On 02/01/08, phillip holmes wrote:
> Mike Richter makes the most important and pertinent point about how a
> musician views recorded sound. Just take the most present Mercury
> Living Presence and knock up the presence about times 10 and that's
> what it's like sitting inside an ensemble. You can hear all kinds of
> detail that not even the conductor can hear. The conductor usually is
> getting a good dose of winds projected at his head, so he can't hear
> some of what a Bass player or Tuba player would hear. There are times
> when things are so loud, all you can hear are the six-ten players
> immediately around you, especially if you are a brass/percussion guy.
> SO, for them to hear 100 microphones all mixed down to two channels
> isn't going to be objectionable. They hear the guy wheezing next to
> them and why would it sound out of place on a CD?
> One thing that the couple could be talking about is the marked
> improvement in background noise levels since the '60s. From the
> microphones, to the cables, to boards and electronics, everything is
> much quieter than in the '60s. They might be comparing
> multi-microphoned Columbia recordings from the '60s to something
> similar from the '90s. Because everything has a much lower noise
> floor, they perceive this as an improvement in recording technique,
> when the improvement has been in equipment and storage. All the
> microphone techniques used today have been with us for a long time.
> Because of modern materials, we can hear more detail (detail that an
> audience member can't hear).
One thing that does seem to have changed is that there is more use of
condenser mics and less of ribbons.
> Also, don't discount the fact that many players suffer from some
> amount of hearing damage (it's very prevalent in brass and percussion
> players). I know trombone players who played in jazz bands that have
> Another thing about musicians is that they tend to project what they
> expect to hear over what they are actually hearing. It's like our
> spouse hearing a "yes" when we clearly said "no". That happens. If
> they've heard a particular piece hundreds of times, and they've played
> it too, they stop listening to details because they're intimately
> familiar with it. The recording is taken for granted. They just hear
> things that are "out of the ordinary", like a note that's changed due
> to errata, or some extreme of tempo, or a dramatic change in
> interpretation, etc... This is like our daily commute to work. How
> many can say they actually pay close attention to their surroundings
> on their daily drive?
I have the impression that when Toscanini listened to a recording or a
broadcast, all he heard was the tempo.
> Another thing: Maybe musicians are their own worst customers. I can
> draw an analogy to a home contractor that has unfinished jobs at his
> house (holes that need repaired, carpet that needs replacing). The
> musician plays music all day and doesn't really put that much effort
> into reproducing music.
> Most musicians don't listen mid hall when they're listening to a
> rehearsal. I've noticed they get as close to the ensemble as possible.
> The mid-hall perspective is foreign to them.
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