The HiFi Starters Club Sept 22 playlist……find it on Spotify here
1. “When I Fall” by Lizz Wright from The Orchard
A honeyed voice to test your midrange. Shockingly low bass 2 minutes into the track. Words that make it sound a bit manufactured, a bit ‘audiophile first music second’. On the contrary, Wright is a consumate musician. Catch her live if you can. If not her Tiny Desk gig is also lovely.
2. “Get Me Through December” by Liane Carroll from Seaside
Another track focused on vocals and the midrange. A gentle melancholy seeps through Carroll’s work, this album in particular. And again she’s stunning when you see her live – she has a big personality to match the voice.
3. “Sooki Sooki” by Gerald Albright from 30
Switching the mood up, the opening bars of Sooki Sooki explode into your room, really testing speaker dynamics. If you want to know what audiophiles mean by ‘slam’ then gives this is whirl. Just watch the volume at the beginning, it’s easy to get caught out (even when you know the track!)
4. “First Wave Intact by Secret Machines from Now Here Is Nowhere
Thanks to Darko for turning me onto this one. Another test of dynamics, again it’s easy to get caught out at the beginning on volume. It’s also tempting to move on after the initial ‘ruckus’. Stick with it for 9 minutes of guitar and drums pomp though, it will reward you.
5. “San Andreas Fault” by Natalie Merchant from Paradise Is There
Another thanks – this time to John Carroll of Loud & Clear / Renaissance Audio – for introducing me to Natalie Merchant. OK I’m way late to the party. Hence me choosing the reprised version of this album. Paradise Is There is Merchant’s re-run of her first solo album, Tiger Lily, 20 years later. Two decades of life just oozes from the vocals. You’ll need a system with a good midrange to capture it.
6. “Refrain 1” by Stephen Stubbs from John Potter’s Care Charming Sleep (The Dowland Project)
Sparse Baroque-style solo lute is hardly going to draw the crowds. So dare to be different and listen to the full 1’41” of sublime, beautifully recorded music, with a soundstage to die for. A good system – getting techy, low (electrical) noise helps – captures both the suspense and the delicacy of playing. After listening, if you don’t try Refrains 2 & 3 from the same album then I got it wrong!