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Reviews: Sara K.: Hell or High Water

Reviews: 7

Review by Taiko May 18, 2006 (2 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Delicious Sound!

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Review by clef August 21, 2006 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Sara K. meets highest demands. It is a very meditative album: artless, agile and straight.
Sara K. is one of the most expressive singer / songwriter I've heard. A brilliant album with excellent sound on my stereo system. Everything seems to be transparent and it sounds as walked on air.

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Review by audiofreak August 28, 2006 (4 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
My comments to this disc will concern how bad the multichannel mix is. On some tracks Sara's voice is completely diffuse and on almost all tracks some of the instruments are placed in the rear speakers. I don't like this way of "exploring" the posibilities of MCH, since it sounds childish in my ears. Rear speakers should contain only some reflexions from the recording studio - or if direct radiated sound is mixed into the rear it should be done like on "Ca Ira" by Roger Waters. Ca Ira is musical theater and I find it logical to find parts of the scenery to take place behind my listening position. On the Sara K disc the mix is overdone and it shows that some studio technicians still have not learned what MCH is about.
I did not expect this from Stockfish.

You can always play the the stereo mix (which as a contrast is very good), but what a shame that the multichannel track is wasted in such a way.

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Review by markmazza March 12, 2008 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I categorically disagree with the previous reviewer. This is one of the very best recordings available! Stockfisch engineers produce exquist recording and I want to emphasize that through my system the sound is just stunning. I've listed to a lot of SACD's and many are boring with only transients coming from the rear channels. I might as well be listening to a mono amplifier.

In this CD the sound surrounds you in a sumptuous wide open soundstage....I absolutely love it and hope that Stockfisch continues to be revolutionary in this way. As a former studio musicians I can't say enough about the choice of accompaning instruments and their placement in the 5.1 surround sound field. It's beautifully arranged and provides clarity across the entire audio spectrum from 20Hz to 20KHz.

I deliberatly look for the Stockfisch label in the hope of finding more recordings like this one! If you have the requisite system to reproduce such an excellent recording you will not be disappointed. I listen to Sara K and Eugene Rufallo quite often because the recordings are so exquisite!

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Review by onenairb November 19, 2008 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I completly disagree with Audiofreak. This is a well engineered SACD, frankly one of the best I have heard. The clarity of this disc is superb.
Musically its one of those albums that grows on you. Its very laid back and I think Sara K can sometimes sound a bit like Annie Lennox though the music does not.
If you want a SACD to show off your 5.1 system then this is certainly one of the best you'll find IMHO.
I'm looking forward to her next release on Stockfisch.

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Review by Hobbit13 July 19, 2010 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Yesterday I've recorded this album to my PC for convenient listening. The chain I used is of fairly high quality: Philips 963SA -> M-audio 192 PCI -> Musical Fidelity A3.24 DAC.

The only conclusion I can make is that this SACD is a scam! (at least the Stereo part, I didn't check the 5.1) [PLEASE READ REPLY BELOW]

The audio is clearly cut off at 20KHz ( and to my ears the SACD doesn't contain any extra detail compared to the CD layer. It obviously sounds different, due to analog conversion steps, but not better.

In exactly the same way I recorded the SACD Twentysomething by Jamie Cullum, which clearly does sound better compared to the CD layer.

The Italian TNT-audio magazine confirmed that the BlueNote recording Come away with me by Norah Jones was also an upsample from the CD layer. ( )

Now I understand why very few SACD players can switch realtime between the CD and SACD layer, it would reveal that record companies were too lazy to make new recordings for the high-res formats!

All the above doesn't say this isn't a good record, the CD version sounds fantastic (one of the best sounding cd's I own), only the SACD is not an improvement if you only have a stereo setup.


I send an email to Stockfish Records asking them for an explanation, this was their reply:

>you should consider, that there are no studio-microphones on the market with a response over 20 kHz. Also there are no common acoustic instruments which comes close to 20 kHz. The human hearing stops much lower. The sonical quality of a recording has a lot of reasons but never because the frequency-response is over 20kHz. We are one of the first labels making experiments with higher sampling rates but find out (like all other serious sources) that it only adds a lot of unwanted HF-pollution from radiowaves, mains, internal electronics, etc. For the best results we only recording in 44.1 kHz/24bit. Our SACDs are upsampled from 44.1 kHz like 99.9% of all SACDs on the market. The reason is, that in the 1-bit format there is only one recording unit available (SADIE) with max. 8 tracks. It is also not possible to manipulate 1-bit signals (editing, EQ, Dyn, reverb, etc. and keep it in the 1-bit domain) We have some real SACDs recorded with the SADIE and call them DIRECT CUT SACD, but they don’t sound ‘better’, only a little different. Most CD-players have terrible D/A converters on board. We always advice people to buy high performance CD transports, favored re-samplers to avoid jitter and the use of separate D/A converters like LAVRY, DANIEL WEISS, etc. Without any doubt, you can store much better quality on a regular CD, than the human hearing can assimilate. If you like more informations, visit the AES and read what scientists find out in critical and autonomous experiments.


Thus the SACD is sourced from 24bit, which should give quite some extra resolution over the standard CD. Must do some extra blind testing :-)

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Review by lenw June 21, 2012
Performance:   Sonics:  
I very much like Sara K's artistic impressions and musically I do enjoy this album. I also appreciate the in-site she provides about the creation of each song. Sonically I give the album credit for clear delineation between instruments. But I don't give this album as high marks as her "Play On Words" album because IMO the recording level is too high to provide a wide enough dynamic range. I'm also not a big fan of the over dubbing used for chorus sections.

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