Deutsche Grammophon sound quality

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Da He Hua, Feb 18, 2017.

  1. Da He Hua

    Da He Hua Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Do people mostly collect DGG records for music and performance merits rather than sound quality? I have a fairly large collection of DGG, spanning from early tulips to digital in the 1980's. But I have never been impressed by their sonic virtues. They are not necessarily bad, but generally are just mediocre compared to other leading labels. Occasionally one gets something like Bernstein's recording of the complete opera Carmen, which sounds fantastic, but from a sonic perspective, it is so uncharacteristic of DGG. It seems odd that the recording engineers in Hanover were just way behind those at Decca, EMI, or RCA and Mercury. Did they just not care much about sonic qualities but focus more on music instead? But I thought people like Karajan cared a lot about sound, and he had DGG record most of his recordings for decades! But his better-sounding recordings are typically from Decca and some from EMI.
     
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  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    I don't know a single collector who collects any DG, they find the sound overall lackluster.

    I have about 25 of them, I like them.
     
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  3. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Stockholm
    What is it that You don´t like. I find many rather natural myself, and not so close miked as many others. It will very much come down to what perspective of the hall we like. I find e.g. Decca rather unnatural. Philips are also well done.
     
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  4. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    In later years Deutsche Grammophon's studio recordings were made in Berlin.
     
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  5. Chemguy

    Chemguy Forum Resident

    I have absolutely never been impressed with that label. So much of it is so thin sounding.
     
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  6. princesskiki

    princesskiki Kiki's Mom

    There are probably many factors that contribute to DGG's signature sound but their recording technique and philosophy are probably the biggest factors. I am guessing that you dislike the general lack of room/hall ambience.

    As you mention, there are several exceptions to the DGG sound. I would track down every single LP performed by Seiji Ozawa with San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. All of those DGG LP's have the sound that I think you will like. All of them also have excellent performance.
     
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  7. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    To be amazed, most Japanese, maybe Koreans also, think DGG recording has great(est) audiophile quality. In the meantime, Living Stereo and Living Presence Stereo are rarely considered to be audiophile labels. And EMI productions are supposed to be very poor sounding.
     
  8. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    They were produced by an American producer, Thomas Mowrey, who mixed down the multi track tape himself, which made differences than other DGG productions.
     
  9. Da He Hua

    Da He Hua Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    What particular features of DGG do oriental collectors like? And conversely what about RCA and Mercury do they not like?
     
  10. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Pre 1973 and USA originated DGG recordings were higher quality than what came later. DGG began de-horning (polishing) their stampers, this degraded their sonics. Their 1958-1968 recordings were less multi-miked than what came later on. And their pre-oil shortage pressings were much better quality than what followed post 1975.
     
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  11. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    Everything. As for the sound, it seems that their heavily multi miking sound is considered to be very "German" in other words, authentic sound for classical music. It has been praised as "real concert presence sound".
    Interestingly (or as a corollary) Mercury LPS sounds too clear for them making them to think it's multi miked recording and far from real concert sound. RCA? Just out of their interests.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
  12. delmonaco

    delmonaco Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sofia, Bulgaria
    From my experience the most inconsistent (SQ-wise) main classical label is EMI - some of their recordings sounds great, many are mediocre, and some are just terrible. I never had really bad sounding DGG record - they sounds either great or good. RCA have many fantastic sounding recording, but also many very mediocre and even really bad. As for Mercury - I never heard a Mercury record that's not outstanding. DECCA and Philips are also usually always great. (my opinion is based on the fact that I own and heard (in LP and CD format) many many classical recordings by EMI, DGG, DECCA and Philips, and not so many by RCA and Mercury.).
    So to me DGG is always a safe bet sound wise, no idea why is this bad reputation among some audiophiles.
     
  13. Ted Dinard

    Ted Dinard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston suburb
    I think of DGG as solid. I buy them when they're cheap, and it's music I want. The orchestras, conductors, and artists are almost always worth owning. You can have a very powerful experience listening to them.

    They're like Philips, which are maybe even be more consistently fine--fine as in good and good enough.

    The top for me is Decca/London. I know people sometimes say they're over-dramatic. But stepping into a concert hall and being immersed in music is a pretty dramatic experience.

    These generalizations are bad though. I can think of not-great-sounding records on just about every classical label I have.

    As I type this, I'm having a very good experience listening to a Nonesuch: Haydn organ concerto, nocturnes, etc. sourced from a Club Français Du Disque recording. It sounds spectacular to me.
     
  14. Daily Nightly

    Daily Nightly Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    The name THOMAS MOWREY was (previously) mentioned: He, also, was the producer assigned to Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops in 1969 (when they went to Polydor; after 35 years at RCA).

    IMO: he brought an ENTIRE NEW "ENERGY" to the Pops' sound at that time and recorded demo-quality albums of them. He'd gotten rid of the 1950s-type, Leroy Anderson-"kitsch" their sound had been plagued with for most of their remaining RCA years; by (tastefully) adapting a nice balance of songs from rock-era singer/songwriters (notably, Paul Simon) where, the song had the quality of becoming a "standard" and (therefore) DIDN'T seem so grossly tacky in an orchestral setting.

    Thomas Mowrey was, as well, an uncredited consultant of quadraphonic recording techniques (even though DGG never let him release a quad mix).
     
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  15. LitHum05

    LitHum05 American Expat Audiophile

    Location:
    Taipei, Taiwan
    I picked up a tulip pressing of Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony today. In my haste, I did not realize it was US-pressed before I bought it. Darn! Does anyone know how bad US-pressed tulips sound? I’m dreading going home to listen to this thing.
     
  16. augustwest

    augustwest Forum Resident

    Location:
    los angeles, ca
    From 1980 or so, up until the 4D releases, with an occasional exception the DG releases were awful. As a classical music enthusiast I always avoided those like the plague. The earlier DG recordings could be hit or miss too but not as bad as that era. A safer bet if the performance/performer(s) are acceptable to you, soundwise, is; Philips, Decca/London, Mercury, RCA, Hyperion. Also hit, or miss; CBS, Columbia (pre-Sony), as is, as point out above EMI/Angel.
     
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  17. augustwest

    augustwest Forum Resident

    Location:
    los angeles, ca
    "What particular features of DGG do oriental collectors like?"

    That the company is German. They worship German made products, like motor cars and DG recordings.
     
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  18. princesskiki

    princesskiki Kiki's Mom

    You need to check the dead wax. If the Matrix is German then you're okay. If it is handwritten then it's a US mastering.
     
  19. elaterium

    elaterium Forum Resident

    I’ve never been bothered by their recording quality. They had such quiet pressings and could fit half hour on a side and still have it sound good. I was heavily into European avant-garde music in the 60s and 70s and that was THE label for me.
     
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  20. Jerquee

    Jerquee Take this, brother, may it serve you well.

    Location:
    New York
    I somehow enjoyed their thin jackets and plastic-lined inner sleeves. It seemed exotic and audiophile. Never took issue with the sonics.
     
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  21. LitHum05

    LitHum05 American Expat Audiophile

    Location:
    Taipei, Taiwan
    How is a matrix in German?
     
  22. BrentB

    BrentB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwestern US
    They sound good to me. Not necessarily great, but at times they are. I have about 50-60 of them and they are welcome in my collection. Then again my favorite sounding classical label is Columbia Masterworks from the late 50's-80's.
     
  23. Mrtn77

    Mrtn77 Forum Resident

    Location:
    European Union
    What European avant-garde music did DG release in the 60s and 70s ? Were they doing Nono by then ? Berio ?
     
  24. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
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  25. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
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