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[مراجعة مصغرة]I listened to John Williams with 20 million KEF premium class speakers – AV Watch

[مراجعة مصغرة]I listened to John Williams with 20 million KEF premium class speakers – AV Watch

Audio and visual critic Reiji Asakura

Film music legend John Williams came to Japan for the first time in 30 years and performed with the Saito Kenen Orchestra for the first time in a concert titled “John Williams in Tokyo”, held on May 3 on a SACD/CD recording released on BD. Audiovisual critic Reiji Asakura, who heard this work, was so moved that he said: “We cannot afford not to hold an event for this work.” A preview was held at the KEF Music Expo in Aoyama, Tokyo.

“John Williams in Tokyo” was released on May 3rd
Blu-ray + SACD Deluxe Edition: 12,000 yen UCGG-9233 (3-disc set)

In September 2023, John Williams was invited by Seiji Ozawa to organize the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, of which Mr. Ozawa is General Director, and founder of Deutsche Grammophon, a prestigious classical music label held in conjunction with the festival, to Japan for a special performance in celebration of its 125th anniversary To establish them. This was his first collaboration with the Saito Kenen Orchestra. Tickets for both shows became a hot topic as tickets were flooded with orders on sales sites and sold out on the same day.

Both shows will feature a program of songs composed by John Williams himself, including “Superman March”, “Schindler's List Theme” and “Throne Room and End Titles”. The musical director will perform the first half. From the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Stephane Deneuve, a world-renowned conductor who is Artistic Director of the New World Symphony Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and a long-time friend of John Williams. The second half will be conducted by John Williams himself and will be held in parts.

The live album “John Williams in Tokyo”, currently on sale, is a recording of a concert held at Suntory Hall in Tokyo. It was released in four formats: “Regular Edition CD”, “LP”, “Blu-ray” and the “Deluxe Edition” which is a combination of CD and Blu-ray. Released by Universal Music.

The regular CD and LP edition includes 11 songs conducted by John Williams and “Tribute (For Seiji)” conducted by conductor Stéphane Denève, which makes its world debut.

The Blu-ray includes the entire concert including the MC, the first half conducted by Stephane Denev and the second half conducted by John Williams. Blu-ray also includes three types of audio: stereo (PCM 96/24 linear, DTS-HD MasterAudio 48/24), surround (DTS-HD MasterAudio 5.1ch), and Dolby Atmos.

The Deluxe Edition is a hybrid version of the SACD using DSD master, and the SACD contains 17 songs, first half and second half, excluding MC. The deluxe Blu-ray edition includes the entire concert plus special interview footage with John Williams and Stéphane Denève recorded for the occasion.

KEF Music Fair in Aoyama, Tokyo

The KEF Music Gallery, the venue for the hearing, opened in Aoyama, Tokyo in December last year. In addition to showcasing KEF's latest products on the first floor, there is a listening room 'The Ultimate Experience Room' with a 2m main speaker 'MUON' in the basement, and 7.2.4 channel Dolby on the third floor is a theater room called 'The Extreme Theater' “With an Atmos environment, you can easily experience everything from earphones to desktop audio to high-quality audio.

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It was produced with the aim of creating “a sound that makes the content of the piece more clear”

Regarding “John Williams in Tokyo,” Mr. Asakura said, “First of all, the sound is amazing.” He cited the involvement of recording engineer Akira Fukada as the reason for this.

We tried to invite Mr. Fukada to be a guest for this audition, but due to scheduling conflicts, we were unable to do so. However, we received a message from Mr. Fukada regarding his commitment to the production and mixing mix.

In his letter, Fukada revealed that he worked with John Williams' music during production.

“This is the third release by the Saito Kinen Orchestra on Deutsche Grammophon due to the combination of John Williams and the Symphony Orchestra, after the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.''

“The sound of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is the so-called classical sound of classical music, which is a relaxing sound. The sound of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is a little more energetic and spacious. I love the sound of Saito Kenen in Japan thinking about how do we do this and what direction we should take it.

“If you look closely at John Williams' scores, you will see that they are filled with a variety of ideas using weak instrumentation. At first glance, the result may be easy to understand, but you will find that it is actually very complexly put together.

“So, even though it was an orchestral sound, I was aiming for a sound that would allow the content of John's piece to be clearer without sacrificing precise tones, rather than making the overall sound more euphoric.”

Regarding the mic for the recording, he explained that “11 main microphones were used to capture the entire orchestra, so that the 11 channels of Dolby Atmos 7.0.4 could be expressed.” In a stereo mix, five of them are used as the main sound. In addition, 34 microphones were used, making for a recording using 45 microphones in total.

When mixing, we perform detailed processing such as time alignment (delay processing that takes into account the time difference with the main microphone) and noise removal that are unavoidable in live recording. He said that while working on it, he was thinking about whether or not it would be fun, and above all, whether it would be fun. It was revealed that the project took weeks of work and was finally approved by John Williams himself before being released.

According to a representative from Universal Music, they have been working with John Williams and other relevant parties to verify all audio versions, including 2ch and Dolby Atmos, and to confirm transposition, editing, coloring and other aspects of the video. He said he did it.

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Enjoy the immersive feeling of jumping into Suntory Hall

The ultimate experiment room

The hearing began in The Ultimate Experience Room. The SACD/CD player is Macintosh “MCD550”, the power amplifier is Soulution “511mono” x 2, the speakers are KEF “MUON” (23.1 million yen/pair), which is “the best system in the world” (Mr. Asakura), I listened to “Flying Theme (Symphonic Suite from the movie “E.T.'')” and “Superman March (from the movie “Superman'')” from the SACD.

SACD/CD player is Macintosh “MCD550”

The power amplifier is Soulution “511mono”

What surprises me when listening to these two songs is how expressive and detailed the vocals are. It goes without saying that the strings and brass playing the main melody can be heard with high definition and well placed, but the plucking of the strings and the small sounds of the brass and woodwinds supporting the melody line in the background are as carefully photographed. At the same time, you can feel the sense of space through the unique echoes of the hall, so it seems as if the space of Suntory Hall itself is expanding.

Mr. Asakura, who listened to the “Flying Theme,” said, “I can really feel the love. Specifically, the sound of the entire orchestra is recorded, but the very fine details, that is, the microscopic and the macroscopic, the macro and the micro coexist so well, especially in live performances like this.” , what sets Mr. Fukada apart is that he brings out the surroundings and details in live performance, and it comes out very well.

Extreme Theater on the third floor

Afterwards, I listened to the Blu-ray at The Extreme Theater on the third floor. This is a 7.1.2 channel room created using custom installed KEF speakers “Ci3160REFM-THX” and “Ci200RR-THX” and a dual subwoofer “KC92”. I use the Sony VPL-XW7000 as a projector and the Panasonic DMR-ZR1 as a Blu-ray player.

The 7.2.4 channel is designed with speakers specifically mounted on the wall and a subwoofer placed on the floor.

Here, we will first listen to interviews with John Williams and Stephane Deneuve, which are only included in the deluxe edition, in order to “deepen your understanding of their music” (Mr. Asakura).

Includes a scene in which John Williams answers the question “What genre is the music in the movie?” And a scene in which Stephane Deneuve talks about the characteristics of John Williams' film music that should be listened to. If you listen to this interview and then watch the performance again, you will likely gain new insights.

The screenings included Blu-ray recordings of the films “Miyabi’s Bell,” “Hedwig’s Theme” (from “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”), and “March of the Raiders” (from “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”). Raiders of the Lost Ark. I listened to four Songs: “The Empire Strikes Back (from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”) and “The Imperial March”.

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Although the song preview and environment are different from the previously mentioned SACD version, when listening in a Dolby Atmos environment, the fidelity of each instrument is further enhanced and the sense of realism is heightened. Another small point is that the sound of the orchestra comes from the front, the echoes of the hall come from the ceiling, and the applause of the audience comes from the back, so you feel like you are listening as an audience member in the venue. It was impressive that it became stronger.

Mr. Asakura also said: 'Although the audio source has both surround sound and detail, in a two-channel environment everything sounds average. On the other hand, in the Dolby Atmos environment, the functions are clearly separated, the front three functions including the center. You can hear the direct sound of the orchestra through the two speakers, and the resolution is also improved, and you can hear the surround tone, or the whole tone, from the surround and the ceiling.

“Just like sitting and listening to Suntory Hall in real life, you can enjoy the live sound of the orchestra and the overall sound of the hall. In other words, a miniature version of Suntory Hall is reproduced, so the sense of fidelity is improved. It is very expensive. The disc contains 48% Dolby Atmos sound kHz/24-bit, but it has Dolby Atmos with very good sound.

He also mentioned the video's unique camera work. “I think NHK's camera work is very steady. In contrast, European productions tend to have cameras that move very quickly, or move sideways suddenly, or exaggerate the visualization of the music. I have the impression that there is a lot of it. This.” “John Williams in Tokyo” has a balance right in the middle.”

“It's not as static as NHK, and it's not as exaggerated as in Europe. I put the camera where it needs to go, which is, 'This is the main point of this song now.'” “Raiders March.” The string ensemble is a very interesting point. , and it captures it very well, and in that sense, the video and camera work, including image quality, is excellent.

“I don't think there are many live classical concerts that have this much performance, sound quality, Atmos, surround and video. It's also nice to be released as a bundled media in the age of digital distribution.'

“In other words, I want to keep something this valuable as a family heirloom, and watch it from time to time. When I'm not watching it, I'm showing it. This kind of thing isn't possible with live streaming, so there are advantages that are unique to packaged media, plus the quality of the contents, I felt, really shined.

Reiji Asakura holds the Deluxe Edition.