Some recent Telarc releases have been a disapointment.
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Your ears aren't screwed up, but there is some disagreement among listeners as to the sound quality of Telarc releases. In their classical recordings, their general practice has been to record principally using spaced omnis, which results in a spacious sound but loses some immediacy and pinpoint imaging that a lot of audiophiles like. I also find that some of their recordings can sound a little muddy unless the volume is turned up a bit. And there is something I recall about some of their earlier recordings that they were recorded in inverse polarity and sounded better (less bright) if you reversed the phase on your DAC. All that said, I find them to be one of the better recording companies out there on a consistent basis, and like most of their releases--they do seem to take better care than others in their recordings in not screwing around with the microphone feed.
Telarc as well as many other audiophile labels tend to be a
mixed bag. Yes, the nuances are there with a terrific S/N
ratio in most cases. What I often don't like is all the
close microphone effects which can bloat the size of instruments and voice. Sometimes the overall effect is
almost like a sonic carnival rather than an honest
reproduction. I will be interested in other oppinions.
For the most part, I like the Telarcs that I have, but they tend toward the clinical in my opinion and lack the PRAT that, for example, the Audioquests in my collection have in spades. I would tend to agree with Brouser that they can sound a bit unnatural. The Audioquests, though, are originally recorded in analogue and most are done live to two track; I think these two attributes contribute to a much more musically realistic sound. And, in my experience, the Telarcs do need to be cranked up a bit.
Brauser, are you referring to their jazz recordings (which I haven't listened to)? With full scale orchestral recordings the balances are generally quite natural as, other than for soloists, Telarc rarely uses any spot mikes, as I understand it. The one exception is from their earliest recordings, where the bass drums were generally overblown, but their recent recordings have toned that down to where it sounds quite natural.
Generally I've found the quality of Telarc recordings quite good. They finally quit using that bass drum! The performances were not necessarily as good. However recently I have purchased some of their new classical disc's which came out in both SACD and Redbook and on my CDP the highs were sort of edgy - distorted I think. Unpleasant to listen to. I played them them thru a DAC w/a slightly soft high end - no problem, they sounded just fine. Any one else notice this. I seem to recall Sean talked about this a year or so ago.
Well, this is interesting! Maybe I prefer that "clinical" sound? However, I don't generally think I do. Rcprince: I found the immediacy to be there, not lost.
The consensus, thus far, seems to be that Telarc, like other labels, is a mixed bag. I'm going to listen more closely to some of mine and see if I can pick up what you are all referring to. Thanks!
When thinking back through the Telarc classical catalog, the impressions I got, were one of a mostly natural, yet uninvolving sound. The somewhat heavy bass was at first a joy, after the bass shy DG and Columbia productions of the day, but other than some very fine initial productions (Fennell /Holst; Atlanta/Orff), I felt the musical sound uninvolving and blunted. This was somewhat ameliorated with the use of very fine M/C cartridges, but the effect never really went away even on CD.
When looking back through history at Telarc, Yes they were and are a major player, but not quite as good as they could have been. They should have kept the analog rig they used when they were ADVENT Records in the 70s recording Michael Murry. Now those were fine sonics.
All in all, Rcprince's comments , are mostly accurate.
To my ears, Telarc recordings often sound very recessed, muddy and not detailed- there is too much bloom but not in a good way (eg Dohnanyi's recordings of Beethoven symphonies). The lack of detail makes the music sound very sterile at times including their jazz recordings. When compared to superb classical cds from Reference Recordings, it is like night and day. Mind you, the dynamics on the Telarcs are quite good and there are some good recordings (Frederick Fennell/Cleveland Winds, Jacques Loussier, Mackerras/Sheherazade,Tieney Sutton etc). However I often find a thickening of textures in the music which is not entirely natural and seems rather blunt as if a thick veil or curtain is covering the speakers. The recordings need to be a little sharper (not too impressed either with the DSD technology).
My 2 cents.
Zenaissance-"not too impressed either with the DSD technology."
Could be there's a problem going from DSD to PCM. Maybe one of the EMM Labs owners could comment on the CD version
verses the SACD of the same Telarc release.
I notice that output levels on some recent Telarc DSD/CD jazz releases are much lower than other jazz labels.
Cpdunn, don't fall into the trap, don't go from enjoying the music to listening for the flaws. I assume your comparing Telarc to the other mass market labels, to which it is definitely superior. Many of the comments on this post are comparing it to other high end labels, and I agree that others do sound better, i.e., audioquest, xrcd, chesky among others. While you should try these others, in the end its about enjoying the music.
In answer to Kana's question, while I don't have an EMM Labs player, my heavily modded Sony is plenty good enough for me to note that the SACD versions of Telarc's recent releases are superior to the redbook versions. A lot of that muddiness I noted is pretty much gone in the SACD layer, inner detail becomes more apparent and the sense of space vastly improves. I also have noted that the CD versions recorded in DSD are a little less "clean" than earlier Telarc recordings, for whatever reason; again, some of the problems in that area go away when the volume level is raised. In the end, Cpdunn, Tonyp54's advice is absolutely correct--enjoy the music!
Telarc recording quality has gone through a number of overall sonic changes during the past 20 years or so. The very early ones were well balanced, and quite musical. Then they turned a bit dull, (a reaction, I suspect to early complaints that CD sound was too harsh>) Today, they are a mixed bag, with some quite realistic and musical, and others (especially some of the SACD's) a bit bright and "tizzy". One should try to listen to any Telarc recording before purchase. Also, a question, why did they stop issuing the excellent Soundstream recordings in SACD?