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ARSCLIST  July 2006

ARSCLIST July 2006

Subject:

Re: Classical Radio, was [ARSCLIST] Mercury co-founder Irving Green passes

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 15 Jul 2006 11:23:56 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (108 lines)

Hi David:

I'm with you again!

WMNR is what gets listened to most around here but their signal is awful. It's processed like WPLJ, 
circa 1978. Why???? I can't listen to classical music that way, but NPR talk stuff is OK because 
it's usually on in the background. Their jazz shows are usually less interesting than my own 
collection, so I don't listen much. I tried recording "Riverwalk Jazz" from their broadcast for a 
while but found -- believe it or not -- I get more acceptable sound quality by streaming their 
highish-resolution WMA webcast, processing it in my console (adjust EQ to take out some of the 
digi-harshness and make it a little more lively) and recording it onto CD.

As for phone patches, back when phones were made by WECO and phone lines weren't going over the 
Internet to save money, sound quality was much better. As you probably know, most old radio network 
programs went to the local station over phone lines (albeit dedicated and high quality patches). My 
own pet peeve is a news broadcast where they're talking to someone on a satellite phone. The 
information is so inaudible as to be not worth hearing live. Why not have a producer get the salient 
details and then read them over the air? Videophones are one step worse, but cable news channels are 
the bottom dwellers in the brackish pond of broadcast journalism.

Cellphones have introduced a whole new level of inaudibility to phone conversations. I try to avoid 
them whenever possible.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Lennick" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, July 15, 2006 11:13 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Classical Radio, was [ARSCLIST] Mercury co-founder Irving Green passes


>I think I'd said compression at some point in the discussion but used limiter later on, but 
>compression
> is what I meant. And this particular station is a public one, not owned by a big bad fat cat 
> megacorp,
> so someone there should be receptive to listener input..the fact that they keep airing older
> performances and not getting their heads handed to them could indicate that nobody's listening or 
> that
> their audience is brain dead. This wasn't a concert program (although the Concertgebouw broadcasts 
> also
> have their share of ghastly sounding transfers from old recordings), it was a commercial CD 
> someone
> programmed and aired at 6:40 in the evening. Ever heard the phrase "tune-out factor"?
>
> The other thing I'll ban forever from the airwaves when I take over the world* is anything derived 
> from
> a telephone call. No contest winners, no requests, no listener comments....obits and emergency 
> messages
> should be the only telephone material broadcast.
>
> * And the Meditation from Thais.
>
> dl
>
> Tom Fine wrote:
>
>> Hi David:
>>
>> I think you're talking about compression, not limiting. Compression -- the bane of commercial
>> radio -- brings up what should be low-volume stuff like surface noise, rumble and tape hiss to
>> intolerable levels, until it smacks down levels any time a peak comes along. End fidelity is 
>> worse
>> than a bad cellphone. Hard limiting, which used to be more the norm of broadcasters, prevents
>> exceeding FCC standards for the signal. Something like a classical station should stick to hard
>> limiting, and set levels so it's used sparingly. Back in the OTR days, broadcasters would use
>> tasteful amounts of compression (really, more driving the system and then having a limiter at the
>> end so effective dynamic range was compressed from the harder-driven minimum to the limited 
>> maximum)
>> to make voices and effects more intelligable. This also worked with live music in many cases,
>> because true technical professionals were running the equipment and didn't push anything over
>> reasonable levels. This pumping, super-compression came later -- I think it probably traces to 
>> 70's
>> album-oriented-rock stations and was then taken to insane extremes by just about all formats.
>> Someone sold the FM crowd a bill of goods that this "improves" the signal and "louder is better"
>> because people gravitate toward the loudest thing on their dial. This is debatable and Robert 
>> Orban
>> has a very good white paper online about why super-compression going into his FM processor is a 
>> very
>> bad thing. But, the crunch-meisters seem to have won this debate for now. I can't stand most new
>> music because of this, aside from the fact that I find a lot of it talentless crap. And the
>> super-crunchers have even invaded the jazz arena, with some truly terrible remasters put out in
>> recent times. Hint to mastering engineers -- just because you have a new digi-compressor toy 
>> doesn't
>> mean it's appropriate to older music formats and recordings. What I consider a very good blend of
>> being truthful to the old tapes and yet adding some improvements through modern technology are 
>> what
>> Malcolm Addey and Ellen Fitton do with Mosaic's recent box sets. They're able to take a variety 
>> of
>> tapes made at a variety of times and places in a variety of conditions and craft enough of a 
>> uniform
>> sound that the box holds together and levels are consistent. But, each session's unique 
>> properties
>> shine through and they're not heavy-handed to try and "fix" technical or acoustic conditions of 
>> the
>> original sessions to suit modern tastes. Some specific examples are the new Dizzy Gillespie box 
>> set,
>> the Johnny Hodges set from a couple of years ago and the Count Basie Verve set. Also all of the 
>> new,
>> great "singles" album reissues. Special kudos to reissuing "The Brothers" sax-fest and "JJ" by JJ
>> Johnson. Since I wore those records out a long time ago, I was thrilled to have better-sounding 
>> CD's
>> to play.
>>
>> Anyway, bottom line is I totally agree with David -- modern FM processing techniques are totally
>> inappropriate for older music recordings. Our words fall on totally deaf mega-glomerate ears,
>> however. 

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