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View Full Version : Fiona Apple ... Noisy?



jonheal
2006-03-04, 18:03
I took a chance and bought Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine. I was nervous about it because it's a "DualDisc" and the audio side does not conform to CD specifications. I was also nervous about accidentally writing any copy protection software onto my hard drive.

Anyway, I held the SHIFT key down when inserting the CD to prevent autoplay, copied using EAC/AccurateRip/FLAC. Everything seemed to work okay -- AccurateRip reported a highly confident rip.

When I listen to the CD, however, I hear lots of instances of low-level, for lack of a better word, noise. A good example is track 12, which opens with a piano. Preceeded strikes of the keys is a sort of pumping/wheezing noise. It's at a very low level and hard to hear without headphones.

Another example is the first track which begins with some plucking of stringed instruments. some noise accompanies the plucking. It might be the sound of fingers on the necks of the stringed instruments, but it sounds strange.

Has anyone else noticed this noise?

Skunk
2006-03-06, 10:53
-- AccurateRip reported a highly confident rip.

Has anyone else noticed this noise?

My roommate had been saying I should put this album in slimserver because it sounds so good, and I even saw it mentioned in the piano solo thread a couple times. Your post finally convinced me to do it, and I can second your opinion.

Sometimes in sibilant phrases I hear distortion that sounds like very low level static (my tracks were accurate w/ 40 confidence).
I heard both the noises you mentioned, but they don't bother me as much as the distortion.

A few songs sound really hollow in the mids, and give a nasal quality to the upper midrange.. especially when the piano and voice are heard together, is it possible there are phase problems?. A few tracks emphasize the bass, too bad it's severe 'one note' bass. I'm not sure I heard a bass note in the whole album- other than automobile type bass.

The piano has no 'staging', and either comes out of both speakers at the same level, or seperate pianos in each speaker. It usually seems to be behind her. It's hard to say how real it sounds, because it never stays still.

Also contradictory to physics, the drummer's kick is sometimes on the opposite side of the stage as the rest of his kit. Or on please please please, the kit stays put, except hi hat hits, which are equal on L/R channels. I delete albums for that alone..

Without getting into the quality of the music itself, I'd have to recommend people stay clear of this one, as it's a canned mix.

Do you have any Patricia Barber? It's like the difference between a girl and a woman.

jonheal
2006-03-06, 11:56
My roommate had been saying I should put this album in slimserver because it sounds so good, and I even saw it mentioned in the piano solo thread a couple times. Your post finally convinced me to do it, and I can second your opinion.

Sometimes in sibilant phrases I hear distortion that sounds like very low level static (my tracks were accurate w/ 40 confidence).
I heard both the noises you mentioned, but they don't bother me as much as the distortion.

A few songs sound really hollow in the mids, and give a nasal quality to the upper midrange.. especially when the piano and voice are heard together, is it possible there are phase problems?. A few tracks emphasize the bass, too bad it's severe 'one note' bass. I'm not sure I heard a bass note in the whole album- other than automobile type bass.

The piano has no 'staging', and either comes out of both speakers at the same level, or seperate pianos in each speaker. It usually seems to be behind her. It's hard to say how real it sounds, because it never stays still.

Also contradictory to physics, the drummer's kick is sometimes on the opposite side of the stage as the rest of his kit. Or on please please please, the kit stays put, except hi hat hits, which are equal on L/R channels. I delete albums for that alone..

Without getting into the quality of the music itself, I'd have to recommend people stay clear of this one, as it's a canned mix.

Do you have any Patricia Barber? It's like the difference between a girl and a woman.
Unless EAC was incapable of truly extracting the data from the CD as it was intended to sound, I guess I have to chalk it up to terrible production. Aside from the noise/distortion, the imaging is pretty much right between the speakers 99% of the time. To me it falls somewhat beneath FM radio quality. Honestly, I don't think the producer(s) knew what the heck they were doing. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Patricia Barber. I'll have to look her up.

jonheal
2006-03-06, 12:07
I also noticed that the album was recorded very "hot."

My previous streaming music system routed my CD jukeboxes into M-Audio 2496 soundcards in my PC. Every now and then, I heard what sounded like clipping on particular recordings. I remember the problem being very evident on Norah Jones's first album. Again, I chalked it up to (really) sloppy production values. I even found a couple of threads on the Internet bemoaning that particular album because of the "clipping."

Well, as it turned out, that album, too, was recorded at a very high level. Once I put a couple of passive attentuators between the CD jukeboxes and the soundcards, the "clipping" disappeared. I had been overloading my soundcards with certain recordings.

A similar thing could be happening with this album.

Skunk
2006-03-06, 13:18
I guess I have to chalk it up to terrible production.
And an artist who only cares that her voice and piano are 'prominent' in the mix. I like how sometimes Tom Waits puts his voice behing the backing instruments in the soundstage. A good system can tell a lot about the artistic intent, or lack thereof :)



Aside from the noise/distortion, the imaging is pretty much right between the speakers 99% of the time. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Patricia Barber. I'll have to look her up.

I only have 'modern cool'. I have the standard cd version and it sounds incredible, not to mention making fiona's lyrics seem shallow. There is a MFSL version out [1] but I woldn't waste my money, as good as mine is..
[1] http://www.amusicdirect.com/products/detail.asp?sku=CMFSA2003

9dk
2007-06-26, 15:02
Every single Patricia Barber CD is worth owning.

PhilNYC
2007-06-26, 15:57
Every single Patricia Barber CD is worth owning.

I feel like if you have one Patricia Barber CD, you've kind of got them all... ;-)

That said, my favorite of her CDs is "Companion" released on XRCD...

9dk
2007-06-27, 17:40
I feel like if you have one Patricia Barber CD, you've kind of got them all... ;-)

That said, my favorite of her CDs is "Companion" released on XRCD...

Really? I find her to be one of the better contemporary jazz-vocalists out there.... "Companion" is great. "Cafe Blue" is equally good (and well recorded).

Now Diana Krall, Jane Monheit and Norah Jones on the other hand....