Yikes!

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Yikes!

As you may have noticed, the Berlin Philharmonic now issues recordings on its own label. Unlike other major orchestras (think of the LSO), the BPO has opted for a high-price/"deluxe-quality" strategy. Instead of a mere CD in a plastic case, you get blue-ray DVD extras, "master" recordings, suede-covered coffee-table booklets etc.......To give an example of the pricing: the 9 Beethoven symphonies conducted by Rattle are offered for 69 euros.

 

I am not absolutely convinced that this is a strategy which can yield very much profit, but that may not be the point. The BPO may well have told themselves that, since the market is already saturated with cheap high-quality recordings, they had nothing to gain by doing the same. Instead of generating revenue, the point may well be to reinforce the prestige and dazzle of the brand. Even if no-one actually buys these products, there may be a pay-off further down the line in terms of brand image, ticket sales and so on. Possibly, the whole thing simply makes the orchestral members feel good about themselves. Possibly, they are the ones who actually buy them.

 

Now, however, they have gone one step further: the BPO have just announced that they are issuing a limited set of Brahms symphony recordings under Simon Rattle on vinyl. Now just any old vinyl recording, however, but a special kind resulting from an "end-to-end" analogue process which was used to capture a live recording in 2014.........Each one numbered, with hand-signed certificates from the recording engineer, a presentation box with accompanying booklet etc

 

Can you guess how much? Four Brahms symphonies on vinyl, plus all the extra "goodies"?

 

499 Euros 

 

Anyone interested?

not for me

Vinyl is not for me. I have argued often enough that it is an inferior format. The sad thing is, of course, that there is whole crowd of people with more money than scientific knowledge who have allowed themselves to be persuaded that only vinyl is the real thing. I guess the BPO management decided that they should be helped out of their spare cash. If I were their artistic director, I would not be so amused, however. It is precisely the typical BPO repertoire that cannot be reproduced on vinyl without a lot of dynamic compression. Of course that raises the volume of the softer passages, giving the illusion of detail, but at the expense of dynamics. It is the same compression that is used to make recordings palatable on fm radio with its limited dynamic range, or in the car.

Willem

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

janeeliotgardiner wrote:

499 Euros

 

So a luxury item for people who buy, not expensive, but luxurious items, for the sake of its symbolic, class-marking value

 

willem wrote:

 It is precisely the typical BPO repertoire that cannot be reproduced on vinyl without a lot of dynamic compression. Of course that raises the volume of the softer passages, giving the illusion of detail, but at the expense of dynamics

 

I have learnt lots from you in these forums willem, but I cannot help thinking that you overvalue "dynamic fidelity", and are wrong in making it an exclusively scientific matter. Since we agree that in an "average listening room" it is not possible, nor convenient, to reproduce the whole dynamic range of a symphonic concert at the hall, then it follows that some kind of dynamic compression is not only unavoidable, but maybe desirable too.

The illusion of detail is not such an illusion: if, due to dynamic compression, I can hear that oboe solo quite clearly, then I am actually getting more detail.

In giving "recording and reproduction fidelity" an absolute value you make it into a moral prejudice, forgetting the purely instrumental value of the technology involved. But this technology serves a purpose, which is to facilitate an esthetic experience. The problem is that, given certain equipment within certain confined space, there is not saying that dynamic fidelity will provide the best esthetic experience. In short, science can prove that that wonderful cd sounds more accurate to the original source than the vinyl, but cannot prove nor foresee that I will enjoy it better in my bedroom

Hi Camaron,

Hi Camaron,

I hope you are doing well. It is indeed true that it would be an illusion to think that the whole dynamic range can be reproduced in the domestic context. Even so, even in a medium sized room more is possible than can be reproduced by a vinyl recording (not to mention lower distortion and flatter frequency response). And I would be surprised if many buyers of such exotically priced vinyl recordings live in small apartments. Admittedly that could be true in the fancy part of Paris where I am living temporarily (fortunately not at my expense) and where you don't get much change from a million for even a small apartment, but almost anywhere else fancy vinyl playback gear and the purchase of such overpriced luxury editions do come with a fair amount of domestic space, I guess.

Dynamic range compression of digital material is possible in software. VLC and Audacity can do it, and I am sure many other programs can do too. See here, for example: https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/chriss-dynamic-compressor-plugin-for-au...

Willem

Thanks Wilen, hope you are

Thanks Willen, hope you are well too.

Don't you think though, that it could be that the maximum dynamic range inside a particular room will not necessarily provide the best esthetic experience?

 

I’m not arguing in favour of vinyl, cheap or expensive, but against the idea that greater accuracy (scientifically proven) is necessarily better.

On the other hand what you suggest is useful to know, but I think that most people, from a practical point of view, won’t want to tweak software every time they play some music, even assuming that they know how to do it.

To finish with it, I think you are giving too much credit to whoever buys those vinyls, if you think they’ll do it for the sake of buying the best sound-quality that money can buy!

I thought you were the one

I thought you were the one trying to come up with some rational explanation... Anyway, I do indeed think they do it to distinguish themselves socially, if only to themselves.

As for the whole point of the exercise, I do indeed think that the most accurate reproduction possible is desirable. I do not think we should take the role of interpreters or even composers.

Willem

The BPO label.

The BPO label is doing a great job in building a sort of brand name to promote excellent products that are a sort of novelty in a business, where, so far at least, we have experienced only excellence in the sound/enginering field. Their products are worthy every penny for what it is offered, if, of course, one deem it necessery to have such a product.

Besides, for a first class product as the Bethoven Symphonies with Rattle for 69 Euros, even if you consider what you pay for each disc, it is 17,50 Euros per disc. If you wish to order a single disc from the Finnish label Alba, you'll be asked to pay 22,90, while here in far East, prices for middle of the road items range easily around $20.

As for who buys these recordings, only in Germany, there is a fine clientele loving and supporting BPO in any possible activity they are involved. However, these recordings are not made for profits per se, as correctly pointed by you, but for enhancing the name of excellence and building an exclusive brand name in the recording industry.

Finally, for the exorbitant vinyl Brahms set, I can assure you that there are these specific customers, who have already spent a fortune building the necessary equipment needed to enjoy this sort of vinyl records (you may consider that, just for the cartridge or the tonearm of their turntable, they might have paid much more than the exotic cost of this Brahms set).

Parla

Willem wrote:

Willem wrote:

I do indeed think that the most accurate reproduction possible is desirable. I do not think we should take the role of interpreters or even composers.

 

Which is fine (and arguable too), but a scientific statement is not, nor can be. That’s all I wanted to point out.

 

Back to the music now...

There are those who will pay

There are those who will pay such daft prices, for the reasons already alluded to. The same ones who will pay for a turntable I saw recently at an outlet near me. This turntable looked great and was in pride of place. The owner of the retail outlet ( I could not in all honesty call it a shop,!), told me the price of this turntable. It was- £132,000.00 That's right. Can you imagine paying that for snap crackle and pops! So, what's 499 euros.?

Everybody is free to waste

Everybody is free to waste their money and provide income and employment to others. My loyalty is to the rest of the world, who want the most bang for their buck to get music reproduced in their homes that comes as close as possible to what was recorded.

The good news is that technology has improved enormously over the last few decades. Excellence is still expensive, and perfection elusive, but even modest budgets give you far better sound than a few decades ago. The digital revolution in source material is an important party of that story.

Willem

Willem wrote:

Willem wrote:

Everybody is free to waste their money and provide income and employment to others. 

 

Oh, I totally agree. In fact, I,d love to hear that turntable together with commensurate amp and speakers in a domestic environment. No doubt it would sound very good.

(and whoever owned it wouldn't be able to say otherwise, really, would he?-lol )

And your view that sound now readily available is as good as the esoteric of a few decades ago is agreed as well. It is fortunate for me that it is. As I have already said, my listening is now via headphone only, and the quality of them , together with the digital players reproducing ripped CDs etc , can give me top listening, I think.

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