Telarc's remastered Soundstream discs
Like any other audiophile, or audio enthusiast, or whatever one wishes to call oneself, back in the 70's, I bought just about every new LP that came out by The Eagles, The Doobie Brothers, Paul Simon, Santana, Joan Baez, Pablo Cruise, and a host of others. I was also a fan of classical music, but rarely enjoyed listening to an entire symphony on LP because the constant "snap, crackle, pop" of just about any record made listening to the quiet passages annoying.
Enter the CD in '83, and I suddenly discovered the world of classical music, now being able to listen to it from a background of total silence. Like many others, my first classical CD's purchased were Telarc discs, ususally purchased to replace the Telarc LP's of the same music. The very first CD I played on my first CD player was Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," and to hear that staggeringly loud cymbal crash/bass drum combination erupting from a silent background was something truly memorable.
In the years since, I've amassed well over 1,500 CD's, half of which are classical, and out of the classical, 80% or more are Telarc recodings. I just don't think any other label has ever been so thoroughly dedicated to producing, not only well interpreted music, but recordings of the highest fidelity as well.
Around 2000, Telarc started using the "DSD," or "Direct Stream Digital" recording process, which resulted in an immediate, and noticeable improvement over all previous digital recording systems. Though early DSD recordings on Telarc, were then "downsampled" to regular CD's, the sonic improvements were very noticeable, though not nearly as noticeable as when played back as an SACD.
I've had numerous, and rather lengthy, discussions with several of Telarc's engineers who've explained in detail (often in detail far and beyond my comprehension!) the superiority of the DSD recording medium, and the SACD medium for the ultimate in playback fidelity.
That which has truly blown me away is the series of remastered, older Telarc recordings, originally done via the Soundstream digital tape recorder. To play the redbook CD of Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony, for example, and then pop in the new, DSD-remastered 2-channel SACD of the very same recording results in some genuinely startling differences. The same holds true for Mahler's 2nd, and any and every other Soundstream-mastered Telarc CD.
If anyone doubts me, and if you too are a "child of the 70's," then you probably have the Telarc recording by Robert Shaw of Stravisky's "The Firebird." Just buy the new SACD of that very same recording, play it in a good SACD player (I have the excellent Marantz SA-8001), and sit back and try not to let your jaw drop too far.
Unfortunately, SACD's are taking a back seat to digital downloads (as are any and all other forms of recorded material). As a result, their survival is questionable. In the meantime, don't let this opportunity pass by.
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