Glare on Choral recordings, classical vocals

Dear all,

I'm hoping for some clarity on an issue of the quality of choral vocals in digital recordings. It's either my system or the recordings. There is a glare and harshness in the crescendos, and I wonder if it's natural room clipping in the studio or cathedrals in which they are recorded (the delay in some of these spaces can lead to a natural harshness and smearing of the sound), or if I have poor setup in terms of the DAC and/ or the preamp. I use a B&K PRO-10MC and a Schiit Bifrost Multibit. This setup has resolved any issues with digital glare except in the domain of choral music. Do I have to suck it up and consider upgrading to the Gungnir or another device? Should I consider a tubed preamp, maybe the Schiit Freya?

The problem is far less noticeable on vinyl, but most of my choral collection is in the digital domain. 

I've always had problems with the Tallis Scholars recordings on the Gimell label, which are almost always recorded in cathedrals. However, I did listen once to a Tallis Scholars CD on a dealer's rig with a Conrad-Johnson tube pre and Totem Model 1 Signatures, and there seemed to be much better resolution, though this was 20 years ago and I think my younger self was just blown away by the sound in general.

I've noticed that audiophiles and reviewers seldom write about choral music. Is it because they don't like choral music, or is it because it is just really difficult to record choirs well, therefore making choral music a poor choice to show off a system?

Any choral music-loving audiophiles care to comment on their experiences and solutions? 
Many thanks,


Harshness as you describe is most likely due to jitter. Better clocking of all devices, be they ethernet switches, your cd player, server or Dac is the remedy of choice. if digitsl is properly sorted, mistracking on vinyl is more probable than harshness on digital

Well antigrunge, having never heard harshless digital, I would have said the opposite. But your ears are your ears.

I had this when listening to sopranos in loud passages with speakers that had metal  dome tweeters. It was solved with new speakers with soft dome tweeers.


may I suggest you continue working on your digital set up? Harshness can be defeated by using good cables, using switches and reclocking your ethernet and USB connections.

Paul, I couldn't help noticing those speakers are on tile floors.  I had an issue on orchestral music which just didn't sound right.  Turned out, I added symposium svelt shelves under my speakers but I didn't take the feet of the speakers off, so that vibration really effected my sound.  I took the feet off and no problem.  My suggestion is to put something between the tile and the speaker feet.