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Discussion: Schoenberg: Gurrelieder - Esa-Pekka Salonen

Posts: 23
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Post by Windsurfer October 15, 2009 (11 of 23)
mahlerei said:

What you don't seem to understand - or won't - is that listening in a domestic environment is not the same as listening in a concert hall. That said, I have no problems with loud music per se, what I don't like - in this case - is music that is recorded at such a ridiculously low level that cranking it up makes the loud passages unbearably so. That is just plain uncomfortable for me, though obviously not for you.

Thank you for pointing out my spelling error.

What I think you do not want to accept is that my purpose (and I know I am not alone in this) of pursuing improvements in sound quality, to attain "concert hall" sound in my home is to attain ALL elements of concert hall sound in the home with as little compromise as possible.

You seem to think you are RIGHT, and reasonable while I am WRONG and unreasonable!

Now I accept that my listening room is probably not what one would (at least in this stage of its completion) consider a "domestic environment". But even when it is completed, it will continue to be a dedicated listening environment where I aspire to replicate "concert hall" sound - not sound watered down for the "domestic environment".

You are free to chafe at this tendency among the tonmeisters, of recording realistic dynamic range, but I am likewise free to make posts that present the opposite view in the hopes of encouraging many more such discs!

Further addressing your statement that what you don't like is

"music that is recorded at such a ridiculously low level that cranking it up makes the loud passages unbearably so."

Whether or not a disc is mastered at a low level should not matter a whit, if your equipment is up to having the volume control advanced, AND IF the dynamic range is within your comfort level. Assuming no equipment overload, it is not the low level that is responsible for your discomfort, it is the dynamic range of the disc in question.

Many SACD Discs, are, I think, mastered at a low level to accommodate wider dynamic range. I may be wrong, but I think if a wide dynamic range disc were mastered at the level where you do not have to turn up the volume on your preamp to hear the low level passages properly, that the front end stages of your (and my) preamp would be seriously overloaded on the loud passages.

Post by sc_ita October 15, 2009 (12 of 23)
Windsurfer said:
... Many SACD Discs, are, I think, mastered at a low level to accommodate wider dynamic range ...

This is also my impression.

Post by Kal Rubinson October 15, 2009 (13 of 23)
mahlerei said:

Hmm, I'm not sure low-level recordings are beneficial. I often find when I have to crank them up to hear the smaller details the music simply gets too loud. If the engineers do their job properly they will find a good compromise. In fact I hardly ever need to adjust the volume control, except for these rogue discs.

You are misdiagnosing the problem. A low level, in and of itself, will not lead to the issue you are having. Low level recordings of narrow (or compressed) dynamic range would not be a problem, even if you turn up the wick.

The problem, for you and others, is the very wide dynamic range of some recordings which means that the low level portions must be quite low and the high level portions are quite loud. Now, if your situation (due to any number of factors) requires you to turn up the overall level in order to hear the lowest portions, it is not surprising that the loud parts get too loud.

I do not find such recordings problematic. In fact, I covet them.

Post by mahlerei October 15, 2009 (14 of 23)
Kal Rubinson said:

You are misdiagnosing the problem. A low level, in and of itself, will not lead to the issue you are having. Low level recordings of narrow (or compressed) dynamic range would not be a problem, even if you turn up the wick.

The problem, for you and others, is the very wide dynamic range of some recordings which means that the low level portions must be quite low and the high level portions are quite loud. Now, if your situation (due to any number of factors) requires you to turn up the overall level in order to hear the lowest portions, it is not surprising that the loud parts get too loud.

I do not find such recordings problematic. In fact, I covet them.

Thank you taking the time to diagnose my 'problem'. If indeed it is a 'problem' then why is it that I don't have that ''problem'' in the concert hall?

If a recording is balanced so that ppp notes are so quiet that if you turn the volume up the sforzandi blow you out of the room then it's a poorly engineered recording. The same work in a concert hall does not have such exaggerated dynamics and I can easily accommodate these dynamic extremes.

If I want the Festival Hall or the Barbican I can be there in an hour. At home I want something more manageable. Perhaps I'm not as obsessed with technology as some of you, and spend more time actually listening to music than agonising about it.

Now, since you're here would you care to diagnose any more of my 'problems'?

Post by Kal Rubinson October 15, 2009 (15 of 23)
mahlerei said:

Thank you taking the time to diagnose my 'problem'. If indeed it is a 'problem' then why is it that I don't have that ''problem'' in the concert hall?

If a recording is balanced so that ppp notes are so quiet that if you turn the volume up the sforzandi blow you out of the room then it's a poorly engineered recording. The same work in a concert hall does not have such exaggerated dynamics and I can easily accommodate these dynamic extremes.

If I want the Festival Hall or the Barbican I can be there in an hour. At home I want something more manageable. Perhaps I'm not as obsessed with technology as some of you, and spend more time actually listening to music than agonising about it.

Now, since you're here would you care to diagnose any more of my 'problems'?

The reason is not exaggerated dynamics (I don't think they are) but the difference between listening in a concert hall and in a typical domestic listening room. Size and acoustics differ vastly. What you can enjoy/tolerate in your listening room depends on the system and room.

I have three 5.1 systems in three different rooms and what I hear and tolerate is different in each. My office is about 10w/22l/12h (in feet) and completely hard-walled and hard-furnished (except for me). I can only tolerate levels of about 80-85dB (avg. music) there. In self-defense, it is necessary for me often to leap to the remote control several times a day.

I can easily handle 10dB more (if needed) in the other rooms which have lower noise/distortion equipment, more generous dimensions and substantial acoustic treatments. In addition, the latter two rooms have electronic EQ to minimize room modes in the listening area. These conditions also lower the noise floor substantially so that uncompressed dynamic range recordings can be played at a lower level without losing the quieter portions in the noise.

So, in my office, I have the limits similar to what you describe but I am not bothered by that in the others.

Post by Windsurfer October 15, 2009 (16 of 23)
mahlerei, I think, listens over Sennheiser headphones using a very nice headphone amp. I too, think he is wrong about recordings having too extreme dynamics. I don't know what, if he really does not wince during loud passages in the concert hall causes him to wince at these recordings you, I, and several others especially seek out. Perhaps his ability to hear low levels is sub-par and causes him to have to turn up the volume beyond where his equipment or ears can tolerate. This is speculative of course, not having experienced his equipment, and not knowing his concert hall listening environment.

Post by Windsurfer October 15, 2009 (17 of 23)
My suspicion is that you are turning up the ppp notes beyond the level where they would be heard in the concert hall.

On another subject, the tenor of your posts to people responding to what you said, suggests that you are a very irritable person taking offense where none was intended.

(edit)
mahlerei said:

"Perhaps I'm not as obsessed with technology as some of you, and spend more time actually listening to music than agonising about it."

The above indicates a disdain for those of us who value truly lifelike sound in the home - and an assumption or accusation that we are more interested in our equipment than in the music it was purchased to play

(end edit)

I seriously doubt you love music any more deeply than I or Kal. You may be more educated in it. I certainly am a layman, but I really don't think you can logically draw the conclusion from our enjoyment of full dynamic range and our understanding of the difference between dynamic range and low level recordings, that we somehow love music less than you do. I do not agonize about music, I enjoy it!

Post by seth October 15, 2009 (18 of 23)
mahlerei said:

If a recording is balanced so that ppp notes are so quiet that if you turn the volume up the sforzandi blow you out of the room then it's a poorly engineered recording. The same work in a concert hall does not have such exaggerated dynamics and I can easily accommodate these dynamic extremes.

While I agree with some of what you're saying, a faithfully played ppp should be difficult to hear in a concert hall. Playing quietly is one of the marks of a great orchestra; many orchestras simply cannot play a ppp as a ppp, and even a pp as a pp.

Post by sc_ita October 16, 2009 (19 of 23)
Completely agree. Please, has anyone some more comments about this new "Schoenberg: Gurrelieder - Esa-Pekka Salonen" ?

Post by peteyspambucket February 8, 2010 (20 of 23)
I didn't enjoy this recording from a performance standpoint. Contrary to the official review, I would choose RBCD for this piece if I wanted to hear a good interpretation, and I would gladly sacrifice whatever SACD might add in sonics. In terms of Gurrelieder on SACD, I prefer the Gielen version over the Salonen.

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