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  • Awesome sound...

    My wife and I are visiting relatives in Provo, Utah, and this morning we attended the live, broadcast performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City. These broadcasts have been occurring every Sunday for 79 years (this was No. 4126). The venue was the choir's home Temple which was first built in 1867 but recently went through a complete rebuild from below ground and up. It's not a gigantic building but its acoustics are absolutely outstanding. The 300+ member choir was accompanied by the large pipe organ and a small brass and percussion ensemble; 4 trumpets, 4 french horns, 1 baritone, 3 trombones, tympani, bass drum, snare drum, cymbal, chimes and xylophone. The only electronic amplicification was for a pair of solists in one of the 5 pieces played. The organ is certainly not the largest in the world but it's quite grand in sight and sound. I'm not a big fan of vocal music or organs, but I do enjoy large choirs and "big" organ music. Simply put the music was awesome and beautiful, not limited by woofer Xmax or amplifier power or frequency response or whatever. I know we all love listening to our audio systems, especially each new pair of speakers we create, but we're all fooling ourselves if we think it will ever be possible to accurately and completely reproduce a live performance. That doesn't mean we should stop trying, though, but every now and then we need to be humbled, I think.

    As a side note, I'm typing this post on my sister-in-law's Mac computer, and I absolutely hate it!
    Paul

  • #2
    Re: Awesome sound...

    About 25 yrs ago, I rented a very odd garage apartment... tiny tiny kitchen, bathroom, and one small bedroom. BUT, there was this HUGE [roughly] 18ftx24ft room that doubled as living/dining room. At the time I had a pair of Dahlquist DQ10... the sound in this room sounded MUCH better than the DQ10 system actually produced. I still believe the average room people have, is the major limiting factor of superior reproduction. Those live performances can even sound crappy in poor size/acoustic rooms... and actually sound much more like what most people hear in their homes (mine included).
    :-(

    GC

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Awesome sound...

      Paul,

      The acoustics in the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square are legendary and in so many ways astonishing. You noted, I'm sure, there are no parallel surfaces in the room

      For about 5 years, while in grad school at the Univ. of Utah and working in Salt Lake City, I found a way to get into the Tabernacle Tuesday evenings and listen/watch the choir in rehearsal. I managed to experience this about once a month.

      Unfortunately sound on the CDs of this group pales in comparison. I wish someone could find a good way to capture the experience in a recording.

      Originally posted by Paul K. View Post
      My wife and I are visiting relatives in Provo, Utah, and this morning we attended the live, broadcast performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City. These broadcasts have been occurring every Sunday for 79 years (this was No. 4126). The venue was the choir's home Temple which was first built in 1867 but recently went through a complete rebuild from below ground and up. It's not a gigantic building but its acoustics are absolutely outstanding. The 300+ member choir was accompanied by the large pipe organ and a small brass and percussion ensemble; 4 trumpets, 4 french horns, 1 baritone, 3 trombones, tympani, bass drum, snare drum, cymbal, chimes and xylophone. The only electronic amplicification was for a pair of solists in one of the 5 pieces played. The organ is certainly not the largest in the world but it's quite grand in sight and sound. I'm not a big fan of vocal music or organs, but I do enjoy large choirs and "big" organ music. Simply put the music was awesome and beautiful, not limited by woofer Xmax or amplifier power or frequency response or whatever. I know we all love listening to our audio systems, especially each new pair of speakers we create, but we're all fooling ourselves if we think it will ever be possible to accurately and completely reproduce a live performance. That doesn't mean we should stop trying, though, but every now and then we need to be humbled, I think.

      As a side note, I'm typing this post on my sister-in-law's Mac computer, and I absolutely hate it!
      Paul

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Awesome sound...

        I noted that the ceiling was arched and curved but didn't know that there are no parallel surfaces. It wouldn't surprise me, however, especially considering the apparent future vision Brigham Young possessed without his knowing why or how, just that something "had" to be done a certain way.
        Paul

        Originally posted by dickwest View Post
        Paul,

        The acoustics in the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square are legendary and in so many ways astonishing. You noted, I'm sure, there are no parallel surfaces in the room

        For about 5 years, while in grad school at the Univ. of Utah and working in Salt Lake City, I found a way to get into the Tabernacle Tuesday evenings and listen/watch the choir in rehearsal. I managed to experience this about once a month.

        Unfortunately sound on the CDs of this group pales in comparison. I wish someone could find a good way to capture the experience in a recording.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Awesome sound...

          Nice report, Paul - every once in a while we need to remember why we are doing this in the first place, the love of the music.

          And raising the bar never hurt a thing. Can't wait to see what this inspires you to do next!
          When you run make sure you run,
          to something not away from, cause lies don't need an aeroplane to chase you anywhere.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Awesome sound...

            I hope to get a lot of inspiration while attending the Iowa event in a couple of weekends. I know pretty much what I'm going to build except I haven't chosen the tweeter yet, and there are 3 different ways I can configure the TL for the midwoofers I'll be using. Then there's the "look" which is what I hope to gather ideas for while at Iowa.
            Paul

            Originally posted by biff View Post
            Nice report, Paul - every once in a while we need to remember why we are doing this in the first place, the love of the music.

            And raising the bar never hurt a thing. Can't wait to see what this inspires you to do next!

            Comment


            • #7
              OT

              Provo hu? I did 2 year at UVSC and the wife is a BYU grad.
              I also wish that they would do a DTS recording. Can you imagine how awesome that would be?! I guess that not a lot of people would buy it...

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: OT

                I'm pretty sure I have a CD at home, given to me a year or two ago by my sister-in-law, of this Choir, but I don't remember what kind of music is on it, like it's maybe a collection of Christmas-type music.
                Paul

                Originally posted by j_dunavin View Post
                Provo hu? I did 2 year at UVSC and the wife is a BYU grad.
                I also wish that they would do a DTS recording. Can you imagine how awesome that would be?! I guess that not a lot of people would buy it...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: OT

                  It is part of the code of being a dutiful Mormon (LDS) not to ever criticize the choir. However, both my sister and I find their recordings boring. We both have considerable experience playing an instrument in college concert bands.

                  There is no ""there" there in the recordings. They sound flat and like cardboard. There is no ambience, no hint of the venue, none of the marvelous sound of the Tabernacle. Being present in the Tabernacle when the Choir performs is a great experience. On CD, NOT!

                  Years ago on Saturday afternoons I made a special attempt to listen to the Boston Symphony Orchestra on a Chicago FM station. The recordings were made with a blumenthal stereo mike hung high over the orchestra and slightly in front of it, sorta' like first row balcony. Then, a stereo pair was used further back in the hall to capture the ambience. Properly mixed it worked out great. I listened on a stereo pair up front and an ambience pair in the rear, sat more or less in the center of the room, and felt at least a little bit like I was in the concert hall.

                  Someday somebody is going to get this choir properly recorded. Telarc (My CDs) should know better how to do the recording. My $0.02

                  Originally posted by Paul K. View Post
                  I'm pretty sure I have a CD at home, given to me a year or two ago by my sister-in-law, of this Choir, but I don't remember what kind of music is on it, like it's maybe a collection of Christmas-type music.
                  Paul

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Awesome sound...

                    Very interesting, Paul. Many years ago I also had the opportunity to vist there, and I agree. One might be hard pressed to match the experience and the incredible acoustics of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Students at BYU with an ear for music ought to be proud of Brigham Young. ;) I can't imagine it being much different from when I was there, and it would be hard to improve what I, then witnessed. - Truly state of the art, cutting edge, modern sound through the use of old architectural technology!

                    Maybe the only thing that perhaps, could come close to the real thing might be playing back a digital recording through a pair of CantiLenas??? :D

                    Best Regards,
                    Eric

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Awesome sound...

                      Eric, I really enjoyed that performance and can't imagine a better acoustical environment for the choir and orchestra. We're returning home today and tomorrow, I'll dig out my CD of the choir and play it through the canTiLenas. If the CD is any good at all I expect the sound to be good, too, but I doubt it will come very close to sounding like the real thing.

                      Originally posted by nepaeric View Post
                      Very interesting, Paul. Many years ago I also had the opportunity to vist there, and I agree. One might be hard pressed to match the experience and the incredible acoustics of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Students at BYU with an ear for music ought to be proud of Brigham Young. ;) I can't imagine it being much different from when I was there, and it would be hard to improve what I, then witnessed. - Truly state of the art, cutting edge, modern sound through the use of old architectural technology!

                      Maybe the only thing that perhaps, could come close to the real thing might be playing back a digital recording through a pair of CantiLenas??? :D

                      Best Regards,
                      Eric

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: OT

                        Originally posted by dickwest View Post
                        It is part of the code of being a dutiful Mormon (LDS) not to ever criticize the choir. However, both my sister and I find their recordings boring. We both have considerable experience playing an instrument in college concert bands.

                        There is no ""there" there in the recordings. They sound flat and like cardboard. There is no ambience, no hint of the venue, none of the marvelous sound of the Tabernacle. Being present in the Tabernacle when the Choir performs is a great experience. On CD, NOT!
                        I'm a mormon, born and raised in Salt Lake City and I've got to say, I'm not sure what "code" your refering to. Just curious where you got that from.

                        Anyway, I've also had the opportunity of hearing the chior live many times and I absolutely agree with you about the recordings. There has to be a better way to record the chior in the Tabernacle.

                        I recently (mostly) finished a new stereo pair and was excited to listen to the chior through my new more detailed, more dynamic, setup... What a dissapointment. Most other recording really seem to come to life on my new speakers, but the recordings, new and old, that I have of the Mormon Tabernacle Chior simply remained flat and lifeless.

                        There is one older album put out by the chior that does a better job, but it wasn't recorded in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake, it was recorded somwhere in europe I think. I don't recall the name of the album right now, but if anyone is interested in checking it out I'll get it for you.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: OT

                          I will give the MTC another chance. This time on a DVD:

                          Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square [videorecording] : featuring Renee Fleming and Claire Bloom.
                          Publisher Salt Lake City : Mormon Tabernacle Choir / Intellectual Reserve, c2006.


                          I saw this performance via BYUTV on the Internet 2 years ago. It was superb and on my quite good HT surround system (Outlaw pre/pro and 4 Hafler amps) the sound seemed to have some depth and body. I just put this DVD on hold and in a week or so the local library will have it for me. Let's see if this DVD's sound is improved over that of the several CDs I have.

                          We know the MTC has great sound and being there in person is a memorable experience. It is just too bad the sound can't be captured for CD.

                          As for the word "code" (a system of principle or rules), amongst my family and relatives along the Wasatch Front, one must never speak a disparaging word about anything related to The Church -- including the MTC. For the last several Christmases they have given me a MTC CD, for which I just smile and say, Thank you." They are gathering dust here.


                          Originally posted by hershey View Post
                          I've also had the opportunity of hearing the choir live many times and I absolutely agree with you about the recordings. There has to be a better way to record the choir in the Tabernacle.

                          I recently (mostly) finished a new stereo pair and was excited to listen to the choir through my new more detailed, more dynamic, setup... What a disappointment. Most other recording really seem to come to life on my new speakers, but the recordings, new and old, that I have of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir simply remained flat and lifeless.

                          There is one older album put out by the choir that does a better job, but it wasn't recorded in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake, it was recorded somewhere in Europe I think. I don't recall the name of the album right now, but if anyone is interested in checking it out I'll get it for you.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Listening results and comments...

                            The CD I have of the Mormom Tabernacle Choir is titled, "Spirit of America", and it's a compilation of 18, patriotic-type selections, like The Star Spangled Banner, America The Beautiful, etc. I first listened to a number of these tracks yesterday on my cenTiLanas, then again today on my canTiLenas.

                            At the live performance I attended a week ago in Provo, the best way I can describe the sound is it's big, round and engulfing with a significant decay on the "ends". And, it was amazing how easily that 15-member brass/percussion ensemble filled the temple with its sound.

                            I was not disappointed in listening to this CD on either of my speakers systems, but in all fairness, neither could duplicate what I heard live. Both pairs of speakers recreated the natural decay admirably but didn't quite capture the "big" characteristics. The choir's sound approached "big" better than that of the orchestra (which was quite large in comparison to the small ensemble I hear live). The canTiLenas did a better job as I expected they would, but the cenTiLanas were enjoyable in their own right. Some of the tracks sound better than others, and my two favorites both feature musical scores by John Williams, Call of the Champions and America, the Dream Goes On.

                            While, again, not as good-sounding as the real thing, there were some passages that were so good, that I got goose bumps and chills.

                            Overall, I'm pretty pleased with this CD's sound on my audio system. I would not call this recording at all flat or lifeless, but it doesn't completely replicate what I heard live. Of course, most recordings and audio systems can't do that, either, but recordings of solists (vocal or instrumental) and small groups, like a 3-to 5-piece jazz or classical ensemble, played on good audio systems, can often come very close to accurately replicating a live performance.
                            Paul

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