Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Show and Tell....

Home sound and video shows are fascinating and even exciting events for those in search of the Perfect Home System (that they can realistically afford!).
At one such expo took place in Melbourne last week-end.  Most of the country's A/V wholesalers and retailers of note had their wares on display and demonstration.  Must admit I didn't attend, but I received a very interesting few comments from a young man who has worked in the industry for quite a few years, both in wholesale and retail "Hi-Fi" and Home Theatre installations.  The company for which he works currently is a wholesaler/importer of several of the better brands of stereo equipment, so he is familiar with a range of very high quality systems, both analogue (record players) and high-definition or CD music sources.
He was "on deck" at his company's display for much of the time, but managed to have an extended coffee break so that he could investigate the very best systems on offer at the show:  stereo systems that frequently cost about the same as the median-priced inner suburban home in Melbourne.  Scary just to think about it.  The "cutting edge" music sources were usually servers (hard drives) playing high resolution 24bit, 192KHz sample rate, hopefully recorded at that resolution, audio files - WAY better than CD standard:  just consider all those extra "bits"!
He listened carefully.  He compared.  Was he "blown away" by the sound of all these state-of-the-art music playing systems?  How impressed was he when he was listening to a set-up that cost 20 times what the average person would be prepared to pay?
Not very.
It's the law of diminishing returns when it come to spending obscene amounts of coin on a stereo.  Impresses the friends, acquaintances and family, but.
He regularly hears live music, performed on real instruments by talented human beings.  This is his "reference" sound experience.
What he heard at the show was impressive in a way - detailed, dynamic and rhythmic....
But not convincing:  very far from "You are there!".  Sterile, clinical, somewhat uncommunicative and uninvolving compared to a real performance of acoustic music - that is the acid test of any recording/replay chain.
The speakers and amplifiers and other non-digital equipment were fine:  a few comparatively subtle differences are evident when comparing "apples with apples", and even some bargains are to be found when you budget is relatively tight.

He was so impressed by the fancy digital players that he is now saving up for a decent record player.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

"Curiouser and curiouser", said Alice.....

Walked into my favourite record store last week, with, for a change, the intention of not just browsing, but actually seeking some recordings to purchase.  No CD's for me: straight over to the new and second-hand vinyl proudly on display, all in alphabetical or musical genre order.  Half an hour or so later I had made my selections.  I hadn't been in the store for over 6 months, and there seemed to be many more new LP's from which to choose.  When I commented to the sales clerk about the seeming resurgence of vinyl, he remarked that in the last 12 months their LP sales had increased by 50%.
Incident number 2: Last Friday I was in Richmond, passing a well-known Audio/Home Theatre business and what did I notice prominently displayed in their front window? :  a collection of about eight record-players.

The enjoyment of music features significantly in most people's lives in our society.  Today it seems to be all about convenience when it comes to purchasing, storing and playing our favourite tracks (OOPS, I mean songs ).  "Tracks" is so analogue and old-fashioned.  But who would be bothered storing, caring for and going through the rigmarole of playing an LP on a quaint and somewhat complicated mechanical device?  What is so attractive about placing a tiny piece of polished and shaped diamond in a groove of a rotating disc of 12inch wide plastic?

LP quiz question:  How many grooves on one side of a record containing 22 minutes of music?   (Answer given at the end of this post.)

Downloads are so quick, easy to get, convenient to store, fun  to organise and the music can be played anywhere without disturbing anyone nearby.  (Even I take my iPod walking.  Well, I have music on it and I intend to next time, if I remember.)  Digital is so "cool" and immediate.  But something is missing.  Something is not quite right.  Something could be better:  an iTunes song of our fave performer just doesn't seem to be satisfying, involving,...not sure quite what.
It's not all there.  The original recording has suffered data compression.  Subtle and not-so-subtle details have been discarded.  Dynamics have suffered, instruments and voices don't sound quite correct or convincing.  Our brains are trying to find this missing information, and so we may become irritable, mildly stressed and somewhat disappointed with the session of listening.

Yes, LP's suffer from more background noise (although a good pressing played on competent equipment will not have much noticeable "groove noise"), are a pain to keep in good condition and can only be played at specific locations.  But increasingly, it seems, people who love music and enjoy good sound are turning from digital, including CD's and downloads, and investing in a good record player to play their new and old LP's.

It is not my intention to get too "technical" on this or any future post.  Wikipedia is usually a great resource for in-depth information on digital recording and reproduction.  The theory is all there for your investigation, if you have the inclination!  But I will point out a few simple observations about digital recording and replay.
Ignoring the importance of the need for high quality analogue equipment at every stage of the process from microphone to the listener's ears, it is evident that digital technology, both hardware and software, deals with a numeric representation of sound waves:  in other words, sound received by the microphone(s) is converted to a carefully timed string of zeros and ones which can be stored on a computer.  This digital recording process is called "sampling", and is, by nature, not absolutely continuous, but switches on and off thousands of times each second.  For CD quality/standards, there are 88,200 pieces of data recorded every second.  When this digital file is "played", the numbers are retrieved with very precise timing (we hope!) and the audio waveform is reconstructed, more or less accurately, by a "digital to analogue" computer chip which converts the stream of numbers to an electrical signal which can be sent to headphones or an amplifier and speaker system as sound we can hear.
So.....The recorded data is not exactly continuous (like the operation of the ear and brain is), and accurate results, from recording to replay, are very dependent on very precise digital "clocks".  Errors occur.  Tiny, but cumulative.  Even the reading of a CD in  a player would be impossible without a sophisticated error correction system.  Digital audio files streamed from a computer hard drive are far less prone to such errors.  A good analogy for digital sound compared to a live performance would be looking at a scene through a fly-wire screen, in the case of digital.  You can still see quite well, but small details and subtle effects are missing or marred.  The finer the screen mesh, the less it is noticed.  But you know it is there!

What prompted all of the above?

Yesterday I read a couple of internet articles and watched a couple of video presentations on basic PCM (never mind !) digital audio recording and replay.  The message was:  Audio CD standard is, if the engineering is correctly applied, more than adequate for stereo reproduction of music, with no perceivable degrading of the original musical signal:  no noticeable difference between input and output would be evident to the average listener.
Wishful thinking, I'm afraid!  And definitely not in my experience.

My point to this post?  Educate your ears:  listen to a good pressing played on reasonably competent gear, and compare it to the .mp3 file, or even a CD of the same LP.  No contest, when it comes to enjoyment, emotional impact, satisfaction and involvement.

Yes, great quality digital audio is available and can sound quite "analogue" to our ears.  But don't discard your LP's for CD's or mp3's.  In any case, some of them may have disappeared from the commercial music catalogue by now.

Nearly forgot:  the answer to the LP quiz question above is one.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Now You Hear It -- Now You Don't

When I was a kid in Primary School, I had a few good friends whose homes I would visit from time to time to play.
I enjoyed music:  my parents were both good singers and my dad played piano as well.  He also had a record player.  It could only play " 78's ", but he had ingeniously connected the pick-up output to a nice cabinet-style radio set on which it was perched.  Most days after school saw me sitting under the dining-room table, which was quite close to the radio/record player, listening to one of my favourite Radio Serials.  Anyone remember Superman, Biggles, Hop Harrigan or The Lone Ranger?

At that time I was the proud possessor of a small collection of 78's - a couple of jazz numbers and 2 or 3 story records.  One of my friends occasionally invited me over to her(!) house to play records on her dad's wind-up phonograph:  no electrics here - the sound waves pressed onto the record's surface were traced by a steel needle, which caused a diaphragm connected to the needle at the end of the tubular pick-up arm to vibrate in sympathy, and the resultant sound waves were funneled down an internal horn and emerged somewhat louder through an opening in the lower front of the machine.  Volume could be controlled by adjusting two louvered doors across this front opening.  Close the doors - quieter:  open the doors - louder.  Simple but effective.
Not what you would call "Hi-Fi", but we had fun.

Two main problems with 78rpm records of those days, before the advent of the LP - short playing time and horrendous surface noise, compared to the LP record.  In addition, both the "needles" and the records themselves tended to wear quickly.

Fast forward to today...
I love some of the music and performances on those old 78's, and have in recent years been transferring many a disc to CD format, both from my collection and customers of my little business.

Here is a sample of a 78 side cut in the '40's or early '50's - Al Jolson is in good voice.  The disc was transferred on a modern turntable, with an appropriate stylus, at 33rpm, and the recorded sound file adjusted in the computer to the correct speed and pitch.  No other "monkey business" was employed...

Now for the same song, but with "state of the art" noise reduction applied.  It still isn't "Hi-Fi" quality, but surface noise and much of the damage heard in the "straight" version have largely disappeared.  Further work could have been attempted, but the result is quite satisfactory.  It's amazing what can be done using the right software these days.

Now, where did I put that Enrico Caruso record...?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Stereo Recording the Blumlein Way

Sometimes the simple or basic ways are the best, or at least worth a try.
One of the earliest ways of producing a stereo effect using just two microphones was invented by the brilliant electronic engineer, Alan Blumlein, in the early 1930's.
It involves the positioning of two microphones or two microphone capsules one directly over the other, pointed at right angles to each other and facing the sound source.

These are two ribbon mics in this arrangement.

A ribbon mic can pick up sound equally from front
and back.

Several single-unit stereo mics have been produced using this arrangement.  Here are two available from Royer Labs:

The SF24, with built-in preamplifier,

and the SF12, without preamplifier.  I have one of these, and have successfully recorded small and large ensembles using this excellent pair of matched ribbon mics.
A high quality, high gain mic preamplifier is most important, as the output level of ribbon mics is quite low.

Enjoy this sample of a Blumlein technique recording of a concert band, recorded some years ago at a public concert (mic placement was not exactly ideal, as you might imagine!)

Thanks for listening and reading!

Sunday, 22 September 2013


From time to time I want to share some recordings I have made with you.
The problem is....Blogger will not, it seems, allow me to insert audio files on my page, only photos or videos.  Sooooo,  maybe this workaround will be the way to go.

Here is a recording made a few years ago of an acoustic guitar, using a spaced pair of matched omnidirectional condenser microphones.  The musician is David Baillie.  (Hope you don't mind, Dave!)

Precious Sound Memories

I was reminded yesterday of the fragility of a person's audio treasures.
The lady with the enquiry was most concerned that an album she owns on a music cassette is no longer available to purchase new in any other medium.  She wanted to preserve her tape by transferring it to CD format as she does not have access to a cassette tape player.  No problem:  I seem to be doing quite a bit of this lately.

No-one really knows where sound and video recording and replay technology will go in the future.  Formats come and go....anyone remember the 8-track cartridge?  It used quarter-inch magnetic tape in a chunky cassette,  first appearing in Lear Jets and later in many cars.  Check out ebay for tapes and even players.
Back in the early '60's my first foray into HiFi involved a turntable for playing the new stereo LP's and an open-reel recorder for music tapes.  The records, except for ones I discarded or sold, are still playable, but the tapes have met their demise over the intervening years.
My greatest audio treasure is a 10inch, 78rpm acetate ( a type of plastic ) disc of my father singing two songs.  It was cut in the early '40's in a small studio somewhere in Melbourne.  With careful transfer and state-of-the-art noise reduction software, it doesn't sound half bad.  I only wish my mother's fine coloratura voice was recorded somewhere.

So where are we going recording-wise?  Deeper into the digital domain, it seems.  There is quite a bit of discussion as to the best digital recording system - the one that will best preserve all the information captured by the microphones employed at the time.  Sony is heavily promoting its 1-bit DSD digital encoding format, as in SACD discs, while the rest of the professional and amateur recording world uses some form of PCM, multi-bit system.  A few die-hards prefer the recordings made by tape machines.
Does the average person buying the music of their favourite group or composer really care?  I think not.  Just consider the popularity of downloads from iTunes, etc.  Thankfully high resolution downloads are becoming increasingly available for those of us who appreciate quality reproduction of our music.
After quite a bit of research, I have to say, in my opinion, the best current, affordable, practical recording format is 24bit, 192KHz PCM, using best available encoding hardware (interfaces) and software.  DSD is a close second, but subtle artifacts from high-frequency noise are an issue.  No digital system is perfect.  No replay system is perfect.  We can only hope, at this present time, to approach the level of audio perception of the human ear and brain.
Every recording system is both fragile and ephemeral.  Some folk have thousands of tracks on their computer hard drives.  But hard drives fail.  Records and tapes wear out or are damaged beyond repair.  Formats come and go....anyone heard of Elcassette?  Thought not.
But take heart - even some of the Edison wax cylinders and players are still going strong, after more than 100 years!  Not a bad record.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Ribbon Microphones

Yet another type of microphone! ....... This is the last, I promise.

The advent of the "wireless" (radio) in the 'twenties saw the development of microphones suitable for reproducing both the human voice and musical instruments with appropriate fidelity and clarity for the home listeners.  The old carbon and crystal types just wouldn't do:  frequency response and ease of use had to be drastically improved, especially in the new motion pictures with sound.  Enter the ribbon microphone.

This is a famous example from the 'thirties from RCA.  Used in studios and on location by countless commentators, newsreaders, talent and musicians throughout more than four decades, and still going strong in many commercial music studios today, if you can afford one, that is.
Compared to, say, a typical condenser mic., ribbon microphones tend to be classed as "warm", "smooth", "un-hyped", etc.
Because of their construction, they pick up sound from front and rear sides, nearly always equally, but not from side sources.  More on pick-up patterns at some point in the future.
As moving-coil (dynamic) microphones improved in sensitivity and frequency response, ribbon mics were used less often, especially in announcing roles.

 Recent years have seen growing interest in ribbon microphones, with many manufacturers designing and producing variations of this type of mic.

Why "ribbon" ?

These two photos of the "motor" of a typical ribbon mic. show a magnet assembly on each side of a piece of crimped or folded aluminium foil, the two ends of which are connected to a miniature matching transformer (not shown in the photos).  The foil strip is typically 4 or 5 millimetres wide, anything from 50 to 80mm long and only about 2 microns thick - about the same thickness as the "silver paper" often serving as a wrapper around you favourite chocolate bar.
The magnets are strong, but the ribbon is very flimsy - never blow into a ribbon (or condenser) microphone to see if it is working!
Sound causes the ribbon to vibrate in sympathy between the poles of the magnet(s), causing a weak electric current to flow along the length of the metallic ribbon.  A small transformer in the microphone body provides the correct voltage and electrical impedance ( Never mind!) for the microphone preamplifer.  Some versions of ribbon mic. include a preamplifier in the microphone itself:  they are termed "active" ribbon mics.  A fair bit of "gain" is needed for the low-output ribbon mic., even more than is required for dynamic types.  High gain, low noise preamps are mandatory.

I must admit that some of my favourite microphones are ribbons.  So far, only three - a Royer stereo type, a custom long-ribbon type from O.P.R. in Wiiliamstown, and a modified MXL R144 (see top of page), improved by replacing the ribbon and transformer.  Thanks, Mark at O.P.R..

Don't forget, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me via email, or through the comments box.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Condenser Microphones

This design of audio transducer is the most common in use today - every variation from "spy" mics and tiny mics in the top of laptop computer screens to large versions, such as the one on the right, found in recording studios and sometimes on stage.
Purchase prices can vary from less than $20.00 to over $5,000.00 per unit.  Some can be hand-held, for vocal work;  others require isolating mounts because of their sensitivity to being handled.  Most of the cheaper models use a battery, usually a "AA" 1.5V cell, fitted in the body of the microphone.  All condenser ( or capacitor ) microphones require a power supply to work.  Studio types, such as the one above, are provided with power from the mixing console or preamplifier to which they are connected.  This is called phantom power, and is set at 48Volts.  The power supply for the mic. and the signal from the mic. use the same 3-conductor cable:  quite an ingenious arrangement!

 How do they work?

This is a partly disassembled studio condenser microphone.  The top two pieces are the head basket, which protects the capsule ( the transducer part ) and the main body, which houses the electronics and the mount for the cable socket.  The ring at the bottom of the picture screws the whole assembly firmly together.

At the right, and below, are two types of large diameter ( 32 - 35mm diameter total capsule diameter ) assemblies.  Small diameter capsules would be 12mm or less.
Large diameter capsules are found in side-address microphone designs, such as the illustration at the top of this page - the mic. is pointed sideways towards the sound source.
Small diameter capsules are found in end-address microphone designs - the mic. is pointed end-on towards the sound source:  think of a hand-held vocal mic.

The diagram on the right shows the basic design principle, edge-on view, of a condenser mic.
Sound hits the tight mylar  (plastic) diaphragm, which is rendered conductive by spattering with a very thin coating of metal, usually gold.  This diaphragm is typically only 5 or 6 microns thick, and is very responsive to the slightest sound:  wide frequency response and great detail are features of this type of microphone.  The movement of the capsule diaphragm produces changes in the electrical capacitance between the diaphragm and its associated backplate, which is a much heavier, perfectly stiff disc of brass (usually), through which an array of small holes has been allow free air movement.  The microphone electronics convert this fluctuating capacitance into a voltage and current which can be amplified for use in a recorder or mixer.
Usually the electronics are "solid state", as in the above mic. interior illustration, but some of the classic and even modern designs use a low-noise audio valve (tube), with its own special power supply unit.  This type of mic. can be quite expensive, but very sweet-sounding!

I wouldn't mind one of these in my collection!

Or one of these!  Maybe two would do.

Ah well, I can dream.......

Until next time, when we'll discuss ribbon microphones.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Music Schmoozic!

Time to get off the technical bus.  Stretch my legs, take a deep breath of clean country air...

Statement:  I would happily trade all the time I have listened to any and all music, live and reproduced, for being present at one public performance of one of the piano concertos of Mozart, with the composer at the keyboard.

We all have our personal tastes in music.  Just as well.  I remember, as a small child, I really couldn't appreciate or like very much, the music my parents liked, listened to or performed.  Stuffy, old-fashioned, boring, tedious, incomprehensible, mouldy, no rhythm, funny tunes or tuneless:  in fact, not relevant to my world at the time.
Sometimes our tastes in music are really about what our current friends like, and we all finish up liking stuff that takes little or no effort to digest and enjoy or understand and appreciate.  Human nature likes the easy options.  Classical music? --  too hard, strictly for the "egg-heads"!  Just a noise!
Very sad.
Personally, I would describe most music written and performed for the masses in the last 50 years or so as being a negative influence and force in society.

Statement no.2:  Music should be a positive thing in our lives, leaving the individual listening to the piece in a better frame of mind and outlook.

Today, popular music, in all its forms, is selling us short.
The production of today's musical entertainment, especially recorded releases, is increasingly complex and convoluted.  Check out a modern commercial recording studio's facilities.  All that to produce some rap or grunge or hip-hop or house or.... you get my drift.
Where is excellence in melody, form, harmonies, theme variations, etc.?  Plenty of technical skill - little real musical ability.

I've had my say, could rave on more:  now it's over to you.

Back on the bus next time.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Dynamic Microphones

These are probably the most common and familiar microphones in general use today.
Used by vocalists, voice-over artists, drummers, guitarists on
their speaker cabinets, announcers, radio broadcasters, children's karaoke machines - the list is long and growing!
Depending on performance, specifications and construction
quality, prices can vary from $5.00 to several hundred dollars.  Some professional models, for use in public performances (on stage) can be configured with a neat attached radio transmitter, thus avoiding the need for an attached cable, and enabling flexibility of movement for the performer.  Maybe we'll discuss wireless systems on a later post.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Just Call Me Mic.

Everybody knows what a microphone is.  Most of us use one every day in our phone, or at the drive-through, etc.  They are everywhere in our culture.
Some you grab and sing or talk into, some are on stands, some are in funny mounts, some look cool, some are small, some are big and clumsy.  Some are connected to an amplifier and speaker(s), some are used for speech only, some for music recording.  All shapes, sizes, colours(!) and costs.

In the next few posts, I will be looking at microphone types - how they are sorted/classified according to construction and operating principles, the most appropriate choice(s) of microphone for a particular purpose or situation, and a bit of background on each microphone type's design features.

The microphone is the electro-mechanical "ear" of the recording engineer.  The human ear is, in essence, also a mechanical and electrical device which sends electrical pulses to the brain from tiny hair-like nerve endings in the inner ear which have been stimulated by sound waves arriving from the ear drum, through tiny connecting bones to the inner ear "window" structure.  Incredible design for an audio transducer!
Microphones are all audio transducers, responding to sound waves around or in front of them, and converting (changing) them into electrical signals.
As a child, I remember using the telephone in our home - a rather large device, mounted on the
wall in the passage near the dining room.  To use it you had to lift the receiver off the "hook", and ask the operator to connect you to your number of choice.  I was never allowed to make 'phone calls, just on very rare occasions say "Hello" to Auntie Flo or whoever.
The microphone used in this wonderful device was a carbon type - adequate to convey speech signals over the telephone lines, but not very sensitive and certainly not able to respond to sounds either in the low or high parts of the audio spectrum.  It is a "fun" vocal microphone, but not used much today.

                                       Here's one from the twenties or thirties.  Cute, eh?

   This one is more modern, and as far as I know, still available new.
Should work O.K with a harmonica.

Next time we'll have a look at dynamic microphones, and see what "makes them tick"!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Hearing and Sound Machines

Sound recording sure has come a long way since the wax cylinders of Thomas Edisons's days.
But just how far away are audio engineers from creating the perfect recording and replay system for domestic use?  And who really cares?
Human hearing, though not as acute as some animals you could probably name, is far superior to the average home stereo, and especially mp3 type players!
The first stereo recordings on vinyl L.P.'s ( Remember them? ) appeared in shops in the late '50s/early '60s.  Believe it or not, some of the best ever recordings came from that era and are being re-released on L.P.'s and SACD/CD discs.  Only 2 or 3 microphones were used in the sessions, feeding 2 or 3-track tape recorders with no noise reduction.  No racks of equalizers, compressors, limiters, boutique microphone preamplifiers, etc., etc. were used in recording and mastering, just basic mix-down if necessary at correct levels to produce the master tape for the disc cutting lathe.  The result of this approach were recordings of timeless quality that have been appreciated by several generations of music lovers.  Sometimes keeping it simple is the best approach, along with attention to detail at every stage and the use of the highest specified equipment available at the time.
Human hearing is analogue, and so were these recordings.
Then, at the close of the '70s, along came digital recorders and digital players.  The CD was born, and was touted as "Perfect sound for ever!".
I don't think so.
And, as for the lossy formats of music downloads from the internet.......convenient, but compromised.  Any audio information lost or altered to reduce the "file size" of the musical performance will, of course, detract from reproduction realism and over-all quality.  But does it really matter to listeners to modern pop and rock music?  The vast majority of non-classical music recordings have been greatly reduced in dynamic range (soft to loud) and have suffered much in the way of signal modification in any case.
So, is digital recording and replay the way to go for high quality ("realistic") enjoyment of recorded music?  Or is analogue to be preferred?  In my, and also the average Project Studio operator's situation, a professional level multi-track tape recorder is financially out of the question.  Digital is the only option for recording and replay.  Thankfully, immense advances have been made in recent years in high quality digital equipment.  More on that later.
If you have a collection of LP's, don't throw them away.  Treasure them, and perhaps one day invest in a new record-player so you can enjoy them for many years to come.  Vinyl is not dead, and has been experiencing somewhat of a "renaissance" in the last 10 years or so.  Some artists are now releasing their music on multiple formats: CD, LP, DVD and downloads in various formats, including high resolution options.  High resolution re-releases and new releases are available from several sources on the web:  check them out.

Next time:  the beginning of a recording - microphones -  the "ears" listening to sounds around them.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Intentions and Directions

Firstly, many thanks for the encouragement and suggestions over the last week!  Keep the suggestions and criticisms coming:  they help me to stay focused and give me ideas on just what might be of interest/value to the readers of future posts.  This is not a "one-way" exercise:  I hope for and expect input, questions, corrections and ideas from my visitors.

My intentions:  To explain and set forth my approach to sound recording, and the techniques that may be employed to achieve the goal of preserving the musical event with the highest practical accuracy and effectiveness.
                             To discuss the equipment involved in sound recording, and how best to use it to achieve the above goal.
                             To assist on an individual basis any visitors to this blog, or my website at Digilogue Recordings , to record their music or narration to their expectations and satisfaction.
                             To promote the production and desirability of unprocessed true stereo recordings of performers, as they sound in their performance space.

Directions:        * Next post:  Hearing and sound machines.
                             * During August:  "Analogue" and "Digital" recording systems.  Playback.

Something to ponder:  In the last 30 years access to recorded music has become far easier for the average person, but recording and reproduction quality has suffered immensely, for commercial reasons:  the corporate "bottom line" is king.  Do you agree??

Thursday, 25 July 2013

History and Horizons

Well, we all have to start somewhere and sometime.  Here goes!
How sound recording technology has changed in the last forty years.
My first attempt at a "serious" recording was of a vocal group, with backing, using a Truvox open reel recorder and a pair of Sennheiser cardioid mics, possibly in a sort of stereo array.  The biggest problem, as I recall, was intermittent heavy rain on the iron roof of the hall.  I still have a copy of the tracks that were used.....technically the recording left a lot to be desired by my current standards, but the performances and music were great.  Happy memories.
And to me that is what recording is mostly about:  preserving a memory - a memory in musical form of a real event.  No loops, synthesized riffs and drum machines for me!  Of course, that approach can be lots of fun and quite a challenge, but my main goal in recording of music is to capture the event in such a way that the total impact and presence is preserved and gives the listener a "You are there!" experience when the piece is replayed through competent stereo or surround sound (multi-channel) equipment.
In coming posts, I will ramble on a bit about techniques and equipment that can be implemented and used to achieve the above goal.  Comments and suggestions are welcome - I still have a lot to learn.

P.S.  Check out my website for more info.!