adrienne2233MemberSep 18, 2017 at 9:26 pm #167219
LEADING classical record company Deutsche Grammophon (DG) has come up with new technology, which it claims greatly improves the sound of recordings. Working with Yamaha, it has begun producing CDs using a new technology it calls 4D Audio Recording. The first 4D records have already gone on sale in Australia. Deutsche Grammophon claims 4D Audio Recording brings added clarity and realism. It is so transparent and natural, says DG, “you won’t believe you’re listening to a recording”. You don’t need any special equipment to hear the benefits: any CD player will do, though naturally the sound is best when played through good high-fidelity loudspeakers.
Having listened extensively to several 4D CDs over the past couple of weeks, I am impressed. I have yet to be totally suckered into the illusion that a 4D recording is a live performance. But DG and Yamaha are on to something. The 4D records are certainly among the very best examples of orchestral music I have heard. The records include a wonderful new recording of violin music by Anne- Sophie Mutter with the Vienna Philharmonic and some tantalising excerpts from Stravinsky’s Firebird by the Chicago Symphony under Pierre Boulez. There are no sonic fireworks, but the sound is always natural and crystal-clear. In orchestral selections, every instrument remains clearly delineated, rather than blurring into a fuzzy melange of sound.
Instrumental timbre, that most elusive of recording goals, is especially noticeable. The rich, warm tones of Ms Mutter’s violin can send shivers up the spine. The 4D system is mainly the work of Klaus Hiemann, the director of DG’s recording centre in Hanover, and the technical chief Stefan Shibata, a talented recording engineer and one-time roadie for Elton John and Joe Cocker. It is Hiemann’s unshakeable belief that “the sole aim of recording technology is that it should become inaudible”. For some years he has been working with engineers at Yamaha toward that dream: designing equipment that would “eliminate the listener’s awareness of the technical medium, allowing the enjoyment of a completely natural sound quality”.
There are four new components in the 4D recording system that they have come up with: a new remote-controlled microphone preamplifier; an industry-leading 21-bit analog-to-digital converter; a device called a “stagebox” that sits on the recording stage among the musicians; and new digital mixing and mastering processes. We need not be too bothered about the technicalities here. Suffice to say that the stagebox, which holds the preamplifier and analog-to- digital converter, brings vital stages of the recording process as close as possible to the actual performance.
By shortening the long pathway that previously lay between microphone and studio, the 4D system eliminates major sources of noise distortion. A quick word for the techies, too, on 21-bit recording. Normal 16-bit digital recording tries to recreate the waveforms of music using 65,536 possible gradations, or little steps and stairs. With 21-bit recording, there are more than two million steps and stairs, making it possible to reproduce a much more accurate waveform. It is a tricky business: thanks to its work with Yamaha, DG claims to have the only 21-bit converters available at the moment. Klaus Hiemann’s goal is 24-bit recording, which will give almost 17 million fine gradations _ and hopefully something close to perfection in capturing a musical performance.
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DG’s 4D recordings can be identified by a little 4D logo on the front of the CD box. The Anne-Sophie Mutter recording is Carmen Fantasie (437 544-2). Apart from the 12-minute title track by Pablo de Sarasate, there are Ravel’s Tzigane, Massenet’s Meditation, a Faure Berceuse and de Sarasate’s ZigeunerWeisen. For Broadway musical enthusiasts, there is a new recording of Leonard Bernstein’s On The Town by a mainly operatic cast including Frederica von Stade; Michael Tilson conducts the London Symphony. The recording was made at London’s Barbican Centre with all the ambience of a live theatrical performance: an ideal application for 4D technology (DG 437 512-2).
Many more classical recordings are expected on 4D in coming months: it is not yet clear whether other companies will license the technology to bring the same new clarity to rock and jazz. SONY Australia has announced four new CD Discman compact disc players: three portables and one designed especially for use in the car. The D-822K Car Discman has a special dual-damper shock absorber system, which is claimed to eliminate the skipping of short passages when your car hits a bump. Sony says it can bear shocks as big as 1G _ enough to ensure that skipping is rare under normal driving conditions. The player is made from heat-resistant materials to withstand the high temperatures generated inside cars left parked in the sun.
The Car Discman comes with connectors to link up to car speakers and power through the car cigarette lighter outlet. There is a tiny palm- top remote control, which Sony says makes for safe operation and easy access while driving _ you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. The wireless remote has a velcro strip for attaching it to the steering wheel when not in use. The D-882K also has special digital processing circuits that can be used to add a thumpier bass if that is your fancy, or to enhance low- level sounds that may be difficult to hear normally in a moving car. The D-882K sells for a recommended $499. The new portable Sony Discpeople series includes the entry-level model D-121 at $319; the D-225R with credit card-sized remote control and Megabass punchy bass expansion at $399; and the D-321 with 15-hour battery life and electronic shock protection for use while jogging, at $699.
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