A point I forgot to mention. Acoustic recordings had a much narrower range
of recorded frequencies than later electrical recordings, but there's one
advantage to that. The playback system only has to be faithful within the
limited frequency range of the musical recording, say 200 Hz to 4 kHz. Any
playback system non linearities outside of that spectrum shouldnt affect the
fidelity to the acoustic recording.
Here's a parallel example. I bought a new car a few years ago. I like the
car but not its radio. The car has tweeters on top of the dash which are
too loud for the woofer speakers in the doors. As a result the FM radio band
is far too bright and I can barely listen to it. But AM radio sounds fine
because the AM's much resticted highs dont extend to the point of exciting
the overly sensitive tweeters.
The real problem with acoustic recordings is the limited frequency range and
the poor signal to noise ratio. But playing professionally digitised
versions on various modern playback systems should be less of a problem, not
more, compared to full range recordings, for the reason given.
An acoustic recording will contain noise frequencies right across the
audible spectrum and beyond. So the above assumes of course that the
producer of the digitised version has filtered out frequencies outside of
what was captured musically.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2019 7:07 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Restored audio. Speakers or headphones
> I'm of the opinion that average headphones deliver better quality sound
> than, say, average (computer) speakers. Given the lack of sound-absorbing
> quality of distance from speakers, what reaches the ear through such
> brings out more surface noise from acoustically recorded 78s. Computer
> speakers are not all junk, however. If you are willing to forgo deep bass
> the B&W MM-1 delivers remarkable sound.
> I'm working with a group of 78s of which there are few known copies and
> are unique. Condition was highly variable, and there is one side where
> there is so preeminent a wall of mid-to-low range noise that RX is panting
> from exhaustion. In no case did I have a choice of pressings. Some are
> 10" and, to put 3.5 minute and slightly longer selections on them, they
> used a 1.8 or so mil groove. If a "permanent" stylus was used during
> playback at any time the record's existence, it cut a 2.7 to 3 mil groove
> into the walls. They were played back using whatever system was
> to the user at the time and much of the remaining audio is near the groove
> They have considerable historical importance and, I assume, will be used
> educational settings. Hence my concern. My tentative decision has been
> assume that headphones of mediocre quality will be used but I'm open to
> adjusting it.
> Steve Smolian
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tim Gillett <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2019 9:24 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]; [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Restored audio. Speakers or headphones
> Hi Steve,
> With poor, noisy recordings which can just as easily have been recorded
> last week as well as 100 years ago, I think the problem is the same: we do
> the best we can. Our primary "audio restoration" tools for reducing
> background noise on discs are the same: obtain the cleanest, least noisy
> pressing, and play it expertly.
> I feel that trying to predict and make adjustments for people's
> listening conditions is like trying to predict the future. There are too
> many variables, and once a recording is "out there" we've lost control of
> how people will listen to it. But we read it on audio production forums
> that a good mastering engineer can make a recording "sound great on all
> systems". I'd like to see that...
> Tim Gillett
> Western Australia
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2019 7:26 AM
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Restored audio. Speakers or headphones
>> I'm wondering as to the criteria used by those restoring old recordings
>> regarding the target listener is a speaker or headphone user. This
>> the amount of background noise that has to be removed to give the younger
>> listener unused to 78s a comfortable listening experience. My focus here
>> on acoustically recorded laterally cut 78 sides. It seems to me that the
>> younger users are either listing through decent earbuds or terrible
>> computer speakers. Comments?
>> Steve Smolian
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