DAN SHANEFIELD: Clarity Versus Fidelity

In the December 1997 Stereo Review Corey Greenberg reviewed a new DVD recording of the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture [Delos DV 7001] and heaped praise on the sound quality. At the recent Audio Engineering Society meeting in New York City, this recording seemed to be all the buzz, and several knowledgeable people whom I bumped into there told me it is among the most realistic ever made. The DVD recording session was engineered by John Eargle, who evidently had obtained a sort of sharpness of sound without any harshness.

I discovered that this recording is obtainable for non-DVD folks as a regular CD, Delos D/CD-3081 (sometimes called DE-3081 on record store computers). When played on my home system, there was no doubt that this CD is something unusual. I especially noted the exceptionally clear strings, where it sounds like a lot of individual instruments rather than the single mushy blend that comes out of most orchestral recordings. On an oscilloscope, with the left channel going to the vertical input and the right channel to the horizontal, the display showed a bunch of narrow spikes at various angles, instead of the amorphous mush visible with many other recordings when scrutinized in this manner. In contrast, on a spectrum analyzer, it did not at all appear as though this recording had any more treble than other, less clear-sounding orchestral CDs.

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