Hi-Res Downloads, February 2022

hfnalbumGidon Nunes Vaz Quartet
Ebb Tide (DSD64-512; DXD)
www.nativedsd.com; Sound Liaison SL1050A

The second album for Sound Liaison by the quartet led by trumpeter/flugelhorn player Gidon Nunes Vaz follows on from 2020's Embrace Me, and features the very slick ensemble playing well-loved ballads, from Michel Legrand's 'The Summer Knows' to Rodgers & Hart's 'Bewitched'. Recorded by Sound Liaison's Frans de Rond using the as-live, 'straight to DXD' approach, captured with Josephson microphones, this set has a wonderful immediacy. As on the previous album, the ensemble is on fabulous form, Vaz being joined by Timothy Banchet on piano, bassist Cas Jiskoot and Yoràn Vroom on drums. Here they deliver an easy-going yet captivating sound, with every detail of the contribution of each performer easy to hear thanks to the highly informative mix. But best of all it sounds so real, making it a joy to listen to – just sink into the performances and relish every moment! AE

Sound Quality: 95%


Lab Report
Recorded in DXD format [peak, red; RMS, blue; DSD120, black] the brass and piano only occupy the first ~8kHz while the percussion feed(s) extend up to ~50kHz, possibly with some processing (~26kHz). Most tracks are capped at –0.5dBFs. PM


Patricia Barber
Clique! (DSD64-1024; DXD)
www.nativedsd.com; Impex Records IMP7002DXD

Patricia Barber may have been spoiled for many by overuse as hi-fi demo fodder, but this album, captured in the Chicago Recording Company's Studio 5, stands on its performances. Barber is in fine voice right from the opening 'This Town', which explodes from the speakers through sheer intimacy and presence, backed by her usual team of Patrick Mulcahy on bass and John Deitemeyer on drums. The trio has that confidence of familiarity through the likes of 'I Could Have Danced All Night' and 'The In Crowd', bringing new life and space to standards, even when they break out on the instrumental 'Mashup' or 'Straight No Chaser'. Guests, guitarist Neal Alger and Jim Gailloreto on sax, contribute to the gorgeousness, while the mix – by engineer and co-producer Jim Anderson at Skywalker Sound, with mastering by Bob Ludwig – ensures the sound ticks all the boxes! AE

Sound Quality: 95%


Lab Report
Captured using a Merging+Horus ADC in DXD (352.8kHz) there's sufficient 'slap' in the percussion to shoot harmonics and noise out across the >100kHz bandwidth. There's necessarily some extra ultrasonic noise with DSD128 [black]. PM


Jeff Tweedy
Live Is The King (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC/WAV)*
www.qobuz.com; dBpm Records, n/a cat.no

Wilco frontman and driving force Tweedy follows up his Love Is The King release of 2020 with this stripped-down live version, available as part of a deluxe edition of the original album or, as here, as a standalone hi-res release, which adds a cover of Neil Young's 'The Old Country Waltz'. Recorded in Wilco's own studio, The Loft, in Chicago, and that city's Constellation and The Hideout, Live Is The King is something of a family affair. The musicians include Tweedy's sons Sammy and Spencer, giving a more intimate version of the songs, with an appealing freshness and – well – roughness around the edges that gives the listener a real sense of sitting in on some private sessions, with a weighty, uncomplicated sound. And, though the Neil Young cover is clearly a labour of love, it stays true to the original with glorious harmonies and suitably twangsome steel guitar. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
The elevated noise suggests this was an analogue recording while, not wishing to undermine its musical value, this '96kHz' digital file is clearly a 48kHz upsample. All tracks are normalised to –1.3dBFs and there's some stopband distortion. PM


The Bridge (48kHz/24-bit, FLAC/WAV)
www.qobuz.com; A&M Records 3858707

With his 15th studio album, the former Policeman completes his lockdown project, examining the concept of bridges between people and events. Sounds rather highfalutin? Possibly – it's not like Sting doesn't have form here – but instead we get thoughtful lyrics, powerful vocal performances and more than a few nods to the past. The opener, 'Rushing Water', is a throwback to The Police's crafted power-pop, complete with punchy drums, chopping guitar mirroring the bass, and multitracked vocals, moving into a driving chorus. Similarly, 'For Her Love' is more than an echo of the classic 'Fragile' – not that there's anything wrong with that. There are folk and jazz influences in there, too, and the album closes with a fine cover of 'Dock Of The Bay'. The impressively tight and rich sound is created by musicians contributing remotely – you'd never guess! AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
With its final polish provided at Oasis Mastering, this 48kHz file is normalised to –0.2dBFs with a best case peak-to-RMS of 11dB [trk 10, 'The Bridge', see Graph]. A higher sample rate would have given the percussion more breathing room. PM


LSO/Marin Alsop
Bernstein: Candide (DSD64-512; DXD)
www.nativedsd.com, www.lsolive.com; LSO 0834

This live recording of the semi-staged 2018 Barbican performances of Bernstein's comic operetta after Voltaire is a cracker, from the cast to the sound – the performance sparkles thanks to a wonderfully airy and open presentation with fabulous weight and impact. With exemplary clarity for a live recording, the wit and cleverness of both dialogue and music are easy to follow – it's both playful and dramatic under the measured baton of Marin Alsop, who allows the performances to breathe right from the drama of the opening overture. Tenor Leonardo Capalbo's voice sounds rich and weighty, while soprano Jane Archibald is spine-tingling. The recording has glamour and style to match Bernstein's own 1956 version, but benefits from superb sound, with just the right combination of finesse, exuberance, and sheer class. It's a delight from start to finish. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded and presented here in DSD128 (with DSD64 to 512 down/upsamples offered) the dynamic range is impressive but peak levels are about 6dB lower than with the DXD conversion [green]. Some slight spuriae at ~19.6kHz [black]. PM