SH Spotlight Distortion free trumpets in the 20s-40s. But the 50-60s? WHAT HAPPENED? RVG Evil Neumann mics?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. Panama Hotel

    Panama Hotel Forum Resident

    oh yeah, my points:

    while rock and roll is renowned as the original high-volume amplified music, most of the listening for enjoyment has always been done at moderate volumes.

    there was always an element of electronic processing and artifice in the recording process, from the earliest days of modern magnetic recording and microphone-assisted amplification. it jumped by an order of magnitude or two over the course of the analog rock era between the 1950s and late 1970s. The complexity of the music also increased, especially in terms of what became possible for recorded music as a result of technological advances like multitracking. However, most of the innovations in recording were driven by the purpose of conveying the energy and propulsion of rock and pop music forms into recorded media in order to reproduce much of the excitement and artistic and musical value even when played at low volume, in the 75-90dB range. These adaptations were sometimes also a function of the necessity to work within the limitations of vinyl records and consumer audio gear- such as the inability to present music on vinyl for any uninterrupted length of time longer than about 24 minutes; the lowering of fidelity and dynamic range for the last few minutes of a long-playing 33 1/3 side; the inability of turntables to reproduce the lowest octave of bass at anything approaching live volume; inherent limits on the dynamic range, detail capture, and stereo separation of most consumer-grade analog reproduction equipment. So the emphasis remained on extracting maximum quality within those constraints.

    With the advent of the digital age in the 1980s, those constraints were lifted: uninterrupted playing time was extended, wide dynamic range became simple to reproduce, recordings could be made louder, and components that were able to take advantage of the potential for high volume, full-range reproduction down to the lowest octave of bass became much more widely available inexpensively. By the mid-1980s and the advent of auto CD players, loud, loud, loud auto stereo systems with outlandish bass became a status system for young males. Concert volume sound in autos became commonplace. Meanwhile, digital enabled the ability to perform all sorts of recording wizardry, easily and inexpensively. At the same time, synthesizers reached a hitherto unknown level of sophistication, increasingly able to mimic various traditional instruments, to at least some extent.

    But this enabled a decoupling from traditional reference standards for sound recording that emphasized transparent reproduction of original source material, with fidelity to the sound of the traditional array of musical instruments, and the human voice itself. Once anyone could make up their own sounds and store it on a sound card, looping passages to produce infinitely repeated phrases to maintain rhythmic cohesion, it scarcely mattered that their artificially synthesized waveforms lacked the resonances of a weathered voice or a seasoned guitar, with all the attendant challenges of reproducing those characteristics on a recording. Lower resolution and reduced information content wasn't just permitted, it was increasingly embraced. The advent of a brave new world.

    It seems that a cost has been exacted as a result of the uncritical acceptance of these newfound powers providing the new benchmarks for musical achievement. Although I'd have to admit that the first era of high-volume amplified rock is responsible for some of that baggage. Because although I don't think anyone ever intentionally conceived of traumatic hearing loss as an occupational hazard for musicians- and a recreational hazard for the audience- that is the way things have played out. We should admit that there's something unbalanced about the practical requirement for anyone attending a musical concert performance to wear earplugs in order to preserve their hearing. There's also something unfortunate about a need for musicians performing amplified music to wear ear plugs, or to have their musical output processed and fed back to them through ear monitors, in order to preserve their ears from physical damage. I enjoy amplified rock music, but I think that in order for the artform to improve, it's probably a good idea for all concerned to admit that the requirement for Loud and Louder was a mistake, and figure out ways to dial it back a bit. That irrational embrace of the prospect of permanent ear damage in the name of musical enjoyment didn't start with Kids These Days. That was Us.
     
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  2. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident

    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    Was trumpet distortion in the 50s just an east coast, RVG or CBS 30th Street problem, or was it a west coast problem as well in those days? What about on albums like these?

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Were mikes and electronics basically the same on both coasts, or were some of the west coast studios using different techniques and equipment from those of RVG and CBS 30th Street, etc. back east?
     
  3. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident

    Location:
    Meridian, ID
    Or how about this?


    [​IMG]
     
  4. auralden

    auralden Forum Resident

    Location:
    Singapore
    [​IMG]
    What about Kind of Blue? Miles' muted trumpet on So What sounds distorted.
     
  5. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    Contemporary Records used a passive mixer, so they had no such trouble with overload problems,.
     
  6. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Roy and Howard were old school union engineers who learned in the 1930's and 40's. They would have quit before they would have engineered anything to have distortion on it. That's why we love the sound of Contemporary/Good Time Jazz so much, even if some of the music is too Dixieland or too West Coast..
     
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  7. ajawamnet

    ajawamnet Well-Known Member

    Location:
    manassas va 20109
    Steve - have you seen this:
    Studio 3; A Place Of Recording History

    Where it states:
    "Three API VU Meters monitored the program outputs. Above each meter was a Daven attenuator. Since the console had so much headroom available, you might want to drive the inputs hard so as to drive the outputs to the "max" for a better signal to noise ratio. This would cause the VU meter's needle to "pin" over the edge of the scale making level of volume assessments impossible. The Daven pots provided calibrated attenuation to the meters in 1 decibel steps to allow adjustments to an average program level to be set to "0"dbVU and a reference for calibration to the recording deck was thereby achieved. It allowed you to get closer to absolute "0" level of the console's buss which is common in today's digital "Brick Wall" threshold. At this point the volume control of the tape deck would be re adjusted to match the recalibrated meters."


    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Good times.
     
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  9. ajawamnet

    ajawamnet Well-Known Member

    Location:
    manassas va 20109
    Yea - seems to be a brute force method - "......you might want to drive the inputs hard so as to drive the outputs to the "max" for a better signal to noise ratio."
    Further on he states:
    "Interesting note: Dave's dubbing technique was to play the tape backwards so that the faster transient attacks of the audio information, since being reversed, would "ramp" up slowly to it's beginning thereby making it easier for the tape to record it hotter with less distortion. This technique would later be used by major mastering houses to cut "louder" records."

    What I'm guessing he means is that the decay envelope was a lot easier to deal with backwards - esp. with the limited slew rate of older audio gear. Shutting off was a lot quicker than dealing with fast rising attacks and driving into non-ideal and fairly reactive loads like transformers. Even in the late 60's- early 80's, semi opamps like the 741 had 0.5 V/us and the 709 a bit worse.

    Nowadays I design with stuff for RF that has silly fast step response - 20,000V/us:
    ADL5567ACPZN-R7 Analog Devices Inc. | Integrated Circuits (ICs) | DigiKey

    I had to design a pulse amp that needed to drive 2.5 watts into 50 ohm with a 10 VPP amplitude and less than 20ns rise. The THS3122 I used is 1550V/us. Worked well - even single-ended (ie. unbalanced) over feet of non-coax transmission line. Most of these fast amps are current feedback - a bit touchy on PCB layout as compared to something like the typical TL0xx stuff that's voltage feedback. But so easy as compared to what those guys dealt with back then.
     
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  10. ajawamnet

    ajawamnet Well-Known Member

    Location:
    manassas va 20109
    You mentioned the Armstrong Hot 5 stuff - take a gander at this post on another thread:

    State-of-the-Art fake stereo?

    where I mention Cédric Févotte's page on his decomp IS-NMF of My Heart (Will Always Lead Me Back To You) recorded by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five in the twenties.

    Interesting if you have a DAW and bring that stuff in at the various stages... the upmix looks really interesting on a Lissajous
     
  11. jfeldt

    jfeldt Forum Resident

    Location:
    SF, CA, USA
    That rack has proportions that made me think it was a PC tower case at first until I squinted to see the detail on it and then saw the mans head for scale :)
     
  12. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    History repeats itself - according to karl Marx, not Groucho M.
     
  13. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    Location:
    tokyo
    Recently I listened to Miles Davis' Ascenseur pour l'échafaud and found the trumpet were not distorted. I believe the same story can be applied to the French engineer. He was old fashioned and adored the old American recorded sound...
     
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host Thread Starter

    Good to know. It was possible to do in any era, but my theory is that some engineers (or their producers) liked that buzz cut distortion on the horns.
     
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  15. Shrdlu

    Shrdlu Well-Known Member

    I am astonished by post #1, and I disagree 100%.

    The Neumann U47, badged in the U.S. as a Telefunken, was one of the very finest mikes ever. Rudy van Gelder had one of the very first to arrive in the States. He had it rewired to permit close miking (which always sounds better) and that led to the iconic Miles Davis harmon mute sound. In over 50 years of listening to hundreds of van Gelder recordings, I have never heard any trumpet distortion, nor have I ever heard anyone even mention the idea.

    Rudy always recorded at the maximum possible level, but it was never distorted. Doing that makes for the best signal-to-noise ratio. If Rudy was bad, why did Alfred Lion insist on using him, and also Bob Weinstock, Savoy, and others? Alfred was very fussy about sound.

    The famous RCA mike, with the two surfaces at about a 200 degree angle, was mediocre. Also, a lot of pre 1950s records were made with just the one mike, which adds a lot of room noise.
     
  16. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canton, NY, USA
    Interesting--you don't hear any trumpet distortion whatsoever during the peaks on, say, Horace Parlan's Speakin' My Piece? Or Lee Morgan's Lee-Way? Probably the most obvious example I can think of is the almost painful distortion on Donald Byrd's trumpet throughout Red Garland's All Morning Long--I don't recall for certain whether RVG was the engineer on that, but I thought he did most of the engineering for Prestige.
     

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