PS AUDIO: Grande Messe des morts

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Paul McGowan writes: I’ll continue with the story of the invention of an electronically scalable room but today wanted to tell you about something I’ve been listening to that has me running around the PS offices grabbing whomever I can to come and listen.  One of my readers wrote: “For a real sense of a massive musical force in a massive space, I would highly recommend a recent recording by Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra, Berlioz’s “Grande Messe des morts.” In fact, this was Sir Colin’s last recording before his death on April 14th of this year (the day after another giant, Adolf (Bud) Herseth passed away).”

I purchased the double SACD at this suggestion and it’s been sitting on my desk for over a week now as Music Room One has been unavailable.  The finish of the Helmholtz Resonators has been going on and I have been away for a week as well.  A few days ago we finished the resonator installation – we haven’t yet tuned them – but of course I am anxious to get back to the room so I cleaned everything up from the construction, closed the door and started to listen to a few familiar cuts to get my reference of the system back.  Immediately I can hear the resonators seem to be doing something to the bass – it’s not yet right but some of the frequency specific boominess is gone – hmmmm, maybe these will work?  Before the week’s out we’ll start tuning them and I’ll make sure and video record the process to share with you.

I spent perhaps half an hour listening and enjoying but had to exit the room because a recent lightning storm took out one of the office’s central air conditioning units – the one that provides cooling for Music Room One – and it was was roasting in there.  I came back a few minutes later determined to hear the new CD and I put on the recommended Dies Irae, 13:38 long featuring 4 separately placed choral groups, the London Symphony Orchestra, the addition of 16 tympani and several brass ensembles, all recorded in the massive St. Peter’s Cathedral.  Another of my readers suggested “fasten your seat belt” before playing this massive piece.  He wasn’t kidding.

Never in all my years of playing with stereos have I heard such music – the waves of singers and instruments, tympani’s gone wild – it was a truly remarkable experience one I would happily share with anyone coming to visit.  Here’s the thing: if you play this on a good setup, perhaps even the best of setups, I doubt you’d hear what I am hearing so massive is this work.  There are few, if any, loudspeakers system in the world that can handle such a work properly.  Why?  Because even the best drivers made would get compressed with these complex dynamics – the IRS works because there are so many drivers used that each of them is still loafing – even on something this massive.

Coupled with our new power amplifier, which has now been moved to the P10 chassis and has almost unlimited power and dynamic range, the sound from the mighty IRS washes over you in waves of uncompressed music – and you sit mesmerized wondering if it can continue to get louder, more massive and then it does.  It’s like grabbing onto a rocket and wondering just how fast it can go.  I must have looked like a Cheshire Cat as this massive work filled the room.

Here I did not experience what we’ve been writing about – listening as through a window – at least not when things get rollicking – and boy do they get going.  From Wikipedia: “In relation to the number of singers and strings, Berlioz indicates in the score that, ”The number [of performers] indicated is only relative. If space permits, the chorus may be doubled or tripled, and the orchestra be proportionally increased. But in the event of an exceptionally large chorus, say 700 to 800 voices, the entire chorus should only be used for the Dies Irae, the Tuba Mirum, and the Lacrymosa, the rest of the movements being restricted to 400 voices.”

The work premiered with over four hundred performers.”

I know few of you have such a system as I am lucky enough to enjoy, but if your setup accommodates large orchestral pieces well, I highly recommend this double disc.  I don’t even have an SACD player to listen to – no, I am but listening to the lowly 44.1 CD Red Book layer – and still, it is simply magnificent.

If you’re ever in the area …….

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Hi. I’m Michael Vronsky - the Commercial Manager here. If you’d like details of where to buy PS AUDIO equipment AT SPECIAL PRICES (but only for our members) then please contact me at commercial@hifianswers.com Thanks. Michael.

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  • Cartel

    I’ll take you up on that! The missus & I will attend RMAF next Oct. and Boulder is only a stone throw away.
    See you in Denver Paul. Make sure Berlioz is playing in the PS Audio room!