Past meetings of the Society
Dec 2012

Boston Audio Society
December 2012 Meeting

Time: 6PM Sunday, December 16, 2012
Place: At a home near Newton, (contact BAS for directions)
Guest: Stephen Owades
Topic: BSO Broadcast Comparisons

Many BAS members have long appreciated the broadcast concerts by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The ways one can listen to these concerts have multiplied in recent years, and we were asked by Lee Eiseman of the Boston Musical Intelligencer ( to evaluate the sound quality of the available options. A team of BAS volunteers (John S. Allen, David Hadaway, and Stephen Owades) recorded the live broadcast on October 12, 2012 (a fine concert of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Arabella Steinbacher and Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski) in all four formats: WCRB 99.5-FM analog, WCRB 99.5-HD (96kbps), WGBH 89.7-HD2 (48kbps), and the WGBH web stream (128kbps MP3). We then recorded it again in all four formats during the rebroadcast on October 20. In addition, we have captured the on-demand web stream (also 128kbps MP3), and have obtained copies of the high-bit-rate “BSO Concert Channel” stream (192kbps MP3) as well as CDs direct from the recording room at Symphony Hall.

Stephen Owades is preparing sample selections from all 11 recordings, carefully level-matching them (with allowances for different dynamic compression). We will be able to do double-blind comparisons among these versions, and we should be able to draw some useful conclusions about dynamic compression and limiting, noise levels, frequency balance, and any artifacts that may be present.

Visual illustrations of the dynamic envelope and spectral balance can be shown, as well as a diagram of the path the signal has taken for each version. We hope to come to some conclusions about the relative sound quality of these various versions and to examine the reasons why they may sound different from one another.

All of these comparisons are separate from questions about the original miking and mixing, since all the versions draw from the same source mix. If time allows, we may also listen to some examples of earlier broadcast material through some of the same channels, to see what may have changed in these broadcasts recently.

Stephen Owades is a graduate of MIT with a degree in Music and took a course in Architectural Acoustics taught by Robert Newman. He is a former President of the Boston Audio Society. He is long time member of the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

John S. Allen will talk about technical measurements of the different forms of broadcast.

After the meeting, guests are welcome to stay and audition the elaborate and impressive surround system and the 14' video display.


The Boston Audio Society
PO BOX 260211
Boston MA 02126

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updated 1/12/13