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I will be moving into a "home" and giving up my fab vinyl-based floor-standing system for digital and headphones. The digital I have heard so far has been pretty disappointing.
Getting ready for a DAC shootout - - Ayre QB9/20; Aesthetix Romulus; Gustard R26 R2R - - using Qobuz as a source. Music: all classical.
But what to play?
I need a list of about ten really top Qobuz classical music selections: chamber; piano solo; orchestral.
Can you help?
So far, I have been pretty di
Some wonderful replies, guys. Thanks.
A friend brought over his Aesthetix PANDORA DAC. We played a number of selections over the highly-regarded DACs - - including the PANDORA - - I had on hand, and the shootout was over. And it wasn't even close. THe PANDORA was so-o-o-o-o much better in every way. I had frankly despaired of ever actually enjoying digital until then. Now, I am very much encouraged. With a well-recorded source, the PANDORA exhibited most of the virtues of vinyl without any of its defects or hassle. Well done, Aesthetix!
that spans piano, choral and full symphonic.
There's an entire set of playlists by "Hifi Audio Partners" that represent the manufacturers.
Zacster - How did you find the Hi-Fi Audio Partners playlist? I've been searching Qobuz and I'm getting a variety of hits but nothing specific to the manufacturers that show up in your playlist. Is there one playlist that encompasses all of those manufacturers displayed in your Audirvana screen? How did you get there? Thanks.
On the side menu under Qobuz click on Playlists (it is lightly highlighted in the screen shot) and then scroll down to the bottom of the lists that come up. Click on "See All" to get them all. Lots of lists, some good, some not so great. It will filter by genre if you have that set, but most lists contain multiple genres anyway and come up no matter what you set.
In the Qobuz native app it comes up on the main screen. Just scroll down to the playlists and it appears as a choice.
Ah yes! I see it now. Not sure how I missed it before. That's very cool! So many to choose from so I'll have to spend some time on it.
Nice Player - Aesthetix Romulus.
Voices: Male; Female; and Group.
Not all classical, but some are classical.
47 minutes total.
And, you can always press "Next."
Best of luck,
Thank you, John. I keep hoping that somebody will tell me: "Forget 2-track tapes; forget 45RPM vinyl. Ya gotta hear this 24/96 recording of Mahler's Ninth. The strings are like velvet; the oboe floats in a world all by itself; the percussion is solid without being icy or ear-numbing." That hasn't happenmed yet. Will digital ever live up to its promise from 40 years ago of "perfect sound forever?" I dunno.
Even though, for reasons that are opaque to me, the Qobuz files are CD Quality.
Here's what I wrote in my blog:
Respighi Impressioni brasiliane, La Boutique fantasque
Liège Royal Philharmonic, John Neschling, conductor
BIS SACD 2050
I raved about this SACD/CD in my next-to-last column for Stereophile magazine. Having since then heard it played back on a variety of stereo systems, my continued exposure to it has only increased my respect.
I have not yet heard Andris Nelsons' and the Boston Symphony's Grammy-winning Shostakovich 10th symphony, which, perhaps, might be even better. But as of right now, the Liège Royal Philharmonic's Respighi Brazilian Impressions on BIS is the best new orchestral recording (not only in terms of recording quality, but also in performance) I have heard in years. Even if you rarely listen to classical music, this recording is well worth acquiring as material that shows off what a great stereo system can sound like.
Part of all that of course is owing to Ottorino Resphigi's near-cinematic skill as an orchestrator. (Indeed, there are those who scoff that Respighi was more of an orchestrator than a composer. And, truth be told, Respighi did tend to borrow from both historical and more recent sources for thematic material more often than would other composers, Ancient Airs and Dances being one well-known example.) Resphigi wrote tone poems that were more like tone paintings. He had a unique gift to summon Impressionistic evocations of a "sense of place." His most famous works are the "Roman Triptych" of the orchestral sketches Pines of Rome, Fountains of Rome, and Roman Festivals, all of which have been longtime audiophile favorites.
Impressioni brasiliane's first movement, "Notte Tropicale," starts with celeste, divided first violins playing high on the E string, and harp. The violins' insistent rhythm and the beat accents from celeste and harp, in a space of no more than two measures, create both a sense of expectation, and the impression that the enveloping night is so quiet that you can hear a clock tick. Well, at least to me they do.
The movement continues with quiet flute flourishes leading to an oboe solo. String glissandi (slides) and piquant percussion such as tambourine and triangle add to the exotic ambiance, while at the same time giving any stereo system a fine old workout.
If CD or SACD is not your thing, eClassical has this recording available as 24/96 FLAC downloads, either the entire recording, or as individual movements. I think that spending no more than the princely sum of two dollars and 80 cents for a tremendous orchestral showpiece ("Notte Tropicale") is a bargain by any measure.
But if you only buy the first track, you would be denying yourself the pleasure of the other two movements of Impressioni brasiliane, as well as a knockout performance of Respighi's immensely popular ballet score The Enchanted Toy Shop.
The Enchanted Toy Shop is a series of dance movements (Tarantella, Mazurka, Cossack Dance, Cancan, Valse, and Galop) for boy and girl marionettes who come to life, and of course, they are in love with each other. Respighi borrowed catchy tunes from Rossini.
The entire eClassical download costs $16.52. Amazon has the SACD/CD on offer for $23.30. What's not to love? (Prices as of February 2016.)
I enjoy Pines of Rome but for some reason, that work doesn't do it for me.
I do not judge!
I just go, Hmmm.
As a former violinist, the parts fascinate me.
Many of those pieces are more energetic than my usual lisztening diet, by which I mean I listen to a lot of Chopin, but hardly any Liszt.
Here's a great re-wording of "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana.
I reviewed that Telarc CD for Wayne Green's DIGITAL AUDIO magazine, coming up on 40 years ago.
I dunno if I have ever listened to it since.
Here's my favorite...
Many of those pieces are more energetic than my usual lisztening diet...
All the better to exercise the capabilities of an audio system. The insipid, not so much.
I reviewed that Telarc CD for Wayne Green's DIGITAL AUDIO magazine, coming up on 40 years ago.
It was the good doctor JWC who introduced me to that wonderful choral work that can stand the hairs on your arm straight up with its breathtaking dynamics. While not my usual choice, I once got tickets in row C and that literally happened to me.
His baritone voice is found in that piece along with lots of other ASO choral recordings. I would have added another one of his faves, Holst' Rig Veda but many would consider most of that too tame. He chose that for evaluating my system some twenty years ago when we compared his Palladians to my Harmonic Tech power cords. The added articulation on voice was clear.
If loudness made for the best test tracks, then the greatest test track of all would the "The Garage Door."
There are two very important musical phenomena where loud volumes are counter-productive.
First is the Tartini Tone that bowed strings produce when one stringed instrument, that is playing a lower purely/justly intoned tone, is excited by a nearby stringed instrument that is playing a higher purely/justly intoned tone that is in a "simple, low-interger mathematical relationship" with the lower tone.
Such as, one violin playing A at 440Hz and the other playing the just-intoned, non-tempered E at 660Hz (rather than at 659.2551Hz). The ratio is Three to Two, so the overtones of the two instruments correspond, but not directly. They are offset. The octave of the higher tone corresponds to the third harmonic of the lower tone, if I remember from a lecture of more than 40 years ago.
The result is that the reinforced harmonics cause our ear-brain system to provide the "Missing Fundamental," which is the difference tone at 220Hz.
There is an optimum volume and balance, so that the violins excite resonances in each other, but they don't drown each other out.
Secondly, and probably easier to hear in real life, the harmonic interactions of piano strings are so complicated that IMHO they are beyond computational fluid dynamics and far into Chaos Theory.
For the strings that come is triplet sets, once the hammer strikes the strings, the tone does not decay or die out in a linear fashion. That is called "Double Decay." "Double decay" describes the reality that the energy-over-time spectrum of a dying-out piano note exhibits two obviously different slopes. A steeper but brief initial slope, followed by a flatter longer terminal slope. That is because of partial cancellation among the three strings.
But it is even more complicated than that, because within the less-steep slope, certain midrange harmonics actually get louder as the sound is dying out in general, because the much higher-frequency strings that had been resonating sympathetically but also imposing destructive cancellation on the lower strings die out more quickly because of Air Absorption. Once the cancellation dies out, those harmonics can be better heard.
Add to that that, especially when the damper-lifting pedal is depressed, the slightly out-of-tuneness of the Equal Temperament (wherein all strings are Equally Out of Tune) makes for a hugely complicated interaction among the harmonics. We call these phenomena "Bloom" and "Shimmer."
Thing is, the best way to hear "Bloom" and "Shimmer" is to play quietly, because the ratio between the SPL levels of Fundamentals and Harmonics, as you play louder, is NON LINEAR.
The best example I know of, for "Bloom" and "Shimmer" being better revealed by quiet playing is Jenny Lin's amazing performance of Marc-André Hamelin's amazing arrangement for solo piano of the (originally, instrumental-only) David Raksin theme music from the film "Laura."
ANYBODY can listen free, no sign-up required, at the link.
Obviously, DUUH, a Steinway recording, but one that was recorded by Daniel Shores at Sono Luminus studio in rural Virginia--the building is a former chapel. Nice!
where the soft predominates and the loud heard occasionally.
IMHO it's not so much about "CD Quality" 16/44.1 vs 'hi-res' 24/96, 24/192, or greater resolutions in the playback file or stream.
It's more about the recording and mastering. You will find excellent examples of fantastic sound quality from some CDs and 16/44.1 streams. On the other hand a 'hi-res' 24/192 file or stream from a mediocre recording will sound mediocre.
Will ANY of these sound like your 33 1/3 rpm LPs? Probably not but that doesn't make the sound quality bad, just different. If you need your streaming service and playback to sound like LPs you might be out of luck.
Also though any really good mastering is likely to be released in hi-res since it was likely mastered in hi-res.
True. I remember when SACDs first came out and people were amazed at how they sound compared to their old CDs. Well Duh. Those SACDs were from re-masters. Buy the new re-mastered CD and the SQ between it and the SACD are now much closer. But some folks still prefer the SACD which is legit. They do seem to sound smoother.
Those SACDs were from re-masters.
What labels like Telarc did when they switched to using SACD as their recording medium. And for the first time, you could actually hear the full resolution of the Soundstream based recordings.
I agree, Abe. The best digital recording I have heard so far is the Rach 3 on Mercury, a 16/44 recording. But I'm not trying to reproduce vinyl; I'm trying to get back to live concerts like the one I heard yesterday starring the Colorado Springs Philhrmonic's presentation of Dvorak #8. Even vinyl doesn't sound as good as 2-track 7 1/2 ips tape.
I can only imagine that reel to reel tape at 7 1/2 ips might be hard to beat. My only reel to reel experience was as a kid in Japan with a "portable" reel to reel recorder taping AM radio ;-)
My two favorite DACs were the Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC and the PS Audio NuWave DSD DAC. I'm not a big fan of DSD but both of these DACs were follow ups to earlier models [w/o the DSD desginations] and were completely new internally even though both manufacturers chose to use their existing chassis enclosures. I still have my PS Audio NuWave DSD DAC today. I kept it over my Ayre only because the PS Audio is ever so slightly more 'full bodied' or 'robust' sounding.
My Home Office Setup 2015:
PS Audio NuWave DSD DAC | Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC | Ayre AX-7e Integrated
Great pics! Abe.
Thanks Abe, Roseval. I'll give 'em a try.
Search on The Tube Only Night Music
Search on Die Rohre
The PDF liner notes were pretty interesting, retrieved via Roon. They may also be available direct from Qobuz, not sure.
Try a search on The Tube Only Violin as well.
Try their Haydn, good recording (BIS) and excellent musicians.
The Well Tempered Computer
Go into your Qobuz App and search on The Nordic Sound. I don't even like Classical but some of this was OK [says the guy who prefers rock, blues, metal, punk, Americana]. Good sonics too ;-)
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