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 Post subject: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 9:26 am 
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Hope this is posted in the right section.

Does anyone had any experience of the Brennan HiFi system for storing and playing CD collections on hard disk? As we're living in two locations and have a modest CD collection (about 300, mainly classical) it does appear to be an possible solution for us.

The main attractions for me are its simplicity and it's ability to store music in uncompressed format, so it has the potential to produce better sound quality than MP3 docking system players (although MP3 can be used). Unfortunately, it's currently impossible to 'try before you buy' as it's only available direct from the makers.

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 2:16 pm 
It's been heavily promoted in the UK - complete with HiFi mag quotes claiming it's the beesknees. I'd like to read the full reviews really - but it's few years since I subscribed to HiFi News or HiFi Choice. Personally I've always avoided "do-it-all" devices for listening to music.....

Andrew?


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 2:31 pm 
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Thanks Rupert. I don't intend it to be my primary source for playing music, just something compact we can use in France (without having to transport our entire collection of CDs).

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 2:48 pm 
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As Rupert has indicated, Andrew is your man for something like this. Wouldn't mind knowing myself, actually.


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:47 pm 
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A quick update:

I've ordered a JB7 (320Gb version). I'll post about my experiences when I've received it, set it up and used it for a while. This will not be for several weeks as the earliest it's likely to arrive is late August.

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:17 pm 
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FredM wrote:
Hope this is posted in the right section.

Does anyone had any experience of the Brennan HiFi system for storing and playing CD collections on hard disk? As we're living in two locations and have a modest CD collection (about 300, mainly classical) it does appear to be an possible solution for us.

The main attractions for me are its simplicity and it's ability to store music in uncompressed format, so it has the potential to produce better sound quality than MP3 docking system players (although MP3 can be used). Unfortunately, it's currently impossible to 'try before you buy' as it's only available direct from the makers.


I would think very carefully before committing to a Brennan JB7
Earlier in the year my son and I researched the options for transferring our vinyl, cassette and CD collections onto hard disk.
My first thought was a Brennan following the regular full-page ads in Private Eye Magazine.

My son did a lot more research on the internet and we concluded that the Brennan does not really offer very much:
The most expensive model has a very small hard disk.
You would still need another hard disk to backup the Brennan onto – from the internet there are ongoing problems with backing up the Brennan.
Very poor facilities for tagging CD's.
Given that the JB7 costs 409 Sterling delivered, you could buy a lot more for the money.
On top of that you will need speakers at each location to connect to the JB7.

We ended up with:
Our existing Vista PC with i-Tunes 9
All our music stored on a Netgear RND4210 NAS Server with twin 1T hard drives
Squeezebox Radio in the kitchen – with battery pack and remote control so that we can use it outside on the terrace.
Squeeze Duet connected to our existing sound system in the main house.
2 x iPod Touch 64gb

Software:
Ableton Live – mainly for my son for his guitat plus transferring from vinyl and cassette
Jdownloader – for capturing audio from YouTube
Switch Sound File Converter

For your situation, and assuming that you take a laptop with you between homes then perhaps a large wi-fi external hard drive and some decent speakers at each end.
A lot less expensive than a Brennan.

My biggest concern with the Brennan would be purchasing a piece of kit of that value from a very small company.
They are doing lots of advertising but have no product immediately available – why?
If they are not there in 6 months time where do you go if you have a problem?

I have posted below just one comment from the many internet forums covering Brennan.

Kind regards,

Marcardis

Re: Brennan JB7

I would not buy a Brennan JB7 personally. The Brennan is not a streamer, its not networked; its just a very basic mp3 player, which has the selling point that it can rip CD's without a PC, with it's own optical drive.

It does not look like it does a great job off ripping CD's - it has very limited codec support and the meta data tags are provided on a CD which a) you have too subscribe to (£5 a time, although its freely available on the internet), and b) are very infrequently updated just every few months. And if any CD's info is missing (which it must be for new releases) or CD's in the database but is incorrectly tagged, which they often are (or just that you want to sort things differently), then entering/editing the tags on that screen would be stroke inducing.

I do see some uses for this device, maybe in a bar or boat or something, or maybe for people who are incredibly technophobic and struggle to use a toaster (which if you read the promotional nonsense on their website it clearly is) - but why in home? who does not have PC? Ultimately you will often end up ripping and organising first on a PC anyway, even if you had to do it around at a mate. In that case, if you have access to a PC, an ipod and decent dock would be a better solution, or maybe and iPod and some Audio Engine A5's. The more I look at the Brennan JB7 the more I can see how frustrating and limiting it would be. Maybe i'm being a bit harsh, it's a great concept an all in one system, and it's nice to see a smaller company forge forward, but this is where it's at IMO. I think i would be much less critical if there was some way you could update the database yourself and for free (like you can with every other MP3 player on the planet).

That said, using an iPod in a fixed hifi situation would be daft when you look at Squeezebox and Sono's. If you dont want to use a PC as the server, you could get a Squeezebox and NAS or WHS for you £750 and would be about 1,000,000 times better than the Brennan


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:33 am 
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Thanks marcardis,

I went for the Brennan in the end for a variety of reasons, the two main ones being:

1) It's not just an mp3 player, you can store music at higher (or lower) bitrates, important for me as I don't believe that mp3 is adequate for preserving the dynamics of classical music.

2) It has a decent built in (60W/chan) amp.

I agree, the company is small and delivery times are slow but, weighing the risks, I thought they were acceptable.

Anyway, I'll post my experiences here when I've received and set up the system.

happy listening!

Fred

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:20 am 
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I didn't put the most important criterion:

my wife has to be able to use whatever system I buy!

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 9:05 pm 
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Fred,

Just like to warn you that the typing is not small enough..... :shock: Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:05 pm 
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“Thanks marcardis,

I went for the Brennan in the end for a variety of reasons, the two main ones being:

1) It's not just an mp3 player, you can store music at higher (or lower) bitrates, important for me as I don't believe that mp3 is adequate for preserving the dynamics of classical music.

2) It has a decent built in (60W/chan) amp.

I agree, the company is small and delivery times are slow but, weighing the risks, I thought they were acceptable.

Anyway, I'll post my experiences here when I've received and set up the system.

happy listening!

Fred”

Dear Fred,

Thanks for your reply.

My apologies for the timing of my posting – I missed the fact that you had already ordered the Brennan.

Keep in touch – I would be interested to hear from someone that actually owns one rather than from internet postings.

Not sure about mp3 not being up to classical music.

My son (16) and I have a big collection of british blues music which is a shared interest – he has his own collection of rock, reggae, etc and I have a lot of jazz and classical.

From my classical CD's that I have transferred onto mp3 I find it very hard to tell the difference compared to the original CD when my son has set up 'blind comparisons.

Probably my increasingly aging ears!!

Anyway, good to hear from another classical music enthusiast.

Keep in touch.

Kind regards,

Marcardis


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 10:22 pm 
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Hi Marcardis,

Nice to see you in The Music Academy as a new member. Are you going to post in our many music threads?

Anyway, I agree with you regarding mp3s. Whilst the purist may consider that recording stuff in lossless is the best way to go, in my opinion it is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference unless the mp3 is at a very low bitrate. I know for sure that my ears cannot tell the difference between lossless and 320bits, but then I used to stand next to the speakers at gigs, so that would explain that. It could be that I am just past it. :(


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:26 am 
I must be a purist then! For playing music on my main system, it's only the highest quality lossless burns that sound as they should. Sadly many folks have swopped the simple sensory pleasure of listening to something that actually sounds like real music for convenience and techno hypnosis. It's easily possible to listen to music as it should be heard, just ignore the headlong rush into digital oblivion and go buy a nice separates system - even one complete with a turntable. 8-) The human voice is not made of "bits", nor is a saxophone or a piano.

It's frightening to think that there were guys in the 50s who had music replay systems which actually sounded better than many folks listen to now. People easily saw the improvement from VHS to DVD to Bluray. By now people should be enjoying a superior CD format like SACD or DVDaudio, instead of which lots of people aren't even listening to music in basic CD quality...... :(( :YMPRAY:

Not a subject to start me on!


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:49 am 
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Last week I finally cut the last ties to CD replay in my domestic systems (though we make and sell hundreds of CDs every month!). My approach has been ultimately as modular and flexible as possible:

4TB audio/video server drive (2 x 2TB mirrored RAID system) - this is a standalone Western Digital drive which holds all my music and video files. Because it's a mirrored drive it actually contains two copies of everything - if one drive fails it can be replaced without losing any data, as a copy exists on the other drive.

ASRock ION 330 PC - with a footprint a little larger than a CD case and about 2 inches high, this sits in the living room, replacing the CD player and DVD player. It connects directly to the TV using HDMI and I've added a high quality professional external sound card for hi-fi audio replay. Under Windows 7 the graphics processor easily handles HD video replay.

XBMC is the software which controls all the audio and video replay. It's a freeware open source project which began life several years ago as a way of playing audio and video on the XBox (of all things) and is now cross-platform, running on PC, Mac, Linux and others. It gets daily updates (if you wish to run beta software) and so far has played every audio and video format I've asked of it.

The server lives in the office, and the whole system runs on a 300Gbps wi-fi network. I also use the PC in the living room for Internet browsing, which is handy at times (streamed Radio Four FM, or the live timing screen from the FIA for F1 races, for example!), using a small LCD monitor. The output to the hi-fi is also routed to a small FM transmitter so I can listen to music or the Today programme on a radio in the bathroom, or whilst cooking in the kitchen.

This was all set up over a period of months. The final step in the abandonment of the silver disc was the replacement last week of the car CD/MP3 stereo. The new one cost a third the price of what it replaced and plays SD cards, USB sticks, external players and can control iPods direct from the front panel. It comes with a lead which plugs into an iPod which provides power to it and takes over the basic replay functions via the USB and Aux input socket on the radio's front panel. No more piles of scratched discs filling the car but refusing to play! The direct-from-memory replay (as opposed to iPod) is MP3 only, so some file conversion is required at times when copying to memory sticks, but it's fine for in-car use and sounds great.

There's more, but this is the basic system. Each bit of it was acquired separately and it was gradually built up into what it is today. No doubt over time further tweaks will come along, but right now I have a highly flexible replay system capable of plucking out instantly any one of over 70,000 music tracks stored on it, or replaying any one of hundreds of films or TV programmes. And should I need to add something to the collection from a CD, naturally the PC at the heart of it can copy and transfer the contents onto the server in any format I wish, either tagging automatically or using dedicated tagging software.

My attitude towards something like the Brennan (and other systems, including some costing many times the price) is similar to that of the old-fashioned music centre of the 70s and 80s - it's far too limited in scope, storage space is too small, you're too reliant on the company providing software updates on a machine which will be superseded in a short space of time, etc. It strikes me as little more than an iPod with a CD slot and a pair of speakers - when the technology is available to do so much more...

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:33 am 
Yes, but what does it sound like? 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:06 am 
Seriously Andrew, while I understand the limitations of the Brennan, it does provide a pretty good basic way of storing and playing music that doesn't demand you have a degree in computing science. It is probably ideal for Fred M's needs. No disrespect Fred!

I could prattle on about HiFi for post after post, but ultimately it's each to one's own needs and as long as you enjoy the music you love then that's fine. In your case I'm only really puzzled that you rarely ever mention actual sound quality - you say little of the speakers you might use, amplification, the cabling etc. Imho it is a big mistake to believe that people who have high end HiFi systems are just gadget addicts. You don't have to have 10k of HiFi in order to enjoy music - but if you've ever heard how incredibly life like, natural and full scale music can sound then you'd know that HiFi enthusiasts are not fools.


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:13 am 
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Rupert le Bear wrote:
Yes, but what does it sound like? 8-)


That depends on the source, whether it's modest bit-rate MP3s or 24-bit FLAC masters. Ultimately it shouldn't "sound like" anything but an accurate reproduction of the source recording - i.e. it should be transparent - at which point the quality of the source and the quality of the system after D-A conversion (amp, speakers) is of greater importance than the bit in the middle, provided you use DACs of suitable quality.

Rupert le Bear wrote:
I could prattle on about HiFi for post after post, but ultimately it's each to one's own needs and as long as you enjoy the music you love then that's fine. In your case I'm only really puzzled that you rarely ever mention actual sound quality - you say little of the speakers you might use, amplification, the cabling etc.


Sorry, but you're now going onto a different topic. I am dealing solely with one part of the reproductive chain, and my decision to ditch CDs and DVDs. If you want a discussion on hi-fi more generally, then why not start a new thread?


Rupert le Bear wrote:
Imho it is a big mistake to believe that people who have high end HiFi systems are just gadget addicts. You don't have to have 10k of HiFi in order to enjoy music - but if you've ever heard how incredibly life like, natural and full scale music can sound then you'd know that HiFi enthusiasts are not fools.


Is anyone making that accusation in this thread? What exactly are you responding to?

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:43 pm 
I'm not responding to any posts about HiFi - there was no intention to offend Andrew. And I don't want a HiFi thread because I think most folks would find it self indulgent and boring.

It just seems to me that your way of listening to music involves too much technology - and that this level of involvement is comparable to folks who are super enthusiastic about HiFi. The difference being that imho HiFi is ultimately more rewarding. You listen to classical music - so do I. In my experience the more "tuned" your system, then the more beautiful the sound of a violin, piano or the human voice becomes. Transparency is indeed the key - but "clear and clean" isn't the whole story.

One of the things that has happened in recent years is that when people talk about sound quality, it's now all about lossless flacs and bitrates etc. But above and beyond that there are other criteria which are only partially measurable - sound staging, instrumental timbre and colour etc etc - and which in my experience are now being lost in the labryrinth of ever expanding computer technology. We now have a generation of youngsters who treat music as something disposable and transient - but I can't say I'm too surprised as most of their listening is via poor quality downloads and 'orrible little mp3 players. Not good.

Remember EMI's appalling "ART" cock-ups? The techie nitwit responsible should have been made to listen to listen to these abortions through a proper system - either that or taken out and shot.

Just because technology makes something possible doesn't necessarily mean it's worthwhile - particularly if something older and superior is being pushed aside.


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 4:29 pm 
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Quote:
It just seems to me that your way of listening to music involves too much technology...


That depends - if I want to listen to Caruso I may well wind up my acoustic gramophone and put on some 78s from the first decade of the 20th century. I assume this is lo-tech enough for you? If you want more than that you've already, I suspect, embraced a whole load of technology.

The main point of re-working my replay system was to do away with shelves and shelves of discs - I could never find what I wanted to listen to and music became buried or forgotten. CDs which migrated to the car got scratched and became unplayable. My turntables live in the studio and not the living room, as do my collections of LPs and 78s. My current system allows me more direct access to my music than ever before, with less technology getting in the way. I simply key in the title of an album, song, or name of an artist and make a selection, or browse through the lot by titles, names, genres or whatever. It's a better system of organisation, the whole collection is more secure than it ever could have been with previous storage media (CDs, records, tapes etc.), and it doesn't suffer the numerous shortcomings of vinyl and other analogue media that too may people mistake for genuinely hi-fidelity sound carriers for the 21st century (unless you like the sound of randomly generated hiss, noise, wow, flutter and distortion with your music).

Furthermore, I spend my working life trying to resurrect older recordings using cutting-edge digital technology. I don't want any of that getting in the way when I'm listening back to a recording. My sole aim is to be able to access all of my music collection, and be able to hear it in all its 'glory' in a system which doesn't fall over if I send it a 24-bit file I've produced. or require me to convert from one format to another because Apple (for example) doesn't 'do' a file type like FLAC.

The system is as future-proof as I can make it - any replay system today needs to anticipate the demise of the CD as a mainstream retail music carrier, which I suspect is much, much closer than anyone really imagines.


Quote:
One of the things that has happened in recent years is that when people talk about sound quality, it's now all about lossless flacs and bitrates etc. But above and beyond that there are other criteria which are only partially measurable - sound staging, instrumental timbre and colour etc etc - and which in my experience are now being lost in the labryrinth of ever expanding computer technology.


This sounds more like the words of someone who doesn't understand the technology and wishes it would go away than someone who actually knows what they're talking about - if I'm wrong I'm sorry.

If you're going to capture in a recording the "sound staging, instrumental timbre and colour", as a recording engineer it helps if you know something about bit depths, sampling rates and so forth. And if you're making decisions about how to store a music collection which involves getting the best out of it, it's worth knowing something about this too, especially if you're going to start compressing audio to fit more into a finite space, be it using lossy or lossless compression.

At the end of the day a recording is always an artificial construct which aims to reproduce what happened at a concert or in a recording studio. Unless you made it yourself, you will have absolutely no idea how much analogue or digital manipulation or tweaking has gone on in order to produce the end result you're listening to. The only thing you have influence over is the replay medium - vinyl, CD, hard drive file - and replay equipment. The replay equipment is almost always going to be a subjective choice about what you prefer and how much you can spend. But if you don't understand the choices in front of you regarding the replay medium, the pros and cons of each, what matters and what doesn't matter, you risk settling for second best. It's not "all about lossless flacs" any more than it's all about CD or all about vinyl - but it helps you if you know what a lossless FLAC is, just as you know what a CD is and why it won't play on your trusty 1929 wind-up gramophone.

Having written all this, I'm still not really sure of the point(s) you're trying to make - I hope I'm addressing the right ones if I've read you correctly. If not, I apologise for misinterpreting you, and look forward to some clarification of what you're getting at!

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:16 pm 
I think you've understood what I've been trying to say very well - maybe I need to clarify my own thoughts.

The point I've been trying to make - rather clumsily - is that I'm puzzled by the lengths you have gone to to create a computer based system with no mention of how it actually sounds and what kind of audio equipment you use, amplification, speakers etc. I fully understand the convenience aspect you talk about - personally I enjoy clutter, even if I sometimes find it hard to find a particular CD. I'm not sure whether it's because I'm partially sighted, but for me listening to music goes hand in hand with considerations of the nature of the sound itself. I don't have to listen to music in top notch sound, but doing so is very pleasurable and does "open up" some music in a way that brings it alive - particularly older recordings. So I'm not having a dig - I'm genuinely intrigued that you don't mention this. Good sound isn't just about "clean and clear" as I'm sure you know.

I agree that we'll see the demise of CDs as a replay medium sooner than we think - that doesn't surprise me at all. But it does overlook the existing massive collections that some people already have - so manufacturers will carry on making machines to play CDs, even if they're not quite the same as they were. Have you seen the latest Marantz and Musical Fidelity CD players? Both manufacturers have boldly restated their commitment to traditional 2 channel HiFi. These players aren't cheap, but they do sound superb.

Vinyl. To be honest I like having a wind-up about old LPs when folks start discussing downloads and mp3s. The truth is that vinyl can sound much better than people think, so it's sometimes fun to play an LP to somebody in their twenties - but you're right that it's pretty difficult to achieve this without spending serious money on hardware and having A-grade vinyl. A good turntable and cartridge can achieve miracles it has to be said. As I've continued to improve my system through the years, my LPs have sounded better and better - but, and this is a very big but - it's only a small percentage of vinyl that really sounds superb. As you say, in reality there are just too many problems with vinyl as a replay medium. Personally I no longer buy vinyl because 90% of the LPs that I come across sound dreadful through the usual abuse, storage problems, inferior pressings etc. etc. However I do also agree with you that there are HiFi buffs who are diehard vinyl advocates when in reality the battle was lost nearly 30 years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:02 pm 
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Rupert le Bear wrote:

Vinyl. To be honest I like having a wind-up about old LPs when folks start discussing downloads and mp3s. The truth is that vinyl can sound much better than people think, so it's sometimes fun to play an LP to somebody in their twenties - but you're right that it's pretty difficult to achieve this without spending serious money on hardware and having A-grade vinyl. A good turntable and cartridge can achieve miracles it has to be said. As I've continued to improve my system through the years, my LPs have sounded better and better - but, and this is a very big but - it's only a small percentage of vinyl that really sounds superb. As you say, in reality there are just too many problems with vinyl as a replay medium. Personally I no longer buy vinyl because 90% of the LPs that I come across sound dreadful through the usual abuse, storage problems, inferior pressings etc. etc. However I do also agree with you that there are HiFi buffs who are diehard vinyl advocates when in reality the battle was lost nearly 30 years ago.


Hi Rupert,

We don't disagree. I have always preferred vinyl, but I have reached the point where convenience outweighs the finer aspects of my music listening for several reasons, which I've touched on before. One is that my ears aren't what they used to be. A second reason is that I just very rarely sit down and listen to music for it's own sake. I'm usually doing something else at the same time, and so a slight lack of quality makes no difference, especially when I'm in the car. And, finally, I just cannot spend as much money as I used to on hi-fi equipment.

Of course, I envy the fact that you can do this, but my lifestyle is different. That's all. Playing mp3's through my old hi-fi is as good as it gets, and it's still pretty good.


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:10 pm 
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Apologies to FredM for his enquiry re the Brennan JB7 expanding so widely!

I can see where both Andrew and Rupert are coming from regarding equipment.

I still have a huge collection of vinyl – classical, jazz and blues.

I also still have my old (state of the art in the 70's Sony turntable with carbon-fibre arm and a Thorens turntable with SME arm!)

Also an old Revox reel to reel tape deck.

Within my vinyl collection many HMV and HMV Angel boxed sets which I love to have but now too much hassle to put on and play.

My earlier comment regarding failing hearing holds good – I am now 60 and find it almost impossible to tell the difference between the original CD and the mp3 copy via the Squeezezbox.

I admire Andrew's setup which is on a much bigger scale than ours. For us the Squeezebox setup works well – I can access all my music whilst cooking and have BBC Radio as well!

Having a 16 year old son who is also a keen guitar player / part time dj / computer expert is also very useful.

He has a bewildering array of Marshall amps, mixing desks, microphones, speakers, etc.

He is trying to teach me how to use Ableton Live to better effect but so far I have only managed to use it to copy cassettes onto the PC.

For me the wonderful thing with music and advancing technology is being to go and dig my vegetable patch and listen to Kate Rusby or Paul Weller on my iPod Touch at the same time.

In the evening I can listen to Radio 4 or any of my music in the kitchen on the Squeezez Radio.

I am sure that the quality is not of the highest order, but to my old ears it sounds pretty good!

Regards,

Marcardis


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:37 pm 
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“Hi Marcardis,

Nice to see you in The Music Academy as a new member. Are you going to post in our many music threads?

Anyway, I agree with you regarding mp3s. Whilst the purist may consider that recording stuff in lossless is the best way to go, in my opinion it is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference unless the mp3 is at a very low bitrate. I know for sure that my ears cannot tell the difference between lossless and 320bits, but then I used to stand next to the speakers at gigs, so that would explain that. It could be that I am just past it. “

Hi Starless,

Thanks for your welcome.

Your ears sound in the same state as mine!!

My music interests are classical, jazz but mainly British blues:

Early Fleetwood Mac – saw Peter Green and the original Fleetwood Mac at the Marquee Club in London in the early 70's.

What goes around – one of my 16 year old sons favourite blues tracks is Peter Green's “Man of the World”. He understands how drug abuse ruined Peter's life and career. To watch Peter now with the Splinter Group is sad.

Stan Webb & Chicken Shack – the forgotten man of British blues – still touring 40 years on.

Christine Perfect

Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown

John Mayall

Blues related:

Phil Lynott & Thin Lizzy

Gary Moore

Brian Robertson

Eric Bell

Jonathan Noyce – bass player ex Jethro Tull

Cass Lewis – bass player ex Skunk Anansie

If you could tell me how to post the YouTube links then I could add some links for the above artistes.

Regards,

Marcardis


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:32 am 
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marcardis wrote:
Stan Webb & Chicken Shack – the forgotten man of British blues – still touring 40 years on.

hi marcardis - Stan's not forgotten by me - superb guitarist and I still listen to the Shack regularly. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:21 am 
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Rupert le Bear wrote:
The point I've been trying to make - rather clumsily - is that I'm puzzled by the lengths you have gone to to create a computer based system with no mention of how it actually sounds and what kind of audio equipment you use, amplification, speakers etc.


Maybe it's because I simply plugged the output of the sound card into the hi-fi I've been using for years (it's not changed, so why make a point about it?) - and also because I have a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards the world of hi-fi. Right now I'm listening to a 1943 Beecham recording of Mendelssohn's 3rd Symphony in my studio. The output of my DACs is going via a mixing desk directly to a pair of ex-BBC Rogers LS5/8s, each with its own BBC-modded bi-amped Quad 405-2 power amp connected by balanced XLR cables. It's essentially the same gear I used for 14 years at work - it's very accurate, very analytical, very revealing and not at all flattering to the audio content. In short, it tells it as it is.

Hi-fi doesn't sound like this. Hi-fi, in my experience, generally tries to make something sound a little nicer, a little sweeter than it really is. I have a pair of Mission floor-standers in my living room which I bought about 8 years ago for around £600. They're powered by a Rotel pre-power combo from the early 1990s with twin bridged-mono power amps. Together they provide an adequate sound, but when I'm listening to something I've spent several days listening to and remastering in very close detail on the BBC speakers, I know just how much I'm not hearing on the hi-fi speakers, and just how much they're 'improving' what I am hearing. This seems to be across the board for hi-fi - I really don't want to know how the hi-fi equipment sounds, I want to know how the recording sounds, if you see the distinction! Hi-fi equipment rarely tells you this - rather it tells you what you or its manufacturers think you'd like to hear.

I've heard any number of system and read all sorts of hogwash from hi-fi snake oil merchants. I also know that a good number of my best customers buy into that snake oil 100%. As a result it's an area of conversation I prefer to avoid. People who've invested a lot of money in something I consider a rip-off generally don't like to be told this by me!

Maybe also I listen in a slightly different way to most people - I've spent the last 20 years listening for flaws in the sound of audio and trying to fix them, be it in live radio or in music remastering, which is often very different to listening to the actual content. I think you develop different priorities when listening analytically - and frankly, when I'm not at work I don't usually wish to have to listen analytically at all! (Though there are times I can't help it - the number of concerts I've been to where I've had to resist the urge to wrestle the moron on the mixing desk to the floor and do it properly I'd rather not go into! Suffice to say I suspect I can be a real PITA to go to a gig with if there's a half-deaf idiot doing the mix...)

Anyway, back to Sir Thomas and the Seattle Symphony on acetate 78s...

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:28 pm 
AndrewRose wrote:
...ex-BBC Rogers LS5/8s, each with its own BBC-modded bi-amped Quad 405-2 power amp connected by balanced XLR cables. It's essentially the same gear I used for 14 years at work - it's very accurate, very analytical, very revealing and not at all flattering to the audio content. In short, it tells it as it is.

Hi-fi doesn't sound like this. Hi-fi, in my experience, generally tries to make something sound a little nicer, a little sweeter than it really is. I have a pair of Mission floor-standers in my living room which I bought about 8 years ago for around £600. They're powered by a Rotel pre-power combo from the early 1990s with twin bridged-mono power amps. Together they provide an adequate sound, but when I'm listening to something I've spent several days listening to and remastering in very close detail on the BBC speakers,


Andrew - your BBC LS5/8 monitors and Quad amps are Hifi - any casual reader of HiFi News will tell you several of their regular contributors still use this classic set up. Goodness only knows the speakers have been made under licence by umpteen manufacturers now - that alone tells us a lot. Conversely I would say your Rotel / Mission set-up is just middling domestic gear - I can almost hear it in my mind. It's fine as far as it goes, but I'm not surprised that your studio set up is more analytical.

Truthfully I spotted your cynicism towards Hifi a long time ago, and it struck me as a classic example of the recording / sound engineer perspective - inevitably at odds with the "audiophile" who says he can hear what can't be measured. It's almost the scientist vs artist conflict.

The problem I have is the many CDs out there that sound downright awful because they've been remastered by people who haven't listened to them through a revealing, transparent system. Can you see where my cynicism is coming from? Would you like my thin, colourless EMI "Abbey Road Technology" CDs? Somebody at EMI couldn't hear what was wrong with them - but 100s of music fans with half decent systems did! Poor old Walter Legge and his team would turn in their graves if they knew how their attempts to create the illusion of a soundstage had been remastered into oblivion - that's funny, where did all the air go? No bloom, no ambiance - steely violins, tinny woodwind, screeching sopranos..... That is an extreme example from a major record company - but I'm sure we've both heard CDs where you wonder why they sound so lifeless and flat. I have lots like that I've downloaded from the net - they sound fine in my pc, but played through my best system I can clearly here a whole variety of things that bother me!

Andrew - you accused me of not being able to grapple with the newest pc based techonology for music replay - that's fair enough, and I'll put my hand up to that. But reading the above, it's pretty obvious you have much the same outlook towards Hifi. For goodness sake, do yourself a favour, go and listen to some real hifi - not half baked kids grunge separates, but the real thing. I understand what you are saying that you've yet to hear a system that convinced you - but all the more reason that somebody with your experience and knowledge should take the plunge. Trust your ears, not the saleman's, make your own decisions - but do it to find out what you're missing. You will find transparency and accuracy way beyond your current set up - you will eventually hear music that sounds uncannily as if it's live in your living room.

Sure there's a "snake oil" element to some high end areas of Hifi - particularly in the US - but please don't be arrogant enough to dismiss the thousands of folks out there who invest a lot of time and consideration into creating their systems. Are all these people fools? I think not, evidence would suggest many are highly intelligent music enthusiasts.

I used to be a Hifi cynic myself - really - I just thought it was all "big boy's toys" - perhaps it is for some. But about 20 years ago somebody played me his classic Thorens / Quad / ESL53s set up and I couldn't believe what I heard. That was a long time ago - all he did at the time was to suggest a few tweaks and come and listen to my set up each time I tried a new component.

Please don't take offence Andrew, its all good debate. Perhaps I should buy one of your CDs and dissolve my own cynicism by hearing what you've achieved? All I've heard to date is one Blind Willie McTell track which sounded excellent.


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:35 pm 
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Rupert le Bear wrote:
...reading the above, it's pretty obvious you have much the same outlook towards Hifi. For goodness sake, do yourself a favour, go and listen to some real hifi - not half baked kids grunge separates, but the real thing. I understand what you are saying that you've yet to hear a system that convinced you - but all the more reason that somebody with your experience and knowledge should take the plunge. Trust your ears, not the saleman's, make your own decisions - but do it to find out what you're missing. You will find transparency and accuracy way beyond your current set up - you will eventually hear music that sounds uncannily as if it's live in your living room.

Sure there's a "snake oil" element to some high end areas of Hifi - particularly in the US - but please don't be arrogant enough to dismiss the thousands of folks out there who invest a lot of time and consideration into creating their systems. Are all these people fools? I think not, evidence would suggest many are highly intelligent music enthusiasts.



You see, this is precisely why I didn't want to get drawn into a conversatiion about hi-fi. Ultimately I'm really not that interested in it right now. I'm happy enough with what I'm listening on and have no desire to get into the kinds of discussion that become inevitable when discussing hi-fi. It doesn't float my boat. I am very interested in the future of delivery systems for audio and video, which is why I contributed to this thread. But I really have no intention of getting into debates about unmeasurable "transparency and accuracy", nor do I intend to visit a hi-fi dealer in the foreseeable future.

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:42 pm 
That's ok Andrew, as I say it's just a conversation. And I'm afraid I won't be tempted to start transferring my CDs and LPs onto a hard drive any time soon.

Talking of snake oil... have you ever had the misfortune to see any of Russ Andrew's products? Now this fellow really could reinforce your point of view tenfold. How do you fancy spending £500 on a device which doesn't even connect to your system? :lol:

http://www.russandrews.com/product.asp? ... NLSNHUBRSY


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:51 pm 
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I've been a Garrad,Sme,Quad buff for years and I wouldn't change them for the thousands which they are now worth .
Long live HIFI, and stuff most of the modern.
I still believe in Quads original publicity.
The closest approach to the origional sound.

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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:43 pm 
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I have a NAD amp....and I am still using the Mordant Short speakers I bought for 180 quid in 1978!


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 8:48 pm 
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Hi marcardis,

To see how to embed youtube clips, just find one posted by one of us, click on "Qoute Post" and you will see how we have formed our posts. You need to find the part of the youtube address required and copy it between the youtube start and stop bits. Just try it and you should see what I mean.

Or there is a How To section of the forum and it may be in there, too.


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:56 pm 
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Hi Starless,

Thanks for the info on YouTube links.

Just as a test, Gary Moore with The Messiah Will Come Again.

The master of the Les Paul.

Kind regards,

Marcardis


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 10:11 pm 
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hi marcardis - Stan's not forgotten by me - superb guitarist and I still listen to the Shack regularly. :)

Hi Raindog,

Good to hear from another Stan follower.

My son and I rediscovered his music in 2006 and went on to buy all his CD's going back to the 70's.

Living in France made it pretty well impossible to see Stan live, but in the summer of 2008 we found that he was doing a one night concert in Cléon near Rouen at the end of November.

At that time we were living a long way south in France, but my son, then 14 had saved a lot of money earned working with me and he paid for us to take the TGV to Paris and then train to Rouen and then 2 nights in the Campanile in Cléon.

To make his trip, Stan, and the band were staying in the Campanile so he got to meet them all before the concert.

A memorable weekend.

Kind regards,

Marcardis


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 Post subject: Re: Brennan hifi
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:26 am 
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marcardis wrote:
hi marcardis - Stan's not forgotten by me - superb guitarist and I still listen to the Shack regularly. :)

Hi Raindog,

Good to hear from another Stan follower.

Sounds like you had a good time with your son. Alot of the old guys are still touring. I've seen Alvin Lee and John Mayall down here not that long ago, and from the same era, but obviously not British Blues, Buddy Guy twice.

Did you catch the Paul Jones special a few months back? All about Blue Horizon with Mike Vernon himself telling the most amazing anecdotes about Stan, Duster Bennet, Christine Perfect, the Mack etc etc. That programme would've made a great collector's cd.

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