How to set your playback volume for The Blue Knights tracks 1 through 5 on IsoMike 2007.

Make your listening area as quiet as possible - this is really important.

Track 1 is less than 1 minute. Play this track at what would have been your normal volume setting. You will notice that the volume starts at a very quiet level and then builds toward the paint-peeling section of the finale - it will likely seem way too soft to you. Re-play this track a few times and keep increasing the volume control until the loud part of the finale is LOUD, but not louder than you wish or louder than your system will play without distortion, whichever comes first.

Provided your system will accommodate the LOUD finale of track 1, we recommend that the LOUD part of the finale really be the kind of extra LOUD that makes you hold-your-breath or gives-you-goosebumps.

STOP your player, walk away for a few minutes and then come back and play tracks 2 through 5 without having changed the volume settings. Listen with your eyes closed.

Here is the story. Most recordings are compressed and peak limited, but we prefer our music to retain the full dynamic range so we donít use compression or peak limiting on our recordings.

Compression serves to make soft sounds louder, i.e. the soft sounds are then close to the maximum allowed digital level of the disc, therefore the loud sounds can only be slightly louder than or perhaps only as loud as the soft sounds. Think of this as kind of artificially turning up (and down) the volume on YOUR system by remote control (but without moving your volume control setting). So when you play a disc without compression you will need to manually adjust your volume control to ďcalibrateĒ the dynamic range to fit within your systemís capabilities.

Naturally the wider the dynamic range of a recording the more demanding it will be on a playback system. The Blue Knights proved wickedly capable of very wide dynamics in their playing, and we worked ridiculously hard to have a quiet recording environment, and then we used lunatic-fringe recording equipment capable of proper capture. If your listening environment isnít quiet enough and/or your system isnít capable enough - then you wonít be able to hear the full result of how it really sounded live. But if you followed the volume setting routine using track 1, then you will have come as close as your system will allow.

There will, of course, be situations where compressed playback might be desirable, MP3 and smaller car stereos come to mind. For those circumstances there are always those tech friends who have programs that will compress the audio for you. What there isnít - is a program that could precisely un-compress a compressed disc.

For the remainder of the tracks on IsoMike 2007B your volume control should be adjusted, up or down, track-by-track, as needed. For example, track 6 is a string quartet and the average level of the performance is less dynamic than tracks 1 through 5, therefore your volume control will have to be turned down relative to the level of the first 5 tracks of The Blue Knights.