Audio Asylum Thread Printer
Get a view of an entire thread on one page
|For Sale Ads|
In Reply to: RE: When I heard Keith Johnson speak at one of the CA Audio Shows. . . posted by banpuku on March 07, 2017 at 10:48:16
And you're right, a lot of recordings don't provide it, with the orchestra sounding as if it's been squeezed completely flat! My take on this problem is that it often results from primitive multi-microphoning, rather than from digital recording per se. I mean, there are a lot of digital recordings, even the earliest ones (I'm thinking of some of the Neumann/CzPO recordings on Denon) where I can hear the hall ambiance just fine. And, sometimes, you can hear hall ambiance even when the recording has been closely multi-microphoned (with the ambiance probably recorded separately and then mixed in). And even close microphoning allows for the capture of hall ambiance if done properly - those old Mercury recordings were miked VERY closely, and yet, one can always hear the hall ambiance on them (even if, as in the case of the Minneapolis Northrop Auditorium, the hall itself didn't seem to have much ambiance - LOL!) Also, I have found on certain recordings that, unless I'm playing it at the right loudness level, the ambiance doesn't come into focus as it should. I'm beginning to feel that, for each recording, there's perhaps a very narrow range of loudness levels which shows the engineering at its best - again, perhaps!
I know I've just been running on in a stream of consciousness manner, but the capture of hall ambiance now seems to be a more complex subject than I used to think.
Those early mercurys, rca's and Deccas all used omni directional mikes that picked up hall ambience
Of course, there ARE smaller enterprises which DO record that way, such as the original recordings offered by HDTT, which benefit from John Proffitt's purist approach to engineering. BTW, John's clear and insightful review of Gerd Schaller's completion of Bruckner's Ninth (originally appearing in The Bruckner Journal for the Bruckner Society of America) has been reposted today on the Music Web International site (link below). Also, I owe everyone a posting about HDTT's latest multi-channel offering (Strauss's Alpensinfonie coupled with Mozart's Wind Sinfonia Concertante) once again recorded by John in a beautifully purist fashion.
I'm guessing that much like my friend, most artists these days evaluate their recordings while on the road using digital files downloaded onto their Ipads and other mobile devices. I'm guessing that they are listening for other aspects of the recording. The advantage of modeern multi miked recordings is they offer greater flexibility in post to adjust the sort of things the artists care about. we audiophiles who sit and listen to recordings in a dedicated lsietning room with a proper stereo or multi channel set up are the rare bread these days. we are the ones who notice hall ambience and actually care about it. I have talked about SQ with my musician friends many times and the typical audiophile things never ever come up. They talk about the wetness and dryness of the hall, the sound of musical instruments. The tone of certain msuicians, the sound of pianos, the talents of piano technitions etc etc.
I had the privilidge of going the Venezuala with Yuja when she recorded her concertos with Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra. I got to hang out with the last remaining staff producer at DG and the recording engineer. I picked their brains quite a bit. Things like hall ambience were clearly very very low on the list of priorities. In fact it was an undesirable. This hall sucked and the audiences were beyond noisy. The talk was much more about getting the wood winds to balance with the piano and the rest of the orchestra and getting the piano to sound good so Yuja could play the pieces the way she wanted to and with the sound she expects from a well built properly tweeked Steinway. The production team did a lot to get lemonaide out of a lemon for a concert hall and piano. A lot of that magic happened in post. You can't do nearly as much to please the interested parties using minimalist recording techniques. I think it's about priorities, flexibility and pleasing artists who are evaluating these things using ear buds.
Remember Dolby NR? Of course we do. When engaged, Dolby NR would completely eliminate any high frequencies and hall ambiance. Any subtle queues from instruments, foot shuffling, turning of musical score sheets, etc. was completely removed.
When I listen to my best sounding LPs, most of them have either traffic or HVAC noise that can be heard. I even have one LP whereby someone is practicing their instrument in a room adjacent to the recording. You would think that someone would have thought about this in advance, but sure enough, you can hear that faint instrument in the background.
Back to Dolby NR, I think a similar technique applies in digital land. I am confident that there are software techniques (maybe hardware hi bypass filters) that allow an engineer to remove any signal below a certain threshold. This could certain give the black background and eliminate the hall ambiance. I just queried the web and there are many software packages that have a "background noise removal" feature. My guess is that the background noise removal feature is more likely the culprit than the microphone technique. Just a guess, but at least we know for certain that both are available in the engineer's toolkit.
I used Dolby A in our studio. It only eliminates noise added by the tape. It does not alter the incoming signal with proper dolby playback
I could be wrong though! ;-)
There's also the interesting question as to how "crisp" the background noise is - the crisper the better for me. There's an in-concert Strauss recording where the applause definition and other non-musical extraneous noises are so defined that I really rejoice in what I consider the truthfulness of this particular recording:
You are not wrong Chris
One of my favorite scores is Schnittke's Sonata No.2 for Violin and Piano "Quasi una Sonata. The music is very aggressive, with many points of silence in between notes. Just listen to the first 2 minutes. You will see what I mean.
I came across this youtube video, see below. When you listen to the first minute or so, you can hear that the background noise was clearly cut off after the piano strikes or the hard violin notes. It's a shame, because otherwise it is really something to behold.
This is caused by pumping do to heavy compression.
It is not a common practice in classical recordings but FM radio stations and TV stations typically do this
Please educate me, what is "pumping"?
Let us give an example. You send music to a compressor. You set it so it will lower the gain of the music (compress) by 10db.. Music plays and gain is reduced by 10db. When there is some silence the gain goes back up by 10db This going up and down of the gain is called pumping. If there is light noise in the background when the music stops the noise will come up 10db. That is pumping. You can here it on remote radio newscasts. When the newscaster stops speaking the background noise comes up
. . . which in itself is surprising - that's to say, I'm SURPRISED that a classical recording would even be issued this way. And if I'm not mistaken, this pumping effect is more an artifact of analog compression, rather than digital compression?
Other recordings made there as well.
I listen exclusively to LPs and it's a disappointment when hall ambience isn't there.
Older classical recordings at Carnegie in New York and Orchestral hall in Chicago have subway sounds
When Carnegie Hall and especially Zankel Hall were renovated, supposedly a major factor was eliminating or minimizing subway noise.
Post a Followup:
Post a Message!
This post is made possible by the generous support of people like you and our sponsors: