Hi-Fi at the R.F.H.
by Stanley Kelly
ONCE again. Gilbert Briggs, ably assisted by P.J. Walker, delighted the hearts of all 3,000 audiophiles at the Royal Festival Hall on May 12th. This was the third - I was going to say lecture, but it wasn't; and one can hardly call the London Mozart Players and the soloists Denis Matthew, Campoli, Leon Goossens and Ralph Downs, a demonstration; and to the best of my knowledge, concerts are usually rather formal affairs, with no running commentary, and no indicators showing "peak power" produced by the orchestra! Call a rose by any other name... we had a marvellous afternoon's entertainment. Mr. Briggs opened his discourse by saying that this would be his "swan song". I am sure I am speaking for everyone present on that Saturday when I hope his remarks were meant to be taken in the same vein as various other concert artists who periodically announce their final and last tour before retiring. This is especially so when the advent of wide range electrostatic speakers must have raised doubts in many people's minds as to the efficacy of the moving coil and associated forms of dynamic reproducers. It can be shown (and I hope to, at a later date) that irrespective of the type of driving motor, the frequency range and distortion factors can be made identical for any type reproducer at a given effective percentage overall efficiency. It would be very interesting and more than instructive if G. A. B. and P. J. W., who after all are the chief protagonists in this arena, could be induced to have a direct comparative test on the nearest Saturday to May 12th. 1957.
Like a good many other enthusiasts. I took my wife along. (a) because I could not find an excuse to leave her at home; (b) she is a musician in her own right, and judges quality from a much less biased viewpoint than my own; also, I needed someone to carry along the sound level meter! As has been emphasised by many technicians, it is most important that the reproduced sound pressure reaching one's ears must be the same as the original if the listener had been in a concert hall.
For my own edification (and education) I took a Dawe miniature sound level meter along in order to obtain some quantitative comparisons of recorded and live performances. I was seated in seal M37 of the stalls, immediately adjacent to the left-hand gang-way. As a general comment, the recordings sounded louder than the live performances; but in actual fact they measured 5 to8 phons lower. Herewith is a tabulated list of my comments:
1. Musical Instruments. B.B.C. tape 15in./sec. Marks Awarded
6/10. Sound Level in Phons. 60 to 70.
2. Jazz. Audiophile tape 15 in./sec. Marks Awarded. 9/10. Sound
Level in Phons. 65 to 75 peaks to 80.
3. Carol. "Lav Down Your Staffs". Audiophile I.A. records.
4. Symphony 103. Live. London Mozart Players. Record, FALL
tape 30in. sec. Marks Awarded, 10/10. Sound Level in Phons. 60 to 65 recorded. 70 to 75 live, peaking 82.
5. Organ. Fantasia in G Minor, Bach. Decca LXT. 5029. Marks
Awarded. 7/10. Sound Level in Phons. 78 to 82.
6. Oboe Solos, Sarabande, Kronke, Gavotte, Rameau. Soloist. Leon Goossens. Record. E.M.I. tape 30in..sec. Marks Awarded, 10/10. Sound Level in Phons. 60 to 65 recorded: 65 to 70 live.
Further Comment: recording sounded too loud, and of lower pitch. We noticed slight "tizziness" on the piano. Average Marks, 9/10.
8. Piano Solo, Sonata in D, Beethoven. Soloist, Denis Matthews.
Record, E.M.I. tape 30in./sec. Marks Awarded, 9/ 10. Sound Level in Phons, 65 to 75.
9. Chorus and Orchestra, Requiem Mass. Verdi. Record, D.G.M.
18155. Marks Awarded, 6/10. Sound Level in Phono, 80 to 85 peaks to 88.
Orchestra, "Marriage of Figaro". Mozart. Live. London Mozart Players. Record, E.M.I. tape 30in. sec. Marks Awarded.
8/10. Sound Level in Phons, 75 to 78 recorded: 75 to 82 live.
Sound Effects, Record, (B.B.C. &. Audiophile) tape 15in. sec. Farmyard Stock and
Helicopter. Marks Awarded. 9/10. Sound Level in Phons. 55 to 65, Helicopter 88 peak: applause 85.
Soprano, Strauss Waltz. Rita Slreich. Record. D.G. 17052. Marks Awarded, 7/10. Sound Level in Phons. voice 65 to 72.
Violin Solo, Sonata No.1, Handel. Zephyr, Hubay. Soloist, Campoli. Record, E.M.I. tape 30in./sec. Marks Awarded, 10/10.
Sound Level in Phons, 55 to 65 recorded: 60 to 72 live.
14. Stereophonic Sound, (a) "Auios", Columbia tape B.T.D. 701.
(b) "Classical Symphony", Prokofiev. H.M.V. tape S.T.D. 1750. Both tapes, 7 1/2 in./sec. Marks Awarded. 0/10. Sound Level in
Phons, (a) 70 to 75, (b) 65 peak, to 80.
15. Piano and Orchestra. Concerto, K 466, Mozart. Soloist. Denis
Matthews and London Mozartl Players. Record, E.M.I. tape 30in./sec. Marks Awarded, 10/10. Sound Level in Phons. 55 to 70
recorded: 65 to 75 live, peaks 84: applause 90.
Orchestra, Symphony No. 4, Dvorak. Columbia 335X 1034. Marks Awarded. 10/10. Sound Level in Phons, 60 to 75.
Hallelujah Chorus, Record Decca LXT. 2924. Live. London Mozart Players. Ralph Downes, Organ. Marks Awarded. 9/10.
Sound Level in Phons, 78 mean, peaks 90.