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  »  New  It is about timbres, stupid...  It is about timbres, stupid....  Playback Listening  Forum     0  8593  02-23-2009
10-05-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
el`Ol
Posts 225
Joined on 10-13-2007

Post #: 1
Post ID: 8452
Reply to: 8452
Closer to the musicians - closer to the music?
Hello all!

I have always loved purist stereo recordings that give me the impression of sitting in a real concert hall, and rather accept musical details being smeared than spacial information being lost due to the resolution limits of the playback chain.
The big labels have gone the opposite way, placing microphones as close to the musicians as possible and let a "Tonmeister" do the task of conducting the work a second time on a huge console. The result isn´t perceiving the musicians very close acoustically, but in some way more direct than sitting close to the orchestra / performers in a real-world situation.
Meanwhile some smaller lables have gone the way of "pushing up" recordings (mostly from smaller ensembles, yet) with synthetic reverb, only slightly more moderate than it is done with popular music. The aim of this procedure is not adding spacial information that is lost by doing multi-microphone recording, but creating an effect that is sometimes called "being enveloped by the music", so rather bringing it even "closer" to the listener.
Am I an unmusical acoustic nerd, or a progress-rejecting anachronist?

Regards,
Oliver
10-05-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,052
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 2
Post ID: 8453
Reply to: 8452
Heisenberg's Sense of Perfection
Ollie, this sounds like a rather extreme rant I indulged in myself, not long ago.

To put it more succinctly this time, the problem for me is when the end "product" winds up being a signature piece from someone (or - worse - everyone) in the "support group" (such as the "producer" and/or the engineers) rather than the artistic expression/example of the composer and/or the musicians.

Conversely, I would regard as a "well-engineered" recording one that indeed reflected as much as possible of what the composer and the musician(s) had in mind, where I am given enough of the right information to decide this for myself.

Odd perhaps, but I have had great musical experiences via "problematic" recordings that were multi-mic'd, poorly mixed and generally overcooked, and I have wound up sitting there feeling empty after listening to any number of "purist" recordings.

No doubt there are certain maneuvers that will certainly sink a recording.  But as I shuffle through my mental inventory I wonder how many tecnnically "perfect" "purist" recordings I have that really move me musically.  The Mercury Rigoletto is pretty freaking good from a technical standpoint, and the performance is very good.  Of course, the opera itself is as good as it gets.  However, this performance still suffers, IMO, in as much as it is not live, but it was done in sessions. 

Then we have the "live recording" of the 1942 Furtwangler Beethoven 9, which is IMO about as "perfect" as recordings of works like this get; yet...

Best regards,
Paul S
10-05-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,285
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 3
Post ID: 8454
Reply to: 8452
I see that Quality lives in different domain.


Oliver, what you describe is very much NOT now I see the true ceremony of recordings experiencing. This high fidelity mimic of  the  “impression of sitting in a real concert hall”, or among the musicians in the pit, or whatever… are certainly a great achievement of playback but it all has meaning only in context of Pure Audio practice. There is nothing wrong with that and the Pure Audio is a noble task itself but Pure Audio is just an instrument not a purpose. So, in context of the actual USE the audio results for something more then just self-contained audio applications I think that this high fidelity mimicking is absolutely irrelevant. The real results of listening experiences, would be recording or a live event is located at emotional, esthetic, ethical and other levels of listening perception.

(First and second levels are audio-levels at http://www.goodsoundclub.com/Forums/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=50)

You see, in my view, what those smaller labels and big labels do in term up-closed microphones and artificial reverberation (even though it NEVER done properly) is something that event delivers a small tactical advantage in trim of sale to ignorant public but it at the same time has a huge strategic disadvantage in trim of absolute quality of Sound and preservation of artistic values of performing events.

If you wish you might try yourself to assess the sound quality of something like spring 1949’s recording of Sergey Koussevitzky lead BSO. Listen the first movement Tchaikovsky’s IVth symphony, listen that THAT sound and you might review for yourself what the sound quality come from… It would help if you found S1 pressing in good condition…

The caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-06-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
drdna
San Francisco, California
Posts 487
Joined on 10-29-2005

Post #: 4
Post ID: 8456
Reply to: 8452
You say tomato...
Musical enjoyment is very much a personal experience, a matter of taste, and a set of idiosyncratic goals and expectations. In a nearly pitch-dark nightclub with flashing strobe lights and watered down Jack Daniels and lager beer splashing liberally about the gyrating crowd, one hardly expects a crystal clear and sedate string quartet playing Vivaldi.

Different people have different musical goals (e.g., a booming beat that compels them to dance, emphasized bass and treble to make up for deficiencies in an inexpensive portable stereo, the tantalizing novelty of quadraphonic sound, etc.) and so different recordings with different production values are made.

One is not necessarily better that the other, though production is related to demand. If you are in the minority in terms of type of recording (i.e., minimalist audiophile recordings), you may be disappointed.

For myself, I acknowledge that there are different recording types for different goals and appreciate the music in terms of those goals.

As far as quadraphonic sound - what, you don't have a quadraphonic system? And NO quadraphonic records???? Well, the novelty of these things tends to fade quickly, and the listeners tend to return again and again to the basics. That at least does not change. SO, in this respect, I don't think we have anything to fear about music being lost.

Adrian
10-06-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
el`Ol
Posts 225
Joined on 10-13-2007

Post #: 5
Post ID: 8457
Reply to: 8454
The lables to stay away from
 Romy the Cat wrote:

You see, in my view, what those smaller labels and big labels do in term up-closed microphones and artificial reverberation (even though it NEVER done properly) is something that event delivers a small tactical advantage in trim of sale to ignorant public but it at the same time has a huge strategic disadvantage in trim of absolute quality of Sound and preservation of artistic values of performing events.



A very practical and un-audiosophic question:

From my experience most of the big labels (but I don´t have so much experience with newer recordings) do very dry recordings and refuse to add synthetic reverb despite the lack of room information. That´s what I can live with, but synthetic substitution is something I want to avoid, unless I am VERY fond of the interpret. From Teldec I know (not from my own experience, but from someone who knows a recording engineer) that they work that way. What other big labels do you know that do so?
10-06-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,285
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 6
Post ID: 8458
Reply to: 8457
I am against synthetic reverb

Oliver, I do not know and I do not particularly care about what is going on out there with synthetic reverb. There are few major reasons for it.

1)    All synthetic reverb is gone by DSP of signal and my experience indicates that post-recording DSP destroys the “fine structure” of recorded material.

2)    Reverberation time of acoustic space what the play took place is one of participating instruments that better musicians use. Taken this tool out of the musicians awareness and giving it to a Moron with headphone, mixing console and diploma of appliances’ electrical is not good thing to do.

3)    With after-performance synthetic reverb the feedback between results, expressivity and the means to accomplish that expressivity does not incused the musicians awareness. Pretend an amplifier where open loop does not behave as it was affected to closed loop. Scare? The where same happen with music. If you are musician then your definition, you feeling of tempo and timing are greatly modulated by reverberation time at the performing space. If you need to hit two keys on piano with an internal (let present that it is the Beethoven’s Sonata no. 8) then how long the internal would be? The duration of the internal is very important but it is also very important the organization and the reaction of the rest of your play to those internals. That organization is the product of musician awareness and the reverberation time is one of the ingredients that affect the musician compliance. Changing the reverberation conditions without changing the “musician compliance” is not good thing to do/

In the end I have to add one thing – the management of reverberation conditions in playback. This is totally different subject and the synthetic reverberating is fine there if it is done properly. I have some experience with it and some great successes but I do not talk about it as people generally do not understand it. A few years back I mention at My Playback section that I use ADS delays and phase randomizers as “RT60 extenders”. Then I begin getting emails form idiots who blamed me (can you believe!!!) that they bought the ADS processors and the processors sound like shit. The cretins who have “recommended components” intend of brain thought that the ADS are good amplifiers…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-10-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Andy Simpson
Posts 42
Joined on 10-21-2007

Post #: 7
Post ID: 8481
Reply to: 8458
The question of loudness
 Romy the Cat wrote:

3)    With after-performance synthetic reverb the feedback between results, expressivity and the means to accomplish that expressivity does not incused the musicians awareness. Pretend an amplifier where open loop does not behave as it was affected to closed loop. Scare? The where same happen with music. If you are musician then your definition, you feeling of tempo and timing are greatly modulated by reverberation time at the performing space. If you need to hit two keys on piano with an internal (let present that it is the Beethoven’s Sonata no. 8) then how long the internal would be? The duration of the internal is very important but it is also very important the organization and the reaction of the rest of your play to those internals. That organization is the product of musician awareness and the reverberation time is one of the ingredients that affect the musician compliance. Changing the reverberation conditions without changing the “musician compliance” is not good thing to do/



You are quite right about this - music performance is a feedback system via the ears.

Also, in the same way, equal loudness related hearing non-linearities mean that by altering the loudness of the playback we take tonal (spectral) control away from the musician.

Further to this, on the subject of reverb perception, given that the threshold of hearing varies according to equal loudness effects (not linear with frequency), alteration of playback SPL will also affect perception of reverb directly.

Specifically, (simply speaking) where we listen at SPL above that of the actual event, we will perceive greater amounts of (longer) reverb and where we listen at SPL below that of the actual event we will perceive lesser amounts of (shorter) reverb.

Also, where equal loudness effects alter the spectral relationship between direct & indirect sound we can expect the auditory masking relationships to be affected.

Andy
10-10-2008 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
tuga


Posts 172
Joined on 12-26-2007

Post #: 8
Post ID: 8483
Reply to: 8452
Hairy...
I guess if a musical performance was conceived to be listened from a seat in a room, close-micing makes as much sense as looking at a painting from the paintbrush's point of view...

I have just arrived home from an evening with Lawrence Foster and Truls Mork. I was sitting on the 13th row (mid hall) and the cello SPL was perfectly integrated with that of the orchestra, unlike my recording of the same piece by Wispelwey. (damn, I'll never have mid and low bass that's anywhere close to decent :-)


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira Pascoaes
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  »  New  It is about timbres, stupid...  It is about timbres, stupid....  Playback Listening  Forum     0  8593  02-23-2009
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