Brahms: Symphonies 1-4 - Karajan

Brahms: Symphonies 1-4 - Karajan

Universal (Japan)  UCGG-9107 (2 discs)

Stereo Single Layer

Classical - Orchestral

Brahms: 4 Symphonies, Haydn Variations, Tragic Overture

Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan (conductor)

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3 of 3 recommend this, would you recommend it?  yes | no

Analogue recording

Philharmonie, Berlin, 1978: Symphonies, Tragic Overture
Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, 1964: Haydn Variations
Comments (10)

Comment by Don_Angelo - January 31, 2018 (1 of 10)

This release is based on a new master produced on September 2017 by Emil Berliner Studio using:
- recordings from 1978 for the four symphonies and Tragic Ouverture.
- recording from 1964 for Haydn Variations
Both discs contain a stereo layer only.

Comment by hiredfox - February 2, 2018 (2 of 10)

Universal single layer SACD have almost unfailingly excellent sound quality and in some respects deliver more convincing and satisfying instrumental colours and textures than straight DSD recordings. I don't know why but from my experience Universal have not produced a questionable one yet so hats off to them. On the downside these re-masters are not cheap and could never be described as a bargain.

Potential purchasers need have no fear, if you know these recordings from the vinyl days and liked them then these re-treads will not disappoint; you can buy with confidence. £50 plus import tariffs and taxes will deny many the pleasure, sadly.

Comment by Marcos Abraxas - February 7, 2018 (3 of 10)

Since Karajan seems to be the more graciously favored by SHM SACD, I'd like know why NONE of his digital recordings were and are released (can you imagine his Parsifal either on BD A or on SHM SACD?).
Sorry bringing this up, but for me this issue is almost a irritating one.
Best regards

Comment by hiredfox - February 8, 2018 (4 of 10)

PCM recording uses a sampling technique in which much of the original information in music is irretrievably lost. At whatever rate the sampling was made pre-determined the highest level of resolution possible from that recording while the original bit depth pre-determined the accuracy of recordings. There is no point in re-mastering at higher resolution subsequently.

If the Berlin recordings were made (say) at the RB sampling rate of 44.1 and 16 bit depth it wouldn't matter one jot if they were re-mastered even at DXD or DSD standards, any differences in SQ would be artefacts caused within the processing itself not by the sudden revelation of new information. Lost information cannot be magically retrieved. The chances are that many original Berlin Digital recordings on vinyl were at lower sampling and bit depth rates than RB even!

Analogue recordings on master tapes within the constraints of the recording equipment used at the time were reasonably accurate records of original musical performances. Hence re-mastering in DSD which is a quasi analogue recording technique is the best way in our digital world of recreating those original analogue waveforms and of course they can be cleaned up to eliminate all those annoying artefacts that plagued the lives of vinyl listeners.

Comment by Marcos Abraxas - February 8, 2018 (5 of 10)

Thanks a lot for so knowledgeable and caring explanation.
And what about DG's "original image bit processing" made some 20 plus years ago on some Karajan recordings, but not made on any of his digital opera recordings (by the way, Karajan's Parsifal is going to be released on hide next March)?

Comment by hiredfox - February 8, 2018 (6 of 10)

DG's "original image bit mastering" was also a PCM process, using recordings made at slightly higher bit rates than CD - probably 20 or possibly 24 bit - digitally re-processed (DSP) down to 16 bit for use on CD. It is possible that re-mastering the original digital recording tapes in DSD could produce slight gains in SQ compared to CD but this would still be much inferior to using original analogue tapes. A judgement would need to be made by the re-mastering studio whether any small gains in SQ would be worthwhile as a commercial proposition.

Generally speaking SACD collectors - and there are very few of us - are looking for transformative increases in SQ over the old RB recordings.

Other contributors may see things differently.

Comment by Marcos Abraxas - February 9, 2018 (7 of 10)

Thanks again.
So, these early digital recordings could be improved if released on BD A...interesting.

Comment by Gilbert Burnett - February 11, 2018 (8 of 10)

DG seem to be adding more box sets including BD-A discs. It is essential to understand the origins of the recordings included to avoid disappointment in the resulting SQ. The information in the sales notes is still not clear enough in my view. They need to be honest and state the original bit rate if from a digital source. I think the only 'rule of thumb' would be that original analogue converted to hires DSD is usually going to be better than converting to PCM (though of course DSD will not be found on a BD-A disc). CD redbook originals ie 'early digital' will never be any better than CD and in some instances can be worse if the source was sampled at less than 16 bit. The end format - BD-A or SACD or even downloaded files is not relevant if the original source is not analogue or is at low resolution digital.

Comment by William Hecht - February 13, 2018 (9 of 10)

It's worth a mention that HvK's recordings from this era ("all else is as gaslight") reflect the early phase of his increasing determination to exercise complete control of everything and everyone involved in the process. If not remixed as well as remastered buyers will just be getting a grossly multi miked, totally artificial view of the performances. Perhaps a new mix might ameliorate the fundamental artificiality of the presentation but whether the remastering for blu-Ray produces any other sonic benefit depends, as already stated here, upon the source. I've bought a couple of these cd/ blu-Ray sets and have not been impressed. At least I can play the CDs in my car.

Comment by William Hecht - February 14, 2018 (10 of 10)

I appreciate the kindness of my fellow contributors in not pointing out my significant senior moment. I got so wrapped up in the discussion of blu-ray possibilities that I forgot the thread was about a Universal sacd reissue. Oops!