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How to achieve the Deutsche Grammophon Sound?
Old 17th October 2013
  #1
How to achieve the Deutsche Grammophon Sound?

Hello Guys,

When I listen to Deutsche Grammophon recordings, I notice that the reverberation has a slight variation in sound. I can't quite verbalize the sound.

For you guys that have Spotify, here are some links to listen to some DG tracks:

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spotify:track:5gwKOGdsJrXRihS4YNafpp

Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 2
Piano: Yundi Li
Conductor: Seiji Ozawa
Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Philharmonic)

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spotify:track:2J4RojvueMFOa61rdFrBHj

Personally, this track has the most of what I am talking about. I would like for you to listen carefully to the first C# Octave in the Bass. Hear how it rings, but it has a slight tremolo-type effect to the smallest degree.

Chopin: Barcarolle in F# minor
Piano: Krystian Zimerman

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spotify:track:2i5jzM0VWNKn9XYpziZ5z4

It is less apparent in this track, but it is still there.

Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G minor (it sounds sort of like No. 5)
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic)

Notice the cut/splice at around 2:37

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spotify:track:3eBKGgRVBt3aFITwLQaDGw

Listen to the last chord cutoff, and listen to the reverb. It is a little short, but hear the ringing/tremolo type effect.

Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D major
Violin: Gidon Kremer (Absolutely Amazing)
Conductor: Lorin Maazel
Berliner Philharmoniker (Berlin Phil)

-------------------------------------------------------

Steve Genewick (Steve G.) thought it might have been Lexicon, but Al Schmitt said these recordings might have been made a little too early for Lexicon.

I love Deutsche Grammophon recordings because they are so warm and natural sounding, yet very clean and pristine.

Thanks all and looking forward to your comments ,

u47u67u87
Old 17th October 2013
  #2
Should I pm dseetoo?

u47u67u87
Old 17th October 2013
  #3
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i dont have spotify so cant listen. but id be very suprised to hear that they used anything but natural ambience for reverb...
Old 17th October 2013
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by salomonander View Post
i dont have spotify so cant listen. but id be very suprised to hear that they used anything but natural ambience for reverb...
Really?

I'd be surprised if they used anything but an outboard Lexicon reverb unit...

Sent from my C6603
Old 25th October 2013
  #5
Gear Nut
 

I'd say it's the hall they recorded in.
Old 26th October 2013
  #6
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Omicron_9's Avatar
 

If you post your Q in the remote forum, you'll no doubt get some excellent and informed responses. It's more of a classical music subforum.

Regards,
-0.9
Old 26th October 2013
  #7
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noiseflaw's Avatar
 

I have read that Deutsche Grammophon favour a church in Berlin (particularly for its reverberation), to record some of their records - I don't know which one though...

- 'Edvard Grieg: Lyric Pieces; Emil Gilels, piano. Deutsche Grammophon 429 749-2. Recorded in a church in Berlin, 1974.'
Old 26th October 2013
  #8
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Plush's Avatar
It is pretty easy to understand the DG sound.

YOu need to get the DG artistes, DG halls and DG engineering staff to work on your recordings.

There are a lot of German Tonmeister techniques ("they call the tune") that are simply unknown in the USA and outside of Germany.

Of course the extra reverb is added later.
Old 26th October 2013
  #9
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noiseflaw's Avatar
 

Here you go:

http://www.bh2000.net/special/patzak/detail.php?id=2752

Beethoven : Symphonie No 3
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Herbert von Karajan
Date of Recording: 11/1962
Venue:Jesus Christ Church, Berlin
DGG SLPM 138 802

...Karajan thus continued to use the Church of Jesus Christ in Dahlem for recordings with his Philharmonic musicians until the beginning of the 1970s, while he and Cremer worked on perfecting the Philharmonic hall's acoustics.

...In the 1950s and early 1960s before the re-born Philharmonie the majority of the Berlin Phil’s recordings were made at the Jesus Christ Church at Berlin, Dahlem. An extremely popular recording venue the church is still used for that purpose today.

Hope that helps...
Old 27th October 2013
  #10
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When they were recording at Symphony Hall here in Boston many decades ago, they had a number of EMT plates down in the basement (saw them myself). Essentially, they were adding a certain degree of high frequency reverb to "enhance" the characteristic of Symphony Hall. Imparted a certain degree of airyness to the sound characteristic. The purists considered this to be blasphemy, to muck with the Hall's sound characteristic like that!
Old 27th October 2013
  #11
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Classical music recording engineers practically always use the sound of the room only. Sometimes a reverb machine is used to enhance the sound.

Volker Straus (who produced and recorded for Philips Classics with a.o. Bernard Haitink + Concertgebouw Orchestra from the late 70's to the early 90's) recorded on multitrack machines and added the natural reverb of a church in Soest (the Netherlands) afterwards using a few Quad electrostats and neumann sdc's.
Old 27th October 2013
  #12
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Quote:
Classical music recording engineers practically always use the sound of the room only.
DGG was regularly using the EMT plates to enhance the reverb characteristic of Symphony Hall, as was described to us by the DGG representative that was giving us a tech tour of their (then) recording facilities in the hall. I know because I was there and you weren't!
Old 28th October 2013
  #13
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JonesH's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joram View Post
Classical music recording engineers practically always use the sound of the room only. Sometimes a reverb machine is used to enhance the sound.
To each his own, but for most classical engineers that I know including myself, reverb is integral and very common. Room sound yes, but it's rarely enough to create a great sound.
Old 28th October 2013
  #14
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joram View Post
Classical music recording engineers practically always use the sound of the room only. Sometimes a reverb machine is used to enhance the sound.

Volker Straus (who produced and recorded for Philips Classics with a.o. Bernard Haitink + Concertgebouw Orchestra from the late 70's to the early 90's) recorded on multitrack machines and added the natural reverb of a church in Soest (the Netherlands) afterwards using a few Quad electrostats and neumann sdc's.
So he re-amped the orchestra, cool.
Old 29th October 2013
  #15
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noiseflaw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vincentvangogo View Post
So he re-amped the orchestra, cool.
Yes, radical!
Old 30th October 2013
  #16
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

It's been a long time since I've listened to -- or, frankly, even looked at -- a Deutsche Grammophon recording, but when CDs first came out I listened to a bunch of DG releases and noticed they sounded conspicuously different from classical releases by Telarc, Decca, etc. A bit of research back then revealed that the DG engineers tended to embrace multiple close mics on the orchestra moreso than the engineers from Telarc or Decca.

So perhaps what you're hearing are phase issues between all those open mics?
Old 31st October 2013
  #17
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Quote:
A bit of research back then revealed that the DG engineers tended to embrace multiple close mics on the orchestra
In the Symphony Hall setup that I saw, they were using an SM2 as the main pickup and had maybe 20 spot mics spread around the orchestral area. They were used very selectively, of course (definitely -not- all up at once!). I remember them throwing around a German term "lautsheit" (any tonmeisters around here?) to describe what they were trying to acheive.
Old 31st October 2013
  #18
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SM69 main mic, not SM2 (it's only been a few decades).
Old 31st October 2013
  #19
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nickelironsteel's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tpad View Post
In the Symphony Hall setup that I saw, they were using an SM2 as the main pickup and had maybe 20 spot mics spread around the orchestral area. They were used very selectively, of course (definitely -not- all up at once!). I remember them throwing around a German term "lautsheit" (any tonmeisters around here?) to describe what they were trying to acheive.
Loudness
Old 31st October 2013
  #20
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nickelironsteel View Post
Loudness
Well - "Lautheit" is more like "perceived loudness", while the term "Lautstärke" refers to "technical loudness" in the sense of "level".
Old 31st October 2013
  #21
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I've been in Symphony Hall (more than once), and if you close your eyes, other than having a gross sensation of the sound coming from the front, you really can't tell where in particular the sound is coming from. So, we are very dependent on having the visual cue to augment what we are hearing, in terms of sound location.

Of course, you don't have the visual cue available when listening at home. One of the stated reasons for the multiplicity of spot mics was to compensate for the lack of visual directional augmentation in the final 2-channel release product. I thought they were describing this enhancement as "lautheit", but that presentation was 40 years ago, and my memory is probably playing tricks on me. It sure was an interesting tech tour! Emil Berliner has a picture of the Symphony Hall basement DGG console (modified Philips console) on their website (scroll to year 1971).

EMIL BERLINER STUDIOS | About us | Chronicle
Old 31st October 2013
  #22
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Capashitor's Avatar
For the DG sound you need Herbert von Karajan to randomly speed up or slow down parts likes this :

pompompom pom pom pom popooooooooooOOOOOOm

Threatening the woodwinds players in german also helps
Old 1st November 2013
  #23
Well

I assisted on some of the recordings they made at the snape maltings concert hall here in Suffolk UK in the eighties.
They used some of those Swiss made Martech ms10 mic amps and all sorts of different microphones in all sorts of places including Calrec sound field.
I would be very surprised if they used any form of added reverb at all, it was all about mic placement and real acoustics and no compression back then.
But I wasn't privy to anything post the recording.

You won't need to add any reverb in there
Old 1st November 2013
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capa****or View Post
For the DG sound you need Herbert von Karajan to randomly speed up or slow down parts likes this :

pompompom pom pom pom popooooooooooOOOOOOm

Threatening the woodwinds players in german also helps
Outstanding!
Old 2nd November 2013
  #25
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Quote:
I would be very surprised if they used any form of added reverb at all, it was all about mic placement
In the case of Symphony Hall, they measured the reverb characteristic and said that it was not correct, which certainly raised a few eyebrows amongst the cognoscente. Hence the plates.
Old 4th November 2013
  #26
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Joram's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonesH View Post
To each his own, but for most classical engineers that I know including myself, reverb is integral and very common. Room sound yes, but it's rarely enough to create a great sound.
Funny I worked a couple of years for Philips Classics and we never used artificial reverbs, except for making reverb tails for excerpts (compilation cd's)
Old 5th November 2013
  #27
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DGG wasn't using the plates to create an "artificial reverb" sound (as in pop music), they were using them to correct acoustical deficiencies of the recording environment. Big difference. There are relationships between reverb time at low and high frequencies that are considered to give a desirable sound characteristic. DGG measured Symphony Hall and said that high frequency reverb time was too short with respect to low frequency decay time. Enter the plates.
Old 8th November 2013
  #28
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noiseflaw's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tpad View Post
DGG wasn't using the plates to create an "artificial reverb" sound (as in pop music), they were using them to correct acoustical deficiencies of the recording environment. Big difference. There are relationships between reverb time at low and high frequencies that are considered to give a desirable sound characteristic. DGG measured Symphony Hall and said that high frequency reverb time was too short with respect to low frequency decay time. Enter the plates.
Those DGG guys are some clever dudes!
Old 9th November 2013
  #29
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Yes indeed! I remember listening to some of those recordings and there was a certain "air" to them, a sort of je ne sais quoi. I never could figure out what it was until I saw those plates down in the basement. In comparison, the old Red Seal recordings sounded pretty dry.

Eventually DGG migrated away from the old analog boards to Yamaha digital consoles, which they still use. They claimed that they had measured all of their mics and had developed reciprocal EQ curves (stored in console lookup) to flatten each mic characteristic. DGG always impressed me with being a good example of careful attention to detail. That's probably the largest contributer to their "sound".
Old 9th November 2013
  #30
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The concerts in the Dahlem church have been recorded on a custom made mobile console (IIRC Siemens) and custom speakers based on Altec 604 drivers IIRC. The desk has been restored a few years ago by some crazy guys and resides now in the Emil Berliner Studios. Here´s a link to the studio with a picture of the desk and some history notes: EMIL BERLINER STUDIOS | Über uns | Chronik
The story behind all that can been read in the book "The World of Sound" by Peter Burkowitz, the inventor of the V72 and other German Rundfunktechnik gear, btw, the guy who did these famous recordings with Karajan.
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