SH Spotlight Telefunken Omni microphones and vintage Capitol "Binaural" records: "Velvet Brass" Jackie Gleason

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Aug 22, 2021.

  1. uzn007

    uzn007 Pack Rat

    Location:
    Raleigh, N.C.
    Discogs tells me that I have a 70s reissue of this album in my collection that I picked up out of the "free" bin one time when I was looking for extra LP jackets: Jackie Gleason – Jackie Gleason Presents Velvet Brass (Vinyl)

    I'll have to give it a spin. I have no idea if this is actually the version I have or whether I just clicked on the first search result that came up at Discogs when I added it to my collection.
     
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  2. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    I'ld like to have the sound that's in the YouTube vid you posted in your OP of Skyliner. If that's the Razor & Tie version, I'll be happy. But if the reverb is natural sounding in the Walsh, I could be satisfied with that as well. Either way I'm not going to return it. It's not the money, it's getting what I want and like.

    There's got to be a better way to know for sure before the purchase but I'm at a loss as to what that way is.
     
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Just note, originally, the 1957 LP had 16 songs, 8 a side. When the stereo LP was released in 1958-9 it also had 16 songs. When the stereo album was reissued in the 1970's it had 12 songs, 4 were pulled off. I think I saw a 10 song 1980's version. Gross.

    Never again regained the full 16 track listing.
     
  4. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Just got it today and it's the Razor & Tie version. Skyliner (on headphones) sounds exactly as the Youtube video you posted in your OP.

    What and how can I say this?....

    Mmmh...what audiophile system would you suggest I buy that can handle the loud extremes on this CD where I don't have to reach for the volume knob just to hear the trombones in the background and turn it down quick enough before the trumpet laden brass blow their tops where I actually have to turn my '72 Sansui treble knob 1/4 turn backward from top dead center. It's the same issue I have with the Denon classical music CD's.

    Sounds great on my Sony MDR V6 studio monitor headphones for some reason.

    I understand why audio engineers want to make (individual instruments) sound like real instruments and I do agree the brass do sound very real like brass instruments in a full bird big band orchestra, but there seems to be a misunderstanding with how dynamic range is suppose to sound when these instruments get louder playing at the same time. Can't engineers use faders to control how loud certain sections of music crescendo and get quiet as reality dictates? I know when I listened to big bands at the University I attended in a acoustic designed auditorium I didn't need to have a volume knob. And the band did get loud and quiet as reality dictates.

    I had the same problem with digitally EQ'ing Weather Report's Black Market intro which is just way too quiet so I just selected sections in my DAW and made it louder so now I can play it in my car without fiddling with the volume and EQ knobs.
     
  5. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Skowhegan, ME
    Hi Tim. I got my copy yesterday, but I have not listened to it yet. Based on your description of its sound, I reckon I’m going to truly enjoy this release and I will indulge today!

    When listening to music with wide dynamic range, it’s very crucial that the listening environment be as quiet as possible such that the quieter moments in a recording can still be heard clearly and so that the louder moments will convey the intended emotion and energy. Finding such environments can be challenging! For example, at this very moment, I can hear the voices of my neighbors next door, traffic from several blocks away, the whirring of my refrigerator in the kitchen, a dog barking, and a 60 cycle hum coming from somewhere I cannot identify. By the way, it’s Sunday morning and one of our quieter days around here. All of these sounds negatively impact the enjoyment of highly dynamic audio and its for this reason that I use noise isolating headphones.

    Compression is often used in music for obvious reasons and especially in pop genres, but for classical, jazz, and big band, to name a few, wide dynamic range is vital in maintaining maximum fidelity.

    I’ll report back on my thoughts regarding this recording soon.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2021
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  6. JCRW

    JCRW Forum Resident

    I love seeing old microphones and vintage equipment like this. Makes me wonder what can be used as a replacement microphone to tame some of the treble boost if it is not the greatest pairing with modern recording equipment. Or is it more dependent on the instruments being captured? I have seen U47's still in use for drum overheads as an example.
     
  7. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    This is concerning Steves point quoted below about the tonal character captured of hot high frequencies brass harmonies made raspy by the mics used back then that don't provide a gentle roll off so they balance with the loudness of the rest of ensemble. Same thing happens in Classical music. The raspy harsh texture that sticks out and can hurt your ears is created by brass high frequency harmonies with other reedy instruments playing in harmony that don't blend because such refined high frequencies are obscured by the micro vibrations similar to barbershop quartet harmonies which blend well by lower tones from other male vocal harmonies that brass doesn't have.

    This issue got me to revisit a similar raspy hot brass piece recorded at Capital Records in the '50's I heard in the Uncle Buck movie called Thunderbird by Ray Anthony posted below. They most likely used the same type of mic. I played around sculpting and nudging out these high frequency harmonies with 31 band AU EQ in Audacity and noted that just slight nudges in the bans from 3kHz to 6kHz brought out tiny harmonics from other instruments buried in what sounds like noise but isn't. It's like micro surgery where I could remove the overall harshness of the raspy texture. Never been on audio engineer's sound/mixing board but I'ld think that level of micro surgery on such harmonics isn't available. I could be wrong. Anyway I was able to smooth out these raspy hot brass tones on Thunderbird. Real brass harmonics don't have this raspy harshness. It's created by the mics and the lack of control of such refined micro harmonics made worse by playing them louder.


     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2021
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  8. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Skowhegan, ME
    Steve, your dad certainly exhibited excellent taste with his love of this teriffic album! Such great performances and not one weak selection in the bunch! Capitol certainly set the standard for exceptional musicianship and production!

    As this is out of print, I bought what was advertised by an eBay dealer as a mint, but unsealed edition of the Razor & Tie compact disc. I expected that it wouldn't be mint, and my expectation was indeed met. It's in EX condition and smells musty, but for $10 and change shipped, I won't complain much.

    I ripped the CD to FLAC via EAC, loaded the files onto my FIIO X1 (1st Gen) DAP, and listened via my well-broken-in Audio Technica M50x headphones.

    Despite these recordings having been captured with two omnidirectional microphones and a close mic of the sax, they sound remarkably lifelike! This setup reveals spaciousness and distance between the instruments and ushers in the cozy acoustics of the studio. I personally like this approach to recording. It's how one would expect to hear it live with hour two ears.

    These are very dynamic and punchy recordings with an overall average dynamic range of 13. Skyliner is 14. The quiet passages are indeed soft and quiet while the louder ones are full and powerful! I've heard live big band music performances and the brass sections can have quite a bite to them, which I find appealing and is captured well here! The tonality of the recordings is warm with very good and accurate inner detail. A truly delightful and very pleasant sounding release, which I highly recommend!

    Steve, your remastering prowess really shines though here!
     
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  9. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    It's the Capitol 46th Street New York studio that did the great job. I believe Bob Arnold was the original engineer.

    Of course they could never have captured all of those dynamics on phonograph records of the day, so they squashed the sound down to about 8 db or so for the stereo vinyl version. Has it's own unique sound.

    Glad you enjoyed the CD. I added the traces of reverb on there, bumped it up a bit for the Toots Mondello alto solos and then lowered it back down again. Without any reverb at all it sounds quite disturbing!
     
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  10. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    A very accurate and well written description of this very beautifully mastered CD. Even the kick drum on the right channel has a good solid bottom end punch. Some of this warmth or softness I mistook for back stage distance in the trombones sounds more like bucket mutes were used. I couldn't tell on my home speakers but my headphones brought out subtle directional frequencies that suggests this.

    A volume increase of about +4db on my MacMini through my Sony cans scaled beautifully where even the raspy metallic muted trumpets and the reedy saxophone didn't hurt. I even maxed out the volume slider usually set in the middle and it wasn't uncomfortable at all.

    Just wondering why there's no mastering credit or any information about mastering on the CD jewel case and insert I had to use my photographers loupe (magnifying glass) to read including the track listings where I was surprised to see so many big band standards like Cherokee and What's New. The (17-20) bonus tracks of Gleason singing and doing his honeymooners routine... One of these days...POW! Right to the kisser!...was kind of unexpected and a bit disturbing out of context of his TV show.

    I'm going to audition this CD in my car and fiddle with the 3 Band EQ to control the buzzy muted trumpets. I have a feeling it might sound better with a little natural compression from open air so I can crank it up.
     
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  11. McLover

    McLover Senior Member

    Location:
    Athens, Tennessee
    I prefer this classic in mono. A better, more coherent balance. But don't dislike the Stereo. Your CD of this is the best of the Stereo offerings by far.
     
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  12. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Skowhegan, ME
    The monaural edition featured in the YouTube video is suitable played at low to moderate volume as its narrow dynamic range forces all of the instruments to the foreground. Personally I find the reverb-drenched presentation off-putting, but obviously tastes vary. I found Steve's commentary regarding how he applied slight reverb interesting as well as his observations that the recordings sound "disturbing" without it. I would love to hear it, but I'm perfectly delighted with the CD's sonics.
     
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  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    The mono sounded great on hi fi systems of the day (like my dad’s.). Today it sounds too processed to me.

    It does have a crucial microphone on the bass, which is needed. The stereo has bass but it’s not clearly defined. Such is life. It’s interesting to hear the old stereo LP. It’s been smashed like the mono and sounds very similar.
     
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  14. pscreed

    pscreed Upstanding Member

    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Just wanted to say how much I enjoy these kind of insider threads from you Steve. I picked up a copy of the R&T disc you did and really enjoyed it (brought back memories of my dad and his big Telefunken hifi console). It’s a great listen and very cool on headphones also - you can really hear the way it was recorded.

    Anyway thanks!
     
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  15. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Skowhegan, ME
    Steve, regarding the mono, are you saying that the bass was mic'd discretely and mixed in? Anyhow yes, the bass in the stereo rendering is not well defined (lacking detail due to distance from the mics), but is certainly adequate. The whole thing feels totally live without the audience by virtue of the recording process, which I find so very intimate and charming! Of course all of that dynamic range is simply icing on the cake!
     
  16. Tim Lookingbill

    Tim Lookingbill Alfalfa Male

    Location:
    New Braunfels, TX
    Just an update: I didn't have the issue with the raspy brass highs in my Nissan sedan with the new 6x8 Polk on the back dash. The 3 band EQ mids & highs were set flat with three clicks up for bass which made the kick drums roar with a warm punch. I think I got it up to around 60db with the windows rolled down. Lots of detail and sound of the room and the alto sax was very real and up front. But any instruments that were back stage positioned near the back of my neck on my Sony headphones sounded like they were hovering above my trunk but just as clear and detailed as on the Sony cans.
     
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    The bass, the piano, the guitar and drums duo all had their own mics in the mono.
     
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  18. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Skowhegan, ME
    So cool and very interesting Steve! It's the instruments you mentioned that hold the most intrigue to my ears, and I reckon would likely go relatively unnoticed to the everyman in the stereo rendering. The piano, in particular, comes across to me as filigree does to fine jewelry! It's all there and I hear something new with every pass. By the way, I have a good friend who loves rhythmic guitar bits in big band pieces!
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2021
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    The stereo version of VELVET BRASS is like listening to a live band, from the old days. No PA system, just natural sound. But even in the Swing Era they used a "foundation microphone" on the rhythm section for the good of the record. VELVET BRASS in "binaural" is like a 1920's era recording style! Love it.
     
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  20. fortherecord

    fortherecord Forum Resident

    Location:
    Upstate, NY
    I ordered the Razor and Tie CD off Discogs after reading this thread and enjoying it very much now!
     
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  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Yeah? Well good, I'm glad you like it. You have to play it loud; most of the music is at half volume, but when they get loud, watch out! Like friday night at the dance hall in 1940.
     
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