Hi-Res Downloads, April 2022

hfnalbumAlexander Scriabin/Andrey Gugnin
Mazurkas (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.hyperion-records.co.uk; Hyperion CDA68355

Recorded in the church of St Silas the Martyr in London's Kentish Town, an expansive Edwardian space, this is a glorious set of Scriabin's Mazurkas. It ranges in feel from the playful to the dramatic, interpreted with passion by Russian pianist Gugnin on what is clearly a fine-sounding Steinway. Not only is there a wide spectrum of light, shade and tonal colour in the playing, but the recording strikes just the right balance between intimacy in the more delicate passages and giving the instrument space to expand into the rich acoustic when required. It's a wide-open, dramatic sound, with a wonderful freedom that's not only demonstration-quality throughout, but also a captivating listen. It impresses on first acquaintance, rewarding repeated plays as one becomes more familiar with the music, all the better to appreciate the layered nuances of both performance and recording. AE

Sound Quality: 95%


Lab Report
The ~46kHz bandwidth available to this very clean 96kHz recording is more than sufficient to capture the harmonic scope of the Steinway piano, as is the wide dynamic range. Most trks peak ~–5dBFs, with only trk16 exceeding –1dBFs. PM


Clandestine Amigo
Things Worth Remembering (DSD64; 44.1-192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)

www.psaudio.com/products; Octave Records 0010

Clandestine Amigo is singer/songwriter/pianist Jessica Carson, and this is her second release for PS Audio's Octave label, after Temporary Circumstances. Recorded at Animal Lane Studio in Lyons, Colorado, this DSD file was mixed and mastered simultaneously. Adding vocalist Katie Mintle to the ensemble brings depth to the intimate sound, as does the appearance of some Octave stalwarts alongside Carson's core crew of singer Giselle Collazo, drummer Michael Wooten and guitarist Kyle Donovan. The sound, captured using audiophile-modified mics and preamps, is both warm and rich, with a vitality and immediacy that really grabs the attention – despite the fact that, beyond the core band playing live, other contributions were overdubbed. Carson's songs are strong, and this album is a delight. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Captured in DSD and mixed on a 32-trk Studer, the 192kHz conversion [black] peaks ~2dB higher but never exceeds –1dBFs. DSD64 arguably limits the high cymbals, and note the spuriae at 18kHz [green] linked to the vocal feed. PM


Dzsindzsa Band
No Shube Doobie Please! (DSD64-512)
www.nativedsd.com; Hunnia Records HRES2203

This is another of those fascinating recordings coming to us in DSD from Hungary's Hunnia Records, the band here featuring multi-instrumentalist Mateusz Rybicki on clarinet and tenor sax in addition to its usual drums, sax and bass lineup. Recorded as live at SuperSize studios straight to DSD256, it lives up to its provocative title with a complete lack of 'easy jazz' posturing. Instead, it's raw, punchy and just a little bit rough and murky, combining elements of jazz, folk and funk, but maintaining that sense of musicians improvising with no filter, just seeing where the music takes them. If the whole concept of 'audiophile jazz' turns you off, give this one a try: it's both immediate and invigorating, with some magnificent playing and truly demonstration-quality sound, celebrating real instruments played by very real musicians. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded in DSD256, this studio session is available in upsampled (DSD512) and downsampled guises. The latter, DSD128, has sufficient bandwidth [red/blue] to accommodate the sax and percussion, but the DSD64 file [black] does not. PM


Petra Magoni & Ilaria Fantin
All Of Us (DSD64)
www.nativedsd.com; Fonè SACD215

There are all kinds of oddities out there in DSD-land, some more successful than others, and this one is a prime example: a duo comprising singer Magoni and Fantin on lute – an archlute, actually, which is a tenor instrument with a theorbo-like long neck – and you don't get much more unusual than that, do you? Well, yes: here the two cover artists as diverse as Sinéad O'Connor and Deep Purple, Joni Mitchell and The Rolling Stones, with tracks including 'Sympathy For The Devil', 'Both Sides Now' and 'Smoke On The Water', produced by Italian label Foné's Giulio Cesare Ricci. At turns beautiful, for example on the Sinéad O'Connor cover, and bonkers – 'Sympathy...' has lost the melody completely and 'Smoke...' is strangely clipped in its phrasing – this is a set both odd and strangely fascinating, but helped by excellent sound quality throughout! AE

Sound Quality: 80%


Lab Report
Although the Native website describes the 'original recording format' as DSD64, the sleeve notes suggest it's a two-track analogue recording made on a tube-modified Ampex. Before conversion to DSD64 it also spent time at 44.1kHz! PM


Blue Violet
Late Night Calls (44.1kHz/16-bit, WAV)
www.blueviolet.com; Me&My Records n/a cat no.

There's something very nostalgic about this set by Blue Violet, who are Sarah Gotley on vocals and Sam Gotley on assorted guitars, synths and backing vocals. Formerly known as Broken Bones Matilda, the two have been making music together for just on a year, and explain the name of the band as portraying '[the] emotion of our music. Both melancholic and vibrant/uplifting'. With producer Rob Ellis, known for his work with the likes of PJ Harvey and Bat For Lashes, the group also features Rod Brakes on bass (Ellis on drums), and deals with familiar themes of love and loss. They showcase Sarah Gotley's sweet, often plaintive voice – as on 'Suffer' or the unsettling 'Poster Girl' – but there's some over-production in the slightly 'crushed' sound. There's the spirit of something good here, but one can't help thinking a more stripped-down mix would serve it better! AE

Sound Quality: 75%


Lab Report
Recorded almost entirely at Middle Farm Studios in Devon, this file's bandwidth is necessarily limited by the CD sample rate. Most tracks are normalised to a high –0.3dBFs and peak-to-RMS range is restricted to ~8dB on many tracks. PM