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quatuor ébène: the new reference for beethoven's string quartets
Old 10th August 2020
  #1
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quatuor ébène: the new reference for beethoven's string quartets

the quartet simply sets a new standard!

what's amazing in technical terms is that, other than say the emerson quartet's recordings, these were done live and on the road!

anyone knows a bit about fabrice planchat's approach, technique and gear?
Old 10th August 2020
  #2
Will look into it more later.

Found this though, interesting BTS/EPK:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM3ta7g2BRU
Old 11th August 2020
  #3
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I maybe little biased since I produced and engineered this. But Miro Quartet's recording is way up there. The playing is very close and honest to the score. Technically speaking, it is nearly perfect.


https://miroquartet.com/music/record...tring-quartets



Da-Hong Seetoo
Old 11th August 2020
  #4
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a well-placed commercial...
...but maybe better start a new thread to discuss details on your production.

anyway (since we're at it): studio or live production? recorded in one place or on tour? dozens/hundrets of edits or almost none?
Old 11th August 2020
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dseetoo View Post
I maybe little biased since I produced and engineered this.
Da-Hong Seetoo
The trailer says a Pentatone release. If so, was this a DSD/DXD or a PCM recording of other sampling rate? If DSD, DSD256 original tracking?

Thanks
Tom
Old 11th August 2020
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tailspn View Post
The trailer says a Pentatone release. If so, was this a DSD/DXD or a PCM recording of other sampling rate? If DSD, DSD256 original tracking?

Thanks
Tom

96/24 PCM.

A multi-year project in the making. It was a big push at the end so it could be released for the 250th anniversary year.
Old 11th August 2020
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
a well-placed commercial...
...but maybe better start a new thread to discuss details on your production.

anyway (since we're at it): studio or live production? recorded in one place or on tour? dozens/hundrets of edits or almost none?

All studio style recording. Took the quartet 14 years, recorded in 4 different venues and a replacement 2nd violinist to complete it.


Dozens/hundreads of edits, well, I never counted, or cared. Perhaps someone can listen to it and tell me how many splices you think were in it.
Old 11th August 2020
  #8
Gear Nut
@ deedeeyeah, with a little digging it appears the setup is quite consistent across this long tour of theirs. A pair of Twins as mains, with slightly splayed 4006TL as low mains, and what appear to be MKH40 spot on each.

I very much like the sonic presentation, it's just crisp enough on the edges of the pan, but the middle bits so nice and soft...
Old 11th August 2020
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dseetoo View Post
All studio style recording. Took the quartet 14 years, recorded in 4 different venues and a replacement 2nd violinist to complete it.


Dozens/hundreads of edits, well, I never counted, or cared. Perhaps someone can listen to it and tell me how many splices you think were in it.
14 years?!* autsch! - not belitteling your achievements (and of course we're all expecting there won't be any audible edits) but what sets the quatuor ébène apart and why i'm predicting their recording will become a new reference** is the fact that it's about as far from a studio production (and why i was comparing to the much-lauded emerson quartet) as it gets:
this is not a compilation of 'best of edits' (as most productions of this scale have long become) but shows a truly amazing musicianship and ensemble playing as it was recorded mostly live and as such, there was a modest amount of edits involved...

...so no, i don't think your production can get compared to this release.



* i'm in the process of recording al of gesulado's libri with an 'experimental' choir (all live, in pretty much any environment one can think of, far outside studios, churces or concert halls) for about an equal amount of time (well, not quite yet but there's still a lot of work ahead) and i'm not even sure the recordings will ever get released... :-)

** i'm not refering to the 'sound' (although i like the quartet's 'sound' quite a bit, as far as i can tell from a recording)
Old 11th August 2020
  #10
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Well, I happen to be the producer and engineer for Emerson quartet for a long time now. For your info, ESQ Beethoven quartet cycle is a studio style recording and it took multiple years to make. I don't know what you were comparing to.

When I listen to a recording, I am only interested in the music, not how it was made, where it was made. None of that matters.
Old 12th August 2020
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dseetoo View Post
Well, I happen to be the producer and engineer for Emerson quartet for a long time now. For your info, ESQ Beethoven quartet cycle is a studio style recording and it took multiple years to make. I don't know what you were comparing to.

When I listen to a recording, I am only interested in the music, not how it was made, where it was made. None of that matters.
it does matter, at least to some folks!

as a tech, i (mostly) don't care either or more precisely, i consider it to be my job to make the transition between recordings made in different locations either as seamless as possible or then to shape them in unique ways, depending on the artists' and/or producer's request.

i agree that many (but not all) listeneres don't bother about the production much as long as the music sounds pleasing to their ears; however, there are some (rare) folks who give a great deal about the production: remember when albums or some tracks were marked 'direct to 2trk '(or dat)?

imo it DOES make a difference to know that the artists/the ensemble did not assemble bits and pieces but delivered an outstanding interpretation in one piece! the listener at home then can assume that what s/he gets to hear is not much different than what could get experienced in the concert (besides the physical sensation and whatever else cannot get transferred by any media)...

in THAT regard, quatuor ébène's recording imo stands out - and i personally like it a lot better that the emerson quartet's recording for deutsche grammophon from 1997 (which was a studio production while quatuor ébène's recordings stem from concerts and rehearsals).

anyway, thx to killermonk: the setup is all i wanted to know.

___


(anyone feel free to discuss merits and issues of different productions styles)

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 12th August 2020 at 09:29 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 12th August 2020
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
it does matter, at least to some folks!

as a tech, i (mostly) don't care either or more precisely, i consider it to be my job to make the transition between recordings made in different locations either as seamless as possible or then to shape them in unique ways, depending on the artists' and/or producer's request.

i agree that many (but not all) listeneres don't bother about the production much as long as the music sounds pleasing to their ears; however, there are some (rare) folks who give a great deal about the production: remember when albums or some tracks were marked 'direct to 2trk '(or dat)?

imo it DOES make a difference to know that the artists/the ensemble did not assemble bits and pieces but delivered an outstanding interpretation in one piece! the listener at home then can assume that what s/he gets to hear is not much different than what could get experienced in the concert (besides the physical sensation and whatever else cannot get transferred by any media)...

in THAT regard, quatuor ébène's recording imo stands out - and i personally like it a lot better that the emerson quartet's recording for deutsche grammophon from 1997 (which was a studio production while quatuor ébène's recordings stem from concerts and rhearsals).

anyway, thx to killermonk: the setup is all i wanted to know.

___


anyone feel free to discuss merits and issues of different productions styles)

OK, I will cut you some slack since we are on a recording forum. But, all this is so geeky.

On the other hand, how do you know for sure they didn’t edit as much as anyone or anything else? Just because someone told you so? I don’t know the facts, nor do I care how they made their recordings. I just hope it sounds good and is musically convincing.

Lastly, listening to recording is not a replacement for going to a live concert. If you want to experience the live concert you have to go there and sit in the audience. You will never get the live concert experience from listening to a recording.
Old 12th August 2020
  #13
Gear Nut
No replacement for live concerts, to be sure. But it reminds me of the nicest compliment I got last year - at intermission a flutist asked me how the first half sounded, and I suggested she have a listen for herself. After a moment she put down the headphones, stared at me, and said "That sounds better than real life!"

Old 12th August 2020
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dseetoo View Post
OK, I will cut you some slack since we are on a recording forum. But, all this is so geeky.

On the other hand, how do you know for sure they didn’t edit as much as anyone or anything else? Just because someone told you so? I don’t know the facts, nor do I care how they made their recordings. I just hope it sounds good and is musically convincing.

Lastly, listening to recording is not a replacement for going to a live concert. If you want to experience the live concert you have to go there and sit in the audience. You will never get the live concert experience from listening to a recording.
not sure who's 'geeky' but thx for your unique generosity...

i spent a few hours talking to one of the musicians (on a train ride) so i assume my information is about as much a 'first hand experience' as it probably gets!

(and pls note i didn't say a recording can give you the same sensation as visiting a concert; see my previous post)
Old 12th August 2020
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

We all love squeaky clean too much with everything in tune, no outside noises, everything together, sounding like Boston Symphony Hall.

Great achievement it may be, but live it is not. It is something else of its own merit, but not live. It is the circus without tension because all sense of risk has been edited out. No-one nearly fell over or dropped from the trapeze. It is all ultra-tidy and 'spik&span" - i.e. so precise and tidy it is boring.
Old 13th August 2020
  #16
Hi,

The Ebènes are an incredible quartet with a unique ensemble sound, playing in complete unity. I would not be surprised if their concerts sounded not far off from the edited recording.

I do echo Tony's sentiment that much of the excitement and natural music making is being edited out nowadays. To be honest, however, that could fill a separate, very long thread...

Perhaps also worth a mention is the complete Beethoven project by the German Kuss Quartett, which I produced and engineered last year in Tokyo's Suntory Hall (Blue Rose, small hall). We had 5 concerts with a rehearsal each for all 16 quartets as well as Bruno Mantovani's "Beethoveniana". The rehearsals were used as patch sessions for the previous evening as well as preparation for the next concert...

Soundwise, apart from representing the quartet's own sound, I had 2 main objectives in mind: Firstly, the microphone set-up would have to enable editing of performances in the empty hall with the actual concerts and be easily reproducable - the concerts were during a busy chamber music festivals and I had to constantly clear the stage and re-set the mics again. In this regard, the staff at Suntory was world-class: discreet stickers everywhere, marking chair, music stand and mic stand positions!

Secondly, I really wanted to set the sound of this recording apart from the Quatour Ebène, as our recording would be the main "competition", commercially speaking. You may judge for yourself if we succeeded!

Set-up was nothing out of the ordinary:
- AB of DPA4006-TL
- supports of Schoeps MK4
Going into an Octamic XTC into Pyramix.

Mixed like a Boss, Suntory-Style.

If you have any questions, do let me know!

Best,
Dirk
Attached Thumbnails
quatuor ébène: the new reference for beethoven's string quartets-suntory_kuss_1.jpg   quatuor ébène: the new reference for beethoven's string quartets-suntory_kuss_2.jpg   quatuor ébène: the new reference for beethoven's string quartets-suntory_kuss_3.jpg   quatuor ébène: the new reference for beethoven's string quartets-suntory_kuss_4.jpg  
Old 13th August 2020
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
Hi,
Set-up was nothing out of the ordinary:
- AB of DPA4006-TL
- supports of Schoeps MK4
Going into an Octamic XTC into Pyramix.

Mixed like a Boss, Suntory-Style.

If you have any questions, do let me know!

Best,
Dirk
for your choice of session stimulant !

The AB pair looks wider than average...was it around 1 metre, rather than a typical 50-70cms ? Sounds like it was a dream session: great playing, impeccable venue team support, and no technical problems !
Old 13th August 2020
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
for your choice of session stimulant !

The AB pair looks wider than average...was it around 1 metre, rather than a typical 50-70cms ? Sounds like it was a dream session: great playing, impeccable venue team support, and no technical problems !
Hi Studer,

From the top of my head, the AB was approx. 80cm (which is the length of that K&M stereo bar). I started out a bit wider but, in this hall, we needed more focus on the instruments. The final mix used the spots generously and was helped by a bit of Altiverb. But, for this specific situation, that combination worked really well, as intended!

Yes, musically speaking this was a dream come true. It's rare to have such big projects with so much substance these days. And it is quite amazing to work on Beethoven day in day out for a few weeks.

On a practical note, I find that these recordings are mostly about good planning, preparation, logistics and knowing how to communicate in a foreign environment. It helped that I spent a few years in China and South-East Asia.

Also, you need to be 100% reliable both technically as well as musically - your set-up needs to work all the time and you need to be extremely fast and ahead of the musicians in the patch sessions. There, literally, is no time for second thoughts or hesitance.

I am, myself, quite surprised that we only had 1 real hiccup, which was mic noise during the first concert that I could eliminate rather quickly. We simply re-recorded that passage and that was that. I am usually a bit hesitant to use a venue's cabling but at Suntory, it was all top notch.

Best,
Dirk
Old 13th August 2020
  #19
Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
The AB pair looks wider than average...was it around 1 metre, rather than a typical 50-70cms ?
P.S.: In some halls, I use an AB of 120cm and it works perfectly. Somehow, in this hall, that just was not the case.
Old 13th August 2020
  #20
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didier.brest's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah View Post
the quartet simply sets a new standard!
Quote:
Originally Posted by dseetoo View Post
I maybe little biased since I produced and engineered this. But Miro Quartet's recording is way up there.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
Perhaps also worth a mention is the complete Beethoven project by the German Kuss Quartett, which I produced and engineered last year in Tokyo's Suntory Hall (Blue Rose, small hall).
The beginning of the Große Fuge. I have balanced the levels by applying -2.5 dB gain to the Ébène sample and +1.8 dB do the Kuss sample.
Attached Files

Ébène.mp3 (6.19 MB, 623 views)

Miró.mp3 (6.14 MB, 598 views)

Kuss.mp3 (5.94 MB, 614 views)

Old 21st August 2020
  #21
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didier.brest's Avatar
The beginning of the string quartet No. 6 (-6.8 dB gain applied to the Ébène sample, +0.8 dB gain applied to the Kuss sample):
Attached Files

Ébène_2.mp3 (3.59 MB, 395 views)

Miró_2.mp3 (3.30 MB, 384 views)

Kuss_2.mp3 (3.69 MB, 395 views)

Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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Simmosonic's Avatar
 

This is a fantastic thread!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
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Plush's Avatar
I read that Fabrice Planchat is not only the recording man for Ébène, but also their violin maker.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
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lukedamrosch's Avatar
 

Not directly connected to this topic, but for those who parle un peu de français, there are are few remarks here with Monsieur Planchat which may be of interest regarding acoustics, choice of venue etc:

https://vimeo.com/178024255
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I read that Fabrice Planchat is not only the recording man for Ébène, but also their violin maker.
yep - his craftmenship as luthier, his co-operation with the ensemble* on THAT level, his capability/taste as a sound tech plus the rather risky approach to record things on tour - and if course the ensemble! - contributed to the excellent quality of the 7-cd-set and what makes it outstanding.




* i was lucky enough to work very close with world class drummers/percussionists (ensembles, bands, composors, conductors etc.) as paiste's international artist relation manager and part of the sound development team in the nineties; the level of interaction imo is just imcomparable to that of a typical producer, sound tech or musician.
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