Next Generation Audio (NGA) codecs offer new features for consumers such as advanced user interactivity, immersive sound and optimized reproduction across different classes of playback devices. Yet, ‘real world’ experience in the application of NGA workflows in classical music production is limited: The realistic depiction of the original concert hall sound and the treatment of elevated sound sources impose challenges when recording and mixing. Besides producing for immersive reproduction systems, sound engineers face new tasks like the integration of user interactivity, ensuring downmix compatibility and loudness consistency. This paper expounds our field test for an NGA production workflow found suitable for complex orchestral music. Using MPEG-H 3D Audio as an example, we recorded three full-length concerts with Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. Among them is the prestigious new year's concert with Beethoven’s 9th symphony conducted by Gewandhauskapellmeister Andris Nelsons. We developed a microphone setup for the immersive recording of classical music in Gewandhaus and achieved convincing results with the recording and mixing strategies presented in this paper. The perceived reverberance in the mixes was found to be realistically relatable to the excellent room sound in the original concert hall. Elevated sources, like the choir and soloists, were clearly depicted as such. For metadata authoring and mastering, MPEG-H production tools were used to regulate loudness, dynamic range and downmix compatibility, targeting playback over loudspeakers and 3D audio soundbars. Additionally, we tested two different approaches for interactivity that are suitable for classical music listeners.
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