[78-L] Recording Quality - a relative term

Don Cox doncox at enterprise.net.invalid
Wed Jul 2 05:36:23 PDT 2014

On 29/06/2014, Ron L'Herault wrote:

> I don't know if quality has improved but I think the overall result
> has gone downhill. Recording each musician/instrument independently
> and then mixing them in at the end gives a one-dimensional sound image
> to these ears. I find it all most impossible to hear and understand
> modern vocalists because they are lost in the sonic plane. First off,
> you don't hear the interplay of the instrumental sounds as they were
> created. And then you don't have the depth. If you close your eyes it
> seems like there is a line of sound in front of you, everything mashed
> together, including the singer, just another sound in the jumble. Even
> old mono recordings had a sense of depth. You could kind of feel the
> singer was in front of the band, and I am convinced that you get a
> feeling for where instruments were place in relation to the singer on
> an early mono recording (30s) Was it just the time delay? Once stereo
> got over the "ping pong" era, one could easily spatially and sonically
> place instruments and singers in a group recording as you hear it
> played back. There was definition and separation for a while, and not
> just the side-to-side separation you'd expect. It was a separation
> between musicians/singers.
There is a great deal of bad recording about, but nothing in current
technology forces people to make bad recordings.

The advantage of single microphone mono is that the reverberation, which
gives the sense of depth, is coherent and can be interpreted by the
brain. As soon as you start using multiple close mics that coherence is
lost, as though you had superimposed several photographs taken from
different positions.

The recordings of the Lionel Hampton, Art Tatum and Buddy Rich trio is a
particularly bad example. And Blue Note records in general have no depth
- the players are strung out in a line between the speakers, or
superimposed on each other.

Don Cox
doncox at enterprise.net

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