Hi-Res Downloads, March 2022

hfnalbumBonnie & Taylor Sims
Levelland (DSD64; 44.1-192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.psaudio.com/products; Octave Records 0011

This album by the Texas-born husband and wife duo, now based in Octave's 'more bluegrass-friendly' home state of Colorado, is an absolute delight. As the two say on their website, 'We've been at this for a while', but this acoustic country release, named for the 'very underwhelming town' in Texas where the two met, and recorded direct to DSD by Gus Skinas in Octave's preferred Animal Lane Studio, sounds entirely fresh and intimate, with every vocal and instrumental nuance readily apparent without being hurled at you in an excessively 'hi-fi' manner. The Sims play mandolin, guitar and occasionally bass, and their superb harmonies show all the benefits of their extensive history of performing together. The tracklist is mainly self-penned, adding to the freshness of the experience, and the close-up nature of the recording adds enormously to the rather magical 'you are there' experience. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Captured live in DSD using Sony and AKG mics, and subsequently mixed in DSD, it's these DSF files that offer the wider dynamic range, none peaking higher than –1.8dBFs. The 192kHz conversions [black] are running 3-4dB 'hotter'. PM


The Gesualdo Six
English Motets (96kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.hyperion-records.co.uk; Hyperion CDA68256

This debut recording, made in Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge in early 2017 and released the following year, set the bar high for subsequent outings by Owain Park's male vocal ensemble. The content may be unfamiliar to many, covering works by the likes of Tallis, Byrd, Sheppard, Dunstable and Cornysh. However, this is a fascinating set not just for the sheer quality of performance, production and engineering – the latter two by Adrian Peacock and David Hinitt – but in the way this potted survey illustrates the development of the motet style from the late 15th century to the early 17th, the period of the English Renaissance. As ever, the ensemble of two countertenors, tenors and basses, and a single baritone – doesn't that make it a Gesualdo Seven? – sounds impeccable, and the sense of the performers in an expansive acoustic is remarkable. AE

Sound Quality: 90%


Lab Report
Another clean 96kHz/24-bit Hyperion recording with peak-to-RMS ratios between 15-20dB and absolute peaks no higher than –0.3dBFs. The ~48kHz bandwidth is wholly sufficient to capture these exquisitely clear voices. PM


Thomas Oliemans/Amsterdam Sinfonietta/Candida Thompson
Formidable! (French Chansons) (DSD64-512; DXD; 192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)
www.nativedsd.com; Channel Classics CCS 43321

The mix of French chanson performed by a Dutch baritone and instrumental ensemble, directed by an English violinist, may seem a highly unlikely recipe for success, but this is a joyously exuberant set almost guaranteed to raise a smile. Captured direct to DSD256 by Channel Classics founder Jared Sacks, the recording does a super job of getting out of the way of the performances, letting them shine through to give a really live feel to the whole enterprise. Oliemans delivers classics such as Charles Trenet's 'Boum!' and 'La Mer' with the same smile in his voice as he displays on the cover, the Sinfonietta is clearly having a blast, and the guest performers – Bert van den Brink on piano and accordion, Ruben Drenth on trumpet and flugelhorn, and drummer Jens Meijer – all bring something special to the party. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded in DSD256 and then resampled to DSD64-512 and converted to DXD/192kHz [green trace, RMS], the former peak no higher than –5.5dBFs while the PCM files are ~5.8dB higher. The DSD256 offering has the edge in performance. PM


Gábor Csordás, Sándor Tóth, Tamás Hidász & Vince Bartók
Chasing A Dream (DSD64-512)
www.nativedsd.com; Hunnia Records HRES2122

The Native DSD online music store is making lesser-known labels' output more widely known, and this live recording, made in Hungary's SuperSize Studio, is just one of many excellent and always fascinating releases from the Hunnia Records label. The set includes original compositions by pianist Csordás, ably backed by innovative bassist Bartók and drummer Hidász, with saxophonist Tóth joining the ensemble on soprano for just one track. The freshness of the performances, and the improvisational style, are well served by the recording technique, and playing this set in its original DSD256 gives an impression of being as close as possible to sitting in the studio as the musicians play. There's punch, drive and a real sense of fun, not least in the 12-minute-plus wildness of 'Fresh', which is pure jazz-disco. Huge fun. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded in DSD256 via a Hapi ADC and Pyramix software, this collaboration is available as resampled files from DSD64-512, the '64 running ~1.6dB 'hotter' than the DSD256. DSD128 captures the range but DSD64 is truncated [black]. PM


Octave Records
Audiophile Masters Volume II
(DSD64; 44.1-192kHz/24-bit, FLAC)

www.psaudio.com/products; Octave Records 0012

An offshoot of hi-fi manufacturer PS Audio, the Octave Records label has rapidly established itself as a source of excellent recordings that do the audiophile thing without ever losing sight of the music. This, the second of what are now three samplers from its output, provides both an excellent overview and a fine taster of what the label is all about. Using the company's in-house DSD recording system, and capturing music in venues local to its Boulder, Colorado, base (from an intimate studio to a cavernous church acoustic), this set includes a wide range of musical styles. Included are the sprightly 'Tango' for string quartet by Michael MacLean to the folk of Bonnie & Taylor Sims and the jazz of Briana Harris. Add in the exemplary sound quality, and you have a sampler that's a hugely enjoyable listen in its own right. AE

Sound Quality: 85%


Lab Report
Recorded in DSD64 but mixed in the analogue domain, these tracks were subsequently re-encoded as DSD [red, peak; blue, RMS] and 192kHz [black, peak]. In this case the DSD renderings have the wider dynamic range. PM