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Discussion: Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro - René Jacobs

Posts: 13
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Post by todd April 22, 2004 (1 of 13)
Ok, nucaleena's negative review of this release has me wondering...

mdt gives a glowing review in the "Strange distortion" thread:
/showthread/1533//y?page=first

and Classics Today gives it 10/10:
http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=7560

So, is this just a matter of taste or is the truth somewhere in the middle?

Post by mdt April 22, 2004 (2 of 13)
todd said:

Ok, nucaleena's negative review of this release has me wondering...

mdt gives a glowing review in the "Strange distortion" thread:
/showthread/1533//y?page=first

and Classics Today gives it 10/10:
http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=7560

So, is this just a matter of taste or is the truth somewhere in the middle?

The performance may be a matter of taste, i enjoyed it very much because i could simply feel it.
As for the remark about the rear channels carrying "studio computer generated white noise" i really wonder how nucaleena can back that up.

Post by beardawgs April 22, 2004 (3 of 13)
mdt said:

As for the remark about the rear channels carrying "studio computer generated white noise" i really wonder how nucaleena can back that up.

Have to say that the disappointment with the recording was mutual (two of us & Paul - nucaleena) when we all listened his copy couple of days ago on Paul’s new Denon A11 plugged into our system. We were about to buy the disc, but we’re glad we didn’t now that we had a chance to hear it first. Multichannel tag is definitely a deception from HM, I don’t even think that the WDR engineers recorded it in surround originally. There are some quiet noises coming from behind, but that is not the hall ambience. And this is not the first time that HM is faking their SACDs as MC. Also there isn’t a word about the recording in the booklet, but it sounds like it has been done in 44.1 kHz and in stereo.
But the lack of rear channels is not the only problem of this recording, high strings are unpleasantly shrill and piercing. The performance is a matter of taste, and the review on classics today is for the redbook, not SACD.

Post by nucaleena April 22, 2004 (4 of 13)
todd said:

Ok, nucaleena's negative review of this release has me wondering...

mdt gives a glowing review in the "Strange distortion" thread:
/showthread/1533//y?page=first

and Classics Today gives it 10/10:
http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=7560

So, is this just a matter of taste or is the truth somewhere in the middle?

dear todd, all opinions are matters of taste but its reassuring that my reaction is shared not only by Gramophone (May edition) but by the record shop proprietors I've been speaking to this week (in London). Gramophone was pretty lukewarm and reminded me that the last Jacobs Mozart opera recording was also rated poorly (and went to super budget-remainder status almost instantly).
I've been listening to the set on beardawgs' system (B&W speakers, marantz amp and my new Denon DV11) but it sounded no better at MVC, HMV etc.

So no, I don't think the balance of opinion is positive or that I'm at some extreme point on a spectrum of opinion about the set. I find it a very disappointing performance and that is entirely a subjective opinion, and others' opinions are bound to be different, but I am especially disappointed in this set as a "surround" recording and as an SACD and I think that is a lot less subjective in this instance. As a 16 bit stereo cd, its perfectly acceptable (for sound, that is).

Post by nucaleena April 22, 2004 (5 of 13)
mdt said:

The performance may be a matter of taste, i enjoyed it very much because i could simply feel it.
As for the remark about the rear channels carrying "studio computer generated white noise" i really wonder how nucaleena can back that up.

dear mdt, all opinions are matters of taste and I'm glad you enjoyed the set. But my remark about white noise is easily backed up. Try listening to the rear channels both with and without the front speakers on, listening up close. You'll hear a thin, soft version of the exact same sound as the front channel with a background of what can only be called white noise, - sounding exactly like the rear channel noise on good old dolby stereo surround but with less advantageous surround effect. Not only do West German Radio, who made the recording for HM, NOT claim to have recorded in surround but neither do they claim DSD use or any PCM mastering over and above good old 16 bit 44.1. Recordings made by them at about the same time are, interestingly, stereo and 16 bit only. So I stand by the computer generated white noise comment and think it's pretty easy to back up.

Post by todd April 23, 2004 (6 of 13)
Thanks for the replies. I think I'll wait on this one. I didn't realize the ClassicsToday review was for the RBCD. He gave the sound quality a 10, but only discussed the performance...so I didn't really trust the review anyway.

Here's hoping some classic performances of Figaro and other operas are released in hi-res soon. (especially seeing how this one may not even count as hi-res)

Post by izamber April 23, 2004 (7 of 13)
beardawgs said:
it sounds like it has been done in 44.1 kHz and in stereo.

I'm not that sure. In two channel the difference between the two layers on my system is apparent, in stereo.

If it's been done in 44.1/16, there must be some magic at work somewhere...

Igor

Post by beardawgs April 23, 2004 (8 of 13)
izamber said:

I'm not that sure. In two channel the difference between the two layers on my system is apparent, in stereo.

If it's been done in 44.1/16, there must be some magic at work somewhere...

Igor

Well, I said “it sounds like 44.1”, but how to tell when HM is keeping their recording infos secretive. And there must be a reason for that.

We could use some magic to hear from HM how on earth they made all those ‘multichannel’ recordings.

Post by mdt April 24, 2004 (9 of 13)
nucaleena said:

dear mdt, all opinions are matters of taste and I'm glad you enjoyed the set. But my remark about white noise is easily backed up. Try listening to the rear channels both with and without the front speakers on, listening up close. You'll hear a thin, soft version of the exact same sound as the front channel with a background of what can only be called white noise, - sounding exactly like the rear channel noise on good old dolby stereo surround but with less advantageous surround effect. Not only do West German Radio, who made the recording for HM, NOT claim to have recorded in surround but neither do they claim DSD use or any PCM mastering over and above good old 16 bit 44.1. Recordings made by them at about the same time are, interestingly, stereo and 16 bit only. So I stand by the computer generated white noise comment and think it's pretty easy to back up.

The rear channel sound appearing to be the exact same as the front channel sound doesn't seem that wrong to me because if the rears are used for ambience reproduction only, they will reproduce the reflections of the direct sound from the walls, which is going to be the same or only slightly different sound at lower levels and time delayed.
Since such reflections would normaly be at very low levels it also seems logical that the background noise of the sytem meaning the recordings noise floor and/or noise from the playbacksytem could be heard when listening very close to the speaker.
It is possible that if the recording wasn't made in surround the rear channels were electronically generated, but not by simply adding white noise, but instead by using a process creating virtual reflections by calculating time delays, frequency alterations etc., so that they simulate the effect of sound being reflected by a surface with all its propertys.
Since this is a new recording i dont believe it was done in 16/44.1, high resolution PCM has been in use for quite some time now, longer than on the consumer playback side where it is an issue only after hi-res carriers were finally introduced.

Post by mdt April 24, 2004 (10 of 13)
izamber said:

I'm not that sure. In two channel the difference between the two layers on my system is apparent, in stereo.

If it's been done in 44.1/16, there must be some magic at work somewhere...

Igor

I believe it's been recorded at higher resolution for the same reason as izamber.
Generally speaking and not specifically refering to this recording i want to mention that with multitrack recordings it can also make sense to transfer a 16 bit recording to SA-CD.This is when the original multitrack is remixed to a higher resolution master which allows for the FULL dynamic range of the original tracks to be made use of,when mixing to a master of the same resolution S/N would be lost on tracks being mixed in at lower levels,also if time delay compensation between main and spot mics was not done in the original mix it can be done in the new hi-res mix.
An example was the Karajan Gold series where this is what was done, only that with hi-res reproduction not being avaylable to consumers at that time the resulting hi-res master was down-converted to CD.This did result in sonic improovements with the resulting CDs and it seams reasonable that if the down-conversion was let out by transfering the mix to an equivilant carrier the improovements woud be greater.

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