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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

    Still Light Ray but much less distortion. They played quieter than Joe Oliver’s band. That helped.
    cracklehead likes this.
  2. violarules

    violarules Forum Resident

    Baltimore, MD
    Whoa, the fidelity on that is awesome. Sounds like they are almost certainly using more than one microphone? The drum, piano, and guitar solos certainly sound that way. I would say the sound quality on this rivals stuff made even 15 years later in some respects.
  3. onlyacanvasky

    onlyacanvasky Has anybody seen my cup of tea?

    Gonna bump this thread again to post another Ted Lewis record, the song was in the UK news the other day and of course I had to take a trip back to the 30s.

    This is from 1933 so is a more fair comparison to Steve’s original post.

    Ted Lewis and his band convened at Columbia in New York on April 19, 1933. The band still had the excellent Muggsy Spanier on trumpet, George Brunies from the New Orleans Rhythm Kings on trombone, and Harry Barth (the same one popping strings back in 1925) playing bass, Tuba or String bass as the job required. He plays a string bass here, a little more conservatively.

    The ensemble playing is solid and has been captured well here, with a nice jazzy feel helped by Spanier’s trumpet leads. This sort of sound, while obviously not having full frequency response, is very pleasing to my ear, warm and not shrill. Even when Lewis gets going on his gas pipe clarinet at the end, it’s not too bad, the producer has pushed him back into the ensemble. I could listen to music that sounded like this all day.

  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Columbia’s last year, wasn’t it?
  5. onlyacanvasky

    onlyacanvasky Has anybody seen my cup of tea?

    In that guise, yeah. Bought up by ARC in early 1934 for peanuts. Columbia kept going as a minor imprint for ARC, who reissued sides they thought they could make money off on Brunswick or Vocalion, and the occasional Columbia. Then CBS came to the rescue in ‘39.

    My copy of Is Everybody Happy by Ted Lewis is a decent pressing on the ARC-era Columbia label. Not a Viva-Tonal quality disc, but it’s in nearly new shape, which makes up for it.

    Meanwhile the Ted Lewis band had a big personnel change and went onto Decca, making remakes of old hits, and some VERY un-Ted Lewis like records. Heaven knows what you’d have thought if you bought this expecting the Ted Lewis of old.
    cracklehead likes this.
  6. onlyacanvasky

    onlyacanvasky Has anybody seen my cup of tea?

    I found this among my 78s last night looking for something else. Sounds like it’s trying to claw its way out of the grooves!


    These recordings also sound like they would have worn badly with a steel needle.
    qwerty likes this.
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    cracklehead likes this.
  8. utzdman55

    utzdman55 Forum Resident

    Here’s a fantastic record from ’32, “If You Were Only Mine” by the Washboard Rhythm Kings, Victor 23367. Not my transfer, but I wish it was! Another from Studio 2 of the Camden Church, where the mic is close enough to get the band in full detail but also far away enough to achieve some of the natural sound reflections of the space. What I would call optimal. Exhibitor’s Herald World wrote about the church in April 1929:


    These Victors were very special as at least some if not all, used the recent invention by Harry Olson of the ribbon microphone, then termed a “velocity microphone”. Not only was the microphone more sensitive in the higher ranges, but those frequencies were also made audible for the first time by Victor turning off their normal rolloff curve of 5500 Hz at the console, which they operated with a patchbay. Listen to the cymbals on these recordings, you really hear them shine. They have an unbelievable response and sound. Not "for the time" – these recordings sound good today. If I could find a space that sounds like the Victor church, I would use it as a recording location! I really wonder as to their mic placements.

    Here’s a very early RCA 44 prototype from 1931:

    And the formal announcement from RCA, August 1932. Notice the phrase "reverberation pickup".
    Before the RCA 44, almost all of the viable mics for recording or broadcast use were made by Western Electric:

    – 394 condenser
    – 618A moving coil dynamic
    – 600A, 387W or 373W carbons

    I think the 633a salt-shaker dynamic was in the works by '32, but not released quite yet. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong. Each of these mics had their own sound but I would argue the ribbon surpassed all of them at the time (condensers and dynamics have greatly improved in the intervening 85–90 years). In addition, here’s an ad dating from the mid-thirties in which RCA suggests ways to use the figure-8 pickup pattern of the 44:
    baconbadge likes this.

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