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Imaging vs sound staging...what's the difference

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17 hours ago, Nagraboy said:

It’s interesting and curious that some people get worked up about soundstaging when it’s not really anything to do with the musical performance, as such. Eg. I’ve never been to a live gig and sat grinning as I notice the performers are separated by a couple of metres with one slightly further away from me. Maybe it’s fascintating just to see if a stereo can do it or not, but it’s not about musical appreciation, that’s for sure.  Not having a dig btw, it just seems an odd fixation.

I've had a similar thought in the past and for me in comes down to the following.

At a live event I can SEE where the different musicians/singers are and so any spatial queues I can hear tend to be very much secondary. Listening at home however there is nothing to see and so the acoustic perception of a soundstage brings another, err, dimension to the experience. That personally I like.

I'll also add that without explicitly chasing good soundstaging, the pursuit of better sound overall tends to deliver this anyway. In that lower noise and distortion tend to improve soundstaging. The exception to a degree is perhaps the role of speaker placement and how much people investigate this.

Edited by MartinC
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On 23/02/2019 at 22:40, Blackmetalboon said:

I cant remember the track, but it’s an early Chemical Brothers album (I’m sure someone here will know the track) where there is a sound affect (firework/motorbike-ish) that’s pans from left to right but while doing so it performs an arc, giving a very realistic impression of height. I’ve always wondered how it was done.

Just found the track, The Private Psychedelic Reel from the album Dig Your Own Hole. The sound effect in question starts on the left before panning to the right, dropping in height as it goes before arcing back to the left.

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An interesting description of the recording of "Jazz at the Pawnshop"...

 

JAZZ AT THE PAWNSHOP - An Audiophile Classics

 

When recording engineer Gert Palmcrantz was loading his car with equipment outside Europa Film Studios on December 6th, 1976, it was only to make one of many recordings. No one knew then that it was to become a cult recording among audiophiles and one of the most appreciated jazz recordings ever made.

 

Palmcrantz put the equipment in the car and drove off to Stampen, the jazz club in Old Town of Stockholm. It was far from the first time he recorded at Stampen. The club, named after a pawn-brokers' shop which used to be in that block, opened in 1968. That same year, Gert was there to make a recording of, amongst others, the clarinettist Ove Lind, the vibraphonist Lars Erstrand and the drummer Egil Johansen. He was subsequently to meet the latter two again at Stampen's small stage, together with saxophonist Arne Domnérus, pianist Bengt Hallberg and bass-player Georg Riedel. Palmcrantz knew them well from before.

 

It wasn't particularly cold and there was no snow, despite it being the beginning of December. Palmcrantz arrived in good time in order to get everything ready before the band started to play at around nine that evening.

 

All those who have visited Stampen know that the ceiling is about four metres high and that the venue houses around 80 people. The stage was placed in the right-hand corner seen from the entrance, and so small that it only just carries a grand piano and a small band. Palmcrantz rigged the main microphone pair facing the stage, about two metres above the floor. These microphones were Neumann U47 cardioids, spaced 15-20 cm and inclined at an angle of 110-135 degrees.

 

This ORTF stereo technique - named after the French radio which introduced this simplified dummy head technique at the beginning of the sixties - was, according to Palmcrantz, the best method for optimal stereo effect and spatiality.

 

- Real stereo effect can only be achieved by placing the microphones in a similar way to the disposition of the ears.

 

Such a pair stood in front of the stage at Stampen and another pair was placed to the right of the stage, facing the audience in order to recreate the right "live" feeling. Some auxiliary supporting microphones were also necessary. One microphone was placed next to the grand piano standing on the right-hand side of the platform with its lid open, and Palmcrantz hung two cardioid Neumann KM56s over the drums on the left side of the stage. The bass, standing in the middle, and connected to a little combo amplifier on a chair, was supported by a Neumann M49, also in omnidirectional mode. The microphone was placed in such a way that it caught sound both from the instrument and from the amplifier's loudspeaker. The electric amplification of the acoustic bass is particularly noticeable in the song In a Mellow Tone, where there is a slight distortion.

 

Once the microphones were set out, all that was needed was to connect them all up. In those days there were no multi-cables, so Gert Palmcrantz had to lead all the eight cables from the stage, past the bar and through the kitchen to a little nook between a refrigerator and a pile of beer-crates where he had built his makeshift studio: a Studer mixer, two Dolby A 361 noise reduction units and two Nagra IV recorders which he used alternately since the seven-inch reels only lasted for 15 minutes at 38 cm/second. He rose the U47 microphones slightly in the treble. The audition was made through two old Ampex monitor loudspeakers with built-in amplifiers.

 

Gert Palmcrantz has described how it sounded when he later listened through the first test reel:

 

"Following a few test tones there is a trial run of an almost empty room. The clattering of chairs and tables and clinking glass emerge in almost three dimensional stereo. I have just rigged my faithful U47s above the stage and put a test reel on the tape recorder. I mutter something about a broken wire to the piano mike on the right, swearing as my finger is caught in the mike stand by the drums, and I order a beer in advance.

 

Then there is a commotion at the other end and I recognize Egil Johansen's contagious laughter as he and Arne Domnérus come bursting in, kidding each other amiably as they approach the stage. Various ceremonies take place and Arne quips at me. "Well, here we go again. So, nothing escapes you - thank God! Ha-ha-ha!" A hubbub ensues. The audience has arrived in high spirits. On stage you can hear Bengt Hallberg running his fingers over the keys, Egil Johansen tightening the skins and Georg Riedel plucking the bass. The smell of smoked sausage and foaming beer, blending with that of the more familiar scent of sour wine corks and detergent, lingers over the sound image. "Dompan" (Arne Domnérus) kicks off Over the Rainbow and the audience simmers down to an approving murmur."

 

No soundcheck or balance test were actually made. Once the quartet had started playing, Palmcrantz quickly had to set the levels as precisely as possible. After two tunes he had managed to achieve the right balance.

 

Gert Palmcrantz taped one song after the other, alternating recorders towards the end of each quarter of an hour so that he could join the tunes that were played in-between tapes. It is interesting to note how accomplished the musicians are, since everything could be recorded in one go without any cuts. There is one exception, however: at the end of one of his drum solos, Egil Johansen happened to miss a beat and messed up his entry slightly. Gert Palmcrantz cut that bar out and those who want to can amuse themselves by trying to find this almost imperceptible cut.

 

Otherwise, Gert Palmcrantz let the music flow freely and hardly touched the dials at all - no gain riding, simply small adjustments were made for solos or when the applause from the audience became too loud. The result was about two and a half hours worth of taped music every night.

 

The second night, the band was joined by vibraphonist Lars Erstrand.

 

- He arrived earlier than the others to have time to set up his instrument, remembers Palmcrantz.

 

Lars Erstrand was testing his vibraphone only to find that one of the fans was squeaking. Palmcrantz had to go and find a bottle of cooking oil in the kitchen for Erstrand to lubricate the spindle.

 

Then the rest of the band arrived and the recording could begin, practically with the same arrangement of microphones as the previous evening. The difference was that the stage was a little more crowded this time, as can be heard in comparison. Lars Erstrand popped in to the control room to check the sound of the vibraphone.

 

After the recording, the original tapes were edited to a double LP by Gert Palmcrantz in collaboration with the musicians and the producer Jacob Boëthius. The sound quality of this record soon won the reputation of being remarkably fine, much to the surprise of Palmcrantz and the musicians who thought their earlier recordings were just as good. Something, however, must have been just right these evenings, and one mustn't forget that skilful, imaginative, sensitive and inspirated musicians are absolute requirements for a recording to rise from "good" to "excellent". Palmcrantz' microphone technique transmits Bengt Hallberg's subtle touch, Arne Domnérus' characteristic tone and Egil Johansen's distinctive drumming - and all instrumentalists are presented in a sound image that is both intimate and airy.

 

On really good equipment you can hear people eating, the clinking of cutlery against the plates or conversations round the small circular tables. Here and there, among the chink of glasses and the rattling of the till, you can clearly hear the musicians talking, difficult to understand for listeners who don't speak Swedish. "What's the tempo?" someone asks before Limehouse Blues, followed by the comment "The first tempo; normal tempo", demonstrated by foot-tapping. After I'm confessin', a jolly man in the audience exclaims "Hey! That was a good old song!". Sometimes you can hear other music in the background - that of another jazz band playing in the basement below, the so called Gamlingen (Oldie). There are undoubtedly many details to be discovered here!

 

Stefan Nävermyr

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Fascinating write up of a legendary recording. Much obliged for your posting.

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On ‎23‎/‎02‎/‎2019 at 22:17, CnoEvil said:

The instruments in a Symphony Orchestra should be coming from these positions:

Image result for layout of an orchestra

****************

Any chance you could translate that into words Cno? don't worry if it's too much of a faff.

Mac

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4 hours ago, whitehart said:

****************

Any chance you could translate that into words Cno? don't worry if it's too much of a faff.

Mac

No problem. I'll certainly attempt it.

- Imagine a semi circle, like half a circular cake, with the conductor standing in the middle of the straight edge (looking out into the half circle).

- Now imagine the half cake split into slices, as follows:

Left of Conductor:

- First 1/8 of a segment, are the First Violins

- Beside them, taking up the next 1/8 of a segment, are the Second Violins.

Right of Conductor:

- A segment that takes up a quarter of the imaginary half cake

- This segment is split across its width.....The Cellos (next to Conductor) take up 2/3 of the available slice; and the Double Bass section is behind the Cellos and takes up 1/3.

The Middle:

- This segment takes up 1/2 of the space available and looks like a hand held Fan, as it opens out, the further it goes back.

- This is then split into layers (like a rainbow) of instruments, one behind the other...as they fan out in front of the conductor. The order is as follows:

1. Violas (immediately in front of the conductor).

2. Flutes (Left) / Oboes (Right)

3. Clarinets (L) / Bassoons (R)

4. French Horns / Trumpets / Trombones / Tubas (listed from left to right)

5. Percussion (at the very back)

Nb. A Harp or Piano would be at the back, on the left hand side (around 10 O'Clock)

Edited by CnoEvil
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8 hours ago, CnoEvil said:

No problem. I'll certainly attempt it.

- Imagine a semi circle, like half a circular cake, with the conductor standing in the middle of the straight edge (looking out into the half circle).

- Now imagine the half cake split into slices, as follows:

Left of Conductor:

- First 1/8 of a segment, are the First Violins

- Beside them, taking up the next 1/8 of a segment, are the Second Violins.

Right of Conductor:

- A segment that takes up a quarter of the imaginary half cake

- This segment is split across its width.....The Cellos (next to Conductor) take up 2/3 of the available slice; and the Double Bass section is behind the Cellos and takes up 1/3.

The Middle:

- This segment takes up 1/2 of the space available and looks like a hand held Fan, as it opens out, the further it goes back.

- This is then split into layers (like a rainbow) of instruments, one behind the other...as they fan out in front of the conductor. The order is as follows:

1. Violas (immediately in front of the conductor).

2. Flutes (Left) / Oboes (Right)

3. Clarinets (L) / Bassoons (R)

4. French Horns / Trumpets / Trombones / Tubas (listed from left to right)

5. Percussion (at the very back)

Nb. A Harp or Piano would be at the back, on the left hand side (around 10 O'Clock)

****************

Superb! thank you Cno

Mac

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Super Wammer
2 hours ago, whitehart said:

****************

Superb! thank you Cno

Mac

It was very cleverly explained, wasn’t it, Mac?  

I haven’t the heart to say that quite often these days the conductors choose divided violins, so that the Firsts are far left, and the Seconds far right.  Where the rest of the strings end up seems pretty variable after that!  It creates a great interplay between violin sections where the composition was written that way.  

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14 hours ago, whitehart said:

****************

Any chance you could translate that into words Cno? don't worry if it's too much of a faff.

Mac

If you are interested in the recording of orchestral music this CD is very interesting:

013491350226-1.jpg

You can download the booklet here:

https://delosmusic.com/recording/symphonic-sound-stage-vol-1/

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15 hours ago, Nopiano said:

It was very cleverly explained, wasn’t it, Mac?  

I haven’t the heart to say that quite often these days the conductors choose divided violins, so that the Firsts are far left, and the Seconds far right.  Where the rest of the strings end up seems pretty variable after that!  It creates a great interplay between violin sections where the composition was written that way.  

*****************

I knew if anyone could describe it well, Cno would.

Mac

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6 hours ago, whitehart said:

*****************

I knew if anyone could describe it well, Cno would.

Mac

Stellar wamming by Cno and far better described than I’d have managed. 

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