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2L c/o Lindberg Lyd AS
PO Box 56 Bogerud
NO-0621 Oslo
NORWAY

Phone: +47 4815 2222
e-mail: lyd@lindberg.no

Street address:
Lindberg Lyd AS
Olaf Helsets vei 5
Entrance G
NO-0694 Oslo
Norway

2L is the exclusive and
registered trade mark
# 221405 issued to:

Lindberg Lyd AS
NO 976559 029 MVA

2L - the Nordic Sound

The music captured by 2L features Norwegian composers and performers and an international repertoire reflected in the Nordic atmosphere. The surround sound recordings of Lindberg Lyd not only transform the entire listening experience, but also - more radically - these innovative recordings overturn some very basic concepts regarding how music is played and even composed. 2L emphasize surround sound with Pure Audio Blu-ray and HiRes file distribution, and have garnered no less than 28 American GRAMMY nominations since 2006. Twentyn of these in categories "Best Engineered Album", "Best Surround Sound Album" and "Producer of the Year".

2L record in spacious acoustic venues: large concert halls, churches and cathedrals. This is actually where we can make the most intimate recordings. The qualities we seek in large rooms are not necessarily a big reverb, but openness due to the absence of close reflecting walls. Making an ambient and beautiful recording is the way of least resistance. Searching the fine edge between direct contact and openness - that’s the real challenge! A really good recording should be able to bodily move the listener. This core quality of audio production is made by choosing the right venue for the repertoire, and by balancing the image in the placement of microphones and musicians relative to each other in that venue.

There is no method available today to reproduce the exact perception of attending a live performance. That leaves us with the art of illusion when it comes to recording music. As recording engineers and producers we need to do exactly the same as any good musician: interpret the music and the composer’s intentions and adapt to the media where we perform. Surround sound is a completely new conception of the musical experience. Recorded music is no longer a matter of a fixed two-dimensional setting, but rather a three-dimensional enveloping situation. Stereo can be described as a flat canvas, while surround sound is a sculpture that you can literally move around and relate to spatially; surrounded by music you can move about in the aural space and choose angles, vantage points and positions.

Morten Lindberg, balance engineer and recording producer


 

Norway is blessed with many churches and cathedrals and most of 2L's recordings are made in these wonderful spaces. The music captured by 2L features Norwegian composers and performers, and an international repertoire reflected in the Nordic atmosphere.

The traditional way to illuminate and enhance an identity is to define the borders to operate within. This Norwegian label has chosen a different path as the products are developed without fences, originating from classical European art music and traditional folk music, recognizing the fundamental values of musical performances and excellent sound production.

It's never too late to uncover original music. Such a reward is always worth the wait. 2L is proving precisely that. Lindberg Lyd AS is the full name. Lyd, in Norwegian, means audio, or sound. The young founder Morten Lindberg was born in 1970. While still in the recording academy, he already got a head start by moonlighting in recording studios. He got the leverage from his classical music training, trumpet and choral. While most of his classmates were just preparing themselves to work in pop music industry, Morten was gaining experience and earning references from classical musicians and recording in churches and concert halls. One year after graduation, he already had accrued 45 recordings to his credit, and contributed to The Grieg Edition, awarded MIDEM Classical Award - Best Special Project in 1994.

In the classical music world, 2L is still a young label. But the team definitely has a musical edge since all the players are both keen musicians and engineers. Jørn Simenstad, a trumpet player and leading performer of traditional Norwegian instruments, is the main editor and classical/folk producer. Wolfgang Plagge is composer, pianist and producer. Lindberg Lyd was nominated for the American GRAMMY-award 2006 for their production of Immortal NYSTEDT (2L29SACD) in categories "Best Surround Sound Album" and "Best Choral Performance".

Fifteen years ago, when their studio came into operation, all of the Lindberg Lyd projects were services provided to other labels, which included EMI/Virgin, Naxos, ASV, Hyperion, Linn and Philips, among others. Currently half of Lindberg's studio output is for its own label, totaling 50 classical, jazz and traditional releases since 2001, and the projection is 12 in 2008. One other striking feature of the label is their fresh approach to packing.

The core quality of audio production is made by choosing the venue for the repertoire and balancing the image in the placement of microphones and musicians. Lindberg Lyd travels all over Scandinavia for the right cathedral or chapel. However, it is the team's attitude to surround sound, which they started working seriously in 2000, that puts them in a completely different league from most multi channel classical engineers. They're not scared to experiment and to put the listener in the thick of the music rather than in a seat at one end of the hall. They've made recordings with the orchestra in the front and the choir behind and the musical results are remarkable. Planning and discussions with the musicians create trust and a sense of occasion and excitement that translates onto the recordings. "The tools we have even with a good surround set up is not a perfect way to bring an audience to the concert hall; we still have to work the art of illusions," says Morten Lindberg. "This is one of the ways to do that - to bring the listener into the music and in among the musicians to be a part of it." That's not to say that they won't record in a more traditional surround format but they allow the venue, repertoire and musicians to suggest a configuration to them. It's a healthy attitude towards multi channel that doesn't hide behind the usual excuses of worrying about integrity of listener's loudspeaker layout. They're recording surround for those who want to listen in surround and the stereo layer of the hybrid disc is there for those who don't.

"What we insist upon in the recording phase is time. We usually spend from four to six days of recording on a 60-minutes repertoire. In credit of the musicians I need to say that this is not in need of getting the score right, but in order to bring forward the right mood and dimensions. At most projects the entire first day is spent bringing the dimensions down from a 1500-people hall to the proximity encountered on a home-visit to your living room. The challenge of this process is to get the volume down, keeping the intensity and energy up, without being intrusive. There is no method available today to reproduce the exact perception of attending a live performance. That leaves us with the art of illusion when it comes to recording music. As recording engineers and producers we need to do exactly the same as any good musician; interpret the music and the composer's intentions and adapt to the media where we perform."

The 2L label is best described as a premium brand with very high production and packaging values. "We are in a very fortunate position in Norway because we have cultural grants from the government to help preserve and re-vitalize our cultural heritage and that means Norwegian repertoire both in a historic and contemporary perspective," explains Morten. "Our strength is where we live, where we have grown up and where we have our local knowledge and culture. We also have a choice of venues that other countries do not have. You might consider this an invitation to other labels to visit Norway, make their recordings and publish worldwide."

Lindberg Lyd has been passionate about Super Audio CD and since the year 2000 has been making serious investment in the new format through advanced equipment and pioneering technology like DXD. (Details of equipment list could be found on www.lindberg.no). Their approach is somehow different from the others. They would not shy away from using the surround channels to their full potential, dedicated to actual instruments or vocal parts instead of just the ambience. The music seems to be more engaging and more involving, putting the listener right in the centre of music making. Most multi-channel projects are all discrete 5-channel recordings employing five microphones and five recording tracks (sometimes augmented with back up or fill in microphones and tracks). Depending on the repertoire and the recording venue, but whenever possible, they would avoid cardioid microphones that have narrow directional characteristics. In the recording of Mozart's concertos for violin and orchestra (2L38 SACD) the members of the orchestra formed a circle, with the five microphones set up in the middle. That places the listener into the position of the conductor. Vibrancy is in the air. Tone of the instruments is vividly natural. The Gregorian Chant recording by Consortium Vocale Oslo [2L43SACD] also conjures lifelike presence without exaggerating hi-fi excitement. Both these titles are DXD processing. The result is sonic quality that exemplifies high definition and fine, smooth texture. "Working on the cutting edge of audio would not have been possible without a close and intense cooperation with Merging Technologies, DPA microphones, Digital Audio Denmark, Steinway & Sons and generously open minded musicians."

So what is DXD? As we know, SACD has adopted a digital processing called DSD, Direct Stream Digital, or more technically correct, DSD64. That means, based on the Red Book specified 44.1 kHz sampling frequency, the data stream will go through a 1-bit/64 times over-sampling process to achieve an audio date rate of 2.8224 Mbit/s. DSD signals further require a noise shaping process to sustain the dynamic range of 120 dB within the primary bandwidth of 20 Hz - 20 kHz but that causes the noise spectrum to increase above 22 kHz. One obvious solution is the process known as DSD128, which increases resolution to wider bandwidth by doubling the over-sampling rate to 1-bit/128 times. The down side is that the data size would also be doubled and would require large media storage, rendering it impractical for commercial applications. Digital eXtreme Definition is a professional audio format that brings "analogue" qualities in 32 bit floating point at 352.8 kHz. DXD preserves 11.2896 Mbit/s (4 times the data of DSD). This leaves headroom for editing and balancing before quantizing to DSD. Super Audio CD is the carrier that brings the pure quality to the domestic audience, supporting high resolution sound in multi channel. The disc still looks like a CD and is totally compatible with conventional CD players and computers. Presence and participation are the magic words for future listeners. Surround sound brings the listener to the very centre of the audio experience. The signal path is as simple and short as it is technically advanced and the company has devised a formula for the recordings, which Lindberg Lyd describe as: "Fantastic musicians and adventurous music in a beautiful venue!"

This presentation of 2L is compiled from articles written by David Kan, Zenon Schoepe and Lindberg Lyd AS
Edited by Lindberg Lyd AS 2007


 

Blu-ray is the first domestic format in history that unites theatre movies and music sound in equally high quality. The musical advantage of Blu-ray is the high resolution for audio, and the convenience for the audience as one single player will handle music, films, their DVD-collection and their old library of traditional CD.

What we are seeing is a completely new conception of the musical experience. Recorded music is no longer a matter of a fixed two-dimensional setting, but rather a three-dimensional enveloping situation. Stereo can be described as a flat canvas, while surround sound is a sculpture that you can literally move around and relate to spatially; with surround you can move about in the aural space and choose angles, vantage points and positions.

By developing one common format the surround technology that we have been working with for years finally becomes accessible to the general public. Fairly soon almost all disc players will be Blu-ray devices, and already now a majority of the sound systems that come off the shelf are 5.1 surround systems. People buy the equipment for the sake of film entertainment, but with it they get access to the unique musical experience that we are offering. Stereo is still possible of course, but the fact is that the resistance towards surround is mostly based on ignorance. People just don’t know what they are missing out on.

A senior Norwegian HiFi journalist visited our studio recently. Prior to our listening session I explained to him how we recorded MOZART and DIVERTIMENTI with the orchestra in a circle, all musicians facing each other – surrounding the listener. He rose from his chair and wanted to leave. I begged him to listen - and he stayed for three hours; leaving us with the conclusion: “Now I need to go home and write an article apologising all my readers for the thirty years I have misguided them in stereo. Surround sound is the real thing.”

The musical and technical process of recording and editing are identical for SACD and Blu-ray. When I started as a recording engineer in 1990 there was no focus on surround sound in classical music. It was the introduction of SACD that made us aware of this magnificent perspective. Surround sound gave us the solution to the depth and spatial resolution we experienced live on stage in a concert house, but were not able to recreate in stereo.

We prefer to record in spacious acoustic venues; large concert halls, churches and cathedrals. This is actually where we can make the most intimate recordings. The qualities we seek in large rooms are not necessarily a big reverb, but openness due to the absence of close reflecting walls. Making an ambient and beautiful recording is the way of least resistance. Searching the fine edge between direct contact and openness; that’s the real challenge. A really good recording should be able to bodily move the listener. This core quality of audio production is made by choosing the right venue for the repertoire, and balancing the image in the placement of microphones and musicians relative to each other in that venue. Planning and discussions with the musicians create trust and a sense of occasion and excitement that translates onto the recordings. What we insist upon in the recording phase is time. We usually spend from four to six days of recording on a 60-minutes repertoire. In credit of the musicians I need to say that this is not in need of getting the score right, but in order to bring forward the right mood and dimensions. At most projects the entire first day is spent bringing the dimensions down from a 1500-people hall to the proximity encountered on a home-visit to your living room. The challenge of this process is to get the volume down, keeping the intensity and energy up, without being intrusive. There is no method available today to reproduce the exact perception of attending a live performance. That leaves us with the art of illusion when it comes to recording music. As recording engineers and producers we need to do exactly the same as any good musician; interpret the music and the composer's intentions and adapt to the media where we perform.

Digital reproduction of analogue sound

At venue recording sessions our analogue to digital converters can do both the one-bit DSD and the multi-bit PCM formats. We can also listen directly to the analogue output from the microphones. Digital eXtreme Definition is a professional audio format that brings “analogue” qualities in 24 bit at 352.8 kHz sampling rate. DXD preserves 8.4672 Mbit/s (3 times the data of DSD) per channel. This leaves headroom for editing and balancing before quantizing to DSD for SACD or PCM for Blu-Ray.
All audio formats on The Nordic Sound are sample rate converted from the same DXD master. Comparing them in our studio we find only subtle differences from DXD down to 192kHz and 96kHz. The obvious degeneration is from 96kHz down to 48kHz. We find DSD, as used in the SACD format, somewhat different in colour from PCM; in some mysterious way DSD is softer and more beautiful but slightly less detailed. In DXD we find the shimmering brilliance from the original analogue source as directly from the microphones. Linear PCM is offered in addition to DTS HD Master Audio on this Blu-ray with the purpose of convincing audiophiles of the true lossless qualities of commercial encoding. The stereo layer of the SACD and the LPCM 2.0-stream on the Blu-ray are both full resolution mix from the original microphones. Mostly we find that the microphone placements used for the surround make a fine stereo. Occasionally we put up extra microphones dedicated for the stereo stream.
I personally prefer extremely high resolution PCM over the DSD and I would claim that DSD is not transparent. But it all comes down to what the sound from your speakers can do to your body and mind. I find that the placement of microphones has an infinite more important role in the final experience of music, than the difference between HiRes PCM and DSD. Sometimes a lie can be more beautiful than the truth!

Stereo versus multi channel surround sound – The quest of resolution

Double the investment in your stereo play-back system and you might experience a subjective increase in performance in the range from 10 to 20 %. Then spread the same investment over a 5.1 surround sound system and you get an objective 300 % increase of resolution and perspective! The fact that makes the above balance not materialize is that very few labels up to now have produced content that bring out the full potential of MCH. The approach of “rear for ambience only” is still feeding carbohydrates to the persistent claims of stereophiles.
When it comes to recording a solo instrument, a lot of conservative forces claim that surround sound can add nothing to a good stereo. This might be the case with a traditional dry "synthetic" multi-mono-sources studio recording. But to us it's not about the object itself; it's all about the landscape where the instruments perform. In real life a grand piano is not a point source; it's a three dimensional sculpture, and surround sound is our tool to bring forward that physical experience to the listener.

Morten Lindberg, January 2009

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