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Author Topic:   Imaging and recording techniques question
bobb
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posted January 25, 2007 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobb   Click Here to Email bobb     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Guys,

If there are any members who know about microphones and how tracks are mixed together on albums I'd like to ask a question. One of the things I don't find realistic on albums is the sound of instruments deeper in the soundstage. I think this has something to do with the way microphones pick up sound, but am not sure. When I stand in front of a band the drums are usually in the back of the stage relative to the guitarists and singers. Yet in person the drums have a visceral impact and approprite volume level. When recorded with a single mic placed in front of the band it seems the sensitivity of the mic falls off with respect to distance in a way that is not the same as the human ear. So when reproduced on a stereo system the drums are clearly where they were on stage, but the volume level relative to what was heard live is not the same. I would assume that's why individual mics are used in most recording studios. But when multiple mics are used the single listener's perspective is lost. So my question is.....are there any mics this day in age that can be placed in front of a band and accurately capture the sounds of the band in the same manner our ears do? Just wondering.

regards,
bob

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wineslob
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posted January 25, 2007 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wineslob   Click Here to Email wineslob     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've wondered the same thing myself many, many times. Now that I own Ap's it's even worse. All the mistakes on recordings are very clear. For me it's easy to tell that a drum kit was actually pretty well mic'd but I can hear that the other players were "close" mic'd so that they dont have the correct position in the soundstage. I'm getting a CD from a member of another forum I'm on, and he swears it's been done correctly. The right micing and recorded at the correct level so that dynamics have been retained. I'll follow up when I recieve it.
If you guys like Bluegrass, look for a Sheffield DD (vinyl) "Confederation", awesome recording. available here:
http://www.audiophile-records.com/index.cfm?get=detail&pID=11949

No affiliation BTW.

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Allen Wright
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posted January 25, 2007 12:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Allen Wright   Click Here to Email Allen Wright     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob,
What recordings of live bands do you have/know done with a single mic out front?

I agree most recordings don't close to the sound level of the drum kit compared to live - and I hate that.

The closest to real recordings, of jazz at least, IME come from ECM. They really can sound just like a live band - with huge singing cymbols, as long as you play them at near live level. Which most people never do!

And ECM 's, especially the LPs, are just FABULOUS sounding as well. Just eish they would use SACD and not justRBCD...

Regards, Allen

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audiophile
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posted January 25, 2007 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for audiophile   Click Here to Email audiophile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The best recordings are the direct-to-disk vinyl records. Nothing else comes close !!

eg:

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?softjazs&1174861982

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CanadApogee
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posted January 25, 2007 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CanadApogee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In regards to mics and placement I have found Opus 3 recording studios in Sweden to make incredibly realistic recordings. They use analogue in the most minimal and shortest path to recording. They choose to record in differant locations based on the artist and the sound they are trying to create. They record in churches, hallways, courtyards and use two mics and position the musicians relative to the mic to achieve differant volume control. This assures natural timbre (not close mic'd so you dont get the full instrument), dynamics (softest to loudest passage), and reverb (room information, size and surface) instead of electronic processing and induced artificial reverb and coloration.
If you are a Vinyl guy I highly recommend getting the double album 45 of Eric Bibb. It is called "Good Stuff". It is on Opus 3 recordings catologue #LP 19603. I suggest reading their philosophy regarding recording at this adress http://www.opus3records.com/phil.html
It is a really interesting read and I think it may answer some of your questions Bob. Again if you like incredibly realistic recordings and can hear Eric Bibbs Good Stuff on your Apogee's, you will be in for a rare treat. If you happen to pick up or own this lp let me know your impression.
Enjoy the music,
Scott

[This message has been edited by CanadApogee (edited January 25, 2007).]

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geddie
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posted January 25, 2007 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for geddie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No question that recording technique is key to making music sound real. This, along with room effects, may be more important than ALL of the hardware we regularly discuss.

I was listening to Diana Krall's "From This Moment On" CD this morning (Track 4, actually) and marvelling how real the stand-up bass sounds. This particular CD is a Verve release recorded by Al Schmidt and Steve Genewick and mixed by Al Schmidt. Though these gentlemen operate behind the scenes, they really have a huge impact on the outcome. Too bad all discs aren't this well done!

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flintstone
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posted January 25, 2007 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for flintstone   Click Here to Email flintstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Brad mentioned "Royer Labs" in a thread a year or so ago...some interesting stuff to read and listen to at that site.

http://www.royerlabs.com/index2.html

Check it out


Dave

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muralman1
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posted January 25, 2007 03:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for muralman1   Click Here to Email muralman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have Royer's demonstration disc. The disc is pressed straight from the recording on most cuts. Eery real.

Ray Charles and Friends was recorded with the Royer's ribbon mic. Track 8 should bring tears to your eyes.

Vince

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ramagochi
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posted January 25, 2007 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ramagochi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello,

Stereo techniques:

http://www.dpamicrophones.com/page.php?PID=131

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1997_articles/feb97/stereomiking.html

Brands of very good microphones.

http://www.dpamicrophones.com/
http://www.earthworksaudio.com/

Remember, the microphones are equal to the loudspeakers (You can get good or bad microphones)

You can try with the do it your self, the tapping is a very good hobby.

Tapping forum:
http://taperssection.com/index.php

Cheers

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Dexter
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posted January 25, 2007 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dexter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Bob,

I can't answer your question but here's a couple of first hand examples of friends of mine involved in recording. One friend managed to coax Sandra Cross away from the Mad Professor who had her doing some poppy slop crap and produced an album of jazz standards to a reggae feel. He gave me copies of the cd and the lp, the lp was a remix by a couple of doof doof DJ's which as it happens I prefer. Anyway, I asked him if the drums were electronic because there was just no 'feel' or no skin - a bit to clean and perfect. Apparently they weren't but what he told me was basically the whole recording time was a pitch battle between him and the sound engineer where Koichi would listen to how the engineer was mixing it and Koichi would complain that, 'that is not how it bloody sounded'. The engineer would keep retorting that this needs to be done and that needs to be done, etc, etc and basically in Koichi's words he got blinded by bullshit and gave up the fight. He was looking for a really organic sound and I likely prefer the remix because it hides to a large extent how it fails dismally in that respect. That recording was done in isolated sound boothes as are most now I believe and quite frankly I think that kills the coherency of the music as a whole and gives engineers too much influence over the relative proportions of the players. IMHO of course. It makes me wonder how many engineers go to much live music. Koichi was also involved in the Japanese Toshiba EMI Blue Note 10 and 12 inch vinyl reissue series. He lent me most of that series to listen to but all I could get through was about half a dozen. Just a bleeched scrub down of what Van Gelder originally captured.
Another friend is a recording engineer who freely admits he gets 'lost' in the whole process and finds it overwhelming. That said he can't be too bad as the profession goes, he got offered and turned down a job at Blue Note in NY.
Perhaps the recording industry is guilty of the same excesses of 'audiophilia' - the function of the equipment at the expense of the form of the music.

------------------
Vinyl, superior sunscreen technology.

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rsjm80
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posted January 26, 2007 06:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rsjm80   Click Here to Email rsjm80     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd like to add a tiny input also, as I am a predomanitely rock listener, I find that the opinions that have been expressed are exactly what I dread when I listen. Although I DO NOT crank my music to higher levels to acheive "live" spls I find that as was mentioned that I spend a lot of time analizing my music as opposed to enjoying it, too many times as the system reveals so many flaws in the recording process. As I was listening to Supertramp and I heard too much echo aire and not enough drum impact. I'm going to revist the Trinity Sessions CD again for better single mike techequie, I'd also like to offer a disc that I have found to be some of the better balanced presentations (imho) by Megan Slankard called Freaky Little Story, not hard but nice rock and very listenable. Ray

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audiophile
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posted January 26, 2007 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for audiophile   Click Here to Email audiophile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Opus 3 records are wonderful but their catalog is somewhat limited. I have many of the albums on the Opus 3 label. What I have found that some of the best recordings I have heard were made using the simple Blumlein configuration on two track recorders. Other labels which are good are Water Lily, Ocora, Sonodisc. For the larger orchestral recordings try the Mercury Living Presence, and RCA Living Stereo (I believe 2200 and above).

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GW
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posted January 28, 2007 12:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GW   Click Here to Email GW     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mixed bag with recordings.

Purists will accept only a two microphone recording. Real instruments. Real location. Position performers so they are acoustically balanced for volume level by controlling their distance from mike. Set volume level according to loudest passage and don't touch again. If necessary add some damping material in the venue. No gimmicks.
Results? Real acoustics, real placement, real air, real dynamics, real stereo.

Variations? Single point stereo microphone. Similar results but may require somewhat different speaker playback geometry to recreate the stereo image. Possibly more effective for headphone playback.

Standard recordings? Multimicrophone soup. Dead booth recording. No acoustic. Mono. No left right stereo information. Close miked. No depth information. No possible dimensionality.
Left right stereo? Pan pot your mono sources left to right to create a specific location and stereo "spread."
Depth? Add reverb, echo, or electronic soundfield to create some life to counter the dry recording. So what if it doesn't match the recorded perspective? So what if the tonal balance and attack characteristics are totally unnatural and could never be heard in a real life situation?
Dimensionality? Phase manipulation to enhance the spread and roundness of the pan pot mono material.
Dynamics? Zero VU. Compress. Limit. If your meter twitches it must be wrong.

This latter situation accounts for about 99.99% of available recordings.
Accurate or faithful? Not in any way. Purely a creation of the sound Engineer.

Does anyone want to argue about which type of material should be used as a reference to "get it right?"

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muralman1
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posted January 28, 2007 03:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for muralman1   Click Here to Email muralman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, GW, now I'm depressed.


Is there some site we can go to for the .01% material?

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chan
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posted January 28, 2007 03:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for chan   Click Here to Email chan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
muralman1: Is there some site we can go to for the .01% material?

Or please at least enlighten us with some recordings you think are the real stuff...?

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ramagochi
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posted January 28, 2007 04:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ramagochi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Single point stereo recordings are not very comertial.

First: the people don't like this kind of recordings, in classic music always said, "the soloist are very low", "I can't heard the tenor" (Usually this kind of people never went to listen a live concert) and the director himself request a extra microphone for the soloist, and more and more.

Second: the people hate the dinamics, all the recording companies request more loud recordings, the musicians too (They need heard in his car), the ipod listeners too.

I'm a sound engineeer ;-) but I love the single point stereo recordings

Cheers

P.D. Single point stereo plus spot mics will be a accurate soundstage if the spot mics are in phase and stereo position with the mains.

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Ralph
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posted January 28, 2007 03:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ralph   Click Here to Email Ralph     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by muralman1:
Track 8 should bring tears to your eyes.

Vince


Vince - I hope you meant that in a positive way


Recording Techniques:

quote:
Purists will accept only a two microphone recording ...

It is interesting that the living presence recordings of the late 1950s used three microphones instead of two. A partial explanation is found on http://www.soundfountain.com/amb/mercury.html

If you listen to band music, one the main purposes of multiple microphones is to vary the level of each instrument so that each instrument can be heard. They are also used to vary the level of each instrument to provide a (often unique) fold back mix to the performers. This way, the lead singer can focus upon the sound of the guitar from his monitor without being drowned out by the drums etc. The person on the mixing desk plays a very important role in controlling the overall sound, particularly in a live performance. The house speakers are not a flat mix of all the instruments and thus a two (or three) channel pick up from front of stage would sound ordinary.

In acoustic music (eg. orchestral), the conductor plays the role of the guy on the mixing desk. He signals which instrument is play softly etc. and is often also responsible for the placement of the instruments with in the orchestra so that players can hear each other. Sometimes additional acoustic reflectors are used above orchestral stages so that the players can hear themselves just as band members use fold backs.


Ralph

Q. How do you make a guitarist play softly? - place a sheet of music in front of him.
Q. How do you make a guitarist stop playing ? - Ask him to play the written piece of music.

[This message has been edited by Ralph (edited January 28, 2007).]

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CanadApogee
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posted January 28, 2007 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CanadApogee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Vince,
To get the .01% 2 mike material you are requesting, go to Opus 3 and pick up the lp or cd of Eric Bibb's Good Stuff. You will not be disappointed if you want to hear a really good recording and pretty descent music to boot! Mellow stuff that puts you in that state that is somewhere between dreams and awake, where it feels like someone is gently massaging your temples. Surely you guys must get that feeling, that's when I get the most pleasure from my stereo, eyes rolled back in my head, no worries, glass of Scotch, pure pleasure, no upgrade bug, just magic.
Scott

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Dexter
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posted January 28, 2007 08:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dexter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ralph:

Ralph

Q. How do you make a guitarist play softly? - place a sheet of music in front of him.
Q. How do you make a guitarist stop playing ? - Ask him to play the written piece of music.

[This message has been edited by Ralph (edited January 28, 2007).]


Sadly Ralph the era where a drug fuelled thrasher would have bound you to their instument, applied liberal amounts of lighter fluid and quite literally set the both of you on fire for making such a joke is gone We are imho left with the very unsatisfactory substitute of lighting and special effects. Grandfathers in tights on health food diets - a pale/pathetic shadow of their former venom and virility.
Wishing to further expound my nonsensical notions (why stop now, right) you make the point that the person at the mixing desk is very important and GW gives a very clear explanation of different miking and it's effects. Same principles for recording as live amplified music, right? Well, with great foreboding and reticence I am going to have to agree with Vince's opinion from another thread, that we are more critical of our home systems than the live event. I mean where would the audio'phile' industry be if anyone ever got the notion accepted that amplified live music can be (accounting for different venue acoustics, amps used, etc and lack of visual stimulation) reproduced in one's home. Oh, I know - still trying to put together systems in 'synergy' and reproducing/remastering recordings to fit 'our' ideal. I mean bugger the musicians and what they intended - just who do they think thay are and when are they going to get some decent cables to play though?!

------------------
Vinyl, superior sunscreen technology.

[This message has been edited by Dexter (edited January 28, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by Dexter (edited January 29, 2007).]

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GW
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posted January 28, 2007 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GW   Click Here to Email GW     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Before we go too crazy, it's important to note that first and foremost we should enjoy the music. Ultimately regardless of recording technique, we are attracted to a song, a melody, a piece of music, an inflection, a point of emotional sympatico that touches us in some way.
A person on a beach with an am radio as their "high end equipment"can achieve that. We shouldn't lose sight of that.

From a technical standpoint, there are so many variables, even in simple recording. Which microphone? They all have different sounds, different radiation patterns. Which record machine? Again, all sound different. (Partial to a Nagra 3 mono machine myself). What console? Vastly different sounds, believe me. Most I have heard, especially some of the newer ones are less transparent than older "classic" consoles. Basic rule of thumb I've experienced is that the more these toys will do, the worse they sound.

And again, back to enjoying the music. If you can find a purist audiophile performance that takes your breath away, superb! But how many ultra high priced audiophile recordings of obscure Angorian lute and flugelhorn concertos do you normally listen to? The music must come first.

[This message has been edited by GW (edited January 28, 2007).]

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BH
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posted January 28, 2007 10:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BH   Click Here to Email BH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Having recorded ensembles of various sizes, one parameter to remember is height:

If the microphone array is relatively HIGH or TALL relative to a deep ensemble, the distances from each instrument to the the microphones will be similar resulting in reasonably accurate relative intensities. If the microphone array is simply placed in front of a deep ensemble, the instruments or vocalists in the front row will indeed mask those behind them at full song.

This is why a great deal of time is usually spent finding the right place for the microphones.

Nowadays, with digital tools, it is possible to mike instruments such as drum and bass at the back of the ensemble and synch them (move them in time) up with the overall sound at the front of the group.

But I'm old school and believe that ORTF and Blumlein are still the best techniques for accurate stereo sound. Recordings using these techniques can be found on the BIS label.

Often with these techniques, one would move the musicians relative to the microphones to get the appropriate relative levels.

[This message has been edited by BH (edited January 28, 2007).]

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Dexter
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posted January 28, 2007 11:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dexter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GW:
But how many ultra high priced audiophile recordings of obscure Angorian lute and flugelhorn concertos do you normally listen to? The music must come first.

[This message has been edited by GW (edited January 28, 2007).]


Angorian flugelhorn - now that might get my neighbour cranked at 3am! I quite agree GW, as it happens. The Japanese 3Blindmice label make fabulous recordings but I'd rather chew nails than listen to most of who they recorded.

------------------
Vinyl, superior sunscreen technology.

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ramagochi
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posted January 29, 2007 03:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ramagochi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I prefer A/B stereo technique (Not good for mono but the best for stereo), with omnis (the most accurate microphones), the two brands I usually use are DPA and Earthworks.

For me this technique offer a close to reality results.

Cheers

[This message has been edited by ramagochi (edited January 29, 2007).]

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GW
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posted January 31, 2007 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GW   Click Here to Email GW     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am trying to get hold of a recording by Don Morrison, of Morrison Audio, the carrier of the torch for Stewart Hegeman. Point source loudspeakers. Purist two microphone recordings. (By the way, anything Don recommends as a worthwhile recording is probably something you should own.)
And strange circumstance. I've been in contact with the people from (the now defunct) Dorian Records to ask about their microphone technique. Work in progress. Primary discoveries. No compression. No limiting. (Read that as real dynamics folks!). Also by sheer parallel coincidence. My standard recorder? Nagra. Dorian Records? Nagra. Want to hear why?
I dare you to listen to their English Lute Song or Handel the Italian Years with vocalist Julianne Baird singing. (If you can enjoy or tolerate this kind of music.)Be careful. Be very careful. Dynamics is a tricky thing. Just like some of the Reference Recordings these little gems can arc aluminum and bring a smile to Uncle Graz's bank account.

Warning. Excessive drool and burned ribbons not covered under warranty.

[This message has been edited by GW (edited January 31, 2007).]

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audiophile
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posted January 31, 2007 03:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for audiophile   Click Here to Email audiophile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
AAAAAh, this thread is full of some of my favorite words: BIS, ORTF, Nagra, Blumlien, Living Presence and some of my least favorite: digital, compress, manipulate, etc.

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GW
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posted January 31, 2007 04:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GW   Click Here to Email GW     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah, Audiophile. Bite Thy Tongue. Digital a dirty word? No four letters there. A record by any Good Medium would sound as sweet.
Let performers breathe and talk the talk.
So we as audiophiles do walk the walk.

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geddie
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posted January 31, 2007 11:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for geddie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ramagochi and GW -

Thanks for the education. Fascinating stuff, these recording techniques. As 'Silverdisc' (Jim in White Plains, New York) once said, playback systems are not the problem; sloppy, indifferent, hurried, or budget recording methods are the problem.

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