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Discussion: Saint-Saens: Symphony No. 3, Debussy: La Mer - Munch

Posts: 20
Page: 1 2 next

Post by fotodan September 18, 2004 (1 of 20)
I think there's a serious flaw with this disc. In the 2-track SACD version of Escales there is a pronounced rumble that seems to pulsate --so badly that at one point I thought I'd better stop the disc before my sub-woofer blew a cone. That condition does not seem to be part of the 3-track version, though the sound is very clouded and diffuse.

In the 2-track SACD version of Track 8: listen to the low bass between minute 4 and 5. There's a regular thump-THUMP thump-THUMP thump-THUMP that isn't related to the pulse of the music at all. And if you're playing the music at a reasonably high level your subwoofer is really kicking back and forth to a dangerous degree.

I've listened to parts of all the other SACD releases in the new RCA line and they're all fine -- but I'm taking the Munch/Saint-Saens/Debussy/Ibert back to the store.

Post by flyingdutchman September 18, 2004 (2 of 20)
fotodan said:

I think there's a serious flaw with this disc. In the 2-track SACD version of Escales there is a pronounced rumble that seems to pulsate --so badly that at one point I thought I'd better stop the disc before my sub-woofer blew a cone. That condition does not seem to be part of the 3-track version, though the sound is very clouded and diffuse.

Nor was I very impressed with the sound on the Saint-Saens. Here the bass response seems to be cut off -- the big blast at the beginning of track 4 is not nearly as impressive as the regular Living Stereo disc. Surely this is not what BMG meant to publish.

I've listened to parts of all the other SACD releases in the new RCA line and they're all fine -- but I'm taking the Munch/Saint-Saens/Debussy/Ibert back to the store.

Your system and SACD player please.

Post by fotodan September 18, 2004 (3 of 20)
Sony XA777ES player and P9000ES preamp . . . Sunfire True Subwoofer Mk II

Post by jdaniel@jps.net September 18, 2004 (4 of 20)
I've listened to this in 3 channel, and I thought the bass on the organ--right down to the lowest fundamentals was pretty impressive. The only thing I noticed was how high a transfer this recording is--I had to turn the volume knob quite a ways down before forte strings were tolerable, but once I did, they got their silkiness back. No rumbles in the Escales. Sound-wise I'd call this one and the Cliburn Tchaikovsky/Rach merely good, which is still a miracle for such old recordings. The rest so far are excellent.

Post by Johnno September 19, 2004 (5 of 20)
fotodan said:

I think there's a serious flaw with this disc. In the 2-track SACD version of Escales there is a pronounced rumble that seems to pulsate --so badly that at one point I thought I'd better stop the disc before my sub-woofer blew a cone. That condition does not seem to be part of the 3-track version, though the sound is very clouded and diffuse.

In the 2-track SACD version of Track 8: listen to the low bass between minute 4 and 5. There's a regular thump-THUMP thump-THUMP thump-THUMP that isn't related to the pulse of the music at all. And if you're playing the music at a reasonably high level your subwoofer is really kicking back and forth to a dangerous degree.

I've listened to parts of all the other SACD releases in the new RCA line and they're all fine -- but I'm taking the Munch/Saint-Saens/Debussy/Ibert back to the store.

My SACD set hasn't arrived yet but, out of interest, I got out my standard CD of the disc and played the entire "Ports of Call" and can report that the problem you are experiencing would appear to be in the DSD remastering, since it is certainly not present on my disc. There's quite a lot of bass drum around that point in the score and, of course, double basses but nothing else that I could detect. Incidentally, I was enormously impressed with the standard CD sound -- nice, clean muted strings in the Rome-Palermo movement and excellent spaciousness throughout. A wonderful performance too (I had forgotten just how good) of an underrated work.

Post by fotodan September 20, 2004 (6 of 20)
Johnno said:

My SACD set hasn't arrived yet but, out of interest, I got out my standard CD of the disc and played the entire "Ports of Call" and can report that the problem you are experiencing would appear to be in the DSD remastering, since it is certainly not present on my disc. There's quite a lot of bass drum around that point in the score and, of course, double basses but nothing else that I could detect. Incidentally, I was enormously impressed with the standard CD sound -- nice, clean muted strings in the Rome-Palermo movement and excellent spaciousness throughout. A wonderful performance too (I had forgotten just how good) of an underrated work.

Both the regular Living Stereo CD and the JVC xrcd version show how strange the new SACD sound is (on Escales). Let's hope BMG can give us a corrected version soon. It's really a glorious recording.

Post by flyingdutchman September 20, 2004 (7 of 20)
Don't seem to have any of the same problems you are having with my Marantz S17S1 player. Sounds fine to me. I'm not using a subwoofer with my system, though.

Post by Johnno September 23, 2004 (8 of 20)
I'll report back on my findings when my set arrives. I assume it's been despatched

Post by Al October 3, 2004 (9 of 20)
fotodan said:

I think there's a serious flaw with this disc. In the 2-track SACD version of Escales there is a pronounced rumble that seems to pulsate --so badly that at one point I thought I'd better stop the disc before my sub-woofer blew a cone. That condition does not seem to be part of the 3-track version, though the sound is very clouded and diffuse.

In the 2-track SACD version of Track 8: listen to the low bass between minute 4 and 5. There's a regular thump-THUMP thump-THUMP thump-THUMP that isn't related to the pulse of the music at all. And if you're playing the music at a reasonably high level your subwoofer is really kicking back and forth to a dangerous degree.

I've listened to parts of all the other SACD releases in the new RCA line and they're all fine -- but I'm taking the Munch/Saint-Saens/Debussy/Ibert back to the store.

I too noticed the low-bass rumble on the Stereo-SACD version on Track 8 between the times 4:24 and 5:00 -- particularly at high volumes. I not only hear it, but I feel it. I also hear it on the CD layer!

I can also hear the low-bass rumble on my XRCD ("Debussy LA MER/Ibert Escales", JMCVR-0003). It is not as loud (noticeable) and I do not feel the rumble -- even at high volumes.

I wonder if the DSD process made the rumble more pronounced and noticeable on the hybrid-SACD.

Post by bublitchki October 7, 2004 (10 of 20)
Al said:

I too noticed the low-bass rumble on the Stereo-SACD version on Track 8 between the times 4:24 and 5:00 -- particularly at high volumes. I not only hear it, but I feel it. I also hear it on the CD layer!

I can also hear the low-bass rumble on my XRCD ("Debussy LA MER/Ibert Escales", JMCVR-0003). It is not as loud (noticeable) and I do not feel the rumble -- even at high volumes.

I wonder if the DSD process made the rumble more pronounced and noticeable on the hybrid-SACD.

Up-front caveat: I do not have a system that produces very low bass.

For this analysis I used the Stax SRS-4040 electrostatic headphone system. This goes fairly low (lower than my Martin Logan CLS II speakers, for example), but certainly nowhere near subwoofer levels. The SACD/CD player was the Sony SCD-1.

I pulled out both the SACD and then the xrcd, and cued up the sections in question.

On the SACD, I can hear the "rumble" very faintly with the volume turned way up. It's not part of the music. It could be equipment-related (probably at the original recording sessions), or more likely a subway or something. Is there a subway that runs under Symphony Hall, as is the case with Carnegie?

On the xrcd, I can't hear it at all. The SACD probably has better/more accurate bass response, or else the xrcd may have been filtered in the low bass. (Note that Soundmirror states rather explicitly that *no* filtering or equalization was employed in the DSD transfers.) As has been observed, it may also be present to a lesser extent than is the case with the SACD, and my system is simply incapable of reproducing it.

Conclusion: yes, there's something there in the SACD pressing, which I can barely notice only by listening for it at very high volume levels. Those who hear it prominently reproduced have obviously got equipment with better low bass response than mine (no surprise there), and/or subwoofers to extend the low bass response, and also probably listen at very loud levels.

I've known this recording very well since LP days, and the "muddiness" claim that I've seen mentioned around the forums is for me totally off the mark. It sounds "different," which is to say it displays the unique characteristics of Symphony Hall--the massed strings have an incredible sweetness, an ethereal quality I've never heard anywhere else, which is a tribute to both the venue and to the greatness of the orchestra.

The SACD of Escales is tremendous, easily the best this piece has ever sounded in digital form. It gives the LP a run for its money, and in many respects beats the pulp out of it.

*I'm* certainly not returning it.

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