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Which speakers are the Classical Music Pros using?

sq225917

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I'm with Serge there. Over many years on many forums it has been my experience that those posters with the most real world experience are usually those most willing to adapt, and those least likely to adapt are those selling some schtik or trying level up a rep they don't deserve.

For the record, I know next to nothing about electronics and audio, but I do know people. ;)
 

Dialectic

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Silly question, why are some of the studios using 3 loudspeakers in their setup?
And how would that configuration look like with a stereo amplifier?
I think those are multichannel setups (the rear channels may not be visible in photos). There still appear to be a lot of classical releases on multichannel SACD and BD Audio, and I know that multichannel FLAC downloads are offered by, among other sellers, the Berlin Philharmonic.
 

NTK

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Alright. SoundGuy's post was removed (his original post in Serge's reply in post #679). But what irony! Coming from the guy who proclaimed John Mulcahy's explanations in the REW help section is "not proper science or physics", and "it is just nonsense".

"Closed minded armchair experts who are like rabid attack dogs"? You, sir, are the poster child of that :facepalm:
I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Reverb/reflections in a room can and do cause group delay, as explained here for example. This can be verified very easily by looking at pretty much any group delay measurement from any speaker in any room.
Sorry but the link is not proper science or physics to be precise. It is just nonsense.
 

ahofer

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To conclude : next time I will not respond to direct attacks. I will just use the ignore button.
Always a sound policy. If it is any consolation, I didn’t really notice much of the kerfuffle.

Most major label's chamber music recordings is what got me into this business for a start (they were generally appalling).

Can you point to a chamber music recording that typifies your complaint, or describe the typical problem? I find I have better luck with chamber music than orchestral.
 

AdamG247

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Alright. SoundGuy's post was removed (his original post in Serge's reply in post #679). But what irony! Coming from the guy who proclaimed John Mulcahy's explanations in the REW help section is "not proper science or physics", and "it is just nonsense".

"Closed minded armchair experts who are like rabid attack dogs"? You, sir, are the poster child of that :facepalm:
His post was removed by me. Generalized hate and stereotyping everyone here into the same bucket. If he continues down this path it will lead him right to the exit. ;)
 
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Kal Rubinson

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I think those are multichannel setups (the rear channels may not be visible in photos). There still appear to be a lot of classical releases on multichannel SACD and BD Audio, and I know that multichannel FLAC downloads are offered by, among other sellers, the Berlin Philharmonic.
Can you provide a link to the BPO download site?
 
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Can you point to a chamber music recording that typifies your complaint, or describe the typical problem? I find I have better luck with chamber music than orchestral.
I do not like seeking out recordings and then bashing online. If the case presents itself, maybe sometimes ...
But as an exercise, I just went 15 minutes on Qobuz and looked up Messiaen, Quatuor pour la fin du temps.
Interpretations aside, listening to a bunch of them, there were immediate textbook cases of overly bright or even metallic ones (monitored on speakers with the dreaded 3K dip ?). A couple that were OK, and many of them that are barely listenable in my mastering room - on a realistic volume. One of the tonally more correct has a piano on the left and a piano on the right, with the other musicians quite well placed in between ! Others have the piano small/thin or big and at the same time bright and bass heavy (spot mics)

This is a composition that I consider important, it has a special value to me.

There is even one with right out constant digital distortion. Hopefully this is just a faulty upload of a digital file to Qobuz. We should report this to Qobuz, they should reupload. Seriously, after listening to this, I cannot stop hearing distortion even on other (clean) recordings as if my ears need resetting :-( This is outright dangerous.

The typical audio related problems:
- incorrect tonality ranging from metallic to exaggerated bass response (compensating for something ?) resulting in tiny little instruments or blown up instruments.
- unnatural stereo perspective. Often one of the instruments (the piano !) is much too large compared to the others.
- unnatural depth of the soundfield. Often the piano actually sounds closer or at the same distance as the other musicians, which cannot exist in reality
- basic sound quality problems like distortion or noise (not counting the old recordings)
- extra-musical (bowing sounds, breath sounds) that sound not natural, not in the same space or position as the "live" musicians, hence ruining the reality of the recording.
 

ahofer

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I do not like seeking out recordings and then bashing online. If the case presents itself, maybe sometimes ...
But as an exercise, I just went 15 minutes on Qobuz and looked up Messiaen, Quatuor pour la fin du temps.
Interpretations aside, listening to a bunch of them, there were immediate textbook cases of overly bright or even metallic ones (monitored on speakers with the dreaded 3K dip ?). A couple that were OK, and many of them that are barely listenable in my mastering room - on a realistic volume. One of the tonally more correct has a piano on the left and a piano on the right, with the other musicians quite well placed in between ! Others have the piano small/thin or big and at the same time bright and bass heavy (spot mics)

This is a composition that I consider important, it has a special value to me.

There is even one with right out constant digital distortion. Hopefully this is just a faulty upload of a digital file to Qobuz. We should report this to Qobuz, they should reupload. Seriously, after listening to this, I cannot stop hearing distortion even on other (clean) recordings as if my ears need resetting :-( This is outright dangerous.

The typical audio related problems:
- incorrect tonality ranging from metallic to exaggerated bass response (compensating for something ?) resulting in tiny little instruments or blown up instruments.
- unnatural stereo perspective. Often one of the instruments (the piano !) is much too large compared to the others.
- unnatural depth of the soundfield. Often the piano actually sounds closer or at the same distance as the other musicians, which cannot exist in reality
- basic sound quality problems like distortion or noise (not counting the old recordings)
- extra-musical (bowing sounds, breath sounds) that sound not natural, not in the same space or position as the "live" musicians, hence ruining the reality of the recording.
I’ll try that when I get back. I do encounter the “unnatural stereo perspective” many times. My guess is that comes from mixing in a close microphone too much. But I find I have a better hit ratio of satisfactory recordings with chamber music than other types.

When I see live music, I often see the two microphones hanging over the stage and then some close microphones in the ensemble. I suspect the close microphones capture the ensemble noise and have to deal with huge dynamic range. And I always wonder what happens when the far and close mics are mixed.

A friend/mentor and I used to make (private) recordings with *only* a stereo pair of mics (of the Muir quartet, performing in a the Silliman College/Yale dining hall in the 1980s). I thought they sounded pretty good. But when Christopher O’Reilly played piano with them, it did tend to leave the piano back in the hall ambiance a lot.

OT, O’Reilly can play pretty heavy. I heard he once busted the soundboard.
 

Dialectic

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Can you provide a link to the BPO download site?

I have bought several recordings, and the quality is excellent. Lots of offerings in 5.0/FLAC.

Being a BACCH user with only two loudspeakers, I have not had an opportunity to listen to the multichannel downloads.
 

Kal Rubinson

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I have bought several recordings, and the quality is excellent. Lots of offerings in 5.0/FLAC.
I never drilled down enough to see the existence of MCH downloads. Unfortunately, I already have all the ones of interest from ripping the discs but will not need to do so in the future. Thanks.
 

Blumlein 88

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On a personal note : I seem to understand you are not a big fan of purist recordings. Why Blumlein 88 then ? It is a great technique, which unfortunately I do not use often. I do use MS stereo (a Blumlein invention) all the time, with a variable mid mic pattern.
I am not sure where you get the idea I not a fan of purist recordings. I am, but recognize their limitations.

With Blumlein crossed 8s you really need to play back over speakers that make a 90 degree angle with the LP for best effect. Most systems are set up with speakers at 45-60 degree angles. More of a problem in larger spaces I found to be too much room sound. A good space wouldn't be a problem, but not all spaces are good. I found an ORTF pair with some widely spaced omni flankers further back into the hall to be more versatile. I can add in the amount of room sound that is appropriate for less than good spaces.

Later I had a chance to try out several methods in a church during a group's practice. Despite preconceptions, I found a widely space pair of omnis to my liking followed by ORTF with omni flankers. The big surprise was liking the multi-miked recording better than Blumlein crossed 8s, and MS as my least favorite. All could be made to work reasonably well, but when you could hear them done concurrently the differences were more noticeable. Single point miking seems to have a smaller sweet spot during playback. Omnis seem to have a purity about them other patterns are lacking. I do prefer to use an MS setup for crossed figure 8's that are condensers. I find it not needed with ribbons though I've only used cheap ribbon mikes thus far. Possibly because the figure 8 condensers I've used are LDCs and it is related to directionality of the microphone.

As for processing the result, I prefer none. I've found most others like enough compression to use the result in a car. For recordings done in smaller spaces, I might do a bit of compression, with some tasteful reverb and delay. Maybe some EQ depending upon the mikes.

I don't have a large amount of recording experience, but it seems not sensible to be closed minded and not adapt to what you learn from experience. One always risks drawing the wrong conclusion from experiences.
 
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Or Front to Back, which I tend to consider as related. I understand the effectively anechoic (except for the floor) environment between the speakers and the engineer, but I am a little confused by why the ceiling and rear wall diffusers are claimed only interact with the engineer, not the the speakers in any way. https://www.audiotechnology.com/tutorials/hearing-double-2
I had a discussion years ago with the designer. My view when I designed my mastering room was to get a "ideal" listening room. Well, let's say I arrived at 90% and then decided to finish the last 10% next month ...
My room is not dead. It has polycylindrical diffusers. It has polycylindrical diffusers in first reflection points - which is a deadly sin.

When I asked, if the diffusers in a non-environmental room aren't per definition first reflection points (even when not physically in the position where normally the first reflections would be), there was never an answer. I know of the design that the ceiling diffusers are angled, I am quite sure the speakers can hardly "see" them. The back side is another story. I always wonder how much more significant a floor bounce becomes in the absence of everything else ?

Anyway, these type of very expensive diffusers act mainly as absorbers, so maybe further discussion is moot...

Personally I have never heard this type of room, supposedly they sound great. But I wonder if one can make the right decisions in such rooms which are so far from the typical listening room. As Mr. Toole wrote somewhere above, listening to a stereo or even 5ch setup in an anechoic room was a big disappointment. Sounds were getting locatlised inside the head ?

This would indicate more research is needed. My gut feeling is there must be a strong correlation between the 5.1 microphone technique and how this translates to an anechoic room. Is this in-head localisation because of strongly correlated signals, or the opposite ? Or does it always happen ? In any case, this would explain some recordists fetishism with 5 omnis as the main array, or others using double MS augmented with a Hamasaki square. If you need to look this up, 5 omnis will be largely time-based surround, and double MS level based, where the Hamasaki square pickups up only the (decorrelated) reverberant field, giving the possibility in post to add reverb without changing the direct sound. You can guess which is my favorite :)

So, there should be a thread about which speakers in which room are the pros using ?
 
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tuga

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So, there should be a thread about which speakers in which room are the pros using ?

Moving the mic'ing techniques discussion to its own dedicated thread definitely would.
 
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They get this right, though: Classical music is more easily defined by what it isn’t. It isn’t intended to be amplified on initial presentation, for example. That means real instruments in a real space provide the reference sound, not recordings or mixes or PA speakers (even if all of those may be involved at some stage or other for whatever reason or in whatever context). Those who listen to a lot of it in person know what it sounds like, and don’t want playbacks to violate those expectations. The sounds of different rooms aren’t a problem. The problem is a reinterpretation of the composer’s or conductor’s balance, or the natural tone of the instruments, intended or not.

Rick “not confusing correction with targeting” Denney
Hmm, not correct. What to do with the taped electronic music of the 60s and 70s ?
Or a lot of music with loads of (purely artificial) live electronics. I just finished a 62 minute cello solo piece with 6ch surround electronics, the cello part needs to be amplified, it is in the score.

Interestingly the release is 2ch only as the target audience is 99% stereo only. This needed a complete rethinking and difficult mix to get it somewhere near the live performance.

Question: as the live performance is amplified with 6ch electronics is this not classical music ? Question: as the stereo recording is now sounding as if played in a concert hall, with the electronics also placed in that hall, has the 62 minute piece suddeny become classical music ?

I am using irony here ... It is amazing how hard a definition can be. Any child sees a simplified drawing of a cow and knows it is a cow. Even more interestingly, any dog recognizes any shape and size of dog as another dog !
 
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Moving the mic'ing techniques discussion to its own dedicated thread definitely would.
I am sorry. Hard to stay on topic ... I was not aware of the anechoic listening tests. I was just wondering out loud if there could be a link to the recorded material.
 
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tuga

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Hmm, not correct. What to do with the taped electronic music of the 60s and 70s ?

Bin it? :D

Hmm, not correct. What to do with the taped electronic music of the 60s and 70s ?
Or a lot of music with loads of (purely artificial) live electronics. I just finished a 62 minute cello solo piece with 6ch surround electronics, the cello part needs to be amplified, it is in the score.

Interestingly the release is 2ch only as the target audience is 99% stereo only. This needed a complete rethinking and difficult mix to get it somewhere near the live performance.

Are you referring to classical music now?
If it's in the score, amplify it in the performance stage.

Maybe the amplified cello could be recorded inside an isolation booth?

Question: as the live performance is amplified with 6ch electronics is this not classical music ? Question: as the stereo recording is now sounding as if played in a concert hall, with the electronics also placed in that hall, has the 62 minute piece suddeny become classical music ?

It may qualify as classical music but it probably needs a multi-track studio mix approach.
But you're the expert, I've only made very amateurish field recordings.
 
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It may qualify as classical music but it probably needs a multi-track studio mix approach.
But you're the expert, I've only made very amateurish field recordings.
Does not bother me. At least amateurs like what they do (one of my favorite quotes, I should put it in my signature) (and I have heard really good amateur recordings, or have myself recorded amateur musicians with great results).
I am by all means no musicologist, and have very bad memory …
but 25% of what I do could be mistaken for test signals playing loud, it maybe an acquired taste :D
 

charleski

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I think this charming performance is a good example of the perils of overly-simple recording techniques:


Obviously in a situation like this the live performance takes priority and they didn't want loads of equipment messing up the spectacle. It's beautiful music, but you're mostly hearing the chamber reverb.
 

Geert

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The Altec I heard would probably be very revealing of certain problems (like too much compression). They would sound harsh easily. Now compare that to what happens when a recording is monitored on B&W800 speakers. Suddenly you can hang bright mics above string sections.

I'm a sound engineer but classical music is not my line of business, I never had to mix on B&W's. Do you have any insights on why studios who specialise in this genre seem to like them? Or is it B&W's marketing machine who wants to makes us believe so (meaning they're less common than the pictures you find on the internet suggest)?
 

Geert

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It's beautiful music, but you're mostly hearing the chamber reverb.
Some believe this sounds 'real'. However, if you were in that venue your brain would filter out a lot of the reverb and your perception of the sound would be totally different.
 
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