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ARSCLIST  October 2005

ARSCLIST October 2005

Subject:

Re: History help needed

From:

Michael Shoshani <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Michael Shoshani <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 29 Oct 2005 19:49:28 -0500

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text/plain

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Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote: 

>Just FYI regarding reverb in general in those days -- using stairwells and
>bathrooms as live chambers was a common practice up through the 60's and
>beyond, although bigger/better-funded studios would usually build dedicated
>echo chambers (see the now-oft-cited article about the Capitol Tower's
>chambers). 

There is a book called "Sessions With Sinatra", written by Charles L.
Granata and published in 1999 by A Cappella Books, that mentions a
stairwell echo chamber used in Columbia's studio at 799 Seventh
Avenue.  The reason given for using a stairwell was, because the room
was long but narrow, different frequencies would dissipate at
different rates. (I myself would tend to think the sound would get
incredibly muddied...)

This book also gives an overview of Capitol's studios at 5515 Melrose
Avenue, which was previously the home of radio station KHJ. The
ability of the engineers to get good s/n ratio is praised, as is the
studio's rooftop echo chambers. Apparently Melrose Avenue was quite
the facility in its day. I wonder what EMI did with all the gear when
the Tower was built...

>Single-mic recording of an orchestra was tried by various people going back
>to the dawn of electronic recording. At least a few NBC Symphony broadcasts
>were done with a single RCA 44 mic above the orchestra (there are pictures
>and this was confirmed to me by former NBC violinist David Sarser). Given
>the limited budgets in Europe between the world wars and immediately after
>WWII, I would not be surprised if clever engineers were making the most of
>what little equipment they had.

Actually, in NBC's case, they were working on the conviction that the
best-sounding, least-distorted method was to use a single microphone
pickup. NBC's Midwest Division Production Director Albert Crews wrote
a book called "Radio Production Directing", published in 1944, that
has pictures and diagrams of the NBC Symphony broadcasting from Studio
8-H, in which three unidirectional RCA 77-B microphones are suspended
from the ceiling on a common yoke. Great pains are taken to explain
that only one of these microphones was on the air at any given time;
the other two were failsafes in case something went wrong with the
on-air mic during the broadcast. The single microphone was favored, so
the text explains, because it reduced unwanted reverberation, and
because it left the shading and blending of the orchestra in the hands
of the musical director "where it belongs".

Guess NBC didn't have any spare washrooms or stairwells... 

Michael Shoshani
Chicago

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