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Good Pure Stereo Recordings


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Several folks here, especially George and ESLDude, have commented multiple times that the vast majority of recordings aren't pure or real stereo. I.e., they are made with multiple mikes and often close-miked.

 

What are some good pure stereo recordings? Two mikes only, acoustic music? I assume most of them are classical. The classical piece I am most familiar with is The Nutcracker, due to daughters in ballet. I have heard it many times with a local, and good, symphony with no sound reinforcement. So, if anyone has an example of that they consider to be good and pure stereo, I'd really appreciate it.

 

I have a bunch of classical in my collection, mostly thanks to my wife's ex-mother-in-law, but I have no idea how it was recorded. Until I read some of George's comments I honestly assumed classical was generally recorded using more pure techniques.

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[...] What are some good pure stereo recordings? Two mikes only, acoustic music? I assume most of them are classical. [...]

 

All the recordings done by Todd Garfinkle on the MA Recordings label are pure stereo. See the about us page on the MA website, 3rd paragraph:

 

Technically speaking, the recordings are produced with only two omni-directional microphones, the signals of which are "fed" through exotic audio cabling into handmade and customized recording equipment, designed specifically for MA.

 

His stuff cover all kinds of genres from classical to Jazz to Chinese and all kinds of other stuff. My personal favorites are:

 

  • Résonance, solo viola da gamba. One of the best viol recordings that I've come across.
  • Mozart "Works From His Golden Age (1781-1791)", Mozart sonata played on fortepiano as oppose to modern grand piano. The C major sonata K.545 should be familiar to most. The immediacy of the album is just insane. It instrument is in your room. As simple as that.
  • Llama, Hang and Spanish vocal.

But I have never run into a single album from MA that is at not at least great sonically. So you can't go wrong whichever you pick.

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His Sera Uni Noche is very good as well. Sonics are superb and the music is actually actually quite interesting. I also have the Goldberg Variations. I bought the DVDs containing the 24/176.4 files from Todd at some recent shows. $40 is a bit steep but at shows, Todd tends to be a bit more, shall we say, reasonable (?) about his pricing. If he is at the upcoming New York show, I will pick up the Mozart and give it a try.

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His Sera Uni Noche is very good as well. Sonics are superb and the music is actually actually quite interesting. I also have the Goldberg Variations. I bought the DVDs containing the 24/176.4 files from Todd at some recent shows. $40 is a bit steep but at shows, Todd tends to be a bit more, shall we say, reasonable (?) about his pricing. If he is at the upcoming New York show, I will pick up the Mozart and give it a try.

 

Do you mean the second Será Una Noche album La Segunda? The first one (called Será Una Noche :)) has 96/24 and 4 64fs DSD bonus tracks on the DVD. I have both DVDs. Excellent sonics on both.

 

This reminds me, Todd should be at the Toronto show end of the month. I've been meaning to get the Goldberg Variations for a while. Looks like there is a limited edition gold CD-R now. Yummy... :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Several folks here, especially George and ESLDude, have commented multiple times that the vast majority of recordings aren't pure or real stereo. I.e., they are made with multiple mikes and often close-miked.

 

What are some good pure stereo recordings?

 

All the PlayClassics recordings are pure stereo. We only use two mics outside of the stage area. There is no mixing involved, left mic is left speaker and right mic is right speaker. The sound quality is obtained by working the acoustics of the auditorium itself. This type of setup gives total control to the artists. This is the explanation from About - PlayClassics, the art of true music

 

Artists spend their whole live working on their technique to produce variations in the sound of their instrument that may seem imperceptible but have a great impact on the musical message. Therefore, in order not to alter this message, it is essential that recordings preserve this sound intact.

 

Music is communication.

 

It is communication between the artist and the listener. The more obstacles there are between the artist and the listener the more the message will deform and the worse the communication will be.

 

The only factor that stands between the artist and the listener in a concert situation is the effect the hall produces on the sound of the instrument. But this effect occurs in real time and it is perceived by both parties allowing the artist to maintain control of the communication. A concert situation is therefore a favorable situation to produce music.

 

In the case of a commercial recording there are several factors that hinder communication.

 

When recording, what the artist hears and controls is the effect the hall produces on the sound of the instrument, that is the sound he works with to communicate with whoever is listening, but this sound gets lost in space without reaching anybody's ears. What is picked up while the artist is playing is the sound registered by the microphones deliberately placed close to the instrument precisely to avoid picking up the sound of the hall. The color, balance and dynamic range of this two sounds (the one from the hall and the one from the take) are totally different, so while the artist delivers his controlled message, we pick up a different one that the artist does not control. In this first step the artist loses control with respect to the sound.

 

The takes to be used for the assembly of the work are chosen during editing. Normally the artist is not involved in the editing process. The decision about which takes will be chosen rests in the hands of others. But, how can you keep the integrity of the artist's message if the words are chosen by another person? In this second step the artist loses control with respect to the interpretation.

 

In most cases multiple microphones are used to record each instrument. During the mixing process the sound of these microphones is combined to create a stereo sound. This process can not recreate the balance and image that the artists produced while making the recording. Besides the artists were not aware of the effect this process was going to have so it would have been impossible for them to try to adapt to it. In this third step the artists lose control with respect to the balance and image between instruments.

 

All these losses of control represent a significant deterioration in the integrity of the message that reaches the listener, so we can say that commercial recording is an adverse situation to produce music.

 

The Truthful Recording Technology eliminates these barriers providing direct communication.

 

In our studios the recording hall is configured so that the sound of the hall is practically the same as the sound of the take. Also during recording when the artist listens to his takes what he hears is exactly the same sound the listener will hear allowing the artist to adapt maintaining full control of the sound aspect of the communication.

 

So far this situation is just as favorable to produce music as the concert situation. But furthermore, during the editing process, the artist is the only one responsible for choosing the takes and his judgment prevails over any other giving him total control over the interpretation too with what we are able to improve the concert situation where there is no possibility to repeat a passage to improve the message.

 

In addition, all recordings are made in exactly the same conditions. It's like listening to all these artists from the same chair of the same auditorium. This allows the listener to establish objective comparisons on the ability of artists based on the result of the different recordings.

 

The Truthful Recording Technology developed in our studios guarantees the integrity of the sound and the interpretation of the artist while giving the listener total control over everything he listens to. Therefore we can say that recording with this technology provides the ideal situation to produce true music.

 

If you want to try out the result please go ahead and download this 24 bit 96 kHz masterfile of the Albéniz "Iberia. Book 1. 3 El corpus en Sevilla." (346,2 MB)

http://www.playclassics.com/PlayClassics2496.wav.zip

Mario Martínez

Recording Engineer and Music Producer

Play Classics, classical music at its best

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Since the OP specifically mentioned The Nutcracker, it's likely he was hoping for recommendations in orchestral music. Now, I think purist microphone technique is much less common when recording a full orchestra than for solo instruments or small ensembles, for good reason (it's very hard to get perfect balances, and no matter where you place the microphones, there will be some instruments that are not favored), but here a a few orchestral recordings made in pure-stereo that I've enjoyed.

 

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mackerras on Telarc: Brahms Symphonies

 

Russian (Youth) Symphony Orchestra, Gorenstein on (the defunct) Pope Records: Strauss Heldenleben (excellent horn soloist), Shostakovich Symphony #5

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Since the OP specifically mentioned The Nutcracker, it's likely he was hoping for recommendations in orchestral music. Now, I think purist microphone technique is much less common when recording a full orchestra than for solo instruments or small ensembles, for good reason (it's very hard to get perfect balances, and no matter where you place the microphones, there will be some instruments that are not favored), but here a a few orchestral recordings made in pure-stereo that I've enjoyed.

 

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mackerras on Telarc: Brahms Symphonies

 

Russian (Youth) Symphony Orchestra, Gorenstein on (the defunct) Pope Records: Strauss Heldenleben (excellent horn soloist), Shostakovich Symphony #5

 

Thanks for the recommendations, I will check them out. I am interested in many different types of music, I just happen to be very familiar with the Nutcracker (ballet dad).

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Since the OP specifically mentioned The Nutcracker, it's likely he was hoping for recommendations in orchestral music.

 

The OP also mentioned George and ESLDude comments about "pure" stereo.

 

George was one of the first people to listen to our work on this particular thread: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f8-general-forum/recording-method-vs-sound-reproduction-25544/index2.html#post464287

 

These were his comments about the Albéniz:

 

Probably one of the best solo piano recordings I've ever heard! Perfectly centered piano that sounds like it's in the room with you and is the size of a real grand piano with lots of airy ambience on the sides, behind the piano and above it. Just delightful! Thanks.

 

and here is what chrille had to say:

 

An intimate but not overclose ,very stable realistic size image where one does not have to listen to all the clutter and mechanical noises of the instrument but still get all the wonderful rich sonority of a grand piano very close to how it sounds live. I would love to hear more great music both well performed and recorded from you!

And I might add for those who don't know it yet: this is a Demonstration Quality Recording

 

I hope you do find the time to listen to this sample. If you like it, I will be more than happy to send you a link to download the original master files (wav 24bit 96kHz) of the full album.

 

Thanks!

Mario Martínez

Recording Engineer and Music Producer

Play Classics, classical music at its best

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  • 5 weeks later...

A new paper from Siegfried Linkwitz:

Below is the paper that I wrote for the REPRODUCED SOUND 2015 Conference of the Institute of Acoustics in the UK.

PowerPoint Slides and a Sound Track (90 minutes with Q&A, 43.3 MB, 64kbps mp3, mono) allow you to see and hear what I presented. You can also download the paper as PDF.

 

The Magic in 2-Channel Sound Reproduction

Why is it so rarely heard?

The-Magic-in-2-Channel-Sound

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Somehow missed this thread until today.

 

Yes, very limited numbers of pure stereo recordings.

 

Water Lily acoustics use only Blumlein pairs, and say they do no processing with mikes feeding directly onto the recording medium. You hear what was recorded.

 

Many Chesky recordings are pure stereo. I believe earlier recordings were Blumlein pairs. I seem to recall later mid/side techniques were used which are also two mikes only.

 

Many (maybe all) Wilson audio recordings were done in pure stereo as far as I know.

 

I would note, the fully correct way to listen to Blumlein recordings is for the speakers to cover a 90 degree angle. It is more common for home speaker setup to be 60 degrees or of course other angles. I find the "pure stereo" recordings to work well even at less than 90 degrees, but the purest of pure would use 90 degrees for playback. For other miking methods using only two microphones 60 degrees is entirely appropriate.

 

I am sure I have other pure stereo recordings that are slipping my mind, but they are very uncommon. Many companies known for minimalist recordings use 3 or 4 or a few more microphones. The Decca Tree is 3 mikes. Many record using a stereo pair in the center flanked by a pair of omni mikes right and left. The omni mikes fill in low frequencies and a bit of sense of space. You might be hearing mostly the stereo pair in the middle and only a small percent of the omni mikes mixed in. Such minimalist recordings though not pure can sound very pleasing, and also not suffer much additional processing.

 

I understand the reasons recordings move away from pure microphone pairs. The reasons are valid, and recordings are always an imperfect reproduction. Tastefully done impure recordings can still convey the emotion of music. It is only too easy, and compelling for other reasons to go well beyond tasteful impurity which should come as no surprise.

 

I think George's reason, and I know mine for pointing out how few recordings are pure is comments that audiophiles are comparing recordings to the absolute sound of real music. Millions of words are gushed out about it when in fact 99% of the music being discussed was so impurely recorded it can never serve as more than a very pale fascimile by which to judge fidelity of musical reproduction.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Strauss, Saint-Saens - Also Sprach Zarathustra / Symphony 3 - Amazon.com Music

 

This is pretty good. I like the Saint-Seans organ suite (one of my favorites.) The performance is solid but a little bland compared to some. The recording, though, is truly binaural with the organ and orchestra in a common space recorded together.

Roon ->UltraRendu + CI Audio 7v LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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  • 2 weeks later...
Several folks here, especially George and ESLDude, have commented multiple times that the vast majority of recordings aren't pure or real stereo. I.e., they are made with multiple mikes and often close-miked.

You also got Reference Recordings and Sound Liaison who are using the best of both worlds.

In example the, on this forum highly regarded, ''After Silence'' download from Andre Heuvelman on the Sound Liaison label;

After Silence was recorded with the musicians playing together in the same room, without headphones.The reason being that in our opinion that creates a number of musical and technical benefits....... The musicians interact much more as they would do in a concert situation...and as they are not ''separated'' by headphones the musicians are forced to create a musical balance...the need for compression to control levels is no longer necessary...we can use a minimalist microphone setup and there by reduce phase problems...since everybody is in the same room, the boxed sound which is so common in many modern recordings is absent...the sound of the room helps ''glue'' the sound of the recording. That sounds like an easy solution but bear in mind that in order for this to work:e studio has to have a good sound.....the musicians have to be very good and well prepared as it is very difficult to repair mistakes because of the ''cross talk'' between the instruments....we have to be very precise when choosing and placingthe microphones...and the puzzle of placing the musicians at the right distance to the main stereo microphone pair and at the right distance to each other is very time consuming.

Andre 300 met schaduw 320_300.png link; After Silence

 

Track 11; ''Krakow'' which is only 2 instruments playing sounds to me as if it is only the stereo mike that has been used.

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Aren't some of the early RCA Living Stereo recordings pure stereo recordings, which were made with only two mikes? I think that, after a couple of years, RCA started to use three rather than two mikes, so that most RCA Living Stereo recordings are not pure stereo, though most of them do sound great.

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