Music Documentaries

I’m going to port Badbeef’s first nomination over to this new thread, Muscle Shoals. A very worthy first to the list. It’s informational, inspirational, and really holds the viewer. Doesn’t hurt that it’s some of my favorite music of all time.

My idea is pretty straightforward here. For lovers of great documentary films about music. Bruce In Philly has a thread on the educational aspect of music listening. I’ve been meaning to contribute to that thread. As a cultural anthropologist who specialized in ethnomusicology, I’ve long been convinced that music is a tremendous vehicle to learn about any number of topics from history to culture…


…seems like there’s little doubt about this conclusion!

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I totally agree with you @wakethetown. However, sometimes I learn stuff I don’t really want to learn at all. Like some rap lyrics or latin video clips that have (IMHO) nothing to do with cultural anthropology, except maybe the history of the difficult path to a culture of gender equality, mutual respect and what not.
But what the heck: that stuff played on a nice PS Audio stack still sounds breathtaking, which is cultural enough for me… Hahaha…

P.S. I see you have a BHK250. Did you hear the BHK300 and is it in your experience really that much worse compared to the BHK300 as some on this forum tend to claim…?

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Hi Ronald,

Since I was the first person to post you my thoughts on the BHK300s (v) BHK250… I have attached a post: Paul McGowan’s first listen to the BHK300s. “I know Paul is biased”. But, going by my own experience, Paul is spot-on and if anything underselling the BHK300s. I have nothing to gain from saying what I say and it means nothing to me what others think/prefer. I speak the truth as I see/hear it regarding said amplifiers. The BHK250 is a ‘wonderful amplifier’ but moving to the BHK300 through ‘my system’ was/is a no-brainer. I moved from Constellation Reference amplifiers after experiencing the BHK300s in my system. The BHK amplifiers lack the fit and finish of Constellation but “musically” ( I care not what the PC brigade think about the use of the term - “musically” ), the BHK300s in my system outperformed the Constellation mono blocks… And, I wouldn’t have moved from the Constellation amplifiers for a BHK250.

Obviously, this is only my findings/experience and in the great scheme means diddly-squat to you…

""Okay, warning!! Spoiler alert. This is a rave and I just walked in from Music Room One holding my jaw in place. I am pumped up beyond description so take what you read with a boulder of sand. I have been accused of exaggeration and hyperbole in the past, it shall not end here.

Holy f*ck what has this change from stereo to mono wrought? I went into the first listening session of the BHK monos expecting better separation, possibly better soundstage as is normal with monos of the past. Immediately something was wrong. Center image specificity was all wrong. Spacious to the extreme, the mono part all wrong. I suspected a setup problem, none to be found. I played the Stereophile test disc and one channel’s was out of phase with the other. Ok, production units yes, but testing by hand without procedures and one channel obviously has wires crossed. Curses. Swap polarity on one channel, sit back to listen.

The first cut I put on is one I have heard so many times I rarely play it. But it came up on the iPad and away we went. Jane Monheit singing Alfie from an old Audiophile Voices CD. Wow. The reverb on her voice so obvious and detailed I remained transfixed in the seat. It was real. Not like she was in the room, but like I was in the studio listening to the playback. Weird. Not something I had experienced before. But I could not bring myself to turn on another track. I was transfixed. Near the end I heard something wrong, as if the sound ‘burped’. A glitch in the track? I went back to listen again. At precisely 29 seconds to the end it happened again, only this time it was as clear as day. A punch in! Holy crap. Clearly Monheit’s engineer punched the recorder in to have her fill in a phrase she had flubbed in the original recording. Now, so obvious that I cannot believe I had never heard it, but this time, perhaps my hundredth listen, I could not avoid its obviousness.

My friend Richard from Bit Perfect had sent me a track from the Vienna Philharmonic’s Das Rheingold, Solti conducting, and a DSD remastered copy. Not a Wagner fan, I have been trying my best to learn this track and so I have heard it many times, but I would not have normally chosen it; it was next on my playlist, so away we went. I turn up the volume, the soundstage opens in front of me and for the first time I get it. How could I have not loved this piece from the first listen.? It’s magnificent, and not just because the recording sounds so right, but because the music fills my soul as it never did before. I am in love.

Michael Fremer had sent me a recording of the Nutcracker taken from an album and now playing on my Mac Mini. Again, jaw dropping performance. I can’t leave the room. The surface noise of the record has become completely disembodied from the music, like the first time I heard Harry Pearson’s system and never again, until today. The fairies dance, the world on stage lays before me, separated from the record surface noise in the most natural of ways. The noise is obvious, yet not part of the music. It’s spooky. I am hooked.

The BHK Mono is a parallel BHK stereo. That means internally every tube, transistor, capacitor and resistor is doubled up, working together as one. And this has made some magic none of us would have guessed until we heard it. To suggest the mono is twice as good because it is doubled would be an injustice to my excitement of the moment. Perhaps it is only twice as good in reality and I will come down from my cloud to see this clearly tomorrow. But today, I will go back and listen into the night, confident it would be wrong to say it is only twice as good, when a magnitude is a better description. As good and revolutionary as the BHK Stereo is, an eye and ear opener to anyone able to audition it, the Monos are something to behold and words cannot do it justice.""

I am posting this copied from tomorrow’s Paul’s post.


So far, these are my favorite music documentaries (in alphabetical order).

What qualifies content as a music documentary? Does it need to contain less than 50% performing?

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The Wrecking Crew, 2008, directed by Denny Tedesco


Quincy is an incredible documentary. The man is a national treasure and a bad motherf*cker. I didn’t realize how much influence he had on my musical life until I watched it. Great sound quality on the hifi as well.

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The part about learning—and cultural anthropology—is that we learn things that are both positive and negative.

I absolutely love my BHK 250. I don’t feel that I’m missing anything. That said I’ve only ever heard the 300s in Music Room One. It’s also the only time I’ve heard the DSD. The system was a revelation, but I don’t feel this experience was a good way to evaluate the individual components. I suppose it demonstrates that they are capable of great heights—no obvious limits.

One of my favorite music docs is Genghis Blues, which chronicles the trip of Paul Pena, blues singer who wrote Jet Airliner, to Tuva. Paul, who is blind, taught himself to throat sung by listening to a Berkeley radio station. Along the way, we learn about Tuva, which was a Soviet territory near Mongolia, their music, and groups like Huun Huur Tu. Quite an odyssey.

Great explanation Dirk, honestly… Impressive all the influencial people and places you have access to.
The only great question (you know: the million dollar one) is: how in the heck would you parallel two very low impedant output amplifiers without adding power resistors and/or decreasing damping factor…? It’s a simple objective question that I really like to have answered. I know bridging won’t work since the BHK250 already is fully balanced.
Digital guru Ted was so helpfull to give me a link to a wiki page the other day. I read the darn thing so often that I can produce a thesys about it with my eyes closed. But that still didn’t give me the answer.
I think, by now, you already have seen my speakers which I currently bi-amp with 4 home build AMB Beta24 differential balanced 30 watts 100% class A (1.6 amps quiescent current thru power MOSFET’s). The IRS V woofer stack has it’s own dedicated power amp augmented with servo loopback technology. So basically PS Audio also is bi-amping. But having the lows taken care of makes the rest fairly easy, wouldn’t you agree…? Anyway, thanks for thinking with me. I realise this discussion is sorta of topic in this thread, so I think it’s best to let it rest. Maybe, in hindsight, I shouldn’t have ask that question at all. My apologies to @wakethetown. It just came out of my fingers. On the other hand, it might be an interesting twist toward cultural anthropology between a group of audiophiles… Who knows…! :hugs:


I still don’t know whether my next input in this thread has anything to do with ethnomusicology, which by itself is a word that I probably will think about the rest of my weekend. But here it is…


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Haven’t watched this in a long time. DSD Sr. Downconverts the BluRay’s Stereo PCM to 48kHz/16Bit (damn copy protection). Still a great Documentary.

Watched all of these in the last few months, and can recommend. :+1:

Tower Records: All Things Must Pass

Wrecking Crew (session musicians of the 60s/70s)

Muscle Shoals (recording history of Muscle Shoals Alabama)

Don’t Break Down: A Film About Jawbreaker (not my cup of tea, but an interesting doco)

Echo in the Canyon (music of the 60’s, Laurel Canyon)

Searching For Sugar Man (Rodriguez)

The Other One (Bob Weir doco)

Hired Gun (doco about session and touring musicians. Really eye-opening.)

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I will second Wrecking Crew, Muscle Shoals ( man, that guy had a lot of misfortunes in his life ) and Echo in the Canyon. Love and Mercy is an interesting movie about Brian Wilson staring Paul Dano and John Cusack playing Brian at different stages of his life. They gave some screen time to actors and actresses playing different artists in the Wrecking Crew. Didn’t think it would work, but it did for me.

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Echo in the Canyon was brilliant in that it exposed “Gen Xer’s” to music that I enjoyed in the 1980’s because the Shyte on the radio was so horrible, I had to get into the music 20 years before then I got into the 1970’s (which led to my Prog Rock addiction).

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One of my favorite music documentarians passed away recently: Jeremy Marre. He directed many excellent films including one of my favorite reggae docs: The Making of Catch A Fire. I met him at the Experience Music Project, the museum that Paul Allen built, And he was a real mensch.

Yeah I’ve spent a lot of time getting into the previous decade’s music :slight_smile:

I finally got around to watching this documentary on HBO Max and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a buddy stated, “I forgot they were huge before they were huge.”

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