I’m not certain if I should be reviewing this SACD since it says in the corner of the front “This Disc is Only for Professional Review.” Well, I’m professionally reviewing it since I think some readers would be very interested in the latest examples of Ray Kimber’s four-channel hi-res recordings using his experimental isolated microphones acoustic baffle system. And the disc is listed at the Kimber web site.
The rather large baffles are either heart- or egg-shaped and are designed to eliminate the line-of-sight between the four mics. The lower frequencies flow around the baffles and are scattered, dissipating their energy. Each mic is suspended on a separate arm and the baffles between.
The first thing to be noticed is the amazing clarity and transparency of most of the recording tests. Low-level details come thru clearly, and the dynamic range is immense. In fact, in the note booklet it warns that some of the tracks do reach nearly 0 dB and that several of the tracks might scare the cats! There are no close-in mic positions, and as a result in Robert Silverman’s playing of one movement of the Mozart Piano Sonata in A Minor K310 the piano doesn’t sound 40 feet wide as it does on most piano recordings.
Most of the performers come from Weber State University. The six test tracks involving the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps are quite amazing. This is actually a highly skilled student concert band – not just a drum and bugle corps. They are heard in excerpts from Shostakovich concertos and symphonies that will really pin your ears back. The many choir tests are also revealing. Even though there is no center channel used, when the ensemble includes a soloist in the center, that vocalist is right there with excellent presence – more than with the usual “phantom” realism. I would like to know what Track 15 comes from – it’s a very trippy Ligeti-sounding excerpt for 300 voices and the choir does sound spread very widely across the soundstage and on different tiers vertically. The closing 18-minute track is a complete Dahl chamber concerto played by Sonolumina. The liner notes have photos of some of the mic setups, performers, and notes on the spatial locations of those involved.
– John Sunier