October 6, 2011

The Singles 1969-1981, Carpenters.

The best hi-rez musical experience yet!

For many years, I've never understood the phenomenal success of the Carpenters, America's best selling Adult Contemporary brother and sister duo during the 1970's. Karen and Richard Carpenter formed many musical groups prior to settling on their formula of pure and simple melodies with warm, basic harmonies. I've previously dismissed their work as another blast from the past. Their tunes were sweet but somewhat teeny poppy, based on my previous purchase of their 2 CD compilation set. Perhaps the CD format just did not do the Carpenters artistic craft any favours?

It wasn't until this 24/96 download, available from HD Tracks, that I finally "get it" the Carpenters phenomenon, that is. This delicately re-mastered hi-rez download has been restored with great care, much of the studio ambiance and the critical harmonic texture and timbre of the accompanying instruments(mostly classical and of acoustic in nature, which were cleverly arranged by Richard) is preserved. Karen's voice has a soothing, calming quality that makes me wanna listen over and over. She reads the songs like as if she has live thru the lyrics in the fullest of experience. There's a certain honesty in the way she interprets the songs, that makes them believable. Every note and phrase she teases the listener with emotions of hurt, love lost, guilt, happiness and sometimes just the plain gift of joy. In an extremely revealing hi-rez capable system, all is revealed to result as a musical and hifi experience of goose bumps inducing proportions. I think some simply call the experience a "high"!

The first five tracks on this hi-rez file are all killers, but that does not mean the remaining of the tracks are fillers! My favorite tracks includes all the hits like, Yesterday Once More, We've Only Just Begun, Superstar, Rainy Days And Mondays, Touch Me When We're Dancing, (They long To Be) Close To You and Please, Mr Postman.

My verdict? The most musically and sonically accomplished hi-rez file I've yet experienced. It's like technical perfection and artistry of craft coming as one in a complete package. 


The Wise One said...

I'm puzzled by your reasoning on why you now understood how the Carpenters could be so popular. Your explanation is so true in the differentiation between hifi fans listening to the music or listening to the system. 99% of people buy the hifi to listen to the music with more enjoyment. The other 1% buy hifi to become audiophiles to listen to the system.

You have said it perfectly - only when you could hear everything more clearly that you now can understand why the Carpenters had been such a favourite. Huh? You mean to say if the music don't sound that clear to you, it is not worthy and enjoyable? Wow, it is two very different world out there......

Big E said...

The Wise One,

You are very wise indeed! I'd like to ask you a few questions.

1) Is it wrong for an audiophile to enjoy music more when the sound quality is better?

2) Is it right for a music lover to enjoy music on some boom box like I know many would?

3) When do you draw the line on who is an audiophile or music lover?

As you've rightly pointed out, there's two, perhaps three very diferent world out there!

There's also this guy that I know who is probably not an audiophile or music lover, but rather I think he belongs to the third kind, called music collector!

Why so? Because while he has a huge music collection counting more than 5000 LPs, equally as much CDs and possiblly a couple of hundred of box sets, a big protion, if not most of the music in his collection has never been listened to before! It's just that, a music collection.

While I am a music consumer(I collect nothing and every bit of music in collection is opened and heard, there are no sealed or mint copies!), I've never applied any form of judgement on this particularly dear friend.

Ken said...


I have to agree with The Wise One. Aptly named, I must say.

I am first and foremost, a music listener. I have more than 600 cds in my collection. The types of music I listen to are quite eclectic, ranging from the classical to hip-hop. And I enjoy all of them.

What I am saying is that I am a music lover who becomes an audiophile.
But I have also met a lot of audiophiles whose hifi setup cost more than RM200K, yet have less than 50 cds.

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Carpenters sounded best on my cousin's "National" Cassette/Radio player when I used to listen to it with my mom. This was before the days of "BomBeat"

I never knew Carpenters had good recording. When I first heard it on "higher quality", there was a bit of getting used to.

Just like Boney M never sounded better than on my uncle's Technics system with 15" drivers.

Sometimes our life and memories make a difference to our audio perception.

Getting a high end system definitely will help achieve a better audio perception but it is also true to say that some music/recordings, I don't think you need high end system to enjoy them.

Unless they keep issuing re-mastered versions. :-)

The Wise One said...

Ha ha ha! Just returned from abroad and saw your posting, Big E. FYI, I aloso could not understand this crazy guy who kept spending and overloading his credit card over his collection - must be either he's trying to keep the music biz healthy or the credit card companies flourishing! But I think the truth is he must be suffering from some kind of disease where the brain could not differ the reality from obsession. Poor soul, let's pray for some miracle cure for him.

The Wise One said...

Big E, I forgot to answer your questions in my quest in trying to decipher that poor guy's mind.

1. No, it is for this reason that one should enjoy the music more when the sound quality is better.

2. One can enjoy the music in whatever sound device it's played with. Nearly everyone will turn up the volume when he or she likes a piece of music that is being played from whatever - radio, cassette, car, boom box, mini compo, hifi, etc, etc.

3. An audiophile listen only to the system instead of the music. How the system sounds will dictates his/her choice of music and software. Audiophiles will also try to find fault with the system, the recordings and the sound quality. They also listen to non music stuff like drum sounds, bird chirpings, special effects sounds and what nots.

One can also differentiate a music lover through their software collection. They are not that particular about recordings or sound quality as long as it is their favourite artistes or songs.

Please don't misunderstand my initial query. I was just trying to understand how you decide and judge on a piece of music from the basis of recoding quality. I had the priviledge of knowing that you had a vast variety of software that includes rock and pop. Is it that all these are good recordings enough to warrant you to buy them?