MDG are to release a DVD-Audio disc with loss-less, multi-channel DVD-Video compatible content. This groundbreaking move affords high-resolution audio for those with DVD-Audio players and owners of multi-channel DVD-Video machines.
The Orchester der Beethovenhalle Halle, Bonn (the location of the first Deutsche Bundestag), under conductor Marc Soustrot performs three important French impressionism orchestral works: Debussy’s ‘Prélude à l’après-midi d’une faune’ together with Ravel’s ‘Ma mère l’oye’ and ‘La valse’. The disc also includes the rarely performed symphonic fragments from Debussy’s ‘Le martyre de Saint Sébastien’.
Werner Dabringhaus of MDG spoke exclusively to High Fidelity Review:
“The performances were recorded in the natural acoustics of the Beethoven Halle in Bonn and we optimised the acoustics there by putting away all of the auditorium’s chairs (where the audience would usually sit) resulting in much better reflections from the wooden floor, which we then recorded separately as part of the disc’s surround ambiance.”
As has been the case with all previous MDG releases, the disc is presented using the company’s own ‘2+2+2’ recording scheme, which is compatible with stereo, conventional 3/2.1 multi-channel or an optimised 2+2+2 installation, complete with height channels. The DVD-Audio layer is presented as 96kHz 24-bit.
“The orchestra was situated on the stage, and whilst listening to the disc you will clearly hear the original positions and dynamics of all instruments, including the original elevation of the wind and brass sections on their correspondent higher platforms.”
MDG were also careful not to alter the dynamic range of the music,
“…the first tracks have a very low dynamic in the score so you really hear the original dynamics of the orchestra and appreciate the big crescendos upon the disc, especially when you come to the ‘La Valse’ ending.”
Together with the loss-less MLP track, as is the case with most DVD-Audio discs and all MDG’s previous releases, ‘Debussy/ Ravel: Orchestral Works’ contains a backward-compatible Dolby Digital track so that the disc can be enjoyed in all DVD-Video players, but also included is a second, uncompressed loss-less layer containing six channels of 48kHz 20-bit PCM. This means that anyone with a DVD-Video player containing an integral multi-channel decoder (normally used for Dolby Digital or DTS playback) can enjoy the title without the need for lossy compression.
Werner is clearly excited by this unusual and innovative move;
“Now you are no longer condemned to inferior Dolby Digital fidelity when using a DVD-Video player. Uff – what a difference.”
For those with multi-channel DVD-Video players, simply pressing the ‘audio’ button on the remote control will switch from the lossy Dolby Digital track to the loss-less PCM.
“With this new playback option, we achieve the widest possible compatibility from DVD-Audio, which now can be replayed on every DVD-Audio and DVD-Video player, or even every SACD/DVD-Video player (be it in stereo, 5.1 or in 2+2+2) in the best quality linear PCM the platform is able to provide.”
‘Debussy/ Ravel: Orchestral Works’ has a running time of sixty-four minutes and is catalogue number MDG 937 1099-5. The DVD-Audio version will be available soon and the performances can also be ordered as a two-channel 44.1kHz 16-bit Compact Disc, MDG 337 1099-2.