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ARSCLIST  November 2009

ARSCLIST November 2009

Subject:

Re: Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller

From:

George Brock-Nannestad <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sun, 15 Nov 2009 15:33:58 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (326 lines)

From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad

Hello,

Steven Smolian wrote:


> 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.

----- I think we owe it to the readership to be historically correct. It was 
A.G. Webster who in 1919 wrote the "horn equation", and Crandall who in 1920 
(here I stand to be corrected if this is not the right year) conceived the 
"equivalent diagram" approach. These were prerequisites for Maxfield and 
Harrison. But trial and error had not been blind, nor clashing with home 
decoration.

Alas, my presentation at the ARSC Conference in Cleveland 2004 "Dayton C. 
Miller: The Clevelander Who Knew All About Sound Recording" has obviously 
been forgotten; in it I pointed out how he had started out researching the 
horn-soundbox combination since 1909 and had also been a consultant to the 
Aeolian-Vocalian company.

Edison and his team were prolific industrial experimenters, and their 
approach reduced the major obstacle to good sound: non-linear distortion. 
This they obtained by using the hill-and-dale system and with such a small 
modulation that the much-touted cutting resistance was not very variable over 
a cycle. However, in order to move sufficient air on reproduction they had to 
use a very high lever ratio between the distance from the tip of the stylus 
to the stylus carrier bearing and from the bearing to the pull-cord for the 
diaphragm. Now, the pull-cord kept the diaphragm in tension, reducing non-
linear distortion, and the stylus was hard pressed against the groove, both 
created by the ingenious weight that was suspended to create these two 
forces. The "doorknob" ensured a short length along the groove, making for 
reduced tracing distortion. The prerequisite for being able to do all this 
was that the groove was in a material that would tolerate a high local 
pressure and with a low granularity, and that was eventually found in 
celluloid on plaster of Paris and in Duranoid.

The Victor Talking Machine Company also had prolific experimenters, but their 
only measuring instrument (and, as it turned out, their main criterion) was 
the durability of the pressed record. They tested innumerable combinations of 
all the parameters involved and obtained a record that would give 
satisfaction to the consumer on most of the gramophones he would use them on, 
amongst other things because they were durable. I have elsewhere described 
some of the things they thought out and implemented. 

All of this has obviously nothing to do with which sounds we want our 
successors to be able to obtain from a preservation transfer.

Kind regards,


George

P.S. At the very end you will find the text that I have now tried 23 times to 
make the listserv accept. It is about call signs.G.

> 
> ----- 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
> >>
> > 

From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad

Hello,

the recent discussion on how to eradicate pests in albums rings strangely in
my head while leafing through a Danish youngster's magazine from 1960. A 
piece was concerned with a Danish jazz quintet headed by Finn Mickelborg. He
was approached by a Mr. Gaston Johnston from the U.S. of A. and engaged to 
write station ID or signature tune snippets for American radio stations, Mr.
Johnston being in the business of providing such material. An example is
(but it does not say whether this one is by Mickelborg): "Where the music is
cool ..... and the news is hot--WTVN six-teen ... Columbus!". Mickelborg
apparently had written and recorded 30 jingles and many more to come. If
anybody wants a list of the personnel of this group, do not hesitate to mail
me.

Gaston Johnston had diversified from manufacturing "Johnston's No-Roach" and
"Johnston's Hadabug", and he got into the jingle business by paying for ads 
with such jingles. In kind, so to speak.

By the way, Connie Francis will be 70 presently! Oh, what you can learn from
old magazines. However, this contrasts with Wikipedia -- alas!

Kind regards,


George

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