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ARSCLIST  November 2009

ARSCLIST November 2009

Subject:

Re: Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller

From:

Steven Smolian <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sun, 15 Nov 2009 08:07:54 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (235 lines)

It was not until 1922 or 3 that the mathematics of horn design emerged from 
Maxfield and Harrison's work toward electrical recording.

Until then, trial and error clashed with the forces of home decoration.

Steve Smolian


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2009 6:19 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller


> So Mike, are you and others saying that a horn recording system is a 
> one-way system? I thought the point of a playback horn was, partly, to 
> undo some of the frequency response characteristics imposed by the 
> recording horn, like how an electronic disk recording system uses an EQ 
> curve to record and the reverse curve to play back. So, playing back an 
> Edison cylinder with no playback EQ -- to use one example -- is not the 
> listening experience intended, is it? So then you have to get into EQ "by 
> ear" by the electronic-playback engineer.
>
> So how is that any different, at base, from selecting an appropriate horn, 
> playing back acoustically in a benign acoustic environment and recording 
> the playback with a properly-placed accurate mic (ie a small-diaphram 
> instrumentation mic or like -- not an obviously colored mic like a U-47)?
>
> I'm not advocating one transfer method or another, I'm just curious why 
> there's this hostility toward acoustic transfers -- of material that was 
> recorded acoustically to begin with???
>
> -- Tom Fine
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Michael Biel" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 9:09 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller
>
>
> This discussion sounds very similar to what happened at ARSC back in the
> 80s when Bill Storm (as discussed by George) discussed acoustical
> playback in a presentation.  The mob (and it WAS a mob!) was about to
> storm the stage (no pun intended) with torches and pitchforks when I
> explained that he was not advocating ARCHIVING the recordings for
> preservation this way, only using it as reference.  But it does seem
> from his posting that John Eberle IS advocating archiving and
> distributing recordings played acoustically, much like the Nimbus
> Nitwits and their Crazy Count did with their Prima Voce series back in
> the early days of CDs.
>
> Let me stress once more, playing a record on an acoustical player is not
> playing the record it is playing THE MACHINE.  As Steve said, each
> acoustical horn introduces resonances on the sound, and thus each
> machine is placing its "stamp" on the sound of every record played on
> it.  It is NOT true that "you get to hear the true sound quality of the
> cylinder as the Edison recording staff intended it to be."  You get to
> hear it the way they were able to play it back on the primitive
> equipment they had at that time, not the IDEAL equipment that would have
> been preferable EVEN THEN.  To think they WANTED the recordings to sound
> that way is absurd.  They did the best they could under the constraints
> of their nearly deaf boss.  When electrical recording was available they
> WANTED to use it.  When electrical reproduction was available they
> WANTED to use it.  They (meaning Theodore Edison and to a certain
> extent, Charles Edison) had to practically sneak around The Old Man's
> back to improve their sound.  It is an insult to the Edison recording
> staff to say that playing a cylinder acoustically "is how they intended
> it to be".
>
> And let me again state that I am not against playing acoustical records
> acoustically for the fun of it or to experience what it was like.  Just
> like it is fun once in a while to ride around in a Model T Ford or some
> other ancient car, but it is not the IDEAL way to travel.
>
>
> Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]
>
>
>
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller
> From: Steven Smolian <[log in to unmask]>
> Date: Sat, November 14, 2009 5:50 pm
> To: [log in to unmask]
>
> In recent years I have been privately advocating that each sound archive
> and
> other learning venues present a program called "How Our Ancestors Heard
> Recordings."
>
> It would sequentially play back the same piece of music, "Stars and
> Stripes"
> or an earlier piece for which recordings exist in all commercial media.
>
> These would be reproduced through the actual machines for which they
> were
> intended rather than microphone recordings from them and would cover the
>
> time spectrum then to now.
>
> Using microphones to record what is played back on a phonograph,
> graphophone, etc., introduces a further group of variables.
>
> Part of the presentation would include playing electrical recordings on
> acoustical machines, mono through stereo speakers, etc. to give an
> inverse
> perspective.
>
> This is a different process than that to which I was objecting in my
> earlier
> message. It brings into play the sound of each instrument in a real
> acoustical setting which is far truer to the ear of the listener in the
> room
> than what a microphone can presently create and mimic.
>
> Steve Smolian
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "George Brock-Nannestad" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 1:47 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Polk Miller
>
>
>> From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
>>
>> Hello,
>>
>> Steven Smolian wrote:
>>
>>
>>> This approach is the shearest nonsense! Horns introduced distortion at
>>> the
>>> recording end and also at the playback end. This distortion varied from
>>> one
>>> horn desingn to another.
>>
>> ----- I am sorry, Steven, but I do think that there is room and even a
>> need
>> for this kind of re-recording. It is a part of sound recording and
>> reproduction history. I do not think we can teach our ears to forget, but
>> we
>> can at least be conscious of our ears and try to go back to the times 
>> when
>> this type of sound was amazing. Edison is not a good example for the
>> variability of the playback end, because he was the only recording 
>> company
>> that sold a complete system, i.e. controlled everything. He may have been
>> idiosyncratic, and obviously we also learn about his preconceived views
>> when
>> listening to his products.
>>
>>>
>>> It may sound 'beetter" to the rerecording engineer but is a purely
>>> subjective opinion.
>>
>> ----- I do not think it sounds "better" to anybody, but certainly more
>> representative of the sound heard in the parlor than a good 
>> interpretative
>> transfer that optimises the access to the sound as it was in the 
>> recording
>> studio. A preservation transfer sounds horrible, but it is extremely
>> useful,
>> because it may be used for any purpose.
>>
>>>
>>> It amazes me that so much is made of presumed audio purity based on the
>>> dictatorial opinions of a deaf listener.
>>
>> ----- I do not hope that it is the purity in an absolute sense that these
>> transfers aim for. But it is rather amazing how good these "primitive"
>> machines were. And the secret is, they were not primitive at all, but
>> finely
>> honed to the criteria they set.
>>
>> Bill Storm, formerly of the Belfer Laboratory, which was essentially
>> founded
>> by Walter Welch, was also a proponent of the audio history approach. I
>> violently opposed it as a preservation format, you may see my discussion
>> by
>> downloading ARSCJv20n2p156-161 from the ARSC website.
>>
>> Kind regards,
>>
>>
>> George
>>
>>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>>> From: "John Eberle" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2009 11:20 AM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Polk Miller
>>>
>>>
>>> > We are collectors of Edison Phonograph antiquities here at Americana 
>>> > CD
>>> > Mastering . In our collection ,
>>> > we have Blue Amberol cylinder records of two Polk Miller songs
>>> > recorded
>>> > in November 1909 for Edison's clientele:
>>> >
>>> > Blue Amberol #2176 "The Laughing Song " and
>>> > #2175 " The Bonnie Blue Flag "
>>> >
>>> > We currently have an mp3 of the Bonnie Blue Flag as played on our
>>> Edison
>>> > Concert Amberola Model A1 and recorded to Ampex GrandMaster 456 then
>>> > transferred to aif file on a Masterlink at 48khz/24 bit resolution .
>>> > This
>>> > way you
>>> > get to hear the true sound quality of the cylinder as the Edison
>>> > recording
>>> > staff intended it to be ; and as it was heard and enjoyed by the
>>> > thousands
>>> > of Edison customers who purchased it 90 years ago !
>>> >
>> ...........
>>
>>
>> P.S. from time to time my mails to the list are not "taken". I wonder if
>> there is some online filtering going on. Just to test the system I
>> recently
>> repeated my message with some variations more than 20 times over a couple
>> of
>> days, but no luck at all. And the loss is definitely with that particular
>> reader who may suddenly read a piece of information he or she did not 
>> know
>> about. George
>>
> 

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