Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Big Cypress 12.31.99

Phish.net show page

(please refer to the above link for set list and full info...it's way too long to post here!)

v0 mp3 .zip file

Alrighty folks, I've gone and remastered the hell out of this FOB Neumann u89i (Etree shnid 960) source for 12.31.99. From what I can tell with my own ears and from what others have said, this is the mack daddy of sources for this particular night. (4/19/10 edit:  the recently circulated FOB mk4v is considered by many to be the best, but for one it's only the midnight set, and I still prefer this Neumann source...). It's the source that was chosen for the "Project Midnight to Sunrise" DVD over at the Traders' Den. I haven't tackled 12.30 yet because this one was such a beast to fix.

However, once I gave it a listen on my headphones I was shocked by how left-sided the recording was. Or was it right? Either way it was practically almost all in one channel. So I took the liberty of rebalancing the stereo separation with Nero Wave Editor so that it's more centered.

This was already one of the best sounding festival auds I had heard before I remastered it, so I didn't have to do a whole lot in the way of EQ tweaking. I did give Mike some more oomph, and a little more warmth to the overall recording. I also spiked the high end a bit (as I almost always do unless the orginal recording is overly bright and sharp), which has made it sound a lot clearer and punchier. Trey's solos have much more life to them now...just listen to the short solo in After Midnight.

Since you can't download folders over 1024MB with Megaupload (for free at least), I've split the FLAC folders in a way that results in the least amount of folders. The tracks are numbered in order as if they are in one huge folder. If you plan on burning to CD, consult the text file to see how to divide the tracks into CDs. The whole show (including the afternoon set) takes up 10 discs. The AAC's should all be tagged properly and should appear in proper order when you drag and drop into iTunes.

Here are the EQ settings I used:

Feel free to leave feedback in the comments page, and enjoy!


Exciting new development on the way folks: I just realized the CD burning program I use (Nero) has a built-in EQ which you can customize and use to burn the final CD. So, instead of me uploading the original files and suggesting how you can then adjust your own EQ settings (which I realize not many of you will want to bother with), I can do that first so that you can essentially download a copy of the aud remastered by me!

More to come...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

12.31.98 Madison Square Garden, NYC

Phish.net show page

Set 1: 1999 > Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Ghost -> Ha Ha Ha > Cavern

Set 2: NICU > Character Zero > Tweezer -> Cities > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Run Like an Antelope, Frankenstein

Set 3: Runaway Jim -> Auld Lang Syne -> Simple > Harry Hood > Tweezer Reprise, Llama

Encore: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Notes: Prince’s 1999 made its Phish debut (appropriately) at this show and included dancers on stage and synchronized steps from Trey and Mike, who wound up lying on the stage with the dancers surrounding them. Weekapaug and Runaway Jim subsequently featured 1999 teases; Jim also included Auld Lang Syne teases. Simple included Magilla teases. For this show, the Holiday Run dancers’ costumes included a devil, a prostitute, and a pimp. The band jammed Runaway Jim until just before the New Year. The dancers reappeared throughout the crowd and handed out thousands of glowrings to the fans just before a grand balloon drop and pyrotechnics display at midnight. The band counted the crowd into the New Year before busting into Auld Lang Syne. While some fans used the glowrings to start a Glowstick War during Hood, others used them to create long chain links of rings in the arena.

v0 mp3 .zip file

(2/5/10 note - listening back, this is probably the weakest of my efforts so far. If it's still an upgrade for you, right on. But there's something about it that doesn't make me smile every time I hear it, as the other remasters do. The source is pretty boomy, but hey I guess that's partly due to MSG being so huge. And part of it was that it was one of my first efforts. Big Cypress was the first, but that source was much clearer to begin with. Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there.)

Now that NYE 2009>2010 is drawing near, I thought I'd turn back the clock 11 years to 12/31/98, when The Artist Formerly Known As Cactus and company took MSG by storm, starting with the title track off Prince's "1999". This alone is worth the download, as you can hear the crowd going apeshit right off the bat. Doesn't hurt that the rest of the show smokes pretty hard, too. Quite a shock to the system after getting our ears used to 2009 Phish, but a fun jaunt nonetheless.

This is a great FOB Schoeps mk4v recording. As with many FOBs, the nearby chatter can get distracting but otherwise it's a great sounding pull. Without changing the EQ settings it's a bit muddy in the bass department and lacking in treble/clarity, so I've tweaked it a bit. Mike still has plenty of liquid delicousness and is now paired with crisper mids and highs.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Testing, testing...

I should also mention that I am totally new to blogging, so I'll be on a bit of a learning curve as I get my sea legs. I need to figure out how to create links in the right-hand column, especially a link for the download archive that will eventually exist here.

The idea will be to present a show any given day and provide the download link and a little commentary from yours truly about the audio quality and show highlights. Each time I feature a new show (new to this site, not necessarily "new show" as in "recent show"), I will add it to the growing download archive, which will be ordered chronologically for easy searching.

For now I'm just gonna test this out and make sure this link works. It's the 12.18.99 Hampton show, for shits and giggles. And the whole 10-year anny, and what have you,

There's another Schoeps mk41 going around on etree right now, but this one sounds much better IMHO, and is a Microtech Geffel 210 pull from BEHIND THE STAGE.

I have to say, I don't think I've ever heard of that before, and after listening to this I don't know why tapers haven't sought out the same exact spot at this venue because this sounds soooo clean for an audience recording it's ridiculous. I've never been to Hampton, but clearly the sound from behind stage is the bees knees. The balloon pops during the first section of Hood are a bit much, but it calms down.

First things first...

Greetings phans! It is on this Christmas Eve morning that I've finally found a slow enough day at work (yes, poor me...hospitals don't close) to get this blog started. You may be asking, "what's the point of this blog? How many Phish blogs do we need?"

I'll answer the second question first: as many as the spirit moves, broseph. As for the first, allow me to retort:

(1) I love Phish, so naturally doing or thinking about anything Phish-related makes me happy.

(2) I love listening to Phish shows, and I especially love listening to audience recordings because I feel they best recreate the atmosphere and energy of the live show.

(3) I already spend an obsessive amount of time downloading shows and comparing the sound quality when more than one source is available, so I felt I might as well share the fruits of my labor. *Sidebar* - audio quality as it relates to audience recordings is extremely subjective. You and I may have totally opposite opinions regarding what an ideal aud recording sounds like. I imagine I will lose certain people after they determine I have shitty taste in audio quality, but hopefully enough of you will be on the same page as I am to make this a beneficial venture for the community.

(4) I've been sending emails to friends lately with links to some of the Phish auds I've uploaded to my Megaupload account, and I wanted to have a single repository where I could supply all of the links to said shows.

(5) I wanted to give phans a place to get free and legal copies of shows in ready-to-download files, since not everyone is familiar with or a fan of bittorrent. I also wanted to provide a more complete download that includes a text file with source/taper information and photos when available. Sites like phishows.com and The Spreadsheet are great as far as having the whole flippin' encyclopedia of Phish shows; I just don't like how you have no idea what the source was...which aud enthusiasts such as myself need to know!

A few choice words on audio formats

I've made the potentially controversial decision to make all of the shows available in both AAC/iTunes format and FLAC format. "What?!? No mp3???", you ask? Here's my multi-part rationale:

On a selfish level, I already have my shows in AAC format and would rather not have to go and re-rip all of my CDs to mp3 (or convert the FLACs to mp3). For every show, my routine is to download the FLAC from etree, then decode the FLACs to WAV files which I burn to CD. I then import the CDs into iTunes (my preferred way to listen to music on my computer) and finally delete the WAVs and keep a FLAC copy of each show as backup.

I know, I'm pretty old-school with the CDs, but sometimes I just get the urge to throw a CD in my car stereo and listen to a set start-to-finish without those annoying, buzz-killing gaps which are unavoidable with all lossy formats on CD (unless you crossfade the tracks, but eh). Even a gap of a mere nanosecond can pull me off cloud nine during a true seque...so sad. Plus, I guess I like to have the physical specimen in addition to the files. It's the collector in me, I suppose.

Back to the AAC vs. mp3 issue: from a purely technological standpoint, AAC (mp4, really) is a much more efficient codec than mp3, meaning you can compress the files a lot smaller than you could with mp3 while retaining the same audio quality. The AAC copies of my shows will be at the iTunes default 128 kbps bit rate, which is extremely difficult for the human ear to differentiate from uncompressed WAV/CD, assuming you don't have audiophile-grade equipment AND an especially discerning ear. Also, 80+% of the people I know own either an iPod, iPhone, or at least use iTunes at home for listening at their computers. It's just a great freakin' program, even if you don't own any Apple hardware.

If I went with mp3, I wouldn't want to compress any lower than 256kbps, which is double the file size of the AACs I will be uploading. It also makes it easier and faster for you, the downloader, to deal with the smaller AAC files. We're talking roughly 175MB per show, which is pretty tiny for 3+ hours of live Phish. If you really must go the mp3 route, you can always download the FLACs and convert them to WAV and then to mp3 or the lossy format of your choice.

Bottom line is, although mp3 would have been a more accessible format for me to use, there are already a bunch of places online to DL mp3's of Phish auds (http://phishthoughts.com/audio-archive/ in addition to the aforementioned Spreadsheet and phishows.com). I thought I would give a unique alternative by serving them up in AAC, while saving space and time taboot (taboot).

Q. "But wait - how can you promote lossy recordings and then say you're a big fan of tapers and authentic audio representation?!?"

A. Trust me, I prefer to go lossless whenever possible, which is why ALL of the shows I download from etree stay on my hard drive in FLAC. But let's be honest, the overwhelming majority of folks want their music portable and convenient. I find AAC to be the best compromise of quality and file size as far as lossy formats go.

Alas, picky audio geeks like me will definitely want a "master" copy of each show in FLAC, which is why I give you that option for every show. Even if it's hard to tell the difference b/w AAC and FLAC with my current equipment, I like to future-proof my collection in the event that I do eventually upgrade to audiophile-grade equipment.

Moving On...

I will also include the original text files that contain the setlist and recording source information for each show. You gotta give props to the tapers, and it's always good to know which taper and microphones/misc. gear was responsible for your beloved audience recordings. I will also try to include any available photos from each show. Obviously photos are plentiful for newer shows, but older ones not so much.

Oh yeah, and when you import the files into your iTunes you should be gleeful to see that I've associated album artwork that should appear in iTunes and on your iPod/Phone. I love album art. For the newer shows the artwork will typically be a photo from that show, courtesy of "Phish From The Road", although if I can find a scan of the official show poster I will use that. For older shows I will either use a scan of the ticket stub if I can track one down online or a shot of the venue.

OK, I gotta stop now. I tend to babble. More to come...

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