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VOL. 9 NO. 11
This month's Recording Techniques
focuses on the proper microphone
techniques for realistic sound reproduction.
by J. B. Moore
J. B. Moore is an independent New
York record producer who has used
the Dr. Click on many occasions with
such artists as Kurtis Blow, Carly
by Bruce Bartlett
The technical Q and A scene.
What's new in sound and music.
New and Noteworthy events in the
Reviews of albums by Culture Club,
The Fugs, Jamaaladeen Tacuma and
by Suzan Crane
by Craig Anderson
A review of the creative applications
of the Electro- Harmonix "Instant
Last month we ran an interview with
ex Doors artist Robby Krieger. This
month, we are bringing you the man
behind almost all the original Doors
In July 1983 the FCC proposed to allow television licensees to use the TV
audio baseband in order to provide a
broad range of services. There are a
few types of services to choose from
and when the logistics are finally
worked out, the U.S. will be on its
way towards broadcasting TV in
by Len
By James Rupert and
Michael Roberts
This producer requires no introduction. His long list of credits includes
such artists as Judy Garland, the
Bee Gees, Ella Fitzgerald and, of
course, the Beatles. MR &M met with
Mr. Martin at his AIR Studios in
by Denny Anderson
Okay, you know what it takes to
make a demo tape marketable. Now
it's time to identify your commercial
strengths and decide the best way
for getting your music down on tape.
In part two of his series, Denny
Anderson outlines your recording
by Len Feldman
Simon, and the Elvis Brothers.
by Jeff
recording industry.
Although they have been labeled
just another synth band, Eurythmics
have proven that less can indeed be
more. Their second album was
recorded on a Teac 8-track.
The Orban 245F Stereo Synthesizer
Eurythmics' Photos: Courtesy of RCA Records
George Martin Photos Courtesy of AIR Studios
Technics :;V -100 Figures Courtesy of Technics Sales Literature
by Ken Pohlmann
The Technics SV -100 Digital Audio
is published nioilnr, by
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Modern Recording d Music tISSN
_ _- _-._
Managing Editor
Technical Editor
Technical Advisor
The People
Speak Out
Contributing Editors
Music Reviewers
Advertising Coordinator
Layout ar_d Design
Associate Publisher
Editorial and Executive Jfhces
MR &M Publishing Corp.
1120 Old Cbuntry Road
Plainview, NY 11803
516 433 -6530
Editorial contributions should be addressed to The
Editor, Modern Recordinc & Music. 1120 Old Country
Road, Plainview, N.Y. 1181L3. Unsolicited manuscripts
will be treated with care and must be accompanied
by return postage.
I heartily support the expansion to include sound reinforcement as a regular part of MR &M. It's an extremely complex
field and very few people know much about it. Any help would
be welcomed.
Assoc. Professor of Theater
and Sound Supervisor
S.U.N.Y. Binghamton
...I too want to read more about sound reinforcement in
MR &M, particularly medium and large concert systems and
multi -channel monitor systems. Any articles and information
would be greatly appreciated.
-Paul Sundt
Albuquerque, NM
...I would like to vote against sidetracking your great magazine into sound reinforcement. I do appreciate the need for
reading material in this growing field, but why not develop a
magazine devoted to it? Your magazine is unique in its high
caliber intense concentration on modern recording, and
spreading out into sound reinforcement would inevitably result
in one of two things: a decrease in recording articles, or an
increase in magazine size with a big jump in subscription rates.
The magazine is not large enough to cover both fields adequately.
-John Donato
Conellsiville, PA
In your Sept. '83 issue you requested feedback from readers
on sound reinforcement. I would like to say "full speed ahead." I
think your magazine is great and your articles are interesting.
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Based on ideas I have regarding recording from your magazine, I am
sure you can help with ... the application of sound reinforcement.
-Don Pearson
Mississauga, Ontario
in the best
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you'll find
Charlie Pride
Culture Club
Dolly Parton
Jackson Browne
Jeff Lorber Fusion
John Cougar
Kenny Loggins
Manhattan Transfer
These are just a sampling of the
many letters we received in response
to Mark Togan's letter in the Sept. issue suggesting we extend the editorial
content to include articles on sound
reinforcement. In view of all these responses, we have decided to go ahead
with a series of articles on sound reinforcement in clubs. By limiting it to
club sound systems, we hope to cover
the subject thoroughly -while not
taking away from any other area. And
don't worry, John, we have no plans to
become Modern Reinforcement &
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Van Halen
Willie Nelson
On the Beach
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I am writing this letter in reference
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MR&M. The article is "Making a
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subject, and would like to try the
project. The article mentioned that
MR&M would review the project in
the following issue. To my knowledge,
no review was printed. Do you have
any plans to do a follow -up?
-Danny Grogan
Dallas, TX
Yes, we do have great hopes of printing a test report on the Plate Reverb
Unit. We sent the kit to the School of
Music at the University of Miami,
and as soon as we can get them off the
beach and into the lab... we'll have an
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Who else but Bob Carver.
Introducing the Carver PM -1.5 Professional Low - Feedback High Headroom
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Finally, the Clipping Eliminator
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Wrong ... But Right, Too
Could you briefly explain how
automated mixdown works? I
know that we store all the informa-
tion on one "memory track," then
we play this and record it- making
slight changes by using the UPDATE
mode on a new memory track.
Afterwards, we keep on switching
these tracks roles (one plays, one
actual audio mix is recorded onto the
two -track master tape... in living
breathing stereo.
No Mismatch Here
North Hollywood, CA
I have a Peavey 600S Stereo PA
board I am using for recording.
What I would like to know is,
should I be running the line outputs from my Teac A2340 into the
Hi -Z mic inputs (using the attenuator), or is there a simple circuit I
could build to adapt the mic inputs
(hi or low) to line level inputs that
would yield a better match?
-R. E. Lester
Harrisburg, PA
We received the following reply from
Michael Tapes, president of Sound
Workshop Professional Audio Prod-
The input impedance of the Peavey
6000S Stereo PA board is 220K ohms
and your tape deck output impedance
records) back and forth until the
desired mix is achieved. However,
I can't figure out how the signal
put altogether can possibly be
stereo if it is only on one track.
Where am I wrong?
-Fuerza Fria
ucts, Inc.
You are only wrong in that you already know the explanation but are
ignoring it. The key is that, as you
said in your letter, we store "the
information" on the tape. The information that is stored is not the
actual audio mix. It is a digital "bit
stream" or series of "words" that
represent the levels of the individual
console channels, as well as the status
of the mutes on each channel.
In Sound Workshop's ARMS Auto-
mation System, the channel faders
do not control audio signals. They
control voltages that are sent to the
ARMS console computer. These
analog voltages are converted into
digital form (numbers ranging from
0 -255). Then the values for each of
the console channels are sent out in
a bit stream that has been conditioned
to be able to be recorded onto an audio
tape recorder. The "information" on
this tape track therefore represents
the actual mix, only in the fact that it
knows the level of each channel at
every instant in time. And, of course,
that is in fact what creates the mix.
The update process is essentially
as you described it. When the desired
mix is achieved, the final data track
is fed into the ARMS computer, the
multi -track master is played, and the
is most likely a much lower impedance. This is an OK situation, so I
do not believe there is a serious mismatch of impedance.
The main concern is the line level
output capability of the tape deck.
Many manufacturers of tape- related
products build a tremendous output
signals and many times the signal is
too hot for the mixer. You should
check the Teac specs and if your line
level is listed as two volts or more,
you should add an in -line pad to reduce this signal to a comfortable
level for the 600S mixer. A signal
around one volt would be ideal for the
line input of the 600S.
-Hollis Calvert
Director of
Sales Promotion /Education
Peavey Electronics Corp. 4_
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bruce bartlett
Microphone Techniques
for Realistic Reproduction
The sound of digital compact
discs is disappointing. Sure,
compact discs sound much
cleaner than LP records, and they
last much longer. But they still don't
sound real.
CDs have been heralded as a
quantum leap forward in sound
reproduction. In many cases, however, the music still sounds like a
recording, not like real instruments.
Of course, accurate and natural
reproduction is not always the goal.
But I think many CD listeners will
demand more realistic sound now
that we're so much closer to achieving hi -fi reproduction. Artificial
sounds are more irritating on CDs
because they're so clear.
What's causing the problem? The
424 STANFORD AVE.- REDWOOD CITY, CA.- 94063 -PHONE 415-364 -9988
on Reader Service Card
clarity of digital recording and playback has exposed microphone techniques as a weak link in the chain.
It's up to us to advance the state of
the art by investigating new microphone techniques.
How do you mic an instrument to
make it sound real? For example,
suppose you want to record an acoustic guitar so that the loudspeaker
playback sounds like a guitar playing in your listening room. Where
should a microphone be placed to do
this? Let's find out.
Live vs
Recorded Techniques
First we need a method to tell us
when we're doing things right.
Here's one:
Place an acoustic guitar midway
between your playback speakers.
Have a friend play it while you record
it with various techniques. Then,
alternate between the live instrument and the tape playback while
listening for differences between the
two (as in Figure 1). If you make a
mono recording, play the recording
in mono over both speakers.
Another method is to record yourself playing a guitar, using various
microphone techniques. Then place
the guitar midway between the
playback speakers, where the sonic
image of the reproduced guitar
appears. Sit in front of the speakers
as you normally would and play the
tape. Which recording makes you
believe the real guitar is playing? If
the microphone technique is accurate,
the guitar you see in front of you
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Circle 17 on Reader Service Card
X Sonic image of
reproduced guitar
Tape recorder and
stereo amplifier
Figure 1. Use this method of set -up to distinguish differences between live
instrument and tape playback when experimenting with mic'ing technigies.
For more ideas on how to use PZM
microphones, write for your free copy
should seem to be actually playing.
In effect, the recording is a "ventrilo-
quist" and the real guitar is the
With either. method, it's very
important to match the loudness of
the tape playback with that of the
real instrument. If you play the
tape quieter than the live instrument, the recording will lack bass
(due to the Fletcher- Munson effect).
Now we're ready to try some experiments. We'll use a microphone
with a flat frequency response to
avoid coloring the recorded tone
Let's assume a microphone is like
an ear. Put the microphone close to
your ears and record someone playing the guitar. Play the recording
back. Does it sound like the live
performance? No way.
How does it sound different? Well,
the recorded guitar sounds "hollow."
It sounds much more distant than the
live guitar. The room acoustics
(echoes and reverberation) are more
audible in the recording than in the
live performance.
Why does this happen? The microphone responds to room acoustics
differently than our ears. do. Room
reverberation -sound reflected off
the walls, ceiling, and floor -approaches our ears from all directions.
Thanks to our binaural hearing, we
can reject the reverberation because
it comes from all directions. We can
focus on the sound coming from in
front (the guitar). But during playback of a recording, all the recorded
reverberation is concentrated into a
tiny spot -the same place as the
image of the guitar. We can't aurally
reject the recorded reverberation,
so it's much more noticeable than
live reverberation.
We want to pick up less room
acoustics and more guitar. The laws
of physics suggest a solution: The
closer you are to a sound source, the
louder the sound. So let's put the
microphone closer to the guitar (say,
two feet away) to increase the ratio
of guitar sound to room sound.
How does the playback sound now?
Much clearer. We've made the guitar
sound closer by moving the microphone closer.
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Now let's try placing the microphone about three inches from the
sound hole (a common position for
sound reinforcement). How does the
recording sound? Very bassy, boomy,
and thumpy. That's mainly because
the guitar's sound hole resonates
around 100 Hz. A microphone placed
close to the sound hole picks up this
boomy resonance.
In general, very close mic'ing
emphasizes the part of the instrument that the microphone is near. A
close microphone picks up a tonal
balance that differs from the tonal
balance heard from a live instrument.
So, for realistic sound, it's just as
bad to mic too close as it is to mic too
far. There's a "sweet spot" somewhere between, where the room
reverberation is well controlled and
the tonal balance (timbre) is natural.
The distance of this spot varies with
the instrument and the room acoustics. You have to find it by experimenting.
The best spot I've found so far,
using flat- response cardioid condenser microphones, is 13/, feet in
front of the guitar. Closer than that,
the guitar sounds too bassy. Farther
than that, the guitar sounds too
distant. But around 11/2 to 2 feet, the
tonal balance is natural. The tweeter
controls on the speakers may need a
little touch -up to reproduce the high
end accurately.
So now we have a stereo pair of
flat- response microphones, placed
13/, feet away. The recording does
sound pretty realistic. You can
almost believe a live guitar is playing
in the room with you -but not quite.
There's still a subtle difference. The
live guitar "projects" sound into the
room, while the recorded guitar just
sort of lies there; flat, compressed,
and confined. This difference is especially apparent when you directly
mic'ing techniques make the guitar
sound bigger than real life. For example, using two microphones spaced
three to six feet apart gives too wide
an image. So does the ORTF system
(two cardioid microphones angled
110 degrees apart and spaced seven
inches horizontally). The reproduced
guitar has a more natural size when
the microphone angling or spacing
is reduced (say, 110 degrees, two
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Now, does the playback sound just
like the real instrument? Not yet.
The live guitar sounds "spacious" or
"airy," while the recording sounds
"little" or "confined." In other words,
the live guitar seems to fill the room
with sound
sounds three- dimensional. But in the recording, the room
sound doesn't spread out around the
guitar. It comes from a tiny point,
the same spot as the image of the
reproduced guitar.
We know that stereo recording
gives a wider sound than mono
recording. Let's record the guitar
with a pair of microphones, or with
a stereo microphone. On playback,
the room and the guitar sound more
spacious (and real) than they did
in mono.
When you record in stereo, you can
control the stereo spread-the apparent width of the instrument. To
widen the spread, angle or space the
microphones farther apart. Do the
opposite to narrow the spread.
When the guitar is mic'ed about
two feet away, conventional stereo
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multi -track recorder, the STUDER A800.
2, Employ meticulous Swiss and German craftsmen for all fabrication
and assembly.
alloy die -castings for chassis and headblock.
only professional -grade mechanical and electronic
5. Make your own audio heads to ensure the highest quality
6. Include the following standard features: Balanced and floating + 4
inputs and outputs Calibrate/uncalibrate switches Self-sync Tape
dump Edit mode Full logic transport control Servo controlled
capstan motor Front panel input and output mode switching
Universal power supply Rack mount.
7. Provide the following options: Rugged, steel- legged console
Transport case Monitor panel Remote control Vari-speed control
Balanced mike inputs
If you can do this for under $2100' -by all means go ahead! But first,
we suggest you consult with your Revox Professional Products dealer.
He'll provide you with a ready -built you can concentrate on
building your reputation as an audio professional.
Use solid aluminum
4. Use
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Note that close -mic'ed recorded
drums generally sound better than
real drums -bigger- than -life, fuller,
tighter. That's a case where recording technology has improved on
reality. You'll have to decide how
much you want to sacrifice a commercial, tight sound for realism.
Also note that a microphone placed
11/2 to 2 feet away from a guitar may
compare the live guitar with the
recorded guitar.
The live guitar excites the room
acoustics differently than the loudspeakers do. Specifically, the guitar's
sound -radiation pattern is different
than that of the speakers. The center
sound image of the guitar doesn't
radiate sound in all directions like a
real guitar does. And the room echoes
excited by the loudspeakers have
different directions and spectra than
those excited by the real guitar.
Maybe we could place an omni-
directional speaker where the guitar
was to improve the radiation pattern.
In the future we may have variable directivity speakers to simulate any
sound source.
Another solution might be to remove the listening -room acoustics
by padding the walls around the
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speakers. Place acoustically absorbent material (such as Sonex"' or
muslin- covered thick fiberglass) on
the walls, ceiling, and floor behind
and to the sides of the speakers. That
way, the speakers don't create confusing sound reflections off these
surfaces, and the recorded acoustics
become clearer.
These measures should make the
recorded guitar sound more true -tolife. If it sounds very realistic, you
can almost sense someone playing in
your listening room. You may even
feel a little self-conscious, as if there's
another person in the room with you.
That's realism!
Recording Groups
Try the live- versus -recorded
method on other instruments to find
the most accurate microphone techniques.
pick up too much leakage (off-mic
sounds from other instruments). If
that happens, you may have to overdub the guitar, as well as other
instruments that are mic'ed at a
Let's say you've recorded a group
with a separate stereo microphone
on each instrument. How should all
these stereo tracks be panned to
simulate a real group playing between your speakers?
Suppose you've recorded an acoustic jazz quartet of sax, piano, bass,
and drums. If you pan each instrument's stereo tracks full left and
right, you'll hear the bass and sax
in the middle, with the piano and
drums spread between the speakers.
While this is an interesting effect,
it's not the way real groups sound
in space.
If you're sitting in an audience,
you might hear the drums on the
left, piano on the right, bass in the
middle, and sax slightly right. The
drums and piano are not point
sources, but are somewhat spread
out. To simulate this spatial arrangement, try the following:
Pan the left drum track full left,
and pan the right drum track half left.
Pan the right piano track full right,
and pan the left piano track half
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Figure 2. The Madsen ambience extraction system for making recordings
sound fuller and more spacious.
Recording Studio Handbook
A must for every working
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Features latest state -of -the art
technology of creative sound recording.
Fact-Filled Chapters
The Basics
1. The Decibel
2. Sound
15. Studio Noise Reduction
Transducers: Microphones
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Microphone Design
Microphone Technique
Ill. Signal Processing Devices
6. Echo and Reverberation
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21. Time Code Implementation
(The SMPTE Time Code. Time Code Structure. Time -Code
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Completely up to date, this vital new handbook is
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Pan the sax tracks half left and
full right.
Pan the bass tracks full left and
full right.
In this way, the instruments are
located where they were in real life.
There's also some "air" surrounding
and joining the instruments (thanks
to stereo mic'ing and leakage between microphones).
In contrast, pan-potted mono tracks
usually sound artificial. Each instrument sounds like it's isolated in
its own little space. If you can spare
the tracks, it helps to record several
instruments in "true stereo" (with a
stereo microphone or two microphones) and pan these stereo tracks
to positions that real instruments
could occupy. You'll capture some
spaciousness or "air" around each
instrument, which adds realism.
"You Are There"
far we've been trying to make
recorded instruments sound like
they're in our listening room. This
approach is called "They are here"
recording. But what if we want to
transport ourselves to a concert hall?
Suppose we want to hear an instrument as it sounds in another environment. We want to record the onlocation room acoustics as well as the
Doing this requires more distant
microphone placement -about three
to 10 feet from a soloist, or five to 20
feet from a large ensemble. Again,
you experiment with mic'ing distance to find the sweet spot that
provides the desired sense of per sective or distance to the ensemble.
With a stereo microphone or a pair
of microphones placed out front and
raised about 14 feet, you adjust the
stereo spread so that the reproduced
ensemble spreads evenly between the
speakers. If the spread is too wide,
off -center instruments will sound
like they're coming from the left or
right speaker.
The reproduced hall reverberation
should surround the listener as it
does in real life. One way to achieve
this is to use the Madsen ambience
extraction system. Place an extra
pair of speakers on either side of the
listener. These extra speakers should
be several feet farther from the
listener than the main pair, as in
Figure 2. Using a rheostat or L-pad,
adjust the level of the side speakers
for maximum loudness, then turn
them down just to the point where
you don't notice them as separate
sound sources.
The ambience extraction method
makes recorded orchestras sound
bigger, fuller, and more spacious
like real life. But it doesn't seem to
help the guitar-in- the -listening -room
recording. It makes the guitar sound
bigger, but not more real.
If we want to be transported to the
concert hall, we want to hear only the
concert -hall acoustics, not our listening -room acoustics. So it helps to
make the walls absorbent near the
speakers by applying muslin- covered
fiberglass or SonexTM. Leave the rear
wall behind you hard and uncovered,
and sit far from the rear wall. This
treatment approximates a Live-EndDead -Room room design (described
in Part II of this series).
With all of the above methods, the
recorded sound closely approaches
real life. There are more exotic
methods, such as recording binaurally
with a dummy head and playing back
through a binaural -to- stereo converter. I don't know what to do next,
other than adding video! If you have
any ideas, send them to this magazine. You might advance the state
of sound recording and reproduction.
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We've explored microphone techniques to bring the musician into the
listening room ( "They are here "), as
well as techniques to transport the
listener to the concert hall ( "You are
there ").
For "They are here" recordings,
record each instrument about one to
three feet away in stereo; use very
flat microphones; pan the tracks to
stimulate the spatial layout of the
live group.
For "You are there" recordings,
record in stereo from several feet
away. Add ambience extraction to
make the concert -hall reverberation
surround the listener.
These methods should help make
compact discs sound more natural.
Remember, when consumers buy
compact discs made from digital
master recordings, they hear essentially the output of the mixing console. If they don't like the sound
of the compact disc, that means they
don't like the sound of the recording
(assuming that they're satisfied with
their playback systems). Critical
attention is now focused on us, the
recording engineers and producers,
to make better recordings.
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Craig anderton
Electro -Harmonix Instant Replay
favorite delay line features is "infinite
hold," where you store a sound in the delay
line's memory and repeat (loop) that sound
indefinitely. You could, for example, strum a single
guitar chord and have it repeat over and over, or create
repeating rhythm patterns ( "solid state tape loops ")
from just about any sound -drums, scraped objects,
clinking bottles, sound effects records, etc. However,
while many delay lines include this feature, once the
sound is stored your options are rather limited. You
can stop the looping effect or transpose the pitch by
varying the unit's delay time, but you generally cannot
trigger the sound on command nor re-trigger it. The
latter two features are particularly important should
you want to sync the stored sound to an existing sync
track, drum unit, synthesizer trigger output, or other
sync pulse output.
Which brings us to the Electro- Harmonix "Instant
Replay" (IR for short), a delay line -like device that has
been specifically optimized for digital recording
(sampling) applications. However, before getting too
excited, you should realize that the IR is not perfect
by any means. The frequency response is rather
limited and, at longer recording times, there is a
grainy "digital" quality to the sound (along with what
seems like a muted, high -pitched whistle). Also, the
memory is volatile, meaning that when you turn the
power off, whatever you recorded disappears. Nonetheless, the IR is a fascinating device with many
creative applications -which we will explore during
the course of this article.
One of my
What is It? The IR is actually a pair of devices.
The main "Instant Replay" unit is AC powered and
comes in the standard, one-size -fits -all E -H aluminum
box. The companion External Trigger (which includes
all hardware necessary for mounting the unit on
Roto -Tom and most cymbal stands) provides a drum
pad mounted on a second aluminum box. With the
External Trigger's output plugged into the IR's
Ext Trig jack, striking the drum pad triggers the
stored sound. (Note, however, that you are not limited
to triggering the IR solely from the External Trigger.)
As a bonus, the External Trigger can also trigger
some electronic drum units. The two units together
list for $299, although, of course, many stores will
discount from this list price.
Sounds enter the IR through an input jack; a level
control and associated overload LED aid in matching
the IR to the input signal. Unlike many units, this
overload LED doesn't fool around...when it comes on,
better trim back the level. The IR accepts a pretty wide
range of input signals, from about 25 mV to 1.6V RMS.
The IR's memory can store up to two seconds of
sound. While recording, the Pitch control sets the
amount of recording time. During playback, this same
control transposes the pitch of the recorded sound over
a two octave range. (You may also change pitch from a
synthesizer keyboard, as described later.)
Once the sound is recorded in memory, you can play
it back in several ways. The Repeat On switch, when
on, loops the sound continuously -just like the infinite
repeat function on a delay line. With Repeat On off,
you can trigger sounds from the External Trigger.
You can also trigger the stored sound from other
trigger pulse outputs; I've used the PAIA "Master
Synchronizer," as well as several drum machines and
synthesizers, to trigger the IR. However, unlike other
trigger sources the External Trigger lets you introduce dynamics where, the harder you hit the drum
pad, the louder the triggered sound. While the dynamic range is somewhat limited, the addition of any
dynamics at all is a most welcome feature for which
E -H deserves credit. A matching Trig Level control
lets you adjust the IR for optimum dynamic range,
as well as match the IR to trigger pulses from other
pieces of equipment.
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Plugging an external synthesizer into the remaining IR jack (Ext Freq) gives the emulation -type effects
described towards the end of the review. The only
other control is a Record pushbutton (with associated
Record light), which tells the IR when to get ready
to record.
Recording Sound With the IR.
To set up the
IR, first plug its AC cord into the wall (since there is no
power on -off switch, the unit comes on instantly).
Plug a microphone, synthesizer, guitar, or other signal
source into the Mic Input jack, and play the sound
you want to record. Adjust the Mic Level control so
that the Overload LED is off except on the very loudest
peaks, and you're ready to go.
Set the Pitch control for the desired amount of
recording time (clockwise for less time, counterclockwise for more time). Bear in mind, though,
that the longer the recording time the poorer the
fidelity. (With a one -second record time, for example,
the bandwidth is around 6 kHz.)
After setting the record time, press the Record
button. The Recording light will come on and stay on
until you play a sound into the IR. As soon as you
start playing, the recording process begins and the
Recording light flashes. As a helpful feature, the flash
rate slows down at longer recording times and speeds
up at shorter recording times. The light goes out when
you've used up your recording time.
Chances are you will not have set the Pitch control
perfectly on the first try, so you may have to record
again with the Pitch control trimmed up for the
correct amount of recording time. Once you've got
the sound properly stored in memory, you are then
ready to trigger it.
Triggering the Stored Sound. Now the fun
begins. (Sounds like the N.Y. Mets -ed.) With Repeat
On, you can loop the sound and transpose the pitch with
the Pitch control. With Repeat On off, you can trigger
the sound from the External Trigger pad. One of the
nicest features of the External Trigger is that you
can re- trigger the sound by rapidly striking the pad.
For example, suppose you recorded the word "micro sound" into the IR. Repeatedly hitting the pad would
generate a "stutter" effect where the output would
sound something like "mi/mi /micro /micro/mi /mi/
micro/microsound" (each slash represents where you
would hit the drum pad). So, you're not just locked
into triggering the sound and having it play back;
between the Pitch control, the dynamics of the External Trigger, and the re-triggering possibilities,
you can really go to town.
Emulation Effects. There are a few keyboard
devices out on the market (E -mu's "Emulator" and the
Fairlight CMI are probably the best known examples)
that let you sample a sound and then transpose the
pitch using a synthesizer -like keyboard. This effect
has been used extensively by Larry Fast (Peter Gabriel
group) and other experimentally- minded musicians.
The E -H ad copy for the IR says that it " you
access to sounds and effects previously obtainable only
on the Fairlight or Emulator, but at a small fraction of
their cost." Well, I'll agree with the small fraction of their
cost part, but, on the other hand, don't expect any mir18
acles for $299. Still, with a little tweaking you can indeed get the IR to do some very cute emulation tricks.
The secret to emulation is to set the Pitch control for
maximum recording time, and send a 1000 Hz carrier
tone (from a synthesizer or function generator) into the
Ext Freq jack. Upon playback, as you play the synthesizer monophonically in the range of 500 Hz to 2000 Hz
(approximately an octave above middle C to three octaves above middle C), you can transpose the recorded
signal over about a 2:1 range. The level of the reproduced sound depends on the level of the triggering signal and the setting of the Trig level control. While the
sound quality will not be fantastic, and you will have to
fool around quite a bit with the synthesizer's timbre
and level while recording (and playing back) for best
results, you can still obtain some useful emulation
effects. Playing a key on the keyboard triggers the
sound; as long as the key is held down, the sound will
loop. Playing chords gives some really bizarre effects,
and when you arpeggiate the keyboard notes...let's
just say you have to hear it to believe it.
Evaluating the IR. Conceptually, the IR is brilliant-being able to record sounds, play them back on
command with optional dynamics, and sync them to
external trigger sources makes for a pretty potent device. In practice, however, there are some limitations
both with respect to sound quality and emulation abilities. One of the biggest problems is that if you record
some super -duper sound into the thing, you had better
leave the IR plugged in, otherwise, you will lose your
recording. So, if you played live gigs and wanted to
trigger the sound of dogs barking, you would need to
load that sound in from tape (unless, of course, you
carry an entourage of barking dogs) before each gig.
The IR is surprisingly quiet, but the bandwidth just
isn't there for recording cymbals, synthesizers, fuzz
guitar, and other sounds with lots of high frequency
content. Standard guitar and voice, which have more
restricted bandwidths to begin with, give a more convincing sound. Still, if you tweak everything up just
right, the sound quality is acceptable and the results
can range from dramatic to humorous.
Remember, though, that sound quality is not the
only way to judge a device like the IR. First of all, it's a
lot of fun and can be a real crowd -pleaser at gigs. For
example, get the name of someone in the audience,
store it in the IR, and trigger it at appropriate times
or transpose the person's name upward in pitch for a
"Chipmunks" effect. In fact, just fooling around with
the IR is bound to cause smiles, chuckles, and occasional guffaws from all but the most humorless of
listeners. However, this is not just a fun device, as there
are some very valid musical uses. If you are a drummer
and want to rhythmically trigger some synthetic
sounds or sound effects, this is one extremely powerful
little box. Of course, the IR is useful to more than just
drummers; synthesizer players who are into synchrosonic music (a la Devo, Human League, Ultravox, and
so on) will doubtless find the IR highly useful for cre-
ating unusual effects and rhythms.
Overall, the IR is such a neat toy that I can hardly
wait until someone produces a studio -quality version.
In the meantime, though, I'll be happy to use what
already exists. The IR may not be perfect, but it has
what experimentally- minded musicians need in order
to come up with some new and different sounds.
uestion:. In a world full of slick new electronic
music toys like the current generation of
sequencers, synthesizersand drum machines,
etc., ho needs an unassuming, $2295 box which
makes absolutely no sound of its own? Answer: anyone
who wants to interface all the slick new electronic
music toys and take full advantage of their rhythmic
Dr. Click is an interfacing device incorporating sync
code generation and translation, a metronome, two
channels of note values to drive one gate output and
two envelope outputs (one for each channel), an external trigger circuit that also converts external
sources into a click, and a 1,000 -beat memory timer
for syncing to varying tempos (human or otherwise),
all in one discrete package. It can be used on stage,
but is basically a studio device.
The usual way to write this sort of article is to rundown various features and specs. Judging from the
number of calls for help this author has received from
people in and out of sessions with questions about the
Doctor's operation, however, and noting that there is
no signal -to -noise ratio, bandwidth or true RMS spec
to discuss, it makes more sense here to explain its use.
Methods of Driving Dr. Click.
Dr. Click has a dual- function Metronome controlled
by a ±.001 percent crystal. With the B/M switch on, it
outputs beats -per -minute; with the switch off, frames per -beat. Tempo is set by thumbwheels on the TEMPO
readout. The Metronome controls Dr. Click unless a
jack is plugged into the PULSE IN, CODE A/B IN or CODE C
IN. For external control, Dr. Click can be driven by a
click track or sync code, but click track drive is recommended for reasons explained below.
Click Track Drive
To begin, set the Metronome to the desired tempo,
send the METRONOME OUT to tape and lay down a track
of metronome clicks. Be sure to record a much longer
click track than you think you'll need. If you don't
need it, it can be wiped.
For a fractional tempo, 100 BPM for instance, set
the Metronome to 201 BPM and send the GATE OUT to
tape. Press the GATE PW VAR (Pulse Width Variation)
switch, and adjust the PW control directly above it
until a narrow, click -like pulse is heard. To complete
the operation, turn on the LOW RANGE switch and the
half note value (the switch marked 2 on the bottom
row of Channel One numbers). The click at the GATE
OUT is now 100%2 BPM and ready to be recorded.
To drive Dr. Click, rewind the tape and send the
click track direct from tape to Dr. Click's PULSE IN
jack. Begin with the GAIN, THRESHOLD, MASK and FINE
controls at nine o'clock. Raise the THRESHOLD control
until a rhythmic flashing appears on the left hand
INPUT LED. If no indication appears or the LED stays
on, bring the THRESHOLD back down and try raising
the Gain. If the same thing happens after increasing
the GAIN, check to see that the click is getting to the
PULSE IN jack. Do not compress or gate the signal.
Dr. Click's THRESHOLD, MASK and FINE controls act
as a gate, and compression brings up noise as well as
the click.
When a rhythmic indication is seen on the left hand
LED, increase the MASK control until the incoming
pulse is passed on to the right hand INPUT LED. Next,
press the RESET switch (essentially a standby switch
which turns off [sets to ground] most of Dr. Click's
outputs), and rewind the tape.
From this point forward, all sync codes, trigger
pulses and envelopes can be derived from the click
track. By using click rather than sync code drive
(described below), editing, dropouts, crosstalk between tracks and varispeed -all of which can, and
usually do, render sync codes useless -are superseded.
Sync Code Drive
Sync codes generated by Dr. Click or other devices
will drive the unit. Simply send the sync code direct
from the machine (or molted through a fader if level
problems are encountered) to the CODE A/B IN jack or
CODE C IN jack. (Check the manual for the appropriate input.) Dr. Click translates 48X or 96X (the X is
used here as shorthand for square- waves -per -quarter-
note) into all the others.
If a sync code such as 12X or 24X is already on
tape, generate a compatible click track by finding the
appropriate Channel One rhythm multiple which
matches quarter notes and use the GATE OUT to print
a click track.
Debugging Sync Code
Other sync code glitches to be aware of (with or
without Dr. Click) are ground problems and recording
problems. Since most sync codes have a carrier frequency less than 400 Hz, and sync pulse frequencies
are also relatively low, any 50 or 60 Hz AC leakage
can wreak havoc on them. Be certain that Dr. Click
and all drum machines, sequencers and synthesizers
connected to it are grounded through the console, not
through three -pronged power plugs. Since not all
studios have enough ground lifters, bring your own.
The second problem is the way that sync codes are
printed on tape. Here are some tips, obvious and
otherwise: 1) Print sync without noise reduction;
2) Print between -3 and -10 on the VU Meter. -7 is a
good starting point; 3) Judge the level using the VU on
the machine, not on the console; 4) If you need to record
something on an adjacent track, record an instrument
with mostly high frequency information like a cymbal
or tambourine, which, if it bleeds into the sync in any
way, will not tend to invalidate it; and 5) Never, ever
move on to something else until you have checked to see
that the sync on tape is coming back at the same level
at which it was printed, that it does not waver on the
meter even slightly (if it does, it probably won't work),
and, last but not least, that it does in fact work on the
entire track, top to bottom!
Dr. Click outputs trigger pulses, envelopes and
seven different sync codes (1X, 12X, 24X, 48X, 64X,
96X and 384X) which will drive virtually every brand
of synthesizer, sequencer and drum machine currently
in use. This makes it possible, for example, to sync up
an MXR drum machine (24X), an Oberheim DSX
(96X), a Synclavier (1X) and a Linndrum (48X) all in
perfect sync on the same track.
To use any output, connect VCOs, VCAs, VCFs,
arpeggiators or sync inputs to the appropriate jack
or jacks. With click drive, press RESET followed by
PLAY just before the beat on which the Doctor's output
is desired. With sync, also press RESET and PLAY, but
always begin ahead of the sync track. Either way,
voila! synchronized everything! Well, maybe.
Microprocessor Related Delays
Various sequencers and drum machines use different microprocessors, and different microprocessors
take different amounts of time to actually decide what
to do and then to do it. An example with a drum machine follows.
The song in question begins with a kick drum on the
first beat. Assume there are eight beats at the top for
the benefit of humans (whose microprocessor operates
by ear) and that the drum machine operates at 12X.
When the drum machine's microprocessor receives the
appropriate sync pulse, in this case the 97th (8 x 12
plus one for the downbeat), it must decide to trigger
the kick drum chip and then actually trigger it.
Although the sync pulse arrives right on time, the kick
drum often sounds (and is) just a wee bit late. There
are two ways to compensate for this.
If click drive is being used, send the click track to a
DDL (Digital Delay Line) and increase the delay
until the click seems to be just ahead of the next one
on tape. Send the delayed click to the PULSE IN and fine
tune the length of the delay until the device being
driven falls in sync. If the DDL being used brings the
device in question close to, but not right on the beat,
try Dr. Click's internal delay (0 to 1.5 milliseconds)
for finer resolution. The click track can also be "preechoed" (described below), which saves time on
multiple overdubs.
With sync code drive, "pre- echo" is the only answer.
Go a few seconds past the end of the sync track, flip
the tape over on the multitrack machine, send the
sync track to a DDL, and record it in reverse on
another track. The manual suggests a 20- millisecond
delay, but use 50 for a safety margin. After setting
the multitrack back to normal, send the "pre- echoed"
sync track to the DDL and then to Dr. Click and fine
tune as above.
Syncing to a Live Drummer
or a Varying Tempo
One of Dr. Click's most important features is the
memory. Suppose you want to use a drum machine to
sweeten a track with a live drummer or even to replace
the drums. No matter how good the drummer is, even
playing to a click track his time will vary. Two and
four beats, in particular, will tend to be slightly
anticipated, especially during fills.
The band played to the drummer, so new parts must
match his time. If not, even slight variations will be
obvious. To sync up with the live track, a quarter note
(in rare cases an eighth note) guide track has to be
"built." Be advised that this takes time. I have occasionally spent as little as an hour, but it usually
takes several. Here is one way to do it.
Combine the kick and snare tracks. This may be
done direct, or through Dr. Click's trigger -to -click
converter. Since clicks are somewhat easier to deal
with later on, the click method is described below.
Since the combined kick and snare into Dr. Click's
PULSE IN jack and send the METRO OUT to tape. After
you have gotten rhythmic indications on both LEDs
(see the previous section on CLICK TRACK DRIVE),
increase the MASK control until it masks the next
incoming quarter note. Back it off some and use the
FINE control, which is additive to the MASK control,
to get a tight mask. If there are any anticipated kick
drum beats, especially 1 /16th notes, it is nearly impossible to get the mask tight enough to eliminate them
without occasionally also masking a one or a three beat.
Record the resulting click on a separate track.
Compare the composite click track to the original
drum track and note the location of all inaccurate,
missing or questionable clicks as you go. Next "patch"
the click track; i.e., spot -wipe the superfluous, insert
the missing, and correct the questionable. Here the
advantage of clicks becomes apparent since clicks are
much easier to spot-wipe than drum hits (all that
messy decay).
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wipe or too ambiguous, spot-wipe them all and record
a replacement click. If you have the luxury of more
open tracks, put the replacement clicks (or beats) on a
separate track and bounce the replacement track
together with the spot -wiped original to yet another
track. To insert new beats, patch in Dr. Click's step
switch (which is somewhat awkward to hit right on
time) from the METRO OUT, or use a manual hit from a
drum machine, i.e., clave, claps, cowbell or click. Any
sound with a sharp attack, live or synthetic, will do.
After a complete guide track has been patched
together, rewind to the head of the take, turn on both
the MEMORY and RECORD switches, send the guide
track to the PULSE IN jack, and play the entire track
into Dr. Click. When the complete take has been
memorized, turn off the RECORD switch (do not turn off
the MEMORY switch) and rewind the tape. If by any
chance the MEMORY OVERFLOW LED is lit (unlikely
since it takes almost nine minutes of quarter notes
at 120 BPM to do it), check the manual for procedures
on how to deal with it.
Now roll back to the head of the take, hit RESET
followed by PLAY, and you're ready to roll. As soon as
Dr. Click receives the first incoming beat, voila!
synchronized everything. Well, maybe. Prior caveats
about microprocessor related delays still apply. When
sync has been adjusted and the drum machine runs
against the original track, you may still find that some
of the clicks, in particular those manually played, are
slightly off. Note their location and patch them as
before. Keep in mind that any power problem will
dump Dr. Click's memory, so in this instance lay down
a 48X sync track after the guide track is done.
Envelopes and Triggers
Dr. Click has two channels of rhythmic values.
Channel One has 16, ranging from as long as four
measures (16 quarter notes) to as short as 1 /64th note
triplets. Longer and shorter values are toggled by
the LOW RANGE switch. Channel Two has six, from
quarter notes to 1 /32nd notes.
Both envelopes have AMOUNT, ATTACK, DECAY and
PW (pulse width) controls that can be set from OV
to +12V for VCA and VCF modulation or OV to
+1V for VCO modulation. They can be used separately
or combined. Using one envelope creates simple,
rhythmic waveforms. Using both with a Y -jack adds
considerable complexity.
Two trigger pulse outputs are available on Channel
One. The GATE OUT is a rising edge clock pulse with a
selectable +5V or +15V level, one of which works with
most arpeggiators. The TIME LAG OUT is identical to the
GATE OUT, except that it is a falling edge clock which
can, by adjusting the GATE PW VAR control, deliver a
rising edge pulse that is slightly ahead of the beat.
Such a pulse is just the thing to trigger sounds which
develop so slowly they have to be played ahead of the
beat to sound on time. Both the GATE and TIME LAG
oUTs are set by the Channel One rhythm switches.
Both channels have an INVERT switch. The invert
function is especially useful when sync code is cued on
the fly rather than from the top. Such cues tend to be
slightly off the beat, but trigger pulses and envelopes
can often be brought back into sync by inverting them.
Finally there is the trigger- from -tape function
which converts information from a recorded track, a
snare drum for example, into a +5V or +15V trigger
pulse. It is similar to the click converter, but it is
accessed from the TRIGGER OUT rather than the
METRO OUT. Like the click converter, beats are passed
from the left hand INPUT LED to the right. Unlike the
click converter, however, the MASK control should be
left all the way down and the FINE control should be
brought up only enough to pass the pulse onto the left
The resultant pulse can then be used to double a
live snare with a triggerable sound such as a Simmons
snare or white noise from a synthesizer. As before,
microprocessor delays may be encountered and a
"pre- echoed" track is the answer. Not all sounds work
well in this mode. Open high hats, for example, may be
too ambiguous. Nevertheless, sounds with sharp
attacks work well. I have gotten the output to match
the fastest 1/16th note snare drum a Roland 808 can
produce, but the adjustment of Dr. Click's input controls had to be very fine indeed.
Dr. Click's Other Functions
Yes, there are more. Dr. Click will "clock" sequencers from the 48X/PGM OUT. This is accomplished
manually by using the STEP switch to count any given
number of pulses into a sequencer, a very time consuming, not to mention error -prone, procedure.
There is, however, an easier method -"auto programming."
In the auto programming mode, a specific number of
pulses matching any of the note values on Channel One
is delivered in time -base 48X from the 48X /PGM OUT by
pressing the appropriate Channel One rhythm selector. If the sequencer in question operates on a time
base other than 48, auto programming is accomplished
by doing the appropriate mathematics. For example,
%8th notes will be 1 /16th notes in Oberheim's time
base 96. With 16 note values available plus the step
switch for odd values, anything is possible.
Something that you won't find in the manual is a
reference to playing Dr. Click. The note value switches
on Channel One and Two can be played. Hook up an
arpeggiator to the GATE OUT. While playing a chord
with one hand, change the note value being played
with the other. The results can be quite interesting;
a sort of a semi -random feel. The same is possible with
the envelopes, although it is not always effective.
And last, a word or two on quality and service. I
have had two glitches with my Dr. Click. The last one
was taken care of very quickly and efficiently ( three
day turnaround from NY to LA and back), but then
again Dan Garfield knew I was doing this article. On a
previous occasion, however, I had a PC board go down
on a Thursday night. Naturally I had the most important session of my life coming up on Sunday of that
week. (True to my muse, the ghost of W.C. Fields,
the session was cancelled.)
On Friday I called Garfield, who at the time knew
me only as some guy on the phone with some questions,
desperate for the board. He air -freighted it to New
York that night and I had it Saturday morning. No
request that I ship him the unit so he could see if what
I thought was wrong was actually wrong or if I had
abused the unit. No demand that he get the old board
before he would send me the new one. And no bill for
the air freight to New York. If there is an automobile
manufactured anywhere in the cosmos which has
comparable service, air-freight me the name of the
manufacturer and send it collect.
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Eurythmics, this week's talk of the town, is a group distinguished by its sexually
ambiguous lead singer, a hit single ( "Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This "), and
an unusual self -image that redefines the conventional boundaries of
a pop band.
"Eurythmics is really a name for a project that encompasses all kinds of music,
film, and video," explains David Stewart, producer/composer/arranger, and
one -half of Eurythmics.
The duo's other half is lead singer/lyricist Annie Lennox, whose orange-cropped
hair and penchant for visual role- reversing has invited comparisons to
early David Bowie.
Unlike many groups whose principals grew up together, Lennox's and
Stewart's backgrounds have little in common. A native of Aberdeen, Scotland,
Lennox studied piano, harpsichord, and flute at London's Royal Academy of Music.
Her musical influences range from cabaret to jazz to rock to folk; she cites Stevie
Wonder as one of her favorite vocalists. Stewart was raised in Sunderland,
England, began playing guitar at the age of 13, and spent the latter part of his
adolescent life as a vagabond searching for, among other things, a musical style to
call his own. His search introduced him to the disparate worlds of medieval folk
music, blues, and funk. His is an unconstructed and instinctive knowledge
of music and technology.
The two met in 1977. At the time,
Lennox was waitressing, gigging
and writing songs on the side. Her
disillusionment with formal musical
training drew her to the more loosely webbed Stewart. Along with Pete
Coombes they formed the Tourists, a
forgettable little rock band featuring
a less masterful Annie Lennox as
frontwoman. After receiving some
attention for their rendition of Dusty
Springfield's "I Only Want To Be
With You," the Tourists joined the
ranks of the deceased.
In 1980 Lennox and Stewart remobilized, trading in the traditional
four -piece rock lineup for a cheap
Wasp synthesizer. They dubbed
themselves the Eurythmics. Their
first album, In The Garden, overseen by the adventurous German
producer Connie Planck, was released by RCA (UK) later that year.
It was Planck who served as Stewart's
mentor in the area of production and
experimentation and thus inspired
some of the unusual techniques
employed by Stewart in the making
of the Sweet Dreams Are Made Of
This 1p, Eurythmics' American
Entirely written, arranged, and
produced by Stewart and Lennox
(with some knob turning done by
Adam Williams) and recorded with a
budget lower than what most synthesizers cost these days, the album is
quickly putting Eurythmics on the
musical map. Whether out of true
economic necessity, as Stewart
claims, or a desire to prove that it
could be done, Eurythmics have
indeed proven that less could be more.
Lyrically, too, simplicity seems to
be the goal. "Sweet Dreams...," the
current hit single, consists of only
two sparse lyrical refrains. Actually,
all their songs stick to the lyrical
basics. Apparently, an understated
elegance, coupled with a less -is-more
philosophy is at work here. Eurythmics' modus operandi: visual sound.
Modern Recording & Music: Let's
discuss the making of the Sweet
Dreams... album. I think many people will be surprised to learn the
truth behind the finished product.
David Stewart: We recorded it all
on a Teac 8-track, which is unusual
because most albums are made on 24or 48 -track decks. We used a Sound craft Series 2 desk and we bought two
N Beyer M 20 black microphones, a
Roland space echo, a Furman compressor, and a spring reverb unit.
Now, to any technicians reading this,
they'll think this is a really Mickey
Mouse way to make a rough demo,
but we made our whole album like
MR &M: Why did you use this
particular equipment?
DS: A) because we wanted to be an
experimental band and B) because
we couldn't afford to buy ourselves
a 24-track. All the equipment I mentioned only cost about 5,000 pounds.
So, for 5,000 pounds we made the
album. It costs a lot of bands that
much to record just for three days in
the attic. We had an empty warehouse where we were able to do it for
free, and take seven months with it.
MR&M: Aside from the obvious
financial consideration, what were
the advantages of working in a
DS: Well, for one, it was really
difficult to get anywhere to make a
noise in London, and it was big. At
night when all the employees from
the picture- framing factory below
went home, we'd go into the big room
of the warehouse, and that's how we
got a lot of the ambient sounds. We
couldn't afford a plate reverb. There
[the warehouse] we could experiment
or record whenever we wanted to.
MR &M: What other equipment
eventually found its way up to the
DS: I bought a Roland SH -09
synthesizer with a CSQ -100 digital
sequencer, and a thing called an
audio movement visual drum computer, which has real drum sounds
on silicon chips and a TV screen. That
is what we played a lot of the instrumentation on. And I used a Gretsch
Country Gent slide guitar. Later in
the album we used a Roland Juno -6
polyphonic synthesizer, and oc26
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casionally a friend lent us an Oberheim synthesizer, but mainly we used
the ones I mentioned before. It was a
cheap but effective way of recording.
Since [the album] I've had over 200
offers to produce-some from people
who are quite famous. They just can't
believe it was recorded on 8 -track
because it sounds like a very high
quality 24 -track digital recording.
The secret is that I was taught techniques of recording real sounds
mixed with synthetic sounds by the
German producer Connie Planck and
a guy named Holga Suki. Many parts
of the album where people think
synthesizers are used, they really
aren't. It could be me banging on the
table with a rubber mallet mixed
with Annie tapping a milk bottle at
exactly the same time. For instance,
in the song "Sweet Dreams... ," when
she sings "Hold your head up," it's
milk bottles that go "dododododo."
It sounds like an instrument.
MR&M: Are there other examples
of this type of "musical deception" on
the record?
DS: Yeah. The snare drum sound
on "This Is The House" is me lashing
a big wooden door with some flex
from a washing line, because we
couldn't afford a claptrap, and we
wanted that kind of sound. The
underground train station in "Misrecorded
sissippi Never Sleeps "
the squeaking of wheels with a Sony
Walkman and slowed the tape down
so it was in tune with the track. Then
I played the slide guitar at the same
time as the wheels were squeaking
so the wheel squeak turned into a
slide guitar. That, again, sounds
like a synthesizer.
MR &M: The period while you
were making the album was filled
with financial difficulties for you
and Annie because of a law suit
against your former managers. Having recorded in many fashionable
studios in the past, why didn't you
just wait until everything was sorted
out and money was available to begin
work on the second Eurythmics
DS: We wanted to carry on making
our tapes while all that was going on.
We weren't consciously starting to
make an album. We were just recording, experimenting, and it gradually
became more and more like an album.
We made 50 tracks and chose ten.
MR &M: Will the other tracks ever
be released?
DS: Some already are. In England
we have lots of 12 inches [EPs], and
on the B -sides there are always
four tracks.
MR &M: I have an import of "This
Is The House" (which appears on the
album) with four live cuts -"Your
Time Will Come," "Never Gonna Cry
Again," "4/4 Leather," and "Take Me
To Your Heart " -on the flip side.
DS: The way we recorded those
songs live may be interesting to your
readers because it was actually very
experimental. You know, most people
when they say "live" actually record
on a 24 -track then go somewhere else
to remix and re-do the vocals. We
played live in an unusual way: We
had the mixing desk on stage where
the drummer would be, and Adam
Williams [bass player from the
Selector who worked on some tracks
with Stewart] would be on the mixing desk and we all plugged what is
I think that as soon as the industry
sees something sells, they wreck
it by trying to sign up every
possible (band) that sounds slightly
like it. There are some greatly
inventive groups like Blancmange
and Simple Minds, but all we really
get are... some manufactured and
marketed thing with the most
expensive synthesizers and the
prettiest looks.
called a DI into the board. I had a
suspended bass and six -string joined
together from a big lighting rig so
that it just hung down. To the audience it looked like it was just in midair. I also had synthesizers to the
right so I could hit the guitar and
leave it and play something else and
it would be hanging there. We had
a musician named Tim Winter who
plays all kinds of classical flutes,
including Thai and Chinese flutes
with onion skins that sound like
snake charmers. We had a drum
computer and Annie sang. We did
the whole thing live like a dub mix.
We had little speakers like in a studio
so that we were hearing what the
audience was hearing. Usually you
have a guy mixing up front and a
monitor guy mixing, and the band
has no idea what the audience is
MR &M: Has this technique ever
been employed before?
DS: Philip Glass has done it. You
always find that when you think
you're doing something unusual,
somewhere along the line it's been
done before. Basically, though, I'm
a complete lunatic. My ideas are so
off the wall that it used to be that no
one would take them seriously. Then
you do something that sells a million
records and people start thinking
that maybe you're not such a lunatic.
Now people are giving me money and
telling me to do my thing. That's why
I now direct the videos and write the
scripts, and all that sort of stuff
even though RCA was a bit shocked
when I wanted to put a cow in the
boardroom (for the "Sweet Dreams..."
MR&M: You mention the aural
and visual so casually together. Are
you suggesting that there is some
sort of symbiotic relationship?
DS: Yes. This goes back to our
philosophy, and the philosophy of
recording. It's about thought structures. People think on different levels.
Some people think, "I'll eat this
sandwich because I'm hungry," and
some people go a bit deeper into it.
It's the same with recording. Some
engineers say, "I think I'll use some
treble boost and record the guitar
like this," and other people think,
"I want the guitar to sound like it's
coming from somewhere over there
in the field and suddenly it gets
nearer "-thinking more visually as
an overall effect, which I'm sure must
be the way the Beatles did Sgt.
Pepper's.... Visual tricks, that's the
way we record.
There's a track on our album
called "Jennifer" which is about
Annie drowning her old personality
and bringing forth a new personality,
and it's got the sound of the sea on it
which I recorded back where I come
from on the northeast coast of England. I used a Walkman and recorded
it from different distances, and then
we slowed it down. We wanted it to
feel so intimate that it sounded like
Annie was actually whispering in
your ear when it was coming out of
the stereo.
We recorded that cut -actually the
whole album -with two really cheap
mies (30 pounds each). When I tell
engineers that we did the album with
those two Beyer mies they don't believe us. So many of them are convinced that you must use all these
different, expensive microphones.
Beyers are usually used for high hats and things like that. We did all
of Annie's vocals, the drums- everything-with them.
Again, it's the attitude of recording. We'd rather take the time to get
the recording right from the source.
The sound of Annie's voice coming
out of her mouth has to be reproduced coming out of the speaker. A
lot of people lose that sound going
through all the intricate circuitry
and all the special mies. In the end
what comes out is a synthetic sound.
When you hear all those vocals that
are multi- tracked, sort of layered
and textured -like the Foreigner
types of bands -it doesn't sound real
anymore. When you listen to early
Stones records, though, it sounds
like Mick Jagger is singing in a room
somewhere. It's really basic.
MR &M: What is your objective as
a producer?
DS: I record for atmosphere, which
is how people used to record in the
early days of rock 'n' roll. Like Sgt.
Pepper's... -to use that album as an
example again -the actual sounds,
if you analyze them, aren't perfect.
There might be noises and bits of
distortion, but the overall effect
washes over you like a feeling. Early
Kinks recording, also -"Waterloo
Sunset." Everybody at the moment
is going for complete techno sounds,
perfect clarity. But I don't necessarily think that has the maximum
MR &M: Eurythmics are often
associated with the current wave of
synth -pop technocrats -bands like
Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Human
League. But your live performances
and varying use of other instruments,
including horns and guitars, would
When you hear all those vocals
that are multi- tracked, sort of
layered and textured -like the
Foreigner types of bands -it doesn't
sound real anymore. When you
listen to early Stones records,
though, it sounds like Mick Jagger
is singing in a room somewhere. It's
really basic.
seem to preclude you from that
DS: We are definitely not just a
synth -pop band! Somebody in America wrote the bio before we arrived
here. They never would have thought
that if they'd seen our last show in
England. It was on "The Old Grey
Whistle Test" show on TV and we
appeared with a 16 -piece gospel choir,
grand piano, and the national steel
dobro guitar. The last thing anyone
seeing that could've thought is that
we're a pop band. They'd think we
were a gospel group. Eurythmics is
really a name for a project. That's
why we didn't call ourselves the Soand Sos. And our project encompasses
all kinds of music, films, and video.
MR &M: You and Annie work
alone in the studio with only the
occasional contribution from an
outside musician. But Erythmics
one sees on stage is always an unpredictable aggregation.
DS: It's a bit like Bowie, you know.
Everytime we play live we appear
with a different lineup. It's as if we're
solo artists and each time we appear
with a different outfit, e.g., a gospel
choir. On this tour, we're playing as
an eight-piece band. We like to keep
our options open. Sometimes we
appear as just the two of us with a
tape recorder and maybe one other
guy hitting strange drums.
MR &M: How do you transfer your
studio sound to the stage?
DS: On the album we used a drum
computer, mixed with live percussion
to get the spontaneous sound. Live,
we use drum machines mixed with a
live drummer. We have Simmons
drums which we mix with real snare
drums. Then I play keyboard and
guitar with an effects rack which
has a space echo, an Ibanez multi-
rack [consisting of] compressor,
phaser, chorus and distortion. I also
have a Roland SH -09 and CSQ -100
sequencer, a Portastudio 4 -track
cassette with different sounds on itand it all goes through the different
effects so that at any point I can
effect what's happening with anybody on stage.
MR &M: Do you feel that there is a
difference in your live sound and
recorded sound?
DS: Sometimes it sounds more
gutsy on stage because you get that
adrenalin rush of live performance.
We also use a bit more guitar on
stage. Not normal guitar, but weird
guitar. I think it's boring to just
recreate the album. That's why we're
always changing the way we play
and the people we use. Sometimes we
want to lengthen a song, other times
we want to change part of it.
MR &M: You noted earlier having
worked with German producer
Connie Planck (known for his innovative work with Kraftwerk). How
did that relationship come about?
DS: We had known him for six
years and worked with him at different stages. He produced our first
Tourists album and later became a
personal friend. He was the only
person we trusted to experiment with
in the studio. (The result was the first
Eurythmics album, In The Garden,
unreleased in America.)
MR &M: In what way did his
approach influence you most profoundly?
DS: It was his attitude. All the
other producers we've met seem only
to be interested in getting the music
to sound professional and polished
and getting it done as fast as possible.
We are definitely not just a synth pop
band! Somebody in America wrote
the bio before we arrived here.
Eurythmics is really a name for a
project. That's why we didn't
call ourselves the So- and -Sos. And
our project encompasses all kinds
of music, films, and video.
Connie is more interested in total
experimentation, creating a sort of
film of sound.
MR&M: Having produced yourself, how would you feel about working with another producer on a
future project?
DS: I think I'd find it difficult now
because I'm so set in this odd way of
recording. I think more traditional
producers might be a bit freaked out.
MR&M: Do you see yourself as a
[potential] producer of other bands?
DS: Oh yes. I want to work with
all sorts of people. But I just don't
have the time at the moment.
MR &M: Do you consider your role
more that of producer or musician/
DS: I don't know really. It's all
mixed up together. I write half the
songs with Annie and I also play. As
far as the production of Eurythmics,
Annie will make suggestions -as a
musician would in a studio -but I
have the ultimate say.
MR &M: Why, when you became
Eurythmics, did you and Annie
abandon many of the traditional
instruments you formerly played?
DS: Because you become cliched.
When you know an instrument inside
out, all the various riffs, all the Jimi
Hendrix guitar solos, it's very difficult not to allow those things to influence your playing style, and it
limits your writing. It's difficult to
describe, but if you've been playing
something for 15 years, you've [exhausted] all your inspiration from it.
So, for writing, I turned to an instrument that I didn't know how to play.
MR &M: The synthesizer?
DS: Keyboards in general.
MR &M: Do you compose all your
songs on keyboards?
DS: Yes, because I don't know how
to play. I play it live, but I don't know
what I'm doing. I just memorize
what I did before.
MR &M: What effect does Annie's
classical music training have on your
creative partnership and Eurythmics'
DS: She understands what I do
musically. I'm the catalyst for spontaneous work-walking into a studio
with nothing written down and
coming out with a song -and Annie
is more methodical. She works
everything out ahead of time. Together, it's perfect. She lays her
music within the framework of what
I've created and together we edit her
MR &M: What happened to the
Tourists? You had some success with
your cover version of the Dusty
Springfield classic, "I Only Want To
Be With You!"
DS: That's just it. We didn't write
the songs for the Tourists. We were
frustrated. We wanted to write our
own stuff.
MR &M: That band was rooted
much more in conventional rock 'n'
DS: It was like a typical early Jefferson Airplane kind of thing. The
Byrds. Very 60's psychedelia.
MR &M: What are your thoughts
on the music scene today?
DS: I think that as soon as the
industry sees something sells, they
wreck it by trying to sign up every
possible [band] that sounds slightly
like it. There are some greatly inventive groups like Blancmange and
Simple Minds, but all we really get
are the Kajagoogoos-some manufactured and marketed thing with
the most expensive synthesizers and
the prettiest looks. I don't relate to
that sort of thing very much. But the
trouble is that this stuff gets sold as
new music in America, and then
Americans think that's what new
music is. And it's not.
MR &M: Have you ever consciously
set out to try to make a hit?
DS: No. Whenever we've even
fooled with the idea, it comes out
sounding terrible. You can't really
say what a hit is.
MR &M: How do you account for
the current success of the album's
title track?
DS: I don't know, really. When I
hear it on the radio now it sounds like
a hit. But while we were making it
we couldn't know. We weren't saying
"let's do this or that because it will
make the song a hit." If anybody
knew that formula right off, they'd
be instant millionaires. I think what
makes a hit is what I said before:
getting the feeling right. Like "Love
Me Do" by the Beatles. Who remembers the individual instruments?
You remember the simple words and
the general enthusiasm.
MR &M: What you're saying is that
by doing things your way you're more
likely to create a record...
DS: That has longevity, because
we didn't have some great producer
like Alex Sadkin come along and get
an amazing sound from an ordinary
MR &M: Is there any instrument
or type of equipment that was beyond
your reach two years ago, but which
you'd like to use now?
DS: I'd like to use a Stick bass.
But basically I'm more interested in
making a sound out of things that
you find around the house and
mixing them with cheapo synths and
organs. A lot of our album features a
1950 Farfisa organ that Annie
bought in Austin for $50.00.
MR &M: Is it true that your warehouse days are over -that you and
Annie have purchased a large 16th
century church in North London?
DS: Yes. We call it The Church.
Bands come and hang out, and everyone wants to record there because it's
sort of funky and doesn't feel pressurized like an expensive studio. It
just feels like a great hangout place
with lots of instruments lying around.
So far, we've got in it a secondhand
24 -track Soundcraft desk, which
we've linked together with our old
Soundcraft desk, a few little compressors and lots of funny instruments we've collected over the years
-South American percussion pieces
and things like that. There's a dance
studio, film studio, and we have our
own offices. And, we plan to start our
own label. As soon as we get back
from the States, we'll begin recording our next album there: in our own
time and our own church.
rothchild & george martin
aul Rothchild produced all of the original albums by the Doors except their
final studio album, L.A. Woman. Having thus been involved with that classic
rock band from the beginning till nearly the end, he witnessed the rise and fall
of one of the most brilliant and enduring musical phenomenons of the past
couple of decades.
Rothchild has recently reunited with the remaining three members of the original
Doors, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore, to produce Alive,
She Cried, a compilation of "live" recordings made by the group at various
locations during the late '60s and 1970. One listen and any Doors fanatic will agree
that this album represents some of the finest Doors music ever released.
Included are two never -before -heard cover songs: Van Morrison's "Gloria," and
the blues standard "Little Red Rooster." Also included are superb renditions of
such classics as "Light My Fire" and "Love Me Two Times."
Rothchild was introduced to the music of the Doors by the wife of then -president
of Elektra Records Jac Holzman. Although he recalls that the first set he
witnessed by the Doors was "terrible," they more than made up for it with the next
one, and the Doors were signed. Rothchild, finding lead singer Jim Morrison
to be a "brilliant intellect," believed the group would go far. Rothchild turned out to
be somewhat of a prophet as their first single, "Light My Fire," and first album, The
Doors, went as far as they could, straight to number one.
In the following interview, Rothchild recalls his work with the legendary Doors.
Modern Recording
How did the idea for the live Doors
album, Alive, She Cried, come about?
Paul Rothchild: The Doors thought
it would be a good idea to go back and
look at some of their live material. We
decided to go into the vaults and see
what we could come up with, and we
went through every tape we could
find. Then we discovered that some
of the original 8 -track masters were
missing. We finally found them
unmarked in a 13 -story Bekin's
warehouse in L.A. after literally
going through millions of boxes. We
went through hundreds of thousands
of tapes at Elektra Records' storage
facilities and not one scrap turned up
from the Doors' missing material,
although we found some other very
interesting stuff. Eventually the
search led to Bekin's, and we located
72 8 -track masters. That was the
beginning of the assembling of this
album. We'd been working off the
rough 2 -track mixes that we found
at Elektra, so we already knew which
recordings we wanted to use.
MR &M: Why now, after all these
years of the tapes lying dormant?
PR: I'm sure we would've done
this album even if the current fame
of the Doors wasn't as strong as it is.
But in light of the renewed interest
in the group and Jim Morrison,
there's a whole age group that is
brand new to the Doors.
MR &M: Why do you think a group
like that, defunct for over a decade, is
so popular with young kids?
PR: A lot of things happened
coincidentally, including the release
of the Doors book by Danny Sugerman and the promotional work done
by the Doors themselves. But the key
to it started around six or seven years
ago, when the punk movement started
looking for its own roots and discovered that the Doors were one of
the strongest roots to that music. All
of a sudden when people from those
groups started to be interviewed, the
name Doors kept popping up as an
influence, just like the groups of the
mid -'60s cited their roots as being
Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers,
James Brown, etc. The new groups
looked back and saw the Doors, the
Velvet Underground, and other experimental groups like that. Once
they started talking about it, the
radio stations started playing the
source music and a whole new bunch
of listeners discovered this very
wonderful American music.
MR &M: What was your background before producing the Doors
and how did you come to work with
PR: I produced classical and jazz
records, then got into producing folk
music at Elektra when it was still a
very young label dealing with cabaret
folk like Theodore Bikel and Oscar
Brand. I signed people like Tom
Paxton and Phil Ochs. Then I found
and signed the Paul Butterfield Blues
Band, which was the first electric
group on the label. After that, Jac
Holzman, the head of Elektra, signed
Love, who were playing at the Whisky
in L.A. The opening act at that show
was a group called the Doors. Jac's
wife saw them and learned they'd
been signed to CBS for six months,
but they didn't do anything with
them and CBS didn't renew the contract. Jac called me and told me I had
to come out and see this group. I did
and they were terrible. It was one of
the worst shows I'd ever seen in my
life. But I always give a band a
second chance so I stayed around for
the second set and then I heard pure,
brilliant genius. It was original. The
lyrics came from people who actually
thought about themselves, the world,
the inner space, and all of those very
important things at the time. In that
set I heard "20th Century Fox,"
"Light My Fire," "Hello I Love You,"
and "The End." When I heard "The
End," I said "This group may not be
famous because they may be too
intellectual for everybody, but they
have to be recorded." So we signed
them and went into the studio. The
sessions for the first album lasted
six days.
MR &M: What were your first
impressions of Jim Morrison?
PR: I thought he was really an
amazing person. I'd met musicians
who were fine people, but he was the
first besides Michael Bloomfield who
was a stunning intellect. He was well
read and sensitive to things around
him and within himself. He was unafraid to reveal himself, to put the
vulnerable side of himself on a stage.
That was bravery to the extreme in
those days when everybody was
posturing. He was up there exposing
his soul. He became one of my very
dearest friends. As the years went by
and he started to have more access
to money and fame, that's when he
started running into trouble. During
the first album the trouble showed
itself in a delight for LSD. But as
time went on, through subsequent
records, the acid became minor, as
did drugs of any kind, and alcohol
became his drug of choice. That was
the ultimate factor in his health
failure and ultimately his heart
MR &M: How did his drinking
affect the music the Doors were
PR: By the Morrison Hotel album,
it was very hard to work with him.
The three other Doors were at their
wits' end by that point. Jim was not
even interested in the studio anymore.
He was starting to be uncomfortable
in his position as rock star and sex
symbol. He kept getting more and
more involved in his poetry and
wanted to focus his career on the
poetry and films. It was very difficult
to get him to rehearse and much
harder to get him into the studio.
Once there it was even harder to get
him to come up with the energy
needed for a good take. I finally left
before the L.A. Woman album because I was bored with what was
going on on that album except for two
tunes: "Riders On The Storm" and
"L.A. Woman." The rest I thought
was just boring shuffles and sounded
like lounge music. I told them the
only way they'd get back on track was
having to do it themselves. It turned
out that my read of the situation was
exactly right because they did turn
out a very good album, although to
this day I still think those two songs
were the only good ones. They did put
energy into the other songs, though.
MR &M: What were recording sessions like with the Doors?
PR: The first album was pretty
much a documentary album because
it was the tunes they'd been performing for the better part of a year and a
half at that point. They were pretty
well worked in. I made some rhythm
and arrangement suggestions but
rarely made lyric suggestions. I did a
lot of editing and gave it better shape.
For the second album on, my contribution grew and grew as the material
became fresher and fresher. At the
risk of sounding self-congratulatory,
I think you could say my contribution
was at least equal to all of the Doors
on every record. I started drawing on
my classical background and they
recognized that I was bringing in
very valuable stuff.
MR&M: It must have been exciting
being a producer during that period
and watching the technology explode
every year.
PR: We actually did bridge the
technological revolution in the '60s.
The first album was recorded essentially 3- track, which was a boon then
because it meant you had ultimate
control over the vocals. It meant you
could mix and take care getting the
balances right. That first album, we
took the three instrumentalists with
All of a sudden when people from
those (punk) groups started to
their four musical parts -Ray
be interviewed, the name Doors
Manzarek was covering the bass with
his keyboards because the Doors had
kept popping up as an influregular bassist -and we made
ence, just like the groups of the
stereo mix
-track those tracks,
and then we put Jim's vocal on the
mid -'60s cited their roots as being
third. There was a fourth track the
machine -it was a -track machine Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers,
and we used that for special effects.
Like on "20th Century Fox," put the
James Brown, etc. The new groups
band on a wooden platform and had
them march in time
the music.
looked back and saw the Doors, the
Occasionally we used that tape for
sweetening. By the time we got to the
Velvet Underground, and other
second album, the Beatles had come
experimental groups like that. Once
out with
Pepper's, which was
just new in its approaches that it
they started talking about it, the
encouraged us to just pull out all of
the stops and go as far into experiradio stations started playing the
mental music as we possibly could.
At that point, the -track machine
source music and a whole new
was brand new and we got into the
first "production music" had ever
bunch of listeners discovered this
done in my life. From that point
very wonderful American music.
every new album was a move into the
cutting edge
musical theory.
on 2
the time we got to Soft Parade, we
were trying to expand to the largest
possible audience we could. We got
into strings, horns, etc. It did draw a
large audience to the Doors but at the
same time it caused some of the
original fans to say they were no
longer a singles rock and roll group,
the same as had happened to the
Beatles. Morrison Hotel's definite
purpose was to go as far back to the
original format as we possibly could.
The Doors all agree that that album
was their favorite. The second album
was their second favorite, although
it was the smallest seller. It's one of
the most progressive, experimental
albums they did, but it didn't have a
single on it. The first had better material, but the second (Strange Days)
was a better realized record. By Soft
Parade they were like an aging
actress who still had talent, but time
had started making their presence a
little shoddy. That's when makeup
starts being applied in an attempt to
hide the most critical flaws. Jim's
lack of involvement was the most
critical flaw for the Doors. It was the
most difficult record to make and the
least satisfying. Morrison Hotel was
a return to the spirit. Jim got very
much involved again.
MR &M: What were the differences
between recording the Doors "live"
and in the studio?
PR: The same as with any group.
In the studio you were able to select
every note, either by editing or over-
dubbing. "Live" performances are
frequently extraordinarily flawed.
The audience may have had a wonderful time but maybe the singer had a
terrible night. So when you remove
the visuals and the excitement of the
night, what you're left with is the
cold, unforgiving tapes. So when you
make a "live" album you look for that
20 percent of the performances that
were great.
MR &M: How much touring did
you do with the group?
PR: I was on the road with them
about 30 percent of the time. I was
still producing tons of records at the
time so I wasn't able to go on every
tour. But I was on all the tours when
tape was spinning. I didn't go on the
longer tours.
MR&M: Were you surprised when
Jim Morrison died?
PR: He died only a few short
months after several friends of mine
died. I was producing Janis Joplin's
Pearl album when she died. So it was
almost like hearing a news report; it
almost didn't affect me. Somewhere
I knew that the bottom line to Jim's
excessive lifestyle was either going to
be very impaired health or his death.
I started to steel myself against those
emotions because it was just too painful. I didn't feel the actual hurt till
almost a year later. It was one of those
things when you sit down and shake
your head and say, "Yeah, well, what
can you do?" You become immune.
How many times can you get hit in
the face? By the fourth or fifth punch
you're groggy; it no longer means
MR&M: What was it like getting
back together with the other exDoors to put together this "live"
PR: One of the great delights in
my life was getting back together
with them to make this new album.
Not one of them has laid back on his
laurels. Not one has become a drug
addict or an alcoholic. Every one of
them is a better person than he was
back then. Each one is pursuing
active careers. Robby Krieger has
gone from being one of the greatest
guitar players of his age to being one
of the greatest guitar players I've
ever seen in my life. Ray Manzarek
has never stopped and is now moving
on to other areas of avant-garde film,
video, and his own new record. John
Densmore recently performed in a
one -man show doing a piece of Sam
Sheppard's called Tongues and another one called Skins. It was one of
the greatest pieces of experimental
theatre I've ever seen. So not only
have I gotten to make a great new
record, I've rediscovered some friends,
and we're all back in each other's lives.
james f. rupert
michael roberts
"...I was lucky to come across some very good people."
- George Martin
and recording industry paid
his twenties bicycling to
no particular attention to a young
his first day at work at London `s EMI Studios. Almost 33 years later the
young man who began as a twenty dollar a week assistant to the head of Parlophone
Records has become one of the most respected and sought after record producers
a cold November day in
1950, the music
in the world today.
The career of George Martin has developed into the stuff of legends. After
assuming the position of Artist's manager at Parlophone, following the retirement
of former manager Oscar Preuss, Mr. Martin became a vital factor in the success of
EMI Studios. In 1963, George Martin produced the top chart recordings for 32
of the 52 weeks of that year, with total EMI domination of the #1 position
holding sway for 43 weeks. Beginning with comedy recordings featuring the
likes of Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore and Peter Ustinov, Mr. Martin has gone on to
work with a diverse range of artists including the Bee Gees, Judy Garland,
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Matt Monro, Cheap Trick, Ella Fitzgerald, Ultravox, Cilla
Black, America, Sophia Loren and four lads from Liverpool, England, who require
no introduction.
During his tenure at EMI Studios (later to officially change its name to what had
become its unofficial pseudonym of "Abbey Road" Studios), Mr. Martin also
met his wife- to -be, the former Judy Lockhart- Smith.
At Air Studios: (left to right) Brian Cowling, technical engineer; Malcolm
Atkin, chief technical ergineer; George Martin.
George left EMI in 1965 to form
Associated Independent Recording
(AIR) with former Abbey Road
associates Peter Sullivan, John
Burgess and Ron Richards. In so
doing, Mr. Martin and company
became the pioneers of the modern
independent recording producer.
AIR Studios in London (coined "The
Producer's Studio "), was opened in
1969 with a second studio complex
built later at Montserrat in the
West Indies.
Having released his autobiographical book, All You Need Is Ears,
Mr. Martin is currently working on
his second book, tentatively titled
Making Music.
MR&M met with Mr. Martin at
AIR Studios London earlier this
year. We had been gently but firmly
advised by his staff not to dwell on
his career with the aforementioned
musical group from Liverpool, as he
had discussed them ad nauseum in
the past.
As nervous as this interviewer was,
walking into AIR's imposing Oxford
Street offices, we were soon put at
ease by the kindness, wit and graciousness of Mr. Martin and Studio Administrator Mrs. Do' Bell.
Regular readers of James Rupert's
writings in MR &M know of his
idolization of the accomplishments
of George Martin. After completing
this interview, Rupert is pleased to
report that rarely has such idolatry
been so well founded.
Modern Recording
Could you give us a little background
on AIR Studios?
George Martin: The studios were
built in 1969. AIR Records started
as a company in 1965. We'd all been
hall of an old department store. But
it was an ideal location for a studio
right in the heart of London.
MR &M: What kind of problems
did you run into?
GM: As for problems associated
with the work, it had tremendous
rumble factor because there are
three underground (subway) stations
here, a lot of traffic nearby and it is a
steel -frame building. So all the
studios had to be really isolated from
sound. Yet the studios rapidly became the best ones in London.
MR &M: Did you begin by specializing in music recording?
GM: We used to do a lot of film
work in the early days, but now we've
gotten so much into rock'n'roll music,
I think we've actually abandoned our
film work for over a year now.
MR &M: You have more than just
this one complex, don't you?
GM: Associated with AIR Studios
London is AIR Studios Montserrat,
begun in 1979 out in the Caribbean.
There's a kind of interplay between
the two studios in that we have tech-
nical engineers and (recording)
engineers going out there "on loan"
so to speak, and coming back broken
men (Laughs). We've got a nice
interchange of technical facilities
between the two. They're very closely
aligned, they have the same kind of
equipment. In fact, Montserrat was a
guinea pig in a way. We had a special
desk that was designed for them by
Rupert Neve which has now become
standard at the studios here.
MR &M: You obviously would
rather work here than any place else
in the world.
GM: Sure. Well, I mean it's a studio
that's been built to our concept. I feel
comfortable here because everything
we do is to my way of thinking and
the people are nice here even if they
don't get paid too well. (Low grumbling from others in room.)
MR &M: Has the world's economic
situation affected your business here?
GM: The recession? We've been
pretty lucky, really. We've been
keeping a fairly full order book here.
I think we've had to work harder to
get it. It has been tougher, but we're
okay. I'm hoping we've gone through
the worst of it. We're still doing very
nicely in Montserrat, too, which is a
"dollar" (based economy) country.
But we're very conscious that people
are lowering their rates in order to
bring in clients.
It's an unhealthy thing because
while people are lowering their rates
they cannot lower their overheads,
and their overheads are going up
because of the high cost of technology. Now, if you talk about digital,
it costs twice as much to have a
digital recording outfit as it does
analog. All the hardware continues
to go up in price, all the toys you buy,
all the outboard equipment -incredibly expensive! I don't really
know how some of the studios in
America are keeping alive, because
they're cutting their prices to the
working as producers for other
record companies up until that time.
There were four of us -four producers -that got together to start
AIR. Of the four, only two remain.
The others have fallen by the wayside.
In 1969 we started to build a studio
of our own because the studios we
worked in were alright, but not one
of them were what we thought a good
studio should be. And so we coined
the phrase "a studio for producers,
built by producers," because most of
the studios built up until that time
had been built by engineers for
engineers or even by back -room boys
for back -room boys. Certainly not for
producers. So that's what AIR
This place we're in now presented
a great deal of problems at the time
because it was actually a banqueting
Air Control Room Two, Neve console.
Our technology is such that we're
so governed by vision that
people may be bored with just
sound in the future, I don't know.
It's impossible to chart definitely,
but certainly "sound- only" people,
I think, are becoming something
of dinosaurs. I think you're
looking at the last of the dinosaurs
MR&M: I'm glad you mentioned
digital. There's a lot of debate about
analog and digital technology in the
industry today. Do you have any
preferences here at AIR?
MR&M: We use both.We actually
have been experimenting with different digital multi -tracks. We
haven't decided on a system yet because I'm examining them all. We've
been using the Sony digital two track for mastering, and I like that,
but I'm still looking at the multi tracks.
MR &M: From a personal level, not
necessarily a commercial level, what
has been the most satisfying project
you've been able to work on in your
GM: In my career? (Whistles)
That's 32 years we're talking about....
Well, a lot of things stand out in my
mind, but it's very difficult to take
one and single it out from the rest. I
mean look at all the ten years worth
of Beatles stuff.
MR &M: I was trying to avoid that
word, actually.
GM: People say, "What's your
favorite Beatle track ?" Well, I don't
know. We recorded about 300 tracks.
You asking what the most notable
thing is, is kind of like that. It could
be one of those or it could be something that most people haven't heard
of. For example, a recording I made
with the Winter Consort called
Icarus is one of my favorite albums,
but I don't think many people have
heard of it. A recording with the
Mahavishnu Orchestra and the
London Philharmonic called Apocalypse, which was probably one of
the most difficult records I've ever
made and certainly I'm glad I did it
here at AIR because the facilities
I needed were almost unattainable anywhere else. First of all I had
to have a symphony orchestra, which
meant accommodating 75 people.
Plus a rock band, Mahavishnu, which
was a very loud rock band with a
very good rhythm section. Michael
Warden on drums at that time.
Michael Tilson- Thomas was conducting the London Symphony. Very,
very complicated music. A time
signature of was considered to be
really, really ordinary and we had
15/16 bars alternating with 9/8. The
rhythms and the music were very
complicated. We tried starting off
doing it live because we felt that it
was necessary for everybody to feel
together. But from the very first
moment I knew it was impossible,
because the weight of sound of the
backing group was about 16 times
that of the whole symphony orchestra,
and we realized we'd have to separate
them. So we put the band in one
studio, number four and put the
orchestra in number one. We con-
nected them aurally with headphones and also with video screens.
We recorded the whole thing on 24
tracks together, alongside each
other. Sometimes we overdubbed.
Mainly we did it like that, in two
studios at once.
At that time I couldn't think of
any studio which could offer me those
facilities. I was very glad I had that
flexibility. It still is one of my favorite
recordings. There's a track on it
called "Smile Of The Beyond" which
is a very slow one in which Gail
Moran, who was the keyboard player
with Mahavishnu, sang. She is a very
fine musician.
MR&M: Have you ever regretted a
studio assignment you've accepted?
GM: That I regretted getting into?
No, I can't think of anything in
particular because I always suss out
things well in advance. I get a lot of
people asking me to make albums
with them, which is very flattering.
But I say to them, there's no point in
going to the studio unless I like the
music and unless I think they're
going to be successful without me.
And if they're going to be successful
without me, I'll ride along with them.
In the old days, of course, I was
looking for new talent which I hadn't
heard before. I don't do much of that
now. Most of the people I record have
got a track record. But in the days
when I was looking for brand new
"off- the -peg" talent that hadn't been
touched, then I was lucky to come
across some very good people. And
the ones I didn't record were the
ones I rejected. And that was the way
it worked.
MR&M: Haven't you been working on a charity project with Peter
GM: Yes, it's a charity called the
"Prince's Trust," which is Prince
Charles' own charity. He takes a
very active interest in it. It's a charity
designed to help young people in this
country, both black and white, to get
started on some career or profession.
We've even helped bands to get
instruments, that kind of thing. In
this day of high unemployment
where young people just leaving
school find it difficult to get anything, it's a good charity. So we put
on a concert which the Prince came
to... which his Royal Highness came
to, I should say. We're just mixing
the sound with the video right now.
This will be mixed for television and
video and possibly an album, I would
MR &M: What type of music do you
prefer listening to in your free time?
GM: I get so much in my working
life that I don't listen to a great deal
at home, but when I do it's classical
music. I invariably put on a bit of
Mozart or a bit of Debussy or a bit of
Bach if I'm just relaxing.
MR&M: Is there anything you've
never worked on but would like to?
GM: It's an awful thing to say, but
I don't think I have. There's nothing
really I want to do now, I think I've
done it. I mean, there's a lot of things
that I haven't done, but I think I have
done an awful lot of different things.
MR &M: If a novice came to you
and asked for advice in getting into
know. It's impossible to chart definitely, but certainly "sound- only"
people, I think, are becoming some-
recording and producing, what
advice would you give them?
GM: In one word: Don't!
MR&M: That's been a really popular answer for everyone we've asked
that question. Why?
GM: Mainly because it's a terribly
crowded profession. In fact, a terribly overcrowded profession. I'm
not sure really what the future is
going to be. I'm very concerned about
it because I think we're in a very
great state of flux at the moment.
I think recording as we know it is
changing very quickly. And the
entertainment business is changing
very quickly, also. I'm not sure that
records as they are now will be around
as much in ten years time.
MR &M: Are you referring to the
rise in video?
GM: I'm talking video and I'm
talking of compact discs and I'm
talking of people's habits. If you look
at the trend of people's habits, then
playing records has gone down in
popularity as opposed to playing
with, say, video games for a start.
That's one aspect of it. Our technology is such that we're so governed
by vision that people may be bored
with just sound in the future, I don't
thing of dinosaurs. I think you're
looking at the last of the dinosaurs
So my advice to young people is,
"Don't particularly rush into it."
Look around and see what you're
going to do. If you decide to go into
it, make sure you're good. Because
you've got to be very good to break
through the tremendous amount of
competition -the good people that
exist here today.
MR &M: How does one go about
having George Martin produce their
music? Do a lot of people send you
unsolicited tapes?
GM: They do. A lot of people who
haven't started in the business send
me tapes and it's useless really.
There's no point in my starting out
now. I've done my service. I might
listen if someone says they're really
fantastic, but I don't think I would
ever record them because I'm too
busy. It takes a long while to make
records nowadays. You can only do
so much in a year.
Anyway, I'm getting old and sick
and tired and it's about time I packed
it in. Let the young people do it.
MR &M: Are you considering retiring, seriously?
GM: (Pauses) ... I'm considering
not working so hard. There's an
awful lot of other things I haven't
done that I want to do. This year I
haven't had a real holiday and I'm
sort of anxious to have a little bit
more time.
A very good friend of mine is
Quincy Jones. He and I are much of
an age. He's a bit younger than I am,
I think, and he works incredibly hard.
When I last spoke to him I said, "You
know, Quincy, it's time you eased up."
He said, "Look who's talking!" As we
talked about it he said he's got so
much on his plate, he's got certain
projects to do -he's running his own
label, he's producing Michael Jackson
and Donna Summer, and so on. Then
he said, "Well, I've got this to do. I
know what I've got to do and then
after I've done all those things...
Man, I'm going to sit down for a bit."
I feel rather like him. I've my
commitments which carry me
through until about next May, and
I'll be working solidly until May,
and then...and then I want to sit
down for a bit
-II 11111.~61111 1611&111II
*; itkm.
IV fl r<
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So You Wanna Be
a Rock'n'Roll Star:
nIPart I of this
series we took a look at what it takes
to make a demo effective. We looked at the way
record companies conduct their search for new
talent, zeroed in on what they look for in demos, and
offered a few suggestions to help you begin incorporating these qualities into your own tapes.
Now it's time to talk strategy.
The first thing to do is take a realistic look at yourself
and determine what your strengths are. What's unique
about you that makes you commercially attractive?
Is it your lead singer's personality? Your guitar
player's distinctive style? Your sister's tuba playing?
Whatever it is, you have to identify it and bring it into
clear focus on your demo tape.
I'll give you an example. Quarterflash started out
as a bar band that played a wide range of musical
styles -everything from 30s swing to original rock.
Lead vocals and solos were passed from player to
player in order to create a show with as much variety
as possible. When the band decided to make a demo
and go after a recording contract, they narrowed the
focus down to their strongest commercial assets
their original rock material and sax player Rindy Ross.
The demo consisted of their three best original tunes,
arranged to showcase Rindy's lead vocals and sax work.
Okay, so you've identified your commerical strengths
and focused your energy on them; the next step is to
decide the best route for getting them down on tape.
The big question here is whether you should plan to
book session time in a professional studio or whether
to invest in a small demo studio of your own. There are
advantages and disadvantages to either approach.
Recording your demo at home gives you unlimited
time to experiment and become comfortable working
in a studio environment. It forces you to learn the
recording process from the ground up-a potentially
valuable experience for the aspiring recording artist.
On the other hand, you almost certainly won't be able
to afford a home recording set -up that can match the
technical specs of a good professional studio. You'll
have to work much harder and longer to come up with
a professional- sounding demo at home. You might be
better off spending your time and energy on musical
Only you can decide which route makes the most
sense for your particular situation. With Quarter-
flash, we went the home studio route because it was
better suited to our specific needs. But with another
band it could easily have made more sense to simply
book a few hours of session time. The important thing
is to explore all your options before you make your
decision, and then take the approach that works
best for you.
Preparing For Your Demo Session
I cannot overstate the importance of adequate
preparation before you go into your session. I won't
harp on this; it's simply an absolute necessity if you are
to succeed. Enough said? Good, let's get to work.
Start with your material. Remember, the number
one thing the record company will be listening for is
original material with strong commercial potential.
(It may be helpful for you to review Part I at this point.)
Pick your three best songs. Putting more than three or
four songs on a demo is a waste of time -the A &R
people won't listen to any more than that anyway. It
will be assumed that you've put your best stuff first,
so if you haven't hooked them with the first song or
two they won't bother listening to the rest. (Try going
through a hundred tapes before lunch tomorrow and
see what you do!) If you do hook them with a short tape
and they want to hear more, they'll let you know.
Arrange each song into a tight commercial format,
as discussed in Part I. If you plan to record material
you play onstage, be sure to take an extra careful look
at your arrangements. Live arrangements tend to be
stretched out-longer intros, extended solos, repeated
verses -and there's a tendency to hold back for the big
climax at the end. For your demo recording the
arrangement should be much tighter. You want your
hooks right up front; you want everything condensed
down to its hottest essence. This isn't always an easy
thing to achieve -especially if you've very familiar
with the material and used to hearing it a certain way.
Any re- arrangement of something you're used to is
likely to seem strange at first. Don't be tempted into
putting a fifteen -minute guitar solo on your demo
just because you're used to hearing it in the song. If you
find you really can't work a song into a tight commerical arrangement, scrap it and pick a different
one. Be ruthless with yourself. The record company
is not going to give you one hundred and fifty thousand
dollars to record something they can't sell.
Once you've selected your very best material and
worked out the basic arrangements, it's time to rehearse. Rehearsing for a recording session is a little
different than rehearsing for a live performance.
While you may opt to just set up in the studio and
record everything "live," with everyone playing
together, the more common approach is to break the
recording down into separate overdub sessions. Generally, the basic rhythm track (drums, bass, rhythm
guitar) is recorded first. Then the background sweetening, lead vocals, and solos are added separately in
overdubs. Keep this in mind as you rehearse. Spend
some time working with the rhythm section alone.
Listen carefully to what each of the instruments is
doing, and work toward a tight, punchy feel with lots
of energy. Remember to leave plenty of space for the
other parts that will be laid over your rhythmic
framework. Don't let the rhythm section get too
cluttered. There's a natural tendency for musicians to
embellish their parts as they become more familiar
with them. This can work to your advantage, but don't
let it get out of hand. You may find you can achieve a
more powerful recording by working "backwards,"
toward simplicity rather than embellishment.
Once the rhythm section is solid, go through the
background vocals separately. Then do the same with
the solos, sweetening, and so forth. Breaking the tune
down like this can be very helpful, even if you don't
plan to do any overdubbing at all. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by isolating problem areas in
rehearsal instead of discovering them unexpectedly
in the middle of your session.
During your rehearsals, take some time to check
your equipment. Demo musicians rarely have brand
new gear in tip -top condition; their equipment is
often road -battered and poorly maintained. In a live
show you'll never notice that rattle in your amp handle
or a squeaking hi -hat stand, but in the studio they can
give you fits. It's not at all unusual to spend the first
couple hours of a session eliminating stray rattles,
buzzes, and resonances from the band's equipment.
It pays to get your gear into shape before you go into
your session -especially if you're booking time. Spend
a couple of free hours at home going over everything.
Drummers should be especially conscientious about
this. The first thing the engineer will do is set up the
drum sound. Nothing will kill your session faster than
a set of poorly maintained, improperly tuned drums.
Your ability to quickly achieve a good clean drum
sound can keep everyone's momentum up and establish a positive atmosphere for the entire session.
Studio Musicianship
You're all set: You've zeroed in on your commercial
strengths, you've rehearsed your material into shape,
and you've checked and double- checked your equipment. So what can you expect the actual session to be
like? Is there anything unusual about playing in a
recording studio that you should know about?
You bet there is. Playing in a recording session is
very different from playing in a club or in a rehearsal
room. Studio playing is really an art unto itself -as
different from playing live as sculpture is from painting. This can throw you quite a curve if you're not
expecting it. All too often the first demo session winds
up being little more than a very expensive lesson in
basic studio musicianship. Since you want to avoid
that, we'd better take a quick look at the peculiar
demands of studio playing and see what you'll be up
against in there.
To begin with, playing in the studio has a whole
different feel than playing live. The whole atmosphere
is much more precise and carefully controlled. Onstage or in rehearsal you can get away with more
mistakes; a little slip or glitch goes right by, often
unnoticed, and then it's gone. In the studio the slips are
more apparent, and that little glitch will come back
to haunt you during playback. As a result, the musicians tend to focus all their concentration on not
making any mistakes, and the spark and energy in
the music suffers accordingly. You will have to strike a
delicate balance between precision and spontaneity
and that can get tricky.
You may find yourself playing alone, either separated from the other musicians in an isolation booth
or adding your part later in an overdub. You'll be
playing along with the others in your headphones,
but you may not have the benefit of eye contact and
body language to keep you in precisely the same
groove. If you're overdubbing you'll have to match
the subtle, unyielding tempo fluctuations of the
previously recorded tracks. All this may cause you to
play a little stiffly -the music won't seem to "breathe"
quite as naturally.
Studio work is exhausting, often in a very insidious
way. It's hard to stay fresh and objective after hearing
the same song over and over for hours at a time. Even
without major hitches, you should be prepared to do
a lot of waiting around -waiting for technical adjustments to be made, waiting to overdub your part, waitii,g for a myriad of tiny delays. In a live show things
move along in a more or less continuous musical
stream. In the studio the musical flow is constantly
being interrupted. You'll have to work at staying
sharp and maintaining your performing "edge."
Understand right from the start that you'll be
cooped up in a little padded room, listening to the same
song for hours on end; you'll be expected to perform
under pressure in an unnatural and exhausting
musical environment. At this point you may rightly
point out that this sounds like some especially perverse
new form of torture! Welcome to the glamorous world
of the recording artist. Actually, it can be a lot of fun
if you're prepared for it.
A contract -winning demo doesn't come easy. It
requires consistency and precision, coupled with that
elusive spark of energy that makes the music come
alive. This is an extremely tricky balance to achieve,
yet it's the crux of the whole recording process. Even
the best artists and producers must constantly confront this same fundamental challenge. Their sessions
are the same as yours in this most vital respect. In the
end it doesn't really matter whether you're working
with a four -track deck or a state -of- the -art digital
great song recorded with sensitivity and
skill will transcend your immediate technical limitations and touch the listener. And that, of course, is
the name of the game.
In Part III we'll begin going through the actual
recording process, step -by -step, with the emphasis
on getting big -league results from a basic 8 -track
home studio.
len feldman
Multi- channel TV Sound
A Status Report
the time you read this, the United States may
well be on its way towards beginning TV stereo
broadcasting. Before I get into that, though,
let me explain the slightly modified format of this
column. The publisher and editors of MR &M and I, in
a recent discussion, concluded that audio and video
recording are becoming more and more intertwined,
what with such video innovations as Beta HiFi (the
first really good stereo sound available on home video
recorders), VHS HiFi (still a few months away, but
now firmly established as a competitor to Beta HiFi),
the combining of PCM processors with VCRs (an
approach being followed even by small, low-budget
recording studios who can't afford pro' digital equipment that larger studios employ) and more. It seems
altogether fitting, therefore, that I should expand
the scope of this column to include subjects that are
either audio- or video-oriented -or both. After all,
the name of this publication, Modern Recording &
Music, was never meant to rule out recording on video
tape and, these days, there's plenty of music recorded
for TV -both for over -the-air broadcast and down -thecable transmission. Anyone who has witnessed the
overnight success of Warner's MTV will attest to that.
So much for old business. Now for the audio /video
subject at hand
status report on Multi- Channel
TV Sound. To understand just where the matter
stands, it's necessary to review a report issued by the
FCC on July 29th, 1983, which dealt with the Commission's Docket #21323. In essence, the Commission
has proposed to permit television broadcast licensees
to use the TV audio baseband for a variety of uses in
order to provide a broad range of services.
The FCC decided that it should further relax restrictions on audio subcarrier transmission by television
stations. It proposed to allow both commercial and
noncommercial stations to engage in unrestricted
operations using a wide range of technical systems,
subject to other applicable provisions of its rules.
Among the now -prohibited broadcast -related uses
that would be allowed are multi -channel and stereo-
phonic sound for regular programming, provision for
program -related information for viewers with impaired hearing or sight, storecasting and background
music. Non -broadcast related uses could include
paging services, electronic mail delivery, facsimile
services to offices, and even such unusual uses as
control of traffic lights and signs.
The Commission pointed out that the potential for
usp of the broadened audio baseband is great. Each of
the 786 commercial stations and 273 noncommercial
stations now on the air could be providing subcarrier
services. Thousands of hours of service could be provided at virtually no additional technical cost to the
stations, according to the FCC.
Earlier in 1983, in another rulemaking decision,
the FCC expanded the permissible use of FM sub carriers (so- called SCA service) to include a wide
variety of broadcast and nonbroadcast services. The
new proposal for TV broadcasters is similar to the
uses authorized at that time for FM radio. The TV
rulemaking docket goes back to 1977. In 1979, the
Commission proposed to permit use of TV audio base band subcarriers for cueing and coordinating purposes in electronic news gathering. That proposal
was formally adopted in 1981.
Another Marketplace Decision
In the status report, the FCC said it proposed an
"open- market" approach to permit licensees to exercise their own discretion in selecting services to offer
the public. What this means is that the proposed
rulemaking would eliminate restrictions on the use of
TV audio subcarriers without actually specifying any
uses or standards. This is the same sort of position
that the FCC took more than a year ago with respect
to AM Stereo broadcasting. Many industry experts
maintain that the slow progress being made in the
field of AM Stereo is, in large part, due to this marketplace type of decision. Radio stations are reluctant to
get behind a specific AM stereo system (there are
four systems that are in the competition), and receiver
manufacturers are reluctant to incorporate a single
system (since it may not become the system of choice).
While radios with circuitry for decoding all four
systems are possible (some have been shown by Sansui
and Sony), such multi- system receivers are obviously
more costly to produce.
In view of the possible ramifications of such a
marketplace decision, the Electronic Industries
Association (EIA), in cooperation with the National
Association of Broadcasters (NAB), have adopted a
course of action through their Multi- Channel TV
Sound Committee which, they hope, will prevent the
same kind of stalemate in stereo TV sound that has
occurred in the case of AM stereo. The EIA committee
has been at work on the problem of standards for
stereo TV and other additional audio services for TV
for more than four years now. They have been testing
three basic transmission systems: one proposed by the
Electronic Industries Association of Japan (EIAJ),
another by Zenith Radio Corporation, and a third by a
small engineering firm called Telesonics, based in
Chicago. After modifications to some of these systems,
all have been shown to provide reasonably good stereo
reception, and all make provision for at least one
Secondary Audio Program (SAP), which might take
the form of a second -language dub (for movies, etc.) or
even a totally unrelated audio program.
However, all three systems, introduce a signal -tonoise degradation of approximately 15 dB. In the case
of the SAP channel, total signal -to -noise ratio in a
Grade -B signal contour (suburban reception) is only
26 dB. The EIA committee has proposed that some
form of companding be incorporated right from the
start in any stereo TV or subsidiary audio channel
broadcasting to offset this loss in S/N ratio. As you
might have guessed, several proponents came forward
with companding noise reduction systems. At the
moment, they include Dolby, dbx, and a modified
form of CBS's CX. A fourth contender is Straight Wire
Audio, who represent a modified version of the well known Telefunken High -Com companding system.
During the first technical tests of the three basic
transmission systems, modifications were made to at
least two of the systems. Accordingly, additional
tests had to be conducted. As for the companding
system listening tests, these have had to be repeated
recently, too. First tests simply used random noise,
such as that which would occur at the aforementioned
Grade -B receiving site. In fact, however, noise that
appears in the audio channels of a TV receiver includes
other impairments, generally caused by video signal
interference in the audio channel or channels. Such
impairments are variously described as "buzz" and
"buzz beat" and are of a more coherent nature than
simple random white or pink noise.
As of this writing, the EIA MTS Committee is
racing against time to complete all remaining tests,
both of the basic transmission systems and of the four
proposed companding systems. Once the data is
amassed, it will be disseminated to various segments
of the industry (such as broadcasters, receiver manufacturers, etc.) who are then expected to vote for the
best system. The Committee hopes that if the industry
as a whole can agree upon a single system before the
FCC issues its actual rulemaking decision, the expected marketplace decison will not have the devastat42
ing effect upon stereo or multi -channel TV that it has
had upon AM stereo.
Why the deadline? Simply because the commission
will set a 90 -day period for comments, followed by
another 30 days for reply comments. That puts the
FCC decision sometime before the end of 1983. Once
a marketplace decision is made, the EIA Committee
can no longer function, for it would then be regarded
as in violation of this country's antitrust laws. That
may sound strange to you, but such are the mysterious
ways of our legal and judicial system.
What does all of this mean to those of us who are
involved in audio recording? A great deal! Once stereo
TV arrives, mixing requirements are going to be
radically different from what they are in mono TV
production. For example, CBS Technology Center has
been demonstrating what they call "triphonic" TV
sound, in which dialogue tracks are all mixed to a
center channel which remains with the TV receiver
in a home setup, while background music and other
sounds not related to the actors' dialogue are channeled
to left and right stereo channels. The third channel
output could, of course, be derived from an L +R mix
or, in a more sophisticated approach, be transmitted
via that SAP channel I talked about earlier.
The Role
of Cable
Cable TV operators, or at least some of them, have
had stereo available to them in one form or another for
some time. The most popular approach, as far as the
home viewer /listener is concerned, has been to convert
the stereo signals to an FM radio frequency (between
88 and 108 MHz), thereby allowing the viewer /listener
to tune in to the stereo sound on his or her stereo FM
system while watching the cable picture on a TV set
with its volume turned down. There are indications
that some or all of the transmission /companding
systems now being tested for over -the-air use may
cause problems if adopted for cable use. Initially, cable
operators chose to ignore the work of the EIA MTS
Committee. Now, however, with FCC decisions imminent, the Cable companies have shown a greater
interest in what is going on in the committee. Many
feel that the technical problems (for cable) inherent
in the chosen system will ultimately be resolved so
that viewers won't need a separate kind of setup for
cable stereo TV and another type of setup for over -theair stereo TV.
Many television set makers have been studying the
three proposed transmission systems for some time
now, and are ready to produce stereo TV sets just as
soon as they can tool up-once they know which system
is to be favored. From all indications it appears that a
serious start for TV multi -channel audio in this country will take place in the Spring of 1984. Stereo TV
has been widely and enthusiastically accepted in
Japan (where it has been available for nearly five
years) and in West Germany (where it has been available for two years, using the completely different
system developed by the Germans for the PAL TV
system used in Europe). My guess is that once it is
introduced here, with the additional possibilities
offered by the SAP channel, we should see a further
tie -in between good audio and video. And that means a
broader scope of audio recording activities -for
serious amateur recordists and professionals alike.
len feldman
mmmimlsm!!!umEMEM lEEMME
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Orban 245F Stereo Synthesizer
General Description:
The Orban Stereo Synsignal processor that turns any monophonic signal source into a pseudo -stereo program.
The resulting pseudo- stereo is created in such a way
that it does not degrade the quality of the mono
Synthetic stereo in the Orban 245F is created by a
complementary comb filter derived by a patented
phase cancellation technique. The spectrum of the
incoming audio signal is divided into five bands, each
approximately two octaves wide. These bands are
alternately placed in the left and right channel outputs to produce a convincing stereo illusion of channel
separation, depth, directionality and even channel
One of the chief virtues of a device such as this is that
it provides complete mono compatibility. This occurs
because the electrical sum of the two output channels
is proportional to the mono input to the synthesizer.
A listener/user can recover the original mono signal
simply by summing the two "stereo" channels. This
means that FM mono listeners, for example, will hear
the original mono source when listening in mono to an
FM stereo station that employs the synthesizer for
creating a stereo effect with mono program sources.
It also means that, in the case of a stereo disc that was
mastered using the synthesizer, lateral modulation
on that disc will also represent the original mono
signal, since lateral modulation is the sum of the left
and right stereo channels.
is a
quick comparison between the original mono sound
and the stereo- synthesized outputs. A SEPARATION
control further to the right on the panel allows for
reduction of the apparent stereo separation by partially re- mixing the channels together. According to
Orban's instruction manual, this control may prove
usefui in permitting more natural headphone listening
or in reducing the vertical excursion of a disc cutter
during the making of a master disc. Reduction of
apparent separation will also tend to increase mono
loudness in FM stereo broadcasting.
A GAIN control located to the right of the separation
control is located between an active-balanced input
stage and the signal processing circuitry of the syn-
Control Layout:
All of the controls on the slim
front panel of the Orban Stereo Synthesizer are
clustered near its center. Two DIMENSION controls at
the left vary the relative positioning of the combfiltered frequency bands. A STEREO/MONO switch
just to the right of the dimension controls allows for a
2d B/D
R+ O. 3dB
37. OkHz
Frequency response of the 245F with switch
2 db /division. Sweep is
set to mono. Vertical scale is
from 20 Hz to 40 kHz.
L- 0.6dB
Figure 2. Plot of left and right channel response, with
Low and HIGH dimension controls set to "10" and
"0" (A) and to "0 and 10" (B). SEPARATION control is
at maximum.
thesizer. Therefore, while this gain control cannot
prevent overload of the input stage due to excessive
drive levels, it will alter overall gain of the system to
match levels of other program sources or to accommodate succeeding equipment into which its output
is to be fed. In its full -open position, the gain control
will provide 9 dB of signal gain from input to output.
A power switch is located at the right of the front panel.
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With the synthesizer in the signal path, its power must
be turned on even if the stereo /mono switch is in the
mono position, since the signal goes through several
active stages even when stereo synthesizing is bypassed.
Test Results: There are relatively few meaningful
measurements that can be made on a device such as the
Orban 245F. These are tabulated in our VITAL
STATISTICS chart at the end of the report, and all of
them essentially equaled or bettered the manfacturer's published specifications. Frequency response,
with the selector switch set to mono, was essentially
flat throughout and beyond the audio spectrum, as
indicated by the response plot taken with our Sound
Technology 1500A test system and reproduced in
Figure 1. Harmonic distortion, with the switch set to
mono, hovered around the negligible 0.01 percent
mark at all audio frequencies -well below the 0.1
percent limit set by Orban in its published specifications.
Our frequency plotting system enabled us to depict
the action of the comb -filter, channel splitting
circuitry of the synthesizer graphically, since that
instrument allows the superimposition of two response
plots (in this case the left and right channels) on a
single graph. To obtain the response plots shown in
Figure 2A we set the Low and HIGH dimension controls
at 0 and 10 respectively, with the SEPARATION control
set to maximum (10). For the plots of Figure 2B, we
reversed the settings of the low and high controls,
while maintaining the setting of the separation control
at its maximum. Comparing the results of Figures 2A
and 2B, the shift in frequencies at which maximum
separation between channels occurs is clearly evident.
In Figure 3A we plotted response for both channels
again, this time having adjusted all three controls to
their mid -points. Here, the effect on degree of
separation is apparent, while further shifts of
frequencies of maximum separation are less apparent
but nevertheless evident. Finally, in Figure 3B, we left
the two dimensions controls set to their mid -positions,
but increased the separation control once more to its
L+ 1.3dB
R+ 7.7dB
L- 0.8dB
Figure 3. Response plots, as in Figure 2. However,
dimension controls are both set to mid -point ( "5 ").
Separation is set to 5 (A), and to 10 (B).
maximum setting. Note that only the amount of
maximum separation has increased, while center
frequencies (those frequencies at which the maximum
difference in amplitude between channels occurs)
remain as they were in Figure 3A.
of a purist myself, I
questioned how effective a stereo synthesizer could be,
no matter how cleverly it was designed. Having
listened to this device with a variety of program
material, I must confess that my respect for Orban
Associates has grown tremendously. Of course, much
is dependent upon the nature of the program source
and, as suggested by Orban, each type of program
material requires a somewhat different setting of the
245F's controls for optimum stereo synthesis. We
found, as did Orban, that if a single "best compromise"
setting is desired (in other words, if you don't want to
keep readjusting the dimension controls with every
change of musical material), that best setting is
around 3.0 for the Lowdimension control and about 7.0
to 8.0 for the HIGH dimension control.
As an experiment, since our lab is fully equipped
with FM stereo generating equipment, we fed the
Comments: Being something
outputs of the stereo synthesizer to our FM stereo
signal generator, picked up the resulting program
material on a high -quality FM tuner, and conducted a
series of A -B comparison tests with the FM tuner set to
the mono mode. The comparison tests were made by
switching the Orban 245F's Mono /Stereo switch back
and forth between the two settings. Once we adjusted
all gains correctly, there was no audible difference,
confirming Orban's claim regarding mono compatibility of the sum signal derived from the two
synthesized stereo channels.
Of course, a more important test is the one we
conducted with the tuner set to its FM stereo mode and
the synthesizer set to simulate or synthesize a stereo
effect. I won't claim that the effect delivered was as
good as some of the best stereo program material I've
heard on records or over the air, because it wasn't. But
I will say that the effect (call it stereo, synthesized
stereo, or whatever you please) was a good deal better
than some of the poorer stereo mixes I've heard in
recent years that were "real" stereo to begin with. And
that, believe me, is meant as a compliment to the
Orban designers. If you have need of a stereo
synthesizer for whatever purpose, this is definitely one
to listen to and consider.
Frequency Response
(Stereo sum signal)
Total Harmonic Distortion
Signal -to -Noise Ratio
Available Gain
Absolute Overload Level
Maximum Output (into 500 ohm load)
Power Requirements
Rack Panel Requirements
Shipping Weight
Suggested Price:
20 Hz to 20 kHz, +1 dB
Less than 0.1 °/0
Better than 80 dB
20 Hz to beyond 40 kHz
0.009 °/° at 1 kHz; 0.01 ° /° at 20 kHz
78 dB (82 dB A- weighted)
dB mono; 14 dB peak, stereo
+26 dBm
+19 dBm
115-230 V 50/60 Hz, 2 VA
1'/4" x standard 19"
7 lbs.
Circle 35 on Reader Service Card
+26 dBm
+20 dBm
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The Technics SV-100
Digital Audio Processor:
An Equipment Profile
The Technics Digital Audio Processor is representative of the first digital audio products to be designed
specifically for the consumer market. It is expected
that the Compact Disc and digital tape formats will
gradually push the LP and the analog cassette and open
reel into antiquity. There is no precedent for such a
technological and marketing coup. The historical
changes from cylinder to disc, from 78 r.p.m. to 331/s
r.p.m., the introduction of the audio cassette, and even
the sudden transition from monaural to stereo are not
comparable in the scale and sheer dramatic change
to the coming transition from analog to digital audio.
The early digital products will long be remembered
simply for being the first of their kind, but more to
the point, in terms of immediate survivability, how
does the sound quality of these digital products corn pare to current analog products, especially with
regard to price? In other words, are they competitive,
and are they competitive enough to stand against a
century of analog recording technology? The Technics
SV -100 processor offers the perfect opportunity to
judge a new product on its merits alone and venture
a guess as to its future.
The art of recording entails the study of aesthetics,
musicality, creativity, and a host of scarcely definable
parameters. The science of recording is simply a
matter of information -primarily, how to store information. In the past, the audio community, and the
world in general, has relied on analog methods of
storage and has been well- served. But as the technology-created "Age of Information" accelerates our
desire and need to deal with data, we devise vastly
more efficient ways to store information. Of course,
these ways are digital. Circuits pump data through
communications networks like the heart pumps blood
through the arteries, while the computer -brain coordinates all activity and accumulates the information it has experienced and created. The situation is
not much different in the audio community; to keep
pace with the accelerating data flow (or in this case,
the demand for higher fidelity music reproduction),
audio technology is increasingly turning to digital
Information Storage
Although many digital information -carrying
schemes are possible (and much more elegant ones
remain to be devised), the one most currently popular
is the Pulse Code Modulation system. PCM samples
an analog waveform and takes a discrete value from a
quantizing scale closest to the analog value to form a
binary code; the sampling rate determines high frequency response and the length of the quantizing
table determines signal -to -noise ratio. Figure 1 illustrates sampling and quantizing and shows how the
resultant bit stream may be multiplexed to form a
stereo channel. Familiar forms of analog distortion
such as harmonic distortion, wow- and -flutter, tape
hiss, etc., are not present in a PCM signal. However,
the nature of PCM creates its own digital artifacts. For
example, quantizing noise occurs in lieu of an analog
noise floor, and there has been discussion about the
sound of extreme high frequencies in digital recordings. For most listeners, digital artifacts are much
less obvious than analog distortions, thus proving the
utility of employing digital means such as PCM for
storing audio information.
Another factor of critical importance in information
storage is the recording capability of the recording
medium. The bandwidth of the medium determines
how much information may be stored per unit of
medium. A digital signal demands a very large bandwidth medium; for example, a PCM recorder sampling at 44,056 samples per second over a 14 -bit scale
Sampled audio signal 1110
PCM signal
(binary code)
This chart
is an
111101 1111
1111011101111 00011
example of 4 -bit quantizing
Sampled audio data and the resultant PCM
Error detection and
correction code
Horizontal sync
W1, W2 and W3 are sampled and quantized
Figure 2. Conversion to NTSC format with standard
vertical and horizontal TV signals added.
requires a bandwidth greater than 2 MHz. This far
exceeds the capability of an analog recorder and
necessitates the development of new storage media.
Laser discs and fixed-head tape machines have been
devised, but a particularly ingenious technique
borrows video technology, which requires high bandwidth digital storage. Specifically, the audio data is
fitted into a video signal format and fed directly into a
video recorder as if it was video information. The
result is a cost -effective medium using widely available hardware.
Video, Minus the Picture
The Technics SV -100 uses both PCM and video
technology to achieve high performance at a modest
cost. It is a 44.1 kHz sampling rate, 14 -bit system
which accomplishes the digitization of the audio
signal and converts the bit stream to a video format.
From there, the signal is applied to a separate video
recorder for storage. Upon playback, the video recorder outputs the signal to the SV -100 for conversion
back to audio. The only video involved in this VCR
system is the signal that has fooled the VCR into
storing the data; there is no video picture, only high
quality digital audio. The mechanism of the conversion is shown in Figure 2. The binary code is converted into a standard EIA/NTSC TV signal, with
standard vertical and horizontal TV sync signals
added. After conversion, the signal leaves the SV -100
for any EIA /NTSC recorder (Beta or VHS), which is
the standard in the U.S. and Japan, but incompatible
with the European CCIR/PAL or SECAM. Thus the
SV -100 can only be used with an EIA /NTSC recorder;
it will not operate with a CCIR/PAL or SECAM
recorder. (Our digital audio cassettes or video cassettes wouldn't work there either [sorry, Wolfgang].)
During playback, the signal is retrieved by the video
recorder and sent back to the processor where it
enters a buffer while error checks are performed; data
is clocked through a D/A converter and low pass
filter and passes to a conventional audio playback
system consisting of amplifier and speakers.
The SV -100 is a beautifully portable package.
Much of the circuit complexity has been distilled into
two large -scale -integration (LSI) chips used for the
digital signal processing. The MN 6601 takes the
binary data from the A/D and adds error detection/
correction code and performs the conversion to a video
signal. The MN 6602 is used during playback to
perform error detection, convert the video signal to
PCM, and send serial data to the D /A. Together, these
two chips are the equivalent of about 500 conventional
ICs. Other chips include the A/D and D /A, and support
chips. This technological emphasis on size (and price)
reduction results in the SV -100's small package. Its
dimensions are about 10 x 10 x 4 inches, it weighs about
7 pounds, and it can operate from an internal rechargeable 12 -volt pack, or an external AC adapter
(SH- V100). When used with a portable recorder such
as the Technics PV -A110, a very satisfactory remote
recording package is obtained; the processor has an
8 -ohm headphone output and volume control, low
impedance microphone inputs, and high impedance
line level inputs. For those who already own a VCR,
the SV -100 is the logical choice; also available is the
SVP -100, a single package with both recorder and
The specifications for the SV-100 are impressive
and typical for a digital recording device. The 14 bit
quantization provides a signal -to -noise ratio of 86 dB,
crystal data clocking yields unmeasurable wow- and flutter, harmonic distortion measurements are less
than 0.01 percent, and there is an essentially flat frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Of course, these are analog check points, and can
only partly appraise the quality of a digital device. The
SV -100 is simple to use and the controls are unambiguous: There are on/off and record mute buttons, headphone output and microphone input jacks, headphone
potentiometer and potentiometers for record level, and
record channel balance. Slide switches provide playback mute, selection of two playback modes, and
switching of function of the flourescent bar graph
meters from stereo levels to tracking and battery level.
All other signal connections are RCA phono jacks and
provide for video in and out, audio in and out, and copy
out. A hard -wired remote control unit provides full
function command. Recording time is only limited, of
course, by the duration of the video cassette. My
experiences showed that the slowest speed may be
used without affecting sound quality in any way;
intuitive speculation leads me to wonder if slow speed
recordings might ultimately exhibit more drop -out
problems after repeated playbacks.
The SV -100 satisfies most expectations one might
have of a semi -pro machine in terms of its utility.
Most routine features are designed into the SV -100
and recording is a simple task. One conspicuously
absent feature is the ability to monitor the output
signal while recording; one must be content to listen
to the input and trust the rest to the bits. Of course,
digital equipment will necessitate some retraining
of engineer's recording technique; gone is the need to
put as much level as possible on the tape. Indeed, with
digital, the 0 VU mark must be considered to be a real
danger signal since overloading would lead to clipping
of the signal by the quantizer. Perhaps a peak indicator
would be helpful, as would an error indicator. The
SV -100 has no error correction indicator to show when
correction is occurring; such an indicator would be
useful to quickly ascertain bad tape, etc. Editing also
PCM Recording Tape (VHS)
EVEN -PCM track
Audio track
ODD -PCM track
Control track
Figure 3. The NTSC TV signal is recorded on a VHS
format video cassette recorder; tracks are the same as
those used in video recording.
presents a problem and, aside from the record mute
for erasure, there is little else to 'be done since the
razor blade
is taboo.
Some Hands -on Experimentation
Of course, for tape recorders, the proof is in the
recording. I was able to use the SV -100 in conjunction
with the Technics PV -A100 portable video recorder
to make several recordings under a variety of conditions to assess its capabilities. After running a number
of brief measurements to ascertain that the demonstration unit was indeed up to specifications, I began
my experiments by taping from analog LPs, FM radio
broadcasts, and consumer cassette and open -reel
machines. Playback revealed that the SV -100 clearly
meets or exceeds the performance of any analog consumer format. The noise floor, distortion levels, and
dynamic range of these formats are inferior to those
of the Technics audio processor. A one -generation copy
of these sources did not add any discernible noise.
Careful A/B comparisons did reveal a difference between the analog masters and the digital copy: The
high frequency response of the digital copy differed
from the originals in a way that is very hard to describe.
Much has been written about the "digital" sound of
high frequencies, and some of it is perhaps accurate.
After listening to many digital master tape recordings,
I have learned to recognize a "hardness" in the extreme
high end that seems to increase as the number of
quantizing bits decreases. Fourteen bits does seem to
produce an undesirable artifact in the high end while,
with sixteen bits, the artifact is much less. Otherwise,
comparison with consumer formats shows that the
digital system adds or subtracts nothing. In other
words, it is superior to these systems. If anyone intends
to purchase a recorder for off -air taping or re- recording
of tape or disk collections, the SV -100 would be quite
suitable -provided the slight artifact in the extreme
high end frequency response is not objectionable.
Parenthetically, I might note that the sometimes
funny sound on analog LPs pressed from digital
master tapes seems to point to a problem with analog
equipment-specifically, I think, its inability to cope
with the extraordinary transients and dynamic range
of digital recordings. The hard high end is usually not
apparent on analog LPs, probably because it is beyond
their recording range.
Live Recording Tests
A more demanding test for a recorder is the live
recording of musical material. I tested the SV -100 in
both orchestral and operatic performances. Although
it is not intended to be a professional recorder, I pitted
it against both semi -pro and professional -quality
machines. In an orchestral recording of a live performance the SV -100 was compared to a tape made on
an MCI 110B 2 -track tape machine at 15 ips with
Dolby A and it compared quite favorably. Once again,
it is difficult to compare a professional analog recording with a digital one. Obviously, both are of high
sound quality and the differences are difficult to
verbalize. In completely subjective terms, I would say
that the analog recording sounded "warmer," in a way
that made the digital recording less desirable by
In comparison to the sound in the concert hall itself,
the question is even more difficult; the analog recording does add audible distortion and noise, and the
digital recording is free of this, but that 14 -bit sound
is discernible and troubling. Of course, these comparisons were made over recording studio quality equipment that surpasses most consumer playback equipment. When one stops to consider the product that
eventually reaches the consumer, many of these
questions become moot. The tremendous advantage
of digital audio is also apparent when one considers the
analog generation loss. With digital recordings, the
same bit stream present in the studio can appear in
the consumers' listening room.
Another recording test presented itself when I made
simultaneous recordings on the Technics SV -100 and a
Technics 10A02 closed -loop tape recorder of a recording of the opera Un Ballo in Maschera. I used a pair of
the new Bruel & Kjaer studio microphones, which are
truly digital -quality microphones. After reviewing
both analog and digital recordings, and weighing their
relative merits, the digital recording was chosen to be
the master from which a radio broadcast would be
prepared. The digital recording captured a fuller,
more live sound, and presented the large orchestral
climaxes with more impact. In other words, it was a
more realistic recording of a live opera performance.
Some commentators have debated digital tape
recorders' inability to record sounds as they disappear
into the noise floor. Although that phenomenon does
exist, it was certainly never present in these live
recordings, where all ambient sound was always
within quantization range. In general, I am not particularly impressed by the argument that analog
machines have a hidden additional S/N ratio because
they can record an extra 25 dB into the noise floor.
Even if the analog dynamic range of 72 dB is augmented by 25 dB, it still only matches the range of a
16 -bit digital machine, and with the digital machine,
a fourth of the signal isn't dirty. Our 14 -bit digital
recording was perfectly adequate for radio broadcast; the SV -100 served its role as remote recorder
with true professionalism. (Unfortunately, at the end
of the performance, my friend Luciano Pavarotti autoMODERN RECORDING & MUSIC
168 bits
Odd field
Even field
-nZnr.uu 1
Figure 4. Retrieval of NTSC signal. A) shows the signal
alignment during signal distribution on one horizontal
scanning line, and B) shows one frame of composite
video signal.
graphed our Bruel & Kjaer microphone box, so I guess
B & K will have to let me keep these demos.
A Final Test, and Some Conclusions
A final listening test carne during a visit to Peter
McGrath's Sound Components high fidelity shop in
Coral Gables, Florida, containing one of the best
listening rooms in South Florida. Aided by golden eared friends John Monforte and Mark Goode, our
eight ears keenly compared the SV -100 to the Sony
PCM F1. Mark Levenson amplifiers and Magnepan
speakers with ribbon tweeters provided a highly
accurate listening environment; we listened to master
tapes from both digital machines and, through comparison to analog recordings, identified the digital
artifacts in both digital machines that detract from
their performance. At 14 -bit quantizing, the Technics
and the Sony sounded identical, and added the extreme high frequency artifact to recordings of analog
LPs of the utmost quality. When the PCM F1 was
switched to 16 bits, it outperformed the Technics'
14 -bit quantization, and much of the artifact disappeared. At 16 bits, the difference between a digital
copy and a high quality analog source was scarcely
perceptible, thus showing that even a modestly priced
digital machine matches the performance of highest priced analog equipment. The fact that the first
digital products to reach the market already meet
state -of- the -art analog technology, and bring that
level of technology to within reach of the consumer,
is remarkable.
When I say "within reach," it becomes a question of
price, the question which must ultimately determine
the success or failure of a quality product. In the case
of the SV -100, its suggested price is about $900, though
I have seen it selling for $750. It is not the ultimate
recording device, it does not equal the finest analog
recording equipment, and it is even slightly inferior
to digital equipment costing many times more. But the
SV -100 is a technological triumph. It is a digital
consumer recorder that challenges analog professional
equipment. For modest cost it brings astonishing
performance to the consumer market and brings the
expectations of that market to a much higher level.
Of course I am wary of a 14 -bit standard -just as I
would be wary of a 16 -bit standard if I would listen
to 18 bits.... But that's not really the point. High
fidelity evolves one step at a time, and the SV -100 is
another evolutionary step forward.
what s kew ik s4144.d awC mu,sit
The Ibanez GE1502 Dual 2/3
Octave and the GE3101 1/3 Octave
Graphic Equalizers are of professional quality and fit into a single
rack space. Both units feature an
EQ In /Out switch and a high -pass
three -pole rumble filter, switchable
for PA applications. The range of
boost and cut is selectable between
±6 dB for subtle equalization curves,
and ±12 dB for more extreme control.
LEDs indicate all switched functions
and channel overload. The GE1502
111I1111111 1111
and the GE3101 each carries a
suggested retail price of $325.00
and an Ibanez one year warranty.
Circle 36 on Reader Service Card
Randall Instruments' RPA 802
eight -channel dual powered P.A.
system contains two separate power
amplifiers each rated at 120 watts
RMS. Each individual channel and
all master and monitor sections are
on separate printed circuit boards.
These are all interconnected by a
daisy chain and plug assembly, and
any individual board can easily be
removed or replaced. Both front and
back panels are made of heavy gauge
aluminum to minimize ground loops
and hum. The noise level of the unit
is on the order of -90 dB. Frequency
response is essentially flat from
20 Hz to 20 kHz when bypassing the
low filter. High -input signal level
without front -end overloading is a
feature that solves many setup
problems. A stereo headphone jack
is provided for output monitoring
and may be switched to monitor
either power amplifier separately.
Other features include three effects
loops, two ten -LED bar graphs, two
seven -band active equalizers, as well
as three EQ controls for each channel.
The system is also available in six
and twelve channel models.
Circle 37 on Reader Service Card
Oberheim Electronics, Inc. now
offers optional drum sounds and
retrofittable new features with
expanded memory for the DMX
Programmable Digital Drum Computer. The DMX has been expanded
with new software and more than
double the memory capacity. The
new software allows for over 45 new
features, including 5000+ Event
Internal Programming Capacity,
200 sequence patterns, 100 songs,
Programmable Tempo displayed in
frames -per -beat, Song and Sequence
Length displayed in minutes and
seconds, and Selective Cassette
Interface for loading single sequences
or songs from tape. The retail price
of the DMX remains at $2,895.00.
Current DMX owners should contact their nearest Oberheim service
center for the new DMX memory
expansion update. The charge for
the update is $150.00, including
installation. All of the voice cards
in the DMX are interchangeable
with any of the other sounds in the
expanding DMX Sound Library.
Some of the new optional percussion
recordings include congas, timbales,
cowbell /clave, a complete set of
electronic drums, as well as special
sound effects. Each of these voice
cards can be installed quickly and
without tools. The majority of voice
cards retail for $100.00 each.
detects a distorted waveform. Power
switch, Protect Indicator LED, and
carrying handles are included on the
19 -inch rack -mountable front panel.
The speaker connectors are heavy-
duty five -way binding posts. Genuine
Oak or Walnut veneer side panels
are available at extra cost. The
A2801 retails for $549.00.
Circle 38 on Reader Service Card
The Model A2801 is the latest in
Soundcraftsmen's series of Power
MOSFET Stereo Amplifiers. Engineered with the current demands of
CD dynamic range in mind, the
A2801 features high continuous
power and excellent dynamic headroom. The A2801 is rated at 140
watts -per -channel at 8 ohms, 205
watts -per -channel at 4 ohms, and will
operate continuously into impedances as low as 2 ohms without
triggering protective circuitry. As
with all Soundcraftsmen amplifiers,
no current -limiting is employed in
the protective circuitry, thus avoiding the sonic degradation associated
with current limiting. Front panel
features include Truclip indicators
for each channel, which light only
when the special comparison circuit
Circle 39 on Reader Service Card
Ramko's P -4M and P -5MX mic/
line mixers are the latest addition to
their Primus audio group. Both are
offered in mono and stereo versions
and are available in 13/ -inch tabletop or rack mount configurations.
The P -4M provides four mixing
channels and six balanced inputs
with selectable high /low shelving
equalizers for channels 1, 2, or all.
Other features are selectable Peak
VU solid -state meter ballistics,
phone driver, phones, master and
monitor controls, and cue on all
inputs. The P -5M is designed to function as both an expander for the
P -4M (which combined will provide
11 inputs and 9 channels), as well as
a stand -alone five -channel mixer
with send /receive on each channel.
Both units feature XLR -type connectors, balanced inputs and outputs,
and gain select on all inputs (mic thru
+26 dBm, S/N of -83 dB). Distortion
is .008 percent and Frequency Response is 10 Hz to 20 kHz, +0, -1.5 dB.
All units utilize conductive plastic
controls, long-life switches, and are
covered by a three year warranty.
Circle 40 on Reader Service Card
DOD Electronics' new R-908 Digital Delay is a full- function, PCM
digital signal processor with up to
900 milliseconds of delay. The R-908
features a selector switch panel for
fast and easy settings including
flanging, chorusing, doubling, and
echo. Careful attention has been
given to the design: it works equally
well in the studio, on stage, or in the
rehearsal hall. The sweep width of
the R-908 is 10 to 1, making it useful
for all flanging and chorusing effects.
Also, the sweep and filter circuits
are engineered so there is no "dropping out." Suggested retail price is
on Reader Service Card
PAL and Associates' Stand -It Professional Mini -keyboard Support is
the latest addition to their musical
instrument accessory and equipment
line. The Stand -It is made of high
quality metal and formed plastic
parts that assemble into a rugged
and dependable mini -keyboard support. It screws directly to the top of
most microphone stands and is
adjustable to the widths and depths
(from 101/2-in. wide by 5 -in. deep to
27 -in. wide by 8%Z in. deep) of most of
the popular mini -keyboard case
dimensions including Casio MT,
Yamaha PS and PC series, etc.
Adjustments are made by loosening
thumb screws, setting the "end pads"
and angle clips to fit the mini keyboard desired, and re- tightening
the thumbscrews. No tools are required. Stand -It retails for $39.95,
including a one -year money -back
warranty against defective materials
and workmanship.
Circle 42 on Reader Service Card
Entertec's new 20 -watt guitar amp,
the Radian 200, has two separate
channels with manual or footswitchcontrollable channel switching. Features include separate channel pre amp gain controls, controllable overdrive on channel one, master volume
control, active bass, midrange, and
treble equalization, reverb, and effects patching on either or both channels. The Radian 200 has a 10 -inch
speaker and puts out 20 watts RMS.
It's well- suited as a practice amp at
home or on the road, and has a suggested retail price of $224.95.
Circle 43 on Reader Service Card
Edcor's four channel stereo (or
mono) headphone amplifier, the
HA 400, has four separate stereo
amplifiers that offer extended frequency response, low distortion, and
ample power output. The amplifier
has both phono and tape level inputs.
Circle 44 on Reader Service Card
Pro -Co. Sound has expanded its
line of HELIX multipair audio
cables (MAC) to include stage boxes
constructed of 12 and 16 gauge steel
for strength and superior shielding.
All connectors are located on a
recessed top panel for convenience
and protection, with the channels
clearly identified by bold numbers
silkscreened with epoxy paint. Male
and female XLR connectors and
unique latching phone jacks are
available. The fan -out at the mixer
end is color -coded and numbered for
quick identification, and double thick heat -shrink jacketing is used
at stress points. XLR and phone plug
connectors are standard, with all
line sends wired for balanced lines.
All HELIX MAC products use
custom -built cable with individually
shielded pairs to eliminate noise and
crosstalk. A separate stage box
ground wire is provided to maximize
shielding effectiveness, and the
matte -black PVC jacket is abrasion
resistant. Carrying handles and
triple strain relief with clamps
and cord grips are also featured.
The standard HELIX line now includes 6 -, 9 -, 12 -, 16 -, 20 -, and 32channel models available in a variety
of lengths, with or without line sends
as desired. Many non -standard configurations are also available on
special order.
Circle 45 on Reader Service Card
PAIA's Model 7710 Stereo Mixer
is intended for utility applications
such as keyboard mixing and rhythm
unit drum sounds mixing. It includes
individual level and pan pots for each
channel, and master gain controls
for left and right channels. Low noise
op -amps and careful circuit board
design minimize noise and hum
pickup, while all pots and jacks
mount directly on the circuit board
to eliminate point -to -point wiring.
Electrically and physically compatible with other devices in the
PAIA Studio Series, the 7710 Stereo
Mixer runs off an external power
source (such as the PAIA 7700
Power Supply) and is available in
kit form for $59.95 plus $3.80 postage
and handling.
Circle 46 on Reader Service Card
Samson Music's MFB -512 Digital
Drum Machine produces real drum
sounds consisting of bass and snare
drum, low, medium, and high toms,
ride cymbal, open and closed hi -hat,
and hand -claps, all of which are
digitally stored in the MFB -512.
Up to 64 separate rhythm patterns
and 64 separate fill -in patterns can
be programmed. These can be combined into eight chains, making the
total capacity 2048 measures. A
factory- installed Nicad battery in-
sures that programmed patterns
and chains remain in the unit's
memory when the AC power is
turned off. There are three ways to
plug into the power source: Mono
out, Stereo out, and two five -pole
DIN outputs. When using the DIN
connection cables supplied with the
unit, the user can connect each drum
sound separately into the mixer.
Start and Fill -in inputs are supplied
on the back of the unit for easy
accessibility in a live situation. There
is also a Trigger In /Out on the back
of the unit which allows the MFB -512
to be synchronized with other syn-
thesizers. The MFB -512 is suited
for home recording and live use, and
lists for $650.00, including an AC
adapter and two separate five -pole
DIN outputs.
Circle 47 on Reader Service Card
The first solo LP for singer- composer Christine McVie is set for release in late January, 1984.
McVie is currently nearing completion of the recording of the album at Mountain Studios
in Montreux, Switzerland ...Recent activity at New River Studios: the Bellamy Brothers mixing
their new album for Warner Bros. Steve Klein is producing, Dennis Hetzendorfer engineering and Ted Stein assisting... Bee Jay Recording Studios has been cooking right
along with the return of Pat Travers to conclude work on his new album for Polydor Records.
Barry Mraz is producing with Andy de Ganahl at the board ... Polygram recording artists
Rubber Rodeo began recording this past month at Bearsville Studios. Hugh Jones is producing and engineering... Bearsville is also hosting Warner Brothers' King Crimson for preproduction with Robert Fripp producing, Brad Davis engineering and Ray Niznik assisting...
At Unique Recording: Producer Arthur Blake remixing material for recording artist Stevie Nicks
for release on Modern Records. Jazz innovator McCoy Tyner is recording a new album
for W.E.A. Records. Peter Robbins is engineering with assistance from Steve Pecorella.
Ballistic Kisses is also in the studio mixing tracks with D.J. /producer Ivan Ivan and engineer
Jay Burnett...Teaming up for their second album together, George Duke and Stanley
Clark recently mixed their LP for Epic Records at Fantasy Studios. Clark and Duke produced,
Tommy Vicari engineered with Mike Herbick assisting...CBS' artist Rodney Franklin
was also at Fantasy for overdubs on his up coming album. It was produced by Stanley Clarke
and engineered by Eric Zobler...At The Automatt: Herbie Hancock remixing Chameleon Ip
for CBS. Hancock is producing and John Nowland engineering... Jazz guitarist Larry Coryell
has recently released a recording featuring his transcriptions of Stravinsky's orchestral
works, The Firebird" and "Petrouchka." The project was digitally recorded by Nippon
Phonogram and was produced by Teo Macero...
Lionel Richie has embarked on his debut concert tour of 40 American Cities and dates in
Hong Kong, Japan and Hawaii. The tour will run through the middle of December...
King Sunny Ade and his African Beats, who have recently completed an extensive tour
of the U.S., will be performing two songs in the forthcoming film O.C. and Stiggs, by director
Robert Altman...Warner recording group Dio recently took off on their first headline tour.
U.S. dates will be followed by a tour of Great Britain and Europe, with U.S. dates resuming upon their return in December... Rock group Blotto will be touring the midwest and
northeast to promote their recently released Sony Video 45. Sony Video 45's of various
artists including Elton John, Rod Stewart and Duran Duran will also be shown during
each show...Westwood One will be sending its Concertmaster mobile recording studio
to N. California to record a one -time -only series of concerts by a band consisting of
Sammy Hagar, Neal Schon, Kenny Aaronson and Michael Shrieve. Westwood One will then
produce an exclusive 90 minute radio concert special featuring the quartet. There are no
plans to take this project beyond this tour... Pianist /composer Michele Rosewoman
will present "New Yoruba, A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America," at the Public Theatre
on Monday December 12. The 14 piece ensemble will feature Cuban folklorist Orlando
"Puntilla" Rios with his bata group. The festival will also feature: Oliver Lake, Howard
Johnson, Rufus Reid, Bob Stewart and others...James Newton will perform at Carnegie
Recital Hall Saturday, December 3rd.
& MUSIC...
EURYTHMICS: Sweet Dreams (Are
Made Of This). [Produced and engineered by D. A. Stewart, A. Williams,
Performance: Tip of iceberg is
very hot
Recording: Miraculous
Like an unexpected comet, the
Eurythmics streaked into our aural
atmosphere this year with bright,
The wide horizons of Eurythmic
sound are defined mostly by contrast.
Lennox's voice, earthy at the lower
end of her range, is often harmonized
with her piercingly ethereal soprano,
and although demonstrating strength
and control that is nowhere near its
peak or breaking point, it retains a
CULTURE CLUB: Colour By Numbers. [Produced by Steve Levine;
digitally mixed by Steve Levine and
Jon Moss.]
plaintive vulnerability. The key-
Why are people so unkind to Culture Club? If they hadn't been seen
boards (layer upon layer of them)
carry smooth, almost subsonic tones
companioned with highly resonant,
nearly brittle lines doubling structural interplay. In songs like "This
City Never Sleeps," random sounds
swoop through the relaxed r &b
groove, balancing rather than breaking up the feel. The startling tonal
flatness of the flute and percussion
on "I've Got An Angel" make brash
strokes against a canvas of ultra smooth synth strings. This formula
of contrast holds up even on the title
track radio hit, which alternates
passages of dense keyboards with
measures that are empty except for a
simple backbeat and Lennox's voice.
Lyrically, patches of light and dark
thoughts pervade the logic of Sweet
Dreams, making for an overall effect
that, without falling into pessimism,
is bittersweet.
Performance: Easygoing
Recording: Going easy
before heard, most folks would have
filed their gentle melodies under Soft
Rock instead of New Wave. No
matter what you think about Boy
George, you've got to admit that he
can sing and that the songs that are
centered around his budding croon
are musically cohesive, creative and
With their first release yielding
three top ten singles (a feat equaled
only by the Beatles), it's no wonder
that we find the Club mining the
same easy -listening-with -heart vein
on Colour By Numbers. The ten songs
showcase the band's strength in
arranging-an innocent flair for
freely mixing all sorts of musical
idioms within the framework of their
soft mood. "Karma Chameleon,"
leading off the album with a spritely
reggae /rockabilly mixture accen-
tuated with country
enduring melodies, the strong clear
burst of Annie Lennox's voice, shimmering keyboards and trails of
creative ornamentation that protected the duo from a staid place
beside most synthpop bands. Sweet
Dreams, on musical merit alone, is
one of the year's most refreshing
surprises, but even more endearing
is the fact that the album was recorded in a warehouse attic on a
half-inch 8 -track with two microphones, a few effects, a spring reverb
and a space echo.
The album has an improbable
spaciousness to it (due partially to
the extensive use of the reverb and
echo), instead of a cramped or compressed feel that might be expected
from the use of half -inch tape.
harmonica, demonstrates how well
this works; the band sounds right at
home with the cross -cultural blend,
and the song flows right as rain out
of your radio. On "It's a Miracle," a
scat-filled funk bridge is securely
glued in place beside the sugar harmonied pop base; on the serious
ballad, "Black Money," a smoky
saxophone climbs out of the mix.
The band is not obsessed with
originality, you see. Most of it has
been done before, but Culture Club
seems content to shape the old riffs
into their desired ends without trying
to somehow cover this fact up. Despite its closeness to Stevie Wonder's
"Uptight," "Church of the Poison
Mind" romps along with its own
charming abandon, complete with
vampy horns.
No dependence on synthesizers
is apparent. "That's the Way" approaches pure Gospel with acoustic
piano for its sole accompaniment,
and Boy George steps out of the spotlight to give guest vocalist Helen
Terry a chance to certify the feel in a
few earthy measures.
Culture Club continues to carve
their own niche and, through a
mixture of courage and luck, it looks
like they'll have plenty of time to
process musical ideas into commerical recyclings.
Stopper. [Produced by Jamaaladeen
Tacuma; engineered by Phil Nicolla;
recorded at Studio 4, Phila., PA,
1982, 1983. " Tacuma Song" recorded
at Alpha International Studios, Phila.,
PA, 1983; engineered by Bruce
Weeden.] Gramavision GR8301.
Performance: Music that will always
matter, honest and fine
Recording: Lacks nothing
Jamaaladeen Tacuma is an innovative electric bassist. After playing a
major role in Ornette Coleman's post 1975 ventures in electric harmolodics,
Tacuma has emerged with that
formidable influence (along with
James Blood Ulmer and Ronald
Shannon Jackson) as a composer bandleader of imposing presence and
authority-unmistakably Coleman influenced, but very much a creator
of tomorrow's cutting edge.
Tacuma's playing style is articulate,
clear, and pleasingly lyrical, and his
several previous recording experiences as sideman matched him with
overseers whose productions have
conveyed these qualities nicely. Most
notably, he has recorded three times
with Ornette Coleman. First, on the
landmark Dancing In Your Head for
the John Snyder supervised A &M/
Horizon label, then for the daring,
Snyder-owned Artists House label on
Body Meta, a record mastered by
Masterdisk's Bob Ludwig and released on virgin vinyl, and lastly on
the recent Antilles release Of Human
Feelings, a digital recording widely
acclaimed musically as a landmark
descendant of Dancing....
The record of discussion here,
Tacuma's debut as a leader, derives
much of its flavor from his previous
bouts as sideman, but just as important, much of its authority is due to
the grace of sensitive production and
the Gramavision penchant for meticulous mixing, mastering and pressing. This record company does its
best to plainly show how important
its artists are.
Insofar as Tacuma writes and
arranges most of what he performs
as leader, the choice of himself as
producer was a good one. Tacuma
does do one Ornette Coleman piece,
"Tacuma Song," but this is a solo
performance, and so was better left
to his conception as well.
Technical preparation for the
recording studio seems to have been
minimal because the only atmosphere to any of the tracks is that
created by the various instrumental
combinations themselves. With electric bass either leading the proceedings or taking at least an equal
stance in the finished mix, the challenge for the engineer seemed simply
to capture all the instruments honestly -the squawks, fret noises,
blares, and spontaneous intonations.
An engineer's excessive cleanliness
can hinder real magic, but not so
here. All is appropriately readied for
mixing engineer David Baker, who
operates beautifully in keeping
Tacuma up where he belongs. In the
face of other electric strings, horns
and mighty percussion throughout
the set, Baker's finish is seamless;
his touch is central to hearing how
really well the musicians understand
their roles in Tacuma's forward paced compositions.
Side one features Tacuma's band,
Jamaal, made up of electric bass,
electric guitar, drums, alto saxophone and percussion. The tracks
draw heavily from Coleman's brand
of electricity, but also incorporate
African and Caribbean elements. In
this regard, a Talking Heads, King
Sunny Ade or Rick James fan should
feel just as comfy as a staunch avant gardist when listening to this ma-
Side two seems to be a compilation
of Tacuma's most recent musical
fantasies, as he cavorts in different
musical settings with artists like
pianist Anthony Davis, saxophonist
Julius Hemphill, trumpeter Olu
Dara, and guitarist James Blood
Ulmer. "Show Stopper," featuring
Hemphill and Dara, pairs a catchy
theme reminiscent of many a classic
Blue Note session with towering
improvisation as current and fiery
as next week's news today. "Tacuma
Song," the solo piece, is not just a
sensitive display, but for our purposes here, a good example of how an
album "hand- pressed on pure KC600 vinyl using 40 second cycle
times" can effectively avoid hum
and surface noise. "From the Land
of Sand," highlighting Tacuma with
a tight percussion backdrop, and
"Sophisticated Us," with James
Blood Ulmer's patented jagged edged guitar, close this diverse yet
remarkably cohesive session.
Jamaaladeen Tacuma is clearly
ambitious, and with Show Stopper is
trying to please many different
tastes. While similar attempts get
most people nowhere, this attempt
gets Tacuma everywhere. Operating
in many settings with as many
compositional directions, Tacuma
beams energy on all fronts. His
playing and his players are marvelous, and his authentic versatility is
unquestionable. Fortunately, Gramavision has adorned all this talent
with an exemplary recording and
package. To further the good word
on this one is a pleasure.
THE FUGS: The Fugs Greatest Hits,
Vol. I Pronto Punk. [Harry Smith,
original producer; recorded in New
York City 1965, 1966; Tape Remastering, RCA, New York City, 1980; Disc
Mastering, Masterdisc, New York
City, 19821 JEM Records PVC 8914/
(AD 4116).
Performance: It don't get no weirder
than this
Recording: State of the
anti -establishment art
Once upon a time, in an illusion of
patriotism and innocence (and with
good will toward anyone who wasn't a
pinko), there was America. It was
content to be the big brother of the
world, have the bomb, John Glenn
and know that good girls don't.
These were the standard bearers of
the age. Yet, there was a whole
generation of wiseacres developing
who were set on screwing up the
whole thing.
In those days of yore, when Ronald
Reagan was still an actor, the Beatles
had come to America and America
had gone to Vietnam; there were
above -ground nuclear tests, while
underground a subculture of neopoets and quasi- musicians were
contriving a world all their own.
promoting sex, drugs, peace and
Today, at just about the time we
had all outgrown that stuff and built
our own hypocritic social standards,
comes another generation of malcontents calling themselves punks.
And here we go again.
There is therefore a history lesson
to be had in The Fugs Greatest Hits,
Vol. I Pronto Punk. In fact, the Fug's
Story on the inside is worth the
purchase price alone. Outside of that,
it is a big joke. By their own
admission, the now defunct Fugs
knew it. What PVC, Adelphi and
JEM Records seek to resurrect from
a collection of '60s swill so contemptible that Dr. Demento wouldn't even
play it, is a score on the '80s punkers....
It just may work.
Nostalgia being what it is today
(and I guess what it is everyday),
reminds many of us who lived in that
volatile era of the mid -60's of the
groups like the Fugs that existed.
This collection contains the outtakes
of four albums that were produced
(excuse me, bad choice of words), that
were recorded in 1965 and 1966 by
the group.
The stuff is junk. Lyrically, it
would be outrageously consumed by
a locker room full of junior high boys
with their pre -pubescent reactions to
dirty words and obscene thoughts.
Musically, it is innovative, yes;
unorthodox, yes; creative, they said it
not me, and definitely horrible. But
the Fugs were anti -establishment,
daddy -o, to the max. This is a prime
example of the mockery that generation made of recording. In the
condition they were in, a record was
the result of turning on a tape
recorder and letting it record what
you were doing. If you were at all
lucky, the live mic' would be in front
of a partially coherent individual
who would inspire the rest of his
comrades toward uninhibited vulgarities onto the tape. This was
accompanied by a variety of musical
instruments -which musically they
did play correctly. (Note the positive
emphasis of that last statement.) You
can recognize chords and notes and
they are within reasonable octaves
with percussion and all that. They
just are not played in an order we
associate with being popular. In
those days, and even in these days.
this was /is popular.
The record has its value as a
collector's item. When volume II is
issued, this set will have all the
ingredients to astound and embarrass
even your closest friends. If you were
privileged to be living in San Francisco, Texas or the East Coast in those
days when the bohemian bands were
all the rage, if you frequented any of
those coffee house dives where the
Fugs might have played, then you
deserve a copy- better yet, a set of
The Fags Greatest Hits.
From any look to the past, we can
see where we were. We can evaluate
the direction we took, capitalizing on
the positive and learning from the
negatives. I don't think we learned a
whole lot from the Fugs. But my,
didn't we have a helluva good time?
CLEO LAINE: One Rainy Day. [Ken
Gibson, producer; recorded in 1979
in London, England; engineer not
named.] DRG SL 5198.
Performance: Cleo the lioness
strikes again
Recording: Fusion, but comfortable
This is what the industry calls a
concept album. The dozen songs
included were composed by Darryl
Runswick to lyrics by Kerry Crabbe
and were written expressly for an
album by Cleo Laine depicting what
she refers to in the liner notes as a
cycle in a woman's life. This puts it on
common ground with Robert Schumann's "Frauenliebe Und Leben,"
and what Schumann accomplished
on one level, Runswick and Crabbe
have accomplished on another.
Cleo Laine has always been a
singer to whom the dramatic has
appealed. Her interpretations of
songs from Shakespeare and of the
role of Bess in Gershwin's "Porgy and
Bess" (recorded for RCA with Ray
Charles) showed as much of the
actress as the singer. Her interpretation of theatre songs by Noel Coward
only strengthened the ties. Lately,
Cleo has been going off in a myriad of
different directions that only her
vocal equipment and dramatic
prowess would allow. She has flirted
with the concert repertoire while still
maintaining her skills as a pop singer,
all the time being sure that her jazz
roots showed through. Here they
show more in the company she keeps
than in her singing: One of Britain's
better clarinet /saxophone players,
Tony Coe, is much in evidence on this
The recorded sound has a lot of the
bristling character of a jazz session
with the intensity of a rock date
catch the percussion track on "Shall
We Get Married." And yet there is a
general MOR character to the sound
that gives one a feeling of comfort
without descending into the nebulous
chasm of Muzak. Another particularly nice touch is the economy used
throughout, which leaves the Cleo
Laine unadorned vocal equipment a
lily ungilded at a number of poignant
moments in the work.
If there's anything that troubles
me about this album it's that it is
what it is... a concept album. There's
no old standard tunes to hang onto
like an old friend. Each of these dozen
songs you'll probably be hearing for
the first time when you first hear this
LP. As a concept album it also does
not seem to exist outside of that
utilitarian concept for which it was
intended. Cleo has been performing
separate songs from the album on
tour, but as a cycle it seems to exist
only in that form. I could make
recommendations such as getting a
good filmmaker like Ken Russell to
hang a good film on it, either for TV
or for theatrical release. But then
that's not what Cleo Laine intended
or I'm sure that's the form One Rainy
Day would have taken. The sole
consolation is that even if it only does
exist as a cycle, once one has the
record one can hear it at will.
MICHAEL STEARNS: Planetary Unfolding. [Susan Harper, producer;
unknown engineer; recorded at
Continuum Studio, Los Angeles,
CA.] Continuum Montage CM 1004.
Performance: A sweeping redefinition of synthesized
Recording: Enveloping
Remember the days of yore when
synthesizers were first introduced
into recording studios? A revolution
was supposedly in the making; pop
and jazz music would never be the
same; even Bach would be "switched on." Those times have come and gone.
Synthesizers do currently turn up in
recordings from every musical genre,
but. alas, as singer Gil Scott -Heron
would sing, "The revolution will not
be televised."
That has something to do with the
fact that few synthesizer players
have ever tried to explore the most
novel possibilities offered by the
instrument. Most rock bands treat
the synthesizer as an oversized
piano /organ.
Michael Stearns is made of stronger
stuff. He plays a "Serge" synthesizer,
utilizing the broadest possible spectrum of orchestral effects imaginable.
In fact, on this recording he sounds
like the master of several orchestras
playing .siiooltaneolislg.
Yet, and this is a remarkable
paradox, he chooses to create the
tonal colors and symphonic currents
one would associate with late nine-
teenth, early twentieth century
classical composers (particularly
those in the English and German
traditions). There are parts of Planetarry Unfolding that remind me of
Delius or Mahler scored for giant
synthesizer. Great washes of deep
bass notes well up where one would
expect French horns to declare
Planetary Unfolding is considered
"program" music by its composer
and sole performer. Stearns views his
synthesizer performances as attempts to portray journeys within
human consciousness. I think he
succeeds quite well in a form often
given over to pseudo -Zen inspired
muzak. The composition extends
over two entire sides of this recording
and is performed entirely on synthesizer except for the beginning of
side two. Some unidentified female
vocals are added to the mix along
with tapes of bird songs.
The overall effect of this recording
is one of majestic calm. The quality of
silence in my listening room was
altered after the finish of side two
quite a compliment to the power of
Stearns' compositional and performing skills.
P/anetarvy Unfolding consists of
bits of live performances recorded on
a Teac 3340 at 7',, ips (without noise
reduction). Parts of different tapes of
various performances were then
dubbed onto an eight -track unit. The
sound is shimmeringly lucid, en-
veloping. The rich textures of the
"Serge" synthesizer are shatteringly
present. The production is as elegant
as the music.
Continuum Montage records are
available through the mail. They
carry a modest selection of synthesized music perfect for interior
journeying. Write to them at 3640'2
Watseka Ave., Los Angeles. CA
90034 for further information.
The last word on the otherworldly
glories in Stearns' music is aptly
stated in the quote from The Wizardr/
ql' Oz that the composer uses to title
the second movement of Planetary
Unfolding: "Toto, I've a feeling we're
not in Kansas anymore."
gives you
computer based. SMPTE Time Code Editing and
Instrument Synchronizing system for less than you
might expect to pay for just
Time Code Reader.
SMPTE Time Code Generator
SMPTE Time Code Reader
Computer Based System
CHICO FREEMAN: The Search. [Bob
Cummins, producer; unknown engineer; unknown recording site.] India
Navigation 1059.
Automatic Record In
Automatic Record Out
Time Code Derived Metronome
24 Tick /Beat Sync. for drums and synth's.
8 event auto
Performance: Inspirational
Recording No frills
programmable collector closures
Jam Sync.
Collaborations between sax players
and jazz vocalists have proven to be a
very mixed blessing over the years.
Grover Washington, Jr., Pharoah
Sanders, and even John Coltrane
have tried their hand in recording
with vocalists to varying degrees of
success. Chico Freeman's new album
simply towers above all previous
efforts. And much of its success has to
do with vocalist Val Eley.
No liner notes disclose her identity;
the press release kit said just about
nothing about her. Yet she is unquestionably one of the most electric and
individual vocalists in any musical
genre I've heard in years. She
possesses a silky smooth tone that
never tranquilizes, an unerring sense
of time, and a cool sensuality. Plus,
she knows how to creatively interact
not merely decorate -with Freeman's
flute and sax playing.
Her achievement is all the more
remarkable where the listener realizes that Eley sings lyrics worthy of
the K -Mart School of Occult Cosmology. Take the title cut which
opens side A. "Somewhere there is
peace of mind, you have to go
inside..." sings Eley with such lyric
freshness and emotional density that
one tends to forgive the utter triteness
of the phrases utilized. She wrings
every atom of meaning from these
phrases and then allows breathtaking
solos by Freeman on sax and Kenny
Barrons on piano. Freeman develops
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Circle 26 on Reader Service Card
his solos with finesse, allowing
himself to dart, swoop, cry, swivel.
Barrons is more the traditional
romanticist, establishing lovely layers
of chords, doing for Eley what John
Hicks has done for Betty Carter.
Meantime, Cecil McBee provides
that thick and brooding bass line that
is his signature and Billy Hart proves
once again that he is the most underrated drummer in the land. The cut
ends with a smashing call and
response between Freeman's sax and
Eley's vocal scatting that carried me
to musical satori -land. The whole
crew deserves five stars and a free
ticket to Paradise for playing with
such grace and agility.
There are four cuts on the search;
each is that pluperfect.
"Illas" is a moving song with a
Latin tinge supplied by Nana Vas concelos' berimbau and percussion
and highlighted by the colorful vibes
of Jay Hoggard. Freeman proves
himself as distinguished a player on
flute as on sax while Eley does a
sweepingly brilliant job singing
about cosmic consciousness. "Close
To You Alone" is a ballad for after
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midnight and "Soweto Suite" replaces
cosmic lyrics with down to earth
political protest against racism in
South Africa. It is worth noting that
"Soweto Suite" has the most angular
and dissonant sounding work by
Freeman on sax wrestling with
Eley's voice. The cut introduces a
refreshing anger and pain into a
session which almost runs the risk of
transcendental blandness.
The recorded sound is somewhat
dry, not flashy, not digitalized. Every
instrument is mixed intelligently
and articulated clearly. The sound is
not as atmospheric as one might
expect from an ECM or Windham
Hill production, but the stately grace
of the performance more than makes
up for any lack of studio sophistication. Billy Hart's drums could have
been recorded more brightly, but
that is a minor complaint. The
production values fit the music well.
Jazz lovers should search as long as
they need to for The Search. This
groundbreaker redefines the interplay of sax and voice in a manner
both inspiring and illuminating.
refreshing, if not altogether distinctive, offering from a young man who
loves to play the piano.
In some piano bars, the music is
either an excuse to bring people
together or an afterthought. But
from the sounds of things, Rosser's
renditions of show tunes and old
favorites ( "Over the Rainbow," "Georgia on My Mind," "St. James Infirmary," "Summertime ") captivated
the crowd at Bear's Place for two
autumn evenings. Rosser has wisely
chosen not to delete the muffled
voices, clinking glasses and shoutedout requests from the final mix.
Obviously, the presence in the club of
recording equipment and engineers
didn't inhibit the audience.
The sound of the piano, as in most
such establishments, is off in the
distance -not too close in the mix, not
too distant-but readily discernible
to the listener at home. As for the
recording itself, the highs and lows
are often imprecise, owing no doubt
to the acoustics of the room. But, don't
forget, we're not discussing Art
Tatum or Keith Jarrett.
Maintaining an easy repartee with
the audience, consisting largely of his
friends, Rosser plays a nice mixture
of familiar tunes. His melodic sense is
well defined, but his playing shows
insufficient harmonic movement to
breathe new life into these roasted
ERIC ROSSER: Making a Night of It.
[Eric Rosser, producer; recorded live
at Bear's Place, Bloomington, IN,
Oct. 11 -12, 1982; Wayne Gunn and
Jack Burke, engineers; final editing at
Audio Village, Bloomington, IN;
mastered by Jim Loyd at Master fonics, Nashville, TN.] RedBud 1010.
Performance: Lively, yet low -keyed
Recording: Basic and casually
chestnuts -assuming, that is, that
this was his intent. Dynamics, since
these songs are so short, are provided
by his between -songs patter, and a
framework for the LP is created by
the pianist's decision to begin and
close the program with Rodgers and
Hart's "Bewitched, Bothered and
Bewildered." Rosser's one original
Live albums, generally speaking,
emanate from smoky jazz clubs,
tune, "Eric's Instant Blues," is
marred by weak left -hand rhythms,
cavernous arenas or mammoth outdoor festivals. And, as a rule, they are
recorded by individuals or groups
with several studio albums to their
credit. The "live album" is most often
the artist's third or fourth effort, and
these products are as traditional
and as carefully timed and placed
as mistletoe. Eric Rosser's Making a
Night of It is different on all accounts.
This live LP, featuring Rosser
playing well -known pop and blues
standards unaccompanied, on an
Ellington Upright piano, was recorded in some unassuming nightspot
in the hinterlands. And, one assumes,
this is Rosser's first album. But his
unpretentious, take -it- for -what -it -is
piano -bar album is nonetheless a
but the melody is catchy; an extended
piano -bar engagement should rectify
matters. Rosser hits stride on "Mack
the Knife," using time changes,
ostinatos and syncopation to good
advantage. While hardly ornate,
Rosser's keyboard technique is serviceable and, all in all, entertaining.
These songs stir memories, and not
only for the audience. On the back
cover, the pianist tells his life story in
music. starting in the first grade, in
honest, sometimes amusing fashion.
Making a Night of It is unobtrusive
music to be played at home for
friends when lights are low and
spirits are high. If that doesn't sound
exciting enough for you -well, you
had to be there.
African Dances. [John Storm Roberts,
producer; no engineer listed; no
recording sites given.] Authentic
Records 601.
Performance: Infectiously
foot- tapping
Recording: Surprisingly decent
in mono
Now that modern African rock
stars like King Sunny Ade and
Prince Nico are an accepted presence
on American FM radio and on record
racks, it's time to listen to the roots of
their music. And there are numerous
recordings of modern African music
to choose from on labels like Nonesuch, Folkways, and Everest. The
peculiar charm of this anthology
rests with its exclusive focus upon
dance music. Add to this a fine job
technically cleaning up some African
vintage recordings that were in some
instances five decades old, and you
get the sense of this album as the
place to begin seriously listening to
African music.
It is difficult to pinpoint the highlights in this collection of sixteen cuts
by as many artists. Here are simply
some notations on a few charmers
that caught my attention. The album
opens with the "OK Jazz Orchestra"
from the Congo. The brass and sax
ensemble playing amazed me for its
similarity to the sounds produced by
Salsa orchestras in Cuba and New
York. There's also some lovely single
string guitar on the selection following that evokes the modern stylings
of King Sunny Ade. A rough-hewn
vocal by Dele Ojo reveals the Yoruba
roots of a tribal sound that Ade also
has been active in recently rearranging for American ears. A women's
vocal group from South Africa sings
in a plaintive lilt that crosses all
language barriers. My favorite song
on side two is a joyous romp by "Dick
Ngoye & Party" featuring beautifully
interwoven male vocals backed by
acoustic guitars and soda-bottle (!)
Whatever one's choice of favorites,
each of the sixteen tunes is rhythmically charged with the power to
get one's toes tapping. The culminative effect of this album is to make
most modern disco sound like music
for meditation.
This said, I'd like to address the
technical questions pertaining to
nat hentoff
Timeless Improvising by Jazz Giants
From the morning after the
concert in Toronto, reports came
to New York and other cities of
the astonishing doings that had
just taken place. Charlie Parker,
Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus,
quinBud Powell. Max Roach
tet from Olympus! Oh sure, as
befits genius, there had been
some hassles -like Bird found
he'd forgotten his horn and had
to borrow a plastic also. (This
was before anybody had heard
of Ornate Coleman.) But man,
what music! Everybody lived up
to his world -wide rep. So we were
And then, Mingus actually
brought out a record of that night
at Toronto's Massey Hall on his
own label, Debut. The rumors
and reports turned out to be true.
It was startlingly brilliant jazz,
the very apotheosis of bop -and
beyond. The album, The Quintet
Jazz at Massey Hall, has been
hard to find in recent years. But
now, as part of Fantasy's marvelously abundant reissue program
of Original Jazz Classics, that
night in Toronto is available again.
Although there had been times,
and would be again, when these
bristling jazz legends would jam
dissonantly into each other on gigs,
they worked together that night
with mutually enlivening respect
and maybe even affection.
While the sound is, after all,
three decades old, whoever was
handling the controls that night
fully caught the excitement and
kept it in balance. You can hear
it all, and I expect you'll want to
keep hearing this set because this
is the most continually exultant
interplay between collective and
solo improvisation since the Louis
Armstrong Hot Fives.
Mingus, of course, also recorded
his own groups on Debut, and one
particularly memorable session
was Mingus at the Bohemia with
one of Charles's Jazz Workshop
combos. The Bohemia was a
rather dark, often crowded
Greenwich Club which saw, among
other phenomena of the 1950's,
the instant stardom of Cannonball Adderley, and the growing
sovereignty of Miles Davis.
No unit, however, was as unpredictable and self-challenging
as Mingus's. The personnel on this
album included trombonist Eddie
Bert, tenor saxophonist George
Barrow, pianist Mal Waldron,
drummer Willie Jones -and, as a
special guest, Max Roach.
Listening to the range of Mingus
originals and his total restructuring of standards, it's clear to me
that not only have his bold melodies, cliche -free harmonies, and
continually resilient rhythms retained their freshness and unhyped drama, his music as a whole
is still more original and more
deeply satisfying than a large
proportion of present -day "advanced" jazz. No matter how far
"out" Mingus and his colleagues
went, they always swung, and they
always had a story to tell. They
didn't just conjugate concepts.
Of particular fascination is
"Percussion Discussion" with Max
Roach and Mingus, and the Mingus
originals, "Jump, Monk" (a profile
of Thelonious) and "Work Song."
The sound throughout is clear
and resonant, and it's a pity there
are no engineering credits. This,
too is part of Fantasy's invaluable
Original Jazz Classics series.
tet-Jazz at Massey Hall. [No
production or engineering credits.]
Debut OJC -044 (DEB -124).
CHARLES MINGUS: Wilgus atthe
Bohemia. [No production or engineering credits.] Debut OJC -045
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sound quality raised by a reissue like
this. There are two schools of studio
thought about cleaning up old and
primitive masters from thirty or
more years ago. There's the school
that says, "Let's exaggerate depth,
rechannel into stereo. add a few
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Perhaps I received twice my share of
a hex as a result.
The other school of studio thought
suggests that as little tampering as
possible should be done to the originals. Keep mono...mono. Don't layer
studio reverb. This is the school
producer John Storm Roberts belongs to. And my symphathies rest
with this approach. The sound is
sometimes scratchy and fuzzy -but
is decently clean throughout. The
pressing is of good quality and the
record sounds fine with my noise
reduction filter turned on while I
listen and with the treble turned
down. Only moments of percussion
suffer in this listening.
John Storm Roberts knows how to
book on Black music I've ever read,
Black Music of Two Worlds. Listeners
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