David Elias MQA music review

The name David Elias did not ring a bell when I first heard it. Nonetheless it is worth noticing, because not only this guy makes great music, he is also devoted to some very, very good sound too.

Not many musicians have supreme Hifi HighEnd gear, or even judge their music on a quality music system. Not that they don´t want their music to sound good, they just don´t know how to tell the mixing engineer to do a mix of his/her music that sounds good on ANY speakers. A few exceptions are musicians like Neil Young, Mark Knopfler and artists on the German Stockfish label that takes good care of how their music will finally sound. 

And it IS difficult to mix music that sounds good on any sound system. The loudspeakers on todays 60” TV sets are small and the broadcast is often highly compressed so the sound get´s through even when the household family is having their friday evening dinner. And a 20.000 USD system can reveal things those tiny TV set speakers can´t.

I have been working in recording studios most of my adult life, and know how hard it is to make the perfect mix. Mostly the sound is good on small Yamaha NS10 monitor´s but not on a HiEnd HiFi system. And most of today´s music is mixed so that it can easily listened to on your car stereo or kitchen radio (Adele´s latest album sounds good in my car, but definitely NOT on my home system).

Us HiFi guys like good sounding stuff, and we also like HiRes files, DSD, DXD, MQA… you name it. But we also love good sounding music too, and when combining these things we are in HiFi-heaven.

So while searching the web one late evening, I came across David Elias work, who not only makes great music, but also digs into the world of good sound, DSD and MQA.

And as he gives away 4 tracks for free, all in MQA quality, I immediately hit the download button, and minutes later I was cherished with some good music. But not only the music was fab, the sound was also VERY good.

Illegal Copy? No worries, mate, its just the name of one of his albums ready for your downloading. And all David Elias´ MQA tracks are right here: http://davidelias.bandcamp.com

If you are a Roon/Tidal subscriber, you have access to David Elias´ albums, though not in MQA yet. But this way you easily can judge if MQA is worth it, you can play David´s music from the above website, and compare to the non MQA version from Tidal.

And as I have mentioned before in my review of the Meridian Explorer2, which is capable of decoding MQA tracks, this is a technology that I really, really hope will have a breakthrough soon. The sound is just so much fuller, more easy on your ears, more breathable, more lively, more enjoyable - and last but not least sounding less digital! 

But David is not only a MQA pioneer, he has also his fingers not only on the guitars fretboard, but also is deeply involved into the whole production process and -chain. And back in 1999 he already was into DSD, before that he didn´t like the digital sound at all. And he found out he didn´t like the usual suspects aka digital reverbs (Lexicon 224, tc electronic amongst others). But he preferred the real stuff, and found out to use ambient mics across the room where he recorded.

Going to a fancy recording studio to record his album “The Window” in DSD the local engineering guys told him not to record this way, but to close-mic every instrument, and then mix it to a stereo stem with digital reverbs. David´s ears told him not to follow that route; and as he writes: “rest is good history for me :)”

“Freedom On The Freeway” is a fingerpicking, mouth harp and watering song, that I´ll easily could see myself listening to on some dusty US highway through my car stereo, on my trip to the next diner for a good damn cup of black coffee. 

“Above The Creek” from David Elias´ SACD named Crossing is a nice tune as also is the track “Summer Wind”, Elias almost whispering more then singing, and therefore makes this tune very intimate. And the blue MQA LED makes this track even more enjoyable.

“Her name is A” is another soft ballad, that calls out for some candles on the sunset evening on the porch together with a good glass of red. 

“Vision Of Her” is also from the album The Window, and again it´s a sensitive man writing sensitive songs. It´s just another beautiful tune from David´s lyrical feather and great composing skills. Combined with some good sound technique this is just fab.

But “Morning Light/Western Town” is my personal favorite. I see some dusty roads somewhere in Texas on my mind's eye, correct me if I´m wrong, but this crazy slide guitar makes me just go mad. Great song, what an awesome track… Me like a lot.

Now based in beautiful Hawaii, David Elias makes some nice acoustic tracks, and has been doing so since 1995. And you know what? He even gives away four tracks for free. So dear friends, please hit your download button on your computer, and enjoy gorgeous music made from his heart.

Text: © Kurt Lassen 2016