Thread: Stage perspective, Real Surround, aggressive mix... A list of discs with "music from behind"

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Post by Luong June 10, 2012 (1 of 113)
Stage perspective, Real Surround, aggressive mix... Can we have a list of discs with "music from behind"?

The (relatively few) multichannel recordings that put musicians in the rear speakers (as opposed to using rear speakers only for ambience) have produced a wide spectrum of reaction in listeners as follows:
Group 0: Two-channel fans ignore them, naturally.
Group 1: Some MCH listeners are displeased with these discs. Strong words have been used: gimmick, perverse, boycott...
Group 2: Some are tolerant, accepting them as another way to enjoy recorded music.
Group 3: Yet some are thrilled by and actively looking for them.
A lot of discussions, some quite heated, have been done on stage perspective recordings. It is a matter of taste.

The listeners in the last group are facing an uphill battle during their quest. I am one of them. As stage perspective discs comprise about 1% of all MCH discs, I am potentially "out-of-luck" in 99% of my purchase. It has been
this way since the last century, starting with DVD-A, albeit at a more favorable percentage . It worsened when mch-SACDs started to come out in 2001. The same trend continues with HD-DVD and BD later on. SA-CD.net
is a valuable resource for me to improve my uncertainty to a much better odd in buying mch-SACDs . Now I believe further steps can be done to make it easier to identify those discs. This is a necessity because I cannot
keep up with the recent increase in number of new SACD titles.

My suggestions are:
1- If you review a disc in mch, please mention explicitly the placement of instruments (or only ambience) in the rear channels.
2- Also if you review or if you know of a "stage perspective, aggressive mix, Real Surround" SACD, please add that title in this thread. It is an attainable goal to build a compilation of those titles in this thread as there is only
about a hundred of such titles for now.

This appeal goes out to all SACD listeners. Even if you are in Group 1, please pitch in: you can help warn your peers in Group1 to avoid that particular recording while making those in Group 2&3 more aware of that disc. This will most likely increase SACD sale. It is a win-win situation.

Thank you for all your help. Also thanks to reviewers and official site reviewers of SA-CD.net.


Now for stater, here are some "musicians in the rear speakers" discs that I have listened to. Most of them have been reviewed by others on this site.
I know of 3 labels that consistently promote and produce stage-perspective discs:

TACET Real Surround Sound: 45 discs to date. Its SACD titles are fewer than DVD-A. Some dual inventory of SACD and DVD-A on some titles. Tacet also has made a few audience-perspective mch SACDs in the early 2000's but no more later on. So you have to look for the phrase "Real Surround Sound".

2L: not all of its titles are stage perspective. You have to read the cover and the reviews. Also some of them are SACD+BD-Audio.

AIX: this label makes DVD-A and BD. Many of them have stage perspective.

For other labels, stage perspective and aggressive mix are few and far in between.

Archiv
Giovanni Gabrieli: Music for San Rocco.
Biber: Missa Salisburgensis

Brilliant Classics: Cori Spezzati: Venetian Polychoral Music.

EMI: (rock) Pink Floyd: Dark side of the Moon.
EMI Belgium: (pop) Dana Winner: Unforgettable.
EMI Belgium: (pop) Dana Winner: Unforgettable Too.
EMI Hong Kong (crossover/pop) Sarah Brightman: Eden.
EMI Hong Kong (crossover/pop) Sarah Brightman: La Luna.
EMI Hong Kong (crossover/pop) Sarah Brightman: Time to say Goodbye.

Geffen (rock) Beck: Sea Change

Hanssler Classic: Berlioz: Requiem. Norrington.

Harmonia mundi:
Biber: Missa Christi Resurgentis
Tallis-Pitts: XL Choral Works for 40 voices.

Interscope (rock) Nine Inch Nails: The downward spiral.

Island
(rock) Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick road.
(rock) Elton John: Captain Fantastic
(rock) Elton John: Madman across the Water.
(rock) Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection.

Kleos Classic: Biber: Missa Christi Resurgentis,

Linn Poulenc: Concerto for Organ

Mercury (rock) Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms.

NCA Biber: Missa Salisburgensis.

Sonoma Music for organ, brass, and percussion.

Sony:
Boulez conducts Ravel. (There is an earlier version that is 2-channel stereo only).
J.S. Bach. The Four Great Toccatas and Fugues.
(pop) Celine Dion: All the way. A decade of songs.
(pop) Celine Dion: A new day has come.
(musical) The phantom of the opera.
(Columbia) (pop/folk) Mary Chapin Carpenter: Time,Sex,Love.
(Columbia) (rock) Aerosmith: Toys in the attic.

Telarc
Berlioz: Requiem. Spano
LAGQ Latin
LAGQ Guitar Heroes.
LAGQ Spin
LAGQ Brazil'
(acapella) Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Raise your spirit higher.
(acapella) Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Long walk to freedom.
(acapella) Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Honoring Zaka Zulu.
(jazz vocal) Tierney Sutton: Something cool.


Universal (A&M) (pop) Carpenters: Singles 1969-1981

Virgin (rock) Roxy Music: Avalon.

Post by classicrecordings June 10, 2012 (2 of 113)
Good post, and some food for thought.

I would have to admit to being in Group 1: Some MCH listeners are displeased with these discs.

I enjoy the LAGQ's recordings, but I find the MCH perspective of sitting in the middle of 4 guitarist a little weird to say the least. I have played classical guitar for years, and no matter how an ensemble plays, the listener would never be sitting in the middle of the guitarists as their recordings have you.

Of course there are exceptions, like the Bigg's Bach recording where the pipes are spaced around the hall. In that case, I enjoy the perspective of being in the middle, because I am hearing the music as it was intended.

I cannot speak about non-classical music, because I would think anything goes when a group is recorded in a studio. It gives the engineer the freedom to place the instruments where ever they want for effect; as in DSOTM.

I have nothing to add to your very good list, and I have to admit, I rely on the reviews and discussions that I read before I purchase a disc.

Post by wehecht June 10, 2012 (3 of 113)
I am definitely NOT a fan of this type of recording except in those instances when the effect is part of the score. An outstanding example of this type would be: Aho: Symphony No. 12 - Storgårds. Another stage/ conductor's perspective disc in my collection is: Britten's Orchestra - Michael Stern.

Post by hanser June 11, 2012 (4 of 113)
classicrecordings said:



I enjoy the LAGQ's recordings, but I find the MCH perspective of sitting in the middle of 4 guitarist a little weird to say the least. I have played classical guitar for years, and no matter how an ensemble plays, the listener would never be sitting in the middle of the guitarists as their recordings have you.

Interesting observation, since I also play an instrument, and the real surround sound gives me the feeling to be a part of the musicians.

I personally belong somewhere between group 2 and 3. Have not much to add to the list, only that at least the following 2L recordings are "aggressive": Ole Bull violin concertos, Mozart Violin concertos, In folk style, Divertimenti, String quartets by Grieg and Haydn. Also, there is the Blu-ray Audio "Circus maximus" by Corigliani from Naxos, but this is not a SACD.

Post by Tourboots June 11, 2012 (5 of 113)
classicrecordings said:

I enjoy the LAGQ's recordings, but I find the MCH perspective of sitting in the middle of 4 guitarist a little weird to say the least. I have played classical guitar for years, and no matter how an ensemble plays, the listener would never be sitting in the middle of the guitarists as their recordings have you.

I can understand this point of view, but one thing that I think is often forgotten by many who are strong supporters of only 2ch SACDs or who want only ambience in their recordings as they want the SACD to reflect a concert experience. These views are perfectly valid, however we should perhaps reflect that recordings which place the listener in the centre of a performance are examples of the SA-CD finding its place, not reflecting the traditional view of concert-hall sound but a modern advancement reflecting our technology and a view that the recording is a modern art form, free from traditional values. Surround sound helps us realise this.

Post by Kal Rubinson June 11, 2012 (6 of 113)
Tourboots said:

I can understand this point of view, but one thing that I think is often forgotten by many who are strong supporters of only 2ch SACDs or who want only ambience in their recordings as they want the SACD to reflect a concert experience. These views are perfectly valid, however we should perhaps reflect that recordings which place the listener in the centre of a performance are examples of the SA-CD finding its place, not reflecting the traditional view of concert-hall sound but a modern advancement reflecting our technology and a view that the recording is a modern art form, free from traditional values. Surround sound helps us realise this.

Not all of us will accept that reproduction, particularly of classical music, is no longer referenced to the recreation/simulation of a real event but is "a modern art form, free from traditional values." Beyond our small community, classical listeners, in general, are even more conservative and most, like the large stereo-only contingent here and abroad, find such aural perspectives discomforting. For them, it is a deterrent.

I have been listening to multichannel for many years and my collection includes a fair number of discs with non-traditional aural perspectives. I find that those are enjoyable mainly for their surprising presentations and that, in fact, it is that very perspective which deters me because the perspective on the performance is an important component of the music. Changing the perspective, imho, distorts the musical experience. There is only a handful of discs with aggressive mixes that survive this criterion. (Remember, I am speaking only about classical music which was written with a particular stage/audience relationship in mind.)

BTW, these are no more "Real Surround" than those with true ambiance in the surround. Stage perspective, aggressive mix, immersive, etc., are more accurately descriptive terms.

Post by seth June 11, 2012 (7 of 113)
None of these are aggressive, but there are instances when instruments or voices come from the rears:

Respighi: Roman Trilogy - Neschling
Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro - René Jacobs
Mozart: Don Giovanni - Jacobs (I think, but it's been so long since I listened to the recording I cannot remember for sure).
Strauss: Elektra - Bychkov

This piece was specifically written for instruments to be placed around the audience:

Aho: Symphony No. 12 - Storgårds

Post by M_Dixon June 11, 2012 (8 of 113)
My favorite is this disc:

Tallis: Spem in alium, Missa Salve intemerata - Oxford Camerata

I should point out that I own the DVD-A version of this recording, but I would be suprised if there were any differences in the mixing. For the opening work, Tallis calls for 4 choirs to be arranged in the shape of a cross. That's one situation where everyone can agree on having musicians coming out of the rear speakers, after all it's called for in the score.

Post by Windsurfer June 11, 2012 (9 of 113)
Kal Rubinson said:
....I am speaking only about classical music which was written with a particular stage/audience relationship in mind.)

BTW, these are no more "Real Surround" than those with true ambiance in the surround. Stage perspective, aggressive mix, immersive, etc., are more accurately descriptive terms.

Thank you !

I agree wholeheartedly - there are no surround sound mixes more real than those with true ambience surround. The others, unless needed to realize the demands of the composer, are "less real" they are all those things detractors including myself, claim - fake, gimmick and so on.

One additional note. Seth commented on this in another thread some time ago. Because of the miking and because the "rear" speakers are ideally set 105 degrees from center, the sound stage of a "surround" recording achieves a closer likeness to the sound in a concert hall wherein the sound stage is considerably wider than what you hear in stereo.

It creates the illusion that your listening environment is much larger that its real physical dimensions, hence transports the listener into the concert hall.

That is why I personally am so devoted to SACD, specifically for that multi-channel surround experience!

Post by Fitzcaraldo215 June 11, 2012 (10 of 113)
Windsurfer said:

Thank you !

I agree wholeheartedly - there are no surround sound mixes more real than those with true ambience surround. The others, unless needed to realize the demands of the composer, are "less real" they are all those things detractors including myself, claim - fake, gimmick and so on.

One additional note. Seth commented on this in another thread some time ago. Because of the miking and because the "rear" speakers are ideally set 105 degrees from center, the sound stage of a "surround" recording achieves a closer likeness to the sound in a concert hall wherein the sound stage is considerably wider than what you hear in stereo.

It creates the illusion that your listening environment is much larger that its real physical dimensions, hence transports the listener into the concert hall.

That is why I personally am so devoted to SACD, specifically for that multi-channel surround experience!

Bruce - I agree almost completely, except for the record, the correct ITU angle to the surrounds is 110 degrees, not 105. But, wouldn't you know. In my room, 110 is not quite possible, so they are at about, you guessed it, 105. I doubt it makes a huge difference.

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