There is good concert hall in NYC? I meant, seriously?
Carnegie Hall is from average to dreadful. Try sitting at the left orchestra around 20 rows from stage, 10 seats from the left wall. The reverb is a total disgrace when performing Mahler.
Fisher (David Geffen) is as bad as a high school auditorium. It is a miracle that some of the greatest performers are still willing to perform there.
Vienna State Opera is an acoustic marvel, among the absolute best I experienced. There is no bad seat anywhere, acoustically (tried 3 different locations). However, it doesn’t count, as it isn’t a concert hall. :-)
(in case you wonder, MET is a cut or two below Vienna State Opera in terms of clarity / reverb / balance)
I happened to attend Univ. of Michigan and got into numerous great concerts at the Hill Auditorium (The UMS concerts). Outstanding acoustics in most seats. Best time of my life, as the ticket prices were dirt cheap for top tier concerts by Horowitz, Bernstein, Berliners, Wieners, et al.
NJPAC is pathetic. Period. I don’t understand what’s the big deal about that hall. I avoid that hall by all means.
Musikverein’s Golden Hall has that pure magical sound --- but you better sit at the right place. Tried 6 different locations (didn’t try the organ side seats). Avoid the side seats on upper tier by all means. If Simon’s Berliner sounded "distant" in Musikverein ... you know you’re at the wrong location. The downside: No A/C. Avoid the afternoon concerts in May or June - it’s baking in there.
And because of that, I respect Boston’s Symphony Hall the greatest, as it is a tiny bit superior to Musikverein in sound. Was a student in Boston and attended many concerts there. There is no bad seat that I could found there. Wouldn’t hurt to hear Berliner and Boston Symphony playing there too.
As much as some people beating the drums, SF’s Davies Hall isn’t that special (live MTS Mahler did not sound like what you’d hear on the award winning SACDs). It is a good hall, just not at the same level as others. Came to that conclusion after hearing both SFO and Berlin Phil there.
Nor the Disney Hall in LA (very nice place for mingling, however). LA Phil isn’t known for their strings - that weakness is amplified by the hall.
Toronto’s Roy Thomson is very respectable too. I recall hearing 4 very different orchestras there: Munich Phil, Philadelphia, Concertgebouw, plus the resident Toronto Symphony. Great sound in most locations (solo never sound "weak", like at some "dead" spots in Kimmel Center, for example).
Chicago’s Symphony Hall is very good too. Unfortunately, Chicago Symphony Orchestra still sounds fairly aggressive to my taste.
Wish I could go to Concertgebouw, Berlin’s Philharmonie and Smetana Hall someday....
P.S. As an audience, you could tell how good a concert hall is by paying attention on how well the musicians could hear each other. Avery Fisher, for example, it is beyond obvious that they cannot hear each other well from time to time.
P.S. It is a curse, but good medicine, to attend live concerts all over the places. Bad: I would never be happy with my audio setup. Good: I would never over-invest into my audio setup.
P.S. There is no concert hall in Asia that is as impressive as some of the better ones I mentioned. Seriously, none. Not even the famous Suntory Hall in Tokyo.
But that’s just me. :-)