If you’ve been fortunate enough to experience a symphony orchestra in a concert hall, you’ll appreciate how exceptionally difficult it is to capture the sound in a way that not only does justice to the intricacies, scale and emotional impact of the performance but also reflects the distinctive sonic qualities of the venue. Mike Valentine is among a handful of recording engineers in high demand for their expertise in such challenging live recording environments. Valentine’s modus operandi is capturing maximum natural spaciousness whilst faithfully preserving the acoustic timbres of instruments, and in his most recent projects he uses a binaural ‘dummy head’ microphone to achieve this.
The trio of Chasing The Dragon binaural offerings, Binaural Baroque, España – A Tribute to Spain, and Mozart By Candlelight, provides a small but varied selection of classical styles ranging from the intimate to the grandiose that will interest many listeners. Even if you’re not a classical aficionado, but simply enjoy rousing music recorded to the highest reference standards, España is without doubt a ‘must have’ album for its sheer dynamic impact. Not only do the arrangements make excellent use of the chosen instrumental ensembles who perform them with wonderful sensibility and spirit, the recordings themselves are of breathtaking sonic quality and showcase what is possible when the art and science are done properly.
For headphone listeners the binaural mics contribute favourably to the listening experience by capturing the interchannel timing differences in a way that reveals a more natural ambience, depth and perspective that effectively teleports you inside the very concert halls in which the recordings were made. I was able to compare the binaural version of one album with its conventional stereo counterpart and the former sounded preferably smoother, less strained and more dimensional, both through headphones and loudspeakers. If you care passionately about sound quality and are curious about binaural, these three Chasing The Dragon releases come highly recommended!