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Re: Humming, DSP & musical reductionism

Thomas W. Conklin wrote:
> Thanks for your reply.  I had a brief time in my life when I became
> interested in commercial recording complete with the big high speed Ampex
> reel to reel, U47 mikes, etc.

You don't happen to have any of those U47s still lying about in a closet
unused, do you?    (8{0}

Neumann/Telefunken U47s are *the bomb* and Ampex (arguably) made
the finest sounding analog tape machines.  These are still great, high-resolution
production tools.

>I became very aware of the fact that even with
> the very best of analog equipment, placement, direction, mike choice, tape
> quality and speed, cables, monitors and the artistic judgment of the
> producer (Liz Ostrow) were critical to the final result.  The end result
> attempts to imitate the actual music experience. It did not and never could
> recreate it.

Quite right.
Some types of recording attempt to bring the listener into the performer's
environment or to bring the performers into the listener's space.  With two-
channel stereo techniques, this is really not possible.  This can be demonstrated
convincingly to folks who like math, but trust me, this *is* the case.

So.......in stereo one has to either create an *illusion* that the above goals are
being realized or one throws those goals out entirely and starts from scratch
in a new process of creation.  Most classical music recording follows the former
idea, most pop music recording (since Sgt. Peppers) adheres to the latter.

Incidentally, with multichannel recording and Ambisonics, we can get much
closer to the goals mentioned for classical recording.  Let's face it, stereo is
a really old idea.  We all know it and love it, but it's gone about as far as it
can go.

.>Making things digital, has not improved anything except
> surface noise in trade for a loss of ambience.  Most digital sound reminds
> me of an African desert lake that is miles wide and only inches deep not to
> mention harsh.  Most CD playback equipment is unlistenable to me.  Mark
> Levinson has a CD transport or all in one that comes close to good analog,
> but costs $5,000 + and needs an equivalent esoteric hi fi system.

Mostly, I'd agree.  But there are good-sounding systems
available with digital that won't bankrupt you.  I'm using a Rotel CD drive
(costs about $450.) with digital out to a PS Audio 20-bit D/A (can be found
now for well under $1k) for my primary decoding chain.  For loudspeakers,
I go from the D/A output right into a Jolida tube power amp (about $800.)
to a pair of Mirage loudspeakers (about $2.5k per pair).  For headphone
listening, I'm looping through an old Audio Alchemy HPA-1 headphone
amp (used, $125.) into a pair of Grado RS-2s (demo, $350.).  I like the
musical sound of this chain.   Upgrades are now done over
time and hopefully won't involve excessive amounts of cash.

OK, this stuff isn't in the discount section of Wally World, but it's modest
by price-no-object, audiophile standards.

Incidentally, I love the sound of analog.  When recording pop music, I
still do lots of work in the analog domain.

> My only real criticism of
> Glenn (if someone as pedestrian as myself can presume to criticize) is the
> heavy razor blade editing done so as to produce the exact performance
> desired by Glenn.  However, all is forgiven since it was Glenn making the
> edit choices.

Yep.  It seems that by the time he got back to the Goldbergs he was doing
less editing (largely sectional chunks) and this always sounds better to me.
Having done *lots* of editing on classical projects, I really respect folks
who don't *have* to edit very much and want to preserve the integrity of
one performance idea.  Of course, GG was often juxtaposing very different
ideas about a single piece.  This is one more aspect that makes his work
fascinating to me.

> I agree with you that there are some very nice re-recordings into digital
> done by sensitive studio engineers.  One of the very best I have heard is
> the CD done by Testament UK reissue of the Verdi Requiem.  When Christoff
> sings near the end, it is truly thrilling.

If it makes you passionate about the music (shivers down the spine, body hairs
standing up), that's what its all about, IMHO.  I think that listening to the recordings
of GG has done that for most folks on this list.