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Channel Classics Condenser Microphones
Old 26th December 2016
  #1
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Channel Classics

Just been listening to the SACD of Mahler 2 from Channel Classics, Ivan Fischer conducting the Budapest Festival orchestra.
Ivan Fischer, Budapest Festival Orchestra - Mahler Symphony no. 2 - Channel Classics Records

This is simply the best recorded orchestral sound I have heard, so much air around everything, depth, beautifully balanced, scary dynamics, huge bass, great off stage trumpet FX, sweetest strings, wonderful measured performance. No "too close" mic sounds anywhere.

I am looking forward to getting some more of this Mahler set, I am most familiar with the Resurrection Symphony so got it first.

I have quite a few of the CC SACD's now, Podger violin and chamber stuff. All excellent recordings.

Is anyone making better orchestral recordings than Channel Classics?
Old 27th December 2016
  #2
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boojum's Avatar
David, I am not quite as bright as the average bear so hear me out. I honestly do not quite grasp why I would want to listen to audio that is inaudible to me. Were my hearing still perfect it would roll off at ~20kHz. It is much lower now. So what would I gain from the extended range recordings?
Old 27th December 2016
  #3
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Booj, I don't hear any extended audio anywhere in these recordings. I do not regard DSD as anything really special, I just find these recordings very well prepared and mastered.

I don't have a DSD DAC, I need eight DAC's to listen to stereo (active dipole loudspeakers with digital xovers), so cannot even consider multichannel DSD DAC'ing.

My DSD playback is all converted on the fly to 96/24 PCM in JRiver. Still sounds superb.
Old 27th December 2016
  #4
I certainly do like the performance and the captured sound, even at the 44.1 KHz. I'll probably buy the 96 kHz versions and SRC them to 48 for everyday use.
Old 27th December 2016
  #5
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jnorman's Avatar
Any info on engineers, techniques, equipment?
Old 27th December 2016
  #6
I came across Channel Classics through the Just Listen record label, for whom Jared Sacks (Channel Classics) is recording & engineering. There's pictures & info on the equipment here, and I've compiled a short list:

B&K 4006 (Rens Heijnis mod.)
DPA 4011 (Rens Heijnis mod.)
Sennheiser MK8
Schoeps (?)
Sonodore MPM-91
Neumann KM84 (?)
Grimm AD1
Merging HAPI

I agree with David in that the format is a negligible part of the sound; this is the age-old combination of world-class ensembles in world-class halls recorded by world-class engineers. If you're interested in seeing the process, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes videos to pick apart; I know I've done it! Here are some links:

8 Ensembles in 1 Bit: Producer's Notes
Recording Rachel Podger: J.S. Bach - The Art of Fugue (Channel Classics 38316)
Ragazze Quartet - Cesko [ Music + Behind the scenes
Rosanne Philippens: MYTH (behind scenes of recording session)
Making a SACD with the Budapest Festival Orchestra
Raízes - Behind the scenes of the album recording
Old 27th December 2016
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
This is simply the best recorded orchestral sound I have heard, so much air around everything, depth, beautifully balanced, scary dynamics, huge bass, great off stage trumpet FX, sweetest strings, wonderful measured performance. No "too close" mic sounds anywhere.
The space contributes much to that sound. Budapest's Palace of the Arts is an amazing space, with a wonderfully rich sound that doesn't muddy easily nor does it become overbearing.

Had a long discussion with the designer and architect, and they achieved a lot of what they set out to do. A lot of thought went in to the space by a dedicated team.

Since the space has variable acoustics, I wonder in which configuration the room was used in.
Old 27th December 2016
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
I came across Channel Classics through the Just Listen record label, for whom Jared Sacks (Channel Classics) is recording & engineering. There's pictures & info on the equipment here, and I've compiled a short list:

B&K 4006 (Rens Heijnis mod.)
DPA 4011 (Rens Heijnis mod.)
Sennheiser MK8
Schoeps (?)
Sonodore MPM-91
Neumann KM84 (?)
Grimm AD1
Merging HAPI

I agree with David in that the format is a negligible part of the sound; this is the age-old combination of world-class ensembles in world-class halls recorded by world-class engineers. If you're interested in seeing the process, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes videos to pick apart; I know I've done it! Here are some links:

8 Ensembles in 1 Bit: Producer's Notes
Recording Rachel Podger: J.S. Bach - The Art of Fugue (Channel Classics 38316)
Ragazze Quartet - Cesko [ Music + Behind the scenes
Rosanne Philippens: MYTH (behind scenes of recording session)
Making a SACD with the Budapest Festival Orchestra
Raízes - Behind the scenes of the album recording
Thanks Daniel, that makes for very informative viewing....and here's a question, what's the vocal mic being prepared and used from around 6:30 in the "8 Ensembles/1bit" video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHvA...6-94eb2c08c3f0
Old 27th December 2016
  #9
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Plush's Avatar
Wide use of "real" microphones (omni), a great hall, and the extra detail, dynamic range and extra bass available from the Rens mics and mixers combine for a great result.

My opinion is that over 50% of the sound is the very good hall.
Old 27th December 2016
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Thanks Daniel, that makes for very informative viewing....and here's a question, what's the vocal mic being prepared and used from around 6:30 in the "8 Ensembles/1bit" video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHvA...6-94eb2c08c3f0
That's a good question, I was wondering about that too... it's not a mic I've seen before. The vocal sound there is great, but I'd guess the spot mic is only a small portion of the sound. Anyone else?
Old 27th December 2016
  #11
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Thanks Daniel, that makes for very informative viewing....and here's a question, what's the vocal mic being prepared and used from around 6:30 in the "8 Ensembles/1bit" video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHvA...6-94eb2c08c3f0
It's a JZ microphone from the Vintage series: V12, V47, or V67. All three look the same, so which one it is exactly is hard to say.
Old 27th December 2016
  #12
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Earcatcher's Avatar
Wanted to add: I was pretty annoyed by the comments of the artists in that "8 Ensembles/1bit" video, because NOTHING of what they said they experienced could be credited to DSD. It was all a result of the style of recording/mixing. It's a bad sign that these great artists (at least I had heard of all of them before) don't know anything about making music as an ensemble, and what ensemble sound means. At one point Jared comments to the artists that he thinks studio music that is created in bits and pieces is not "real" music. I totally share that opinion, but how is it possible that these people didn't know already? Makes my brain itch.
Old 27th December 2016
  #13
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Well, I know Jared and have been to his recording sessions. He does value DSD as something closer to reality, and that is why he goes all the trouble of recording a more or less final take in DSD, that only needs local conversion to PCM on the little edit spots. It is therefore a pity if one isn't able to hear these Mahler recordings on SACD or DSD download. It really enhances his excellent recordings.
Old 27th December 2016
  #14
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Yes, I agree (to EC's point). I think digital audio, DAW's and editing are partially responsible for corrupting performance practice these days. The reason these musicians and the BPHO in that recent Brahms direct to disk exercise got a great result is that it had to be done in one take, so they concentrated and had to perform.

I think DAW's and editing are wonderful to create a top quality product but when the musicians know they can just do it again or in sections, then they don't have any pressure on them to perform. DAW's a digital audio have enhanced post production but perhaps produced the opposite effect on performance practice.

Last edited by David Spearritt; 16th January 2017 at 08:51 PM..
Old 28th December 2016
  #15
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That mini-documentary (8 Ensembles/1 Bit) illustrated that none knew of DSD before joining the project...that's fair enough, these are young players probably without the resources to be attuned to buy high-end replay equipment...it's still a niche end of the market.

They are also more likely to have contemporaries who, when they record in a 'studio', do so in individual close-miked multitrack pop style...as the norm.

If all you eat is fish and chips, are you likely to know what caviar is ? As Earcatcher says, the revelation for those players is not what DSD does for them, but rather the style of recording. For that, you need to lay the blame at the feet of those pop studio engineers, who are concrete-set in their ways of close miking as the only means to an end.

Many of the documentary participant musicians spoke of being able to simultaneously hear the individual and the ensemble, of the detail and the blend. We as engineers must be thankful we live in an era where so many tools (mics) are available/affordable to us to be be able to make minimal miking work as a highly effective alternative to close miking alone.

As they say in the video, it's the technology in service of the music...as it should be.
Old 28th December 2016
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
Wanted to add: I was pretty annoyed by the comments of the artists in that "8 Ensembles/1bit" video, because NOTHING of what they said they experienced could be credited to DSD. It was all a result of the style of recording/mixing.
I agree, but let's assume Jared does believe there's an audible difference between DSD & multibit. I think it's safe to say that even those who can hear the difference (admittedly, I can't) would admit that the difference is very, very small. So why DSD? On the one hand, it's a great marketing tool. Native DSD is catering to a niche market of wealthy individuals, and that's a time-honored tactic for surviving a recession.

But I wouldn't be surprised if Jared was using DSD mainly as a convenient excuse to "force" a great performance out of the artists. I do this all the time when I'm recording pop music on-location; I'll make it very clear to the artists that since we're recording live I'll only be able to edit between takes, not replace individual tracks like with multitracked recordings. Lo and behold, the artists put on a great performance! If I was recording to DSD, I'd milk that for great results too.

With that in mind, I wouldn't put too much weight on the artists' comments. They're making a promo video for a company that exclusively sells hi-res audio, so it's only natural that the editors would focus on pushing DSD. Meanwhile, the rest of us can sit back and enjoy a lovely recording of a lovely performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
As they say in the video, it's the technology in service of the music...as it should be.
Hear, hear!
Old 28th December 2016
  #17
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Earcatcher's Avatar
"8 Ensembles/1 Take" would have been a more appropriate title for that CD, also from a marketing point of view. Or "8 Ensembles/1 Take and a technical gimmick to rule them all".
Old 28th December 2016
  #18
The specifications for this recording were listed on the page:

Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps
Digital Converters: DSD Super Audio/Meitner Design AD/DA
Speakers: Audiolab, Holland
Software: Pyramix Editing, Merging Technologies
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis, custom design
Mastering Room: B+W 803d series speakers, Classe 5200 Amplifier
Cables: Van den Hul

Just for the record, I think it is absolutely ridiculous that they would display equipment specs including cables, software and speakers for the consumer. Non-engineers will have no concept of what this means, nor should they. A recording should be about the sound and the performance, not about equipment, data-rate stats and audiophile speculation. Listening to it, the recording sounds great, the performance is okay. A not so bad Mahler 2 IMHO.
Old 28th December 2016
  #19
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boojum's Avatar
Yes, records (CD's) do not need and should not display all the technical (RE) information. It would be great if all this information were available somewhere on the issuer's website just for the geeks and propeller heads like us. But don't burden down and bamboozle the ordinary consumer with this level of detail.

A review or two by someone with gravitas about how good the recording is a lot more important. Time, place, players and some reviews should suffice.
Old 28th December 2016
  #20
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It was fashionable in the 70's in some quarters to include (impress with ?) data on microphones, mixing consoles, monitor speakers, Aphex Aural Exciters, Studer 24 tracks etc...usually on those releases that had audiophile pretensions like direct to disc recordings, half speed mastering or Mannheim Steamroller-esque artifices !

Then when digital came along the same again...remember Ry Cooder's liner notes for 'Bop till You Drop' (1979) ...a romance which lasted around one album only ?

What tended to be covered up were the disasters: Steely Dan Katy and The Gremlin

Neil Young: "Time Fades Away was recorded directly from the soundboard to 16-track using the Quad-8 CompuMix, the unreliable first digital mixing soundboard—against the wishes of producer David Briggs, who referred to it as the "Compuf**k" but was forced to yield to the desires of Young. This resulted in a murky-sounding release. Because no two-track stereo master tape was ever made as would commonly be done, the album cannot be remastered in a traditional manner. If any new release was to be attempted, a new mix would need to be made from the original multitrack tapes"
Old 28th December 2016
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
The specifications for this recording were listed on the page:

Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps
Digital Converters: DSD Super Audio/Meitner Design AD/DA
Speakers: Audiolab, Holland
Software: Pyramix Editing, Merging Technologies
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis, custom design
Mastering Room: B+W 803d series speakers, Classe 5200 Amplifier
Cables: Van den Hul

Just for the record, I think it is absolutely ridiculous that they would display equipment specs including cables, software and speakers for the consumer. Non-engineers will have no concept of what this means, nor should they. A recording should be about the sound and the performance, not about equipment, data-rate stats and audiophile speculation. Listening to it, the recording sounds great, the performance is okay. A not so bad Mahler 2 IMHO.
Their primary market is likely audiophiles, who doubtless appreciate this information.
Old 28th December 2016
  #22
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These music videos are pleasing but irritating, all half truths and placement verging on lunacy, the record player in the studio !
Of course music is better when there are great constraints and penalties imposed, ask Shostakovich, Stalin threatened him with death constantly
Perhaps this was a MeLodiya policy / USSR Min of Culture
The sounds are very pleasing, good hall ,good players,discipline and constraints, whats not to like
Old 28th December 2016
  #23
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just.sounds's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earcatcher View Post
It's a JZ microphone from the Vintage series: V12, V47, or V67. All three look the same, so which one it is exactly is hard to say.
Jared owns a jz 67 so that's probably the one ;-)
Old 29th December 2016
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
These music videos are pleasing but irritating, all half truths and placement verging on lunacy ...
Yes I agree, but its always very funny when a big star sings into the end of a side firing classic mic.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5Y4MP6o1cg
Old 29th December 2016
  #25
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whippoorwill's Avatar
well this is great in some ways, combating the normalization of mediocrity of sound quality and should be lauded for that.

the decision to go for such a diffuse character is odd and the fact that at one point there is a blumlein, omni m/s, outriggers and a spot on the guitar then bricasti for three performers is a bit mad.

They were probably working on relatively limited time and budget to promote the medium so had to go for an acoustically dead space and then didn't have the time to adjust the main pair extensively and school the performers to the medium...

if dsd is so exceptional why couldn't that omni m/s going down van den hul cables cover most of it? I've heard Hudson, roger and ear (to name a few in this thread) produce extremely engaging work with two mics, not to mention water lily acoustics and others!

Ah well it's good to get the conversation started for some people on natural, uncompressed sound and it does sound rather good

Last edited by whippoorwill; 29th December 2016 at 02:26 AM.. Reason: Clarity
Old 29th December 2016
  #26
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just.sounds's Avatar
I also see Daan van Aalst walking (also engineering) around in the video.
Old 29th December 2016
  #27
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Anybody who has done live broadcast knows it can produce startling results artistically and physically
My early radio days in World Service gave me a taste for the unpredictable and exciting aspect of making a major cock up on air and this was followed by live drama on TV that certainly meant the loos were busy up to TX time, however the first foaming pint of Guinness in the BBC Club was always magic
This can translate to recording music, direct to any medium is always a clarion call to performance highs (and some nervous lows) and should always be encouraged
Roger
Old 29th December 2016
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Anybody who has done live broadcast knows it can produce startling results artistically and physically.
Yes, indeed. I remember attending a live St Johns Smith Sq lunchtime concert of Schwanengesang by a wonderful German baritone in the mid 90's and it was being live broadcast by the Beeb all over UK and Europe. Well the singer jumped to the end verse prematurely in one of the songs, and had to announce a restart. I felt gravely sorry for him at the time, but the courage and pragmatism was impressive.

This happened a second time in a Lufthansa baroque festival in St James Piccadilly around the same time (I was soaking up all the concerts I could at the time on that holiday) where Trevor Pinnock was conducting a soprano and band, and they had to restart after getting lost. Again the BBC was broadcasting live.

I know I could never be a musician, because the emotional jitters would get me every time. And in a live event, my brain would quickly be jelly seconds after the start. You have to respect these great artists, like great sports people, they have very impressive mental command and control.
Old 29th December 2016
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
These music videos are pleasing but irritating, all half truths and placement verging on lunacy, the record player in the studio !
The record player was merely a prop signifying the bridge between vinyl (that what most consumers think of as analog), and the analog nature of a DSD bit stream and recording. This recording was mixed and balanced in analog, then recorded and edited in DSD256. The remaining album deliverable release products on nativedsd.com were converted by Merging's DSD Converter program.

Jared has been a long time proponent of DSD recording for his acoustic music projects. His Channel Classics label was one of the first to deliver a DSD recorded SACD. Jared also mics his recordings for 5.0 surround, then derives an on site 2.0 mix which is simultaneously recorded with the 5.0.

Free 60 seconds 320kbs mp3 samples of this first Just Listen recording, along with the follow-on Raises recording can be had at NativeDSD. If you let the 60 seconds play out, then click the Play icon again, the full length track will play.
Old 30th December 2016
  #30
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I don't understand any benefit of judging DSD from MP3 samples.
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