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haroon
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Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Hello:

Can my fellow audiophiles recommend me a classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

I am not much informed about classical music but I am bored with compressed recordings.

I need full orchestra music. Kindly only recommend CDs, no SACD, DVD-A, LP. Also apart from music recommendation, I shall appreciate the details for CD label/ recording company so I can buy the exact CD.

Something that will be enjoyable but will also test the limits of equipment!

Regards

linden518
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Hi, Haroon, hope some of these recordings will do it for you.

Mahler Symphony 9 - Claudio Abbado/Berlin (Deutsches Gram.)
Stravinsky 'Rite of Spring,' - Valery Gergiev/Kirov (Philips)
Shostakovich 10 - Karajan/Berlin (DG)
Sibelius 5 - Vanska/Lahti (BIS)
Beethoven 9 - Vanska/Minnesota (BIS)
Arvo Part - Lamentate (ECM)
Benjamin Britten "War Requiem" - Rattle (EMI)
Verdi Requiem - Abbado (EMI)
Brahms "German Requiem" - Klemperer (EMI)
Bartok "Concerto for Orchestra" - Reiner (RCA)
Beethoven 5&7th symphs - Kleiber (DG)
Tchaikovsky 6th Symph - Pletnev (Virgin)

God, so many more... I'm sure others will come to aid! Among these, the Gergiev's Stravinsky disc is the one I take to auditions. It's a live recording - you should be able to hear the audience shifting in their chairs, their programs rustling. And from the mysterious & hushed bassoon solo to ear-splitting trombone glissandos, you should be able to test the tonal palette of your system to the fullest.

pbarach
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

I like many of the items posted by selfdivider. Sometimes i prefer different recordings.
Mahler 3 (Zander; Telarc)
Mahler 9 (Maazel; Sony)
Beethoven 3 (Vanska; BIS--and Vanska's 9th as well, already mentioned)
Berlioz: Requiem (Spano; Telarc)
Copland: Symphony 3 (Oue; Reference -- or Slatkin; BMG)
Mussorgsky Pictures (Oue; Reference -- or Maazel; Telarc)
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances (Oue; Reference)
Verdi Requiem (Shaw; Telarc)
Ravel: Daphnis & Chloe complete (Munch; BMG)
Stravinsky: Firebird Suite (Chung; DG)
Holst: Planets (Dutoit; Decca)
Britten: War Requiem (Hickox; Chandos)
Vaughan Williams: Symphony 2 (Hickox; Chandos -- or Previn; Telarc)
Debussy: Nocturnes (Boulez; DG)
Ravel: Orchestral Music (Skrowaczewski, Minnesota -- this has been reissued on several different labels, and there are maybe 4 CD-fulls of this, all wonderfully recorded and played).

I would warn you away from the Kunzel Telarc CD of the Tchaikovsky 1812 overture. The orchestral performance is dull and so is the sound. It has a huge dynamic range when you consider the LOUD cannons, but I find nothing else recommendable about this disc. If you do want a CD where a "huge dynamic range" involves sound effects as well as the orchestra, there are a lot of much better Kunzel performances on Telarc, mostly of movie music.

Although you're asking for full orchestra only, have you considered the dynamic range in a good solo piano recording? It's difficult to reproduce in a lifelike manner but it's pretty astounding on a great system. One I'd recommend is the Liszt disc by Nojima on Reference.

haroon
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Thank you so much selfdivider and pbarach, I love you people. Sorry, it took me a while to check your posts and say thanks.

No pbarach, I am not looking for sound effects and that is why I am shy of movies

linden518
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Reiner on RCA's pretty hard to beat on Zarathustra, but I also like Haitink (Philips) a lot. Generally, you can't really go wrong with Karajan (DG) on any Strauss. There's a budget disc of Karajan's that has Metamorphosen, 4 Last Songs (w/ Janowitz) and Tod und Verklarung, all in one disc. Good to have as reference. Rudolf Kempe's Strauss box set (EMI) is good to have, too, as he was noted for his Strauss. But for me, Kempe is hit-or-miss. Among the recent Strauss discs, Rattle (EMI) is tremendous in Ein Heldenleben.

Also, look for Bruckner 4th Symphony by Bruno Walter, on Decca Reissue. Sounds fantastic. I like Brahms Symphony cycle by Abbado, too, on DG. Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique by Markevitch (DG). Shostakovich #5 by Neeme Jarvi (Chandos). Complete Prokofiev Symphonies by Gergiev (Philips). Elgar's Enigma Variations by Barbirolli (EMI). Messiaen's Turanglia Symphony by Kent Nagano (Teldec)...

haroon
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Thanks again selfdivider. I think I have lot of food now. I'll inform you guys after the musical feast!

Regards,

Haroon

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?


Quote:
Reiner on RCA's pretty hard to beat on Zarathustra, but I also like Haitink (Philips) a lot. Generally, you can't really go wrong with Karajan (DG) on any Strauss.

Reiner recorded Zarathustra twice. It's the 1954 version that's been routinely reissued (most recently as an SACD/CD hybrid). The performance is excellent, but I do think the sound is showing its age. Also, the organ at the end of the opening fanfare is outstandingly flat! For better sound and pretty good performances, there is a bargain box of a LOT of Strauss orchestral music performanced by the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra under Zinman. There are 7 CD's of mostly excellent performances in up to date sound, including Zarathustra. I bought this box for about $25-30 at Borders. I also like the Boston Symphony Orchestra recording on DG, conducted by Steinberg.

I respectfully disagree with selfdivider's recommendation of Karajan. Most of his DG Strauss recordings are afflicted with glassy, glaring, early digital sound--the 1954 Reiner is way better in that respect. I don't mind great performances in older (even mono) sound, but Karajan's discs are shrill and congested to my ears.

linden518
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

It's true that a lot of the earlier digital DG recordings suffer from glare (I'm also thinking of overly-miked Pollini recordings, which I still love for the performances.) On the Karajan disc, for example, the 4 Last Songs do get a bit bright & shrill. Still, I find the recording acceptable & the performance itself more than makes up for it. I still enjoy the Reiner Zarathustra. But if it's the sonic characteristics one is after primarily, one should definitely stay with contemporary recordings, but that would mean losing out on so much of what's good.

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?


Quote:
But if it's the sonic characteristics one is after primarily, one should definitely stay with contemporary recordings, but that would mean losing out on so much of what's good.


I wholeheartedly agree with you. There are so many incredible performances that people would miss if they confined themselves to only the latest, best-sounding discs. To name just one--the 1940 recording of the Missa Solemnis, with Toscanini. For sound quality, I go to something more recent (e.g., Zinman)--but the bad-sounding Toscanini performance is outstanding and unique.

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

I was glad to see a version of Missa Solemnis appear in this thread. There is only one version of that masterpiece that I'm familiar with, but, on evenings where I can privately deeply connect with the music my system is delivering, it's on a very short list. The conductor is James Levine and the cast of singers includes, get this, Cheryl Studer, Jessye Norman, Placido Domingo and Kurt Moll. It was recorded live at the Salzburg Festspiele in 1991. I was at this festival, but, in one of my greatest missed opportunities, was unaware of this performance and missed it. The disk number is DG 435 770-2. I believe it's out of print, but if you see it, grab it.

haroon
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Again, thank you all. I understand the virtues of outstanding historical performances but sound quality is the reason we are on Stereophile

linden518
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Try Andre Previn's account with Vienna Phil, on Telarc. Again, you can't go wrong with Karajan on DG, although as pointed out by pbarach, the recording practices in the early digital years rendered the sound too etched & sharp, so you might not like it.

struts
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

I am surprised nobody has mentioned "In Nature's Realm" on Waterlily Acoustics (WLA-WS-66-CD), one of the most startlingly natural orchestral recordings I have ever heard and with (subjectively) superb dynamic range. Here is the skinny from the Waterlily site:


Quote:
The Philadelphia Orchestra
Elk
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

In Nature's Realm is an excellent recording.

And you are right, I should have thought of this as a suggestion. It isn't bombastic, but does display the full dynamic range of a good orchestra.

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?
struts
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

How interesting. I am wondering whether some folks here have answered a different question.

I think many of the recommendations here relate to programme with a large dynamic range (i.e. scores such as Also Sprach that push the extremes from ppp to fff). However even such pieces can be compressed by insensitive recording or mastering with the effect that the dynamic range of the resulting CD is much reduced. Maybe all of the above recommendations happen to have been recorded and mastered excellently too. I don't know but I do know that most of the stuff the majors put out is significantly compressed.

I was actually recommending a recording that (subjectively at least) offers an impressive facsimile of the dynamic range of a symphony orchestra even though the works performed are not in themselves extreme in their dynamic contrasts.

I took this to be what the original questioner was asking for, but on reflection I'm not so sure. I guess the best is both, although all red book (CD) recordings will bump up against the 16-bit headroom of that medium anyway rendering the exercise slightly moot.

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Oops, I didn't notice that the OP limited himself to CDs. With that in mind, I can only recommend the Reference Recordings CDs of the Dallas Wind Symphony.

A decent universal player is pretty cheap (say $170 for an Oppo). I suggest that anyone really interested in big dynamics try SACD and DVD-A. The SACD reissues of the old RCA three-track recordings of the CSO, Arthur Rubinstien and others from the late 1950s and early 1960s are generally astounding. The dynamics are HUGE and the orchestras are some of the best of the 20th century.

Oh, BTW and OT, the 24/192 DVD-A of Alan Parsons Project's "I Robot" has huge sounds that cover you up. The sound stage is 180-degrees and big and tall, just enormous. The very last cut on the album "Genesis 1:5" reaches a huge climax and then fades slowly into the distance. The sound stage starts at 180-degrees and slowly collapses down to about 5-degrees at the final decay. It's like you were standing on the podium in front of a huge orchestra and they slowly moved away from you until they were about 500-yards away. AMAZING.

Dave

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?


Quote:
I was actually recommending a recording that (subjectively at least) offers an impressive facsimile of the dynamic range of a symphony orchestra even though the works performed are not in themselves extreme in their dynamic contrasts.


This is precisely how I understood your suggestion. I believe this is a better approach than looking for a big, bombastic recording.

struts
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Elk,

Yes, I know you 'got it', it was actually your response that made me realize that others may have interpreted the question differently. I know many of the pieces recommended further up are dynamic ('bombastic') pieces, but I have no idea how much of the original dynamic range is preserved in the CD transfers. I have some of the RCA Living Stereo recordings on LP (including Also Sprach) and know they sound great but I have never heard the CD transfers.

SD,

You recommended quite a few recordings up there. Were you thinking of the dynamic range of the piece/performance, the recording thereof, or the CD transfer in particular (or all three) when making your recommendations?

Elk, As an aside, I was reading this article about the unusually high dynamic range of 'Ghetto of my Mind' from Rickie Lee Jones's Flying Cowboys (apparently related to a spotlighted snare drum and therefore probably accidental) but was then surprised to read this post which states:

Quote:
Ghetto of my Mind, has average level of around -28 to -30dB dBFS, and with the peaks regularly hitting -2dBFS, that's an effective dynamic range of 26-28dB!

So I am wondering how this seemingly modest figure of 26-28dB of dynamic range for a recording regarded as extreme stacks up against the theoretical maximum of the CD medium which is 98dB. Can you explain?

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?


Quote:

Quote:
Ghetto of my Mind, has average level of around -28 to -30dB dBFS, and with the peaks regularly hitting -2dBFS, that's an effective dynamic range of 26-28dB!

So I am wondering how this seemingly modest figure of 26-28dB of dynamic range for a recording regarded as extreme stacks up against the theoretical maximum of the CD medium which is 98dB. Can you explain?

This is one of the many mysteries of recorded sound. I, too, wonder why some assert 98dB is not enough to capture music. I think it is more than enough.

Very few of us have ever experienced a dynamic range of 98dB. Even assuming one has fired a large bore pistol without hearing protection to experience 120dB+, very few have been in an environment where the ambient level is 25dB.

Part of the available dynamic range gets used up as headroom. You need to leave a little on the table when recording. Part of the range gets gobbled up in the fact that all of our equipment has quiescent noise, which adds up.

However, we still have plenty left to capture music - even the dynamic extremes of a full orchestra. The extra dynamic headroom provided by recording in 20 or 24 bits is useful primarily in providing lots more headroom - setting levels is not nearly as critical - and in providing mathematical "room" for the calculations when mixing tracks, processing, etc.

A 26-28dB range between the RMS value of the track as a whole and the peaks is huge! This is exceedingly uncommon, especially in a pop recording. Keep in mind however that this is not the entire dynamic range, only the difference between RMS and peak. However, this difference in pop recordings rarely approaches 10dB.

The total range (softest reproduced sound to loudest) will be much greater. It would be fun to take a look at this particular recording and see what the overall range is.

By way of reference, many good chamber music recordings have an RMS value of roughly -20dBFS to -25dBFS. This leaves plenty of room for peaks and transients (there is only so much a flute can do).

I haven't checked Mr. Atkinson's wonderful recording of Attention Screen. The RMS value of this recording will also be quite low. Maybe he will see this post and will chime in to let us know (I'll also try to remember to check and to post my finding).

An RMS value of -28dBFS is exceedingly low and very exciting. Turn the volume up and revel in the wonderful energy this recording has!

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

New recordings most likely to have a large dynamic range are recorded in DSD for issue as SACD, then mixed down to two-channel for the CD version. Telarc, which issues recordings in both formats, is thus a natural here. And since SACDs are in general hybrids, there is no need for someone who only has a CD player to exclude them from the list. I would therefore recommend all the Mahler symphonies by MTT on SFS Media. They are not all the best performances, but the dynamic range is there. The same with Vanska's BIS series of Beethoven. And it goes on.

The issue of whether classic analog recordings of classical repertoire were compressed on the master tape is one I cannot address on a case-by-case basis. But it certainly affects the recommendation of CD and SACD reissues of those recordings. The DG Karajan Beethoven SACD reissues and RCA Living Stereo SACD reissues are worth checking out in this respect.

Finally, the most uncompressed recordings you can get are the HRx DVD master discs from Reference Recordings. My article on the first public demo of this discs will appear in the July Stereophile. The discs are now for sale from Reference Recordings. You load them onto your hard drive and fasten your seat belt.

jason victor serinus

Elk
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Great suggestions, Jason!

I remember your web article about HRx DVD from earlier this year. Exciting stuff.

In addition to possessing excellent sound, the V

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

And I left out the Ivan Fischer Mahler recordings on Channel Classics. No. 2 was my R2D4 last year.

jason

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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?


Quote:
Finally, the most uncompressed recordings you can get are the HRx DVD master discs from Reference Recordings. My article on the first public demo of this discs will appear in the July Stereophile. The discs are now for sale from Reference Recordings. You load them onto your hard drive and fasten your seat belt.


I hope you provide abundant detail on the system you used to play back these HRx files. The system used by RR includes a Lynx AES/EBU interface card in the PC coupled to a Berkeley Audio Design DAC - not exactly common audiophile componentry. There was no mention of a seat belt at the listening position.

JasonVSerinus
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?


Quote:

I hope you provide abundant detail on the system you used to play back these HRx files. The system used by RR includes a Lynx AES/EBU interface card in the PC coupled to a Berkeley Audio Design DAC - not exactly common audiophile componentry. There was no mention of a seat belt at the listening position.

Hi. RR provided the computer playback system and the Berkeley Audio Designs DAC, which they preferred to my Theta Gen. VIII; we used Eggs Works speakers here for review, VTL amplification, my power conditioning/noise lowering gear, and some of my Nordost Valhalla cables. So you have your answer. You may wish to contact RR to understand why they use what they use. They have tested many computer playback systems. Computer playback is not my area of expertise.

jason victor serinus

CharlyD
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

Jason - Thanks for the quick response and looking forward to reading your article! RR should do a road show with this demo!

Elk
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

The only issue with these files is that they are 24-bit/176.4kHz. Simply make sure that your DAC or soundcard can handle this resolution.

CharlyD
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?

As far as I know, the list of soundcards that support 24-bit/176.4kHz is pretty short (I know of only two, M-Audio 192 and the LynxTwo). With an external DAC you're going to need some interface to get the bistream out. RR used a dedicated (8-channel) card. And then you need the right drivers and OS configuration to make it all work. Of course, there's the Transporter and Klimax DS that can do the job.

We should probably start a new thread on this as we're a bit off topic.

struts
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Re: Classical recording with huge/extreme dynamic range?


Quote:
As far as I know, the list of soundcards that support 24-bit/176.4kHz is pretty short (I know of only two, M-Audio 192 and the LynxTwo).

You can add the ESI MAYA44 (happy customer here!) as well as their very popular Juli@.

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