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Live from Berlin--Digital Concert Hall
Old 5th February 2014
  #1
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sonare's Avatar
Live from Berlin--Digital Concert Hall

I now have a ticket to the Berlin Philharmonic and am REALLY enjoying it! Well, a virtual ticket for Digital Concert Hall. There are live concerts each week on Saturday at 8PM Berlin time (2PM eastern) and the concerts are later posted for those unable to tune in. Its all HD and the sonics are SUPERB. Very little compression, but of course there must be peak limiting. The archives for on-demand viewing are quite amazing in their variety.

It sounds so good I wonder why DG decided decades ago that the hall was not good for recording? Or are we really hearing a heavy helping of DRE-777?

The concert Saturday was an interesting exercise in impossible reproduction. The BIG piece was "Kraft" (written in the mid 80's) that reminded me of the Easley Blackwood Sym 4 I played with the Chicago Sym back in 1979. Outrageously complex rhythms and perhaps the largest orchestra ever on stage (at least as of 1979).

The BPO dynamic range was definitely un-reproduceable. A large part of the orchestra was various metal scrap (car doors, coil springs, all sorts of hanging stuff)-- plus a 5ft (!!) gong-- one of only 2 in the world. I daresay that no one went home whistling a motif-- but the piece actually WORKED. That said-- I don't care to hear it again.

The first half of the concert was very tame-- the Dvorak Cello Concerto. And the audience resisted applauding after the first movement. The cello was miked with a pair of goose-neck somethings about 7 feet up and a few feet out. Alot of the fun is trying to identify all the mics (Neumann, Schoeps, and Sennheiser but no Danes in attendance) and for "Kraft" there were dozens-- wonder how many channels? And wonder how many hands were on the faders? Even though they had the rehearsals and 2 prior concerts the pucker factor would have been significant.

Anyhow you can get a good taste for free by visiting The Berliner Philharmoniker's Digital Concert Hall

Rich
Old 5th February 2014
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Plush's Avatar
Right on! Rich--

Pls. keep sending in your impressions.
Old 5th February 2014
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matyas's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post
The concert Saturday was an interesting exercise in impossible reproduction. The BIG piece was "Kraft" (written in the mid 80's) that reminded me of the Easley Blackwood Sym 4 I played with the Chicago Sym back in 1979. Outrageously complex rhythms and perhaps the largest orchestra ever on stage (at least as of 1979).

The BPO dynamic range was definitely un-reproduceable. A large part of the orchestra was various metal scrap (car doors, coil springs, all sorts of hanging stuff)-- plus a 5ft (!!) gong-- one of only 2 in the world. I daresay that no one went home whistling a motif-- but the piece actually WORKED. That said-- I don't care to hear it again.
Was that Magnus Lindberg's piece? He's a master. Few orchestras in America at this point have the guts to program something like that.
Old 5th February 2014
  #4
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The Digital Concert Hall is fantastic. A number of my clients have used that as a model for presenting their musical performances through various online outlets. It's a mighty tall order, though, to come close to the technical standards they obviously have.

-Ben
Old 7th February 2014
  #6
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sonare's Avatar
Quote:
It sounds so good I wonder why DG decided decades ago that the hall was not good for recording? Or are we really hearing a heavy helping of DRE-777?
This is where our German friends can chime in to tell the tale of Karajan and DG opting to record in Jesus Christus Kirche rather than the Philharmonie. If the sound of the BPO home really is as good as Digital Concert Hall makes it sound-- why would they go to the trouble?

Rich
Old 7th February 2014
  #7
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I tried to watch the free concert (Simon Rattle/ Mahler - Beethoven), but I have to say I had to stop listening after a few minutes.

Way too close, too much spot mic sound, the broadcast quality isn't high enough (audio) and the mastering is at least 6 dB too loud (obvious compression kicking in all the time even during only forte passages).

As a reference for state of the art recording this is a big no-no.
As something nice to put on in the background for the casual listener, great, as the quality of performance is -of course- exemplary. (although the sound is so close-by you can easily hear that even the BPHO first violins do not really blend perfectly, not so very good promo for themselves ...)

Obviously, somebody decided not to make it TOO good, as they would not sell any real tickets anymore ?
Old 7th February 2014
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post
This is where our German friends can chime in to tell the tale of Karajan and DG opting to record in Jesus Christus Kirche rather than the Philharmonie.
It's not only about the acoustics. The Philharmonie is both expensive and heavily booked which means that you have to share it with other events. Especially with multi-mic setups, often suspended from the ceiling, this means a lot of rigging/derigging, with all the risks of slightly different sound between takes.
Apologies, I'm not a German friend, but have done sessions in both venues. Perhaps someone with first hand Karajan experience can chime in
Old 7th February 2014
  #9
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I have emailed the question to a former DGG producer friend with whom I have worked to perhaps get some "in-house info".

RE scheduling-- here in the US with a full-time orchestra in their "home hall" they have the ability to schedule years in advance to prevent conflicts. However, with almost no one doing more than recording dress rehearsal/concerts/patch sessions it isn's a problem like it might have been 30 years ago.

As for Yannick's post-- I can only conclude that the rest of us have poor hearing or low expectations. Surely the system in use is not computer speakers with the sound "massaged" by Microsoft"?

Rich
Old 7th February 2014
  #10
I always thought the acoustical benefit of the Jesus-Christus-Kirche in Berlin-Dahlem was the special "Nachhallkurve" (reverberation response) in the low frequencies. Interestingly, the church has a shorter reverb tail in low frequencies, and this adds to clearity.

The impressive Studio 1 at the Funkhaus Nalepastrasse has been modeled after this acoustical trait and it is this, surely, which has contributed to the praise for its own acoustics.

Best,
Dirk
Old 7th February 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sonare View Post
As for Yannick's post-- I can only conclude that the rest of us have poor hearing or low expectations. Surely the system in use is not computer speakers with the sound "massaged" by Microsoft"?

Rich
Unfortunately, I was listening in my mastering studio. To be frank, what I heard seams tailored to "computer speakers with the sound "massaged" by Microsoft"

I do seem to be noticing a certain decline in avarage recording quality, it is as if the median has a downwards trend, while the really excellent recordings remain exactly that.

Why this is happening, I do not know. I wonder if there is a correlation with a general trend in loudspeaker design, or the multitude of higly squashed pop recordings is contaminating classical. There is a general trend in classical towards clearer, more close and dryer sound (with reverb added or not, does not matter).
Maybe all those slick, empty interiors in Europe aren't helping either, as a listening acoustic.

I am serious: I am slightly disappointed by the standard of recording quality shown here. It seems like a terribly missed opportunity to give really high quality to the general public, maybe educating them at the same time.
For me, this digital concert hall could accomplish quite the opposite.
I hope it will not become the norm to aim for.
Old 7th February 2014
  #12
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Yannick-- your observations should be read by the people making decisions about the sound. If you get sufficiently motivated to email some of the folks listed in the credits please share their response.

And thanks for the reverb info, Dirk.

Rich
Old 7th February 2014
  #13
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To be honest, when I'm doing work that is specifically going out online to be streamed, I treat it very differently than if it was going out on a CD.

I have no issue with compressing the music with an online delivery- youtube, Vimeo, or similar. In a purist sense, does it sound worse? Absolutely. For the 99% of people that will be listening on a computer, does it sound better? Absolutely. Whenever I try to maintain dynamic range in these situations, it is a problem that the soft dynamics are too soft for the listening system and the louds are too loud for that system. Dynamic range with anything less than "real" speaker systems is not a good thing.

We have to remember our audience in our work. In this case, the audience is laptops, iPads, desktop computers with 1 inch speakers, heck even Bose (or Sonos or other similar) stereo systems.

--Ben
Old 7th February 2014
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Ben, you are absolutely right.
If it is clear that tvs, ipads and pc speakers are the ONLY target audience.
They clearly boast about their high tech, and offer hires video streams, so at the very least they could offer a "radio" lores mix next to a hires "audiophile" mix.

If you only mix for the lower target, standards will go down over the next decade.
This is inevitable. And at least someone should abvoid it.
Old 7th February 2014
  #15
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The DCH is an internet broadcasting system, and as the audience don't have infinite bandwidth, everything has to be compressed and therefore compromised.

I think they have the balance between quality and successful delivery to a new audience just about right.

Information - The Berliner Philharmoniker's Digital Concert Hall
Old 8th February 2014
  #16
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sonare's Avatar
I have a Polk Audio satellite/sub system attached to the big screen and when I listen to archived DCH I listen on the studio monitors and watch on a LaCie 321.. The recent webcast I spoke of (at least live) had very little compression and due to the cacophonous nature of "Kraft" had to have limiting-- but even so I did not hear any pumping which was a pleasant surprise. I am probably listening with more gain than they assume (judging by the higher level of the intermission interview) but after all-- it is live, and the only opportunities to fix a bad fader move is in the version in the archive.

Still pretty darned impressive if not the last word in sonics. I recall reading that it could also be had in 5.1. I am sure those listeners have still a different impression.

Rich
Old 8th February 2014
  #17
Hello friends,

Please do not confuse data compression with dynamic compression.
Old 8th February 2014
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
Hello friends,

Please do not confuse data compression with dynamic compression.
Good point. You can see it over and over again.

Well performed lossy coding keeps the dynamics mostly intact.


/Peter
Old 8th February 2014
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Plush's Avatar
For the complainers, its a computer listening watching paradigm. It is not a monitor out path from the console.
Old 8th February 2014
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Larry Elliott's Avatar
A colleague of mine sat in on a concert last year. This was not for Digital Concert Hall and the approach to recording was much more "traditional" about 12 mics.
Old 10th February 2014
  #21
I think it sounds great for streaming. They did what they needed to do to make it sound good for a general audience. You have to sacrifice dynamic range in live broadcast, whether over the airwaves or over the internet. An unfortunate reality.

I think that moving to all Schoeps was also a good move. Their sound is so much smoother in this setup than the mixed Neumann DG recordings.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #22
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Free for a month. Go for it!
https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/en/film/203
Old 3 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Nut
 

Thanks for the tip! I signed up last night and watched a some very nice concerts. A great thing to pass time while being sequestered indoors.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #24
I looked and did not know Mariss Jansons had died. I worked with him many times. RIP
Old 3 weeks ago
  #25
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Well, has the time for this ever come!
Old 3 weeks ago
  #26
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Plush's Avatar
Watched 4 incredible Karajan documentaries.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Please, please, please can we have some dynamic range. The scores have ppp, pp, p. mp, mf, f, ff, fff - maybe more. All I hear is a loud mf
Old 3 weeks ago
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyF View Post
All I hear is a loud mf
Give a try to this one.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

That's from thirty years ago! I have to concede Claudio Abbado was a master.
Fair comment.
I was thinking more of more recent presentations.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Watched 4 incredible Karajan documentaries.
Watch this too. Kleiber! Very intelligent commentary. Moving.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta8Tqjn7Suo

Western classical music is man's greatest achievement.
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