Eight ensembles in one bit Mar 24 by Jared Sacks in Recording Reports

New possibilities recording in DSD 256FS

Producer/Engineers Jared Sacks and Daan van Aalst have pooled their extensive expertise in music production and recording in very high resolution audio. Their goal is to put together the best system for recording and reproducing music at the highest quality with recordings in the new DSD 256fs (quad rate DSD) format.

The project

‘Recording in DSD’ is not a term musicians are generally familiar with. As a matter of fact, none of the musicians we asked to participate had the slightest idea what it was at first! Surprisingly, without exception, all immediately said yes and were very keen to learn about it. Especially on the recording days, March 4th and 5th 2015, they soon learned what it’s like to record acoustically in DSD: “Hey you, cellist, a little closer to the mics please” and “Could the saxophone player take 5 steps back and one to the right?” With the five microphones spread around above them and the prospect of no post recording mixing at all, the sound balance had to be made right there and then, by taking baby steps here and there.

Daan van Aalst adjusts a microphone.

Daan van Aalst adjusts a microphone.

Once the artists and producers were happy with the balance, the recording began. Not only audio, but also visual! Jonas Sacks filmed each take of each artist with a huge camera lying on his shoulders, dancing around the artists. This way, when the best take was chosen, we would always have an ‘1 take’ video to go with the ‘1 take’ DSD audio. The idea behind that approach is that it comes as close as possible to the concert experience as reproduced data gets.

Seeing the expression on the faces of the musicians when they listened to themselves in DSD for the first time in the studio proved that Native DSD organized something quite special. Most of them immediately shouted out in excitement: “We are playing right here in this room for ourselves to listen to!” A few others closed their eyes, made no sound and sat totally still apart from the occasional jaw drop.

See behind the scenes and hear the musicians speak in response to their first recording in the DSD format.

Well, that brings us to the point of why we did this. We are spreading the message of the incredible recording technique and enriching the libraries of DSD Music fans with the music of some of the most promising Dutch musicians who would have otherwise not have been recorded in DSD.

Breno Víricimo recording with his fellow bandmates.

Breno Víricimo recording with his fellow bandmates.

We intent to flabbergast the musicians as well as our Native DSD customers by facilitating a one-off chance to record – and listen to them – in DSD. And who knows, perhaps the next step will be to record a complete album with the most popular artist? Or we can go to France, the UK, Germany, and do the same? One thing is for sure: Native DSD will keep exploring the ‘beyond’ part of our“DSD and Beyond” mission!

We hope you will enjoy the repertoire, interpretations & audio quality as an attempt of a holy musical trinity provided by the musicians, recording technique and your playback equipment.

Read the full project specs in the booklet.

Praise for 8 ensembles in 1 bit

8 Ensembles in 1 Bit Stereo is sonically wonderful it has to be said… and anyone who is out there and saying that DSD is a bit of a fad needs to get themselves in front of a good set up capable of paying them properly and realise that this is a different level of definition. Musically you’ve got a smattering of classical, a smidge of jazz, some acapella (Randy Newman’s Short People arranged by Maartje Meijer and performed by New Amsterdam Voices is really great) and everything has a distinct Dutch feel…it would, the musicians and singers are Dutch, but don’t let that get in the way of buying this, it really is a fab’ record and sounds great! Highlight for me is Barcelona which sounds very live, and that’s the feel I got from the whole of this album…it sounds live, which seems to me a distinctive trait of DSD downloads… I think I may well be addicted to this format! (Stuart Smith,  Hifi Pig)

Technical Approach

MCO Studio 2

The process stars with the recording studio – Netherlands Broadcasting Music (MCO) Studio 2 in Hilversum, Holland. This is the oldest recording studio in Holland. It was originally built for recording and broadcasting live concerts on radio. Knowing that the studio has recorded many historical ensembles through the years, we found it fitting to be the first setting for this series of original recordings of talented musicians in the highest quality. We wanted a varied spectrum of music to be represented on this initial album so that there is something for everyone.

Stereo Microphones

The main microphones (for Stereo) are a pair of Bruel and Kjaer (B&K) 4006 which have been rebuilt to accept 75 volt Phantom Powering directly from the stage. In between this pair of microphones we have a Sennheiser MK8 and a B&K 4006 coupled together to give us sound recorded using the M/S technique.

Multichannel Setup

The M/S Omni output from the front pair of B&K 4006 microphones is also being used as the center channel for the multichannel tracks. The center and surround microphones (also B&K 4006) complete the microphone set.

Analog Mixer and Horus Converter

All tracks (2 Channel Stereo and 6 Channel Multichannel) are going through a custom made analog mixer and battery powered pre amplifiers – designed and made by Rens Heijnis, a famed audio designer in Europe. The mixer and amps are connected to the Merging Technologies Horus Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) running at DSD 256fs. All microphone, interconnect cables are connected to the Horus with 3T carbon cable made by van den Hul. It is an excellent interconnect cable for recording that gives us the best sound.

Listening and Mixing

For listening, we are using the LS1 speakers made by Grimm Audio of Holland. We added a small amount of ambience during the analog mixing stage with the use of the M7 reverb made by Bricasti. To create the right musical balance without electronics, the musicians have had to adjust their own distance to the microphones. After having played and sung a number of times, we selected the best performances without any editing for this album.

Music in DSD 256fs, DSD 128fs and DSD 64fs

The music on 8 Ensembles in 1 Bit is being provided in both Stereo and Multichannel sound in the recorded resolution – DSD 256fs (quad rate DSD). For listeners with DSD 256fs systems you will enjoy hearing the music exactly as it was recorded. We know that many listeners do not own DSD 256fs converters and players today. Tom Caulfield, the Mastering Engineer at Native DSD used specially developed software from Jussi Laako (the maker of the Signalyst HQ Player software player) for the conversion from DSD 256fs to DSD 128fs and DSD 64fs.

Adding Metadata and Uploading the Files for You

Once the three sets of Stereo and Multichannel DSD files were completed, the tracks were then converted from the DFF to the DSF file format. This enables Native DSD to add metadata to the recorded tracks. Finally the DSF tracks, cover art and album booklet in Acrobat PDF format are uploaded to our server where they can be purchased and downloaded for your musical enjoyment.

We hope this brief overview provides some insight into how we recorded the music on the new 8 Ensembles in 1 Bit album. We think you will really love what we heard in the recording studio – and you are about to hear at home.

Visit the Album Page here: 8 Ensembles in 1 Bit 

Jared Sacks

Producer / Recording Engineer and co-founder of NativeDSD Music

Daan van Aalst

Producer / Recording Engineer – Navis Classics

Jared Sacks

Jared Sacks

Jared Sacks founded his label Channel Classics Records in 1990 with it’s name coming from the street he lived on in Amsterdam: Kanaalstraat. He produced and engineered over 380 albums with artists like Rachel Podger and the Budapest Festival Orchestra. He also is co-founder of NativeDSD.com

One response to “Eight ensembles in one bit”

  1. […] testing using the best and the results 8 ensembles in 1 bit – Native DSD Blog Reply With […]