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Marja & Henk
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Todd Garfinkle is a special man. One could call him the lone crier in the wilderness on a mission missed by too many. Todd is always on the lookout for passionate music. He roams the globe in search of unknown talent. With his trained ear he picks out the most appealing street musicians or follows hints from musicians he’s worked with before. Once his talent scout mission hits gold, he tries his utmost to find a suitable location to record the music. These locations are not full-fledged studios or standard recording venues. Todd is after a natural balance and reverb. That’s only found in old churches, monasteries and the like - buildings with a story of their own which can guard over the musicians inside and provide an inspiring environment. To seclude the recording from outside noise and interference, most recordings are made at night when the rest of the village or town is fast asleep and the moon and stars light the streets.

Todd Garfinkle is not an audiophile. Or so he claims. He is a music lover who wants to deliver the best possible rendering of the music he’s heard. To do that he carries his entire recording studio in a rucksack. To capture the performance he uses two omni-directional microphones specially built for him. The signal then feeds through custom-made high quality cable like Crystal Cable into a high quality but portable digital recorder. Over the years Todd has gone through a number of makes and types of recorders following the progression of technology which made high-resolution recordings possible using more and more portable and affordable gear. DAT recorders, flash disk recorders and current SD card recorders all have passed through Todd’s hands.

It is hardly imaginable now that one of the first Philips DSD recorders was housed in a stack 2.20 meter high, 19 inches wide which literally weighed a ton. As we saw during a visit with Guido Tent of Tentlabs, its equivalent today is a 60 x 130 x 28mm handheld recorder that weighs less than 250 grams including batteries. The problem for Todd never was the recording process itself. He always used the highest possible resolution, be that 24/88.2, 24/176.4, 24/192 or DSD. The problem was the medium to which the recording would get transferred to be offered to the public. Not so long ago the only viable medium was Redbook CD. Though limited to 16/44.1 it was more consistent than vinyl and easier to produce.

Nevertheless Todd experimented widely with enhancements to the medium. It was through Todd that we were put in touch with the Nespa photonic finalizer, a device that bombards a CD with photons from a Xenon flashbulb, somehow alters the material physics of the CD and results in a more relaxed sound. Todd also experimented with different materials from which to press his CDs. Green polycarbonate—the Emerald series—follows the general idea that stray laser light should be avoided just like the green felt pen treatment popular some time ago championed. Even a glass-based CD carrier was tried but its outrageous price prevented the use for more than an experiment. XRCD too is among the available M•A Recordings formats.

With the coming of streaming music based on high-resolution sources things for Todd’s vision of delivering master-quality recordings to the public began to look up. However, hi-res tracks are quite substantial in size. On average a track takes up about 300 to 400MB. Though more and more Internet users enjoy broadband access, downloading 4GB for a complete album without interruptions is not easy. In practice partial reloads with associated frustrations complicate such endeavors. So it is much more convenient to burn hi-res tracks to DVD. Doing so there’s even space for additional cover art and liner notes. That's exactly what Todd’s M•A Recordings is doing now - offering part of their collection on DVD ROM.
That’s right, the computer data storage and not DVD Audio format. Using the ROM format allows the user to transfer the contents to computer hard drive and stream from there to an audio system. With some additional pointing, clicking, dragging and dropping the hi-res recordings can be imported to iTunes including cover art. Apple users are forced to convert Todd's native WAV files to Apple Lossless to capture his associated cover art which means additional computational exercises for the Mac which does have a deleterious effect on the resulting sound. You can tell that we are not the greatest of iTunes fans.