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Technical considerations

Bruno D.F. wrote (March 4, 2003):
I see that in the discussions of recordings on this list, the technical aspect is not taken into account. I would like to share with you 2 recording trends which have had me worried for quite some time now:

1)the enormous amount of compression used in orchestral recordings (and not just of Bach's). While this allows for a consistent sound, the dynamic variations are lost, and loud becomes a kind of wimpy loud (e.g. Boulez's recording of the Gurre Lieder).

2)On cheap releases (e.g. Naxos as distributed in the UK, for under £5-as a reference, a packet of Malboro costs £4.80), but not just them, there is an enormous amount of reverb, which drenches everything, notably keyboard fast sequences. You cannot distinguish one note from the next, as the reverb tail overlaps the attack of the following note.

By contrast, Harnoncourt's recording of the cantatas is a feat of sound engineering sobriety (e.g. cantata 178, which packs an enormous amount of voices and instruments in a most effective manner, and without going overboard, listen with headphones and you'll understand).

I am a recording artist (dance music), and therefore know what is possible. Checking those recordings through appropriate sound engineer software, nothing peaks above -6dB. This is in alignment with dance music, which is expected to be played very loud, so the -6dB limit is a kind of safety margin so that you do not blow your speakers. But should that be applied to classical music recordings?

Since there are a few journalists and classical recording artists on this lists, how about lobbying producers and labels managers into having a lighter hand with the compressor and the reverb units in the recording studio?

Kirk McElhearn wrote (March 4, 2003):
BdF wrote:
< Since there are a few journalists and classical recording artists on this lists, how about lobbying producers and labels managers into having a lighter hand with the compressor and the reverb units in the recording studio? >
Hah! Are you serious? Do you really think any labels care about what we say?

I often rail against excessive reverb - that annoys me more than compression - but I doubt my comments, or anyone's for that matter, have any effect on how discs are recorded.

I'd be more interested in lobbying against copy protection schemes, which result in even lower quality recordings.

Bruno D.F. wrote (March 4, 2003):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< Hah! Are you serious? Do you really think any labels care about what we say? >
[BdF] One can always hope.

< I often rail against excessive reverb - that annoys me more than compression - but I doubt my comments, or anyone's for that matter, have any effect on how discs are recorded. I'd be more interested in lobbying against copy protection schemes, which result in even lower quality recordings. >
[BdF] True, that is something to consider as well.

Thanks anyway, no harm in trying.

François Haidon wrote (March 4, 2003):
BdF wrote:
< I see that in the discussions of recordings on this list, the technical aspect is not taken into account. I would like to share with you 2 recording trends which have had me worried for quite some time now:
1) the enormous amount of compression used in orchestral recordings (and not just of Bach's). While this allows for a consistent sound, the dynamic variations are lost, and loud becomes a kind of wimpy loud (e.g. Boulez's recording of the Gurre Lieder). >
I take it you live in a remote bungalow with high-end speakers and absolutely no neighbours? ;-) As far as I'm concerned I have fifteen year old speakers my parents bought me when I was hardly a teenager and neighbours both sides of my bedroom, so compression in orchestral recordings is alright by me! Realism is not really something I really value let alone look for in a recording. I like historical recordings for similar reasons, because of their limited dynamic range: talk about listening comfort!

< 2) On cheap releases (e.g. Naxos as distributed in the UK, for under £5-as a reference, a packet of Malboro costs £4.80), but not just them, there is an enormous amount of reverb, which drenches everything, notably keyboard fast sequences. You cannot distinguish one note from the next, as the reverb tail overlaps the attack of the following note. >
I like some room ambiance (well, OK, I DO like some degree of realism) but not necesseraly concert room ambiance... So I'm not keen on reverb either. It damages Richter's WTC Book 1 a lot, for instance.

< I am a recording artist (dance music), and therefore know what is possible. Checking those recordings through appropriate sound engineer software, nothing peaks above -6dB. This is in alignment with dance music, which is expected to be played very loud, so the -6dB limit is a kind of safety margin so that you do not blow your speakers. But should that be applied to classical music recordings? >
Of course not, but again there are rather obvious practical reasons, aren't there? I can't have all of a symphony orchestra, or even a chamber orchestra play in my bedroom, all I have are recordings. And I can't remain next to my stereo system constantly turning the sound up and down as the music goes, can you?

 

Com-pression / Compression and Hall Acoustics

Bruno D.F. wrote (March 4, 2003):
[To François Haidon] My ears were trained in concert halls (Maison de la Radio, salle Peyel, etc...), and at various acoustic pianos. Then they got further training in recording studios. That explains a lot. I was lucky, perhaps. I am not against compression per se, it is necessary when recording large instrumental masses (perhaps not so necessary for recording solo instruments, e.g. piano or solo vocals), I would simply like to advocate a more judicious and better thought out use of it.

Bruno D.F. wrote (March 4, 2003):
[To François Haidon] Have you ever wondered why in a concert hall, an singer can be heard well and clear above the orchestra?

Ehud Shiloni wrote (March 4, 2003):
[To Bruno D.F.] Since the early days of this List I was hoping that an expert on RECORDINGS will join and share some knowledge with the rest of us.

What, in your opinion, is the short list of concert halls with the BEST accoustics? The immediate relevance to this List are of course recordings of Live performances of JSB works, but I guess we can enlarge the scope a bit.

Thanks for any input.

 

Bach Cantatas app for iOS

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 30, 2012):
A developer in the Netherlands, Alco Blom, has recently released an app about Bachís cantatas for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bach-cantatas/id508045407?mt=8

Itís an interesting app. It serves as a way to organize your cantatas collection, get information on different cantatas, and discover recordings you donít have.

Iíve had some e-mail exchanges with the developer, and Iíve shared some ideas about other information the app could present. (Such as links to the Bach Cantatas website.)

Itís worth checking out if you want to store your collection and get more info about the cantatas. The developer is going to add more features, and, if members of this list send feedback, you could help make it a really useful app.

Stephen Benson wrote (April 30, 2012):
Kirk McElhearn wrote:
< A developer in the Netherlands, Alco Blom, has recently released an app about Bach's cantatas for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. >
This app is adult only? (cf. the iTunes store: "You must be at least 17 years old to download this app.
Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes")

Hmmmmm.....

Kirk McElhearn wrote (April 30, 2012):
[To Stephen Benson] Any app that accesses the internet has that warning.

Stephen Benson wrote (April 30, 2012):
[To Kirk McElhearn] Shows how far behind the times I am!

Ed Myskowski wrote (May 1, 2012):
[To Stephen Benson] Me too! I thought it might be a reference to those devilish, snake-like riffs Bach often uses.

Nice to hear from you, Steve.

 

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Last update: żAugust 21, 2012 ż13:51:32