Hopefully this won't be like the many mistaken iterations of Avery Fisher Hall, which was designed
from the ground up by "acoustic science" and "modelling" (as opposed to just going to a really
good-sounding hall like Carnegie or Boston, measuring all of its dimensions and surface hardnesses,
and copying it).
That said, Northrop was a terrible, cavernous recording venue. It posed constant challenges for
Mercury because the hall was so massive that they ended with overly dry sound if the mics were
placed for the correct focus and clarity. In the mono era, for a few recordings, a fold-back system
was employed where the tape-delayed signal was send back into the auditorium to a full-range speaker
that could then be adjusted to get desired amount of "hall reverb." This didn't work very well. The
final best idea was building a riser out in front of the stage and putting the strings way out
there, with the rest of the orchestra up front on the stage. The mics could then be hung further
back in the hall and some of the hall reverb ended up coming back and being additive. Northrop also
worked a little bit better in stereo (more mics to pick up more hall reverb/reflections, net-net
more less dry sound).
As bad as Northrop was as a recording venue, the absolute worst was the Edsel Ford Auditorium in
Detroit. This was another "modern" venue designed by "science." It was almost unusable for stereo
recording and barely usable for mono recording. Mercury ended up using the old orchestra hall, then
called the Paradise Theatre and used at other times by a local evangelical church. Then Cass
Technical High School's wonderful auditorium was "discovered," just in time for 35mm recording and
improved stereo cutting.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Long" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 2:34 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Old Mercury recording venue gets a rebuild
> In a message dated 3/15/2014 12:11:02 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
> [log in to unmask] writes:
>> The PR handout states, "state-of-the-art acoustics". Is that a good
>> considering the current state of the art?
> If think the acoustics might just end up being on the good side of "state
> of the art." See www.arup.com/Projects/Northrop_Auditorium.aspx.
> Jim Long
> Baroda, MI