June 2006

Haydn - String Quartets in D minor Op. 9, No. 4 & F Major, Op. 77, No. 2
Fry String Quartet
IsoMike FSQCD4
Format: Hybrid Multichannel SACD
Released: 2006

by John Crossett

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

Mere words can’t do Ray Kimber's IsoMike recording technique justice. It will take you all of about ten seconds of listening to recognize that IsoMike may rival the original Decca Tree for quality classical recordings.

Kimber does most of his recording in the Val A. Browning Center of Weber State University using local musical talent. Fortunately, the world-class Fry Street Quartet resides in the Ogden, Utah area as well. Their precise, lyrical readings of Haydn String Quartets is the second multichannel hybrid SACD Kimber has made with the group, and he has made some modifications to his IsoMike system since the first. I was expecting even better sound this time, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Kimber eschews the use of the center-channel speaker in his recordings, so this is a four-channel SACD. That being said, the presentation of the musicians is first-rate. You get the feeling of being in the Browning Center, right down near the front row, the Fry Quartet spread out in front. The sound has excellent tonal balance and presence. The rear channels are used, as they should be, for ambience. The stereo SACD layer is excellent, as is the two-channel CD layer. The only feeling this disc will leave you with is desire for more.