it is fantastic.
David Solomon made us all feel very comfortable talking about how and why we record music for Blue Coast Records. We took a look back at my recording career and recording techniques for high resolution audio, but then brought in Blue Coast Artists to liven up the conversation. Eamonn Flynn came in first, followed by Fiona Joy Hawkins and Jenna Mammina.
Hi all, David Solomon has been a very good friend and supporter through our many years of HD audio. Now, he's a high end audio champion working for Qobuz, the favorite HD streaming company of many audiophiles.
The interview should be a fun romp through my career in the studio. Fiona Joy Hawkins, Jenna Mammina, and Eamonn Flynn will be the Blue Coast artists joining us for brief cameos.
I'm excited to announce two livestream interviews I'll be doing this week. The focus of discussion will be on recording, mixing and mastering. It should be fun to interact with the hosts and take questions.
My last few "Corners" have gotten much response so I thought I'd fill in the blanks for everyone. First, I wanted to remind you that DSD-Guide is our information website. If you've signed up at bluecoastmusic.com recently, you may not be receiving DSD-Guide. We send out about 2x a month with information on sound, tips on recording, DSD, comparative listening tests, etc. You can sign up here, if you're not already receiving it:
With all the fires happening on the west coast, it sometimes feels like a matter of time before you get the "Evacuation Red" message on your phone. And it happened yesterday.
The crew had left for the day, the air was pretty clear from the fires hundreds of miles away and I was watering a few plants. I start to notice there are dozens of helicopters relentlessly flying by. Sirens were everywhere but sounded a bit distant.
One of the reasons I started Blue Coast Records was to capture the sound of the musicians as they played together learning new songs in the studio. There was a freshness and lightness that was often lost when the 'record' button went on. It was a luxury I got to experience as a recording engineer and producer that I felt was worthy of sharing with the world.
It's sad when you hear of someone's passing and especially touching when you are notified by a newsletter that features a photo of that person -- while you were with them 40 years ago. It stuns you on the passing of time. Wasn't that just yesterday?
Remember when you'd buy a CD or vinyl? You'd pour over the information and read all the panels or look at the booklet inside and out. Now, you buy a download or stream a song and where do you get that same information? Do you have to research at the artist website? Find it on the streaming service? Is the information you music manager giving you correct? Where does that information come from?
As we're nearly at the 6 month point of living in the midst of a pandemic, I thought I'd check in with everyone and see how you're doing. Truthfully, the smoke surrounding the San Francisco area is harder to deal with than COVID. That was true lockdown.
There's no way around the fact that how we listen to live concerts has changed forever. The largest concert promoters are turning to live-streaming and rumor has it that Spotify may also be headed that way.
Sometimes I forget to explain what the difference is between a STORE and a RECORD LABEL. Even my crew can be confused so we have this daily mantra: "Blue Coast Music is a STORE. Blue Coast Records is a LABEL." So, what's the difference?
Earlier this year, we made DSD-Guide.com it's own destination for information. There you can find interesting, informative or amusing article about DSD and other HD audio. If the article is interesting we'll post a link or publish an article.
We first met Garett by chance singing at a friend's birthday party in Portland. At the time, Jean Claude Reynaud and myself were working on a new recording technique which later became Extended Sound Environment or E.S.E.
When the pandemic lockdown was announced, John R Burr and Mads Tolling were recording with us at OTR Studios. It was March 16, 2020 and we were told that the next day, we would all be confined to our homes. No one knew what that meant on that day. It was an eerie feeling that the possibility existed we may never finish this recording.
Those of us who have wandered around the audiophile forums know the battles between formats (can anyone hear the difference?) and expensive cables (can anyone hear the difference?). Yes, we can hear the difference and we do blindfold tests often.
Change is never easy. The last few years, music and entertainment had gone through enormous change. People binge watching on subscription based internet websites, streaming music services demolishing the income of those in the music industry, the rise of podcasts personalities and now, living in a time when the world is locked down in a pandemic what comes next?
Rick Clark is a phenomenal writer and journalist which are only a part of what he does in life. I had the good fortune to be interviewed by Rick many times for Mix Magazine. When it came time to introduce the world to our new adventure in sound, we invited Rick with several others to attend our sessions which became the discover of Extended Sound Environment and later Blue Coast Records.
Thank you, Steven Rochlin, for pushing me to do this interview. It was fun to recall the reasons why we started a commercial recording studio in the first place. Here's a link to pictures and the article.
Tuesday... our first session. Solo guitar with with an old friend. Musicians want to get back to recording. More to the point, musicians want interaction, ideas and sparks of inspiration they get from producers and engineers. Being in the studio is more than just capturing a sound. It's about creating an experience.
We've got a plan to handle it. We'll see how it works out.
Off to weekend hang with my father, William A Marenco and my brother, Bill Marenco to celebrate dad's 91st birthday. He insisted on no fanfare, no special dinner, no gifts, no parties. Still, I'm bringing him a few tomato plants and tomatoes, like it or not.
Jenna Mammina is an amazing singer, performer, improviser and now podcast personality. Since the lockdown, she's logged more than 250 livestreaming podcasts on FB. To know Jenna is to marvel that she's figured out how to do an incredibly low-fi show that makes a very fun podcast. She is as clever in her repartee as she is in her ability to wow a live audience.
Most long time fans of Blue Coast Records are aware of the painstaking efforts we take to record to DSD to achieve the quality of sound we want to reach. What you may not know is how we setup to get the passionate performances we bring to your home. It can only be achieved with the artists playing live in the same room.
I had a music lover ask about us rolling him a copy of a 1/2" master tape. Seems simple yes? But really.... No, it's not that simple. I'll explain more in an upcoming issue at DSD-Guide but for now, here's a simple story of mastering.
I love baseball. I love listening to baseball on the radio when I'm gardening. I love watching baseball at night as I'm headed off to sleep. I heard a saying the other day, "Sports is the reward of a functioning society" which has haunted me ever since. How is any sports team going to play during the pandemic?
Having a commercial recording studio puts me in a unique position to get to know musicians I wouldn't normally meet. Over the 30 plus years of having a studio I've worked with thousands of musicians and on more than 500 albums. Every now and then, I get the idea that putting a few together who have never met is a good idea.
Let's start with the last question... What is the relationship of MQD to MQA? Nothing.. no relationship. We came up with Master Quality Disc (MQD) at Blue Coast many years before MQA debuted. You can google MQA for details. I'll explain MQD discs here and now...