Octave Records Releases Audiophile Masters, Volume III

Octave Records Releases Audiophile Masters, Volume III

Written by Frank Doris

Octave Records has released Audiophile Masters, Volume III, the third in its series of reference-quality music sampler albums. Available as a stereo SACD in a limited edition of 1,000, and as a download bundle, Audiophile Masters, Volume III offers a diverse and eclectic series of tracks, from the sonic intimacy of Monica Marie Labonte’s acoustic guitar-driven “Loving You” and the solo piano of Deborah Schmit-Lobis, to hard-driving pop-rock and jazz, a classical vocal and piano duo, and the uncategorizable “Last Chance,” performed by More Than Physics on handpans!

The tracks were recorded in pure DSD using Octave Records’ Sonoma DSD recording system at Animal Lane Studios in Lyons, Colorado, to capture the varied musical styles, vocal and instrumental clarity, dynamic impact, realistic timbres and the ambience of each individual recording with state-of-the-art fidelity. Paul McGowan, PS Audio CEO, said, “Now that Octave Records has more than a dozen releases to its credit, our artist roster has expanded to the point where we can offer a truly diverse musical and sonic palette of styles. Audiophile Masters, Vol. III showcases this range with the extraordinary sonic realism made possible by the pure DSD format.”

More Than Physics. Courtesy of Jordan Bass. More Than Physics. Courtesy of Jordan Bass.

Audiophile Masters Volume III (SRP: $29) is playable on any CD, DVD, or Blu-ray player. It also has a high-resolution DSD layer that is accessible only using a PS Audio SACD transport, or by copying the DSD tracks on the included DVD data discs. In addition, the master DSD and PCM files are available for purchase and download at this link, which also includes samples of each track for listeners to preview. Audiophile Masters Vol. III was recorded and mixed by Steve Vidaic and Giselle Collazo, and mastered by David Glasser. It was produced by Vidaic and Collazo, with Jessica Carson as executive producer. The album begins with Monica Marie Labonte’s “Loving You,” recorded from an intimate perspective that lets every nuance of her vocals and acoustic guitar, along wish the Dobro and acoustic bass, to be heard with superb realism. Other selected tracks include the avant-garde-meets classic-jazz “Baba Yaga’s Hut” by the Tom Amend Trio, and the Seth Lewis Quintet’s lush “Arborvitae,” featuring captivating solos by electric guitarist Dave Devine and Octave Records solo artist Gabriel Mervine on trumpet.


Monica Marie Labonte and band. Monica Marie Labonte and band.


“Airs chantés, no. 4 – Air vif,” a duet written by Francis Poulenc, showcases Duo Azure vocalist Ekaterina Kotcherguina and pianist Jessica Nilles in a performance with stunning dynamics and depth. Andy Thorn’s “Fox Trail” is a bluegrass banjo and acoustic guitar workout with the instruments captured in lively detail. “Last Chance” is performed by the irresistibly-named duo More Than Physics entirely on handpans, a steel-drum-like instrument struck with the hands, with a surprisingly versatile range of sounds, all captured with extraordinary fidelity.


Deborah Schmit-Lobis. Courtesy of David Schlatter.
Deborah Schmit-Lobis. Courtesy of David Schlatter.

Most all of the tracks were recorded live with some vocals and harmonies on some tracks added in later. All of the tracks were captured directly from the analog microphone preamps (which included models from Grace Design, Manley, and Forssell Technologies) into Meitner Audio A/D converters then into the Sonoma DSD recorder. Monitoring and rough mixing was performed on a Trident analog console. Once tracking was completed, the DSD files were transferred to PS Audio's mixing room where they were converted back to analog via four synchronized 8-channel Meitner D/A converters, to then be mixed on Octave Records’ 32-track Studer 936 analog console. The final two-channel analog master was then converted back to DSD through the Meitner A/D converter before mastering.


Andy Thorn. Courtesy of Nikki Nichols. Andy Thorn. Courtesy of Nikki Nichols.


The track listing for Audiophile Masters Volume III is as follows:

  1. “Loving You” – Monica Marie Labonte
  2. “Ship of Dreams” – Deborah Schmit-Lobis
  3. “Baba Yaga’s Hut” – Tom Amend Trio
  4. “Moonbeam” – Michelle Pietrafitta
  5. ‘Fox Trail” – Andy Thorn
  6. “I Belong” – Dechen Hawk
  7. “Airs chantés, no. 4 – Air vif” – Duo Azure
  8. “Arborvitae” – Seth Lewis Quintet
  9. “Last Chance” – More Than Physics
  10. “Some Tyrant” – Mike Robinson
Dechen Hawk. Courtesy of Jordan Bass. Dechen Hawk. Courtesy of Jordan Bass.
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