Hi-Res Downloads, April 2023

hfnalbumOctave Records
The Art Of HiFi, Vol 1: Bass (DSD64-256; 44.1-352.8kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.psaudio.com; Octave Records OCT0030

Forget thoughts of those horrendous compilations designed to shake the body-panels of 'modded' Saxos and 106s with subwoofers worth more than the car itself crammed into the boot... Instead, this is a much more considered set of tracks, designed to explore how good bass, not just more bass, should sound. The first volume in a planned series from PS Audio's Octave label, this is also its first with company CEO Paul McGowan at the controls. It claims to test out and really show off your system's low end with some great music. Recorded simply, and straight to DSD256, this set delivers on its promise, from the five-string bass of the Seth Lewis Trio's pair of tracks to Tom Amend's multi-instrumentalism and the massive scale of church – or in this case synagogue – organ. Whether you want to showcase your system or just enjoy the music, this is a fine buy. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
With the emphasis on 'bass' perhaps the bandwidth afforded by 352.8kHz sampling is overkill, however trk 5 has distortion out to 60kHz and trk 9 some mixed-rate (44.1kHz) content. Trk 6 is good to 35kHz [DSD128, black trace]. PM


Steven Isserlis, Connie Shih
A Golden Cello Decade 1878-1888 (96-192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)*
www.hyperion-records.co.uk; Hyperion CDA68394

OK, so not all the music here was written for cello, nor composed during the ten-year period of the title (shifted from 1880-90 to take in Le Beau's 'Cello Sonata In D minor'), but to quibble on those grounds would be churlish as Isserlis has an obvious rapport with pianist Shih. Harpist Olivia Jageurs joins for the opening Bruch 'Kol Nidrei' before the set moves on through works by Strauss, Dvořák and the aforementioned Le Beau, concluding with short pieces by Ernst David Wagner and Isaac Nathan reflecting the opening work. Thus bookended, this is a thrilling recording, both for the musicianship of all concerned and the discovery of that Le Beau piece, and it's treated to a glorious Henry Wood Hall recording by producer Jonathan Allen and engineer Arne Akselberg. It's a delight from start to finish. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Tested in 192kHz 'Studio Master' guise, the ~45kHz bandwidth occupied here – largely by the strings rather than piano – suggests it's an upsample of an original 96kHz file. Either way, this is a 'clean' recording, peaking at –0.05dBFs. PM

2746 X

Enrico Rava, Fred Hersch
The Song Is You (44.1kHz/16-bit, FLAC)
www.ecmrecords.com; ECM 2746

Here's an unusual pairing – 83-year-old avantgarde jazz trumpeter Enrico Rava on flugelhorn with pianist Fred Hersch, best known as a totally mainstream player. That's it: no bass or drums, just the two instruments and arguably two very different genres coming together in a programme of familiar standards and less well-known tunes. And yet it works so well, in a very fine-detailed and even more finely crafted 'ECM' manner. There's nothing here to spook the horses, as the duo set out their stall with a relaxed opener, Antonio Carlos Jobim's 'Retrato em Branco e Preto', before moving into a rather more challenging inspiration. But beyond that we get one track apiece by each of the two, and standards such as 'The Song Is You' and an almost abstract, stripped-down 'Round Midnight'. Tinkling piano and breathy brass? Of course – walk right this way... AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Supplied as a CD-resolution file (44.1kHz/16-bit) the limited ~22kHz bandwidth is still sufficient to capture the piano, mostly sub-10kHz, and upper harmonics of the flugelhorn. Maximum peaks are well managed and held to –3.7dBFs. PM


Machaut/The Orlando Consort
Remede De Fortune (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.hyperion-records.co.uk; Hyperion CDA68399

Continuing its survey of the extensive works of 14th century French poet/composer Guillaume de Machaut, including previous releases The Single Rose, Sovereign Beauty nd The Lion Of Nobility, the Orlando Consort again makes a great case for wider awareness of a writer once seen on a par with Chaucer, whose work he is said to have influenced. Beautifully performed by the Consort's perfectly-matched quartet of unaccompanied voices and recorded in an atmospherically reverberant church acoustic, this selection of pieces from his massive (4000+ lines) Remede De Fortune is delivered with every word of courtly love crisply captured. Overall, this recording is of exceptional quality, and is a highly rewarding listen. The Orlandos are clearly at ease with this demanding music, and their voices blend as impressively as they shine when singing solo. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Hyperion makes great use of the 24-bit range by keeping peaks outside the top 6dB (minimising stress on the attached DAC/analogue stage). Noise is slightly high (and spurious peak ~25kHz) but the dynamic range remains excellent. PM


Edward Hart/Charleston SO
Under An Indigo Sky (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.navonarecords.com; NV6497

This release from Grammy award-winning New Hampshire-based production company Parma's classical label, Navona, features two works by Edward Hart, composer-in-residence with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. As well as the title work, a violin concerto aiming to reflect Southern landscapes, it includes A Charleston Concerto, marking the city's 350th anniversary, and with the orchestra augmented by the Harlem Quartet. Both works are at times snappy and rhythmic, then rich and romantic, recording engineer Robert Friedrich capturing soloist and CSO Artistic Director Yuriy Bekker as persuasively as the at-times lush orchestral sound. The recordings were captured in the city's Gaillard Center Performance Hall, which adds its own ambience to proceedings. For hardware geeks, the rear of the booklet has a fulsome list of the equipment used. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded and mastered through Merging Tech. Pyramix DAW/HAPI hardware, this 'clean' 96kHz rendering shows excellent bandwidth and dynamic range (despite higher-than-average analogue noise) with peaks limited to –0.3dBFs. PM