Classical recording Quality

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Logan wrote:

solidstateman wrote:
DG has consistently produced some of the worst-sounding orchestral recordings.
Agreed. I read somewhere that in his later years Karajan never listened to the results of his efforts and left it to the DG engineers to produce whatever they liked, for better or worst. I once wondered whether the Philharmonie venue in Berlin was the culprit (compare the sonics of the 1962 and the stodgy 1978 Beethoven symphony cycles), but other conductors/producers/engineers have generated acceptable sound from there under both studio and live concert conditions on labels other than DG.

In my survey of my rejuvenated "reject bin" of 1950s LPs I came across a Karajan Beethoven 7 with the original Legge Philharmonia (Columbia mono) which I thought was wonderful at the time. I would think that - it was the only7th I'd heard at that stage. In theintervening yearsI've heard about 20 other versions so only now can I make a valid comparison. And the Karajan/Philharmonia is still I think the best in sonics and performance. The orchestration has not been more skilfully revealed nor the rhythms better conveyed than here. The delicacy, energy,and lightness of touch arematched in his stereo Falstaff and Rosenkavalier from the same period.

Or did Karajan suffer from hearing loss in his later years? If he did he wouldn't be the first orchestral musician so afflicted - the condition is not exclusive to elderly (i.e. over 25) rock performers and their outrageous amplfiers. Gramophone reviewers for instance have been ignoring (orunaccountably praising) grossly unacceptable sonics for years. They can't all be deaf or listening to review material on their car tape decks.
I wouldn't be too hard on old DG. I don't think they are any worse than any of the other major labels - Decca, Philips, EMI or CBS (now Sony). All of them have their fair share of Stinkers and Stonkers so to speak. The thing that is consistent about all of them is the inconsistency!

For example.... The DG Kleiber Brahms 4th from early 1980's, legendary performance but has always suffered from a somewhat flattish steely hard sound quality. Doesn't prevent it from being the top choice in this piece of music.

About a year later DG were back in the same venue with the same orchestra in the same symphony but this time with Leonard Bernstein, and again a live recording. This is a tremendous recording (at least it is on vinyl) very open and rich and all the colours and textures present, which on the Kleiber recording are somewhat bleached out. Unfortunately its not as compelling a performance, a bit mannered by Lenny but definitely one I want to have in the collection.

This raises the question, how does the Kleiber performance sound on vinyl? Anyone know? having recently got into vinyl and bought lots of 2nd hand 1960s and 70s recording, I am fairly sure that a lot of the problem is down to rotten remastering in the CD transfers. Some of the vinyl recordings from 1960s sound amazing, better than SACD. I've got some of Maazel's 1960s VPO Sibelius recordings on both vinyl and CD and the vinyl is vastly superior.

To support this, a lot of the best SACDs are remasters of 1950s and 1960s analogue recordings and they reveal the superb engineering and quality that was being practised in those days.

Also I don't necessarily buy the theory that early digital recordings (from early 1980s) are always rubbish.... I can think of quite a few that are still excellent by today's standards: Dutoit's Daphnis et Chloe on Decca, Maazel's VPO Mahler on CBS/Sony and several more.

Last night I listened to Karajan's essential 1966 recording of Shostakovich's 10th, the only one he recorded by that composer. Its one of the dozen or so recordings (among thehundreds)by Karajan that are fully worthy of his status,butI'm not much of a Karajan fan. Its a great recording, even better on Speakers Corner 180g vinyl than on the mid-price CD. There's not much wrong with Karajan's Parsifal from 1980ish, and the sound on the 1983 live Mahler 9th is excellent.... a little close and hard on the violins maybe but one of the few recordings of this piece that really lets you hear what's going on.

I haven't heard as many bad recordings from DG in recent years as Solid claims, and can think of a few stunners, they always seem to pull out the stops for Sinopoli and Abbado. But I still think there is a lack of consistency, especially compared to small independent labels like BIS and Hyperion. I've never heard a less than superb recording from BIS.

The label I would single out form most citicism is EMI, can't remember the last half decent recording I had from them... to the extent I now avoid their releases. The recordings they have done with Rattle in Berlin are particularly bad.

 

tones

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musicbox wrote:

I read somewhere that in his later years Karajan never listened to the results of his efforts and left it to the DG engineers to produce whatever they liked, for better or worst. I once wondered whether the Philharmonie venue in Berlin was the culprit (compare the sonics of the 1962 and the stodgy 1978 Beethoven symphony cycles), but other conductors/producers/engineers have generated acceptable sound from there under both studio and live concert conditions on labels other than DG.
That would surprise me. Karajan was, if nothing else, a relentless self-promoter. His company Telemondial owned the rights to the Berlin Phil's filmed performances and I think his ideas as to how it sounded became more, shall we say, middle of the road and even schmaltzy as the years went on - he was aiming at a broad mass market (or whatever passes for it in the classical world) - and of course leaning on the prestige of the Berlin Phil, which is a major cultural institution in Germany (in his autobiography, James Galway tells of how, when the orchestra went on tour by train, people would come just to see the train go by).

Or did Karajan suffer from hearing loss in his later years? If he did he wouldn't be the first orchestral musician so afflicted - the condition is not exclusive to elderly (i.e. over 25) rock performers and their outrageous amplfiers. Gramophone reviewers for instance have been ignoring (orunaccountably praising) grossly unacceptable sonics for years. They can't all be deaf or listening to review material on their car tape decks.

I think his hearing was fine, but he was clearly a very sick man in later years - the handsome face became very haggard, the silver hair went quite white and he started appearing in an odd high-collared coat, probably to disguise a back brace (he had a back injury as a result of falling out of a tree as a child and it got worse in later years). Given that, plus, as previously mentioned, a tendency to be more "ordinary" in matters musical (the final Beethoven symphony cycle in the 1980s is not a patch on its two predecessors), the last recordings weren't really up to scratch. Even in his younger days, Karajan favoured a smooth, glossy, glamorous sound, and it seems to me that that tendency became stronger as time went on.

 

musicbox

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Fortunately not.... if dynamic range was lost from classical recordings it would kill it stone dead. Even Classic FM has some dynamic range on its broadcasts... but not much which is why its OK for listening in the car but dreadful at home.

The parameters for good and bad classical recording are much more subjective and require a lot of good judgement from the engineers.... how close to the performers, how much of the accoustic reverberation of the venue to capture etc etc.

To me a good recording is one that captures the dynamic range, sounds tonally correct and conveys the texture of the sound, has clarity and transparency so you can distinguish between different performers, instruments and groups of instruments in the soundstage and relates some sense of the accoustic space in which the performance takes place.

 

SSM

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musicbox wrote:

I wouldn't be too hard on old DG. I don't think they are any worse than any of the other major labels - Decca, Philips, EMI or CBS (now Sony). All of them have their fair share of Stinkers and Stonkers so to speak. The thing that is consistent about all of them is the inconsistency!
That can only be true.:?However, these classical labels are the major players with huge catalogues each. It is inevitable that they should each produce 10-20 "bad eggs" out of 300+ new recordings a year. In comparison, the BIS and Hyperion labels whose sound quality you admire greatly, are outfits with smaller turnouts. Given this scale, their executive producers can pay more dedicated attention to sound quality (to avoid shelling out for any duds).

musicbox wrote:

For example.... The DG Kleiber Brahms 4th from early 1980's, legendary performance but has always suffered from a somewhat flattish steely hard sound quality. Doesn't prevent it from being the top choice in this piece of music. About a year later DG were back in the same venue with the same orchestra in the same symphony but this time with Leonard Bernstein, and again a live recording. This is a tremendous recording (at least it is on vinyl) very open and rich and all the colours and textures present, which on the Kleiber recording are somewhat bleached out. Unfortunately its not as compelling a performance, a bit mannered by Lenny but definitely one I want to have in the collection.
The Tonmeister for both the Kleiber and Bernstein recordings is the same: Klaus Scheibe. However theengineers doing the final editings are different. Chris Alder for Bernstein and Gunter Hermanns for Kleiber.

In his position as Tonmeister (not editor, Hermanns is that DG stalwart who has donemany sessions with Karajan and some of these recordings indeedbear the congested, furry sound balance much derided bylisteners with audiophilesystems (and sensibilities). Hermanns did both theKarajan 1962 and 1977 Beethoven9ths, bothof wanting sound quality. The 1962 wasin partnership withOtto Gerdes as supervisorand the clouded balance was lacking in inner clarity. The1977 was with Michel Glotz supervising and IMO it is thistechnical duowhichhas chunred out thoseoverplush Karajan records which have that glossy overlay to the sound. (Glotz = glossy:doh:) Whenever I hear a bad DG recording, I'll usually find Glotz's name listed in the credits.

Some Glotz-Hermanns atrocitieswith Karajan:a bright and bass-light Scheherazade(ADD), the very furry Brahms symphonies(ADD), a congested (DDD!) Holst Planets and most tellingly --- the 1975-9 Tchaikovsky symphonycycle.Hermanns is the Tonmeister for 1-6, but the final editingfor 1-4 was done byVolker Martinwhile 5-6 was supervised by Glotz. You can hear the sudden change in sound quality when you move through this Tchai cycle.Symphonies 1-4had nice listenablequalities, but by the time you get into the GLotz'ed 5-6, the brass got screetchy and brutal andthe overall loudness level seemed to have been jacked upunnaturally. Veryunpleasant and perhaps proof that it is this Glotzwho isthe maintechnical culprit.Karajan, of course,shares the blame for preferring Glotz's bad work.

And I haven't got into the lumpy DG Karajan-Strauss tone poems of the 70s.
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musicbox wrote:

This raises the question, how does the Kleiber performance sound on vinyl? Anyone know? having recently got into vinyl and bought lots of 2nd hand 1960s and 70s recording, I am fairly sure that a lot of the problem is down to rotten remastering in the CD transfers. Some of the vinyl recordings from 1960s sound amazing, better than SACD. I've got some of Maazel's 1960s VPO Sibelius recordings on both vinyl and CD and the vinyl is vastly superior.To support this, a lot of the best SACDs are remasters of 1950s and 1960s analogue recordings and they reveal the superb engineering and quality that was being practised in those days.
I agree.Idon't do classical vinyl, but from comparing the CD remastering efforts by different labels,I find evidence that the digital mastering technique used caneither allow thequality sonics from an excellent 1960s analogue recording to shine through. Or not.Case in point is RCA's exemplary 24-bit remastering of its vintage 1960s opera recordings by Serafin, Leinsdorf, Schippers, etc... not to mention some of Fritz Reiner's stunnning CSO sessions. Sony hasn't done too shabbily with its re-releases of several CBS classics. The 1960 Szell/Fournier Don Quixote is particularly stunning.

On the other hand, it is DG (once again:roll:) who show that even the latest remastering techniques (post-2000) cannot inject any more life intoseveral of its classics. Kleiber's Brahms 4th is an infamous example as is his Beethoven 5&7.They still lack 'air' in their 2nd incarnations and I'll bet my bottom dollar that even the fanciesttechniques used a decade from now cannoteffect any improvement. DG isproof that sometimesthe mess created by the engineers at the time of the recording is irreparable.

musicbox wrote:

Also I don't necessarily buy the theory that early digital recordings (from early 1980s) are always rubbish.... I can think of quite a few that are still excellent by today's standards: Dutoit's Daphnis et Chloe on Decca, Maazel's VPO Mahler on CBS/Sony and several more.
Don't forget Kondrashin's Dvorak 9th with the VPO on Decca.An early-digital classic of all time.
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Alright, I wouldn't say all early DDDs are bad, but most are.
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musicbox wrote:

I haven't heard as many bad recordings from DG in recent years as Solid claims, and can think of a few stunners, they always seem to pull out the stops for Sinopoli and Abbado.
imho there are some average-sounding Abbado 1980s DG records.His VPO Beethovensymphonies have a strangely dull veil to the sound, but I am not sure that is more a fault of the enginnering than it is due to his so-so conducting.
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As for Sinopoli, yes! DG seems to love him and pamper him with the best acoustics. His Salome is audiophile quality as are his NYPO outings. Interestingly, the liner notes in most of his recordings indicate that the sessions were captured with B&W speakers, so that could account for the great sound. Indeed, the balance of Salome reminds me of the B&W "house-sound" - rich and pushy in the midrange with a hint of a gleaming top end for the treble - very akin to the classic balance of the DM 600 series.

musicbox wrote:

The label I would single out form most citicism is EMI, can't remember the last half decent recording I had from them... to the extent I now avoid their releases. The recordings they have done with Rattle in Berlin are particularly bad.
EMI!
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:TheBird:
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We'll have to move this to the carpark if we really want to get into this one :?Like you now, I also make the effort to avoid purchasing any EMI Classics product unless it is really indispensable (e.g. Callas).

SS

 

SSM

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musicbox wrote:

The parameters for good and bad classical recording are much more subjective and require a lot of good judgement from the engineers.... how close to the performers, how much of the accoustic reverberation of the venue to capture etc etc.
Agree. Also the genre plays a role in determining the overall balance the engineers should adopt. Sonatas, woodwind concertos and string quartets need a more close-up focus and any reverberation should be dampened. Compositions for a large orchestrawill require the opposite effect.

musicbox wrote:

To me a good recording is one that captures the dynamic range, sounds tonally correct and conveys the texture of the sound, has clarity and transparency so you can distinguish between different performers, instruments and groups of instruments in the soundstage and relates some sense of the accoustic space in which the performance takes place.
Sounds like an ad for SACD to me.
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SSM

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By the way, is it just me only or does the brand of speakers you use have a powerful influence on your appreciation of the sound quality from various classical labels? Looking back in retrospect I think I had volatile preferences for labels when I cycled through several speaker brands.

My findings on my speakers (blue indicates the labels that sounded fantastic, red: bad)

Castle - sharp, lively, lean

  • Decca, DG
  • Chandos, Phillips, Telarc, EMI
Epos - organic and PRATty

  • Phillips, Telarc, Teldec, RCA
  • Decca, DG, Naxos, EMI
Quad - rich midrange and powerful bass

  • Decca, Chandos, Phillips, RCA
  • DG, Telarc, Naxos, EMI
 
E

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Any thoughts on ECM's output, particularly of J. S. Bach's canon? I'm insufficiently familiar with classical nuances to be cognisant of perfomance and interpretativequirks, but do value a good, clear uncluttered recording, not least because it mght allow me to get a better understanding of the aforementioned nuances...

The few recordings I have on this label (mostly Pärt's later works) are excellent, but have the advantage of a living composer directing things to varying extents...

churz, eofs

 

Biscuit

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I have a Karajan Brahm's 4th Vinyl (on DG), and it is super nice indeed! Scale like you wouldn't believe!

Been going through all my Dad's 60's-80's DG vinyl and there is good and bad, much like CDs. Shame its mostly Bach too :puke:

 

JamPal

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One of the things that keeps stopping me exploring more classical music is the very poor recording quality of the more main stream titles.

Ther eis an excellent classical music shop in Brighton (The Classical Long Player in Dukes Lane) but I am so overwhelmed by choice and lack of knowledge I shy away. If the more accesible stuff was easier on the ear in recording terms I would spend more time gettin aquainted.

perhaps it's time to just fast forward and buy a few CD's blind / on recomend.. perhaps reading this forum would be a good start.
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:Not Sure:

 

Glens of Antrim

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My 2p worth...

I must admit thatI tend to avoid DG recordings - though one of my demo discs (Tschaikowsky: Ballet Suites/BPO/Rostropovich). The Karajan era recording have the faults everybody else have mentioned; while the modern offering, while initially exciting, are a bit soulless imo.

For sound quality I tend to look to records made in the '60s & '70s, especially if they've been 96kHz/24-bit remastered. The Decca opera recordings of this period are all 1st class; some good Phillips discs too & despite what Solid says some excellent EMI orchestral offerings.

Present day recordings I look to are by BIS & Hyperion & tbh I think that the mainstream discs are never worse than above average.

GofA

 

Logan

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Remastering of vinyl material for CD is sometimes shoddy, with very variable results.

Karajan did two Shostakovich 10s on DG. The analogue vinyl issue (IMHO the better of the two, since the venue was not the Philharmonie) was transferred to CD with appalling results. The "digital" vinyl was a less convincing performance, Philharmonie acoustics,and etched sonics, but at least transferred as such.

Similarly the Kleiber Brahms 4 was unacceptable both on "digital" vinyl and CD.

Karajanalso did two versions of Mahler 9. The all-digital 2nd version (Philharmonie) won critical acclaim and prizes, but I have always preferred the 1st recording from the Jesus Christus Kirche. This time the analogue record and CD are almost indistinguishable.

On the other hand the excellent Ashkenazy series of Rachmaninov symphonies on Decca (Concertgebouw) were variably transferred to CD. Symphonies1, 3, and Symphonic Dances/Isle of the Dead are first-rate but the CD of 2hasscreechy treble and is nowhere near the quality of the others. Thankfully Fischer/BFO (Channel Classics) have recently provided us with an equally good performance of 2 with exemplary sound - as good as anything in their Philips Bartok series.

The marvellous 1959 Decca Aida (Karajan/VPO/Culshaw) gave rise to an impossibly bright CD on first transfer. I can't believe that anyone passed it for release. But the second remastering in the Decca Legends series is superb. Someone took a degree of care and listened to the result.

Sometimes a recording can be too transparent and revealing. I've always rated the Chailly Bruckner 7 (Berlin RSO in JC Kirche for Decca) and on this basis I bought his Concertgebouw Bruckner 8. Every instrumental nuance can be heard, which is OK for the Mahlerian sonic but NOT what I want to hear inBruckner. I'm still waiting for a good performance/recording of Bruckner 8 - Wand/BPO/Philharmonie is muddy and soupy and Haitink/Concertgebouw is too restrained. The Karajan/VPO 7 and 8 (DG) are possibly the worst orchestral CDs I have heard - total mush. But the performanceswere extravagantly praised in Gramophone. How did they hear them? Maybe I should look at Tintner and his less-than-first-rank orchestras on Naxos. His 3 and 4 are the best I know on all counts.

I have the vinyl version of Carlos Kleiber's Dresden Tristan, but I've barely heard it. The singers are somewhere down a railroad tunnel and the orchestra sounds like a distant string quartet. Stereo is non-existent. But I suspect that a unique and great reading was misrecorded here, from the little I can discern. I have heard that the DG engineers did a thorough remastering before issuing this on CD but I've never wanted to riskany morecash on it. I'll stick with Karajan/Vickers/Dernesch and Pappano/Stemme/a tenor who was not quite as bad as Solid expected.

But has anyone heard the rejuvenated (?) CD of Kleiber? Should I risk it?

I could go on, but a very clearpattern is emerging - and that is that there is no clear pattern whatsoever. With the major labels you take your chances. But if they can get it right once, why not every time? Like Hyperion.

 

SSM

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Logan wrote:

I have the vinyl version of Carlos Kleiber's Dresden Tristan, but I've barely heard it. The singers are somewhere down a railroad tunnel and the orchestra sounds like a distant string quartet. Stereo is non-existent. But I suspect that a unique and great reading was misrecorded here, from the little I can discern. I have heard that the DG engineers did a thorough remastering before issuing this on CD but I've never wanted to riskany morecash on it. I'll stick with Karajan/Vickers/Dernesch and Pappano/Stemme/a tenor who was not quite as bad as Solid expected.

But has anyone heard the rejuvenated (?) CD of Kleiber? Should I risk it?
Yeah, that's right. Stick the knife a little deeper in.
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I don't have the vinyl Kleiber Tristan but can vouch for the crystalline sound quality of the CD versions (first pressing and "Legendary Recordings" pressing). The overall sound level on the former is indeed on the soft side, but everything snaps into focus if you are prepared to jack up the volumedial. Nothing tunnel-y about it. The latter pressing is the one to get - some extra 'color' seemed to have been restored to the Dresden Staatskapelle's playing and sound levels are higher. It's worth the investment, if only to hear Kleiber's crisp direction and Margaret Price's Isolde - imho the most ravishing assumption I have heard on record.

Logan wrote:

The marvellous 1959 Decca Aida (Karajan/VPO/Culshaw) gave rise to an impossibly bright CD on first transfer. I can't believe that anyone passed it for release. But the second remastering in the Decca Legends series is superb. Someone took a degree of care and listened to the result.
I have the original CD release of this Aida, and it sounds just fine to my ears.:?In contrast, Lorin Maazel's digital La Scala recording on the same label sounds worse (soupy acoustics) and the chorus of the Egyptian priests at the end of Act I has to be the most distanced/faintest scene ever captured on an opera recording. You could literally strain an eardrum trying to "find" the sound.
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btw this Aida is not that marvellous in my world and my gripes rest with Tebaldi's Aida. It seems like she is singing flat in some scenes and her characterization lacks Callas' intensity or L.Price's commitment, imho. I am definitely not supersizing my first CD edition to the Decca Legends copy.
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:D

Happy Easter.

SS

 

musicbox

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Logan wrote:

Karajanalso did two versions of Mahler 9. The all-digital 2nd version (Philharmonie) won critical acclaim and prizes, but I have always preferred the 1st recording from the Jesus Christus Kirche. This time the analogue record and CD are almost indistinguishable.
I've got the first one on vinyl and the second live one on CD. The first is superb, but I found it a little bit dark sounding. Both are great performances, I seem to recall they won the Gramophone awards in successive years. There's no information on my vinyl copy of the first about recording location, just that it was done in 1981. Doesn't say that its digital, so assume its an analogue recording but if so must have been one of the very last.

Also got Carlos Kleiber's late 1970s Schubert 5 and 8 on both vinyl (Speakers Corner re-issue) and CD. This time the CD is vastly superior
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. The vinyl sounds distant and opaque and no joy to listen to, the CD is like a different recording completely.

 

godlau

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Without doubt the golden age of DG lies in the vinyl age. They've made a comeplete dog's dinner of the early transfer on CD of the great 70's recording. However, the advance in tech does help a bit.... SACD release on Klieber's Beethoven 5&7 does show some encouragement. On Brahms Sym 4....I have a special DG Japanese Edition released in Japan only (2.5 times more expensive!)....sounds miles better than the original release on CD.

Actually I am not sure why DG would have made such a mess..... especially consider the RCA's Living Stereo's series of the re-releases of late 50's early 60's stereo recordings...... (now on SACD even better)

 

Chumpy

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This is an interesting topic. From my limited experience of listening etc in various venues, I seem to prefer always my FIRST venue/recording/version etc, even if technically later re-doings/remasterings might be technically superior supposedly.

I suspect emotionally we imprint, and all other varieties are deviation. As Germany has been mentioned (I am still enjoyably wading through about 7000 DG inherited LPs), even there the standards authority messed about with the sphere in the recent vile World Cup.

For the first time in about 20 years I am attempting to catch some bit of most days' 'Proms', (on FM usually)even if some are unmusical.

As regards the observation that some loudspeaker-systems seem to be more revealing (often negatively) of 'Classical' etc I agree, and have learned to settle for speakers I like/attempt to enjoy the recording/performance-broadcast. Stunningly wide dramatic 'dynamic range' I agree can be one of the great joys of:

a) 'Classical' musicianship.

b) A great audio-reproduction system, whether cheap or expensive (in right environment).

 

SSM

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This horrid experience comes once in a while to ruin an evening spent listening to the classics, and tonite it happens again.
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First recording to be put on is the Arthur Grumiaux/Bernard Haitink performance of Beethoven's Violin Concerto. It is a great interpretation but somehow it sounds as if someone has stuffed a wad of cotton wool into my new speakers. Dynamics are squashed and the output is veiled.

Yep, I know this is an analogue Phillips CD transfer, but surely it could sound more decent through my recently tweaked system? Well, I did the worst thing one could do in this situation: I stopped the disc-play, kept the amp's vol at the same level, and swapped the Beethoven CD for a pop CD: Whitney Houston's Greatest Hits Collection. Wow... the difference in dynamics and clarity.
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Its like getting a total system upgrade. I cannot imagine wanting a better hifi to improve on this pop disc.

Which brings me to my point... more than half of my music collection is classical and more than half of this (65%) are ADD transfers of recordings made during 1955-75. Most are indispensable. But sound-wise, all pale in comparison to the best of pop recordings. How much higher up the hifi rung must I climb to achieve the optimum playback of these dated recordings? And, is this goal possible at all? I'm beginning to believe it isn't.
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Because, it is always the same story whenever I swap kit (and I have swapped a lot!) - the sonic reproduction of my pop/rock CDs always outshines the classical ones.

What's the point then - for a consumer of classical music like me - in planning more hifi upgrades when they are hardly going to make much significance in the replay of my cherished, but alas, non-digital recordings? Its pointless!
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A mockery of my efforts! Stupid! Argh, its thwarted moments like these that make me feel like hurling a pot of skin repair cream across the room!
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Will be ignoring my classic collection for now.

SSigh

 

epca

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My commiserations on your dilemma, SSM.

Often when I switch from one cd to another, especially when there is a significant difference in recording quality (whether it is due to the age of the recording, or poor recording technique), I find that it takes some time to acclimatise to the sound. But after this usually short period, I sort of 'get my bearings' in the new acoustic. Perhaps it might help just to stick it out, particularly if the performance is good?

Also while I am not defending poor recording technique, it must be more difficult to make a good orchestral recording than a pop with rather smaller number of instruments? Add in the various possible locations of the mics, the recording acoustic and the preferences of the recording engineer, and it is no surprise that poor recordings abound.

But my general experience is that the Philips analogue sound is usually very decent, so perhaps the pressing you have is at fault? Another thread on here somewhere talks about the possibility of CDR's sounding better than the originals. Worth investigating perhaps? Another possibility is to see if there are some remastered versions (24 bit or SACD) kicking around; I have successfully 'upgraded' a few recordings that way.

I have to say that I have seldom despaired of the pre digital era cd's in my collection, and prefer some to their modern counterparts, both sound and performance-wise. Even mono recordings can sound pretty decent. DG has a good number of very decent mono recordings from the 50's; parts of Kempff's mono LvB piano sonata cycle comes to mind.

Regarding the compressed dynamics, I have often wondered about this. Some other threads have talked about increasing numbers of modern pop/rock recordings being compressed so that the dynamic contrasts are reduced, leading to complaints about the sound quality very similar to what you describe. So perhaps the future of recorded pop/rock is also bleak?

Regarding the upgrading of equipment, maybe you could try speakers with a larger cone diameter or a floorstander
rolleyes.gif.fd85f9fd5d171988ef004a59c04642db.gif
; various folk on the forum (Biscuit and others) have reported the pros of larger cones, which might help the lack of dynamics? Alternatively, you could maintain 2 systems, one biased towards hifi, and the other towards making poor recordings listenable? And BTW, have you heard any Triangle floorstanders?

Apologies for rambling, and submitted with the usual IMHO's and YMMV's. Hope you cheer up about the situation.

Cheers

Ed

 

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