Living Stereo SACD's are a comin

While at work today (My office is located at a mastering studio) a big box arrived. I watched as the studio manager unpacked it. It contained a treasure the likes of which I have never seen. Dozens of ORIGINAL master tapes from the original LIVING STEREO recordings. I held in my hands THE Master tapes from the Living Stereo Reiner/Chicago Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra and Ravel Daphnis. These weren’t the safeties, they are THE Masters. As you can probably tell I am in awe.

BMG (I think it’s BMG) has decided to release SACD versions of these recordings. It will be new DSD mastering (not redoing the existing PCM masters). How they are done will depend on the master tapes. I am pretty sure that they will not be 5.1

I have nothing to do with this project. I just happen to be there. You can bet your ass I will sit in on some of the sessions and get to listen to the master tapes. Damn sometimes it’s good to be me.

I just thought that some of the classical music lovers would like to know that SACD’s of these great classic recordings are in the works.
They were due out a while ago and they are just now getting to the mastering! Well I am in no rush, but I am looking forward to listening to this series of discs when they come out. You are lucky indeed to be part of this project :o)
I heard that multichannel would be the format, but only the three front channels would be active. I have some multichannel discs which use only four channels (no center front) because that is the way the masters were done for quad tape in the 70's. Since all SACD have a stereo mix for those who like that, I see no reason to avoid multichannel.
I read that these would be 3 channel across the front as multichannel, great news!!!

This is great news! I just hope there won't be as many delays as with the Mercury Living Presence project. The latest release date on those (and it is not fixed) is July 13.
Well, they are here. And there's good news, and there's... more good news. I went to Tower records today to pick up a couple of them, and there were only about 5 left! I asked the guy working the classical section where they all were, and he said there was a run on these discs like he hasn't seen in a long time. Very good news for all of us who hope SACD survives. At $9.99, you gotta be crazy to not grab 'em up. Luckily, they had one copy left of Fritz Reiner and the CSO's Bartok Concerto for Orchestra. That's the one I wanted most.
I ordered several. It will be interesting to compare the 3-channel mix, which we never had before, with the stereo.
They are excellent. However, not all are 3channel because not all the master tapes were made in 3channel. Also, there are MCH releases that have 2channel-only tracks on the MCH portion and so-labelled 2channel-only releases with bonus MCH (3channel) tracks.

Full details in my November column in Stereophile.

Ditto on excellent. I've listened to the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra disc and the Chopin Ballades/Scherzos by Rubinstein. The Bartok Concerto is ridiculously good. It is in 2 channel, by the way. Also on that disc is "Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta" which is in 3 channel. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much. I should note that my center channel speaker is nowhere near the quality of my left and right. That may have had something to do with it. The dynamics on the Rubinstein Chopin disc are astounding. This one also is in 3 channel. There were a couple of "funny" spots in that recording that made me look up at my speakers. I don't know if it was my system, or the recording. I'll post again when I figure it out. I also have the Tchaikovsky 6th Symphony, which I'll get to very soon. Then I'll have to wait for Tower to get a new shipment.

I figured out that the "funny" spots can be attributed to my crappy center channel speaker.
Buyers be warned. The three-channel recordings will tax your center channel.
Now I want to upgrade my CC. Does it ever end? (I know the answer. Sigh)

Don't miss these recordings.

If they 'tax' your center channel, it was sub-par anyway. For music, you need a real speaker, not what is merely adequate for movies.

Everyone seems pleased at AA with these also, guess I'll have to get off a buck or two and check them out! I've just taken my Apogee Centaur miner out for another of those CENTER-NO CENTER tests...guess I'll be putting it back in to listen to the 3-channel on these.

Indeed. I'll be the first to admit that my center channel isn't "music grade".
If you have a TT then you can get these records used for $1 to $2 each. Much better than $20 or whatever they will go for. Just check your local goodwill
Music Direct ( is selling them for $11.99 each. They are SACD hybrids. They are having a sale right now and if you spend more than $50 you get 10% off and if you spend more than $100 you get 15% off (you need a promotional code from their fliers for the discount if you order online -- you canprobably ask for it over the phone if you call). I ordered all 10.
Just as an update.......these discs are still $11.99 at Music Direct but they are no longer having that 10%-15% off sale if you spend certain amounts of money.
Also, has them for $10.99 and free shipping if over $50

Is there anything in the jacket notes that would indicate if these SACDs are made from the original analog tapes to DSD or from pcm masters? I am hesitant to buy recordings I already have on good vinyl in the SACD format if they come from pcm (possibly even 16-bit pcm?) masters.
All the press releases and articles clearly state that they were made by direct transfer from the original master tapes.

Thanks, Kal, that's what I wanted to know. Hadn't gotten to reading this month's magazines yet.
I think SACD may have a future. I've bought six of them, so far. However, please wake me up when more than “the usual suspects” are available and the prices on new releases are less than a full tank of high-octane gas.
FWIW, the first 9 Mercury Living Presence SACDs came in today. Cannot wait for the weekend.

Rcprince...Is PCM a "bad word"?. Mixing consoles have, for many years, been 24-bit PCM at a high sample rate. The Sony DSD system is designed for compatability with these existing mixing consoles, which will be around for a few years. Nothing wrong with them, or PCM, provided that the resolution and sample rate is acceptable.

I think you have been brainwashed by Sony!
Naw, I'm not bothered by pcm per se, but I am bothered if it's 16-bit pcm, and I do not put it by some companies to try to repackage 16-bit/44khz digital masters in a new format. I have 20 and 24-bit pcm recordings on SACD and like them quite a bit.

Kal, good news about the Mercs, I've been waiting for them for almost a year!
Rcprince...I agree with you that 16-bit 44.1 KHz is barely adequite for audio, and that's what's wrong with CDs. However, it is my impression that professional digital recording and mixdown consoles have been 24 bits from the time they were introduced. There are plenty of reasons to criticize audio mastering practices, but, with few exceptions, I don't think you can blame the hardware.
KR4: What are the Mercury Living Presence SACD's? I am not familar with these? A link would be fine if you don't want to explain in detial, Thanks,
My selection of these discs arived today, and I just listened to the Chopin performance by Rubinstein. I have most of these recordings in vinyl. The SACD is to my mind a big improvement over the vinyl: I appreciate the center channel, particularly where a solo instrument is involved.

According to the notes the SACD is a direct DSD copy of the original three channel analog master tape...essentially a "raw" recording without processing of any kind. This may appeal to purists, but I would have preferred it if the rumble of the AC system in the recording hall had been removed. My rumble filter is only available when the signal is an LP.

This recording (of a superb performance) is almost fifty years old! Considering this the audio quality is wonderful.
The guy from music direct told me they were only
500 cds made.I agree they sound great.