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Discussion: Alison Krauss: Live

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Post by Khorn July 29, 2003 (1 of 18)
The thing that bothers me I guess is if you have the studio SACDs then go out and buy the "live" do you get to prefer it and stop listening to the originals or do you find you regularly listen to both? As I have the three studio SACDs that is the only thing that prevents me from ordering the "Live".

Post by Lawman July 29, 2003 (2 of 18)
Khorn said:

The thing that bothers me I guess is if you have the studio SACDs then go out and buy the "live" do you get to prefer it and stop listening to the originals or do you find you regularly listen to both? As I have the three studio SACDs that is the only thing that prevents me from ordering the "Live".

I also have the last 3 studio albums, but I still bought the "Live"-disc also. In fact, I already had all 4 of them on RBCD before I bought the SACDs. FYI, the performances on the "Live"-album are almost studio-perfect, some of them are just a tad shorter. But you get some "unreleased" performances that are absolutely worthwhile. You could say the "Live"-album is a sort of greatest hits, but I still play the studio-albums for the great songs that are not included on the "Live"-disc.

BTW, the DVD is also highly recommended, not so much from an audio standpoint, but for the dialogues between songs.

Post by 4_everyman July 29, 2003 (3 of 18)
This past weekend, i picked SACD and plan to listen to it soon. I've had the Redbook CD since shortly after it was released. I first listened to it at work on a pair of Grado SR125 headphones connected to the audio output of my IBM laptop PC. The headphones are very nice, but i was stunned by how good the Redbook CD sounded. As a result, my expectations of the DVD and the SACD are high.

Post by detayls July 30, 2003 (4 of 18)
I listened to the regular CD of Live album yesterday in the car. It is very enjoyable and well worth owning.

My car stereo is very good and really shows up a disc's faults. In the absence of a car SACD setup, I listen to the Red Book layer. It is entirely obvious that a CD is a DSD recording. Even the RedBook layer sounds much better.

My only criticism with the Live album is that they seem to have used voice microphones, which are less "sweet" than the ones used for New Favorite, for example.

My guess is that the studio microphones are so valuable at this point that they compromise and use the best that they can afford to have banged around. There is definitely a harsher edge to the vocals and the sibilants are much more noticeable.

I have not yet bought the SACD of "Live". Do the voices come out better on the SACD layers?

Thanks.

David

Post by Khorn October 29, 2003 (5 of 18)
In His Review Dan Popp Says:

Sounds great, great performance as usual by AK+US. The only quibble I have is that they mic Alison's voice to sound "thin," but this is the case on most of her recordings, not just this one. They could easily use a mic that would give her voice some more beefiness or heft, but "whatever."

*********************************************************

While I don't have the "Live" SACD I have three others and I'm surprised at the "Thin Sounding Voice" comment. I have found that the SACDs bring out her voice in a VERY natural and musical way. The recording of her albums has, in most cases, been far above average and some of the most "listenable" from a reproduction standpoint.

Post by Dan Popp October 29, 2003 (6 of 18)
Khorn said

While I don't have the "Live" SACD I have three others and I'm surprised at the "Thin Sounding Voice" comment. I have found that the SACDs bring out her voice in a VERY natural and musical way. The recording of her albums has, in most cases, been far above average and some of the most "listenable" from a reproduction standpoint.

Khorn,
My comments about the mic used on AK constitute, as I said, a minor quibble. Contrary to what another poster assumed above, they apparently - at least judging by the pictures included - used a Shure KSM (medium diaphragm studio-type) mic on her for the live concert stuff. Alison is a small woman with a quiet voice and a bit of a lisp, so this is not the mic I would have chosen for her. The KSM mics are very "neutral"-sounding. Normally a lead vocal is recorded with something with a little more coloration to bring the voice "forward" and give it some weight.

If you listen to "New Favorite," then listen to the one before that ("Forget About It?") you'll hear the differences I'm talking about. Alison's engineers have forgotten more about recording than I'll ever know, but as a listener I'm entitled to my opinions and preferences, no matter how goofy they may be.

Post by Dan Popp October 29, 2003 (7 of 18)
On further listening, I think I would describe Alison's vocal sound not as "thin" but as "overly airy." Some people are in love with that last octave of human hearing, but there's not much in a human voice above 8k as far as fundamentals. To force more high-highs into a vocal is to give it a kind of constant hiss which I find annoying (and also unnatural because it comes from the throat, not the teeth).

Nickel Creek's "This Side" is another "tweeter cleaner." Alison produced or co-produced that one IIRC. So it appears to be a case of preferring that frequency curve (or spike). In the case of Alison's records, it doesn't diminish my enjoyment of the music much at all, and others may find it an enhancement.

One of the benefits I hear in SACD is an 'opening up' of the top end because the filters necessary for PCM recording are gone. So it would be easy for a recordist to, out of habit, add some air that would be overkill when played back on SACD. When CD was introduced, audio engineers had to literally re-learn how to record. SACD will probably involve a gentler learning curve, but a learning curve nonetheless.

And I see by the back cover of "Live" that the mic they used in concert is probably not the one they used on the posed pic in the booklet - "never mind."

Post by david elias October 30, 2003 (8 of 18)
detayls said:

My only criticism with the Live album is that they seem to have used voice microphones, which are less "sweet" than the ones used for New Favorite, for example.

My guess is that the studio microphones are so valuable at this point that they compromise and use the best that they can afford to have banged around. There is definitely a harsher edge to the vocals and the sibilants are much more noticeable.

One thing to keep in mind about live vs. studio recordings is that different mics have a lot of different levels of sensitivity, field ranges and patterns (cardiod, figure-8, omni, hypercardiod, etc.). In a studio you have much better control of position and vicinity. You can use different types of isolation if necessary, or you can overdub vocals to protect the singer from getting other sounds picked up by the mic. These techniques and others can prevent bleed from other instruments or influences and allow excellent reproduction of the voice.

Live performances don't usually have these same conveniences. Stage mics tend to be much more limited in their range to avoid feedback and bleed. That's my guess why AK's vocals sound different between the 2 recordings.

Regards,
DE

Post by Hotso November 5, 2003 (9 of 18)
Hi Guys,

It's worth bearing in mind that Live recordings are by the nature of the beast entirely different to studio recordings. The choice of mics for amplification to an audience as opposed to recording is one thing. The use of onstage foldback for players (Wedges) is another and can greatly colour the sound. I've no doubt that in-ear monitoring is the norm but some people, especially drums and keyboards still prefer the humble wedge!! The use of Dynamic Mics and electric pick-ups make for a less than hi-fi sound but easy to control on the night with much less chance of the dreaded feedback etc.
Most "live" albums have some level of post production and this can mean anything from an odd fix here and there, to complete replacement along with 'audience participation'. It's getting harder to know these days!!

Anyway, that's my twopence worth!

Hotso

Post by DSD June 11, 2011 (10 of 18)
I wonder if Rounder is aware how much their out of print SACDs are selling for? Alison Krauss Live is a DSD recording of all acoustic instruments, great music and great playing which really showcases the best that SACD offers. I personally think if Rounder reissued this on SACD it would sell like hotcakes and would go though many repeat pressings. Something I think would be important to any small label, even if they are owned by Universal.

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