A little about Yuki Kajiura

September 7, 2009

I don’t expect many people to know, but Yuki Kajiura is a Japanese composer and producer behind many anime projects such as Noir, Tsubasa Chronicle and Mai-Hime, as well as being the brains behind FictionJunction, See-Saw and Kalafina. I was first interested in see-saw from their performance in Gundam Seed opening and at that time I had no idea who was behind the music, later see-saw also produced the song Akatsuki no Kuruma and that was what got me interested. It wasn’t particularly the voice of the singer which was so interesting but it was the mix of instruments and the composition which captured my attention.

Very rarely does a composer or producer become more famous than the singers, but in this case Kajiura has done it. FictionJunction, See-saw and Kalafina are all her projects, and she hires singers to suit each song’s needs. Her music is even categorized as “Kajiuran”, crediting her unique style of music which meshes Japanese with European sounds. The music she creates is more pop-opera, mixing chorus chants with violins and the usual pop instruments. She is able to sing and perform piano in her own compositions which is quite amazing since her music is quite sophisticated compared to your average pop.

At the moment I am listening to Kalafina’s album “Seventh Heaven” and it is so clearly Kajiura’s work, mirroring the style she used in FictionJunction exactly. It is a very enchanting style which relaxes very easily while still being exciting to listen to, the voices that she chooses are perfect for the role too, so soothing to the ear.

I have also been asking around and reading various things on audio and have a system in mind which should cater for my needs whilst staying within my budget.

  • cambridge audio 340C
  • cambridge audio 540R
  • Yamaha NS333 bookshelfs
  • Yamaha YST-SW515 sub

I will have to go audition this setup to make sure it is what I want, but I just hope that it will be the godsend I am hoping for. The speakers are the really important part, but the amp and player are fairly solid products for the price from what I have heard so the real choosing is for the speakers and sub. My dad runs an all Yamaha system and I wasn’t too impressed; good for movies but seems to lack something in music. Maybe the levels in my car and room are different, but I shall reserve judgment until I have listened to the proposed system.

Sound bytes

September 2, 2009

I spent a good few hours tweaking my car sound system the other day, and no matter how I tweaked it I found that something seemed to be not quite right. Originally I upped the gain on my amp and I got more separation (I define this as being able to hear individual instruments) out of my music but as a result, the tweeters were way too bright and absolutely dominated everything else. So I turned the gain down on the tweeters until everything was at the same level but then I noticed that no matter how high I turned up the volume, the sound seemed to lack clarity (clarity I define as being able to hear an instrument clearly, ie be able to distinguish similar sounds).  All my mp3s seemed to play with a more noticeable constant background interference after I tweaked my system. I didn’t really know why until I switched over to a CD. My CD seemed to play much better, with greater clarity and separation than the mp3 counterpart. It wasn’t until I read on the internet that I knew why I heard what I heard.

Basically, mp3s are lossy compressions of the original CD track. Take 1 song from a CD, remove the detail that the encoder thinks people can’t hear and thats how you get an mp3. To play back, take an mp3, insert some detail that may or may not have been removed in encoding and that is how an mp3 sounds. Basically, you are getting information removed and added in which deviates greatly from the original CD track. The noise floor is also raised in an mp3 compared to the original CD track. This is from mp3s mostly encoded at 320kbps and I was able to notice it, lets not go to any lower bitrate because I can only imagine the compression artifacts…

In effect what I have done by turning up the gain is amplify the usually inaudible noise from the mp3 to audible levels. It is true that I have also increased the dynamic range but the noise just kills the music. Another thing I have realized is that my car is probably not the best environment to listen to music due to the huge amounts of interference present. For one thing there is road noise, and then there is inadequate wiring insulation, also electrical interference from all the other devices drawing current from the battery.

I will need to go buy some CDs to compare quality between them and mp3s, but there are so many variables I need to account for that this process of converting to an audiophile will take a bloody long time and a freaking lot of money!