Staff Picks: Top Albums for Lossless Listening (FLAC & ALAC)

One of my favorite aspects of Murfie is the ability to download my albums in lossless formats.  I personally prefer FLAC, but ALAC is an equally great option.  I was super excited, then, to hear about our partnership to allow lossless streaming on Sonos and VOCO devices.

Now that I have the ability to stream in full, lossless CD quality, I thought it would be fun to recommend a few albums that are particularly great for lossless listening.  This list was put together largely by consulting mixing and mastering insiders.  These are albums often used by studio engineers as standards for how a particular genre may sound at peak performance.  With that said, grab a good pair of headphones or hook up your Sonos or VOCO and relax!

12912-largeSea Change by Beck was mastered by Bob Ludwig, one of the most respected mastering engineers around.  In addition to working on Sea Change, Ludwig has worked with over 1300 artists, including the Kronos Quartet, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead and more.  Sea Change does a great job of pumping out clear dynamics without falling too far into the trenches of the Loudness War.  Particularly of note here are the vocal and drum captures.

21411-largeAnother great piece of work by Bob Ludwig is New Favorite by Alison Krauss + Union Station. This album is noted for great clarity in vocals, maintaining solid, crisp levels for the rest of the sonic space, too.  Everything is mixed into a great soft texture that will fill up any room.  A lot of the popularity of this album – which charted on Billboard for both Country and Bluegrass categories – comes from the fact that Alison Krauss also appeared on the exceedingly popular O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack the same year as New Favorite debuted.

6675-largeWith over 10 million sales across all albums, Deep Forest is perhaps one of the most popular world music groups around.  Their debut self-titled Deep Forest album accounts for nearly a third of those 10 million sales alone.  Deep Forest was mastered by Vlado Meller at Sony’s New York studios, and it demonstrates a wide range of sonic qualities, all mastered together as one cohesive unit.  If you want some good sounding lossless reverb, this is the album for you.  Though the group is still active, the only album to outsell their debut has been 1995’s Boheme, with over 4 million sales worldwide.

59377-largeGeorge Duke was a master and pioneer of the keyboard, dominating the world of jazz, as well as mainstream music.  Unfortunately, Duke passed away earlier this month, but his legacy is huge to say the least.  Many of Duke’s newer recordings were mastered by John Vestman and mixed by Erik Zobler, and are used as reference discs for how keyboards should sound.  Duke’s solid arrangements make for very clear, wide recordings that sound great on headphones or high-end systems.  I personally recommend CoolIs Love Enough? and Dukey Treats.

Now that you have some of my picks for lossless listening, I’d like to hear yours!  What album(s) do you think sound the best, particularly in a lossless format?  Leave a comment below, and we’ll give it a spin at Murfie HQ.

Creative Cover Caption Contest

Let’s have some fun celebrating the new Murfie + VOCO partnership! You have a chance to win VOCO devices, Murfie HiFi, VOCO credit, Murfie credit, and more in our Creative Cover Caption Contest!

The contest will have 12 winners—meaning you have 12x a greater chance at grabbing great goodies!

CONTEST DETAILS

Step 1 of 3. Pick any album cover on Murfie and think of a creative caption. It can be funny, clever, socially relevant, interesting—anything you like!

Step 2 of 3. Share your caption, the hashtag #MurfieVOCO, and the Murfie album page link on Facebook and/or Twitter.
If your Facebook account is private: Copy and paste the Murfie album page link in a Facebook post and change the post privacy settings to “public”.
If your Facebook (or Twitter) account is publicly viewable:  You can hit the social sharing buttons right on the Murfie album page!

Step 3 of 3. Double-check that your caption, the album link, and #MurfieVOCO are all included so we can see your entry!

The deadline to get your captions out there is August 22nd at noon ET!

We’ll pick our favorite entries, which will then move to a final round of voting. We’ll let you know if you’re a finalist by responding to your post on Facebook, or by tweeting at you! We’ll include a link with instructions about how to rally for votes from your friends and fam in the final round.

Here are some examples of captions:

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

PLEASE NOTE

  • In order for us to see your entries, you’ll have to be certain that:
    – Your Facebook post is publicly visible.
    – Your Twitter account is publicly visible.
  • You’re only required to share your caption once, on your choice of Facebook or Twitter—although you’re more than welcome to share on both platforms, which will only increase your visibility!
  • Be sure your caption won’t offend anyone.
  • The contest is for US residents only.
  • Album art may not be altered in any way.
  • Go ahead and submit a few different album captions!
  • Murfie and NAVVO staffers (and their family members) can enter for fun, but they will not be able to move to the final round!

Enough details—let’s talk PRIZES!

There will be 12 winners. Finalists must rally for the most votes to win the best stuff! Here’s what you can win:

1. VOCO VSPOT + 1 year of Murfie HiFi + $100 Murfie store Credit
2. VOCO VSPOT + 1 year of Murfie HiFi
3. VOCO VZONEplus + 1 year of Murfie HiFi + $50 Murfie store Credit
4. VOCO VZONEplus + 1 year of Murfie HiFi
5. VOCO VZONE + 1 year of Murfie HiFi + $25 Murfie store Credit
6. VOCO VZONE + 1 year of Murfie HiFi
7. $100 VOCO store Credit + 6 months of Murfie Gold or HiFi + $25 Murfie store Credit
8. $50 VOCO store Credit + 6 months of Murfie Gold or HiFi + $20 Murfie store Credit
9. $25 VOCO store Credit + 6 months of Murfie Gold or HiFi + $15 Murfie store Credit
10. 1 year of Murfie HiFi
11. $50 Murfie store Credit
12. 1 year of Murfie Gold

Give us a holler at info@murfie.com if you have any questions. The deadline to get your captions out there is August 22nd at noon ET!

G’luck, friends—now make those captions!

Get Lossless Streaming with Murfie + VOCO!

voco-email

Today, we are happy to announce a new partnership with NAVVO, the creators of VOCO—wireless audio systems that stream top quality music through a unique voice and touch user interface.

What does this mean for you? Now you can listen to your entire Murfie collection on any VOCO device! 

Plus, VOCO supports lossless streaming! Instead of just 320kbps mp3, lossless streaming plays FLAC files, giving you perfect CD quality audio. (You can learn more about FLAC music here.)

Join the Murfie HiFi for $99/year to get lossless streaming with VOCO, in addition to all Murfie Gold benefits!

Need a VOCO device? Pick out something that fits your vibe. Use the coupon code MurfieHiFi and get free ground shipping on your order!

Already own a VOCO device? Stream with VOCO!

We’ll keep workin’ hard to bring you new ways to enjoy your music—if your ears are super-happy, so are we!

John’s Picks: Judging By The Cover

Normally, we like to share music that we love here – old favorites, or our current heavy rotations.  As an artist, musician and designer, I decided I wanted to share something different today.

I love album art and album design.  For the past 7+ years, I’ve been designing covers for my own music, as well as dozens of friends’ releases.  I also have a bad habit that I must admit to: I buy countless CDs based almost exclusively on the cover art.

For those reasons, I’d like to share some of my favorite album covers and let you judge for yourself.

Pyramid by The Alan Parsons Project was more or less the inspiration for this post.  I ran into the album on the front page of Murfie one day, and it instantly caught my eye.  I’ve never actually heard the album, but that design is undoubtedly ahead of its time.  Pyramid came out in 1978, and you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the art and cover design is by Hipgnosis.  Sound familiar?  Hipgnosis was a London-based design group that made the iconic art for albums like The Dark Side of the Moon (actually, they did almost all of Pink Floyd‘s art) and Led Zeppelin‘s Houses of the Holy.

112059-largeIf I could just post a gallery of Leif Podhajsky’s work, I would.  In fact, he is something of a design genius, and you should definitely check out his site.  Leif has done the art for tons of modern bands, but most people will recognize his work for Lykke Li (see Wounded Rhymes) and Tame Impala.  I’ve chosen to share Lonerism by Tame Impala as an example of the most subdued his work gets.  Leif often focuses on a balance between intense arrays of color and a counter intuitive desaturation of those same colors.    A lot of his work also features angular mirroring of nature (see The North Borders by Bonobo or another Tame Impala release, Innerspeaker).

39184-largeI couldn’t possibly make this post without mentioning the work of Mati Klarwein.  Though his paintings are largely associated with the psychedelic work of the 60s and 70s, Mati’s style was largely developed before the psychedelic era came to prominence.  In that way, like the folks in Hipgnosis, Mati was ahead of his time.  Luckily for him, progressive artists like Santana, Miles Davis and Brian Eno latched onto his work.  With albums like Live-Evil and Bitches Brew by Miles Davis and Abraxas by Santana, Mati’s iconic paintings became the image of a movement.  If you’re interested in more of Mati Klarwein’s work, there was recently released an amazing new book featuring his art called Mati & The Music: 52 Record Covers 1955-2005.

306990-largeAs an honorable mention, I’d like to bring up the recently-released Jay-Z album Magna Carta… Holy Grail.  I hadn’t heard of the album’s photographer Ari Marcopoulos until I got my hands on an incoming copy of the album here at Murfie.  The packaging for that album is hefty to say the least.  Ari Marcopoulos worked in collaboration with Jay-Z and creative director Willo to put together what they consider an album with an art book.  The packaging includes two thick booklets full of Marcopoulos’ photos, and in an interesting touch, all of the text is “censored” with scratch-off black lines.  To my knowledge, this is the only album Ari Marcopoulos has been a part of, and what a way to kick things off!  For those interested, the cover photo is of the sculpture Alpheus and Arethusa by Battista di Dominico Lorenzi (ca. 1527/28-1594) in the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

John’s Pick: Allison Weiss Was Right All Along!

If you have heard the name Allison Weiss before, then you probably already know her story. When she was fifteen, she began playing guitar to impress a boy in her creative writing class. Several years, a profile on every social networking site you could imagine and over a million YouTube views later, Allison Weiss continues to build an ever-increasing fanbase.  Her 2009 album …Was Right All Along is without a doubt the release that made my subscription to her channel pay off.

Any Allison Weiss fan will have seen a number – if not all – of her solo acoustic YouTube videos, featuring originals and covers. If you are hoping for a studio-quality album of these solo pieces, you will probably be disappointed. Instead, we are treated to full band, fleshed out versions of some really great songs – something Weiss continues to do with newer releases.  To fund the album, Allison Weiss used the crowd-sourcing pledge site Kickstarter.com, raising nearly eight thousand dollars – almost 400% her original goal. And you can hear every penny in the tracks. With …Was Right All Along, Allison Weiss’ sound changed from that of a hobbyist to that of a professional musician, and that trend continues today.

There are a few places on the album where one could nitpick (for example: the ebow on “Ghost Stories” just sounds off for some reason), but a number of the tracks reward the listener for each additional play. “You + Me + Alcohol”, “Fingers Crossed” and “Let’s Leave” steal the show in this department. “You + Me + Alcohol” may not be the most poetic of Allison Weiss’ large repertoire of songs, but it is just so damn fun to listen to and sing along.

The album features an extended band for most tracks, but it certainly does not entirely ignore the solo acoustic pieces that captivated most fans in the first place. “I Was An Island” (a personal favorite of mine) eases the listener in by slowly building on Allison Weiss’ solo acoustic guitar. It serves as a fitting transition, taking the listener from behind a webcam and into the studio. The second track on the album, “Fingers Crossed”, shows exactly how much Allison Weiss’ sound improved in the first few years of her career.

Interested in checking it out for yourself?  You’re in luck!  …Was Right All Along is available on Murfie for only $2.00!  Act quick, because it’s a steal.

How I Made 100+ Successful Trades

I love trading.

I’ve been doing it for a long time.  It started with sports cards in 4th grade.  By 6th grade, I had fully switched to trading Pokémon and Magic: the Gathering.  And so it continues today.

It’s understandable, then, that once my collection was on Murfie, I quickly became addicted to trading my CDs.  I love trading so much that I am happy to say I recently made my 100th trade on Murfie!

What was the trade?  I traded away my copy of Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair for a copy of Miles: The New Miles Davis Quintet.  This brings me one step closer to my goal of collecting the entire Miles Davis studio album discography.

100th Trade
What a deal!

How did I do it?  By simply remembering that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, honestly.  My collection is full of things I accumulated over the years that I really don’t care about anymore.  If I’m not digging that Barenaked Ladies CD my mom bought me in high school, there’s probably someone out there who feels the same about their old jazz CDs.

The trick is making offers and waiting for someone to bite!  To complete 100 successful trades, I initiated about 300 trades and received about 20 incoming trades.  That means that for every three trades I’m interested in making, I’m likely to complete one of them.

The odds are pretty good, if you ask me, and you’ll never know what awesome deals you’ll get.