Hi-Res Classics

Is classical music your thing, specifically the works of Norwegian composers and musicians? Then you have to check out 2L, a Grammy award-winning Norwegian label that offers recordings in 24-bit/96kHz, mixed in 5.1 surround sound.

Morten Lindberg has been a record producer for many years, and in 2001, he started his own label called 2L. The recordings focus strongly on contemporary music of his native Norway, and the multichannel mixes fully utilize all the channels, which is rare for classical titles, which tend to use the additional channels primarily for ambience.

Lindberg, like Mark Waldrep who I spoke about a couple weeks ago, is incredibly passionate about sound and the future of high-resolution music. Where the two men diverge is in their opinion of Blu-ray as a viable high-definition, music-only format.

Lindberg is far more optimistic about Blu-ray's future as a music storage medium, and to that end, 2L recently released Divertimenti, the first hybrid SACD+Blu-ray audio-only disc set. 
The tracks can also be downloaded directly from the 2L website as FLAC files.

To fully capture the emotional impact of live classical music, Lindberg records in spacious acoustic venues such as large concert halls, churches, and cathedrals. Such locations provide an openness that cannot be naturally re-created with electronic reverb or other recording tricks. In an interview I read with Lindberg, he said, "These extremely quiet and tranquil venues are unique to Norway and the Scandinavian countries. The relaxed atmosphere during recording brings a concentration to our products."

All 2L recordings are available on hybrid SACD+CD discs, or they can be purchased as a download in a lossless audio format. There are three FLAC files available for download—24-bit/192kHz stereo, 24-bit/96kHz stereo, or 24-bit/96kHz multichannel 5.1. The most recent addition to the 2L catalog is the Johannes Martens Ensemble playing the chamber music of Elliot Carter, called Figments and Fragments.

The store only shows prices in the Norwegian Krone, so get out your currency converter. To go directly to the online store, click here.

Please tell me your thoughts about my blog. What would you like to know more about? Do you want more technically oriented entries, or do you like learning about the myriad of sites providing non-traditional high-quality music and video material? What have you found useful and interesting so far?

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Wes's picture

Are these hybrid releases designed to phase out SACD? I thought that format had gone the way of the dodo bird a while ago.

Gregor Samsa's picture

As much as I would like SACD to survive, it looks like Blu-Ray and Hi-res downloads are the future of Hi-res digital. I guess you could play the downloads on a $10K music server, but it won't sound any better than a properly configured $1K computer. I would like to hear more about playing Hi-res audio this way. Hardware, software, file formats, etc.

Kim Wilson's picture

Wes, it is true, SACD titles are dwindling and even Sony, who developed the format, doesn't seem to support it, turning their attention to Blu-ray. You'd think that Blu-ray player's would automatically play SACD too but they don't, which shows that Sony is all but abandoning the format. It it probably why Morten Lindberg is optimistic that Blu-ray can fill the void for high resolution music discs.

Kim Wilson's picture

Gregor, My blog is just the beginning of Ultimate AV's coverage into downloadable media. We will soon be posting product reviews of PC-based media centers, as well as music servers. We'll be covering all price points, not just the extreme high end. In these review's we will absolutely be evaluating sound quality. You make a good point, because where you store your hi-res files should have no effect on sound quality, so your audio system will still play a vital role in overall performance. However, what various media centers and music servers can offer is convenience and ease of accessing your music. For many of our readers that is equally important and represents its own value.

Michel's picture

I listened to Divertimenti and I found this exceptional audio recording. With all the audio formats available in the blu-ray, I preferred the version 5.1 LPCM.The format SACD, seemed milder with less detail. It was interesting nonetheless.

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