Stay in Tune with PentaTone
PentaTone Classics PTC 5186086
"Stay in Tune with PentaTone"
Review by Graham Williams - May 29, 2006
This SACD is an essential purchase for anyone who has a multi-channel system and wants to make sure that they are getting the best from it.
The first 70 minutes of this 94-minute hybrid disc (tracks 1-14) are a showcase for some of PentaTone’s excellent and varied releases, but unlike many samplers these are complete movements of works rather than faded out snippets. Listening to them one after the other makes one realise how brilliantly PentaTone have captured the acoustics of the many different recording venues and the overall high quality of their recordings.
Although you may already have one or more of the SACDs from which these excerpts are taken, you may find, as I did, something unfamiliar. In my case it was the Taneyev ‘At the Reading of a Psalm’ which I intend to investigate further.
The remainder of the disc (tracks 15-48) is only available to those with a surround system.
Tracks 15-17 are designed to make your friends gasp with amazement at the possibilities of surround sound.
First we have a recording made on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland between 4.30 am and 6am which re-creates the great outdoors in your listening room with startling realism. Next we have a steam train arriving and departing from a station that brings to mind those early stereo demonstration LPs - great fun. Finally there is an recording made at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo of a pipe band entering the castle gate into the Esplanade, again very impressive, unless you are allergic to the sound of bagpipes. The gunfire near the start will certainly test your main speakers and subwoofer.
The remaining tracks (18-48) consist of a series of test tones that enable you to check and refine all aspects of your surround set up.
The SACD booklet has eight pages of detailed and very clearly written instructions in English on how to use each of the tests and make adjustments. Section headings are:
What is this test for?
How do I use this test?
How can I make it better?
Even the least technically minded listeners should be able to use these tests with ease and make substantial improvements to the performance of their system.
One of the most useful of all was the Audible LFE Calibration (tracks 36-42) that enables you to set the level of your subwoofer so that it integrates perfectly with the other speakers, never an easy task, without any measuring equipment. The difference in overall sound quality when you get it right is amazing.
With this disc PentaTone have provided a most valuable system tuning tool, and you get 70 minutes of great music as well!
Copyright © 2006 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net