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Author Topic: A Special New Year's Message  (Read 3724 times)

klaus

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A Special New Year's Message
« on: December 26, 2011, 05:35:14 pm »

A special New Year's message to the few and the brave who have continued to visit and hang out on my sparsely populated desert island since the Big Flood of 2011 disconnected us from the mainland of microphone chatter:

Thank you for being here!

From my perspective as forum host, 2011 has not been a banner year.  Traffic here counted in the multi-thousands for many threads, until the inept installation of new software by the parent company's various webmasters killed it last spring. The drop-off in R/E/P traffic led most of my other former colleagues to canoe off the island, seeking more fertile grounds elsewhere.

But there is a perfectly good reason why I am still here:
I believe that, more than ever before, we need a professional audio forum that is not ruled or influenced by the business interests of those who run it, post, or advertise in it. 

I said it before: I have no interest in soliciting business at this point, whether through forum exposure or other means, because I have not goods to sell, nor any open slots to take on new service customers. That, combined with the complete hands-off attitude of PSW's management (which was so hands-off, it almost sunk the ship) seems to me the perfect platform to let everyone discuss what needs saying without fear of stifling reprisal or temptations to lie, because of moneyed interests.

How far we have strayed from the original intent of the Internet:
After 20 years of www, we have now gotten so used to crass commercialism dictating the framework of any exploration of knowledge, that we can hardly remember the time when esteemed scientists, specialists and aficionados, not personal motived to make money, would dictate how a specific subject was discussed in a public forum.

Now, more than ever, a microphone forum is needed whose principal gate keepers and truth detectors are guided by their accumulated knowledge and wisdom, nothing else.

On another subject:
I have been thinking over the Holidays how we could all make this forum better. I believe the sometimes obsessive focus on technical detail (for the benefit of... what?) needs to go. Yes, I am one of the serial offenders myself, volunteering arcane aspects of genuine U47 housing screws, and other nutty stuff. 

Almost inevitably, some of these super-nerdy threads have devolved into pissing rounds for expert opinions, which, on the grand scale of things, mean absolutely nothing, and which have resulted in barely anyone reading past the first sentence of some posts anymore.

I am lately much more interested in the holistic view and discussion of microphones: what do microphones do to the music- good and bad? What if anything do they still do to the quality of our lives? Can their quality affect the masses (see my NPR interview)? What would constitute an improvement of a microphone in the 21st century? How can we have a reasonable exchange of ideas about these issues which are almost entirely percolating up from the realm of our sense of hearing? Must we continue to focus on terms like "transient response" when no one has been able to logically reason how that will make a microphone sound better or worse?

An example of what interests me more these days: last night I saw Fritz Lang's final movie ("The 1000 Eyes of Dr Mabuse", Germany, 1960). Its sound track I thought was so advanced that, even through the constant crackling from the celluloid's optical track, it clearly did something to the overall impact of the film (a few shots showed Neumann KM54s).  It seemed to me that, no matter how schlocky a film, a sound track done with superior mics (and mic pres) can lift any film by a notch or two. How does this actually work on our overt impressions or subconsciousness?

Looking forward to discussing things like these in the year 2012.

Happy New Year!
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
www.GermanMasterworks.com

Kai

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2011, 11:59:35 am »

The sometimes obsessive focus on technical detail, for the sake of... what? needs to go.
Happy New Year Klaus!

I'm unsure how to value this statement - my post are quite often technically oriented.
Is it too much?

Regards
Kai
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klaus

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2011, 01:51:51 pm »

Kai,
Maybe a good measure of what is the right amount of technical detail and what is "too much" in a post is to keep the following question in mind:

In what or whose service is the discussion?

In other words: Does the discussion serve the larger purpose of bringing us closer to better audio, and does the post make that connection clear?
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Klaus Heyne
German Masterworks®
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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2011, 12:33:45 pm »

...done with superior mics (and mic pres) can lift any [sound recording] by a notch or two. How does this actually work on our overt impressions or subconsciousness?

This, of course, is what drives me to pursue "superior" quality in recording, whether through "better" mics, or pres, compressors, etc... There are those that argue that none of that matters much given the most common forms of playback devices and contexts. I suspect those that feel that way do not frequent this site. The rest of us will pursue our art passionately as usual...

Happy New Year to you too, and thanks for the ever clear head...
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halocline

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2011, 08:39:40 am »

Well, it's very easy for me to avoid any arcane discussion of technical knowledge of microphone design and construction detail; I don't have any!

OTOH, I am a very experienced musician that understands and appreciates the differences in musical perception and values vs. audio perception and values. In a perfect world there would be no difference, I suppose. In music, ear training is entirely based on recognition, not unlike achieving fluency in an aural language. It doesn't really matter 'what' you know in terms of grammar and structure unless you also have an accurate (and fast) ability to recognize and interpret subtle differences in sound. As a budding recording engineer, only interested in acoustic recordings, I wonder what the parallel is in recording. IOW, the perception of musical sound is paramount.

One thing I've certainly learned through this forum and in my own meager experiments is that microphones, above all, are primarily acoustic instruments. Otherwise the new ones would be quite a bit better than the old ones, and obviously they're not. Evaluating acoustic instruments is entirely a subjective process based solely on one's ability to perceive sound.
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MagnetoSound

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2012, 05:13:15 pm »


Happy New Year, Klaus.

Thank you for still being here, too.

Best wishes for the next phase.

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Dan Sansom
Magneto Sound
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maarvold

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2012, 06:17:42 pm »

Klaus,

FWIW, I have never been happier with my microphone collection--significantly due to things I learned on this forum.  I am specifically referring to tube microphones used primarily for recording vocals.  I do not own any of 'the big guns' (although I get to use them reasonably often), but I own mics built in a similar fashion, from similar components and they give me great satisfaction.  All are custom-built or prototypes and many of the design choices were gleaned or influenced by knowledge that I acquired here.  For that I am very grateful. 
Thanks and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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Michael Aarvold
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wildplum

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2012, 11:09:37 am »

A thought provoking post, thank you Klaus. (and a happy new year to you)

When you state:
"a sound track done with superior mics (and mic pres) can lift any film by a notch or two. How does this actually work on our overt impressions or subconsciousness?"

where do you want this discussion to go? Are we talking on the level of, for example, neural transmitters (one part of the answer to "how things ACTUALLY work")? As a former psychologist, such questions are of interest to me, but they seem a long way beyond the scope of this forum- so I doubt that is what you had in mind.
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Paul Tumolo

<a href="http://www.wildplum.org" target="_blank">Wildplum Recordings</a>

a micro label, studio and remote recording service

klaus

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2012, 11:40:23 am »

.... but they seem a long way beyond the scope of this forum- so I doubt that is what you had in mind.

As far as I am concerned, these are exactly the kinds of discussions which are too rarely found in a microphone forum. There is already an abundance of hardware  and tech-talk on the gearslutz level, the kind of discussion which does not ask the larger, fundamental questions about good sound.
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Klaus Heyne
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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2012, 03:00:23 pm »

One way I think of it is that subtler textures have a visceral effect on the feeling level of the listener that transcends the surface intellect but is perhaps even more impactful than more overt content. Any tool has its qualities regardless of how we rate its quality per se. But IME, "higher" quality tools have more depth and complexity and less aggressiveness to their textures, and thus invite the listener to greater depths of feeling, rather than assaulting their senses and sensibility. Even aggressiveness has its place though, in the aesthetic pantheon.
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klaus

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2012, 06:05:05 pm »

So then the next question of interest to me would be: how do we detect "better" quality of sound, despite the scratchy noise of the optical track of a 35mm film? It's obviously not along the traditional lines of good noise floor, frequency response of dynamics.
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Klaus Heyne
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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2012, 03:26:51 am »

This is reminding me of the viscerally satisfying "sound" of a mechanical victrola playing a 78 record, that seems to benefit from not being translated into and from electricity at all, with quite humble yet strangely compelling results, albeit with high noise and limited bandwidth.
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klaus

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2012, 02:25:07 pm »

How would the mechanical sound emanating from the mechanism of the player add to the realism of the performance the player is meant to translate to you?

What you mention sounds to me more like a distraction without any benefits to the actual resolution of the audio? Something more akin to the "feel good" sensation of the (emotionally comforting) setting such antique player may trigger in some (equally antique?) listeners?

Please clarify.
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Klaus Heyne
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Kai

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Re: A Special New Year's Message
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2012, 05:56:26 pm »

How would the mechanical sound emanating from the mechanism of the player add to the realism of the performance...
I have experienced that the needle sound of a vinyl disk player can add some (more or less artificial, I know!) room information and transparency.

The effect is dependend on where the player is located relative to the loudspeakers and the listening level, but quite obvious.
I noticed the "better" sound when I kept the dustcover open.
At least the needle movement translates very direct into sound.

This might be one reason for, why I too have a in some way very "attacky, realistic" feel when I hear a mechanical Grammophon.

A situation where mechanical sound was distracting me was, when while cutting vinyl the sound of the cutting heads covered the sound of the control room speakers, so it was impossible to judge the effect of the cutting engineers "mastering".

For those who never experienced the cutting of a vinyl disk:
the cutting lathe looks like a giant vinyl disk player combined with a engine lathe - which holds the cutter head.
This cutter is emanating the treble of the music sound quite loud, as it's relatively big.


Regards
Kai
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