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AudioFiles: Give the Drummer Some

How to choose the best audio gear for drum reproduction

HiFiMan HE400S headphone
JBL Authentics L8
Peachtree Audio deepblue2
Sennheiser HD 600
SVS Prime Tower speakers
SVS SB13-Ultra subwoofer

What’s the most difficult instrument in jazz for a stereo system to reproduce? Many might assume the subtleties of piano or saxophone present the greatest challenges, but in my opinion, it’s the drums.

You might wonder why, considering that jazz drummers value swing over volume, and their drums are relatively small. Yet audio manufacturer and recording engineer Mark Levinson told me he once measured the peak level of Elvin Jones’ kick drum at 135 decibels. That’s as loud as a jet engine at 200 feet. Fortunately for our ears, a kick drum hits this level for only a tiny fraction of a second-but for stereo systems, that fraction of a second presents a tough test.

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