Sinatra / Capitol Sound Quality and General Discussion - Come Dance with Me (released 1959)*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by serge, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    Matt, you don't think they possibly used both U47's as cardioids here, for the 3 track version?

    Here's 3 clips. First is a minute of "Come Dance With Me" taken from the 3CD THE CAPITOL YEARS set. I alternated channels R,L,R,L,R every 12 seconds, "mixed" to mono. Second clip is the same passage, same source, but L,R,L,R,L instead for comparison. Even though this album in stereo has harder separation than heard on previous stereo Sinatra/Capitols, there's still a good bit of leakage from whatever channel is "mixed" down when listening to one channel at a time.

    http://www.4shared.com/file/156420716/fcc81c8a/CDWM_TCY_clip_RLRLR.html

    http://www.4shared.com/file/156420781/b36e3260/CDWM_TCY_clip_LRLRL.html


    One thing that surprised me with these was the bass - it gets reduced quite a lot when listening to the channel where the bass isn't (mostly) heard in the image. So, considering how much more relatively diffuse the image is in the COME FLY WITH ME album, for comparison I took a minute of "Let's Get Away From It All" from the '87 Walsh disc (with a bit of Eq), and did the same as above - just one file though, L,R,L,R,L. The bass balance in the "non-bass" channel here drops quite similarly to how it did with "Come Dance With Me", and that's with a much less precisely imaged recording.

    http://www.4shared.com/file/156420763/c3e37ec2/LGAFIA_87Eqd_clip_LRLRL.html


    See the picture below. This was used by Ted on his "My Vinyl Review" site not long ago. It is a great picture of Frank in Capitol Studio A by himself, with one of the mics - that U47 positioned up high in the air - used for the purist stereo setup. I have no idea what session this picture is from, yet. Note the position of the mic stand - near the corner of that area rug, and not far from the platform for the conductor's podium - and how it looks.

    http://myvinylreview.blogspot.com/2009/10/sinatra-live-in-paris-mfsl-180-gram.html

    [​IMG]


    Now, see the photos from the MPTV site linked below (I can't get find the direct image addresses, so you'll have to click each link).

    Not sure if this is a COME DANCE session or not (MPTV notes it as '58, but some of their photo info notes are incorrect. Here's Frank and Billy May. See what looks like the mic stand for one of the "stereo" mics near the edge of the area rug?

    http://www.mptvimages.com/cgi-bin/i...itol&cat=Licensed/Non-Restricted&tt=&bool=and

    [​IMG]


    Next are three pictures of the date for what made up the COME DANCE WITH ME album cover. I believe this was done at one of the recording sessions for the album (if someone knows this to be wrong, please correct me). On the first two pictures, Frank is leaning over the conductor's podium, and in the background you can see one of the tall "stereo" mic stands, also in a shadow. On the third picture, Frank's moved away from the podium, but you can still see a piece of the stand in the corner.

    http://www.mptvimages.com/cgi-bin/i...ance&cat=Licensed/Non-Restricted&tt=&bool=and

    [​IMG]


    http://www.mptvimages.com/cgi-bin/i...ance&cat=Licensed/Non-Restricted&tt=&bool=and

    [​IMG]


    http://www.mptvimages.com/cgi-bin/i...ance&cat=Licensed/Non-Restricted&tt=&bool=and

    [​IMG]


    One more, just for comparison. A picture of Frank with Gordon Jenkins, for one of the WHERE ARE YOU? sessions. Frank is at the podium, and Gordon is off to the side. You can see one of the "stereo" mic stands again, this time just forward (and to the side of) the conductor's podium.

    http://www.mptvimages.com/cgi-bin/i...ance&cat=Licensed/Non-Restricted&tt=&bool=and

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Bob F

    Bob F Senior Member

    Not necessary. Here you go, Martin...

    [​IMG]
    MPTV link

    (I believe these were taken at a Capitol singles session on December 29, 1958, the week following the last CDWM session.)

    [​IMG]
    MPTV link

    [​IMG]
    MPTV link

    [​IMG]
    MPTV link

    [​IMG]
    MPTV link

    [Someone seems to have fixed the images in MMM's post while I was doing these. Sorry for the duplication, but the above images eliminate the MPTV watermarks.]
     
  3. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Yes, I do think it is possible. One of my comments was:

    <<It also virtually mandates that the microphone is a cardioid (directional) mic (U47?), and that the other instruments (saxes/rhythm) were at considerable distance from the mic compared to how close to the mic the brass were.
    2. It's certainly possible that more than one directional mic was used on the brass for mono, so we're not in disagreement there.
    3. Over on the saxes/rhythm track, brass leakage is all over the place, strongly so. That has to be sourced from somewhere. What's the source? I find it hard to believe that any engineer worth his salt would have said, "We're recording a big band with two mics today, and let's use an omni mic on the quiet half of the band [the sax half] and a cardioid on the other half [brass]." Crazier things have happened, I suppose, but I'd be really surprised if that were the case here. >>

    ....meaning: If it's a two-mics-on-the-orchestra recording, it's going to in all likelihood be a pair of the same mics on the same setting. (U47s, of course, can be set for omni pattern or cardioid pattern.) The lack of saxophone leakage into the brass mics points to the brass mic being a close-in cardioid. On the other side of things, though, there is a lot of leakage into the left track. (I'd expect some from a cardioid, but there is a lot.) This points to an omni being on the sax side of things OR to there being multiple mics on that channel and one being an omni or maybe a figure 8 (bi-directional mic) aimed a little funny.

    In the pantheon of "classic stereo mic techniques," there are spaced omnis, and then there are (near-)coincident (or closely spaced) directional mics (x-y, ORTF, NOS), Blumlein, and a few others. No way did Capitol record an orchestra with spaced cardioids! It goes against all the "rules," and it would sound like garbage with a humongous hole in the middle, much worse than you get with spaced omnis, all else being equal. More on that later.

    Lots to cover there. I did listen to the samples, and the balances on the Come Dance with Me individual tracks are basically the same (almost identical) to the individual tracks from that oddball early stereo mix on the bottom of my previous page, the primary difference being the full-range tone quality obtainable from the Walsh tracks, and the different proportion on the reverb. Whether it comes from the Walsh tracks or the oddball mix tracks, I still hear the same thing: mic (or mics, debatable) on the brass (not in any way distant), mic on saxes (close), mic on drums (especially evident on the hi-hat sound), mic on bass, mic on guitar, mic on piano (both of whom seem to rarely do much).

    As far as the Come Fly with Me recording, you did choose one of the three songs that can really be compared apples to apples with Come Dance with Me. The other nine selections had strings. Having said that, there are major differences between the sessions, mic position and quantity aside:

    I guarantee you that Come Fly with Me was recorded with the instrumental mics on omni position, not cardioid. From a listener's standpoint, I am very attuned to how a pair or trio of omnidirectional mics "sound," as I use them routinely when I record orchestras. If you look carefully at this website that I threw together recently when another engineer had to cover one concert within a concert series for me, you will see three omnis (suspended from the ceiling in this case, not on stands, but high up as if they were on one of those big Capitol stands), plus....one of those big Capitol-height stands, used not for broad pickup, but to position two spot mics (cardioids) for the choir. For Come Fly with Me and Only the Lonely, Capitol used two omnis, not cardioids, which is why there is that broad wash of sound on those recordings. I can back that assertion up with sonic evidence, as well. On the track you quoted, Let's Get Away from It All, , the rhythm section is clearly on the far left. If the podium were on the sidelines of a football field, the two instrument mics are cutting that field into thirds, so they would be around (roughly) the 35 yard line on either side, symmetrically balanced around the center, probably (and evidenced in photos to be) quite high and slightly behind the conductor. The rhythm section would be in the left end of the field, coming out to the 30 or so. Drums are loudest, so they are in the far left corner. Bass and drums work together closely, so the bass is likely right next to the drums. Piano is probably in front of the drums, aux percussion (timpani, glockenspiel or concert bells, and xylophone, all played by Frank Flynn, who is portable) along the back line somewhere to the right (our right) of the bass. The harp is closest to the right mic of all the rhythm section, but then again harp isn't really rhythm, I guess. (And that harp sure sounds more like a mandolin in places. :confused: In fact, I'm saying it IS a mandolin. On the mono recording, it almost certainly is.) The rest of the "field" is brass and saxes, (once you hit the 20 yard line on the right, it's empty space), and I think they are more-or-less in "concert position," with saxes in the front row, maybe spread out a little to give a tad more stereo "spread" by getting a little face time slightly into "left mic" territory, at least by one of the saxes. (On Isle of Capri, for instance, somebody -- bari sax, I would guess -- doubles on bass clarinet in spots. My guess is they had him sit off by himself further off to the left because he had two really big instruments to switch between "mid-song," and he simply needed the real estate to negotiate the change without making a bunch of clunky noises for posterity.) Behind the saxes we have the trombones, and behind them, maybe on risers, the trumpets.

    There is also aural evidence on the recording that these are omni mics being used for stereo. When the band is playing relatively quietly, there is no question that the drums are way over on the left. Listen to this snippet a few times, and listen to the drum set carefully:

    http://web.mac.com/mlutthans/iWeb/Site%2040/Welcome.html

    Alvin is staying right at home over in that left side until he decides to bang those toms at double forte, and all of a sudden, Alvin shoots over to the right side! This is because the two mics being used on the band are omnis, and when Alvin gets beyond a certain volume, his volume starts bouncing off the walls, and that right microphone, being an omni, is not particular about where it gets its sound from, and it's perfectly happy to pick up that reflected sound off the wall next to it and the ceiling and the back wall and the front wall -- wherever. With cardioids, you would get way less of that effect.

    As you said, we do not know when that first picture was taken.


    Martin, I think you have misinterpreted what is in that second picture. See here, where it is reprinted, enlarged, highlighted, and, I think, explained.

    (Note: Bob did so in his post)
    As Bob pointed out, those photos apparently do not come from one of the Come Dance with Me sessions. Furthermore, I think it is very hard to base any assumptions on where a mic stand is positioned against a wall in the back shadows of a photo. Mic stands are big, and they have to always "be" somewhere. At the bottom of this current post, I have presented a photo of the 30th Street Studio, and those mic stands are not what I would call "in recording position," but they could certainly wind up in the blur of somebody's photo.
    No argument from me on that last one. Different album, different recording technique.

    Back to Come Dance with Me: I've put one additional photo below. I see saxes ("necks" just visible, I think) and rhythm sections (guitarist, I think) to the left, brass on the right (just like on the released album, except for Walsh's 90 mix, which reverses them for some reason), and not a tall mic in sight, and that photo seems to represent the sound I hear.

    Of course, I also hear voices sometimes....

    Matt
     

    Attached Files:

  4. DJ WILBUR

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    fantastic dialogue going here, so many things I've never thought about before...thanks for expanding my mind and hearing yet again gentlemen!!!
     
  5. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey

    I fixed them. :) I forgot to edit my post saying they wouldn't display. Thanks though, and for the date. I couldn't figure out where the non watermarked addresses were though.
     
  6. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    Thanks Matt...

    I thought with this album having a relatively (for a typical Sinatra session) small group - a band instead of an orchestra - that it might be possible. There is a hole in the middle in the image on these recordings, though there's ebough leakage between the channels that it's not unpleasant.


    Agree...and yeah, I didn't just pick that song at random. I wanted to compare more for the bass though...


    I included that because it's the best picture of one of the "stereo" mics on a Sinatra/Capitol session I've seen so far. I also wanted a good picture of its placement in the room, and what the stand looked like.


    Great picture. From that vantage point/angle, you may not see one of the "stereo" mics. The one to Billy's left could have been placed a little behind him.

    We should go back to the session to check things out... ;)
     
  7. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Bump: Nearly 4 days, and not a single thought about the "winners page" on Come Dance with Me?? Which is your favorite?
     
  8. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    Location:
    .
    For vinyl it's the MFSL for me. Though, if I owned both MFSL and the 2009 LP to listen in total for awhile it's very possible I could switch allegiance to the 2009.

    For CD it's Walsh. Veiled/murky and what have you, it's still more musical & involving than the one dimensional, over processed Norberg. (I own both CD's, so I'm pretty sure of my preference on this.)

    Still holding on to my longtime hope that somewhere in the used bins, lurks that elusive 'golden' vintage vinyl copy that's going to satisfy me on all fronts. You never know.:)
     
  9. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey
    My favorites are ones (mostly) not listed. For mono, a mint D7/D7 U.S. copy I have. I also have the UK Millenium 180G reissue from around 2000. It's a little revised sounding, and doesn't really have the "balls" and drive it should, but it's also more neutrally balanced tonally than any vintage copy I've heard. Worth having, flawed or not. For stereo, a yellow label SM reissue (forget the cutting, but it's a '70's mastering), and the black/rainbow copies with the N14 side 2. Haven't heard a good vintage mastered side 1 yet. Also the two songs that had remixes made for THE CAPITOL YEARS.
     
  10. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    I know that MMM is not currently equipped for needledrops, but if anybody else has any of those LPs and could send along samples, I'd love to get them posted for comparison. (Plus, I'd love to hear them because MMM has repeatedly proven himself to have as golden a pair of ears as anybody on this forum. If he likes something, it's generally excellent!)

    Matt

    PS - Regarding greg1954's comments about the MFSL, I like that one a lot, too, and I think it has the warmest tone of any of the options, and that goes a long ways with me, personally. Having said that, and having listened to the MFSL and the Toshiba many times over the years, I think the "lasting impression" over the long run is just slightly on the side of the Toshiba....but just by a hair. I do agree, too, with the idea that one could be quite happy with the new Capitol. The tone is not quite as rich as some other versions, but it is still quite good, with a certain smoothness that I like.
     
  11. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    Location:
    .
    I could see that a possibility. I have a yellow SM (abridged) stereo 'Only The Lonely' that's not bad at all. I think, better than vintage stereo cutting.


    Important qualities for a good CDWM, IMO.
     
  12. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey

    The D7 mono still sounds like you'd probably expect a vintage mono LP of this to sound (kinda midrangey), but for what it is, it's my favorite copy that I've heard. For all I know, there's better out there.

    The yellow label copy I have in an H14/H15. Side one sounds a little better than side two. "ERT" in the dead area. Anyone know who that is?

    The bass could be better on the N14 side two, but otherwise sounds great.
     
  13. Ryan

    Ryan That would be telling

    Location:
    New England
    My guess: Eugene Thompson. Ask W.B.
     
  14. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    Location:
    .
    Wow, thanks for the recommendation.

    I stopped in a used store while making my rounds today, and what do they have amongst (mostly) mangy looking Capitol Sinatra offerings but the above yellow LP.:righton:

    It sounds quite nice. I should be able to get a clip up tonight.
     
  15. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Woo-hoo! Can you send along the deadwax info, too, and I'll include that on the samples page?

    Matt
     
  16. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    Location:
    .
    Sure, sample and D/W info sent...

    Initial impressions:

    This yellow CDWM has some pluses going for it in that it sounds very lively, balanced, forward, got some oomph, and it's not totally awash in reverb.

    Minuses in that it does sound like 70's solid state. In the over recorded (more grating) brass in the right channel, it's slightly boxy character, and it doesn't quite boogie/have the same kind of 'drive' that a tube cutting might have.

    It's very good though.
     
  17. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Lodi, New Jersey

    Thanks!
     
  18. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    I have split this topic off from the CAPITOL 180g reissue thread. Let's keep posting....in the proper place, so it's less confusing.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    EDIT: I've significantly revised page 2 and page 3 of the samples pages. .....and does anybody have the UK/Dell 1984 LP of this title?
     
  19. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    Location:
    Athens, Tennessee
    I like the 9 O'clock side logo label Stereo original pressing very well. Just the right tonality for the music. The early 4-track open reel tape of this album is also superb on a nice deck. A friend of mine owns one. The top logo Capitol pressings are also excellent.
     
  20. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

  21. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    Location:
    .
    A slight bass boost or treble cut would do that yellow label CDWM quite nicely. The LP is very trebly, but the bass at least well defined, and not 'mushy' as on some others.

    The L/R separation is remarkable, and quite attractive. No good reason for any folding in tricks as on the 2009 LP, IMO.
     
  22. That heavilny NR'd Norberg sample on "Come Dance With Me" is enough to get him banned from the industry, it's so bad (laughing).

    I liked the MoFi vinyl, the 2009 vinyl, and the '87 Walsh cd. (the 1990 Walsh is much harsher, what the hell!).

    This sample ( http://web.mac.com/mlutthans/iWeb/Site 37/1959 - Come Dance4.html )
    transitioning from the 2009 to the yellow label Capitol - the difference in the separation is quite shocking!!!
    Night and DAY!!!
     
  23. I have the 3-lp set SINATRA The Great Years and the first track on side five
    is "Come Dance With Me". The eq/cut sounds a lot like the 2nd press
    Capitol sample on the web.mac.com/mlutthans sample pages.
     
  24. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    New update made to the winners page, involving a green-label 1980s pressing (with a barcode, even) that I purchased last night. Click here.

    Matt
     
  25. Ryan

    Ryan That would be telling

    Location:
    New England
    I scored a SM-1069 with all the same matrix info last night for $3. I heard your samples and can't wait to play it.
     

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