“High-resolution music can be striking but HD surround done properly has the power to amaze” – Gramophone, Feb 2013
“As previously reported here, the 2L set, released in two stages last year, was recorded on location in a Norwegian church in surround sound, with the musicians arranged around the microphone array. In other words, this is a true surround recording, one in which the performance surrounds the listener, not one of those exercise in adding a bit of concert-hall or opera-house ambience with the odd echo or cough somewhere behind your sofa. Such surround can give the feeling of being in the audience but for the most part the live musical experience is laid before us, whether on concert platform or opera-house stage.
We’ve had recordings putting the music around us before: the dawn of the DVD-Audio/Super Audio CD age saw all kinds of rock and pop discs being frantically remixed to pan the bass guitar round to the left or make a cymbal suddenly sizzle behind us. But we’ve moved on, and now the ability of a well-made recording – such as those coming out of Norway at the moment – to place us in the heart of the performance shows just what can be done with surround sound.
That’s brought a new use for Blu-ray player and the multichannel audio system, beyond Hollywood blockbusters and concert or opera discs. For some tme, audio industry commentators have hankered after audio-only format based on Blu-ray. It’s here, and it’s Blu-ray itself, needing no new equipment to enjoy these new recordings. Blu-ray is a universal carrier of music formats in the hands of the 2L team, lead by company founder Morten Lindberg. Not only do Blu-ray packages carry the surround sound formats but they also allow downloads, using a network-connected Blu-ray player, of the MP3 and high-resolution FLAC stereo versions of the music.
So what’s on the Pure Audio Blu-ray is LPCM stereo at 192kHz/24-bit, 5.1-channel 192kHz/24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio, 7.1-channel 192kHz/24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio and – amazingly – 9.1-channel Auro-3D 96kHz/24-bit. This last, which adds discreet height channels to the conventional surround configuration, is only just becoming available on a few Hollywood film Blu-rays, so again “the little Norwegian label that could” is keeping itself ahead of the game.
And it can continue to do so, given that its recordings are made in 352.8kHz/24-bit DXD, making it possible for even higher-resolution versions to be released when the hardware has had some time to catch up. All of which makes the TrondheimSolistene SOUVENIR set, at around £27 delivered from www.2L.no, something of a bargain for those adventurous listeners keen to hear what surround sound can really do for music.”
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