31 December 2011

Hans Zimmer & Co’s DAW methods are far from ‘elementary’

I ’ve continued exploring the Hans Zimmer ‘Sherlock Holmes’ soundtrack described in the previous post. There are a variety of spatial effects—things that add considerable dramatic excitement to the score—that can be “deduced” from exploring the recorded cues with tools like Cubase® or Nuance®. Some deductions are, at best, “educated guesses” based on inspection of the digitized waveforms.

F or example, you can get instruments to sound like they are coming from outside the stereo image by inverting the relative phase angle of a channel. Start with a single channel (say, an explosion in this Sherlock Holmes film). Pan it hard-left. Duplicate the channel, and pan it hard-right. Then invert the phase angle (180 degrees). Now start with the volume on the duplicate at zero, and bring up the level on the duplicate/phase-inverted channel. You now hear the explosion on the left move out wider than it was when panned hard left. Sounds like a paradoxically larger space than what appeared to your eyes.

AES surround standards
A dmittedly, some of these “film” spatial sonic effects might only be implemented in live chamber music performance by the likes of Maya Beizer or Tod Machover, or other devoted electroacoustic artists. But the prospect of producing (and hearing) live ‘augmented reality’ through DAW processing and sound reinforcement becomes more appealing/exciting the more we understand how it works, even for artists who are today squarely in the analog/acoustic world.

Vier, p. 297

24 December 2011

Hans Zimmer & Co. save Holmes, entropically

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I   t’s the furiously melodic likes of Gladiator, The Lion King, Inception, Batman Begins, Dark Knight Rises, Pirates of the Caribbean, Kung Fu Panda, and Sherlock Holmes that’s elevated film music to a thing of rocking beauty, as Zimmer and his team have employed every oddball instrument and influence from Gustav Holst, Lebo M. and the sound of bat wings into percussively thematic adrenalin.”
  —  Daniel Schweiger, 2011.
I f you ask me, Zimmer’s score rescues Sherlock Holmes (and Guy Ritchie et al.) in the new ‘A Game of Shadows’ film.

Z immer and his composer-orchestrator colleagues at Remote Control Productions created a beautiful and varied score that augments the color and vista of the film, lending atmosphere, scope, and interest to what otherwise could seem predictable. Never gets in the way of what the script and imagery are doing, but never merely reinforces or sonically reiterates what’s been said or shown.

B ut more than this, I am really thrilled with the tempi and the rhythmic architecture of this score. I got the soundtrack and listened to it several times, measured the tempi bar-by-bar in each of the cues, and created a spreadsheet of the values (see jpeg above). I also put an EKG on myself and digitized my heartrate during each listening. Not only did my heartrate adapt to each of the tempo changes, but the heart rate variability (HRV, using the simple RMSSD metric) also synced with Zimmer’s music. Empirically, I suspect that that “N-of-1” experiment is indicative of why this music “works”—physiologic response “pulls” cognition, rather than the other way around.

S ee the book by Bacci and Melcher (link below) for more on phase-locking and rhythmic ‘entrainment’ of breathing, heartbeat, and other physiologic rhythms, syncing with music.

S ince I’d captured the tempo timeseries, I decided to do some other calculations on it, too. I used the open-source R system’s package ‘entropy’ (link below) to calculate the Miller-Madow, James-Stein, Tsallis, Chao-Shen, and Shannon/Jeffreys entropy values. The entropy of the timeseries of tempi for these 18 cues is H = 2.72... pretty high... indicating a substantial amount of variability/unpredictability/interestingness. If you do entropy calcs for “bad” or ineffective film scores (as I happened to do several times last summer), you get much lower values, H between about 1.10 and 1.90.

M   ost film schools don't even mention music, much less compare examples of good and bad scoring.”
  —  Richard Bellis, 2006, p. 8.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsT he cues’ titles (track-names) collect words and phrases from the screenplay that are cadential—perfect rhythmic-harmonic demarcations of the narrative arc and plotting. It’s clear that Zimmer applied an admirable amount of objectivity in the spotting session, to inject material that adds considerable depth to the character or the story without the material asserting itself as a vehicle for his own ego.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsT he score (Die Forelle; The Red Book; Moral Insanity) makes Robert Downey Jr’s Holmes more alert and angry when he is facing Jared Harris’ Moriarty. The score (He’s All ‘Me! Me! Me!’) makes Jude Law’s Dr. Watson all the more hapless as he gets unwillingly caught up in the plot.
T   he producers and Guy [Ritchie, the director] and Jude [Law, co-star] and I got together and tried to have it feel like an extension of what we think brotherhood is—the bickering and miscommunications are part of something that aspires to something higher.”
  —  Robert Downey Jr., Scotland BigIssues Magazine 05-DEC-2011.
A    Game of Shadows’ stands as a valentine to the public-school buccaneer. It provides Ritchie with a licence to run wild with Gypsies, trade punches with cossacks, or just generally arse about in expensive hotels. It gives us anarchy as panto and global espionage in the guise of a homoerotic stag weekend.”
  —  Xan Brooks, The Guardian.
I n other words, Zimmer’s score truly ‘services’ the film’s narrative, neither over-writing nor under-writing. Naturally, given the big-action subject matter in this film, there are lots of huge orchestral cues. But there are more than half of the cues that are intimate, chamber-like pieces.

M   any think that what we do is ‘Art’. I disagree. Music is an art form. Film music is a craft with its roots in art. Art is a form of self-expression, and the last thing a director wants is some composer coming in and expressing him/herself all over the director’s film.”
  —  Richard Bellis, 2006, p. 69.
F olk idioms in the Romani melodies (doina repeated-note gesture of lament), pentatonicism, Phrygian scale with the second and third scale degrees raised when ascending, and fraigish harmonic minor, flying-staccato, alla zingarese poco a poco accelerandos “hallgató/lassú-közép gyors-friss" (e.g., Kesergö or or verbunkos or csárdás style in ‘It’s So Overt, It’s Covert’; ‘Romanian Wind’) to breakneck speeds, acrobatic violin with pitches bending and glissing, and the tone growling and crying ... great colla parte tempo-leading.

T he Hungarian hallgató of the ‘Did You Kill My Wife?’ brass band is superb.

G ee, this soundtrack is an admirable thing! The tremolos begin slowly, and the accelerandi melt into the flourishes so that they sound like one gesture—far bigger ones than you imagined when they began. The playing and conducting are excellent throughout. Precisely nailing the tempo variations, yet sounding totally organic while remaining faithful to meter. Very, very nice!

15 December 2011

Making an Ergonomic Holder for eReader Tablets for Piano

Silent Steppe Cantata
M y wife gave me a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet for my birthday. I use it for lots of things, but one of its best purposes is as a music reader on our piano.

A irTurn’s Bluetooth-based BT-105 is out--it has many nice, new features.

F or the BT-105, I've used an inexpensive Levenger Dovetail bookstand as a cradle, accessorized with a bit of Sugru® silicone to keep the tablet or the cradle from moving around with the vibration from vigorous playing/pedaling. I use that mostly with our MIDI keyboard.

B ut I still like and use my original AT-104 with its proprietary RF communication between the pedal transmitter and the USB dongle receiver. For one thing, there are no long-range Bluetooth interference/security issues with the AT-104.

T he 1280x800 pixel resolution of the 10.1-inch Widescreen HD WXGA TFT on the Galaxy is noticeably better than the 1024x768 resolution of the iPad 2’s 9.7-inch screen. (The screen on the Samsung tab has a 16:9 aspect ratio, compared to 4:3 on the iPad 2. In the landscape orientation, which is how I position the tablet on the piano music stand, the Galaxy display is only 4% more pixels vertically, but it’s got 25% more res than the iPad 2 horizontally.)

S o if I’m going to stick with my AT-104 AirTurn, then I need to get the USB receiver dongle attached to the Galaxy Tab, and the USB port is at middle of the bottom edge of the tablet. (I could rotate the Tab 180-degrees to be upside-down, so the USB port is on top. But then I’d have an unsightly dongle or pigtail cable coming out up there.)

T he Samsung USB adapter dongle is okay, but it sticks out 3cm beyond the edge of the tablet, and a male USB connector terminating a typical cable-end sticks out 5cm beyond that. You need some way to elevate the tablet about 10cm for the short male-to-female USB passthru/extender cable to the AirTurn Dongle to connect to the Samsung USB dongle.

E levating the tablet that much is actually an improvement in terms of good visual ergonomics. But you need to keep the tablet secure and level in that position.

A nd there’s another issue—which is the same as the issue that's affected the usability of laptop-based music eReaders for pianists: the front-to-back depth. It may be too deep for some piano music stands. And it’s definitely too deep for harpsichord or organ music stands. Or the rail on the music stand that is fine for 60 gm of paper sheetmusic is too wimpy for a shiny, slippery tablet that weighs 600 gm. There is a significant risk that the tablet will shimmy its way to a bad fall.

A  further issue for me, at least, is the visually small form-factor of the tablet--specifically, the fact that the active display area of the 10.1-inch screen comes so close to the edge of the device—makes me want to have slightly wider “margins” framing the visual field that I’m looking at. With the tablet on the Dovetail bookstand, the “near-far” field at the left-hand and right-hand edge of the displayed music interferes with my eyes’ focus. Maybe that is not an issue for you, but it is for me.

S o I cut a 12x14-inch piece of black 3/16-inch Delrin acetal, put some 1/2-inch Delrin brackets on it with Sugru® to cushion them (see photo). You slide the tablet into the lower brackets and press the top edge in past the pan-head “crowns” of the 3 Sugru® bumpers--each one is about 1 mL of Sugru® that is molded to stand proud of the 5/16-inch hole by about 0.03-inch. The Sugru® is just the right Shore-A/durometer hardness to “give” just a little as the tablet edge moves inward and seats flat against the acetal sheet. The mechanical “detent” of the Sugru® is just enough to hold the tablet securely in place but still allow the tablet to be easily plucked out again with gentle finger force.

Silent Steppe CantataSilent Steppe Cantata
M y kluged black acetal stand leaves a nice visual margin all around, similar to the whitespace from the staves to the edges of normal sheetmusic paper, in the same focal plane as the image on the tablet. It makes it easier to read the Tab’s display, and it’s compatible with any piano, organ, harpsichord, etc., including ones that have only a tiny, narrow rail/groove for music to stand up in.

H ugh Sung’s Airturn site has plenty of nice stands and brackets to hold tablets and laptops on various types of mic stands or other uprights. Those are great for string players, wind instruments, singers, and other kinds of musicians. But if you’re a pianist and you’ve done ‘home-brew’ things yourself, to enhance the mounting of your tablet on your piano's music stand, please leave a comment below or email me!

10 December 2011

Silent Steppe Cantata: Serendipitous transport, to places of unexpected illumination & healing

Silent Steppe Cantata

M   usic can—and often does—transport us to places that no other artform can.”
  —  Anne LeBaron.
T   his international project presents fresh ideas by opening new and often unexpected horizons of creativity. The serious nature and deep content and design of the cantata aroused genuine interest from the public. The Cantata is one of the most important international events of contemporary classical music in Central Asia.”
  —  Aigul Beisenova, Business Kazakhstan.
T here are artistic projects that heal and redeem and enlighten. And then, to our even greater delight, there are those that achieve this across vast cultural and political chasms, auguring well for world peace.

A nne LeBaron’s Silent Steppe Cantata receives its world première today (10-DEC-2011) at the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation in Astana, Kazakhstan.

T he Silent Steppe Cantata Project is an artistic consortium, consisting of composer Anne LeBaron with her co-producer, tenor Timur Bekbosunov, plus filmmaker, Sandra Powers. The multi-media cantata is a sonic and visual portrait of Kazakhstan. Together with Bekbosunov, the Sary-Arka Folk Instrument Orchestra and the Chamber Choir of the Astana Philharmonic Society will perform the official premiere.

Silent Steppe Cantata
T he libretto incorporates Kazakh stories and mythology, and draws upon poems of Russian and Kazakh writers, including the poet Olzhas Suleimenov. Suleimenov has authored more than 16 volumes of poetry and prose, and his 1975 novel Az-i-Ia received both wide recognition in Kazakhstan and abroad, plus censure by Soviet authorities.

Silent Steppe Cantata
T he Palace of Peace and Reconciliation is a 77m high pyramid-shaped facility designed by Foster+Partners Architects and built by Sembol Construction at a cost of 8.74B Kazakh tenge (about USD$58M). Among other things, it houses a 1,500-seat concert/opera hall. It opened in late 2006. What a fitting venue for today’s première!

L istening to excerpts online, I am intrigued by the exposition of Kazakh ethnogenesis that the cantata and film portray. Without being revisionistic or grinding any particular philosophical “axes,” the cantata (the music, and the historical and contemporary texts comprising the libretto) reveals the inherently slippery, shifting imagination of Kazakh ethnic origins. It is their shifting, not a Western shifting; it is an indigenous acceptance of transitoriness/ephemerality that may derive from the primordial “geography” of the Kazakh nation and tribes. Acceptance without relativism/fatalism/determinism.

T he cantata demonstrates evidence of local elders and a musicoliterary elite struggling through the millennia to come to terms with the evolving political demarcations of Central Asia. Through their struggle, they created a handful of discrete ‘nationalities’, sustained through the centuries. If anything, the impression (from the bits of the cantata and film that we can experience online) is one of the indomitability of the spirit and of authentic human diversity. Needless adversity and suffering destroy things; they are never ‘noble’ or ‘desirable.’ But there is this residue of survivors—people, and music, and stories, and culture—and this once-dogged, now-expansive persistence of the will to peace. This cantata inspires as well as teaches!

Silent Steppe Cantata
W ish we could be there for the première!

06 December 2011

Tallis Scholars’ sound, or why 176 KHz/192 KHz HD sampling for choral chamber music is important

Tallis Scholars

I   t is known that energy in the 5-20 KHz range can be perceived even when it is 50 dB or more below the main voice spectrum peak. Also, these upper frequencies are conventionally emphasized in the production of popular vocal music. Yet very few studies of the acoustic content of this range have been made. High fidelity recordings were made of singers sustaining vowels at varying levels of vocal effort. A general characterization of the two highest octaves 5-20 KHz was sought. The prevalence of high-frequency energy, the variation of harmonics signal-to-noise ratio as a function of frequency, and the covariation with overall SPL were all highly variable, but several landmark features were identified... [including] clusters of resonances in the regions 7-10 KHz and 13-16 KHz. Harmonic energy was observed to over 16 KHz in strong female voices.”
  —  Sten Ternström, KTH Stockholm, 2008.
T he Tallis Scholars’ performance in Kansas City tonight was gorgeous. The concert was performed in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which has a central altar and a wide chancel such that there are myriad acoustic reflections that arrive at one’s ears from multiple directions. Unlike many performance venues where reflected sound for people seated in most locations is predominantly from one or two general directions, Immaculate Conception has quite high reflective efficiency from many of its interior surfaces.

I f you are seated close to the ensemble—not more than, say, 10 meters away from the sound source—the sound projects exaggerated cues of ‘spatiality’, accentuating the atmospheric qualities that are there in the music and the text. This was especially true tonight during the pieces by Arvo Pärt, which have considerable dissonance and frisson amongst the parts, with long sustained notes during which the spatial effects from the direct and indirect sounds arriving at our ears can be fully appreciated.

T    aking into account the speed of sound, we can convert energy defocusing in the time domain to “smear” in distance estimation by the ears. Energy spread over ±500 ms is the same as a distance smear of ±15 cm. 96 KS/s keeps almost all the energy within about ±50 ms, or ±1.5 cm. One of the observations people make about 96 KS/s material is that the spatial localisation of everything is very much better than 44.1 KS/s. 192 KS/s is better than this, although very dependent on amp and speaker performance to demonstrate it.”
  —  Mike Story, 1997.
Tallis Scholars
T he spectrum of frequencies and harmonics returning to your ears in this marble-and-plaster, highly-reflective cathedral has a surprising, pleasing amount of power in the range 4 KHz and up. In an age when noise and unpleasant/irrational/blurred stimuli bombard us every day, the Tallis Scholars’ sound in this sort of brightly reverberant performance space restores our belief in clarity—restores our belief in the fidelity of human communication across large distances in space and time. It is as though high signal-to-noise ratio becomes an aesthetic and cultural emblem of Civilization itself.

W hat I mean is, the sound (with its high S/N and high-end harmonics) not only embodies the enduring and transcendent meaning of the sacred music that Tallis performs and the human spirituality that caused this music to be written so long ago, but it asserts the very possibility of transcendence and persistence—of meaning that lasts beyond one’s own lifetime. After the concert, I go to Gimell Records’ website and download a couple of their 24-bit 176 KHz-sampled Studio Master high-def recordings, to get more of this. What I hear is truly thrilling—as good as the live performance.

C onventional wisdom doubts that humans can hear frequencies much higher than 20 KHz—frequencies higher than that are only perceptible to dogs and other animals. That is foolish—misinformation propagated uncritically since 50 years ago. In recent years, the misconception persists as a reflection of the fact that otolaryngologists’ and audiologists’ primary focus has been on “basic,” “practical” functions such as a person’s ability to hear and accurately understand speech. By contrast, research concerned with aesthetic and musical functioning has received much less attention or funding. [Measurement equipment for studying acoustics of bats in the 20 to 100 KHz part of the spectrum has existed for quite awhile—bat and bird and other animal communication is the subject of scholarly articles in acoustics society journals—but not many researchers studying humans have utilized it. Part of the reason why the freqency spectrum above 4 KHz for vocalizations has been under-studied is that high-speed video strobolaryngoscopy has been unable to detect the very small-amplitude (~0.1mm) vibrations in the larynx. Not surprisingly, if you can’t detect something, then you tend not to study what you can’t detect.]

T here is a common, mistaken notion that frequency response above 10 KHz is only relevant to sibilant “S” or fricative “F” type consonants in speech or singing. Well, that is most definitely not true, as evidenced by tonight’s Tallis Scholars performance! Recent research by Brian Monson, Andrew Lotto, and colleagues at the University of Arizona in Tucson (link below) shows that the frequency spectrum above 8 KHz figures prominently in singers’ sustained-vowel sound imaging—and figures also in listeners’ perception of open vowel sounds. The Pärt works in tonight’s program—and the effects of reverberation in these, in Immaculate’s chancel—especially emphasize intervallic and spatial relationships and transformations, and remind me of a workshop led by John Roeder at the 2003 Mannes Institute. That workshop examined expressive transformational representations for music by Pärt and others, and addressed how transformational representations relate to musical form, and to how musical forms are experienced. Varied repetition as in Pärt amounts to retracing similar transformational pathways among different sets of musical objects, and plumbing the extent and meaning of their similarities. Canon and contrapuntal cyclical spaces are frequent vehicles for enacting or showing transformations, of course, and—to the degree that each of these enactments is individually convincing—uncovering these unexpected connections becomes our primary mode of understanding and enjoying the music.

T onight’s performance and these HD Gimell/Tallis recordings reveal why it’s desirable to have a sampling frequency that is at least 4 times the desired system bandwidth, a process that is known as oversampling. If your goal is to maintain a “flat” response with 6 dB or less roll-off at the upper limit of the band, then a sampling frequency that is more than four times the desired bandwidth is needed—hence, the 176.4 KHz or 192 KHz sampling rates on these Gimell HD Studio Master files.

Tallis Scholars
A  problem (for me, at least) with off-the-shelf HD audio equipment is that the sound reproduction chain (player, preamps, EQ, power amps, speakers) can sometimes have too much high-frequency power. It can sound too sibilant—even for vowel sounds—somewhere between 12 KHz and 20 KHz. The spectrum EQ sliders on your playback equipment may not have center frequencies that correspond to wherever that objectionable tweeter “break-up frequency” peak is—so the adjustments you make to cope with it end up impairing the quality of the sound around that peak, essentially leaving you with a sound that's far less than HD. But Bowers & Wilkins speakers are one example of a product that doesn’t have this issue. They’re clear above 8 KHz, and give smooth mid-range and ample bass. Put two 800 Diamonds in front of you, two 802s behind you, plus a couple of DB1s somewhere in the room to cover the bottom bass frequencies. HD music recordings—such as those produced by Tallis and Gimell—have frequencies that exceed 20 KHz and we need speakers (and other components in the reproduction chain) that can accurately render these. The response of the 800Ds is essentially flat between 25 Hz and 33 KHz. Their tweeter “break-up” frequency is way, way out of harm’s way—at about 70 KHz.

R eproducing high frequencies has everything to do with recreating the sensation of sharpness and immediacy—the experience of being near the sound-source, in or near the front row (see Beranek, p. 511). There is not just the issue of rapid attenuation of high-frequency portions of the spectrum as a function of distance, but also the matter of inter-aural time-difference cues.

W    e found that robust pitch perception can be elicited by harmonic complex tones with fundamental frequencies below 2 KHz, even when all of the individual harmonics are above 6 KHz—well above the currently-accepted ‘existence region’ of pitch and above the currently-accepted limits of neural phase-locking. The results suggest that perception of musical pitch at high frequencies is not constrained by temporal phase-locking in the auditory nerve but may instead stem from higher-level constraints shaped by [immediately] prior exposure to harmonic sounds.”
  —  Andrew Oxenham, Christophe Micheyl, Michael Keebler, Adam Loper & Sébastien Santurette, Dept of Psychology, Univ Minnesota, 2011.
I n other words, our ability to perceive (a) spatial relationships—relative locations of different singers or depth and breadth of other sound-sources—and (b) overtones/harmonics generated by the blending of all of the lower frequencies in ensemble (Fourier spectra of mixed signals) ... depends primarily on the high-frequency (short-wavelength) components and on phase-angle relationships between the frequencies as they mingle with each other in the performance space (or the playback environment, for a recording). If the sound-sources are moving (as in an opera; or even for singers who are shifting or rotating slightly on-stage), then the high-frequency components contribute most to our ability to perceive that motion. It’s part of how our brain sorts out “signal” from “noise” in noisy environments.

A nd we get special pleasure from successfully doing this. Clarity that facilitates the listener’s own brain’s processing—which is what the HD 176 KHz/192 KHz-sampled media does for us (see Vorländer, pp. 222ff).
  • Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck - Hodie Christus Natus Est
  • John Taverner - Magnificat (A5)
  • Robert White - Tota Pulchra Es
  • Arvo Pärt - Magnificat
  • Arvo Pärt - Nunc Dimittis
  • Hieronymous Praetorius - Magnificat IV
  • Robert White - Regina Caeli
  • Morales - Regina Caeli
  • Benjamin Britten: Hymn to the Virgin
  • Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina - Magnificat for Double Choir
  • Giovanni Pierluigi Da Palestrina - Nunc Dimittis for Double Choir
I  very much hope that Phillips and colleagues continue to add aggressively to their HD DVD-Audio recording downloads. There are many of us out here who crave the immersive psychoacoustic experience that only very high sample-rate HD can deliver. The Tallis Scholars’ recordings are [one of the types of—] music that powerfully motivates and intensely satisfies the “immersive HD” desire.

B efore you place an order, Gimell recommmends to try the Test Files they provide for free download, to insure compatibility with your system.

T allis and Gimell recommend using an audiophile-quality Network Music Player to listen to the HD download files. If you own a DVD-Audio player and your PC has a DVD burner, then you can create your own DVD-Audio discs by importing the HD download files into Cirlinca’s DVD-Audio Solo® or other similar software apps. The files are 15 to 18 times larger than the equivalent track with MP3 compression. The Gimell offerings also include multichannel Quadraphonic/Surround Sound formats. Cirlinca’s HD-Audio Solo Ultra® v4.1 software costs just USD$75 for a single-user license— HD-Audio Solo Ultra® is the product that I use. Cirlinca has relationships with record labels including Gimmel, Deutsche Grammophon, and Hyperion, plus orchestras and ensembles including Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and many others.

M arketing-wise, when HD recordings such as these from Tallis/Gimell are coupled with correspondingly good playback chain equipment it opens up a promising (and to-date under-developed) market segment for serious music: tech-avid audiences and software developers and gamers whose primary passion is virtual reality (VR) and who have a strong but decidedly secondary interest in music. Many in this segment or niche market may not be musicians per se, and they may not be people who regularly attend ‘conventional’ live concerts. But they crave excellent VR and immersive “worlds” that can capture the heart and mind—as good music can do so effectively. And such people spend quite a lot of money each year on personal “world-building”. Their sort of passionate “sonic-experience-first-music-second” amateurism is, I suppose, not unlike serious HiFi audiophiles of the 1960s or late 50s.

I n summary, Tallis Scholars and Gimell are creating the right kinds of HD content to grow a VR audio market. Maybe more and different marketing, including social media, will be needed to really drive its growth. For now, I’m delighted to have experienced these wonderful recordings that prove once and for all that very high sampling-rates of 176.4 KHz and 192 KHz are actually necessary, to accurately reproduce the nuances that we hear up-close in live performance. The freshness and lightness and clarity of the sound invite the listener “inside” the world that the music conjures—the Studio Master HD files enable listeners to inhabit that world via interactive replay evoking “live” sensations and realism, most vividly when the listener/file-downloader can freely explore and re-explore again and again ad lib. We avid listeners want to rehearse our neurons—not only to re-experience the shivers up our spines, but (through practice) to train our bodies to optimally respond to the aural cues that are in these beautiful HD recordings, and in the next live performance we’re able to attend. Bravo!

Tallis Scholars