Hi-Res Downloads, November 2022

hfnalbumClare Farr
Loudmouthed Beauty (DXD 352.8kHz/24-bit, DSD64-512)
www.nativedsd.com; Lawo Classics LWC1242

Here's a highly unusual set, as is suggested by the subtitle 'Concert Pieces For Bass Trombone', and Clare Farr is a real evangelist for her instrument. And what a sound it makes: captured here at 352.8kHz/

24-bit, it delivers sensational sheer low-frequency energy and wonderful harmonics, while Farr's playing is superb, from sheer brassy punch to the finer nuances. The music is consistently intriguing, including both repertoire pieces for bass trombone and works commissioned by Farr, who says her intention was to 'showcase all the best sides of the bass trombone: robust yet fragile, colourful and flexible, juicy bass notes and beautiful melodies'. For that look no further than the concerto by Ernst Sachse, the interplay between solo instrument and organ, captured in exquisite detail by producer Vegard Landaas and balance engineer Thomas Wolden. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Both the native DXD and resampled DSD [black] renderings have an uncommonly wide dynamic range (peak-to-RMS of ~25dB). The trombone extends over a surprising ~25kHz while the organ's harmonics reach a little further. PM


Paul Berner & Michael Moore
The Gift (DXD 352.8kHz/24-bit, DSD64-512)
www.nativedsd.com; Sound Liaison SL1058A

Sound Liaison's recordings, made using a simple one-mic set-up and recorded live, have a wonderful immediacy. Here – as a companion piece to the duo's Amulet set, from the same session – are clarinettist Moore and Berner on double bass, all in Hilversum's MCO Studio 2, with Frans de Rond recording straight to DXD. The soundstage reveals the musicians' positions relative to the single microphone, and the balance seems entirely natural. The way the two feed off each other is entirely enchanting, the vivid sound of the two instruments creating real magic from the simplest of ingredients, from the opening 'The Sweetest Sound' right the way through to a beautifully paced and poignant 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. A beautifully uncomplicated recording, this could be an excellent way to find out just how well your system images. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Captured using a single Josephson Engineering C700S stereo mic in DXD (352.8kHz) with a Horus ADC – somewhat excessive for a clarinet! – the DSD conversions [DSD128, black] are typically 6dB lower in peak level. PM


Octave Records
Audiophile Masters Volume III (44.1-192kHz/24-bit, FLAC; DSD64)
www.psaudio.com/products; Octave Records 0013

For a relatively young label, PS Audio's Octave Records already has a strong catalogue of artists, an excellent diversity of musical styles and some stunning recordings, mostly captured using its own system at Animal Lane Studios in Lyons, Colorado. In fact, so extensive is its catalogue that it now offers a total of six Audiophile Masters compilations, any of which will give you an excellent idea of the musical and engineering quality on offer. This third volume spans the intimately-recorded voice and guitar of Monica Marie Labonte to the Tom Amend trio's jazz with its sonorous drums and bass, through a Poulenc duet, a blast of vivid bluegrass and even the ethereal sound of handpans courtesy of More Than Physics. Something for everyone? Just about, and a perfect way to treat your system to a great sound. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Peaks on the DSD file [black] are 1.5-3dB lower than via the LPCM files although the audioband dynamic range(s) are broadly equivalent. Naturally, above ~30kHz there's a swell of ultrasonic requantisation noise from DSD64. PM


Howard Shelley/Ulster Orch.
Schmitt: The Romantic Piano Concerto ~ 84 (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.hyperion-records.co.uk; Hyperion CDA68389

This latest volume in Hyperion's massive The Romantic Piano Concerto project rediscovers three works by composer, conductor and pianist Aloys Schmitt, active in the first half of the 19th century. The two piano concertos and 'Rondeau brillant' have been all but forgotten in recent times, and were perhaps none too fashionable even in his lifetime, Chopin writing in 1830 that Schmitt was 'over 40 and composes 80-year-old music'. But Shelley makes a strong case for these rich, intricate, complex works – in his hands they're fascinating and hugely entertaining. He's aided by another excellent Hyperion recording, creating a natural balance between the Steinway and the spirited playing of the Ulster Orchestra, all framed in the wide-open acoustic of Belfast's Waterfront Hall. No wonder this set was a classical bestseller this summer. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


This genuine 96kHz recording from Hyperion shows some slight spuriae around 40-45kHz but is otherwise clean. Dynamic range is very good and peak signals range from –0.5dBFs to –9dBFs (trks 1 and 2, respectively). PM


Järvi/Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich
John Adams (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.instagram.com/alpha_classics; Alpha ALPHA874

This glorious recording might be seen as a fine primer for newcomers to the 'political' compositions of Berkeley-based John Adams, presenting four works including the great three-movement 'My Father Knew Charles Ives'. How to categorise the Adams style? Well, there are elements of minimalism in there, but then again he's not averse to a great romantic sweep, meaning it's hard to put his varied works into any kind of convenient (musical) box. Yet his music is consistently fascinating, and never more so than in the hands of the Zurich orchestra under director Paavo Järvi, at times delicate and ethereal and then capable of driving, gutsy rhythms. It's all assisted by a fine recording on the band's home turf by producer Philip Traugott and lead engineer Jean-Marie Geijsen, who successfully bring out all the nuances of both scoring and performance. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


The wide dynamic range is well used as is the 96kHz sample rate (~48kHz bandwidth) by the sweeping strings and accompanying brass. The random appearance of a 20kHz drone [black] is unfortunate but likely inaudible. PM