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A tribute to a fabulous recording - Benjamin Britten's 'Peter Grimes'

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  • #31
    Thanks for the pic Alan. Aldeburgh really is a magical place as is all the surrounding areas, still very unspoiled ( no arcades etc) Yes the Fish and chips on the high street always has a long queue. The Wentworth teas though are a very worthy alternative!

    Wanted to mention if you haven't already seen it. That the current episode of Country tracks available on the bbc iplayer is all about Suffolk and includes a short but interesting segment on Benjamin Britten.

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    • #32
      Thanks for posting the photo Alan lovely area of Suffolk, Benjamin Britten was born fairly close to where I live and hopefully the town will recognise his centenary on 22 November 2013

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by keithwwk View Post
        You can see in amazon or decca page

        http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Grimes-B...9056718&sr=1-3
        UK link for interest

        http://www.amazon.co.uk/Britten-Pete...3666253&sr=1-2

        Comment


        • #34
          'Peter Grimes' in Hong Kong

          I've just noticed that Peter Grimes is to be performed in Hong Kong ...

          Saturday 19 May 2012: Peter Grimes
          Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra / Johannes Wildner Hong Kong, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong

          I fully appreciate that opera is a highly personal experience - but Grimes is considered to the the greatest British opera. Sung in English (obviously) it is sure to be a sonic spectacular and if this is the only British music you ever experience, it will be worth it. You will see home hi-fi in a new light after this night out.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #35
            Grimes in London, June 2012

            and also in London in June.

            Saturday 30 June 2012: Peter Grimes
            Royal Orchestra Society for Amateur Musicians / Orlando Jopling London, St John's, Smith Square, United Kingdom

            I wonder if we could make this a 'Harbeth Field Trip'?
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK

            Comment


            • #36
              Are these photos from the booklet that came with the LP box set? I've only got the CD version which has a few but not all of the photos and I haven't been able to find them elsewhere.

              Comment


              • #37
                Peter Grimes, Live from Royal Albert Hall, 24 August 2012

                I missed the first Act but stumbled across Act 2 when tuning in to BBC Radio 3 for the evening programming. A marvellous performance made all the better I think because the performers were not required to act - just sing. Having recently bought the musical manuscript for Peter Grimes (from Boosey & Hawkes) it was the first time I'd followed the score - not something you could do in the hall - but in the comfort of your home, a real treat.

                Anyway, here are a couple of clips from the BBC HD live feed.

                Loading the player ...
                Act 2 clip

                Loading the player ...
                Act 3 clip
                Notice in this clip how clean the dialogue is, yet it is not 'bright' in the way that an audiophile may deem correct. It is beautifully captured.

                Now we can compare the 1958 original recording (release on LP in 1959) directly with the same passage from last night, a gap of 54 years ....

                (to follow)
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK

                Comment


                • #38
                  Comparing recordings made a half-century apart ....

                  Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                  ...Now we can compare the 1958 original recording directly with the same passage from last night, a gap of 54 years ....
                  There are so many points at which we could compare the original 1958 recording with last night's recording, it's hard to decide what excerpts to pick. However, we should try and sidestep the difference in musical presentation (which is a matter of personal taste) from that of recording balance, recording clarity and dynamic range*. Or are they all bound up together in an inseparable experience which defies distillation in to component parts? You must decide.

                  From a purely technical consideration, comparing a 1958 recording to analogue tape (via its subsequent digitisation in the mid 1980s) off CD with a high definition all-digital 2012 recording should, if we believe that there has been any improvement in audio fidelity, yield a 'night and day' experience shouldn't it. Remembering my earlier comments that all the (tube) recording equipment used to make the original Grimes recording was completely obsolete and broken-up and buried along with thousands of tons of domestic rubbish in a anonymous landfill sites at least a quarter century ago, if the hyperbole that the audio industry floats on has any truth then the latest, greatest, digital recording with high-def ADCs direct to hard disk etc. etc. must be clearly superior in every way. It must be! It surely cannot be possible that a recording made in the first year of stereo sound with the crude equipment - and especially the extremely limited capabilities of first generation analogue recording tape - could have any pretence of fidelity? Or could it be that those brilliant engineers, now long departed, squeezed every drop of performance out of their simple equipment, that they sweated blood to make a sonic miracle? Let's find out.

                  Here are two examples of the same excerpt from Peter Grimes. One is from the original (not 'remastered') CD transfer and the other from the BBC broadcast. I've tried adjusting the tempo to better align them but cannot. You are hearing the original '58 recording (from CD) v. the Aug. 2012 recording which uses state of the art digital technology from microphones to home listener via the internet. It's not possible to precisely set the replay loudness so that the two clips are technically the same, but they are of about equal loudness.

                  Any comments on these? Any preferences? Is one more entertaining, perhaps more attractive? Is one more technically correct? Can you de-construct the sound to draw any conclusions about the relative bass/mid/top energy balance? What do you think would sound closer to what you would hear if you stood by the conductor in the respective halls**? Does this example throw any light on the progress in recording practice and equipment over the fifty years between these recordings? Can one (should one?) draw wider conclusions about audiophile listener preferences from these short clips? Are some sonic features more interesting on one clip than another? Is a studio recording a very different animal to a live broadcast with its complexities and variables? Your opinion is welcomed - there are no absolutely 'right' answers of course!

                  Loading the player ...
                  Clip 1


                  Loading the player ...
                  Clip 2


                  * Dynamic range: a fancy way of saying very low background noise and a good peak loudness capability, so that there is a good working loudness range between the loudest possible sound and the quietest sound just above the noise floor.

                  ** Composer Benjamin Britten was himself the conductor for one of the two recordings.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Listening opinion #1

                    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                    There are so many points at which we could compare the original 1958 recording with last night's recording, it's hard to decide what excerpts to pick. However, we should try and sidestep the difference in musical presentation (which is a matter of personal taste) from that of recording balance, recording clarity and dynamic range*. Or are they all bound up together in an inseparable experience which defies distillation in to component parts? You must decide.

                    From a purely technical consideration, comparing a 1958 recording to analogue tape .......

                    Here are two examples of the same excerpt from Peter Grimes. One is from the original (not 'remastered') CD transfer and the other from the BBC broadcast. I've tried adjusting the tempo to better align them but cannot. You are hearing the original '58 recording (from CD) v. the Aug. 2012 recording which uses state of the art digital technology from microphones to home listener via the internet. It's not possible to precisely set the replay loudness so that the two clips are technically the same, but they are of about equal loudness.

                    Any comments on these? Any preferences? Is one more entertaining, perhaps more attractive? Is one more technically correct? Can you de-construct the sound to draw any conclusions about the relative bass/mid/top energy balance? What do you think would sound closer to what you would hear if you stood by the conductor in the respective halls**? Does this example throw any light on the progress in recording practice and equipment over the fifty years between these recordings? Can one (should one?) draw wider conclusions about audiophile listener preferences from these short clips? Are some sonic features more interesting on one clip than another? Is a studio recording a very different animal to a live broadcast with its complexities and variables? Your opinion is welcomed - there are no absolutely 'right' answers of course!......
                    I've listened to both recordings several times now flipping back and forth as quickly as possible. These are my subjective impressions...

                    Recording clip 1: I preferred the performance of this recording relative to the other. It actually does seem "fuller" sounding, but I don't know if that is the result of mic placement, venue or microphone???

                    On the flip side someone could say that recording clip 2 sounds more "spacious" and has more ambience. Again, I am under the impression that this probably has more to do with the venues acoustics? It's hard to tell "which" aspects of the recordings' sound are the result of analog or digital. Maybe an interesting experiment would to have two setups record the same event, one digital and one analog, level match then compare--

                    Regardless, to answer Alan's questions. I prefer clip #1, but to be honest clip #2 sounds more "live" (spacious) to me and has more low-level detail.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      A generally-applicable explanation?

                      Originally posted by Zemlya View Post
                      ... Recording clip 1: I preferred the performance of this recording relative to the other. It actually does seem "fuller" sounding, but I don't know if that is the result of mic placement, venue or microphone???

                      On the flip side someone could say that recording clip 2 sounds more "spacious" and has more ambience. Again, I am under the impression that this probably has more to do with the venues acoustics? It's hard to tell "which" aspects of the recordings' sound are the result of analog or digital....
                      I am most appreciative of the time you've taken to consider the clips and then to reply. I am only able to make time to continue to contribute (mainly late in the evenings) if, self-evidently, what I write about is of some general worth. If it isn't then I'm talking to myself. And that I do not do. The purpose of the HUG is to build a common-sense archive that will outlive all of us, and that needs input from members.

                      OK that's a really well considered response to the two clips. Considering the (emotional) divide between those who detest 'digital' and embrace 'analogue' and keep the turntables spinning, can you recognise characteristics in clip 1 or 2 which could perhaps be generally applied as an explanation of why some listeners take-up such rigid positions on analogue v. digital.

                      What do you think?
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Response #2

                        Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                        ...OK that's a really well considered response to the two clips. Considering the (emotional) divide between those who detest 'digital' and embrace 'analogue' and keep the turntables spinning, can you recognise characteristics in clip 1 or 2 which could perhaps be generally applied as an explanation of why some listeners take-up such rigid positions on analogue v. digital.

                        What do you think?
                        To me, clip 2 sounds a bit cleaner and more spacious - I fancy I hear more low level detail. Artistically, I slightly give the nod to clip 1, though both are excellent.

                        But what strikes me most is how good both are, and how hard it is (for me, anyway) to hear a difference that I find truly significant. In fact, I'm going mostly by initial impressions since I found that the longer I listened, the more I got sucked into the music and the story, and the less capable I became of making any analytical distinctions at all.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Summary thus far ...

                          Originally posted by Zemlya View Post
                          I've listened to both recordings several times now flipping back and forth as quickly as possible. These are my subjective impressions...

                          Recording clip 1: I preferred the performance of this recording relative to the other. It actually does seem "fuller" sounding ... On the flip side someone could say that recording clip 2 sounds more "spacious" and has more ambience... Regardless, to answer Alan's questions. I prefer clip #1, but to be honest clip #2 sounds more "live" (spacious) to me and has more low-level detail.
                          Originally posted by EricW View Post
                          To me, clip 2 sounds a bit cleaner and more spacious - I fancy I hear more low level detail. Artistically, I slightly give the nod to clip 1, though both are excellent...
                          Thanks to the usual suspects for their invaluable input. Moderator says he'd like to move this continuation to the Advanced Forum so that those who take the trouble to contribute, benefit from the shared knowledge. I've agreed to wait for some more input and if none, move this to Advanced (and any other similar threads inviting comparative analysis and member input).

                          Two responses from which we have to imagine a universal truth is a dangerously small sample, so I'm going to have to use some judgement and positively steer this analysis, which I didn't want to do but have no choice. It's very interesting - but no surprise to me - that the two contributors have both commented that Clip 2 sounds 'more spacious with more low level detail'. To my ears, critically listening to audio, these two clips have certain tell-tale characteristics that define their vintage.

                          Perhaps I could revert you to my earlier question: which one do you think sounds more like you are actually there at the venue? That is not the same question as which one do you like artistically or which one sounds nicest - again, it's a matter of opinion but I'm curious to know what you think.
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Feedback #3

                            I too listened to both recordings a number of times, switching back and forth, listening to a part of the clip and then listening to the next one, stopping it at the approximate same place, switching back, listening...(An A-B switch would sure be nice if the two clips could be run simultaneously...). I found that clip 1 had less space around the performers than clip 2.

                            As an analogy, clip 1 sounds like it was produced for a TV show, on a smaller stage in a smaller venue, each actor singing/speaking towards a microphone in close proximity (not like Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney singing into their own mic)... and clip 2 sounded more like it was recorded live at Royal Albert Hall, with only few stage microphones picking up the general sound of the singers onstage, plus one or two out above the audience picking up the actors from there...

                            cheers

                            george

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Feedback #4

                              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                              I am most appreciative of the time you've taken to consider the clips and then to reply. I am only able to make time to continue to contribute (mainly late in the evenings) if, self-evidently, what I write about is of some general worth. If it isn't then I'm talking to myself. And that I do not do. The purpose of the HUG is to build a common-sense archive that will outlive all of us, and that needs input from members.

                              OK that's a really well considered response to the two clips. Considering the (emotional) divide between those who detest 'digital' and embrace 'analogue' and keep the turntables spinning, can you recognise characteristics in clip 1 or 2 which could perhaps be generally applied as an explanation of why some listeners take-up such rigid positions on analogue v. digital.

                              What do you think?
                              Listening to both recordings again, I have to say I really don't know why anyone would come down hard on either side--both recordings sound very good. Again, recording 2 clearly has more dynamic range and a more spacious sound, but sometimes its low noise floor can be distracting. Clearly we hear "more" of the recordings natural surroundings.

                              Recording 1 does have a warmer sound. It seems more recessed in the higher frequency range. Again, these are just my subjective impressions but this might be the more "natural sound" people on the analog side often refer to?

                              Some of the best CD recordings I have ever heard were on CD so maybe the aversion has more to do with the current fashions on the production side than the actual medium itself??? And maybe this is why some vinyl actually does sound better than its CD counterpart?

                              I wish I knew.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Feedback #5

                                Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                                which one do you think sounds more like you are actually there at the venue?
                                Without a doubt, clip 2 sounds more like I am there.

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