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When the Nimbus Prime Voce samplers came out I used to carry them around 
with me to collectors meetings.  I called them the Nimbus Laughing 
Record because they always elicited laughter far heavier than The OKeh 
Laughing Record.  Beyond acoustical recordings, they also used this 
process on electrical records even through post-war years.  They made 
fine electrical records sound old and wheezy -- how in the world could 
that be considered lifelike unless your hearing is seriously impaired?  
I issued a challenge that they record a voice they all knew well, that 
of the Crazy Count who owned the company and recorded for Nimbus, 
transfer it to a 78, and see how "lifelike"it was.

They used tricks to make it "lifelike".  They recorded in the crazy 
count's dining room -- a highly reverberant room -- using an "Ambesonic" 
surround sound microphone and encoded them in UHJ Quad which folded all 
the distant rear reverb into the front channels.  The UHJ Decoder was 
never marketed in the U.S. at all, never giving anybody a chance to 
remove the rear reverb out of the sound.  Here's a trick you can try at 
home if you have an acoustical machine.  Listen to it playing when you 
are in the next room -- you will find it more lifelike when you are not 
near it especially playing a vocal record.  They introduced the first 
release in a large reverberant ballroom and took their advertising 
quotes before critics had a chance to really hear the discs properly.  
If they now take their praise back they would have to explain -- and a 
few did but not necessarily in print because Nimbus was known to 
threaten suit under the British libel laws.

Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]

On 1/5/2011 6:04 AM, George Brock-Nannestad wrote:
> From: Patent Tactics, George Brock-Nannestad
>
>
> Hello Don,
>
> well, you can see my reply to Tom. But I disagree with Wikipedia in this
> statement, unless you define "life-like" very carefully:
>
> "Although controversial, the
>> technique is capable of producing remarkably life-like results -
>> particularly for recordings made "acoustically" prior to the
>> arrival of studio microphones in 1925."
> The problem is that - for better or for worse - the "ordinary" 1910-1920s
> acoustic reproduction would mollify some of the resonances (and anti-
> resonances) that were recorded on the records. In particular if you followed
> Victor's advice to play the records at 78 rpm although they were recorded at
> 76 rpm. The "old" acoustic reproduction sounded acceptable and it was
> certainly commercial, or the record industry would never have taken off.
>
> However, the giant horn was ideal, it provided no compensating coloring of
> its own. The thorn needles performed a severe treble cut, so what remained
> was a very "horny" reproduction, namely the "horny" version that was recorded
> in the grooves. NIMBUS recorded in a reverberant hall, which made for a very
> reverberant and seemingly full sound, but the frequency range that is
> commonly used to distinguish good operatic voices from bad ones was entirely
> missing: the range from 2.5 to 3.5 kHz. In some Prima Voce reissues they
> tried to put some shine into the voice by increasing the level at around 800
> Hz. That was the "life" or "live-ness" they "liked". I am sure that for
> listening in the car they would do fine at high speed.
>
> Kind regards,
>
>
> George
>
> ----------------------------
>
>
>> On 04/01/2011, Tom Fine wrote:
>>> George, do you have a copy of Gramophone magazine's anniversary CD,
>>> where they recorded the old stuff to digital by playing it out a
>>> massive horn-acoustic player? It was kinda quaint, I think their point
>>> is that this is how our editors heard this music back in the days when
>>> it was made.
>>>
>> Nimbus Records in Wales used to do this. A quote from the Wikipedia
>> entry:
>>
>> "A large sub-label of Nimbus Records is the vocal series Prima
>> Voce. This label specialises in the transfer of vocal records on
>> 78 rpm disc dating from 1900. The method of transfer involves
>> the use of thorn needles and a giant acoustic horn on a
>> carefully-restored gramophone. No electronic processing is
>> used: instead, the gramophone is placed in a living room
>> environment and recorded ambisonically, in surround-sound,
>> from a typical listening position. Although controversial, the
>> technique is capable of producing remarkably life-like results -
>> particularly for recordings made "acoustically" prior to the
>> arrival of studio microphones in1925."
>>
>>
>> Regards
>> -- 
>> Don Cox
>> [log in to unmask]
>