This is such a fun track. The volume was there, solid bass with PUNCH, smooth, clean highs, rhythm instruments scattered through the soundstage. When the horns kick in, you want to jump up and dance.
This crisp mix is particularly dynamic. A tight horn section, deep, solid bass, and strong male vocals let you hear the dynamic range of a system. The track starts with a bang, and I have become fond of using it as a first track when showing off a system and/or DL to guests.
Setting system level for 90 LU gave a very satisfying volume. The 95 LU level could easily be reached when a favorite track called for it, but 85 and 90 levels were used the most. Although I did get up to the 95 LU goal level a couple of times, it was louder than I liked and I pulled back quickly.
This late 80s mix by the Tubes is as good as I have heard from that time frame, when recording and mastering technology had become particularly strong, and before the volume wars set in. Combined synth and bass guitar are solid, and that solar plexus punch is very present on this track.There is no boominess on the lower vocal tones or drums, the horns and lead guitar are bright but well balanced, so I felt no need to pull back the volume when they took over. The bass sound is tight and centered in the mix, and even seemed depth perfect.
Beck’s voice shows no sign of boxiness and is precisely imaged So far the target curve is doing its job as planned. When hearing this track, guests wonder where the center channel speaker is hidden. The strings have a wonderful clean tonality. Cymbals are very clear and natural, and the bass guitar sounds real and is placed properly in mix. This is not easy or automatic to achieve. Bass through subs that are not well integrated can be strong and seem to stand by itself apart from mix, but this setup with 88BM and DL, could not be better integrated.
Beck’s Voice sibilants can sometimes smear left or right a little, usually left, and that is a sign that the listener’s head is not properly centered. With imaging this precise - it is very crisp all the way up through highest sibilant frequencies - it is obvious when any part of the image pulls to the side. It is an effect that one can only witness with precise system imaging, and then one is quickly spoiled and notices even slight imperfections.
Some will argue that the head in a vice effect is to be avoided, that softer imaging is preferred to such restriction. Of course, mushy imaging is always an option. So is lack of detail. So is lack of impact. So is lack of clarity and realism. Don’t turn to Dirac Live if sub-par performance is your goal.
At one time, this track was used as a deep bass stress track at our HTS speaker evaluations, the synthesized effects on the Genie’s voice go very deep and are very loud at a few points, making this track more dynamic than most at low frequencies. The Woman’s voice to the left was almost right beside the LP. DL sometimes pulls the soundstage in a little narrower, and did on this track, but the woman’s voice was much more distinctly placed. There was a slight tendency for the lowest LF part of that voice to be separate from the rest of it, This was the only time noticed that effect.
The final chorus got turned up to 95 LU just for fun. That is what having available volume and dynamic range is all about. You might not do that for every song, I sure don’t, but for a minute now and then, as inspired by the music, it is a necessity and a joy, and was no problem for this system.
Perfect World - Broken Bells - 90 LU
With the 88BM properly set up, I laughed out loud when I heard this track. The centered kick drum had PUNCH and was incredibly tight. Sometimes DL makes you forget about that low frequencies are omnidirectional,
This is a standard imaging test track for me. An echo high and to the right was crisp and distinct. Cindy’s voice sheen was crystal clear and tight, a sure sign of tight SS&I above 8 kHz, a minor DL miracle.
I had to switch DL off for another listen, off and on several times and never a perceived volume level shift.
The acoustic guitar is so tight, very alive, with great depth acuity. The Kick drum is very tight, again there is a tendency to, forget that low bass is omnidirectional. Superb subwoofer integration makes this happen.
I love what DL does to vocals, sharp, almost hard, but with no pain. Cymbals are gorgeous. Bass is even, perfection. I sounds like the mixing and mastering were all redone by Dirac Live, every part sounds perfected.
An emotional moment, partly for David Bowie, partly for the song, lyrics, bass line, overall tightness and clarity. The 88BM removes all the distractions and excuses, lays all parts bare. Volume up to 90 LU. Bowie never sounded better.
There are those who will insist that BM and DL are false and will never be as good as the natural sound without them. I ask: What is good? What is natural? What about modern sound production and reproduction is so special that it is wrong to hear the music with this kind of clarity, detail, purity, balance, dynamic range, impact? What about it do you NOT like? I’ll bet with the 88BM and a little time and patience you can become a staunch convert and have moments like this every time you sit down to listen which will be a lot more often than before it sounded like THIS!
This track has to be heard LOUD. The floor tom sound is big and precise and precisely located. The sound of the electric sitar stands out like a spot in time and space
was reserved for them from the beginning of time.
Vocal sibilants are so precise. I realise I use that word ad lot for the 88BM. The Kick drum is tight, has nice punch. Cymbals are gorgeously real.
This track is a good test for bass level. Bass is very strong, but even, it fits, it is integrated, it resonates with the chest. There is detail I have not heard before.
Listening for boxiness, there is none. Vocals so clear and well-separated, even when they are close together. Many times “close together” is assumed to be “all in one spot.” With the 88BM and DL, the slight separation becomes clear, you can easily tell where each stands,the space between is empty, even if only an inch, like deep space from between galaxies has been delivered via this mix to that spot between her there and her there.
Started the track, then had to stop and think. How is the kick drum so cleanly localized, with such great depth acuity? “It’s a mystery.” I love the punch in the solar plexus, it never gets old. Sparkles in space.
Such a wonderful mix, horns, toms, xylophone, vocals, impact.
Wow, just wow. Hard to believe there is no center channel..
Have used this as a SS&I torture track, it has failed many speaker setups. Perfect tonal balance, Melody’s low voice can be difficult to image. It is perfect here.
The acoustic guitar sound is so natural, dynamic, rivaling the sound I have heard with horn loaded compression tweeters, although the soundstage character is farther back from the LP, and has the advantage of sub-millisecond time matching between acoustical signal paths.
Surround mode is where the 88BM shows off its stuff. I have had the opportunity to listen to 5.1 music mixes on some fine systems, but mine is the only one with DL and “proper” bass management. My newly-discovered appreciation for the bass profile in the DL target curves, the 80 to 90 Hz punch, greater dynamic range than before, all these factors together had me a bit excited for a full listen start to finish with this favorite album.
I saw PT play two nights in a row a few years back. One impression: That Stephen Wilson is punctual. Both concerts started within 30 seconds of the 8 PM starting time. And both 20-min breaks counted down from 20:00 to 0:00 on the projected display just as the boys strolled back onto the stage for their second set. The man pays attention to detail and attention to detail is a hallmark of all of Steven Wilson’s work. There is such a wealth of detail in these tracks, and only with DL have I been able to hear it all, the imaging is sharpened enough that little synthesizer parts and sounds and effects are revealed that were hidden on other systems.
The tonal balance was perfect throughout. Bass was present, insistent, but never overbearing.
Through the intro to Deadwing, the synth dances around you and you are in the middle of the train station. Imaging and depth acuity were very precise.
The kick drum and bass punch on Shallow, even a bit from the snare, hit right there in the solar plexus. That solar plexus punch immerses the listener in a music mix in a totally different way than LFE effects. Your breathing, your diaphragm are involved, it is rhythmic, The effect says something like, Music Is Life, just TRY to stop listening.
Halo - I love the synth parts on this track, dancing around the mix, the synth a quiet screech There is a quality about the guitar that is hard to describe. Sharp but comfortable. Hard but gentle. Able to cut flesh but it caresses instead.
Arriving Somewhere - Nothing short of a spiritual experience for me, I have never heard it better. Guitars hang in the air, maracas dance from side to side, Steven’s voice defies the logic that says he can’t really be here in the room. The metal middle got extra volume, turned up to the peak for this album of 88 LU. Then 90. Electrifying. Vocal echoes go on and on, their space respected by the louder sounds on either side. I never noticed that before. Detail detail detail, there is no way to hear so much detail without clutter, not without DL.
Mellotron scratch - Imaging was seamless through a 270 degree arc, even lower notes and sounds. Vocal harmonies stand like a personal multi-Steven-Wilson performance. At times the imaging almost seemed too perfect, except that there is no such thing in high end audio. Some have the opportunity to hear tracks like this on a $50k to $100k system might be insulted by the notion that a pair of MartinLogan low-end electrostatics and a few thousand dollars of support gear could sound as good as High End. And they might be right. But it comes mighty close with the aid of DL and the 88BM.
Glass Arm Shattering
Big, huge, clean, dynamic. In the middle, the clean pure ting of a cymbal gives chills. Feeling all your love.. The final scratch sound goes around and around, not quite a perfect when moving across the back, between the two surrounds.
Saving Private Ryan had been re-encoded for a family Plex Server, and the average level was clearly about 10 dB above reference level. I started out the battle scene at what should have been the 85 LU setting and got a brief taste of war that would have clipped or overheated of blown a fuse or breaker or driver something in the system. The scene is disturbing enough at a sane 85 LU volume level, Pulled down 10 dB, the scene was dynamic, had lots of punch, impactful bass and LFE, yet all was balanced and the dialogue was easy to understand throughout.
Fifth Element played well at 85 LU setting and Collateral got a boost to the 95 LU setting, a good listening level for each. Even with no center channel speaker, the dialogue was clear and easily understandable and completely natural in the soundstage, with tight imaging of voices and effects. Music was balanced with proper tonality. I felt that I had achieved target curves that would serve equally well for cinema soundtracks and for two-channel or surround music mixes.
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