Matej Isak interview with David Chesky
Why did you move into the recording business? When and how did it all start?
I was a studio musician, I used to watch the engineers working and I got really interested in audio and how it all worked together. I saved my money and opened up Chesky Records with my brother.
Would you consider yourself an audiophile?
Yes. I love sitting at home listening to music. The goal for me is to try to make recordings that sound real and enjoy them at my house.
How do you choose your recording artists?
Sometimes I find them in a club or at a concert, sometimes they call us. It is always different; sometimes a fellow musician will let us know about them.
Of which recordings are you most proud?
That is a hard question. I like so many for different reasons. I always like the last one we did because we try to make each one better. Some that I think are outstanding are
Jon Faddis’s Remembrances, Oregon, Urban Concertos, and Ron and Rosa.
What kind of reference system do you use for playback?
We have so many in our studio. In my house, I have a rebuilt pair of Quad 57s. I can listen late at night at low levels and not bother the rest of my family.
What artist would be your "dream music capture" for your label?
There are so many it would be unfair to say. I would like to so some large chorus and orchestra works in a great hall.
What equipment do you use these days to record albums?
We make most of our recording gear. Our mic pre amps are transformerless tubes. We use a modified Soundfield mic for one point micing as well. Our A/D converters are a special pair that Michal made for us at Mytek. We use custom cables from Crystal as well.
Do you think vinyl is a thing of the past since everything seams to move towards the digital download scheme?
Vinyl is strong for collectors, but the real question is, if a new artist came out with vinyl or a CD, “What would sell better?” Audiophiles like the old Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins on Vinyl. They are collecting records from their youth. But if I made a new recording of a new jazz group, then a CD would sell a lot better.
The future for us is going to be very high resolution files from HDtracks.
Why and when was HDtracks born and why?
As records stores started to go away I released there would be a need for hi-res files for audiophiles. The web can even be better than a real CD, We can do 96/24 downloads and soon we will have thousands of hi res titles as well
I see a lot of great stuff happening, such as the Water Lily label recently joining your catalogue. Can you tell us more?
Kavi Alexander is a great redoing engineer, He has made some great all tube tow channel high res audiophile recordings. These are a great addition to HDtracks.
It seems that this is great time for high quality music lovers. Being able to access music in higher quality is really quite a step forward. How do you see this?
In the future, everything will be on the web, even HD Movies. It is just the way the river of life is going to take us. We cannot stop it, so we must make it as good as we can.
What is the difference between studio masters and high definition files you're offering?
The studio masters we offer at Chesky at 192kHz/24-bit are exact one-to-one copies of the original masters. This is the highest format you can get, like owning the master tape.
What is the process of converting studio master into download formats?
We convert all 192kHz/24-bit files to 96kHz/24-bit. All 176/24 are converted to 88/24.
We also keep the native 96/24 as 96/24. All DSD recordings are converted to 88/24
This keeps the math even for a better sample.
What do you think about mp3 culture and phenomena?
For kids playing pop music on portable devices in a school yard. mp3s are great. But for listening to jazz or classical music on a high-end stereo at home it is not the answer.
Hi res files are.
Where do you see yourself in future? Will online distribution be one and only medium?
I think in the future online distributing will be the main source of music. There will always be people buying records and collecting Blu Rays. But it will not be necessary.
What is true high-end and high-definition for you?
True high-end/high-distribution is real musicians captured in a real space with the best equipment you can make. To hear every little detail, where it is so good that the sound and the music becomes one. Remember, the musicians make sounds, so we want to make them as beautiful as we can. Music is poetry.
Any last thoughts for our readers?
Just enjoy your music and audio systems. I am going back to work now on my Opera that opens up in New York in the Fall.