Super Audio CDs (SACDs) from BIS
Sound reproduction has come a long way since the phonographs of the early 1900s. Wax cylinders have been replaced with shellac, vinyl and – the latest major shift – CD-technology. Since its beginnings, in 1973, BIS has been an active player in this process. We are constantly trying out new machines and new software in order to maintain our reputation for sound of the highest fidelity. In our early years we were famed for the quality of our LPs which were second-to-none in terms of dynamic range, sonic fidelity and silent surfaces. Yet BIS was one of the first companies to abandon the LP when we became convinced of the advantages of the compact disc as a storage medium. (The recordings themselves we did not abandon - we are the only record company of this size to keep available its entire archive of recordings on the CD medium.)
As early as 2000 BIS was one of the first labels to start exploring the potential of DSD (direct stream digital) technology. The option of Surround Sound and the quality of the sound reproduction even in 'ordinary' stereo mode, convinced us of the benefits of this technology, and we soon began to release our recordings as Super Audio CDs. While several other labels abandoned the format when they found it commercially unviable, BIS has continued to produce an ever-increasing number of SACDs (of the 60 physical titles released in 2015, no less than 54 are Super Audio CDs): a decision for which we are regularly being commended by reviewers around the world. *
Our SACDs are with very few exceptions so-called hybrid discs, which enables them also to be played back in stereo on standard CD-players. The hybrid SACD includes three different versions of the recording on different storage layers of a single disc. Played on a conventional machine the disc responds like a traditional compact disc, giving fine stereo sound. This sound is enhanced if the disc is played back on a stereo SACD player which accesses the greater bandwidth and increased dynamic range of the super audio compact disc. But for the listener with both an SACD player and a surround sound system, the technology really opens up a new dimension of listening pleasure. Traditionally one has talked of "bringing the concert hall into the living room". With Surround Sound SACD technology one has rather the feeling of being transported to the concert hall in spite of sitting in one's own armchair.
Our surround sound recordings aim to reproduce the natural sound in a concert venue as faithfully as possible, using cutting-edge technology. With some very few exceptions, they conform to the so-called 5.0 configuration, in which all five channels are recorded using the full frequency range, with no separate bass channel added.
Click here for a complete listing of BIS Super Audio CDs.
Said about BIS’ SACD-recordings:
‘Given the brilliance of Respighi's scoring, it's remarkable just how difficult it has been for record labels to capture this music effectively, particularly at the big climaxes. Here, finally, is a production that really does offer a close approximation of the sound of this music live, with natural perspectives, impressive dynamic range, rich bass, and plenty of presence.’
Classics Today.com about Respighi - Roman Trilogy (BIS-1720)
‘This recording boasts gorgeous SACD sound from BIS – reverberant yet still detailed and crystal-clear – and is a perfect complement to the fine music-making.’
American Record Guide about Hindemith - Orchestral Works (BIS-1730)
‘BIS a réalisé un petit modèle montrant à tous la voie à suivre dans le domaine de la musique classique en multicanal.’
Répertoire about Grieg - Piano Concerto (BIS-1191)
* Although SACDs contain DSD format audio, BIS does not use DSD for the actual recording process. We have done initial DSD recordings, followed by listening comparisons, but found high-resolution PCM perfectly capable of delivering "super audio". The recording format of each BIS release is stated in the corresponding booklet - our current standard being 96 kHz and 24 bits -, and shown as "Original sample rate" on our partner site eClassical.com. We usually work in the recording sample rate until the master stage and convert the final PCM high-resolution masters to DSD for SACD production. eClassical's 24-bit "studio quality" option thus gives access to the source audio for the respective BIS SACD layer - in both stereo and surround sound.