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Re: [ARSCLIST] From ProTools to Vinyl? was [ARSCLIST] Fred Layn's post on the Studer
----- Original Message -----
From: "steven austin" <stevena@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> How do we feel about listening to the early recordings that were
> "mastered" by having the artist send sound into a horn, direct-to-disc
> or -cylinder, which have been available to us on disc or tape (when they
> are) as re-mastered-from-media-playbacks? There's no way to get back to
> the original "warmth," which already may have been miles from what the
> musicians heard in the studio. Even if we could get clear separation of
> the musicians on a Kid Ory recording, say, would it be legitimate to do
> In that band's case, audio purists might have to consider that they
> played unamplified in loud, rowdy drinking halls. Recordings were an
> afterthought. In this case, perhaps loud, hissy, primitively-mastered
> 78s are more appropriate to the listening experience than a crisp, clear
> digital signal.
> Maybe there should be a chatter-and-glasses-clinking track added? Or
> I think some recordings (all pre-digital recordings) are meant to be
> heard as they were heard at the time.
> What about the producers who mixed LPs for cheap players at home and 45s
> for car radio speakers...how do we justify which of the two mixes we
> choose now for audiophile pressings and for digital remastering? What
> about recordings that came to us only with weird mixes, like monaural,
> duophonic, simulated stereo, quadraphonic, binaural, etc.)? How do we
> justify our remix/remaster?
> I think the best experience in every case (and I might argue, the
> "truest" and "warmest") comes by recreating the original listening
> context with archival reproducers. A mono 45 spun on a cheap player,
> heard through a two-watt amp driving a four-inch speaker. I wish I had
> room for all the systems that would do justice to what's in the archive.
> I wouldn't mind vinyl-releases mastered to digital and written to CD if
> they would only sound like vinyl. That should be the goal, not to create
> some new experience from the old source. And if someone could master so
> well as to recreate system context, that would be heaven.
I see three different possible approaches to "audio restoration," to wit:
1) To recreate as nearly as possible the actual sound that was played
at the time the recording was made. This is, of course, essentially
impossible with our current computer and audio technology and our
understanding of both recording techniques and acoustics (as well
as that of vintage microphones and vacuum-tube amplification).
That is, we are hearing only a fraction of what was originally played...
***AND WE DON'T KNOW WHICH FRACTION!!*** It could be that someday
we will be able to enter or select the correct values and digitally
interpolate what was played from what was recorded...
2) To use the recording as a base from which to extract the maximum
amount of the sound present. This can involve things like noise
reduction, re-equalization to increase and correct bandwidths and
the like...but it specifically disallows adding any information
that was NOT present on the original recording (i.e. artificial
"stereo" and the like). The problem is that no two people will
agree on what constitutes "the maximum..." and at what point
addition of non-existent elements begins!
3) To attempt to recreate the actual original listening
experience by using the same equipment on which the original
record would have been played. However, this takes several
assumptions on our part (without the Holodeck we can never
know EXACTLY what the original owner used!) and also fails
to compensate for wear and damage suffered by the record
during its existence. Note that this has a certain "romantic"
appeal more than anything else...I've been in original 20's
apartments, furnished and decorated in original style, that
needed only a Victrola and a stack of 78's to provide a
However, many record companies opt, instead, for #4:
4) To make it sound, as nearly as possible, like the last
record that sold in huge quantities! The problem is, this
style of thinking demands that noise be removed at all costs
(people buy CD's because they have no background noise) and
that CD buyers are from one of two demographics...people who
buy current recordings (who want a lot of bass, for one thing)...
or people who buy "Easy Listening" CD's (who want music that
sounds like the 101 strings). Needless to say, once these
engineers do their remixing, the music sounds like nothing
else ever heard...itself included. This answers SA's comment
about "it doesn't sound natural..."
Steven C. Barr