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Discussion: Richard Strauss: Music from Salome, Elektra - Borkh/Reiner

Posts: 11
Page: 1 2 next

Post by Chris September 18, 2005 (1 of 11)
With very different opinions again regarding soundquality on this and other , Living Stereo releases, I was at first tempted to add yet another review.
But with one in depth review and with everybody obviously agreeing that both the music and playing are good.I will only add that IMO the Dance of the Seven Veils is nowhere near as SEXY as under Karajan or Solti.
Nor does it compare to the very seductiveand thrilling performance I heard live in May at the Budapest opera.
That was simply the hottest strip show I've ever seen.
What about the sound quality then?
Well on my system, the tubed Xindak SCD-2 stereo only SACD player, Musical Fidelity's X-Can V3 tubed headphone amp, the XPSU V3 dedicated power supply and Sennheiser's HD650 headphones, it is not of 5 star quality,but sometimes approaches it.
There are a few signs of tape overload.Massed strings tend to sound a bit thin at times.
And the slightly cavernous acoustic of Symphony hall where these recordings were made between 1954and 1956 isn't always ideal.
But with age and the above limitations taken into account,this yet another fantastic historic transfer well worth hearing.
There is, as always with Living Stereo, plenty of wonderfully natural timbres captured and the perspective and coherence is again impeccable.Voices are as usual, naturally recorded and heard performing within the same natural, if a bit cavernous acoustic.There is a clarity and transparancy rarely found on modern multimiked recordings,especially lower strings and the bass are wonderfully clear and realistic.One thing that stands out on all Living Steros I've heard is the way that deep and bass defines the acoustic and the actual venue used .The sound of the hall used ,is part of the recording in a way one always hears live but rarely in modern multimiked recordings.
Since peteyspambucket seems to disagree quite often with others regarding sound, my advice to him would be to get better equipment.
I doubt that the standard Sony amp and SACD player he uses to judge soundquality are good enough.
The above is not meant as a personal attack on him or anyone else.It is simply
meant as a hint, maybe to listen to a recording on more than one's own home equipment before passing damning judgement on a particular recording.
Chris

Post by Beagle September 18, 2005 (2 of 11)
Chris said:
I doubt that the standard Sony amp and SACD player he uses to judge soundquality are good enough.

Equipment is of interest; I would not be surprised to see that headphone and loudspeaker listeners differ in their appraisals. Would you and others please list your set-up on the profile page? I sometimes am curious, but find the profile empty.

Post by Castor September 19, 2005 (3 of 11)
Beagle said:

Equipment is of interest; I would not be surprised to see that headphone and loudspeaker listeners differ in their appraisals. Would you and others please list your set-up on the profile page? I sometimes am curious, but find the profile empty.

I fully agree. It would be most helpful if more contributors to this forum gave details of their set-up and also an indication of what part of the world they live. This can be helpful when looking at the availability of SACDs.

Post by peteyspambucket September 20, 2005 (4 of 11)
Chris said:

Since peteyspambucket seems to disagree quite often with others regarding sound, my advice to him would be to get better equipment.
I doubt that the standard Sony amp and SACD player he uses to judge soundquality are good enough.
The above is not meant as a personal attack on him or anyone else.It is simply
meant as a hint, maybe to listen to a recording on more than one's own home equipment before passing damning judgement on a particular recording.
Chris

Well, Chris, I've read your posts and often found a lot to agree with, but this is a very insulting piece of "advice" you're giving, really. SACD is supposed to provide an excellent sound experience even on "standard" or affordable equipment. I know you're proud of your investment in your equipment, and perhaps there aren't many who could out-brag you on how much you've spent on your gear. But having nice equipment is an awful reason to browbeat or condescend on others who have spent less.

I don't think it's appropriate for you to publicly tell someone to take a "hint" on whether to review anything, "damning" or praising, because you don't like their equipment. A less prejudiced, less elitist reader might just read reviews in context and take what he could from them. I'm glad you're such a fan of this recording that you would seek to invalidate my review since it didn't agree with you. If you like the album so much why not just write your review and put it out there with a rating? I think my ears can judge audio quality just fine on my SONY ES receiver which cost about $1400 USD, perhaps a pittance to you, perhaps not enough tubes. I am one person on this forum who dares to balance equally between writing negative reviews and positive ones. I like to think that my reviews are helpful to some people, even if they do not reflect the popular opinion.

The fact is, I really dislike the sound of this recording, as well as that on the oft-praised Reiner Mahler 4th. Why not simply accept that they were not pleasing to me? Why try to dissect or publicly opine my reasons? And what if I did listen to it on "better" equipment, and still didn't like the sound or performance? Would you then "hint" that I get my ears checked and use wax remover?

Since you think I have "standard" equipment (which I read as "sub-standard" given your context), then let's really degenerate and go through and let you rate everyone's equipment, and tell them what you think of it, and whether YOU think their equipment is "good enough" to warrant that person writing any "judgement" (aka -- REVIEW... aka -- OPINION)? Or maybe we could just wait until you disagree with someone's reviews first. But at what point is someone's personal context acceptable to you, and who made you in charge of when someone should write a review or not? For professional reviews, Gramophone, Fanfare, Stereophile, or The Absolute Sound, etc are good sources. And who knows what equipment their reviewers use? Maybe you could rate their equipment, too, and sign their paychecks.

This is ludicrous! As I have said before, this is a forum where people have opinions, and they are based on their own personal context. There are no absolutes -- no right or wrong. We are equals in this forum, and there is no elite. Our ratings are AVERAGED. This is a forum where reviews like De Selby's have a following. If we start picking each other's personal contexts apart in public, this forum is going to become a very quiet place.

Post by Polly Nomial September 20, 2005 (5 of 11)
peteyspambucket said:

Well, Chris, I've read your posts and often found a lot to agree with, but this is a very insulting piece of "advice" you're giving, really. SACD is supposed to provide an excellent sound experience even on "standard" or affordable equipment. I know you're proud of your investment in your equipment, and perhaps there aren't many who could out-brag you on how much you've spent on your gear. But having nice equipment is an awful reason to browbeat or condescend on others who have spent less.

I don't think it's appropriate for you to publicly tell someone to take a "hint" on whether to review anything, "damning" or praising, because you don't like their equipment. A less prejudiced, less elitist reader might just read reviews in context and take what he could from them. I'm glad you're such a fan of this recording that you would seek to invalidate my review since it didn't agree with you. If you like the album so much why not just write your review and put it out there with a rating? I think my ears can judge audio quality just fine on my SONY ES receiver which cost about $1400 USD, perhaps a pittance to you, perhaps not enough tubes. I am one person on this forum who dares to balance equally between writing negative reviews and positive ones. I like to think that my reviews are helpful to some people, even if they do not reflect the popular opinion.

The fact is, I really dislike the sound of this recording, as well as that on the oft-praised Reiner Mahler 4th. Why not simply accept that they were not pleasing to me? Why try to dissect or publicly opine my reasons? And what if I did listen to it on "better" equipment, and still didn't like the sound or performance? Would you then "hint" that I get my ears checked and use wax remover?

Since you think I have "standard" equipment (which I read as "sub-standard" given your context), then let's really degenerate and go through and let you rate everyone's equipment, and tell them what you think of it, and whether YOU think their equipment is "good enough" to warrant that person writing any "judgement" (aka -- REVIEW... aka -- OPINION)? Or maybe we could just wait until you disagree with someone's reviews first. But at what point is someone's personal context acceptable to you, and who made you in charge of when someone should write a review or not? For professional reviews, Gramophone, Fanfare, Stereophile, or The Absolute Sound, etc are good sources. And who knows what equipment their reviewers use? Maybe you could rate their equipment, too, and sign their paychecks.

This is ludicrous! As I have said before, this is a forum where people have opinions, and they are based on their own personal context. There are no absolutes -- no right or wrong. We are equals in this forum, and there is no elite. Our ratings are AVERAGED. This is a forum where reviews like De Selby's have a following. If we start picking each other's personal contexts apart in public, this forum is going to become a very quiet place.

Couldn't agree more. It has to be remembered that on this site (and many others), not to mention "audiophile" magazines that many reviewers couldn't & didn't identify two major mastering problems in the CC Tchaik 4/R&J release, despite having access to equipment which is many times more expensive than that which I was using as I stumbled across them (approx value £500 total instead of £xxx(x) each).

How much have these "audiophiles" wasted on their systems when they couldn't even hear these highly obvious flaws? If I couldn't hear those "drop-outs" then I'd be off to get my ears syringed & if no difference in ability happened I'd flog the lot and get a tin-pot all-in-one box!

I don't want to cause a recession in the high-end market place though...

Post by tream September 20, 2005 (6 of 11)
I think it is important that users post their equipment, but not for the same reasons discussed here. Instead, when someone describes the sound, one can often tell from their set-up what their system is optimized to do and make somewhat of a mental adjustment if needed. This is not a perfect science, of course, since we don't know the room environment, don't know if the person is adquately describing what they hear, and we may not be familiar with all or some of the components, and their interaction, but still something is better than nothing.

I wish reviewers for publications like Gramophone and Fanfare were required to publish their equipment as well, for the same reasons.

Last, it is a good thing in a review to describe one's own sound preferences. I find Chandos' house sound to be distant and diffuse, for example.

Post by Chris September 20, 2005 (7 of 11)
peteyspambucket said:

Well, Chris, I've read your posts and often found a lot to agree with, but this is a very insulting piece of "advice" you're giving, really. SACD is supposed to provide an excellent sound experience even on "standard" or affordable equipment. I know you're proud of your investment in your equipment, and perhaps there aren't many who could out-brag you on how much you've spent on your gear. But having nice equipment is an awful reason to browbeat or condescend on others who have spent less.

I don't think it's appropriate for you to publicly tell someone to take a "hint" on whether to review anything, "damning" or praising, because you don't like their equipment. A less prejudiced, less elitist reader might just read reviews in context and take what he could from them. I'm glad you're such a fan of this recording that you would seek to invalidate my review since it didn't agree with you. If you like the album so much why not just write your review and put it out there with a rating? I think my ears can judge audio quality just fine on my SONY ES receiver which cost about $1400 USD, perhaps a pittance to you, perhaps not enough tubes. I am one person on this forum who dares to balance equally between writing negative reviews and positive ones. I like to think that my reviews are helpful to some people, even if they do not reflect the popular opinion.

The fact is, I really dislike the sound of this recording, as well as that on the oft-praised Reiner Mahler 4th. Why not simply accept that they were not pleasing to me? Why try to dissect or publicly opine my reasons? And what if I did listen to it on "better" equipment, and still didn't like the sound or performance? Would you then "hint" that I get my ears checked and use wax remover?

Since you think I have "standard" equipment (which I read as "sub-standard" given your context), then let's really degenerate and go through and let you rate everyone's equipment, and tell them what you think of it, and whether YOU think their equipment is "good enough" to warrant that person writing any "judgement" (aka -- REVIEW... aka -- OPINION)? Or maybe we could just wait until you disagree with someone's reviews first. But at what point is someone's personal context acceptable to you, and who made you in charge of when someone should write a review or not? For professional reviews, Gramophone, Fanfare, Stereophile, or The Absolute Sound, etc are good sources. And who knows what equipment their reviewers use? Maybe you could rate their equipment, too, and sign their paychecks.

This is ludicrous! As I have said before, this is a forum where people have opinions, and they are based on their own personal context. There are no absolutes -- no right or wrong. We are equals in this forum, and there is no elite. Our ratings are AVERAGED. This is a forum where reviews like De Selby's have a following. If we start picking each other's personal contexts apart in public, this forum is going to become a very quiet place.

Sorry if my post insulted you. I agree with a lot of your reviews and posts too. It was not my intention to insult you or anyone else, and I clearly said so in my post.
The reason I wrote it was that I suspected you and some other reviewers here may be making the same mistake I made when I started reviewing SACDs using only my Philips 963SA player.I sometimes blamed the recording when in fact my equipment was the reason some recordings sounded hard, strident and not as good as I wished they would.Not to mention how much better most LPs sounded.The gap has narrowed a lot since then.
I then started to listen to and compare some of the best SACD players and amps and speakers and headphones available and often found that what I thought was a bad recording in fact wasn't.
If it was your dealer or Sony's hype or whoever it was, who told you that SACD always produces an "excellent sound experience" I'm afraid you been cheated.
I'm not suggesting that your equipment is "substandard" only that it may not reveal all there is to be revealed in a recording?
Nor am I trying to stop you or anyone else, with the possible exception of DeSelby, from reviewing.
On the contrary I find most reviews and discussions here interesting both to read and respond to.

To give just one example, regarding the importance of equipment my first Philips SACD player doesn't even compare favourably to a really good high end RBCD player!
But it still beats standard RBCD players and even some more expensive SACD players.

Some recordings sound bad even on high grade equipment and if I think they do, I say so in my reviews.
My main problem these days seems to be that the higher the resolution the more obviously "cut and pasted" multimiked and not natural and realistic and believable, many modern recordings sound to me.
For all their limitations with audible tape hiss , occasional overload and distorsion on peaks as on the recent Franck disc, and not quite the dynamic range that modern recordings are capable of,the old analogue simply miked Living Stereos and MLPs are often more realistic in spite of their limitations and age, IMO.

I find that in general the reviews here,including most of yours, are a good way to find new recordings worth buying. I rarely need to write negative reviews.
Because luckily I rarely buy an SACD that IMO is really bad.What I suggested in my post was just something Zeus and others have already recommended.
Maybe listen to a recording on more than one system before grading it.
You may have noticed that in almost all my reviews I mention on what equipment I have heard a particular recording before I grade the sound quality.

That is not intended to "show off" my equipment,but to give others an idea of how a disc might sound on their equipment.
Interpretations are of course a completely different matter.
One man's heaven is another man's hell.
Judging from your details you are, most probably, a better score reader than me, but I found Reiner's Mahler fourth true to my Eulenburg score.Maybe a bit understated?
Perhaps you could point out where he really strays from the score?
I certainly accept that you don't like Reiner's Mahler, and I also find his interpretations a bit lacking in emotion sometimes.But as far as the actual recording quality is concerned you seem to be in a minority,both here and elsewhere. All other reviews I've read of it have praised the sound.
Could it be your player or amp after all?
Regarding the Strauss disc
Wasn't it Richard Strauss himself ?who once said to an orchestra "you play all the notes perfectly,now give me the soul, the meaning behind them.."
I don't know if you agree with me, but I find Reiner's Dance of the Seven Veils note perfect, but not as seductive and sexy as it can and should be. Sound- qualitywise though it is pretty amazing for its mid fifties vintage IMO.

Maybe I should just have asked everybody here to mention in their reviews what equipment they have used,instead of having to look it up in the details section.
That way I could reasonably safely decide how much I should trust the sound quality rating according to my own personal preferences.
Hoping that I haven't insulted you even more.
All the best and
Enjoy the music
Chris

Post by peteyspambucket September 21, 2005 (8 of 11)
Chris said:

Nor am I trying to stop you or anyone else, with the possible exception of DeSelby, from reviewing.

Judging from your details you are, most probably, a better score reader than me, but I found Reiner's Mahler fourth true to my Eulenburg score.Maybe a bit understated?
Perhaps you could point out where he really strays from the score?
I certainly accept that you don't like Reiner's Mahler, and I also find his interpretations a bit lacking in emotion sometimes.But as far as the actual recording quality is concerned you seem to be in a minority,both here and elsewhere. All other reviews I've read of it have praised the sound.
Could it be your player or amp after all?

Maybe I should just have asked everybody here to mention in their reviews what equipment they have used,instead of having to look it up in the details section.
That way I could reasonably safely decide how much I should trust the sound quality rating according to my own personal preferences.
Hoping that I haven't insulted you even more.
All the best and
Enjoy the music
Chris

This post is much clearer and eloquent in getting your point across. Thanks for clarifying!

I laughed at your De Selby comment. :-)

The Dover reprints of the Mahler symphonies, in oversized editions, selling for less than $20 each, have all of Mahler's notes translated. It's essential to know what these things mean to understand how characterful the performance should be. He's very specific about what he wants. Reiner, in the Strauss as well, robs the warmth and feeling in every performance I've ever heard of his -- Also Sprach, Scheherazade, Turandot, Brahms, Nevsky, etc. "Understated" is almost too nice. Bland is probably more like it. Since I don't have the Mahler 4th anymore, I can only go based on my memory that the violin section in the fast section of the last movement has no sense of playfulness and no sense of line. It's as though they didn't know how it should "go", and this feeling is there in many other places.

Being used to hearing really old, crappy sound on historic tapes, and listening through hiss and audience noises, I must say that first and foremost, my reviews are ALWAYS about the music first. If I don't like the performance, I will not like the disc no matter how good it sounds. That's just me.

I am considering getting rid of my Sony SACD changer for a Universal player. I will seek to probably do this by next summer, after I get a sense of what kind of compatibility I will have with Blu Ray and HD-DVD and the lossless compression offered on those formats from Dolby and dts.

In terms of a receiver, I will miss many of the creature comforts of the Sony ES 444, but I do want to replace it with a Marantz. Marantz has a much cleaner sound IMO, and I'm waiting for one that has all the features I want.

In terms of speakers, I am most likely going to buy the new version of the Sonus Faber Grand Pianos. They sound great and look beautiful. But I'm going to wait until I have some more money saved up before any of this happens! Maybe when I'm ready, I'll be seeking more advice from these forums on equipment-buying, but generally, I go to AVSForum.com for the more tech-related research.

Post by stvnharr September 21, 2005 (9 of 11)
Equipment matters, period.
The biggest variable in the home music listening experience is the home audio system and listening room. Every single one is different and is full of variables. Far too few people understand this. It is never ever mentioned in professional reviews. It is almost as if it does not matter, as if the reviewer can hear all the relevant music irregardless of the equipment, since all equipment will replay sound. And to a certain extent, this is true; at least regards matters of interpretation/score/overall general musical characteristics.
But, to me, the glory of listening to classical music is in the subtleties of the natural acoustical musical detail that one can hear from the instruments, as well as the overall sound of the group or orchestra, in a concert hall performance. So much of this can be lost in a recording, and even more is lost in the music playback system.

Yet much depends on what one wants out of a recording/listening time/etc. Seems to be quite a bit of variance in this I think.

I think it's good when people list their systems in the details section. If one knows equipment, it makes it real easy to understand the sound quality comments in a review. Leaving that section blank, is like reading a magazine review.

Post by mdt September 22, 2005 (10 of 11)
stvnharr said:

Equipment matters, period.
The biggest variable in the home music listening experience is the home audio system and listening room. Every single one is different and is full of variables. Far too few people understand this. It is never ever mentioned in professional reviews. It is almost as if it does not matter, as if the reviewer can hear all the relevant music irregardless of the equipment, since all equipment will replay sound. And to a certain extent, this is true; at least regards matters of interpretation/score/overall general musical characteristics.
But, to me, the glory of listening to classical music is in the subtleties of the natural acoustical musical detail that one can hear from the instruments, as well as the overall sound of the group or orchestra, in a concert hall performance. So much of this can be lost in a recording, and even more is lost in the music playback system.

Yet much depends on what one wants out of a recording/listening time/etc. Seems to be quite a bit of variance in this I think.

I think it's good when people list their systems in the details section. If one knows equipment, it makes it real easy to understand the sound quality comments in a review. Leaving that section blank, is like reading a magazine review.

It does take big investments in equipment and room acoustics to get everything out of a recording, including the most minute details. But i've one has a sensibly balanced system providing uncoulored sound and set up correctly, one can still judge the relations in quality between diferent recordings. One will be able to seperate good recordings from bad ones, even if one can't hear the full quality of the recording.

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