You are here

Log in or register to post comments
dcrowe
dcrowe's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:39am
Reference CD or SACD Recordings

I would be interested in seeing your list for the best recordings. From experience changing everything in playback systems, and taking the same SACD from one system to another, I think that after some reasonable level of performance is achieved by your playback equipment and room, the recording itself is the limiting factor. I have some recordings that are just about unlistenable, even though I love the music.

What makes a great recording? It could be the Absolute Sound (sounds like a live performance, somewhere in the concert hall), or it could be the Absolute Experience (a great example of the recording engineers craft). What I would like to avoid is the absolutely disappointing bad sound some major label recordings have.

dreiter
dreiter's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 10 2005 - 11:28am
Re: Reference CD or SACD Recordings

Devon, Great question! I agree completely. For example, my favorite music is Beethoven's 9th symphony. I have 2 versions on SACD. Herbert Von Karajan's version is well played, but I feel the actual recording isn't all that great. Telarc's (Donald Runnicles) is a fantastic recording, but the actual performance is just OK. I know there a re a few more out there now. I like to check out www.classicstoday.com, and of course Stereophile. I would love to see a list of favorites from John or the team where both the performance and the recording are top notch. One example I have that fits that bill is Rachel Podger's Vivaldi's La Stravaganza. BTW, a reord of the month pick in Stereophile a while back.

Jim Tavegia
Jim Tavegia's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 4:27pm
Re: Reference CD or SACD Recordings

As a broadcast engineer I have enjoyed this audiophile hobby since the late 60's. These last few years I have be spending more time doing location recording for amature clients. I started doing it because I got tired of hearing complaints about the sound quality of discs, lps, and the equipment itself. I thought if I was truly to understand the playback process I needed to gain a better understanding of just what it took to make a decent recording. Seemed logical to me that great gear cannot turn a poor recording into a silk purse. Often that is what we seem to ask.

I had started years ago using R2R, bought a Sony DAT to get into the digital format and have even used Sony's Mini Disc for some lower rez client demo work for trial and error. The loss of air, depth, and detail put the MD on the shelf. The silent backgrounds were great, but the loss of detail is a step in the wrong direction.

I then bought an inexpensive M-Audio sound card, the model Delta 44 and this is when it started getting complicated with computer recording. The computer is a noisey environment.

With the Delta 44 I could not get the noise floor even to -50db due to the power supply noise of my HP. I then got the dealer to give me credit and I bought an M-Audio DIO 2448 digital I/O card and bought the MAudio outboard Flying Calf 24/48 ADC to get the files into the computer and keep the DAC and ADC outside the computer. I used the M-Audio SuperDAC 24/96 for most of the playback and used the onboard DAC of the card for some playback listening, but usually the Super DAC. The noise floor was now at about -65db, but certainly no where near the theoritical -96db of 16 bit.

It is the deep, black backgrounds with no noise component that allows us to hear deeper into the musical performance from CD's that enhance the experience. This was now getting frunstrating. The real problem is that buying "consumer" grade mics and mic preamps is the real problem as their inherent higher noise floor kept me from attaining all that I could for my clients.

It is clear that unless you can buy mics that have a self-noise floor of -14db or less you will have problems, and that the mic preamps themselves must be low noise and high gain which only comes from premium pricing, mostly above $1K per channel or more. I am now looking at a Rode NT1A mic ($299 and affordable)that has a self noise of -5db which I will audition within the next couple of weeks. At this price point it may be a miraculous acheivement. Unless the mic and pre's will allow at least a -80db noise floor the sound will be compromised. Mic preamps and mics have the same differing sound colorations as do competing CD players. I haven't even touched on the difficulties of mic placement for proper sound staging and the issues of mic choices of uni's or omni's for ambiance retrival.

I am leaarning much as I go and have garnered a greater appreciation of why the software we buy is sonically all over the place. I am convinced that many use high quality noise "gates" on their mics to "close" them when the sound level reaches a low enough point to eliminate the self noise of the mic. You must spend serious money to find a adjustable noise gate that will operate consistently near -75db or -80db levels.

I bought the Echo Indigo I/O card based on JA's review in Stereophile and find that for $165 it is a great piece for my Dell laptop. The playback sound is very smooth and grain free with ample playback gain for my Grado's.

Input using Sony Sound Forge for recording as been another problem as the high input noise floor of -60db is still problematic. I have yet to determine if it is from my external mic and mic pre sources or from some abnormalitiy with the input side of the Echo Indigo I/O. Since it has been the same for both my desttop and laptop I am leaning toward my recording mics and preamps. Even recording in a clients home you can even hear a refridgerator. Imagine what the HVAC system sound like in a auditorium? I've been there trying to get the maint. man to turn it off. It is like doing a recording at a Lockheed or Boeing factory.

Other than the problematic noise floor I have learned much about capturing great sound and some of my work as been very good. I do know I have a long way to go and now fully appreciate what recording engineers go through to capture a great performance. If you want to hear great music well you must ante up $$$ and buy very good gear. On the recording end it is even more important. Learning about this process has me complaining less about audio gear and enjoying performances more.

Mattias
Mattias's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 2 2005 - 12:57pm
Re: Reference CD or SACD Recordings

The record is already mentioned, but its worth to mention again. Not Vivaldis most famous but Vivaldi - La Stravaganza is really good in my opinion. It great music great recorded all in the same package. If you like Violin concertos you should check this out.

Rachel Podger preforms outstanding as well as the musicians, Arte Dei Suonatori.

A good thing with it is also the price, two cd/sacd's for the price of one. Thank you Channel classics for thisone.

Vivaldi - La stravaganza (OP4) 12 violin concertos

Rachel Podger, violin (Peasarinius 1739, Genoa)

Arte Dei Suonatori

Channel Classic CCS SA 19503

The record was rewarded to record of the year 2003 by Gramophone.

/Mattias

dcrowe
dcrowe's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:39am
Re: Reference CD or SACD Recordings


Quote:
Here's my top three:

Mahler: Symphony #1
San Francisco SO / Tilson Thomas
SFSO 821936-0002-2

Vivaldi: La Stravaganza
Arte dei Suonatori / Podger
Channel 19503

Stravinsky: L

Ronm1
Ronm1's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 2 months ago
Joined: Apr 22 2006 - 6:25am
Re: Reference CD or SACD Recordings

I've been using

Rossini - Sonate per Archi - Capriccio
Paganini for Two - Shaham/Sollscher - DG

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 46 min 19 sec ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Re: Reference CD or SACD Recordings


Quote:
Here's my top three:

Mahler: Symphony #1
San Francisco SO / Tilson Thomas
SFSO 821936-0002-2

Vivaldi: La Stravaganza
Arte dei Suonatori / Podger
Channel 19503

Stravinsky: L

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading