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A truly startling recording...


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4 replies to this topic

#1 of 5 DavidAMallett

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Posted July 15 2003 - 04:04 AM

What follows is reposted from the 2 channel area of the Klipsch Forum I normally inhabit but have rec'd a rather minimal response to the below. As I feel the issue is important and HT folks have the systems to be able to play it back, I am opening it here. It's been a while since I was here and I rec'd much useful input that has aided in making the below happen. This is NOT a commercial post as I have nothing to sell at the moment. I rather doubt I'll make any money at it anyway, but if I can advance the art and get this extremely startling and immersive material in the hands of people who will appreciate it, it will at least be fun. BTW, the "Asylum Street Spankers," like many such road shows, barely make a living even though they have a large and enthusiastic fan base here and abroad.

Repost follows:
OK, I've been away awhile. I've been a very busy boy and have much to report. I am editing the below from my post of this morning to the DFW Hornhead group. Subject is the location recording Ron (lonelobo) and I made in Austin Saturday night of the Asylum Street Spankers.

Edit begins:

WOW! About all I or anyone who has heard it so far can say. I’ll post a few pix to the group next time Ron gets over with his camera, since I can’t post any sound!

About 36 gig of awesome “being there” 4 channel 24/192 surround. A MASS of new knowledge about such recording in general.

Here’s a quick summary.

We got there about 4:30 and quickly determined the place was just about as ideal as such a situation can be, acoustically and technically. Management was totally supportive other than letting us know the place would be SRO and they wanted every square inch for revenue production. Stage was a corner with a door straight out to a parking spot 8 feet away which we quickly nabbed. There was a light bar over the stage perfectly situated for mic mounting. We had nothing inside but the mics, cables, and an extension cord. I’d pulled a middle seat out of the van before leaving, so I set the computers up across the folded rear bench. With minor issues (reseating cards, etc.) they both came right up. One was running 4X24/192, and I looped the two front channels out of the rack to the other recording at 2X24/88.2. Ron, with complete expertise in gaffing and rigging, handled everything from the edge of the van to the mics quickly and perfectly. It didn’t take long to get the mic head set and then we had nearly 2 hours to loaf whilst waiting for the band.

They arrived and JP Riedie, the manager, was very helpful and interested. Rest of the band pretty well ignored us. The place filled up and they were turning people away by showtime. First sounds out of the headset sounded excellent. You have to have heard the Spankers live to be able to judge. I’ll not go into the all the details of that at the moment, but a person hearing the recording without having been to a Spankers show might find some songs weak in one area or the other…but this recording pretty much precisely replicates the experience. All went well for the first show, which was about 48:00 for the first part and over an hour after the break. Sound Forge simply stopped on the 2 channel machine at 1:07:00 for reasons I don’t understand. Still plenty of material and only a backup, but still irritating. It said it had reached the limit for this type of file. It failed on save, and I broke it into two pieces and saved successfully. Since Win2K has no file size limits I am aware of and the other machine (XP) was running 8 times the data without a problem, I am assuming this is a Sound Forge limitation.

First 37:00 of the second show were a total bust. I immediately heard a hum in the left channel. There was nothing I could do, as all I could get to were the cables between myself and the stage door, and moving them made no difference. Ron was locked in at the front taking pix, and I could not communicate with him. About 30:00 in, it dawned on me this did not sound like 60hz hum, and I went to the front door and walked in. I immediately heard the noise and asked the soundman (who was hanging about the bar with nothing to do since it was an all acoustic show) if he knew what it was. Sure, it’s the exhaust fan, sez he. The first show had been non-smoking, and the fan was turned on for the second. One of the things I learned is you can’t rely on anything on a live set except change. He said speak to the manager, which I dreaded even though he’d been very nice and hospitable. At this point, he was totally overloaded with customers and tending bar. I got his attention, expecting him to say “Too bad, go away and don’t bother me.” To my complete surprise, he responded moving away rapidly “You mean that damn thing got left on again…” and turned it off. So I got about 2/3 of the last show without this problem.

During the show, various members of the band who were not playing came out. About half got a listen through the headset and all expressed complete satisfaction with what they heard. This psyched me, as they are certainly the best judges. Perhaps most satisfying was Christina Mars (sp?). She had been pretty standoffish at the Poor David’s abort, and is a founding member, songwriter, and major creative force in the group. This time, she sat on the steps and smiled as she listened. She then commented on how many live recordings of the group she had heard and they were variously tinny, thin, not real. This was different. Full, rich, real. I glowed. Not only is the aforementioned major force in the band, but is also married to JP, the manager. JP also listened and immediately moved from skeptical to positive about what we were doing and said he was looking forward to hearing the results. He stated that he finally understood that this was not competitive or redundant to their other recordings, but a different product for a different target market. Very good!

They finished the second show about 2:10am, and we struck and were on the road back to DFW by 3:00. Long drive. In bed by 6:15. Up by 10:30 and hooking up the computer’s to my Klipsch system to check it out. I pilfered my daughters receiver to provide discrete rear channel amplification, since this is normally driven by passive ambience from my Hafler circuit.

When I cranked it up, my first impression was something had to be “wrong.” Rather than sounding like a super LP or something, the whole thing was rather nervy. I felt displaced. Back there again sitting up near the stage surrounded by hooting and hollering partiers. 4X24/192 is not really comparable to any medium I’ve ever heard. It doesn’t sound like any medium at all. Just REAL. Very spooky. About 10:00 in, my wife returned from church and entered. I stopped it and she said “very weird.” Said she’d gotten out of the car and heard the music and a lot of whooping and hollering. She thought I was doing the whooping and hollering over getting a great recording and didn’t’ realize it was Memorex until she came in!

Ron came over later and was equally perplexed looking for the first cut or two. Hard to get into someone’s head, but I had the feeling that like me, he was trying to figure out the experience by comparing to other recordings.

A bit later, my brother and sister-in-law came in to check it out. They were visiting on the way to pick up their daughter for a college prospect tour. You have to understand that neither of them listen a lot, and never at realistic levels or to anything other than CD’s. I toned it down a bit, but still higher than their norm by about twice. They loved it and listened for a long time. Both really liked the St. James Infirmary piece, and I really feel my sister-in-law enjoyed it even more than my brother, a major surprise and coup.

Ron and I discussed for a while after they left, and he had a couple of really great ideas. There are several places in the show where the vocals are weak compared to the instruments for several reasons. They are this way both on the recording and in performance. I’d toyed with the idea of using a large boom and my RCA BK3A as a fifth channel for vocals, but suspect the Spankers would object…they really don’t like electronics or any change in their performance methodology. Ron suggested a megaphone. Sounds strange, but if you know anything of early 20th century vaudeville performing, you may have seen pictures of megaphones mounted on mic stands for vocalists. As this is the closest I can think of to their style and mentality, I think it just might work. His second super cool idea was to mount a PC video camera on the mic head. This would be totally excellent for monitoring the position and what is going on stage.

Now, the glitches. All was not perfect. Of course, there was the fan in the first part of the second show. Beyond that, the NTrack softed a bit bizarrely on saving a couple of times. Nothing was lost, but it was nerve racking. Also, there are a few spots where there are tiny (about 1/30 of a second by my guess) skips. I believe there is still more than enough flawless material for possible issue, but this is a technical problem I must solve. I don’t think it all that hard. I suspect if I’d been able to get the machine Jeff lent me to coexist with the Wami, this would not have happened. His machine is equipped with 4 fast 120gig drives in RAID. OTOH, Wami software is reporting an IRQ conflict which might also be the source. XP reports no problems, but the IRQ is shared with video so this may be an issue.

My best guess, however, is the enormous data rate and non-AV rated drives. The issue might well be thermal recalibration, the basic bugaboo of such drives. I am thinking of going serial ATA RAID.

Anyway, that’s the news to date. I will have the DFW group over as soon as possible so you can judge for yourselves. Your input will be invaluable! This is a whole new territory for me, and there isn’t much to go on but experience…a dear teacher, indeed!

Now, to the Forum:
I still have 31/2 hours or so of audio to go over with a fine toothed comb. However, I am confident both in the quality and quantity of material for a DVD-A release. The exact type I will not know for awhile, but probably 4X24/96 with a 2X24/192 as well. My second machine was running the Card Deluxe at 2X24/88.2 for CD compatibility, but even at 24/88.2 to the difference from the high res is very apparent. Nowhere near as "real" sounding, though still better than any CD I ever heard.

So now I have nearlly four hours of audio to sift through and then see if the band will allow it to be released. I know absolutely nothing about the music or music publishing business, so I'll be contemplating and contacting release sources, Surrounded by Entertainment being my first choice at the moment due to their similar mindset, established distribution channels, and contacts with review sources like $tereophile.

I'm looking forward to comments.

Dave
Why only two mics?
Well, I only have two ears.

#2 of 5 John Watson

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Posted July 15 2003 - 07:32 PM

I'm not sure what sort of input you need (and I know zilch about most of what you are saying), but I must say your writing about what you were doing is very good.

It conveys something about the 9/10 of the iceberg that is under water, when I am listening to a disk.

I know that it can be very frustrating for an attendee when the sound is poor at live performances, and the art or science of getting live performances to a recording must be intense. Since this is primarily a movie site, can I slightly alter a line from a great little movie "The life of a repro man is intense!"

PS Can we hear any difference in performances, as between a smoky and a smoke free atmosphere Posted Image

#3 of 5 DavidAMallett

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Posted July 16 2003 - 01:20 AM

The smokers were rowdier. Some of the smoke smelled a bit funny. ;-)

Also, note I lost 37:00 of the second show to the rogue exhaust fan.

Dave
Why only two mics?
Well, I only have two ears.

#4 of 5 Henry Gale

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Posted July 16 2003 - 12:43 PM

What club?
"I was born to ramble, born to rove
Some men are searchin for the Holy Grail
But there ain't nothin sweeter 
Than riden' the rails."
-Tom Waits-

#5 of 5 DavidAMallett

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Posted July 16 2003 - 01:44 PM

Saxon Pub, 1320 S. Lamar.

Spanker's manager said live venues in Austin were shrinking big time.

That sux.

Dave
Why only two mics?
Well, I only have two ears.