The value of open space

Composers such as Webern, Cage, Feldman, and Stockhausen all utilized vast spacious open passages with faint and delicate sounds within them ('colored' silence as Stockhausen put it). If a system is set up right, this allows those sounds to 'sparkle' in deep space, opening vistas for the ear to swim in. How many audiophiles really appreciate this phenomena? It is really one of my favorite things in music. It seems to me that digital sources crunch this space into blandness, and it really takes a turntable to do it justice. Agree?
Yes, try some of Michael Hoppe music.
It does not need to be an extraordinary event (phenomena) when a system with a digital source is extremely fine tuned.

What you seem to be describing or hinting at is the ambient or reverberant information of the recording hall itself and the music's interaction with it. Without doubt, more than any other element this is the most critical to reproduce any sense of a live performance as this is where the magic of a live performance really lies.

This 'phenomena' can easily be reproduced with nearly every recording. Even with many of those recordings deemed to be the most inferior recordings. In fact, although vinyl can excel at this 'phenomena' I've yet to hear this same extreme level of performance with any vinyl.

Please note that when I say easily reproduced, I mean easily done over and over again with even some of the most inferior CD recordings once one knows what is required to even reproduce it at all.

Hence, when it comes to the very best playback systems I couldn't disagree more.

Chashmal, Having spent a full day with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Paris in 1975 at a master class, and having later scored in a very minimilistic and pointillistic style, I know exactly what you are referring to. It is of course worth remembering that the use of 'silence' as a palpable sonic element in music is not terribly new, but goes back to the dawn of human history. I can't comment on Vinyl's ability of texturing the 'false void' with reverberating echos of decaying harmonics as analog has not been my chosen medium since 1984. On the other hand, my system currently rigged with an Esoteric X-01 limited, a Rowland Capri pre, Rowland 312 and a pair of Vienna mahlers does exactly what you are suggesting. . . It makes me profoundly aware of the difference between the untextured lack of sound between tracks and the musical magic of the venue during a pause or a slow decaying sostenuto. I venture to suggest that while it is likely that both good vinyl and some very good digital may yield the exceedingly low level information present in structural 'silences', in reality each component in the chain contributes to the effect. It is perhaps the interplay between the various components that create the magic. I have played the 2nd movement of Dvorak's Symph No. 9 under Bernstein and the Israel Phil for years. . . little I knew that at the very end, just before the solo chords of the mid strings there exists a horrid engineering splice, where the sound engineer cuts short the decay from the previous ascending arpeggio and inserts a little fragment containing a couple of seconds of dead silent hall followed by the aforementioned chords. I heard this clearly only a few weeks ago for the first time. . . had I just gotten a new CD player? Not really, rather, I had inserted the JRDG Capri and the 312 in the chain. I also was able to detect to some extent the same engineering problem using the Nuforse Ref 9 SE V2 instead of the 312, but not when I had the ARC Ref 3 in the chain, nor when I was using my trusty old Rowland 7M monoblocks, nor when my speakers were still the lovely MagnePan IIIAs. . . . all of this, in my admittedly limited experience, seems to be suggesting that analog vs digital may be -- at least in this particular area -- a red herring.
Well, I agree with Guidocorona on all points except format. Like you Chashmal, I too am a huge fan of vinyl LP's and have little or no emotional connection with music from CD's.

I have several of Stockhausen's works as well as those of Edgard Varèse. I like both artists, bought the LP's in the 1960's when new.
Hi Albert, I'd love to finally listen to your fantab system! . . . I'll be in Dallas from June 28 through July 6th . . . any chance of visiting with you?
Come on !

Send me an email. I’ll come get you if you need a ride.

I hope to have my new Aesthetix phono and newly designed custom crossover by then but if not, the system is working well as is.
Of course, open resonant passages have been with music since the beginning of time. However in both 20th century composition and improvisation something unique was done: they became focal points with just as concentration as the notes. I am definitely not taking anything away from the great silences in, say, Gregorian chants, but someone like Morton Feldman makes subjects rather than supports out of them.

I have heard many of the great CD players, factory and modded. I still maintain that even the best of them cannot do with open resonant space what vinyl can do.

In case anyone was wondering, or wants to point the finger at my source, I use a Linn LP12 with a Rega arm and Benz Ace cartridge. My CD is a 24 bit Meridian. Nice detail, but it aint vinyl.
Yep, those Linn's do make beautiful music.

Do you have an opinion on the music of Edgard Varèse?

Also, have you heard any modern abstract artists you like? I am very fond of the music of Jan Jelinek, who also recorded under the names Farben and Gramm.

His work is available on LP and the recordings are excellent. My favorites are "Loop-Finding-Jazz" on Scape as well as "La Nouvelle Pauvreté", again on Scape Records.
Yes, you are correct Chashmal, new music makes a much more structural use of silence than old music did. The problem of bad digital/analog is that the silence becomes opaque. . . simply devoid of signal. . . the mythical black background is eventually found to be not that black after all, if the right equipment is applied in the chain. I am experiencing significant textured silence in my system with the digital X-01 Limited as the front end. I am glad you are experiencing the same through the anolog LP12. Whether I were experiencing 'better' textured silence than you or viceversa, is of course a rather meaningless question, for which there is no meaningful answer.
"I have heard many of the great CD players, factory and modded. I still maintain that even the best of them cannot do with open resonant space what vinyl can do."

Interesting statement, Chashma1. What's your confidence level?
Confidence level? I would say the same as that of my own existence: an open question. I am willing to take the challenge any time, my ears are ready. I would love to find a CD player that tears asunder the vast empty. Any suggestions?

Please suggest!
Chashmal, lots of excellent CD players out there, e.g. Audio-Aero Prestige and Capitol Classic, TEAC X-01D2, etc. . . . . . and then there are all the multibox players
Good work Guidocorona, you got me. I have never heard the players you mentioned. I also couldn't find them on A-gon. Where could they be heard? I live in NYC.
Hi Chashmal, in NYC there are the usual suspects. . . Lyric Audio, Sound by Singer just to name a couple of them. . . they have lots of gear to show. . . but can on occasion be prickly to deal with. Between them you are likely to be able to listen to the top gear from TEAC Esoteric, Audio Aero, EMM, DCS, and a few others. Bring your own CDs. Not sure if they do in-home auditions. By the way, Audiogon has a fabulous long-lived thread for discussing top-flight digital gear where you will find mountains of good info/opinions: try:
The thread is approx a dozen pages long. . . but it's worth reading it from the very top. Guido