Grateful Dead

Spring 1990 (The Other One) Box - SOLD OUT

Digital Download

What's Inside:
144-page paperback book with essays by Nicholas G. Meriwether and Blair Jackson
A portfolio with three art prints by Jessica Dessner
Replica ticket stubs and backstage passes for all eight shows
8 complete shows on 23 discs
      3/14/90 Capital Centre, Landover, MD
      3/18/90 Civic Center, Hartford, CT
      3/21/90 Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario
      3/25/90 Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY
      3/28/90 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
      3/29/90 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (featuring Branford Marsalis)
      4/1/90 The Omni, Atlanta, GA
      4/3/90 The Omni, Atlanta, GA
Recorded by long-time Grateful Dead audio engineer John Cutler
Mixed from the master 24-track analog tapes by Jeffrey Norman at Bob Weir's TRI Studios
Mastered to HDCD specs by David Glasser
Original Art by Jessica Dessner
Individually Numbered, Limited Edition of 9,000

Announcing Spring 1990 (The Other One)

"If every concert tells a tale, then every tour writes an epic. Spring 1990 felt that way: an epic with more than its share of genius and drama, brilliance and tension. And that is why the rest of the music of that tour deserves this release, why the rest of those stories need to be heard." - Nicholas G. Meriwether

Some consider Spring 1990 the last great Grateful Dead tour. That it may be. In spite of outside difficulties and downsides, nothing could deter the Grateful Dead from crafting lightness from darkness. They were overwhelmingly triumphant in doing what they came to do, what they did best — forging powerful explorations in music. Yes, it was the music that would propel their legacy further, young fans joining the ranks with veteran Dead Heads, Jerry wondering "where do they keep coming from?" — a sentiment that still rings true today, a sentiment that offers up another opportunity for an exceptional release from a tour that serves as transcendental chapter in the Grateful Dead masterpiece.

With Spring 1990 (The Other One), you'll have the chance to explore another eight complete shows from this chapter, the band elevating their game to deliver inspired performances of concert staples (“Tennessee Jed” and “Sugar Magnolia”), exceptional covers (Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and the band’s last performance of the Beatles’ “Revolution”) and rare gems (the first “Loose Lucy” in 16 years) as well as many songs from Built To Last, which had been released the previous fall and would become the Dead’s final studio album. Also among the eight is one of the most sought-after shows in the Dead canon: the March, 29, 1990 show at Nassau Coliseum, where Grammy®-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis sat in with the group. The entire second set is one continuous highlight, especially the breathtaking version of “Dark Star.”

For those of you who are keeping track, this release also marks a significant milestone as now, across the two Spring 1990 boxed sets, Dozin At The Knick, and Terrapin Limited, the entire spring tour of 1990 has been officially released, making it only the second Grateful Dead tour, after Europe 1972, to have that honor.

Now shipping, you'll want to order your copy soon as these beautiful boxes are going, going, gone...

Listening Party: 3/29/90, Nassau Coliseum With Branford Marsalis, Set 2

Enjoy the 2nd set of 3/29/90!

Listening Party, Part 2

Enjoy a track from each show!

Listening Party, Part 1

Enjoy a track from each show!

Seaside Chat: David Lemieux On The Branford Show

Unveiling Spring 1990 (TOO)

Talkin' Spring 1990 Too With Bob Weir, Jeffrey Norman And Branford Marsalis

David Lemieux on What’s Inside Spring 1990 (The Other One)

Product Details

Show #1
Capital Center, Landover, MD (3/14/90)

Disc 1
4. MAMA TRIED> [2:31]
5. BIG RIVER [5:21]
6. LOOSE LUCY [6:56]
8. ROW JIMMY [10:17]
9. LET IT GROW [11:54]

Disc 2
1. CRAZY FINGERS> [8:12]
3. UNCLE JOHN'S BAND> [8:05]
4. JAM> [7:12]
5. DRUMS> [7:38]
6. SPACE> [6:34]
7. DEAR MR. FANTASY> [5:53]
8. I NEED A MIRACLE> [4:07]
9. BLACK PETER> [7:53]

Show #2
Civic Center, Hartford, CT (3/18/90)

Disc 1
3. STAGGER LEE [5:29]
4. ME AND MY UNCLE> [3:08]
9. RAMBLE ON ROSE [8:02]

Disc 2
1. IKO IKO [8:08]
3. HE'S GONE> [8:56]
4. TRUCKIN'> [8:54]
5. SPOONFUL> [7:19]
6. DRUMS [6:52]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [11:23]
2. THE WHEEL> [5:49]
4. MORNING DEW [11:32]
5. U.S. BLUES [5:31]

Show #3
Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (3/21/90)

Disc 1
3. FAR FROM ME [5:05]
5. LOOSE LUCY [7:27]

Disc 2
1. HEY POCKY WAY [7:10]
2. CRAZY FINGERS> [07:38]
5. HE'S GONE> [12:42]
6. DRUMS> [9:37]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [7:39]
2. I NEED A MIRACLE> [4:16]
3. WHARF RAT> [8:41]

Show #4
Knickerbocker Arena, Albany NY (3/25/90)

Disc 1
2. TOUCH OF GREY [6:42]
5. JACK-A-ROE [4:36]
7. BIRD SONG [13:08]
8. LET IT GROW [11:36]

Disc 2
1. EYES OF THE WORLD> [13:26]
3. CRAZY FINGERS> [7:21]
4. TRUCKIN'> [7:43]
5. SPOONFUL> [5:37]
6. DRUMS [9:59]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [8:58]
4. BLACK PETER> [9:09]

Show #5 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (3/28/90)

Disc 1
3. EASY TO LOVE YOU [5:48]
4. HIGH TIME [6:14]
6. LOOSE LUCY [6:11]
7. CASSIDY> [6:06]
8. DEAL [8:18]

Disc 2
1. FOOLISH HEART> [10:21]
2. LOOKS LIKE RAIN> [8:09]
4. THE WEIGHT [5:46]
5. HEY POCKY WAY> [x:xx]
6. DRUMS [11:17]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [9:22]
2. THE OTHER ONE> [6:52]
3. WHARF RAT> [10:35]
4. GOOD LOVIN' [7:52]
5. REVOLUTION [4:55]

Show #6
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (3/29/90)

Disc 1
1. JACK STRAW> [6:15]
2. BERTHA [6:59]
3. WE CAN RUN [6:04]
4. RAMBLE ON ROSE [8:08]
6. BIRD SONG> [13:05]

Disc 2
1. EYES OF THE WORLD> [16:33]
3. DARK STAR> [18:19]
4. DRUMS [10:22]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [7:53]
2. DARK STAR> [2:46]
3. THE WHEEL> [4:23]

Show #7
The Omni, Atlanta, GA (4/1/90)

Disc 1
1. TOUCH OF GREY [6:41]
2. WALKIN' BLUES [6:27]
4. CANDYMAN [7:20]
5. ME AND MY UNCLE> [3:05]
6. BIG RIVER [5:28]
7. ALTHEA [8:09]
9. TO LAY ME DOWN> [9:24]

Disc 2
2. I KNOW YOU RIDER [4:51]
3. SHIP OF FOOLS> [7:50]
5. DRUMS [7:30]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [11:48]
2. DEAR MR. FANTASY> [5:42]
3. HEY JUDE> [2:37]
4. TRUCKIN'> [7:00]
5. STELLA BLUE> [10:21]

Show #8
The Omni, Atlanta, GA (4/3/90)

Disc 1
2. HELL IN A BUCKET> [6:17]
3. SUGAREE [11:24]
4. WE CAN RUN [6:55]
6. ROW JIMMY [10:11]
7. PICASSO MOON [7:14]
8. TENNESSEE JED> [7:39]

Disc 2
3. CRAZY FINGERS> [8:06]
5. DRUMS [8:17]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [6:56]
5. NOT FADE AWAY [7:27]


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Joined: Jan 24 2011
Double blind

You COULD do it double blind. But, you HAVE to make sure you start with the same files. Take your 24/96 or whatever file, have it professionally converted to 16-bit. Don't just get separate files to start with. Even very slight differences in volume will make a difference (louder is almost always reported as better in testing). Then get someone to help with the a/b testing. Ideally, you should NOT be able to see the other individual, and it would better if he didn't even talk if he is going to know which is which; to keep it double blind he nor you should know which is 24 and which is 16 until after all testing. Try to take no less than 100 listens. Use equipment to make sure volume level is truly identical, not the volume setting of the playback equipment, but the volume of the playback itself. And, of course, he shouldn't just switch back from one to the other. Use a random number generator to determine the order of which files to playback in what order. Ideally, you should check both files with visual analysis software so that you can really see if the conversion to 16 bit was done well. The sine wave results should be virtually indistinguishable in amplitude when overlayed. The only real visual dupifference you should be able to see would be possible content in frequency ranges above 22khz in the hi res file that wouldn't exist in the 16/44.1 file. If this is not the case you're not comparing apples to apples and the test won't mean anything.

P.S professionals use 24 bit recording for reasons that have nothing to do audio quality of the listening experience of those files. It has to do with the playing room it gives for subsequent digital manipulation. I think one of the articles I linked to talks about this.

One Man's picture
Joined: May 17 2011
Owsley Can You Hear Me Now?

I wish Owsley Stanley were still alive to debate this. He said to me that digital audio (all of it) is "a bad joke" and I tend to agree as far as in comparison to analog. The day I plugged in my (24 bit/48K) multitrack in place of my old Otari MX-70 (1-inch 16-track analog magnetic tape) was the day my studio began sounding less warm and snuggly. Of course, there are a million reasons why this is true, none of which are likely to be cured by "better" digital audio technology. I'm sure someone has tried to invent a tape emulation algorithm and I don't see that gaining any traction.

That aside, virtually all professional studios use 24 bit recording, even knowing the product will end up as 16 bit. I have the choice but have never used 16 bit multitrack. Maybe I'll try that. It won't be double blind, but it could be revealing if I use a MIDI source, drum machine and/or other "pre-recorded" sources so there will not be any performance cues. I could even transfer a song from an old LP and hear it both ways. I'll report back with results.

I am not down with false marketing of 24-bit audio. The science should not be tampered with to make a buck. PONO makers and the like should just explain what they have done and see what the market will bear. I don't plan to buy one, but I could change my mind.

Joined: Jan 24 2011
Yes, we will have to agree to disagree

"Do frequencies (including noise purposely placed) outside the audible range change our reaction to music?" People keep missing the point that even if it's just feelings or some unquantifiable non-auditory affect, if it made ANY difference - even one you couldn't put your finger on, that would SHOW UP on the results of the double blind test. Scientifically (as far I'm concerned) they've proven that there is nothing, not even something inaudible or even supernatural, that is making a difference, or the results would be different.

As far as noise, it is the EXACT same issue. Scientifically, any added noise from dithering should be inaudible unless you have a noise floor about zero, which never happens. And again, exactly as before, if it made ANY detectable difference it would skew the results of the double-blind studies - which clearly it did not; that speaks for itself.

Yes, we can agree to disagree. I prefer engineering that errs on the side of not intentionally trying to take advantage of the less technically informed for a buck. And I also disagree with the characterization that this is going a "step beyond" and what it implies. You are repeating things like "demonstrably greater noise" while ignoring that noise you can't hear isn't really noise. If snake oil makes someone feel a little better it NEVER changes the original intent behind the making of that snake oil, and never will. Unfortunately, this is precisely the kind of disagreement, discussion and outcome that the folks who ARE aware of the science behind digital audio technology and are trying to capitalize on it are counting on. They have to. But, like I said, it's not my money and there are much more important things to worry about.

For what it is worth, if you do spend your extra money on "hi res" files and equipment and storage space and download times, etc., I do hope you enjoy them. Especially if it's Jerry!

EDIT - And, doesn't it bother you AT ALL that in the marketing on places like HDTracks and other Hi-Res sites, they are intentionally misleading. While you, after reading some of the science, have realized that the "smoothness" issue, and the "stair step" issue are bogus, even if you don't seem to see the same with the "noise" issue, it is simply fact, not opinion that there is no "stair-step" issue, but if you go look, that is precisely the kind of material using graphs, etc., that they use in their marketing. In other words, they are using something that, regardless of how you feel about so called hi-res audio files, is entirely scientifically bogus - you can see on audio sound analyzers that the music/sound waves that are produced are as smooth and identical to the originals, but these sites display graphs showing stair steps of rectangular discreet "samples" and showing more samples making a sound wave smoother, using words like giving the music a more "natural" less digital "feel" (demonstrably false). Doesn't this kind of marketing TELL you anything about what is going on??? And, in light of that, when you refer to how we don't understand everything about how humans/the brain respond to this or that, are you implying that they might be right BY ACCIDENT, that even though they're clearly intentionally lying to their buyers about much, that COINCIDENTALLY they might be selling a higher quality product?? Not buying it. I'm with the Society of Audio Engineers on this one.

EDIT 2 - And, while you're talking about the (as far as I'm concerned illusory) intangible but maybe real and subtle differences, doesn't it bother you to read about the legions of people out there are who buy these hi-res files and then post about how they're SO MUCH better, you can just hear how much deeper the sound is, the cymbals are so much crisper (that would be in the AUDIBLE frequency range), the sound is so much smoother, you HAVE TO experience it for yourself! You now know how much of that is simply not factually possible (other than in the mind due to expectations), but you can still stand behind this? Sorry, I can't, I just can't.

EDIT 3 - I thought of something else, too. While you appear willing to overlook the most glaring falsehoods being perpetrated on the off-chance that the "hi res" MIGHT offer some virtually intangible benefits, you appear completely ready to ignore things like the quote from the first link I sent which reads "Unfortunately, there is no point to distributing music in 24-bit/192kHz format. Its playback fidelity is slightly inferior to 16/44.1 or 16/48, and it takes up 6 times the space." He goes on to explain why, and I believe at least one of the other articles mentions it also - if not, I know you can find ones that do. The reasons for the slight inferiority, which have to do with the potential affects of inaudible frequencies attempted to be reproduced by sound equipment whereby the actually AUDIBLE frequencies are interfered with (something that wouldn't happen from listening to live music, like a guitar, but DOES happen due to the inherent inadequacies of speakers and headphones of whatever quality) - you seem to be perfectly willing to just ignore any negative (and in this case demonstrable) affects of using playback files that store frequencies that are not just a little but astronomically above human hearing level. Again, to quote "Neither audio transducers nor power amplifiers are free of distortion, and distortion tends to increase rapidly at the lowest and highest frequencies. If the same transducer reproduces ultrasonics along with audible content, any nonlinearity will shift some of the ultrasonic content down into the audible range as an uncontrolled spray of intermodulation distortion products covering the entire audible spectrum. Nonlinearity in a power amplifier will produce the same effect. The effect is very slight, but listening tests have confirmed that both effects can be audible." Also being ignored are the fact that virtually no microphones (certainly none in use commercially) are even capable of picking up these frequencies to begin with, so ANY frequencies in that range ARE noise introduced as part of the digital file manipulation phases, which 16/44.1 files would simply lop off, but are still contained in a 96 or 192khz file? The list goes on and on and on. And, for me, I just will never get over the INTENTIONALITY of the original deception for the sake of greed, and how it has now spilled over into otherwise well-intentioned, but misguided supporters.

EDIT 4 - the argument also reminds me of psychic pay per minute phone lines. It's like hearing an argument from people who spend a few hundred dollars a month on these psychic hotlines explaining that we don't know all the capabilities of the human mind. No, we don't. Does that make it one scintilla more likely that the "psychics" on the other end of the $2.00 per minute phone call are anything but frauds? Nope. And the fact that people can and do legitimately bring up our lack of complete understanding of the capabilities of the human mind muddies the waters and gives some reasonable semblance of credence to these frauds drives me similarly batshit.

One Man's picture
Joined: May 17 2011
Snake Bit

Well, we are going to have to agree to disagree on the "snake oil" issue. If 24 bit has demonstrably lower noise, it's not snake oil, even if subjects in a double blind test can't "hear" it. The effect of audio on humans can only be measured to a certain degree. The rest -- call it "feelings" if you must -- is in the ear and brain of the beholder. Do frequencies (including noise purposely placed) outside the audible range change our reaction to music? I don't know, and no test can prove there is no effect. I'm sure that Warlocks box "sounds" great on paper. It apparently met whatever specs were used to produce it.

I prefer engineering that errs on the side of quality. I want digital audio to go a step beyond the old 16/44.1 design, and now it is going there. And it is unlikely to go further in that direction, if that is any consolation to anyone thinking this will never end.

Joined: Jan 24 2011
I Guess There Are Worse Things For Me To Worry About

I'm not sure what to say. While the Warlocks sound has issues, are they mastering issues? Mixing issues? One thing we know is that it is not a 16/44.1 vs 24/96 issue. We know that that is not the problem. In the tests (talked about in one of the links) where they did a double blind test where they inserted a 16.44.1 loop, they didn't even bother dithering. Dithering is NOT the issue. It moves quantisation error/noise into the mostly inaudible regions of the frequency range.

Part of the problem is that by asking, "So why not go 24/96 from here on out?", it's like hearing someone listen to a snake-oil pitch - snake-oil that won't do any harm, but costs major bucks and for which an entire industry is ready to sell you lots more of it and lots of extremely expensive accessories to go with it. You're asking, what's the harm?

And, part of the ability for them to do that is predicated on people having the same preconceptions and and misunderstandings about digital audio that were in your original post - believing in things like "granularity", a "smoother" sound because you have more discrete samples (probably the most frequently heard misunderstanding), greater "depth" to the recording because you have more bit-depth (COMPLETELY off), the idea it is closer to analog, the idea of that what you get is a "stair-step" sound wave and having more samples makes for more steps, and smoother sound wave, etc. Even many audio professionals who don't deal directly with the technical aspects of how the files work buy into this demonstrably nonsensical understanding of what is going on - and this is CRITICAL for the people who want to take your money unnecessarily (many of them probably belive it too).

As long as there are folks bringing up ambiguity (similar to "the snake oil coulnd't HURT), as long folks repeat nonsense like "well, the extra frequency range in 96khz recordings may not be in the audible range, but the harmonics created by those frequencies probably affect the way the music FEELS". If that were true IN ANY WAY the double blind tests would fail - people would be able to pick out the difference.

In any case, the train's probably already left the station. The idea of "high resolution" is probably already too firmly entrenched, and I expect many people will buy into it. I guess there are worse things, but the snake-oil thing drives me batshit.

P.S. Edit - I recently found out that, contrary to what I implied in an earlier post, unlike in the early years of digital audio, modern DAC's (digital to audio converters), even the most inexpensive ones are virtually perfect. There is no longer really any such thing as a "better" or "higher quality" DAC. They all virtually perfectly reproduce an analog sound wave that is identical to the original.

One Man's picture
Joined: May 17 2011

Thank you for the links. The common caveat seems to be "if properly dithered". I am sure I have heard many digital recordings that lacked proper dithering (or other treatment) because they sounded obviously harsh. So we can't necessarily assume we are always talking about properly dithered recordings. Some sound terrible and it is clearly a digital issue as you don't hear analog recordings sounding this way (although they can obviously have their own problems). Also, John Siau says in his article, "Long word lengths do not improve the amplitude "resolution" of digital systems, they only improve the noise performance. But, noise can mask low-level musical details, so please do not underestimate the importance of a low-noise audio system." So if 16/44.1 is "good enough", it is just barely "good enough" and sometimes probably isn't. So why not go 24/96 from here on out? We will never need to go higher than that.

Relating this to the Grateful Dead, the release "Formerly the Warlocks" sounds terrible to me, and I am nearly certain this is a digital issue. I have never heard an analog recording that lacked this much "depth" and sounded this harsh. By "depth" I am not talking about dynamic range nor frequency range. There is something missing throughout the signal. I can't measure my dissatisfaction with this recording -- all I have for instruments are my ears. But I am sure some other listeners hear what I hear in this recording. I'm not blaming it on 16/44.1. I am blaming it on poor digital engineering of some kind.

Joined: Jan 24 2011
Hi One Man

Hi One Man,

Respectfully (seriously), there are too many factual errors and misunderstandings about digital audio technology in your post to reply without writing another tome. I will instead point you to some links that explain some of it.

In particular your understanding of the relationship between how digital audio technology works, and what you are referring to as "granularity" is simply incorrect, but conforms to "common sense" in the sense of how most people believe digital audio works.

If you're interested in the topic I would suggest reading those links in their entirety (I believe they have references to many other locations for further information as well).

Taken together, I think these go a long ways to a good explanation of some things that are not intuitively obvious, things like, from that last link: "So, 24bit does add more 'resolution' compared to 16bit but this added resolution doesn't mean higher quality, it just means we can encode a larger dynamic range. This is the misunderstanding made by many. There are no extra magical properties, nothing which the science does not understand or cannot measure. The only difference between 16bit and 24bit is 48dB of dynamic range (8bits x 6dB = 48dB) and nothing else. This is not a question for interpretation or opinion, it is the provable, undisputed logical mathematics which underpins the very existence of digital audio."

You will also see, as explained in the article on bit-depth, that each "sample" as represented by a 16-bit (or 24-bit or 2-bit) binary number ONLY encodes the amplitude (volume) of the signal. Frequency is controlled ENTIRELY by sampling rate. When you have a particular "volume" measurement played back 1000 times a second, you get a sound frequency of 1000hz at the volume specified. It's easier if you think of each "sample" as encoding a virtually instantaneous "tick" sound where the number of bits controls only the volume of the tick. How fast the ticks are made produces a tone.

While it is true that 16-bit encodes 65,536 different possible numbers, and 24-bit encodes 16,777,216 different numbers, the granularity you refer to I don't think is granularity as you believed it to mean. The difference between 65,536 and 16,777,216 is ONLY the difference of how many VOLUME levels can be encoded. While there is some controversy over whether frequencies over human hearing can affect what we hear (there shouldn't be), there is no controversy that no one can detect the difference in volumes from one level to the very next at the granularity level of either 16-bit or 24-bit, so their "smoothness" is identical to human hearing. For instance, LP's are the equivalent of about 11-bit recordings (they have to compress the dynamic levels so the lowest volume to loudest fits within this range due to the limitation in groove/needle technology). Assuming with the most modern technology, the newest LP's can be equivalent to 12-bit (and I have no reason to think this, but let's assume they've improved), that means LP's as you knew them had a "granularity" of about 2,048 volume levels with newer ones MAYBE having up to 4,096. I don't think the "granularity" of 65,536 is a problem and certainly NOT distinguishable from 16,777,216.

One Man's picture
Joined: May 17 2011
Dither Tizzy

It's partly my fault this board has digressed into a long discussion about digital audio. Sorry about that. But I must say (at least) one more thing. Saying that bit depth only affects dynamic range is way off the mark. Bit depth is the number of values available for each digital sample of the waveform. So the granularity (resolution) of the sound is dependent on bit depth. Sure, it ends up as a sound wave by the time it reaches your ears, but the shape of the wave is modified by digitizing it. Take the logic to the extreme. If you could have a 2 bit recording, each sample could only be assigned to one of 4 values. Imagine how raw that would sound. The number of available values is the number 2 raised to the power of the bit depth. So, an 8 bit recording has a "granularity" of 256 available values per sample. A 16 bit recording has 65,536 available values per sample and at that point is getting quite a bit more resolved. A 24 bit recording has 16,777,216 available values per sample and is thus 256 times more resolved than 16 bit. I'm not saying everyone can hear the difference between 16 and 24 bit. But people can certainly hear 8 bit vs 16 bit. So some people - maybe not enough to statistically skew the even odds stats - probably can hear 16 vs 24. I can tell you from my experience that my analog studio tape machine sounds noticeably better than my high-end 24 bit digital recorder with excellent AD and DA converters. And anything that approaches analog by providing higher resolution is a move in the right direction, even if Neil Young is a grumpy old man having a mid-life crisis about 2 decades late.

Joined: Jun 18 2009
"Many are critical of Neal [sic] Young's pono"

I suspect that this is based in some degree on the fact that Neil can be a rather abrasive personality and people will take shots at him when they can. There is also probably a bit of a reflexive distaste for the pricing and kickstarter campaign that came with the pono rollout. As we see here often, any time a product is priced above what a kind veggie burrito cost in the lots at SPAC 1985, people bitch and moan.

Joined: Jan 24 2011
Thanks Dantian

I realized after the fact that every time I referred to uncompressed CD quality files I should have referred instead to lossless CD quality files, as some might not get it that FLACs and SHNs are digitally identical to the uncompressed wav files at playback. I agree about the need for greater availability of lossless downloads. It drives me batshit that iTunes doesn't offer FLAC, and even most sites that have the largest selection of classical music still only offer mp3's. You would think that classical music places would be the first places to realize the demand for lossless download purchases, but I guess not. I create my own high quality mp3's so that I can fit my entire music library on several 160GB portable devices, but I like to have the originals on my home playback library.

dantian's picture
Joined: Aug 6 2013
Good post, wjonjd

I'm glad you continue to speak out on the whole hi-res file marketing scam. I've tried to do the same here in the past, but you definitely have a talent for explaining it in a more accessible, and diplomatic manner.

One good thing I see in Neil Young's Pono service is the promise of greater availability of CD-quality FLAC downloads. That should really be the standard in purchased music downloads, and anything that moves us away from buying MP3s is a step in the right direction.

Joined: Nov 7 2013
Not just nostalgia

I still Love LPs. My Nakamichi DRAGON sounds pretty warm to me.
Maybe it's just my nostalgia. Then again,maybe not.:)

Joined: Jan 24 2011

I haven't looked into the technical specs of the Pono yet, but it would certainly make a difference if they used top of the line components/electronics compared to other devices. For instance, the quality of the built in DAC. If the unit then still allows you to play 16/44.1 files and not just 24/96 and 24/192 files, then it should offer an audible improvement over products that use cheaper components without forcing you into hi res. I will be interested in looking into the pono details - haven't had the time yet. As far as analog warmth, I have yet to hear anything other than vinyl that gives me that. Even though LP's only provide the equivalent of about 11-bit dynamic range, I believe what I've read about the reason for the "warmth", the subtle distortion produced by any sound reproduction medium that requires contact with the medium - distortion from the needle, pressure on the tone arm, etc. Whatever the reason behind what causes it, I think it's largely irreproducible from digital media (unless they digitally record an LP playback! :) Digital files are actually much more accurate to the master recording, have no need of dynamic compression, are clearer, etc. But, there is just something about that LP sound. Maybe it's just nostalgia on my part.

Joined: Nov 7 2013
Re Specious

Thanks for the education. I mean that.
In my previous Specious post, the bottom line was comparing devices not files - pono vs Ipod. Is it a specious argument that a different device or component will reproduce sound with superiority over another ? Will the pono reproduce sound with greater SQ than my Iphone 6 with the same file in playback ?
Are the components used focused on audiophile quality sound reproduction ?
Many are critical of Neal Young's pono prior to investigation.
Are they the former lovers of Daryl Hannah ? Neal Young is not an electronics engineer or designer. Charles Hansen of Ayre Acoustics is. The pono device is Hansen's brainchild funded by Young.

Will the pono player prove to be a portable audiophile device that reproduces any file with transparency, accuracy, as well as an analog warmth that other players lack.
Now that they are being delivered to mailboxes worldwide,we shall see. Or hear rather. Specious indeed. Rock on my fellow Deadheads !!
Thanks again for your post wjonjd. It puts a lot in perspective for me.

Joined: Jan 24 2011

Hi TN Dead,

I think he might mean the following by that:

There has been some debate here (and on a couple of other threads) whether Hi Res files make a difference, in the sense of whether anyone can really tell a difference between them and "regular res" for lack of a better term. But, THAT argument concerns "regular" meaning 16/44.1 (CD quality) files versus Hi Res (24/96 or 24/192), and that in that debate it is "Specious" to bring compressed files like MP3 into the argument because it appears many confuse the difference between MP3's and uncompressed files versus the difference between Hi Res and CD Quality files.

There was actually one poster not long ago who stated he was a believer in Hi Res because once the difference was audibly pointed out to him between his MP3's and FLAC's he "realized" that Hi Res must be even better. THAT, I think, it was the previous poster meant by "Specious".

As it turns out, every scientific study done to date done in a peer-reviewed way has never found a single individual who can actually hear the difference between "Hi Res" files and CD Quality files - even when including in the mix people who swear before hand that they can always hear how much better Hi Res sounds. Not One Person in peer-reviewed studies has ever fared better than 50-50 when comparing the two when the files start from the exact same masters.

It turns out it's VERY difficult to do this at home. It has to be completely double-blind for one thing where neither YOU nor any assistants know which file is which until AFTER all the listening. Expectations produce such a HUGE placebo effect that in every peer-reviewed study (again), even when the testers surreptitiously use the EXACT SAME FILE (in other words lie that one is Hi Res and the other is CD Quality), if they allow the listener to "find out" which one Hi Res and which CD quality prior to hearing them, the listeners ALWAYS either say the "Hi Res" one sounds better or that they can't hear the difference; NEVER that the CD quality one sounds better (even though in this case they lied since they were just repeating the same file).

You can google some of the studies done to date. I believe the Boston Society of Audio Engineers has done an extensive one, and there are many others done at various universities.

The real issue is that most people misunderstand exactly what "Hi Res" files actually are.

Hi Res refers to files that are 24 bit (or higher) and done at sampling rates of 96khz or 192khz. The bits refers to how many data bits are used to store each "sample", and the sampling rate is how often a sample is taken - 96khz means 96,000 times per second. It should be noted that NONE of this has anything to do with the terminology used in MP3 compressed files - they are completely irrelevant to the discussion. The Hi Res debate is about comparing those files to 16 bit 44.1 kHz UNCOMPRESSED CD Quality files (CD's use 16 bits and 44.1 kHz).

The number of data bits used controls ONLY the dynamic range available to the recording. The more bits the more dynamic range, meaning that you can have more a difference between the softest and loudest sounds. It turns out that 16 bits is enough to go from a sound level of a light bulb several meters away from you (usually the noise floor of wherever you are listening to music is already louder than that), up to the sound level of a jackhammer a foot or so from your head. MUCH more dynamic range than, say, vinyl which would be equivalent to about an 11-bit recording.

The sampling rate controls available frequency range that can be recorded. Most people misunderstand the nature of digital audio thinking that because the music is "sampled" in discrete intervals that the more samples the "smoother" the result. This is a misunderstanding. You don't ever get to hear the "samples". The digital to analog converter that the music runs through before it gets to your ears converts the digital information to a sound wave. And, as it turns out from the mathematics behind it all, as long as the sampling rate is at least twice the highest sound frequency you have recorded, then the digital to analog converter can, with 100% (literally) recreate the original smooth sound wave from the source EXACTLY. 44.1khz (44,100 times per second) is fast enough to encode sounds from 20hz to over 22khz. Human hearing, unless you're an infant (seriously) doesn't go beyond this range.

So, a 16-bit 44.1khz recording is capable of reproducing music from the source perfectly and no more bits and no higher sampling rate is needed (and never will be) for LISTENING.

It turns out that "Hi Res" has actually been around for decades. Where it is useful is in the RECORDING/MASTERING process, because during mastering the engineer may want to manipulate the sound in many ways. Each manipulation introduces "errors" which are cumulative. By STARTING with 24 bits (which inherently has enough dynamic range to LITERALLY make blood come pouring out of your ears if you actually had equipment that respond to highest level), the engineer has "playing room" so to speak to manipulate the recording and then will dither down to 16-bit for the final product. Again, the advantage to 24 bits is in the manipulation of the file. There is no advantage to the LISTENER between a 16-bit and 24-bit file

Some people point to the superiority of DVD-Audio and SACD. That is also "specious" because in almost EVERY case, the DVD-Audio discs are made from different (and superior) masters, while SACD is actually a completely different technology (can't go into that one right now), but again are almost always from different masters than the CD releases. To properly compare CD quality audio files to 24/96 files you need to START WITH THE EXACT SAME FILE and then just dither the 24/96 file down to 16/44.1. That is what has been done in the double-blind studies, and not one human being EVER has gotten statistically better than a coin toss trying to distinguish the one from the other, even folks who swear by hi res. Most of these studies involve large numbers of individuals where they purposely get a sampling of audio professionals (audio engineers, musicians, etc.,) laymen who consider themselves audiophiles, as well as a mix of people who don't consider themselves audiophiles. THEN, they listen in a controlled double-blind environment and most of the studies purposely use equipment that ranges from the VERY high end down to the VERY cheap. They account for other variables like using a large range of ages, different types of music, etc. None has ever fared better than a coin toss in this environment.

But, you still have folks who swear "I checked, and Hi Res is so much better, man!". If you read some of the studies you will realize how hard it is to do the testing on your own without biasing the test.

The reason this all came about is that, like I said, Hi Res has been around for decades, but no one every called it that. It was the resolution used by audio professionals during the mastering phases of producing product for consumers which was converted to CD quality files to put on CD's for general release. Many in the industry recently realized the money potential in convincing people that the hi res files actually SOUND better - people will pay more for the files AND there's all that new equipment to sell. Many people don't even buy music anymore, and many of those that do already have all the CD's they were ever going to buy. By using a new format "hi rez" they can get younger people to pay more, and get older pay to pay again for music they already own.

They realized that they can also exploit the fact that very few people really understand digital music technology and will believe that if CD quality files sound better than MP3 compressed files (They do!) then Hi Res files MUST sound better than CD Quality files.

In fact, many hi res files DO sound better because the masters used in the original CD quality files suck so bad, and they do a better job mastering before making the Hi Res files. Obviously the real solution is just to master the original music content to the highest standards TO BEGIN WITH. Again, if you start from the same masters, and then just make a Hi Res file and a CD quality file from that same master - NO ONE has been found who can really tell the difference.

There will ALWAYS be people who read the marketing garbage and will repeat things like "even though CD quality covers the whole range of human hearing ability, the higher frequencies you can't hear create harmonics that only Hi Res files can store" and stuff like that. But IT ALL COMES DOWN TO, if people can't really HEAR a difference in every controlled study, then there is no difference to YOU THE CONSUMER. There's nothing WRONG with the hi-res files. But, paying more for them, or thinking you're getting better sounding files because there's more bits or a higher sampling rate, is just silly.

In light of that, it makes SO much more sense to spend your extra money on BETTER SOUND REPRODUCTION EQUIPMENT - speakers, system, etc. Beyond that, you're just tossing money at a ploy.

Joined: Nov 7 2013
Specious ?

I've got nothing.

Joined: Apr 23 2008
l pod v pono

If you put mp3 on your ipod and lossless on pono of course there is a big difference. That's a specious argument. Unless you are 18 pono is Neil ' s pipe dream

simonrob's picture
Joined: Jun 7 2007
MP3s - It is worse than you think...

Check out this link for an interesting article about the effects of listening to those nasty, compressed MP3s:

Joined: Nov 7 2013
Re Hi Res

Highly compressed MP3 files sound terrible. turn those same files into FLAC files and they still sound terrible. Put them on iTunes and play them through your $30.000 sound system. same result.
Putting thousands of shows through the compressed file ringer and then throwing away those master audience cassettes. soundboard reels,DAT masters etc... is / was a big mistake. Digital degeneration. Bummer.
That being said, Neil and others aim to start with a master source and create a Hi Res reproduction. Not a mistake. I'm sure we all could hear a big difference.
Concerning the pono player,its about the build quality of the device or component.
ipod vs pono or Mcintosh vs Panasonic . I'm sure we all could hear a big difference

Joined: Jun 5 2007
Thank you Dr. Rhino

I had a bit of glue on disk 1 of 3/28, I tried to gently clean it off, but it still skipped.

About two weeks after contacting customer service I received a replacement.

Thank you very much- your prompt and courteous service is greatly appreciated!

nitecat's picture
Joined: Nov 1 2010
No complete setlist

I realize this is a minor quibble, but it would have been nice to have in the box a complete set list for all the shows to refer to. The book could have had this, or it could have been another page in the box.

nitecat's picture
Joined: Nov 1 2010
Finally Listened to all TOO

All my disks played fine. What a treat. I'm now checking out DP12, what an awesome Let it Grow! It has a little jam at the end that I vaguely remember, but have not heard for years.

Joined: Apr 23 2008
Sunshine Daydream

Pono I can hear it. In medicine it's called the placebo effect. That's OK If it works for you go for it

Joined: Jan 2 2008

I can hear a difference .... If I can Hear it Neil can..... The Dead were the Pioneers of HDCD and sound quality ..... Let It Grow

Joined: Jul 12 2014
Problem disks

Yes i had two disks that wouldn't play in my regular dvd player but worked fine in another dvd player, so i had put it down to a player issue. Haven't put into iTunes yet so hopefully the issue won't reappear when i am doing that. Forget which disks it happened on though.

Joined: Jan 5 2008
4.1.90 The Omni Disc 2 Won't Play

CD2 will not register in any cd player I've tried. Anyone else have this issue with this or any other Spring 90 disc?

mbarilla's picture
Joined: Aug 8 2013

I finally got back into Spring 90 after heavy doses of Winterland 74/78 , and May/Fall 77.

I'm working my way through the box and have reached some excellent tracks. These 4 are a great combo to end the first set.

Jack-a-Roe :
Masterpiece :
Bird Song :
Let if Grow

Joined: Apr 23 2008
Pono again

I love and respect Neil greatly. That said there are times when he's a bit weird/off/intense whatever. Even if I believed there were humans that could hear some benefit from his Pono (which I don't) a guy who's in his 70's been playing R&R all his life isn't one of them.

Joined: Jun 6 2007

Looking forward to receiving my High Resolution Pono player soon. Neil Young's brainchild.....go to and check it out.

Joined: Jan 24 2011
Hi Res

There are quite a few scientific studies done so far. I remember that one is from the Boson Audio Engineering Society, so you can look that one up. I believe they intentionally used a mix of self described audiophiles, professional audio engineers and other audio professionals, professional musicians, as well as "laymen" with no special audio credentials. This is by design. They used a cross section of ages, music preferences and even educational backgrounds. The methodology is described in detail. This is the kind of thing that makes a study "scientific", and difficult to reproduce at home.

One Man's picture
Joined: May 17 2011
Hi-Res Ears

At the risk of opening a hi-res can o' worms here, I wonder something. The science says subjects in well-designed studies cannot distinguish between CD-quality (16 bit) and higher res (24 bit) music. Are those subjects random dudes (and presumably ladies) off the street? Because it would be interesting if a sampling of trained audio engineers tried to hear the difference. I mean, I'm sure they have tried. I just wonder what the results would be if it were properly studied. I am guessing that folks who know what to listen for would hear differences. And ordinary "civilians" may not be able to distinguish this objectively, but they could still benefit subconsciously from a less harsh listening experience.

fourwindsblow's picture
Joined: Oct 13 2008
Hi Res Player

Nice unit and it automatically expands compressed files. That's why is sounds so amazing.

tree1270's picture
Joined: Jun 13 2007
Hamilton Hey Pocky Way

That Hey Pocky Way second set opener in Hamilton 3/21/90 is smokin!!! A good lift up when you need it :) :) :)

Joined: Nov 7 2013
Hi Res Player

Check out the Sony HAP-Z1 Player. Nohing has reproduced my files as well as this thing, Truly amazing. Will only hold one Terabite of storage but, an external hard drve can be added. Great online tuner for internet radio as well,

Joined: Jan 24 2011

I'm going to see if I can find a standalone unit that does the same thing that can be added like any other component.

fourwindsblow's picture
Joined: Oct 13 2008

It's built into the Marantz(sr7005)Receiver I am using.

edit: The expander also gives me 5 or 6 more db of volume.

Joined: Jan 24 2011

I'd love to check out one of those, I really enjoy trying new stuff out (new to me anyway). I've never even heard of them. How much do they cost, and what are they called (as in what would I look up)?


Edit: There isn't really any compression in a 16/44.1 file- not in the sense of mp3 compression and not in the sense of dynamic range compression on vinyl. The bit depth only accounts for the dynamic range (softest to loudest sound amplititude). 16 bits is enough to go from a low of about the sound of a light bulb a few meters away to the sound of a jackhammer a foot from your head. Frequency response is limited by the sampling rate, and with a rate of 44,100 samples per second, the file can encode frequencies from 20Hz to 22KHz and the digital to analog converter can completely reproduce the original sound wave with 100% accuracy within those frequencies. Since frequencies outside that range are not even encoded in the file, they are not a problem, and those frequencies lie outside the range of human hearing for almost all adults. So there really isn't any compression. It's as hi res as needed to reproduce any music, and will be forever.

fourwindsblow's picture
Joined: Oct 13 2008

I was just curious because when I had said earlier that when I play "16/44 files through a expander(to put back those frequencies that were lost during compression)it sounds like a record."

It does give it a fuzzy warm sound that you described. It also attenuates the upper mid-range and gives it wider sound-stage and is less ear fatiguing.

Joined: Jan 24 2011
Would it replace ....

I don't know, but I would doubt it for an obvious reason. Most people can readily and repeatedly distinguish a track played on vinyl from a cd quality 16/44.1 file. But, in every scientific study done so far, no one can distinguish hi res digital files from 16/44.1 files derived directly from that hi res file as the source.

That basically says that any distortion in the audible frequencies caused by ultrasonic frequencies, while it may be measurable and visible on audio analysis equipment, can't really be audible enough to the human ear, because that would cause at least some people to distinguish hi res from 16/44.1 at least enough to be statistically significant. Since that has never happened in any of the scientific studies so far, that would indicate that any introduced distortion from ultrasonics on hi res playback is NOT similar in any way to the effect of the audio distortion from vinyl.

fourwindsblow's picture
Joined: Oct 13 2008
"Actually, on high end

"Actually, on high end playback equipment, the ultrasonic (inaudible) frequencies can cause distortion in the AUDIBLE frequencies"

Would hi-rez distortion replace the distortion from the;

"distortion from the needle, distortion from the pressure of the needle against the grooves, and lots of other subtle distortions. That distortion creates a very slightly "fuzzy" effect which sounds "warm".

Joined: Jan 24 2011

It also occurred to me that a large number of folks who buy into the whole Hi Res thing are also major vinyl folks. It so happens I AM one of those vinyl lovers. I love the way they sound.

The difference is I'm also one of the people who has looked into WHY. Most people seem to think that since it's an analog playback medium, it's more similar to Hi Res than, say, CD.

Actually, it's the opposite. An ENORMOUS amount of compression is required to get that music onto vinyl. The dynamic range is roughly equivalent to an 11-bit digital recording. It turns out that what makes vinyl sound unique (and is pretty much irreproducible digitally) and "warm" is the combination of subtle distortion that is inevitable on a medium which requires physical contact with that medium to reproduce the sound. So, there's distortion from the needle, distortion from the pressure of the needle against the grooves, and lots of other subtle distortions. That distortion creates a very slightly "fuzzy" effect which sounds "warm". It's not dissimilar to the difference between a picture that's ultra sharp versus one where the edges are allowed to be ever so slightly less sharply in focus. The latter feels "warmer". That, coupled with the compressed dynamic range, creates that unique vinyl sound.

What's ironic, is that many of the same people who love vinyl are buying into the HiRes thing.

Joined: Jan 24 2011

@OneMan -
You're right, ALL the science supports that people can't hear the difference. Higher res digital is important during the mastering phases, manipulation of the audio, etc.

For playback purposes there is no benefit.

I've pretty much given up trying to convince people, though. When CDs were new most people bought all their music over again. Now that a large part of the market already has most of their collection on CD (which technically speaking is capable of reproducing music to the point that no one can distinguish it from higher bit higher sampled files, the industry is faced with a dilemma.

A large part of the public doesn't even BUY music anymore (spotify, pandora, etc.), so WHAT will they do to get buyers to purchase all that music over again with. Enter HD which has been around for decades, but now they see the market potential of convincing people these files sound superior to the human ear. And it's not just the medium. Think of all the hardware they can sell.

The vast majority of HD file purchasers have never bothered to read the science, or the double blind studies where no one (including audiophiles) has ever been able to tell the difference between the HD files and CD quality files in a controlled environment (like where they don't know ahead of time which they are listening to.)

I've also found that most people believe, since SACD and DVD-A sound so great, that it's because of the HD factor, without realizing that it's everything ELSE about those discs (superior mastering and mixing, using more than two playback tracks, etc) that make those sound superior.

So, in the end, let them waste their money. It doesn't affect the rest of us, and "you ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know."

Caveat: if the higher res files were the SAME PRICE as 16/44.1 files that would be fine. There's nothing WRONG with Hi res files. They're just not superior to the human ear. Actually, on high end playback equipment, the ultrasonic (inaudible) frequencies can cause distortion in the AUDIBLE frequencies making the playback audio slightly INFERIOR. But, in general, there's nothing wrong. It's just that you're throwing your money down the toilet paying MORE for them. Plus, it bothers me that people are being sold a bill of goods without realizing it. On the plus side, with the financial problems the whole music industry faces, SOMEBODY has to help with major cash infusions. So....... :)

One Man's picture
Joined: May 17 2011

If you own the CDs, just rip them to lossless and enjoy the 16/44.1 files. I doubt you will get any benefit from higher res files. In fact, they may sound worse. I understand this may be a controversial opinion. But the science supports it.

Joined: Oct 15 2014
More on Post Brent

I think my favorite dead moment post Brent is the Foolish Heart jam that ended the first set of 12-28-1990. Brings tears...

Joined: Jun 18 2009

Well MSG 90 is the apex of post-Brent. There is also a ton of great stuff in 1991, with Bruce obviously. 3-21, Greensboro both shows, Deer Creek both shows, RFK, Giants night 2, both Shoreline runs, Boston Garden run.

1992 is spotty as hell, there are some moments in the spring. Hampton, Copps and Detroit.

1993, Albany night one is a secret gem, Giants night one set II as well, Deer Creek run, here and there from the fall MSG and Boston shows. 10-5 Philly.

10-4-94 Scarlet>Fire needs to show up somewhere, although Seamons has a tremendous matrix out there that I can live with. You want to hear that S>F.

Underthevolcano's picture
Joined: Feb 6 2008
DP 27

Took this one off the shelf to listen-12/16/92 Oakland show. Great post-Brent show with Vince and without Hornsby. I sort of forgot about this one-listening in the car while traveling and had to crank it up and smile,smile,smile. To those of you who listen and explore Archive-what are your suggestions for a post Brent era box or pick? I know I am an advocate for 10/1/94 Boston but what are your picks from this generally neglected era.

boblopes's picture
Joined: Jan 13 2009

I bought both boxes from and could not agree more...

fourwindsblow's picture
Joined: Oct 13 2008
Box-set's and HD Flac files

I too have both Spring 90 boxes, but I really want the 24/192 files. It just makes me sick to have to pay another 350 dollars for them.

Joined: Oct 12 2014
HD FLAC in 192kHz/24bit

I have purchased the latest box sets from Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and included with purchase are unique codes to download content in HD FLAC Available in 192kHz/24bit.How about doing the same for those of us who have been purchasing all of the these sets so faithfully? Anybody else have any thoughts on this subject?

Joined: Jan 24 2011

Yeah, I've been playing that RT from the beginning, I'm up to the Let It Grow, and so far it SMOKES. It's not about sound quality, although the SQ is more than adequate. I don't know how anyone can listen to this and wonder why it was released. The performances are the equal or higher than many if the spring 90 performances. Not having Brent is a loss. But, these performances as PASSIONATE FLESH AND BLOOD MUSIC MAKING is TOP TIER GD. Awesome mind blowing goodness.

Added to Cart Spring 1990 (The Other One) Box

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