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II. Meeting #112:

Place: Audio Video Show 2017
WARSAW | Hotel Golden Tulip | TULIP II room

Saturday 17.30 and 19.00 | Sunday 12.00 and 13.30 |



he "Cover 2017" competition announced in October is now going to the past. Let me remind you that the task for participants was to photograph the largest number of "High Fidelity" covers presented in the halls and exhibition rooms. This year, their common motif were the flags forming the background for the covers themselves, indicating the country from which the manufacturer of the device featured on the cover came from.

Unlike last year, when one could find them mainly in the halls, this time the majority of them was hidden inside rooms, near and sometimes behind the presented systems. It made the search more difficult, but it also made it - I believe - more attractive. And there was another challenge - one of the covers was... brought to the Show by the distributor, so no one could find it ... However, it did not stop you, which I really appreciate. We received many works, most of them showing people truly enjoying themselves while chasing our covers – and that was the point of the whole competition.

The works were evaluated by a panel composed of representatives of AudioPhase, Fezz Audio and Pylon Audio, sponsors of the main prize, and representatives of "High Fidelity" magazine, i.e. Bartosz Pacuła, who runs the NEWS column, Bartosz Łuczak who takes care of our website, author of all presented covers, and me. The initial selection of five works was made by me and each of their authors could receive between one and five points. The one who received the most points - won.

We are very pleased to announce that this year the main prize, i.e .:

go to:


I think the result of our vote was no surprise. The work put in could not go unnoticed and - I will tell you in secret - all voters have awarded Mrs. Kinga the maximum number of points. I therefore encourage everyone to give it a try next year and participate in our competition. And this is because this is another award for this team - the winner is the wife of Mr. Jarek Wykrętowicz, who last year won the Pylon Audio Emerald HF Edition loudspeakers (see HERE). I hope that both of them will be an inspiration for the participants of the competition in 2018, which we are already planning.

But this was not the only work we liked, it was very nice to see works that breathed with authentic joy, fun and plain fun. In order to emphasize this aspect, we decided to award two additional prizes:




We would like to thank all participants, we had a great time watching photos, we are proud that you have decided to offer us so much time and effort!

Selected competition entries from last year can be viewed HERE, HERE and HERE. We will post the works from this year in the news section from time to time, we encourage you to visit the news.


Away meetings of the KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY during the Audio Video Show exhibitions have already become a tradition. Thanks to the help of the Show's organizer, Mr Adam Mokrzycki and, above all, Nautilus, and its boss, Mr Robert Szklarz, we could organize workshops also this time. I am writing about the workshops, because this year's meetings were actually lectures. And I'm talking about meetings (plural), because I saw you four times to discuss two different topics. It was a novelty, we wanted to test this solution. Next year, we will try something else - two meetings with the same topic, but held on two different days.

I must admit that the amount of information I wanted to convey to you was huge, probably unprecedented in exhibition conditions, especially on Saturday, when we talked about the first digital recordings released on LPs. And I also wanted the music to be the main theme. But you are fantastic - an hour of difficult, often new information, a lot of technology-related information, many names and details, and yet I saw on your faces curiosity and reflection, no boredom. Unless, of course, I just did not want to see the latter :)


Before workshops calledVinyl in the digital world I set myself two goals: the first was to present the historical change, which digital recordings were, although back then, i.e. in the 1970s, probably nobody even suspected that, the second was to show that the first recordings, despite imperfect - from today's point of view - signal parameters, i.e. low sampling frequency and a short word (small amount of bits) sounded fantastic, some even spectacular. And, I believe, I succeeded, because it was easy to hear the outstanding dynamics of recordings, their purity and credibility.

I think I also showed the differences between the ideas of Japanese Denon and American Soundstream. The Nippon Columbia recordings were open, very dynamic, strong. The discs recorded by Soundstream sounded darker, warmer, were much smoother, reminiscent of what you can get today with the best SACD discs. It was also easy to show that the main sin of modern LPs prepared using digital signal is not its resolution – because already the first, 13-bit album by Steve Marcus and J. Inagaki & Soul Media titled Something. Adventure In Sounds sounded great, and 16-bit Soundstream recordings even better. It is not the sampling frequency, because the mentioned Something ... cut from the signal with a sampling frequency of 15 kHz was not bad at all, and 50 kHz of Soundstream was quite sufficient.

Nowadays, the problem is, I hope you will agree with me, the digital signal itself and the way the discs are made. Please take into account that the recordings for all the recordings mentioned above had been prepared with great care, and the recording and often mastering devices were technically perfect products, operated by engineers and scientists, the elite in their professions. And although in the post-truth times the "elite" is not necessarily a good connotation, nothing works without it, the elimination of the elite is like limiting owns capabilities. Which can often be easily heard - the democratization of music through access to recording tools and the possibility of publishing any material meant that the quality of recordings dropped drastically.

Less attention is also paid to the fact that a separate mastering should be performed for the LP. The art of cutting the LP acetate is also underestimated. Due to the huge demand of LP manufacturing plants services, there is not much time for experiments, improvements and even attention to all details. Almost no test copies (so-called "test pressings") are made, although once the standard was two, three, and even more of them, until satisfactory results were achieved. In general, apart from several plants, the quality of pressing - despite the use of heavy, clean vinyl - has decreased.

But my intention was also to show that a contemporary, well-prepared LP from a digital recording can sound well. With this thought I brought to Warsaw the Ark by Brendan Perry, the half of the Dead Can Dance duo. The material has been pressed on two discs so that you can use the maximum dynamics of the media - on each side there are only two tracks. The recording is of high quality, which also contributes to the final result. I listen to this record quite often, also when testing components, because it is difficult to find such a low, clean bass on any other record.

I was truly surprised when, after both meetings that evening, you told me that I chose a right album to prove how ... badly they are made today. And these were remarks without any irony - I assume that the participants of the 112th KTS Meeting thought, that I had brought this record to show how NOT to do it. The problem was, as it seems to me, not the quality of the recording, because it is - believe me - really good, and the fact that I presented this recording directly after the records mentioned above. As it turns out – these were perfect pressings from digital recordings. The contrast between them generated this misunderstanding.

But it was a good thing - there are no good or bad answers during the KTS meetings. I got what I wanted - your opinions, which I had to reckon with. Nevertheless, the conclusion of these meetings was clear: the digital recordings are not that bad if it is prepared in the right way. And whether we want it or not we have to live with digital recordings because 99% of them made today are zeros and ones.

It were good meetings, even more so because during the first one we hosted not only the members of the Krakow Sonic Society, whom you know from my reports - Tomek, Bartek, Marcin - but also our foreign members, Gabi and Edvin van der Kley (Crystal Cable, Siltech) and Birgit and Dirk Sommer (Sommelier du Son, We were also joined by Marek Dyba, whom you know not only from "High Fidelity" but also other audio magazines. Birgit and Dirk funded six AAA albums from their own label, recorded, mixed and mastered in analog domain, which - after asking a few simple questions - we distributed to lucky participants. Thank you!


Dear Mr Wojciech!

Visiting this year's Audio Video Show 2017 in the Golden Tulip hotel, I had the pleasure of participating in your lecture on the Master CD-R.

During the presentation we could clearly hear a huge difference of quality between the Master CD-R and the discs that go to the stores and then to our houses, to our hands. During the presentation I was not really surprised that there was a difference only by how significant it was. I did not speak during the show because my knowledge would probably not be appreciated.

I admit immodestly that this problem is known to me, because I burned a huge amount of CD-Rs in my life, though only for my own private purposes. I am talking about the best CD-R discs available on the market, the MAM-A Gold Audio CD-R (Mitsui) - Phtalocyanine and JVC (Taiyo Yuden Company) – Cyanine. My many years of experience taught me, that if the USB interface participated in any way in the process of copying a WAV file a sudden deterioration in the quality of the copy made appeared. I have no idea how to explain that from a technical point of view.

So how can one deal with this problem in the era of ubiquitous USB standard? Well, I think that replacing the USB interface with an older SCSI results in a gradual improvement in the quality of the copy. This improvement is significant particularly in such aspects of the sound as: the size of soundstage, macro dynamics and detail and micro-detail level. Or in other word - a general improvement of sound quality. Older SCSI drivers and SCSI controllers are widely available, but it is hard to find SCSI CD recorders.

I do not know if the above suggestion will be useful to you, but I would also like to ask you to, whenever you visit any recording studio, take notice what kind of interface is used there. If you find out that they do use SCSI interface it would be nice to hear from you with confirmation.

Generally speaking, a CD-R Master copy burned using the SCSI interface will not be different from the original at all, but of course only with a purist and committed approach to the work of the person who is involved in the production of a CD copy. It is about pure technical knowledge about the used tools. People operating all the machines used in the process should have such knowledge, not to mix different types of interfaces in the production process, because there is no good software that supports both USB and SCSI equally well.

Best regards,

Probably all participants of the Sunday workshop can confirm what Mr. Artur elaborated on in his letter: the difference between the material straight from the mastering studio, burned out on a CD-R and the material released as a Compact Disc is big, sometimes shockingly huge. Where does it come from? As one of the participants summed it up - from the technological chain of events that follows when the sound material leaves the studio. Every work done on the signal changes it, and the pressing of discs is a complicated IT-electronic-mechanical process.

Neither the production plants nor recording labels are to blame - that's the way it is. Although I stood sideways and did not control the sound, I hope it was obvious: Master CD-Rs sound more accurate, much more resolving. Usually the sound is perceived as brighter, but equally often as rather dark, it depends on what a higher resolution revealed in a particular recording.

By playing CDs and Master CD-Rs, I wanted to show you that there is still a lot of quality in this format and that the fact that Japanese demand 150 and 200 PLN for Platinum SHM-CDs, or that a Blu-spec 2 from Sony costs twice as much as a regular CD in Europe, is not greed, but the price for a changed technological line, shorter series, even more attention paid to signal processing. And Hard Glass CDs and Crystal CDs, costing from 4500 to 6500 PLN (per piece!) show how "the glass matrix" sounds like and that's what we pay for it.

These meetings were looser than those on Saturday, there was time for discussion and exchange of views. During the first of them, at 12.00, we had the pleasure of hosting musicians who recently released the 3C album: Krzysztof Duda, Robert Kanaan and Przemysław Rudź (review HERE).

I took advantage of this opportunity and in your presence, I presented them with statuettes confirming the 2017 • "High Fidelity" Award for the album in question. And in turn, Mr. Duda presented with a unique version of the 3C (No. 2/3; I have No. 1/3 on my shelf) in the form of a double Master CD-R album in a box specially designed by our graphic artist, Bartosz Łuczak, to a person who answered the question, related to the event, of course, I asked. The next copy was presented to another participant an hour later (No. 3/3).

I will say it again, because it's important: I wanted to encourage you to buy CDs and not to discourage. But also to encourage you to buy the best possible versions, even if they cost two, three, even four times more, such as SHM-SACD or Platinum SHM-CD in the 7" mini LP format. And even the versions released on gold. I know from experience that they sound much better than the basic ones and are closer to what you hear with the Master CD-R.

To wrap it up

It was beautiful - thanks to you. I think we have learned a lot - both the participants and myself. If that was actually the case, the workshops achieved an intended effect and half a year of preparation, which I devoted to collecting materials, records, auditions and reflections, all of this paid off. I already have an idea for the next year, actually four ideas. I will see which will turn out to be the most promising one and which will I manage to learn enough about so that I can share it with you being sure that it will be something interesting and inspiring. Among the themes I'm considering are: Long Play albums with dbx coding, the legend of the Three Blind Mice label, albums by Esoteric and what comes from them, Hard Glass CDs and similar, as well as the topic of "test pressings". And a few others. Perhaps we will think about a meeting dedicated to audio files.

Thank you all for this year and let me invite you to the next year's events! By the way, I would like to thank Gerhard Hirt, yet another member of the Krakow Sonic Society, who supported me bravely during these presentations - thank you! And see you soon :)



An article on this topic titled Digital recordings in the world of vinyl. A Trojan horse or a necessity? you can read HERE | HF No. 155, March 2017

Something. Adventure In Sounds | Nippon Columbia NCB-7003
“Master Sonic | Non-Distortion Cutting”
Recorded: JANUARY 1971 | Released: 1971
RECORDED ON: 2-channel prototype NHK | 13 bis | 15 kHz

EARL “FATHA” HINES, Solo Walk in Tokyo
Nippon Columbia NCP-852-N | “Master Sonic | Non-Distortion Cutting Half-Speed Cutting”
Recorded: PAŹDZIERNIK 1972 | Released: 1972
RECORDED ON: Denon DN-23R | 8-channel system | 13 bits | 47,25 kHz
Hitachi tape recorder, 2” tape

Live in Tokyo volume 1 | Denon Jazz YX-7508
Recorded: 21 STYCZNIA 1977 | Released: 1977
RECORDED ON: Denon DN-034R | 8-channel system | 14 bits with compander resulting in 15,5 bits | 47,25 kHz

On Green Dolphin Street
Denon Jazz YX-7524-ND | „Denon PCM | Jazz in New York”
Recorded: Nov. 28TH 1977 | Released: MAY 1978
RECORDED ON: Denon DN-034R | 8-n system | 14 bits with compander resulting in 15,5 bits | 47,25 kHz

DIAHANN CARROLL & The Duke Ellington Orchestra
A Tribute To Ethel Waters
Orinda Records ORC 400 | “Certified Limited Edition | Digital Master Disc Recording”
Recorded: 1978 | Released: July 18th 1978
RECORDED ON: Soundstream | 4-channel | 16 bits | 50 kHz
Records pressed in JVC Cutting Center

Digital Explosion
EastWorld EWJ-80181 | „Soundphile Series (Digital Recording)”,
Recorded: Sept. 22-24 1979 | Released: 1980
RECORDED ON: Optonica RX-1 | 2-channel | 14 bits | 44,1 kHz

BERLIOZ, Symphonie Fantastique Op. 14, cond. Lorin Maazel
perf. The Cleveland Orchestra | Telarc 2OPC-2006
Released: 1982
RECORDED ON: Soundstream | 4-channel | 16 bits | 50 kHz


The article on this topic Praise of the format - COMPACT DISC | A story of one recording (CD) read HERE | HF No. 159, July 2017

Rosemary Clooney, Rosemary Clooney sings Ballads, Concord/Stereo Sound SSCDR-007, „Flat Transfer Series”, CD-R (1985/2016)

Bogdan Hołownia, Chwile, Sony Music Polska 5052882, Master CD-R (2001)

Polish Jazz Quartet, Polish Jazz Quartet, Polskie Nagrania „Muza”/Warner Music Poland, „Polish Jazz | vol. 3”, CD (1965/2016); review of CD version HERE

Ewa Bem with Swing Session, Be a Man, Polskie Nagrania „Muza”/Warner Music Poland 4 64885 1, „Polish Jazz vol. 65”, CD (1981/2016); review HERE

Ariel Ramirez, Misa Criolla, José Carreras, Philips/Lasting Impression Music LIM K2HD 040, K2HD Mastering, „24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”, CD-R (1964/2009)

Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/Lasting Impression Music LIM K2HD 036, K2HD Mastering, „24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”, Master CD-R (1964/2009)

Nat ‘King’ Cole, The Nat King Cole Love Songs, Master Tape Audio Lab AAD-245A, „Almost Analogue Digital”, Master CD-R (2015); review HERE

Duda, Kanaan, Rudź, 3C, Soliton SL 719-2, 2 x Master CD-R (2017); review HERE