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New release from Soundkeeper recordings, Winds of Change by Work of Art
2Bdecided
post Nov 25 2014, 11:41
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An almost mainstream sounding release, made using "audiophile" purist recording techniques...

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.com/windsofchange.htm

Are audiophile recordings allowed to have catchy, almost commercial sounding songs on them?! wink.gif

Cheers,
David.
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Hotsoup
post Nov 25 2014, 14:56
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I didn't know Diament played guitar! Samples sounded good although not my cup of tea.
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markanini
post Nov 25 2014, 20:36
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What a messy mix.
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2Bdecided
post Nov 26 2014, 21:09
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If it's recorded the same way as previous releases, it's not a conventional multitrack mix of individually recorded microphones signals. It's a straight recording of the output of one stereo pair. The only mixing is of soundwaves in the recording venue. The only adjustmet is the positioning of the performers and the microphone.

I love the effect. It sounds very realistic, though sometimes I wish I could move the performers a little bit.

Maybe I have esoteric tastes though. Some guy at an AES demo was playing a professional recording he had made, and apologised for the amount of ambience in it. "The best mic I had that day was a ribbon. It picks up as much from the back as from the front, but I still put it on the vocalist to get the best possible vocal sound. Unfortunately that means the drums leak through onto the vocal track. The result was acceptable for the video soundtrack it was intended for (the ribbon mic looked great in the video too), but had too much room on it to ever use for a cd." I thought it was the best recordng he'd made. I thought it would make a spectaculay different stand-out engaging and maybe even successful cd too. But what do I know.

Cheers,
David.
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markanini
post Nov 26 2014, 23:50
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Even in a multi-mic multi-track session positioning, room acoustics, strategic placement of absorptive and reflective panels and of course ambient mics can play key roles. There's no false dichotomy like audiophiles want to make you believe. The practices of deadening the room, extreme seperation and applying tons of algorithmic reverb is falling out of style, today you can find releases with natural room ambience and only the engineer knows how much of the ambience was from dedicated ambient mic or mic bleed through. Ribbons and omnidirectional mics are hardly niche tools.

Unfortunately in the mixing and mastering stage engineers are pressured to abide by current sonic trends...

In either case it's throwing baby out with the bathwater.

This post has been edited by markanini: Nov 26 2014, 23:57
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2Bdecided
post Nov 27 2014, 13:30
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QUOTE (markanini @ Nov 26 2014, 22:50) *
There's no false dichotomy like audiophiles want to make you believe.

I think at the extremes there's a clear difference between "single" microphone techniques and multi-microphone techniques. The former grabs something like the soundfield at a single point; the latter mixes up lots of different parts of the soundfield into a single recording. There is the potential to preserve more real unconfused acoustic cues in the former; there is inevitable cancellation, phasing, etc when the latter is mixed down.

I would concede that "single" microphone techniques are rarely properly co-located, hence weakening this argument. Barry intentionally spaces his microphones several inches apart. Whereas sometimes multi-microphone recordings are so carefully done (placement, delays, etc) that the result is something like what you would have got with a single microphone if you could have made everyone sit much closer together. Sometimes wink.gif

I fully admit I may be imagining it and completely biassed (I can hardly ABX it!) but I think the recordings I have where the instruments and vocalists sound like they're solidly located in real space are the ones made with very few microphones. Pan potted mono multi-tracks don't sound like they're happening in a real space to me. They let you hear things very clearly, but real life isn't like that.

Cheers,
David.
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Dynamic
post Nov 27 2014, 14:44
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MFnxLYTHOU

This video is interesting. The cables and power conditioner are probably overkill, but the baffle between the matched pair of microphones makes a pretty reasonable approximation to my HRTF for binaural-ish listening. Not quite like being there or using a dummy head/kunstkopf though.

At the end of the video, the performers play an instrumental ending then move around the performance area near the microphone with corresponding stereo image position and fade out by physically moving one-by-one to the back of the chapel so that the sound of increasing distance accompanies the decrescendo. I quite like how that sounds, artistically compared to a plain fade out.
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Dynamic
post Nov 27 2014, 15:31
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I do like the sound. I'm reminded of some Tom Petty and some Travelling Wilburys among others from the 1990s but with a very nice headphone listening experience.

Despite the fact they profess to accept some audiophile myths caused by sighted listening tests and cognitive biases, it merely seems to be overkill, without harming the sound.

This example is a doozy and wouldn't get past TOS#8 in these parts.

From the Soundkeeper Recordings FAQ (emphasis mine):
QUOTE
At this time, Soundkeeper Recordings does not offer downloads for several reasons.

First and foremost, we seek to deliver our recordings to our customers with nothing less than the very best sonics. From our perspective, current download schemes involve compromises.

A full album at 24/192 can be larger than 4 Gigabytes in size; this would make for unacceptably long download times, even on today's fastest networks. Where others reduce file size and hence, download times, by utilizing so-called "lossless" compression formats (such as .flac or .alac), to our ears, these will result in some lost fidelity when played back directly. Trading fidelity for convenience is not what we want to offer our customers, so we stay with raw PCM formats (such as .aif and .wav). Soundkeeper Recordings releases are recorded and mastered in .aif format.


And there's stuff about slow burned CD-R red-book sounding better than pressed CD red-book too. I guess they're playing the jitter card without naming it.
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2Bdecided
post Nov 27 2014, 16:08
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I know they have some beliefs totally at odds with HA. Barry's blog goes even further.

I can overlook these and enjoy great musicians in a great venue, playing completely live, captured by a single pair of really high quality microphones. The signal is then delivered to the listener without any messing about with compression or EQ.

Like you, I think it's really effective over headphones.

You couldn't record every musical event this way. I think it takes both skill and luck, but when it works, the results are amazing.

Cheers,
David.
P.S. Interesting to compare the other full tracks on that YouTube channel, both from the soundkeeper recording sessions and from normal recording sessions.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Nov 27 2014, 16:10
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markanini
post Nov 27 2014, 16:41
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Nov 27 2014, 13:30) *
there is inevitable cancellation, phasing


That's a technical issue that can be easily overcome moving around mics or tools like Little Labs IBP.

Here's some footage from a mutlitrack session in a less than ideal room using a relatively small amount of direct mics, and lots of bleed through.
http://www.puremix.net/video/gearfest-2011...whole-band.html (requires login)
No faders were touched and sounds good enough to put on a CD. Do you think it would sound better recorded with a bluegrass setup?

This post has been edited by markanini: Nov 27 2014, 16:46
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2Bdecided
post Nov 27 2014, 17:52
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QUOTE (markanini @ Nov 27 2014, 15:41) *
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Nov 27 2014, 13:30) *
there is inevitable cancellation, phasing


That's a technical issue that can be easily overcome moving around mics or tools like Little Labs IBP.
It can be minimised. Whether you can capture the natural acoustic and use multiple microphones to improve clarity and flexibility and have all phasing and cancellation totally inaudible... maybe sometimes. It's not easy. Usually something has to give.

One microphone picks up several instruments, each with a different time delay. The next picks up several instruments, each with yet another different time delay. The signal from each microphone can have exactly one compensating delay assigned to it, which can't compensate equally well for the many different time delays rolled up into that single signal.


QUOTE
Here's some footage from a mutlitrack session in a less than ideal room using a relatively small amount of direct mics, and lots of bleed through.
http://www.puremix.net/video/gearfest-2011...whole-band.html (requires login)
No faders were touched and sounds good enough to put on a CD. Do you think it would sound better recorded with a bluegrass setup?
Not in that room with the musicians in those places. With the right room and the right placement, maybe.

To my mind, the goal of decent hi-fi is to reproduce the original sound. That implies there's an original sound worth reproducing. I bet the live sound heard by the audience in that room was hopeless. Drums way over on the left. Vocal barely audible on the right. Violin inaudible at the back. Obviously you don't want to capture that accurately. If that's the reality, you have to fake something better. Yet if you can get the band into a space where at least one listener can hear something great, put the microphones in that same location and record it for me. That would be great.

I know what's on the video is essentially an all tracks summed to almost mono draft-mix-down - but even so, can't you hear that none of the sounds in the mix have any spatiality, depth, or placement to them? They sound like what they are: a bunch of dry close mic'd recordings, added together. When they're panned into a proper mix, they'll sound like a bunch of dry close miked recordings, panned and added together. There will be no sense of the instruments and performers existing in a real space. If he adds enough of the ambience mic, there will be ambience, and with luck they'll be something that sounds like a bit of depth, but there won't be any sense of the sound from a given instrument happening over there, this far away, in this room. There will just be a sense of a sound panned over there with a bit of ambience on top. That's a very different thing.

This isn't meant to sound as harsh as it will sound, but I can't find a better way to phrase it: I think some people have learned that the sound of typical pop mixes is what music sounds like. It's not. The sound of a room with real musicians and instruments in it is what music sounds like. Just because 99% of CDs don't sound like that doesn't make it wrong. For acoustic (and even some electric) instruments that work well together in a real space it's absolutely right. For more artificial constructs, the fake pan-potted multi-mic production can sound fine and exciting, and I love plenty of music that can only be produced in that way; I just think it's an inferior way of presenting music that can sound great in a real space. Make the recording sound like the real event if possible, and if the real even is worth hearing as-is.

Cheers,
David.
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markanini
post Nov 27 2014, 19:34
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Nov 27 2014, 17:52) *
To my mind, the goal of decent hi-fi is to reproduce the original sound.


Music originates in the mind, not a single point in a room. The soundkeeper release has thin, dry and lifeless vocals and guitars, and washy impactless drums. To my mind it takes away from the energy and mood of the song. It probably sounded better in the room. I don't know how else to put it, your stance seems dogmatic to me, evidently coloring your perceptions since you can't hear the depth and space in the puremix session and further equate it with dated recording practices. Regardless of difficulty dealing with phase cancellation, is nothing more than a technical issue. It's funny that our debate started a my subjective sentiment and to which you started countering with technical merits.

This post has been edited by markanini: Nov 27 2014, 19:36
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markanini
post Nov 27 2014, 21:51
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Sorry about the harsh tone of my previous reply. We prefer different sounds and that's okay!

I just want to leave you with this: I don't think it's fair to say that all multi-track recording techniques will always lack space and depth. Perhaps you are unaware of some of the techniques that are used to recreate such features without the constrains of a capturing a single point in a room. For example, the impression of distance and elevation is largely a function for EQ, and a good engineer will use EQ such purposes rather than just boosting something so it can through. Haas delay is another cool technique. This is just the tip of the ice berg. Hopefully you can be more open minded about this in the future.

Enjoy your sounds!

This post has been edited by markanini: Nov 27 2014, 21:53
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2Bdecided
post Nov 28 2014, 15:52
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QUOTE (markanini @ Nov 27 2014, 20:51) *
Sorry about the harsh tone of my previous reply. We prefer different sounds and that's okay!
That's fine. This part of audio is purely subjective. There is no right answer. If you want to reproduce the actual sound in a room, then you could argue and measure which approach worked best - but two channel stereo is so far away from achieving this that you end up arguing which compromise you prefer, which is subjective again. Then there's the purely taste argument of whether, for a given recording, you want to try to aim to reproduce the in-room sound of an original performance venue, or aim for something very different. Just like a painter, or a photographer, does not necessarily aim for photo-realism, but adds some of their own art in bringing a real or imagined scene into being on paper etc so it is with sound recording.

I get all this. But I'm still amazed at how differently we hear.

QUOTE (markanini @ Nov 27 2014, 18:34) *
The soundkeeper release has thin, dry and lifeless vocals and guitars, and washy impactless drums. To my mind it takes away from the energy and mood of the song. It probably sounded better in the room.
I'm sure it did sound better in the room wink.gif I don't think Barry has found the right way to record everything, but I think he's taken a step in the right direction (compared to many recordings) to record some things (especially small groups he can get close enough to his microphones to sound right). In many ways it's a step back to simpler times. That won't work in many situations - there are good reasons for the extra complexity we have now - but that complexity really loses something.

QUOTE
I don't know how else to put it, your stance seems dogmatic to me, evidently coloring your perceptions since you can't hear the depth and space in the puremix session and further equate it with dated recording practices. Regardless of difficulty dealing with phase cancellation, is nothing more than a technical issue. It's funny that our debate started a my subjective sentiment and to which you started countering with technical merits.
I also worry that I'm hearing what I expect to hear, and it's colouring my judgement. Though I listened to the latest sound keeper demos before seeing the photos or watching the video. I was amazed when I saw the video because the location of the instruments matched what I'd imagined from the sound. That's the sign of a pretty good recording to me.

I'm not claiming the technical merits are the important thing - I'm just trying to explain what I hear. I preferred the sound of simpler recording techniques, and found multi-mic and numerous multitrack recordings lacked something, years before I understood the difference. I've just found, retrospectively, that the recordings which I've always thought sounded more "real" had something of the former - and the recordings that sounded flat to me were usually excessive examples of the latter. There's a pleasing middle ground of course.


Regarding your example, are we listening to the same thing? This is how that video plays on my PC...
Attached File  Will_Knox_band_draft_mix_30s.flac ( 2.26MB ) Number of downloads: 3


It's very dry and almost mono.

QUOTE
you can't hear the depth and space in the puremix session
By pure luck (I minimised my browser to do something else) I wasn't watching the video to see where most of the microphones were before I listened to the mix. But listening to the mix, I thought "the vocal and violin microphones are way too close to capture the natural sound of a singer or a violin." Guess what: watching the video, they are! They are desperately (and typically) near field, which is a position no listener ever put their ear. I know this is normal pop (etc) recording practice for decades. Result: you get the sound of a recording, not the sound of a real performance. You get the sound of a recording of a violin, not the sound of a violin. You get the sound of a recording of someone singing, not the sound of someone singing. You get the sound of close miking. Before microphones were invented, no one ever heard that sound. It does not exist in real life.

The only depth in that draft mix is that some of the cymbals sound slightly distant. Everything else is stacked up a few centimetres away from the listener (as it was just a few cm away from the microphone). I don't hear much space at all. Something is panned very slightly left of centre, something very slightly right, but it's essentially all stacked up together.

Am I listening to the wrong version on the website?


QUOTE
I just want to leave you with this: I don't think it's fair to say that all multi-track recording techniques will always lack space and depth. Perhaps you are unaware of some of the techniques that are used to recreate such features without the constrains of a capturing a single point in a room. For example, the impression of distance and elevation is largely a function for EQ, and a good engineer will use EQ such purposes rather than just boosting something so it can through. Haas delay is another cool technique. This is just the tip of the ice berg. Hopefully you can be more open minded about this in the future.
I know you can fake all this stuff. I know it can work rather well. As part of my PhD, I used transaural technology to fake direct sound, early reflections, and full reverb - and with a bit of EQ the distance effects you could fake were amazing.

Even so, I'd prefer (for those situations where it works) recording techniques that captured these spatial cues properly from the original performance.


I'm not trying to argue. I do find it interesting that we have such different subjective preferences. I seem deaf to the faults of the soundkeeper recording which you think sounds lifeless (and the faults I hear, which are worse on some other soundkeeper recordings, aren't the ones you identified); you seem deaf to the faults of that multimic set-up which I think sounds dead. As you said, enjoy your sounds. I think there are far more recordings made the way you like wink.gif

Cheers,
David.
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