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 Posted:   Jan 31, 2014 - 3:06 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Like George and Paul, I see no reason why this topic should not engender civil discussion. While I have not yet detected the alleged problem, I am stimulated to listen further and think about the matter. Those are good things in my book. And good publicity for the album, I should think.
(Hmm. George, Paul, and John -- this was starting to sound like a Beatles reunion before others chipped in!)

I should, however, point out a fallacious argument that has crept in -- the notion that only a "professional" can have a valid opinion in the matter. You don't have to be a dairy farmer to know when the milk is sour. You don't have to be a mechanic to know when your engine isn't running smoothly (though you need the mechanic to diagnose the problem and solve it). Anyone with a love of music, a decent system, and familiarity with real (live) instruments should be able to sense when something is seriously wrong.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2014 - 3:22 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

That's true, John, except that engineers have access to the best equipment, stuff we couldn't afford (well, I couldn't anyway). They also have trained ears. The hardness I mentioned could very well be the distortion the producers are talking about, but to me it just comes across as hardness, or lack of warmth or something. As someone who's been into sound since 1967 I'm interested in identifying the effect and understanding it better. It won't stop me from enjoying QV, however, and anyone who puts off buying this recording because of this discussion is crazy.

Incidentally, as a member of this forum I'd just like to disassociate myself from the comment attacking Roger Feigelson by Waxmanman35. Sometimes I'm ashamed..etc..etc..

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2014 - 3:30 PM   
 By:   Roger Feigelson   (Member)

Like George and Paul, I see no reason why this topic should not engender civil discussion. While I have not yet detected the alleged problem, I am stimulated to listen further and think about the matter. Those are good things in my book. And good publicity for the album, I should think.
(Hmm. George, Paul, and John -- this was starting to sound like a Beatles reunion before others chipped in!)

I should, however, point out a fallacious argument that has crept in -- the notion that only a "professional" can have a valid opinion in the matter. You don't have to be a dairy farmer to know when the milk is sour. You don't have to be a mechanic to know when your engine isn't running smoothly (though you need the mechanic to diagnose the problem and solve it). Anyone with a love of music, a decent system, and familiarity with real (live) instruments should be able to sense when something is seriously wrong.


If you're referring to my comments, I never presented the notion that only professionals have a valid opinion. I just said I valued them more. If I didn't value your guys opinions we wouldn't have undone a crossfade on the reissue of PREDATOR.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2014 - 8:23 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Compression is a two-edged sword: the tutti may be rendered too loud and distorted, but the quiet passages aren't quiet enough. As usual, where Rozsa's "epics" are concerned, people tend to talk about the pomp and pageantry (or "bombast" if you don't like it). But to my mind the great revelation of the complete QV is the delicate scoring that we scarcely heard in the film and that has not been well represented on previous albums. (Are you still with us, Thomas? You need to hear this music!)

Wanting to explore this further, I went back to a favorite passage, the aftermath of the fire, with Peter comforting the boy Nazarius (here it's called "Tu Es Petrus"). After a few measures with the violin section, the exquisite scoring is reduced to a muted string septet. I suppose the audio level is higher than the ideal piano that was heard in the studio. I might have liked it taken down a bit more. But undoubtedly some customers would then have complained that they couldn't hear the music without turning up the volume. It goes back to the simple fact that you cannot reproduce the full dynamic range of a symphony orchestra in a home environment (much less in an automobile or through a set of earbuds). Anyway, the producer's choice here is fine with me. Likewise, I had no problem going from the harp notes at Nero's demise to the crashing blare of Galba's March, immediately following. Decent dynamic contrast there. My ears have yet to detect the "atrocious" distortion that Basil cites. I've heard sweeter string sound than we get here in the big epilogue, but the beauty of the music is certainly not compromised.

So I'm till scratching my head over some of the complaints we've heard here.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2014 - 8:33 PM   
 By:   paul rossen   (Member)



So I'm till scratching my head over some of the complaints we've heard here.


So am I...

 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2014 - 9:21 PM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

I suppose it's a bit like the old debate over early CDs and the awful "digital edge" that many of them exhibited. Some people couldn't stand it, while others were convinced their CDs were perfect and couldn't be better. While one person would use a particular CD to demonstrate the brilliance of the new medium, another would use the same CD to show how sharp and grating early digital CD sound was.

Subsequent remasters have shown how bad many of those early CDs were, but some people will be delighted with the improvements while others will swear their old version is fine as it is. Some will say the difference is night and day, others will hear little or no difference. Arguing about it won't change anyone's mind.

So all there is to do is state one's own opinion – and mine is that the congestion in many loud passages of Conan the Barbarian (particularly) and Quo Vadis is like a throwback to the stressed sound of some of Herrmann's old Phase 4 recordings.

I also suspect that the only reason Doug Fake refrained from adding Conan the Barbarian to his complaint of Quo Vadis is the fact that they have a competing set of that title and would not want the criticism misconstrued.

 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2014 - 5:10 AM   
 By:   Josh "Swashbuckler" Gizelt   (Member)

I can't stress how important playback equipment is to detecting some of these issues. I can listen to Conan the Barbarian on headphones or in my car with few issues, but the limitations are clear on my home stereo.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2014 - 5:33 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Wouldn't good headphones be more revealing of distortion? Less useful, perhaps, for issues of dynamic range.

 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2014 - 11:01 AM   
 By:   Josh "Swashbuckler" Gizelt   (Member)

Less useful, perhaps, for issues of dynamic range.

Yes. But that's what the problem is in the louder passages.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2014 - 4:20 PM   
 By:   pp312   (Member)

I can't stress how important playback equipment is to detecting some of these issues. I can listen to Conan the Barbarian on headphones or in my car with few issues, but the limitations are clear on my home stereo.

You need better headphones. Now let me see..... smile

But seriously, you haven't said what the 'limitations' are.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 2, 2014 - 3:17 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Less useful, perhaps, for issues of dynamic range.

Yes. But that's what the problem is in the louder passages.


Compression is the (supposed) cause of the (alleged) problem, but the result is said to be "atrocious" distortion. Good headphones should reveal that.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 2, 2014 - 3:46 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Desperate to avoid that darned football game, I decided to spend some time on close listening comparisons. The opening fanfares of the Triumphal March ("Ave Caesar") make for a good test case, since we have no fewer than seven different recordings of this this loud, thick, and brazen passage. (I've also heard it live.)

Kloss (Nuremberg, 1952). Obviously not competitive in terms of sound. I do like the way the tambourine stands out in the interjections that punctuate the brass fanfares. It's the kind of thing you expect to hear in a Roman triumph. Of course the reason for its prominence is that the 1952 recording fails to capture much of the bass drum.

Rozsa (Hamburg, 1967). This is the composer's second recording, originally on Capitol with no indication of the venue. It's not dissimilar to his earlier go in 1963. The sound here is particularly bright, capturing the "sharl" of the trombones. This is the one I would call "hard" -- not inappropriate for the subject but perhaps hard on the ears over time.

Rozsa (RPO, 1977). With impeccable audio credentials (Decca engineering in Kingsway Hall), you'd expect this to sound good, and it does. The performance, however, is rather bloated.

Alwyn (Prague, 1996). Lacks brilliance in the brass, but the interjections are more vivid.

Kunzel (Cincinnati, 2005). Telarc SACD. What else is there to say? (I listened in two channels for this comparison.) This is the closest to live. It's the one to beat.

Raine (Prague, 2012). Similar to the Telarc, though perhaps bit less open and airy. As in all the recordings, the instrumentation is perfectly clear, with trombones darkening the texture as the music progresses and then tuba toward the end. I still don't hear any distortion. Neither does my listening companion, who is a trained musician and conductor.







 
 Posted:   Feb 2, 2014 - 4:47 PM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

I decided to spend some time on close listening comparisons. The opening fanfares of the Triumphal March ("Ave Caesar") make for a good test case, since we have no fewer than seven different recordings of this this loud, thick, and brazen passage. (I've also heard it live.)




Try track 16 of Disc 2. Listen particularly around the 3'25" to 3'40" mark. It's typical of many more sections throughout the set. A mass of stressed and congested noise.
It's shocking to me that anyone could think this is good sound.
Track 12 of Disc 2, from about 36" on, is worse still. Is someone REALLY going to reply that this din is fine sound?

 
 Posted:   Feb 3, 2014 - 3:34 AM   
 By:   Josh "Swashbuckler" Gizelt   (Member)

Compression is the (supposed) cause of the (alleged) problem, but the result is said to be "atrocious" distortion. Good headphones should reveal that.

They do… if I listen with my Sennheissers, I hear the same issues I do on the stereo. When I use the ear buds I use for commuting (I'm not lugging my nice cans around on the subway, or from job to job at work — I did for a while and it was more trouble than it was worth, especially the wear and tear), the problems are much less apparent.

I should mention that I like the Tadlow recording of Conan very much, and my reaction to the issues with the sound is much less vehement than many others. But those issues are definitely there.

 
 Posted:   Feb 3, 2014 - 8:04 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

Rozsa (Hamburg, 1967). This is the composer's second recording,

That should be NUREMBERG again, John. The only Hamburg recording was the Richard Muller-Lampertz album, which didn't have any QV on it.


I agree about the Kunzel. It's also great as a performance. The other performance that comes close is the Rome one (now in the FSM box) on the 'Great Movie Themes' album, but the sonics are a bit muted. You can hear the horns as menat to be heard there though. They often disappear, especially at the bridge from Vinicius' theme to the reprise of the main march theme. The Raine is quite good, but he's very fast throughout the suite.

The Alwyn in the 'Arabesque' is much slower and less accurately 'together', but you can hear the transition composition between the Sicilian melody and the reprise of the Syrian tune much better: on the Tadlow it's a very abrupt transition.

Had Kunzel/Nick Rozsa/D Robbins et al not excised the extra bars in the opening ostinato, the Kunzel would be the definitive perfomance of that march.

 
 Posted:   Feb 4, 2014 - 1:17 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

When I fist listened to the Tadlow recording of QUO VADIS, I had not read Douglass Fake's thread on Intrada or this one here, and I enjoyed the recording and its sound very much on my home stereo system with floor speakers. I was not paying attention to distortion and I was not listening for compression. We were comfortably dozing with a glass of red wine on the couch and listening to the music (not on particularly high volume).

I think it is a terrific album and an excellent performance. One day I may find the time to investigate this recording for loudness compression, but nevertheless I have enjoyed the album before I ever heard of this issue and I will continue to do so, regardless of what my ears reveal when l listen to it.

In any case, many original Golden Age recordings have very compressed dense sound, that was inherent in the recording technology of the day. I remember the Tadlow recording as very clear and transparent.

 
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