Another year, another improvement [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


View Full Version : Another year, another improvement

11-28-2008, 05:22 AM
Each year at about this time, I drag out my assorted CD's and LP's of Christmas music and begin to play them. While Handel's "Messiah" isn't necessarily only a Christmas piece, like many others, it's only around Christmas that I listen to it.

A pleasant phenomenon I've experienced for as long as I can remember is that when playing Christmas music each and every year that I've done so, the sound of the material is better than it was the year before. I've just about always done something to my system to improve its overall sound, and I look forward to how much "better" much of the music sounds each and every year.

Of course, some of those improvement were quite subtle (with the change of, say, just a phono cartridge), but this year the difference was flat out startling. Yesterday afternoon I put on my favorite recording of "Messiah" (Martin Pearlman conducting the Boston Baroque Orchestra and Chorus, on Telarc) and was all but flabbergasted. Everything had such incredible definition, depth and a life-like presence, that it seemed as if I were listening to much of this beloved music for the first time. And so, what was the reason for such an improvement? First and foremost, it's the Marantz SA-8001 which just stomps the crap out of any CD player I've ever owned before.

Secondly, and this is a very important observation, it's the installation of the "Hi-Fi Tuning" fuses I installed in my Dahlquists (one main fuse, and one for the tweeters in each speaker). The 8001 makes a huge difference, but was a considerable investment . While $900 for such a fine piece of equipment is considered a steal by many, it's still $900! The Hi-Fi Tuning fuses on the other hand are only $40 each, and while that may be an eye-popping price for just a fuse, it's a drop in the bucket when it comes to how much better these fuses make my speakers sound.

So, as I've only played the Messiah CD's so far, it'll be a blast to hear how much better all the Fresh Aire Christmas CD's sound, as well as the many others that I own.

One thing: what am I going to do to my system next year?

11-28-2008, 12:32 PM
Mebbe this should be a new thread...? What is, in your learned opinion, the best or exemplary of the best, Messiah recording available? I vote for RCA's 1959 recording of the Roayl Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus with Jennifer Vyvyan, Soprano; Monica Sinclair, Mezzo Soprano; Jon Vickers, Tenor and Giorgio Tozzi, Bass. The recording was remastered in 1992, and still retains many of the limitations that older recordings have: hiss being one of them. while Christopher Hogwood's is a wonderfully wrought contemporary recording, I think Beecham's more stately and richly present rendering captures some of flavor that made Baroque music's impact on the Renaissance so profound....

Or am I derailing the thread and should I take this post outta here and start a fresh one?

11-28-2008, 01:55 PM
I truly can't answer your question. While I'm very fond of the Boston Baroque recording, largely due to the relatively small chorus and "period" instrumentation, I readily acknowledge there's a vast number of other versions out there that might be equally good. I don't much like Robert Shaw's version with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, as I find it miked too distantly, so that the words of the chorus tend to be somewhat untintelliglble. I do know one I think is one of the worst: An old Columbia recording with Eugene Ormandy with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Nothing can possibly make up for the dreadful sound of this recording (excessively bright and shrill), and none of the sections of Messiah are memorable.

11-28-2008, 02:52 PM
That's sad for Shaw and Ormandy....I thought his Carmina Burana for Telarc was magnificent. Ormandy was likewise very capable; although I am not familiar with the album, I suppose there was a disparity between the message and the medium.

11-29-2008, 03:06 AM
I just had a look through my collection of Christmas music, and all I can find is the Jethro Tull Christmas Album!
Quote from the cover: "everything you need in a frosted nutshell"

11-29-2008, 04:37 AM

Nice post. I think I'm going to snag a couple of the Hifi Tuning fuses for my Magneplanar MG1.6. Here in Canada, I'll order from Parts Connexion ( who I recommend for such things; (they do a lot of business into the US too).

For Messiah, I have 2 whole and 1 partial versions. I have Colin Davis on LP, Hogwood on CD, and excerpts from Gardner on CD. I like them all, but in general I lean to "HIP", (historically informed performance), which means Hogwood or Gardner. Pearlman and the Boston Baroque fall into the HIP category too.

My favorite Christmas carol recordings are these, and I strongly recommend them. (Some might have seen that Rich Hickox recently passed away.)

11-29-2008, 05:22 AM
Thanks for the tips. As it turns out, on December 7th, I'm going to hear the Kings Singers live. That should be something!

12-03-2008, 12:53 PM
I don't want to be disruptive or undermine the thread, here, but this is an album I listen to at this time of the year. It's a collection of ancient sacred music from Russia featuring the great Mezzo Soprano Irina Arkhipova accompanied by the Glinka Choir. This is a 1989 MCA Classics Arts and Electronics recording (DDD). If you can find it, it's a classic that is just beautiful. Hope the translation works out.... f7fc6f0e

audio amateur
12-03-2008, 02:07 PM
Following up on Feanor's suggestions, I'd like to share my personal favourite Christmas time disc:
Carols from King's (Choir of King's College), Collins Classic.
The play list is excellent and the recording, as far as I can tell, very good. It ain't Christmas without these magnificent tunes.