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It reminds me so much of the old Aubort/Nickrenz -engineered Ravel Vox Box in Minnesota: strings are silky-smooth as sea moss at all volumes, and winds and brass sound dew-kissed, if that makes sense. In my experience, digital's fine if engineers would simply back up the mic's a bit, and that's what Reference does.
As a performance, the musicians seem extremely enthusiastic about the piece and Oue's careful balances and attention to detail (savor all those clear harp and flute flourishes echoing cymbal crashes) doesn't get in the way of the forward momentum. The central lyrical section of the final mov't is gorgeous. Really.
FWIW, my "Europeanized" (irony) reference has always been Janson's with the St. Petersburg on EMI.
You'd never mistake the above for a Melodiya, but that's OK here.
People are currently raving about Reference's DSD sound of in Detroit and Kansas, but IMHO Oue's "ancient" recording slightly surpasses them both, at least based upon what I've heard so far.
If you like the Oue Rachmaninov, try "Copland 100" on the same label, which includes Appalachian Spring, Third Symphony, and Fanfare for the Common Man. Recently I listened to 7 or 8 recordings of the symphony (with score) prior to hearing the Cleveland Orchestra play it at Severance Hall. Oue's easily had the best sound, and I didn't find any performances (including either of Bernstein's) that I liked better.
And not just because of the sonics. Oue's molto deliberato sold it.
New York Phil keeps the energy going right to the end. I felt that Oue's players sounded a bit fatigued by the iron and steel climax. But yes, the RR sound was/is infinitely better than the DGG.
I have the LP and it is one of the best, if not the best, recording I have.
What gets me is the following: Professor Johnson clearly is the best recording engineer. Yet, nobody else seems to be able or willing to copy his techniques. We still continue to get sub par engineering. In this day of modern technology, one would think that we can at least copy what Johnson was doing, let alone better it.
I've got fine sounding digital recordings from Boston, Chicago and San Francisco that I like better than any Reference Recordings I've ever heard.
I'm just not a fan of the RR Sound, which is rather too distant for me.
RR's Blues Recording of one of their regulars was awful, I actually threw out the HRX Disc, which wasn't cheap.
And the Age of Swing doesn't do it for me at ALL, too distant and room-boomy.
RR's new recordings with the Pittsburgh symphony are using a new engineering team and the sound is very close up. I think you would be really inpressed. Try the Beethoven 5 & 7
Thanks for the Recommendation, it's a DSD Recording I think.
Maybe double DSD causes tinnitus. Where's Teresa to investigate ??
Point taken, not tooooo loud.
Suite a bit exhausting, even as super-dooper DSD.
That said, I'll probably try his Dvorak 8th or the earlier Strauss Death and Transfiguration, which frightens me if close up recording: the climaxes are headache inducing enough in real life. : )
I'm glad you prefer close up, but for my tastes, and maybe my system, I prefer 20 seats back.
I don't want to see the whites of their eyes...
I prefer the multichannel made by the !fresh team from Sound/Mirror over KOJ's. Two channel is another matter.
Haven't heard the Beethoven 5 and 7 yet however.
Mac D 150 in Den System, and Sony Z1 in Living Room, 2 Ch happiness.
Whet your appetite for DSD Multi Channel.
You heard the Sony Z1 in the Living Room, but only in the background.
D150 replaces Mytek and Lampizator in the Den System, which I don't think you saw.
The Sony its too big/deep for the cabinet in the Den, or I'd have 2!
. . . I got the impression that, in his preparation for each recording he did, he was clearly of the "no one size fits all" persuasion. He talked about getting a lay of the land for each hall, how the orchestra was going to be seated, what piece they were going to record (and going over each score and checking where there might be possible problem areas), etc. - all these factors affected how he would set up for each recording. So I guess that with all these variables (and despite the fine consistency of Johnson's results), it might be easier said than done to copy his techniques?
Interesting, Chris. Sounds like a bit of an art.
Riddle me this: When I listen to many digital recordings, the background is super black. No sound at all. All digits are set to 0 (zero). This is not natural. The best recordings that I know (in my opinion) are those with great hall ambiance. My guess is that the digital recording engineer (or some setting they trigger during the engineering process) sets the background to "super black" and eliminates the wonderful hall ambiance. It this something you know about or experience as well?
IIRC KOJ would record room ambiance on the spaces between tracks (on lps at least) so that the sound would not disappear in the unnatural way that it ordinarily does.
This is not done. I know this is not true. If the miking is very close you will reduce hall sound.
How often does anyone hear orchestra music played full out live in an empty venue? That is just as unnatural as a studio recording, even if it does have more of the acoustic of the hall.
In concert, there is always a certain amount of low level noise due to people moving in their seats, breathing, etc. That's even in the quietest moments when no one coughs or unwraps candies. We can say that that very low level noise doesn't amount to much, but in a hall that seats 1,000-2,000, that sound is definitely a part of what one hears. There is no such thing as black in the audience during a live performance.
So, even recordings of live performances usually do not capture the audio that we hear sitting 12 rows center in orchestra, much less in loge.
Perhaps this is why I still prefer vinyl/analog for much of my home listening. Even a pristine LP will not plumb the depths of digital audio. As a result, to me, it has a more "natural" audio than most digital media.
There are no universals. Some digital recordings are really very good, and many analog recordings are not.
"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)
It seems that many engineers are so afraid of getting ANY kind of audience noise into the mix at all that they go for the "forest of highly directional microphones" approach, which cuts out everything not directly in front of them. Again, this is not a problem with digital per se IMHO. That Strauss DVD-Audio which I posted about elsewhere in this thread is a beautiful corrective to this over-controlled approach to live recording.
I don't understand why noises from vinyl playback would satisfying one's craving for the natural ambiance of a concert - after all, they're not even the same kind of noises. We need candy-wrapper, cough, and cell phone random noise generators to REALLY get the proper ambiance of a concert! As I mentioned in another post, this a part of "the absolute sound" I could do without! ;-)
Who said anything about "noises from vinyl playback"? I specifically said pristine vinyl. No snap crackle pop, excellent analog audio.
I'm talking about the SNR. The best analog/vinyl pressings sound gorgeous, with visceral dynamic range and tactile presence and a sense of true natural audio. But vinyl cannot equal the SNR of digital. The digital crowd perceive this as an advantage of digital, because, you know, measured numbers are the whole story. But in reality, it is the key to the naturalness of analog audio. It just sounds more "real" than digital. (The neophytes call it "warmth" but it is not warmth, it is just closer to the real world experience.)
Once again, no universals.
"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)
But still, I don't agree with all of your assertions:
"But vinyl cannot equal the SNR of digital" - Very true!
"The digital crowd perceive this [i.e., vinyl's more restricted SNR] as an advantage of digital, because, you know, measured numbers are the whole story." - Nope. Hearing is believing! (You know, if it sounds good, it is good!)
"But in reality, it [the restricted SNR of vinyl] is the key to the naturalness of analog audio. It just sounds more "real" than digital." - I can't speak for others, but, surely you'll agree that how "real" something sounds is, at least in part, system dependent, whether analog or digital.
"The neophytes call it [the restricted SNR of vinyl] "warmth" but it is not warmth, it is just closer to the real world experience." - I don't think we have a common understanding of "warmth" here. My experience is that when most people talk about audio "warmth", they're referring to a slight elevation of the bass frequencies as well as a slight roll-off of the highs, as well as the "more pleasant" even-order harmonic distortions.
"Once again, no universals." - Once again, agreement! ;-)
Well, the argument between analog vs digital has gone on for decades now, and there are those who still; prefer the sound of analog and those who love digital. I'm really not interested in going into all that anymore.
Given the choice between a pristine LP and a CD/SACD/DVD-A/BluRay, I will buy the LP. Because too often, I buy a digital release of an LP that I own, thinking it might sound better. Sometimes it does, like if the LP was poorly engineered or poorly pressed. But usually I still gravitate back to the LP, because it just sounds more natural to me.
That's my ears and my system. Others are free to listen to whatever music they like in whatever format they prefer, and I'm perfectly okay with whatever they want to do -- MP3s thru earbuds, I really don't care.
Coincidentally, there is a new thread on Vinyl Forum that directly addresses my point.
Digital Recordings on Vinyl
"Life without music is a mistake" (Nietzsche)
There is also audience noise, sometimes excessive, including cellphones, bronchial explosions, foot-shuffling, program drops, whistling hearing aids. Once in a while, a quiet recording with a black background is a relief!
And you're right, a lot of recordings don't provide it, with the orchestra sounding as if it's been squeezed completely flat! My take on this problem is that it often results from primitive multi-microphoning, rather than from digital recording per se. I mean, there are a lot of digital recordings, even the earliest ones (I'm thinking of some of the Neumann/CzPO recordings on Denon) where I can hear the hall ambiance just fine. And, sometimes, you can hear hall ambiance even when the recording has been closely multi-microphoned (with the ambiance probably recorded separately and then mixed in). And even close microphoning allows for the capture of hall ambiance if done properly - those old Mercury recordings were miked VERY closely, and yet, one can always hear the hall ambiance on them (even if, as in the case of the Minneapolis Northrop Auditorium, the hall itself didn't seem to have much ambiance - LOL!) Also, I have found on certain recordings that, unless I'm playing it at the right loudness level, the ambiance doesn't come into focus as it should. I'm beginning to feel that, for each recording, there's perhaps a very narrow range of loudness levels which shows the engineering at its best - again, perhaps!
I know I've just been running on in a stream of consciousness manner, but the capture of hall ambiance now seems to be a more complex subject than I used to think.
Those early mercurys, rca's and Deccas all used omni directional mikes that picked up hall ambience
Of course, there ARE smaller enterprises which DO record that way, such as the original recordings offered by HDTT, which benefit from John Proffitt's purist approach to engineering. BTW, John's clear and insightful review of Gerd Schaller's completion of Bruckner's Ninth (originally appearing in The Bruckner Journal for the Bruckner Society of America) has been reposted today on the Music Web International site (link below). Also, I owe everyone a posting about HDTT's latest multi-channel offering (Strauss's Alpensinfonie coupled with Mozart's Wind Sinfonia Concertante) once again recorded by John in a beautifully purist fashion.
I'm guessing that much like my friend, most artists these days evaluate their recordings while on the road using digital files downloaded onto their Ipads and other mobile devices. I'm guessing that they are listening for other aspects of the recording. The advantage of modeern multi miked recordings is they offer greater flexibility in post to adjust the sort of things the artists care about. we audiophiles who sit and listen to recordings in a dedicated lsietning room with a proper stereo or multi channel set up are the rare bread these days. we are the ones who notice hall ambience and actually care about it. I have talked about SQ with my musician friends many times and the typical audiophile things never ever come up. They talk about the wetness and dryness of the hall, the sound of musical instruments. The tone of certain msuicians, the sound of pianos, the talents of piano technitions etc etc.
I had the privilidge of going the Venezuala with Yuja when she recorded her concertos with Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra. I got to hang out with the last remaining staff producer at DG and the recording engineer. I picked their brains quite a bit. Things like hall ambience were clearly very very low on the list of priorities. In fact it was an undesirable. This hall sucked and the audiences were beyond noisy. The talk was much more about getting the wood winds to balance with the piano and the rest of the orchestra and getting the piano to sound good so Yuja could play the pieces the way she wanted to and with the sound she expects from a well built properly tweeked Steinway. The production team did a lot to get lemonaide out of a lemon for a concert hall and piano. A lot of that magic happened in post. You can't do nearly as much to please the interested parties using minimalist recording techniques. I think it's about priorities, flexibility and pleasing artists who are evaluating these things using ear buds.
Remember Dolby NR? Of course we do. When engaged, Dolby NR would completely eliminate any high frequencies and hall ambiance. Any subtle queues from instruments, foot shuffling, turning of musical score sheets, etc. was completely removed.
When I listen to my best sounding LPs, most of them have either traffic or HVAC noise that can be heard. I even have one LP whereby someone is practicing their instrument in a room adjacent to the recording. You would think that someone would have thought about this in advance, but sure enough, you can hear that faint instrument in the background.
Back to Dolby NR, I think a similar technique applies in digital land. I am confident that there are software techniques (maybe hardware hi bypass filters) that allow an engineer to remove any signal below a certain threshold. This could certain give the black background and eliminate the hall ambiance. I just queried the web and there are many software packages that have a "background noise removal" feature. My guess is that the background noise removal feature is more likely the culprit than the microphone technique. Just a guess, but at least we know for certain that both are available in the engineer's toolkit.
I used Dolby A in our studio. It only eliminates noise added by the tape. It does not alter the incoming signal with proper dolby playback
I could be wrong though! ;-)
There's also the interesting question as to how "crisp" the background noise is - the crisper the better for me. There's an in-concert Strauss recording where the applause definition and other non-musical extraneous noises are so defined that I really rejoice in what I consider the truthfulness of this particular recording:
You are not wrong Chris
One of my favorite scores is Schnittke's Sonata No.2 for Violin and Piano "Quasi una Sonata. The music is very aggressive, with many points of silence in between notes. Just listen to the first 2 minutes. You will see what I mean.
I came across this youtube video, see below. When you listen to the first minute or so, you can hear that the background noise was clearly cut off after the piano strikes or the hard violin notes. It's a shame, because otherwise it is really something to behold.
This is caused by pumping do to heavy compression.
It is not a common practice in classical recordings but FM radio stations and TV stations typically do this
Please educate me, what is "pumping"?
Let us give an example. You send music to a compressor. You set it so it will lower the gain of the music (compress) by 10db.. Music plays and gain is reduced by 10db. When there is some silence the gain goes back up by 10db This going up and down of the gain is called pumping. If there is light noise in the background when the music stops the noise will come up 10db. That is pumping. You can here it on remote radio newscasts. When the newscaster stops speaking the background noise comes up
. . . which in itself is surprising - that's to say, I'm SURPRISED that a classical recording would even be issued this way. And if I'm not mistaken, this pumping effect is more an artifact of analog compression, rather than digital compression?
Other recordings made there as well.
I listen exclusively to LPs and it's a disappointment when hall ambience isn't there.
Older classical recordings at Carnegie in New York and Orchestral hall in Chicago have subway sounds
When Carnegie Hall and especially Zankel Hall were renovated, supposedly a major factor was eliminating or minimizing subway noise.
Even my system sounds great when I pop that one in the silver disk spinner!
But for me, the above is better performance if not better recording.
Too bad Bychkov never managed to record Rochmanino(ff, v, w)'s 1st. symphony. :-(
Are you sure Keith O. Johnson did the engineering on this? Does it say this on the sacd?
I also agree with jdaniel about Jansons' EMI - and I like his newer (multi-channel!) recording with the RCOA too! I confess to liking the old Johanos/Dallas recording as well (bass impact!). Then there's the old Kondrashin recording, the Svetlanov recording on the Canyon label (in the set mentioned below). . . and let's not forget a superb recent performance (on plain old CD) by Jurowski and the LPO, which captures the real excitement of a live performance! (Is it hard to obtain now? Amazon is selling it for over $51 - Yikes!)
Another great performance and maybe the best sounding recording of the Symphonic Dances is the Dallas Symphony conducted by Donald Johanos
It is available from Analog Productions . Although done in 1967 there is a recent SACD which is a sonic spectacular.
I think it is explosive
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