Oslo, Norway (January 5, 2007)–Norwegian classical composer Knut Nystedt, born in 1915, has won many accolades over his long lifetime. Now an SACD (Super Audio CD) of his choral works has become the first Norwegian recording to be nominated for more than one category at the U.S. Grammy Awards. The contents of the hybrid stereo/surround sound disc were edited and mastered on Merging Technologies’ Pyramix digital audio workstation.
When the list of nominations for the 49th Grammy awards was announced in early December 2006, Immortal Nystedt had been nominated in both the Best Surround Sound Album and also in the Best Choral Performance categories (see www.grammy.com/GRAMMY_Awards/49th_Show/list.aspx for a full list). The album was recorded in 2004 in time for release in 2005 to commemorate Knut Nystedt’s 90th birthday, and features a series of unaccompanied Nystedt choral works sung mostly by the Ensemble 96 choir (with guest appearances by the Bærum Vokalensemble), led by the Norwegian conductor Øystein Fevang. It is one of several classical SACDs which have now been recorded in true surround by producer Morten Lindberg for his 2L label and production company Lindberg Lyd, using an array of DPA microphones set up for surround recording.
Lindberg Lyd have used a Merging Pyramix system (with high-quality Millennia Media preamps and Merging’s own Sphynx2 A-D converters) for all their high-resolution Hybrid stereo and surround SACD work for a couple of years, with the emphasis now on the surround version of the recording rather than the stereo. Morten Lindberg and his chief engineer Hans Peter L’Orange are both fans of Pyramix’s ability to record at the high rates required for the production of SACDs, and have been steadily improving their recording setup since they produced Immortal Nystedt. That recording was made in 24-bit resolution at a sampling rate of 48kHz, but by this year they had upgraded their Pyramix system with Merging’s DXD option, which records at 24-bit and 352.8kHz (eight times the standard CD sampling rate), to permit them to make recordings of the very best available quality.
The 1-bit, 2.82MHz sampling-rate DSD bitstream delivery format used in SACD manufacture is an excellent format, but DSD audio cannot be edited or processed without being converted to multi-bit PCM audio first, and back to DSD afterwards, which adversely affects the quality of a recording, particularly its noise characteristics. By recording, processing and, where necessary, mixing in DXD, and only converting to the non-editable DSD format at the final stage before SACD manufacture, the quality of high-resolution recordings is preserved at all stages of the production process. “We’ve used other DAWs in the past, but we outgrew them,” explained Lindberg. “Pyramix has proved to be the first workstation we’ve used that has moved with us. We can directly communicate our needs with the excellent crew at Merging Technologies and get a response–and not just an answer, but a fully working function!”
“Immortal Nystedt was recorded before Merging released their 5.0 software with its improved SACD and DXD support,” added L’Orange. “As soon as that was ready, we started recording directly on a dual-Mykerinos Pyramix system. This has given us vastly improved flexibility when recording, and has boosted our efficiency, making it easy to move from recording to editing, mixing and mastering. After trying out the DXD format we have been convinced of its sonic superiority, and decided to use it as our preferred recording format. The Sphynx2 and Pyramix really bring out the best in whatever source we are recording.”
September of ’06 saw the release of Lindberg Lyd’s first fully-fledged DXD production, an album of Mozart violin concertos played by Marianne Thorsen and the Trondheimsolistene ensemble.
With Immortal Nystedt, Lindberg and L’Orange have been pleasantly surprised that the recording was nominated in two categories–and the Best Surround Sound category is a particular joy for the pair. “Two Grammy nominations are hardly what you expect when you’re running a small record label in a small country,” Lindberg commented. “But it serves to prove that even small labels have a chance. It is a great honor to be nominated in the company of such fine colleagues.”
Immortal Nystedt is available as a dual-layer stereo and surround disc, which can be played in both SACD-compatible and traditional CD players, albeit with stereo reproduction in the latter. The Grammy winners will be announced at the 49th annual awards ceremony, which is being held in Hollywood on February 11th, 2007.