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    The Computer Audiophile

    Immersive Music and Magnificat Is Magnificent, Part 5



    Audio: Listen to this article.



    Over the last few years, I've tried to take the weekends off from work as much as I can. This usually means listening to music for pure enjoyment, watching a hockey game or two, and setting my phone down for as many hours as possible. Last weekend started this way, but when I received a message from a talented mixing engineer in Los Angeles, business and leisure came together in the best way possible. 



    It all started with me listening to an Atmos mix of a new album, strictly because I woke up and "had" to listen to it. Then I listened to it in the car, on my terrible Subaru stock stereo, on the way to Clancey's Meats and Fish. I couldn't get enough of the music, which shall remain unnamed for now because it isn't the point of this story. Jump forward a couple hours, and there was a message in my inbox from the engineer who created the Atmos mix. 


    He loved that I was enjoying the album / mix. About immersive audio he said, "I love that you see it/get it. Feels like going from black and white to color and we’re in a once in generational transition." He was speaking my language, to say the least. Then he sent me a short video that literally gave me goosebumps. In the video, the artist, whose aforementioned album I am obsessed with, was listening to the Atmos version for the first time on a 7.1.4 system.


    On one track the artist, with a huge smile, was so pleased with the mix. The artist loved being able to hear all the backing vocals in surround, and loved that they were so clear. So much time is spent figuring out the right harmonies and getting things right, and it can get lost in a [stereo] mix, but hearing it this way it's like every part [can be heard], to paraphrase what was said on the video. 


    When I heard the artist describe the Atmos mix this way, it was so validating. This is exactly how I've been describing immersive audio to people, using an exploded view diagram as an analogy. The music is pulled apart, with incredible instrument separation, while at the same time the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts. I don't need or seek external validation, but like all humans, I can get lost in the weeds or imagine I'm hearing things that aren't present on the recording. It was nice to hear someone who knows this album better than anyone, hear the same things I heard and experience the album exactly how I experience it. 


    Note: If you think something is missing to connect my listening to the album with the engineer messaging me, you're right. I excluded some of the story, so I wouldn't give away identities.



    Discrete Immersive Magnificat


    I recently wrote about discrete immersive audio (link), describing it as follows.


    It's immersive audio as heard in the studio, before being downsampled, compressed, and encoded, for the mass market. Morten Lindberg's ... album recorded in DXD (24 bit / 352.8 kHz) ... released as 12 channel DXD WAV files. This is the holy grail of sound quality for us music loving audiophiles. It's the immersive equivalent to what stereo listeners have had since day one, unencoded FLAC, WAV, etc...

    2L106.jpgA few weeks ago, Morten Lindberg of 2L, sent me the discrete immersive version of the album Magnificat, and I have to say, it's everything one could ever ask for, and more. The original source for this album is DXD (24 bit / 352.8 kHz). The discrete immersive release is 10 channels (5.1.4) of the identical high resolution DXD. The album was recorded in 2013-2014, when Morten was using a 5.1.4 10 channel system, that's why Magnificat is a bit different from his newer discrete immersive releases that are 12 channel 7.1.4 layouts.


    Playing this 5.1.4 album on my 7.1.4 system at full DXD resolution was no different from when I play any other content from two to twelve channels. I use convolution to perfect the frequency and time domains, and with the added benefit of channel routing. Mitch Barnett (@mitchco) of Accurate Sound designed filters for me that route the 10 channels to the right locations in my 12 channel system automatically, when using his Hang Loose Convolver. 


    When Magnificat was originally released in October 2014 I never listened to it. I gave a few tracks a cursory listen, but I just couldn't get into the music. Many of my friends absolutely loved this album from day one, but not me. Perhaps this is why I didn't spend too much time with the discrete immersive version until a couple weeks after receiving the 40GB album. Now that I've listened to it, as it was heard in the studio, I'm incredibly happy to say I've found a new favorite. 


    Magnificat is most certainly an immersive album, but slightly less immersive than other 2L recordings. This is because of the layout of the musicians in Nidaros Cathedral. On some tracks the musicians are mostly in front of the listener, while on others the listener is completely surrounded. 2L includes a detailed PDF with this album, that shows the different layouts. No matter the layout of musicians, Morten Lindberg brilliantly captures and balances the sound perfectly, for amazing reproduction on an immersive audio system.



    Screenshot 2023-01-30 at 11.50.49 AM.png Screenshot 2023-01-30 at 11.51.08 AM.png Screenshot 2023-01-30 at 11.50.59 AM.png



    Every track on this album is special, but in my opinion some are more special than others. Or, I should say, some are my favorites. Track 5, Magnificat: V. Fecit potentiam, is stunning from start to finish. The string section kicks it off energetically, before the Nidaros Cathedral Girls’ Choir comes in to bring the cathedral to life with beautiful voices reverberating around the large space. The choir appropriately bounces off the ceiling of the cathedral and comes down through the height channels of the 5.1.4 album, adding incredible realism to its main front position in the mix. This sounds so realistic, I can almost smell the cathedral. 


    2L-106_recording-sessions_large-1.jpgTrack 8, Musica Celestis, is twelve minutes of pure sonic bliss. This track is a rollercoaster of emotion, starting delicate and detailed, and rolling through ups and downs with the rich impactful texture of violas and violins. Around the seven minute mark, I was fully immersed in absolutely amazing and intense playing by the entire string section, before the sound falls off a cliff, in the best way imaginable, floating me into the clouds with an ease and serenity. It's amazing that music can paint such a full picture, but this is exactly why I will never have a video screen in my listening room. The book is always better than the movie, and theater of the mind is much more powerful than any visual depiction on screen. There's no possible way anyone could create a visual image for video as vivid as the one painted in my mind by this beautiful music. Nothing can live up to the emotions and imagery brought out by this music. Period.


    Magnificat also made me realize that I probably want a second subwoofer. Magne H. Draagen's 32-foot organ on six of the ten tracks has very low frequencies, more so than any other 2L recording I've heard. The single subwoofer in my listening room made this feel a bit lopsided for the first time. I believe a subwoofer on the left side of my room would balance this out, exactly as it was in the cathedral, centered along the rear wall. Thank's Morten, you just cost me more money :~)


    Wrap Up


    This week is off to a great start. I'm unsure how to top listening to the discrete immersive version of Magnificat, but I at least have something fun in mind. Tomorrow I'm scheduled to listen to a Mercedes Benz with an Atmos system. I really don't know what to expect, but I'm excited. I have some tracks in a playlist ready to go. I hope to have a full report soon. 





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    I love this album and bought different version from 2ch, 5.1, Atmos and Auro3D respectively until 2 weeks ago I bought the newly re-released 5.1.4 DXD. As you mentioned in previous article, it’s the holy grail of the recording format and bring me the ultimate experience of the music!

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    It's a beautiful album and performance. It touches the soul.

    On my stereo system, I am not being immersed but, there is plenty of space cues and the there is some weight to the organ.

    Yes, this really makes me wish to add a subwoofer and see where it takes.

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    my disc arrived... using my Trinnov to decode the 9.1 Auro3D tracks is noticeably better than the Apple Music Atmos version. ... more spacious, smoother, enveloping.. 


    now looking at getting a few more. 


    BTW.... when are we going to get a  report on a Trinnov in your system?

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