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SH Spotlight Difference in early 1930's recording techniques. Isham Jones & his Orchestra BRUNSWICK vs. VICTOR

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Not many care about this stuff but I find it interesting, and it's my Forum, so get over it. :^)

    The contrast between two very different styles of recording a band just after the dawn of electric recording in 1925.

    First, this catchy 1930 Brunswick recording was done in a very small room with two microphones and a 1/2 watt cutting amp (that nicely overloads on every musical peak for ease of cutting.) The sound is upfront and must have been pleasing on the crude machines of the day. After all, this record cost one dollar in Depression era America.

  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    The next example (I've posted it before) is by the same orchestra, different label, 1932. Here is a totally different approach. One microphone far from the band, recorded in a deconsecrated church in NJ with a big 7 watts of cutting power on beeswax. The sound is so totally different it's mind blowing. I think the engineer was trying to introduce bloom and ambiance into the recording. People (especially early juke box makers) complained that this type of technique was not showing the music to its best advantage and was harsh and metallic sounding and so this type of sound was changed over to a dry, close environment in a year.

    To be fair, the Columbia records of the late 1920s were the first to record a band with "air" and room ambiance. Victors of the 1920s were dry for the most part. They changed in 1932 to the "large hall" type sound but I guess they went overboard.

    Fun to listen to though..
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    I've posted this before as well, but when the Victor engineers moved the mic a little closer to the orchestra in that old New Jersey church in 1932, we get this sound, in my opinion the best ever from any label from that era.

    86 years ago now..
  4. mesfen

    mesfen Forum Resident

    lawrence, ks usa
    Wow the '32 victor does sound sweet. The only modification they did was simply move the mics closer, nothing else? Astonishing difference! This has to be one of the better electrical recordings I've heard. Shame that recordings of this caliber weren't consistent. Thanks for posting
  5. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    All, I presume, cut directly to 78 . . . ?
  6. nstza

    nstza Forum Resident

    From Marx Brother's Horse Feathers.... Great Movie
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Just one microphone. Yes, moved it closer, moved the traps/bass/guitar/piano a little to the side and that's it. Perfection, a time capsule back to 1932.
  8. Very interesting to hear such sound differences from that great era. Thanks for posting, dear host!
  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Yes, direct, heated beeswax. The Victor "squeal" we sometimes here at the end of these records is a result of the wax cooling down too fast..
  10. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Another thing I noticed: These would have been before Victor's studios got their prototype Scully 501's of the type seen in that Milton Cross-narrated documentary about how records were made by them, way back when . . .
    angelo73 likes this.
  11. The Wanderer

    The Wanderer Seeker of Truth

    I like that early-day genuine sound
    danielbravo, action pact and supermd like this.
  12. varispeed

    varispeed what if?

    Los Angeles Ca
    Of the three, I like the sonics of "Not a Cloud In the Sky" best. That one by far, reminds me of the zillions of my grandmother's 78s that I heard as a kid. Really in the face sound that I find pleasant. I like the highs, or lack of sizzle or whatever. Sort of as if they had dbx (sorry). Not to mention the song itself takes me back to the Spanky/Alphalpha days. The song reminds me of another that I can't quite place. Probably some of the same chord ideas used 35 years later in Winchester Cathedral.

    Big jump for Brunswick from that era to the Chi Lites :)

    Does anyone hobby around with that type of recording nowadays? I don't keep up with vintage working gear of that type.
    angelo73 and Steve Hoffman like this.
  13. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Mid Atlantic
    This second one sounds noticeably better than the third on my computer - soundcard - headphone amp - Senn 600s system . Deeper soundstage and more balanced sonorities seem like what an audience member would hear. I can understand that the day's playback couldn't decode it well.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
    The Revealer and Steve Hoffman like this.
  14. sami

    sami Mono rules

    Down The Shore
    I love posts like this, Steve. It's great hearing and learning about the different recording techniques. Thank you.
  15. WayOutWardell

    WayOutWardell Forum Resident

    This is incredible - thank you so much!
    By the way, Isham's nephew Rusty was a jazz drummer based in Chicago who played with Shearing, McPartland, etc.
    angelo73 and Steve Hoffman like this.
  16. baconbadge

    baconbadge Chooglin’

    Queens, NY
    Might be the best sounding tuba I've ever heard. Really sweet.

  17. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    #2 would have worked great for orchestral/classical moreso than for jazzy stuff. I actually like the sound of #2 quite a bit, but I get the non-commerciality of that sound being a concern. Too wet, but very pleasant on its own terms.
  18. onlyacanvasky

    onlyacanvasky Has anybody seen my cup of tea?

    I love the sound Victor got in 1926-7. Whereas some of their competitors captured the sound of instrumentalists playing, Victor could really capture the sound of a band.
  19. onlyacanvasky

    onlyacanvasky Has anybody seen my cup of tea?

    And this. I believe there’s a second mic on this one for Jelly’s vocal.

    (There’s a bit of crackle on this one but I’d rather that to soul sucking NR anyday)
  20. ibekeen

    ibekeen Forum Resident

    Wow, makes you wonder what the engineers of "Quarter To Three" by Gary U.S. Bonds were thinking in 1961?
  21. kronning

    kronning Forum Resident

    Steve, you know we love this stuff. Thanks!
    Steve Hoffman likes this.
  22. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Mid Atlantic
    I agree but what is sad and infuriating is how few classical recordings sounded like #2 into the 50s and how few jazz or pop records sounded like #3 into the 50s.
    MLutthans likes this.
  23. qwerty

    qwerty A resident of the SH_Forums.

    Learning about this era is always interesting, thanks Steve.
    Steve Hoffman likes this.
  24. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    I agree. Also that it was in the early '30's that the 78 took on the basic final shape that would hold to the format's demise in the late 1950's. Partly due to the Depression (center labels' size set to minimum 2.9375" - maximum 3" diameter, to save on label production costs), but also to add more to a side, plus the increasing influence of jukebox operators (which also ties in to the "dry" sound that prevailed after #2).
    Mr Bass likes this.
  25. scotto

    scotto Forum Resident

    Love this thread. Unfortunately, now I just want to play hooky and stay home and spin 78s all day.
    While I also prefer the later more-airy recordings, I have an early Isham Jones Brunswick (can't remember the title right now), with a monstrous slap-tongue sax throughout that really comes alive thanks to that close-mic recording. Not as full sounding, but that sax really smacks you in the face on that early recording.
    Great stuff--thanks.

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