Most of the time horn resonances from the recording horn result in a
noticible bump in level at that frequency and at multiples of it to a
lesser degree.  One of the first devices marketed to EQ these out was
the Owl 1 and the Owl Multifilter, designed by Tom Owens.  The Owl 1 had
a notch filter which you would sweep up and down in a boost position
that would greatly exaggerate the resonance, and then you would reduce
it at that frequency till it sounded more natural.  But you can do it
with a parametric EQ, especially if you can also vary the bandwidth of
the de-emphesis as well as the frequency.  Tom Stockham at Soundstream
took this a great deal further with a digital system of finding the
multiple resonances and reducing all of them -- sometimes hundreds.  He
also shaped the curve using electrical recordings of the same or similar
voices, and this is where it becomes controversal, making Caruso sound
like Bourling.  

Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller
From: Steven Smolian <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Sun, November 15, 2009 10:31 am
To: [log in to unmask]

For acoustic recordings, there is no eq curve.

Beyond that, it would be interesting to compare results of eq appiled to

various types of cylinder and disc transfer when adjuted to a flatish
as guided
by a spectrum analyzer, keeping in mind the frequency limitations of the

original medium- i.e., don't dispair if nothing but noise comes up at

Steve Smolian

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2009 9:50 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller

> This backs up my point. ANY transfer of this material will require some 
> sort of equalization to realize what the original artists and engineers 
> expected for playback to sound like. So how is an electrical transfer, 
> with electrical EQ applied to the transfer engineer or producer's ear any 
> more legitimate or proper than an acoustic transfer made through the horn 
> of the transfer engineer or producer's choice? I'm still trying to figure 
> out the venom directed at acoustic transfers and those who have done them.
> An approach where you know the exact recording condition, the exact 
> parameters of the horn and of the recording device, and you can 
> "un-distort" the sound back to what it was in the room before the horn is 
> a different matter -- although now you are attempting to remove the media 
> which may or may not be a good interpretation of the history. But, in any 
> case, where that sort of electronic/DSP transfer is possible, it's likely 
> to be more pleasing to more listeners, I think.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2009 8:07 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Edison, etc., formerly Polk Miller
>> 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