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 Post subject: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:44 am 
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Victor II
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I just ripped my latest Columbia side, done by The Piccadilly Players Band in 1926. The label states "recorded in a public hall", this record was actually done inside Wigmore Hall, London. For some reason a lot of the early Starita bands on Columbia were recorded this way.

Does anybody know why this is? And do you think it sounds better or worse with so much reverb from the large hall? Sometimes the singer is hard to distinguish, but in a sense this record might capture what it was like for dancers in such large venues

(Double-click the video above or click this link to go to the video on YouTube.)



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 Post subject: Re: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:49 pm 
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Victor II
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The reverb from the hall didn't sound bad....the singer was mediocre. Someone on the level of a Bowlly or Crosby would have recorded much better there.


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 Post subject: Re: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:42 am 
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Victor V
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Sounded alright to me, too.

U.K. Columbia did quite a bit of recording at Wigmore Hall in those days. Makes me wonder if they didn't have a recording laboratory on site, in a room of the building? I don't know.


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 Post subject: Re: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:06 am 
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Victor I
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Some early HMV and Columbia electric recordings (c.1925 - 27) were recorded at rather big room - the results of HMVs were not good, generally speaking, but Columbia somehow managed to get some surprisingly good results. It is somewhat ironic that most of Columbia recordings during the acoustical era sounded poor compared to HMV/Victor.

Try to hear the famous quartet from Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" with Alessandro Bonci - it almost sounds like somebody added some sort of reverb on it, but it was recorded in 1926! This was, of course, recorded in Milan, but they certainly had recorded these at a concert hall or some studio that had a lot of space as they captured the whole room ambience pretty well. Also, George Henschel's 1926 rendition of Beethoven's First Symphony was recorded at The Scala Theatre of London.

And of course, there are a lot of Dance Bands/Jazz recordings (Like the one you posted) from that period that had remarks about their recording locations.

Anyway, I enjoyed this a lot, Thanks for posting this, Jonathan!


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 Post subject: Re: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:42 am 
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Victor II
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Perhaps Columbia did have a lab there, or they just sought to use the space because they didn't have a lab of their own at the time?

They obviously thought it was necessary to tell the public that the disc was recorded in a hall in case they thought something was wrong with their gramophone :D

I also have a 1931 Zonophone disc which was licensed to HMV - there's a similar amount of reverb on it and a lot of echo. I'll have to get around to posting it soon


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 Post subject: Re: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:38 am 
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Auxetophone
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Kind of off topic, but I have a copy of "The Star Spangled Banner" on a Blue Amberol (the singer escapes me at the moment) that must have been recorded in a similar venue. The echo is so bad, it almost sounds like they recorded it twice, but a half second offset. I'd be curious to hear another copy to see if it was really recorded that way...


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 Post subject: Re: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:24 am 
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Victor V
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That sounds more like you may have a BA from a mould that was worn out. Wouldn't be the first time I've seen heard one of those, my copy of K-K-K-Katy by Billy Murray on BA is just like that.

Sean


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 Post subject: Re: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:12 pm 
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Victor II
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It seems that in some cases, the engineers went out of their way to capture as much room resonance as possible during the early years of electrical recording. I think this was basically a gimmick on their part used to promote the new process's ability to "recreate" the experience of listening to the music, as if one were there in the concert hall--something not really possible with the acoustic recording process.

Going back in to the histories of sound recording, Welch and Read were very critical of this trend in "From Tinfoil to Stereo," preferring, instead, Edison's "dead studio" method which did not superimpose the acoustic properties of one room (the recording studio) onto another (the listener's own music room.)

DS


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 Post subject: Re: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 1:57 pm 
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Victor V
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JHolmesesq wrote:
Perhaps Columbia did have a lab there, or they just sought to use the space because they didn't have a lab of their own at the time?

They obviously thought it was necessary to tell the public that the disc was recorded in a hall in case they thought something was wrong with their gramophone :D



Supposedly, Columbia made a big impression with one of their early electrics, Adeste Fideles / John Peel, recorded at the Metropolitan Opera House in March, 1925, at least as Roland Gelatt tells it. It was one of the first, if not the first electricals to demonstrably prove the superiority of the new process among the record buying public.

Recorded from way back in the auditorium, it's a thrilling record to hear, even today. I don't think Victor was even attempting anything like that, yet. Still fiddling with around with their old acoustic horns, and new electrical gear, back in the confines of Camden. :D


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 Post subject: Re: "Recorded in a public hall"
PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:35 pm 
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Victor II
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I'm less than thrilled by these echoing recordings. For some classical music, maybe, but not for popular music. For that I much prefer a more straight 'in your face' approach. That's also why I hated those early 60s re-issues by RCA et.al. so much, because they were over filtered with added reverb. I sometimes added a tiny bit at the end of a record after restoring if it ended very abruptly, but then only for the last 2 or 3 seconds, while fading out. Sometimes a band was so enthousiastic they ignored the frantic signals of the engineer that he was running out of wax. In those cases the final chord can be in the run-out groove and then just a tiny bit of reverb makes it a bit smoother to fade out. But for the rest I only use the original studio sound, bad as it sometimes may be. You don't mess with a historical painting either, don't you?
That's why I hate those Nimbus 'Great Voices' recordings so much, where they used an EMG oversize in a concert hall type studio with the mikes 50 feet from the horn bell. You sometimes don't hear the voice for the echo.
When I recorded directly from my acoustic gramophone, in cases where the record was so worn that acoustic reproduction was superior to electric, I put the mike in the horn bell. Far less surface noise than via electric reproduction, but less bass of course. But also less blasting, when using a good soundbox. My little mica 4a was particularly good for that, far better than my metal 5a. The latter, with its superior high end reproduction, tended to accentuate the wear.
IT's the same with Pathé records. They simply sound better when played acoustically. On a modern set up you are drowned in rumble and surface noise. Use a horn, or even better a later type, and they're sounding perfect (no pun intended). Most modern pick ups can't handle the varying groove widths in combination with a vertical signal. A dedicated cartridge wired for only vertical modulation would help, but they are not available.


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