Brahms: 2 Piano Concertos - Gilels, Jochum

Brahms: 2 Piano Concertos - Gilels, Jochum

Tower Universal Vintage  PROC-1988 (2 discs)

Stereo Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Brahms: Piano Concertos, 4 Ballades, Famtasias Op. 116

Emil Gilels (piano)
Berliner Philharmoniker
Eugen Jochum (conductor)

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Analogue recording
Comments (20)

Comment by Steven Harrison - August 23, 2017 (1 of 20)

Remastered by Emil Berliner Studios in August 2016 from 192/24 files from the archived original masters.
I waited a long time for this set to come out on sacd. I had pretty much given up hoping and then there it was reissued by Tower Japan.
Given the lack of new high rez recordings of the Brahms Piano Concertos, nice to have this set along with all the other reissues.

Comment by hiredfox - August 30, 2017 (2 of 20)

Always the clear first choice for this repertoire and some way ahead of the best of the rest.

Pollini has been re-issued on Universal single layer. How do these re-mastered Tower discs compare with Universal's which are re-mastered in DSD?

Comment by Nick - August 31, 2017 (3 of 20)

Funnily enough I had been waiting so long for this I downloaded the 96/24 files from Presto a few weeks ago!

My memories over the years from the Originals CD releases had been a fair bit of hiss, that is nearly all gone now.

Sound is generally good (I would say 7/10)*, better than the Pollini 96/24 Chopin Polonaise downloads (which in turn are much better than the truly horrible original Pollini CD release....), though I much prefer Stephen Bishop's 1980 LSO/Davis traversals for both performance and sound, even though only Redbook.

It may only be my system or ears but I have always much preferred Decca or Philips sound to DG.


*In the interests of full disclosure, quale orrore!, I have to admit I use DTS:Neural X on stereo sources......

Comment by Steven Harrison - September 2, 2017 (4 of 20)

HF, I don't have the Pollini discs, so cannot comment on a comparison. As to comparisons with what I do have, I think the sound is slightly better on the Esoteric Brahms First than here. I also think the sound is slightly better on the Arrau Emi single layer release of the Brahms First. For the Second concerto I think the sound is better on both the Backhaus 2004 Universal release and the Richter Emi single layer.
As to the remastering, I was merely repeating what was listed on the obi. I did not know that DGG had archived anything in 24/192, but apparently they have.

Comment by Steven Harrison - August 24, 2020 (5 of 20)

I now have a Ruby player, officially the Marantz SA-KI Ruby. This is the single ended output stage version of the SA-10, complete with Ken Ishiwata signature plate and itsy bitsy little ruby. It is a game changer for listening to sacd discs! Everything to Quad DSD and low pass filtered down to analog signal. No conversions of sacd and no dac chip. HiredFox has reported a bit on his SA-10. He did not understate anything.
I've had this Brahms set since it first came out. I played it with every system upgrade I did. The sound never improved much, and I felt was a bit ordinary for an sacd. But not any more!
The Ruby does absolute magic with analogue recorded sacd reissues. The music just comes alive. It's not quite the same as a pure DSD disc, like one from Channel Classics which stays in DSD always, but the sound is close. This Brahms set is Vintage Coll. Vol.2. I just received Vol.1 of the Jochum Bruckner release, Vintage Coll. Vol. 23, and the sound is even better and almost like a new recording.
It all has to do with the Ruby player. Pity that we get this when discs are on the wane, but Marantz has just released the SA-12SE, so the players continue on. Anyone who values their sacd collection really needs one of these new Marantz players in able to fully enjoy what is on the discs!!

Comment by hiredfox - August 25, 2020 (6 of 20)

I suspect but do not know for sure that analogue tape to DSD unedited avoids any contamination by PCM (including DXD) at any point in the recording chain. For re-mastered analogue tapes much depends on the quality of the original tapes; if they are limited by recording techniques of the time or simply flawed by age, wear & tear

Many modern DSD recordings are in fact seemingly edited in DXD so the DSD chain is broken. This may depend upon the amount of editing involved. Thus many modern so-called DSD recordings are in fact compromised in their production and although they sound pretty good they do not have that airy, silky quality of pure DSD or the very best DSD re-masters.

Your new Marantz Ruby SACD player reads the DSD signal and keeps it in the DSD domain right through to the analogue outs so you are hearing probably the purest form of DSD from these re-mastered recordings. On several occasions I have posted rave notices for some Universal re-masters.

You are a lucky man. Many mch aficianados reject Marantz because they are stereo only machines, a pity as quantity is no match for quality.

Comment by Steven Harrison - August 25, 2020 (7 of 20)

Yes, I am quite lucky as I got the last Ruby in Australia at the authorized sale price. I had no real idea that it would be as good as it is. Thus my comments.

Oh for sure there are differences in sacd's far beyond the fact that the discs are all issued in 1 bit. Just look at the number of discs listed on this site as compared to the number of listings on Only Channel Classics and some small labels with only a few releases have offerings that never ever leave the 1 bit domain. The others have all had some post processing, usually in DXD, which is the least lossy way to do it. There is no post processing ability in 1 bit other that the DSD-Wide short edits that Jared does at Channel.
Reissues are totally different. But thus far to me, the analogue to DSD re-issues seem to sound really good. With the Japanese issues, it is hard to know due to the language issue. The Analogue Production reissues are all analogue to DSD as Chad will not accept anything other that original master tapes.

Nonetheless, these new Marantz players, the 10, the new 12, and the Ruby are a cut above all other players.

Comment by hiredfox - August 26, 2020 (8 of 20)

For years I had been a fervent promoter of the merits of Ken's SA7-S1 limited edition reference player - he once promised me (at a trade show) there would be a S2 version one day.

To extract the best from the SA7-S1 you needed to tag it to a dCS Puccini Master Clock to get every thing tightly in focus, timing was everything. One suspects Ken knew of this weakness and hence the thought of a S2 version but it never materialised.

Only when the SA-10 was launched did the limitations of the clocked SA7 and just about every other SACD players out there for that matter became shockingly apparent.

This transformational experience is one that you have now discovered and embraced. One doubts you will ever want or need to buy another SACD player. Why would you, this is about as good as SACD gets.

I have not been able to get my hands on the SA12 SE yet so cannot make any comment on its merits or otherwise. It has a price point well below your Ruby so there will have been some compromises made. Not exactly a budget player at £3K 'though.

Comment by Steven Harrison - August 26, 2020 (9 of 20)

Yes, the Ruby is about as good as it gets I think. Previously I had used a re-engineered SA-8260 player for years. It was quite a good sounding player. But as an early generation player it suffered from laser issues. However, right out of the box, the Ruby was a superior player in every way. I was stunned. I then understood all of your comments on your SA-10 that I had read.
From what I can tell, the new SA-12 is the Ruby player sans the copper chassis, Ken Ishiwata signature and little ruby. The manufacturer description shows it to be internally the same as the Ruby. And to clarify a bit, the SA-12 is a Japanese/Asian market player. Apparently it was quite successful and so Marantz decided to release it in the EU market and dub it the SA-12SE.
I saw these SA-12's show up on ebay awhile ago and got confused. There had been an SA-12 universal player in the early 00's that was the Marantz version of the Philips 1000 player that had the faulty chip. It took awhile for me to sort out that there was a new SA-12.
It's just a pity that these new players are coming to market just when sacd disc production is falling. The music we now hear is what we all thought we were going to hear when sacd first came out.

Comment by Tony Reif - August 30, 2020 (10 of 20)

I have a Ruby myself and greatly enjoy it. As for the SA12SE, I remember reading somewhere when the SA-12 came out in Japan that it was not identical to the Ruby sound-wise, that it was designed for Japanese ears whereas Ken I. had voiced the Ruby for the international market. But what the differences might be I don't know. In any case the SE is a revamped version - but is it a Ruby clone, or have Marantz used some different parts?

Comment by hiredfox - August 31, 2020 (11 of 20)

It is not impossible that Ken Ishiwata's fame and stranglehold on the "Marantz sound' was irksome to some younger designers in the Marantz organisation who perhaps have had their own view of the sound they would like from a Marantz but have had no chance to express themselves. Now that Ken has gone maybe the SA12SE is this different take on the sound to the Ruby which is Ken I through and through.

Hopefully somebody with golden ears will have the chance to make the comparison.

As far as I am concerned the Ken I sound is about as good as it gets so far. We will miss his input.s

Comment by Steven Harrison - September 3, 2020 (12 of 20)

Marantz has just announced a new player, the Marantz 30n. This is a player similar to the Ruby and the SA-12 but has the addition of an ethernet connection to allow for streaming. This would certainly qualify as the first post Ken player. The numbering is completely new as well. It seems to be at the same price point as the 12.

Comment by hiredfox - September 4, 2020 (13 of 20)

Indeed Steve and our suspicions are more for less confirmed in the attached link.

Here is their introductory blurb and a quote from it;

"The SACD 30n is tuned by the Marantz Sound Master, who channeled his passion, experience, and extraordinary ear into every aspect of its unsurpassed design." His pic is found on the linked website.

Poor old Ken, hardly out the door and some other publicity seeking extraordinarily eared guru comes forward! Not one mention of Ken, not one. I hope they are not going to airbrush Ken from their history. Company politics aye? Yuk!

Comment by operamuso2 - December 5, 2020 (14 of 20)

Back on topic - enthusiasm for the SQ of this seems to be muted, so I'm really wondering if it's going to be worth the investment to replace my perfectly satisfactory Originals redbook CDs. Anyone have any strongly positive opinions on it please? The performances of course are superb - I've known and loved them since I had the LPs as a teenager.

Comment by Contrapunctus - December 9, 2020 (15 of 20)

Operamuso2, 4/4 recommend this album - and I'm one of them. I don't have the RBCD version (any more), but I did some comparison between a highres download of this album, that was gathered most likely from the 'originals-remasterings', so consequently it's available in PCM 24/96. This TowerRecords release uses a different remastering, that was done by Emil Berliner Studios for exactly this new album (2017? I'm not sure about the year). Anyway, this new EBS remaster is to my ears superior to the older one and it's definetely a step forward. You said, that you're loving these recordings for a long time, so I really would like to encourage you to acquire one copy of this album - as long as it's readily available! As a side note, I can only underline the other comments' statements regarding the Marantz players (SA-10/Ruby/SA-12SE): it's a new (sound)world.

Comment by Steven Harrison - December 9, 2020 (16 of 20)

Operamuso, I commented on the sound quality - ordinary with my older Marantz player, and SUPERB with my new Ruby. Frankly, that is all you need to know.

Comment by Contrapunctus - December 10, 2020 (17 of 20)

Steven, you're so right! - After writing the above reply I listened to the 1st concert of this album in the evening. I had completely forgotten that I hadn't heard it in a long time. So I was (again) surprised about the 'new' sound of my SA-10. Although I own the SA-10 for more than a year now, there are still some discoveries of old SACDs lying in the shelves!

Comment by operamuso2 - December 10, 2020 (18 of 20)

Thanks everyone - looks as though I'm going to be spending yet more money on SACDs!

Comment by Hui Zhu - December 15, 2020 (19 of 20)

Another vote for the Marantz, I recently got the SA-KI Ruby and it blew my Esoteric SA-50 out of the water.

Comment by operamuso2 - January 26, 2021 (20 of 20)

I've now had a serious listen, and while in terms of SQ this is the best version of these glorious performances I have heard, (detail, transparency, space around players) I wouldn't place it particularly high in absolute terms amongst SACDs. The piano sound is excellent, but there is a slight hardness and brightness to the orchestral sound, particularly that of the violins, which is less than ideal - and especially so in Brahms.
My setup is pretty revealing and neutral (dCS Puccini player and clock) and I think my reservations do stem from the discs and not my equipment. Of course it may well be that the remastering is revealing as never before any flaws in the original recordings, but apart from Gilels's extraordinary pianissimi which come over marvellously I don't find quite as much sonic magic in these discs as I was expecting.