Thomas Schirmann – After The Rain – Review (CD, 32 bits floating Master, Qobuz)

Thomas Schirmann’s album After The Rain was released in CD format in 2020, today, thanks to the initiative of AKELSON, this album is proposed in the format coming directly from the studio mix to be the closest to the will of the artist in the audiophile spirit.
In addition to the master version, a vinyl will also be made, this one is at the phase of cutting the lacquer that you can find all the details in this article and Youtube.

The transparency of the information for the realization of this album is important for AKELSON, here are some information on the recording and the mixing of this album.

The recording was done at the Studio du Moulin by Jérome Cotte on a Yamaha C5 piano with 5 microphones arranged according to the diagram below (two Neumann U47 in X/Y for the main stereo couple, two B&O Beomic BM3 on both sides of the piano and a Neumann U47 in front) :

For the recording, a Studer 369 console was used as preamp to send the 5 channels in individual recording in protools.
The stereo mix was done in Protools with a loop to the analog that goes through a Manley Massive Passive equalizer and a compressor
Neve 2254 compressor used with a zero rate. This analog pass gave a softer sound in the highs of the piano as Thomas Schirmann wanted. The finalization in protools provided a master in 32 bits floating and 88.2 kHz.

The review includes 3 editions: CD, Master studio 32/88.2, Qobuz.

In this test, the DR measurement shows that the DRs are identical between the Tidal and Qobuz versions. The detailed analysis will therefore focus on Qobuz.

Below you will find the description of the different editions, as well as the measurements of each edition in the following chapters.
The synthesis of the review and the samples are available here.

This album includes 14 tracks reviewed:

  1. Delirio
  2. Home
  3. Too Young To Die
  4. Solitude
  5. Love Letter
  6. Les Paradis Perdus
  7. Memories Of Paris
  8. L’île aux Cygnes
  9. The Prayer
  10. Lord I Give Myself To You
  11. Peace
  12. Começar de Novo
  13. After The Rain
  14. When Summer Comes

First we will analyze each edition in detail (technical and qualitative analysis), then we will compare the successive editions with their dynamics and assign a final score, and you will be able to listen some samples.

The streaming versions may evolve over time, those presented here correspond to the version tested at the date of publication, or update of the review.

Review of the editions:

Part 1: Presentation of the editions

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamique comparaison

Parts 3 : Spectrum comparisons

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Sample

Part 1: presentation of the editions

Ed1: CD ref : 0745178213950 – 2020
Presentation

This is the CD release of this album.

Label‎Jazz me
Reference0745178213950
Format (speed)CD
Type16 bits 44.1 kHz
MasterDigital
Mastering/Pressingrecording : Studio du Moulin
Original recordingDigital floating 32 bits 88.2 kHz
StateFrance
Year original2020
Year production2020
Ed2: Master files – 2022
Presentation

This is the master files presented in floating 32 bits 88.2 kHz.

Label‎AKELSON
ReferenceStudio Master
Format (speed)PCM floating 32 bits 88.2 kHz
TypeMaster files
MasterDigital
Mastering/PressingRecording : Studio du Moulin
Original recordingDigital floating 32 bits 88.2 kHz
StateFrance
Year original2020
Year production2022
Ed2: Qobuz – 2020
Presentation

This is the streaming Qobuz Hi-Res presented in 16 bits 44.1 kHz.

Label‎Jazz me
ReferenceStreaming Qobuz
Format (speed)PCM 16 bits 44.1 kHz
TypeLossless
MasterDigital
Mastering/Pressingrecording : Studio du Moulin
Original recordingDigital floating 32 bits 88.2 kHz
StateFrance
Year original2020
Year production2020

Part 2 : Waveform and dynamic comparaisons

Waveform

The waveform represents all the tracks of the album for each version.

The graphs below represent the waveforms of the cd (Ed1) and Qobuz (Ed3).
This version is dynamic without the excessive use of dynamic limiters as on the streaming edition.

The Master version is presented with a slightly lower level, which does not impact the result, the encoding being in 32 bits floating, thus much more detailed than the 16 bits CD and Qobuz versions. We find all the dynamics of the master.

Dynamic

Dynamic represents the ability to reproduce a wide range of sounds from the softest to the loudest. The target is to compare the dynamics of the music and not of the media (CD, digital files or vinyl).

The 3 editions reviewed have obtained the following Dynamic Range (DR):

 Ed1: CDEd2: MASTEREd3: Qobuz
GLOBALDR12DR13DR12
MinDR11DR12DR11
MaxDR13DR14DR13
DelirioDR12DR13DR12
HomeDR11DR12DR11
Too Yong To DieDR11DR12DR11
SolitudeDR12DR13DR12
Love LetterDR12DR13DR12
Les Paradis PerdusDR12DR14DR12
Memories Of ParisDR12DR13DR12
L’île aux CygnesDR12DR12DR12
The PrayerDR12DR13DR12
Lord I Give Myself To YouDR12DR12DR12
PeaceDR11DR13DR11
Começar de NovoDR13DR13DR13
After The RainDR12DR13DR12
When Summer ComesDR12DR13DR12

The DR12 for the CD and Qobuz versions confirms that there was a mastering with a slight compression of dynamics compared to the Master studio version with its DR13.

As a reminder, the scale goes from 0 to more 20, but the dynamics are considered good from 12, quite good between 10 and 11, and deteriorate below 10.

Part 3 : spectrum comparisons

Spectrum

The Spectrum allows to check the tonal balance of the music (balance between treble, medium and bass sounds) and to detect process that may have been carried out during the recording, the mixing, mastering or manufacturing phases. It is also possible to detect frequency interference issues.

The curve represents the average frequency distribution over the sample Too Young To Die.

The graph below shows the difference between the spectrum of the Master Studio (Ed2) and the CD version (Ed1). The two curves are completely superimposed up to 7 kHz, beyond that, there is a slightly more attenuated level for the master version but with more details (yellow zone). The yellow arrow shows the cut of the CD at 22 kHz due to the 44.1 kHz sampling rate of the CD.

The graph below shows the difference between the spectrum of Qobuz (Ed3) and the CD version (Ed1). The two curves are almost identical, with only a slight difference above 7 kHz (yellow zone). The yellow arrow shows the cut of at 22 kHz due to the 44.1 kHz sampling rate of the CD and Qobuz.

Part 4 : Spectrogram comparaisons

Spectrogram

Spectrogram is another representation of frequency versus time of a track. For each channel (right and left), horizontal axis represents time, and the vertical axis represents frequency. The amplitude is represented by the intensity (brightness) of the color of each point in the image.

The CD and Qobuz diagrams show that the signal goes up to 22 kHz (yellow arrow) from the 44.1 kHz sampling rate. Above 22 kHz, the black area (white arrow) indicates that there is no signal.

On the spectrogram, the Master version (Ed2) has peaks in frequency that rise above 22 kHz (yellow arrow), this is due to the sampling frequency of 88.2 kHz.

Part 5 : Summary, scoring and Samples

All samples are adjusted to the same sound level for easy comparison.

Ed1: CD ref : 0745178213950 – 2020

The CD version exploits the maximum of the master and remains very close to it with a good dynamic, and a rendering close to the one wanted by Thomas Schirmann. It remains behind the Master version in terms of finesse and smoothness brought by the high resolution 32 bits 88.2 kHz.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (3.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Too Young To Die” 16bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample1 Ed1 CD
Ed2: Master files – 2022

The master version is the version that came out of the mix and was validated by Thomas Schirmann. The high resolution brings nuances in the piano attacks and faithfully reproduces the mix that used analog equipment to obtain the desired sound, which the high resolution perfectly reproduces. You can find more samples of the Master version in 32 bits floating and 88.2 kHz on AKELSON.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●● (5/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4.5/5)
  • Sample : “Too Young To Die” floating 32bits 88.2 kHz:
Sample1 Ed2 Master Files
Ed3: Qobuz – 2020

The Qobuz version is very near to the CD version with a similar listening.

  • Rating:
    • Dynamic: ●●●●o (3.5/5)
    • Bandwidth: ●●●●o (4/5)
    • Restitution: ●●●●o (4/5)
  • Sample : “Too Young To Die” 16bits 44.1 kHz:
Sample1 Ed3 Qobuz

From the three digital versions, the master version brings the most nuance and softness in the piano playing of Thomas Schirmann. The result may depend on your DAC and its way of processing high resolution files, but the difference is there, even if the other versions are of good quality. The next step will be the test of the vinyl edition whose lacquer has just been cut and whose work you can see here, waiting for a pressing in a step.

Subscribe to MagicVinylDigital

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

Detail of the ratings :

  • Dynamic :
    1. Significant dynamic compression, DR less than 7
    2. Compression of the present dynamics, DR between 7 and 9.
    3. Correct piece DR >=10
    4. No dynamic compression (DR >12), dynamic rendering
    5. No dynamic compression, high DR and very dynamic sound rendering
  • Spectrum :
    1. Spectrum cut and less than 15 khz
    2. Spectrum cut at 15 khz
    3. Spectrum not conforming to the original and cut (not HD) or original but limited bandwidth (but less than 20 kHz)
    4. Spectrum conforming to the original (but not HD)
    5. Spectrum conforming to the original with HD resolution (higher than 24kHz)
  • Surface noise (only for vinyl):
    1. Continuous audible noise
    2. Audible surface noise except on passages with a high level of noise
    3. Reduced surface noise, barely audible on low level crossings
    4. Low surface noise, very good quality
    5. Very low surface noise, no defects, almost inaudible on the quiet passages (exceptional disc)
  • Spatialization :
    • Between 0 and 5 for 5.1 or 7.1 channels configuration
    • Between 0 and 10 for Atmos configuration (7.1.4)
    • For more information on spatialization, you can read the article describing this parameter here.
  • Restitution :
    1. Low quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    2. Average quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments.
    3. Quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Good record.
    4. High quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Very high level disc.
    5. Maximum quality of the restitution mixing dynamics, clarity, separation of voices and instruments. Exceptional disc.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: