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The CDs aren't crap, and you don't have a hearing problem. Many DGs can sound fine, many can sound awful. My complaint about DG has always been their multi-miking and (with their output from the early digital days particularly) an overall bright sound and lack of deepest bass (after hearing the Copland 3rd Symphony with Bernstein on DG, you wouldn't believe there was a bass drum in the score), and the fact that they rely entirely on their "tonmeister" to recreate a musical event instead of letting the event speak for itself. I prefer to hear what the orchestra says more than the recording engineer. If you read an article from TAS a few years back about a DG Met Opera orchestra recording attended by one of the writers, their were a whole slew of mikes, everything was run through a mixing board where it was processed and manipulated and adjusted by the tonmeister, and the orchestra only played short passages of the piece at a time. However, despite all that, the writer gave the finished recording a "Golden Ear" award, because the end result worked!! I find that there are a number of DG recordings, particularly the live ones and smaller ensembles, which can sound quite good and I listen to a lot, but there are some where the end result with an orchestra is bright, thin and almost unlistenable, or where instruments are spotlighted unrealistically. In the last case mentioned, that sometimes can work well with the music; then I try to pretend I'm in the orchestra listening instead of the audience. On the whole, their recent recordings seem to have have solved the bass and shrillness problems to a large extent; it's their recording philosophy that bothers me more than anything else, I guess. I can't help but think that the artists making the recording can't give their best, most spontaneous performance, particularly if performing small parts of a piece at a time.
No, you don't have a taste problem or a hearing problem. In my experience, I was perfectly happy with every cd I listened to on my relatively inexpesive stereo setup. Then I upgraded. At first, I really didn't hear a difference and wondered if all this hifi stuff was a scam. But when I hooked up my older system a few months later, I really heard the difference. Same thing with going from poorly made cd's to better ones. The differences are not at first very apparent until you get used to a new standard. After a while, your ears will have done some passive learning and there is no turning back.
If you are happy with what you hear, and you do not yearn to hear something better, then be happy. You don't need to spend much money to enjoy music.
I can only add to Rc that, if the performance we want is on DG, then we'll have to live with it. And I agree it's not always that bad. My point is that we can extraolate until death (God forbid) do us part how it could have been better, but the important part is we have the performance -- which is the price in the first place. And DG & EMI have a treasure of performances in their archives and I, for one, want those... and I don't have a choice regarding the sound quality, do I (do we all?). Go for the performance that makes you jump out of seat, I say! Cheers
I am sure I am one of those people who was critical of DG. I can agree with everything said above. I own some DG because I like the performance. I just wish they were mixed better.
Sadly I find some of their historic reissues not as good as earlier releases. I am speaking specifically of the "DG Originals"; the ones where the CD looks like a mini-LP. I bought a couple and came to the quick conclusion on concertos that they boosted the violins and the soloist on the remix. They really stick out. This sounds good in the car where noise drowns out the detail anyway; or on a portable or boombox that has no detail. The bass detail is also missing as mentioned by others. I have found a few of the older or original CD releases of these recordings on eBay, and there is more bass in the old CDs, so they actually made it worse (amazing).
In the CD of the Dvorak Cello Concerto with Rostropovich/Von Karajan, the old CD has all the nuances in Rostropovich's playing which is more in the lower cellos notes., Also some of the inner detail in the orchestra is apparent. In the new "DG Originals" the main theme played by Rostropovich and the violins is a lot clearer and pronounced, however, all the background detail and nuances in the lower notes is gone.
What I will say positively about the DG Originals project, is they did release some new (old) material never on CD before that is worth owning for the performances. (I do have some of the real orginals on LP.)
Aliu: Perhaps it depends on what other sound engineering feats one compares them to? I have some Audiophile LP's that make mince meat out of my regular LP's regarding sound quality, but what wins in the end is the music and the performance, I would think, for most of us that collect and listen to music. Some of my favorite "sounding" classical CD's are direct digital recordings done by PILZ (made in Germany). Not certain, but think that these may be budget offerings (I'm in the USA) and many do not care for DDD recording from what I read in the chat rooms. I paid $75 for 75 of them and am quite happy with the purchase, the recordings and the material. My main dislike (as far as sound goes) are the NAXOS CD's that I own (they just sound odd), but other's love this label, go figure. The DG CD's and LP's that I own sound fine to me, just a little bright on the CD's (as many older CD's do). You do have me drooling with your mention of Chinese folk music though. I love to discover and listen to traditional and popular local music of this type from around the world.
I feel the DG recordings suffer from poor miking technique. When I listen to a classical record, I want to hear the instruments located in the correct places on the stage. If the tympanies sound like they are in front of the violins, that doesn't make me feel good about listening to that recording. If a solo is going on, I want to feel like I'm hearing a solo, not an enlarged close up of the player like he is right in my face. This is common to almost all of the classical music recently recorded, not just DG. The older recordings like RCA-LSP Series, and Mercury Living Presence, got it about as right as it can get, for miking and mixing.
I am all with Greg and Rcprince on this one. Generally DG's multimiking and processing techniques don't do the recording much good. The latest example is Abado's wonderful rendering of all the Beethoven Symphonies with the Berlin Philharmonic, which musically exiting, is sonically a disaster. On the other hand, as suggested above, some of their small ensemble stuff can be quite good. I have the Yepes recording, Aliu has mentioned on LP and I also find it very good indeed, as most of the Stravinsky Ballets on LP as well, done in the late 70, I think. I don't have them here, so I cannot say what conductor or orchestra. If of course, as TWL has mentioned, you are familiar with the early offerings of big orchestral music from Mercury or the RCA Shaded Dogs on LP, you are indeed spoilt for life as far as the sonics of tinned music is concerned. Cheers,