Discussion:
The lunacy of vinyl
(too old to reply)
Sylvia Else
2017-06-04 02:34:25 UTC
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<https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanpassman/2017/01/12/vinyl-is-officially-booming-the-new-billion-dollar-music-business/#724065ee4054>

"For Spalding, there are countless reasons why vinyl is superior to any
other music listening format, but above all comes the fidelity,
romanticism and ritualistic nature of the experience. "

Well, I don't know much about "romanticism and ritualistic nature of the
experience", but it seems to me that CDs would do that just as well.

As for "fidelity", it amuses me that people might think the get more of
that when the vinyl disc these days has certainly been created from a
digital recording.

The obvious next step is digitally encoded vinyl discs read optically.

Sylvia.
Marko Rauhamaa
2017-06-04 07:32:14 UTC
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Post by Sylvia Else
As for "fidelity", it amuses me that people might think the get more
of that when the vinyl disc these days has certainly been created from
a digital recording.
What always irritated me during the vinyl times was that the record
started collecting dust. Essentially, you could listen to a record only
once without the annoying crackling caused by dust.

Digital audio, even in its compressed form, conveys the music
beautifully. I consider audio one of the few solved problems of
computing/electronics. Digital photography is quite close. Video is
getting there.

I can only dream of web services ever getting close to that level of
perfection.


Marko
Sylvia Else
2017-06-04 07:39:53 UTC
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Post by Marko Rauhamaa
Post by Sylvia Else
As for "fidelity", it amuses me that people might think the get more
of that when the vinyl disc these days has certainly been created from
a digital recording.
What always irritated me during the vinyl times was that the record
started collecting dust. Essentially, you could listen to a record only
once without the annoying crackling caused by dust.
Digital audio, even in its compressed form, conveys the music
beautifully. I consider audio one of the few solved problems of
computing/electronics. Digital photography is quite close. Video is
getting there.
I can only dream of web services ever getting close to that level of
perfection.
Marko
Not to mention how careful one needed to be, and how easily a record
could be ruined.

Sylvia.
Michael Black
2017-06-04 15:01:11 UTC
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Post by Sylvia Else
<https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanpassman/2017/01/12/vinyl-is-officially-booming-the-new-billion-dollar-music-business/#724065ee4054>
"For Spalding, there are countless reasons why vinyl is superior to any other
music listening format, but above all comes the fidelity, romanticism and
ritualistic nature of the experience. "
Well, I don't know much about "romanticism and ritualistic nature of the
experience", but it seems to me that CDs would do that just as well.
As for "fidelity", it amuses me that people might think the get more of that
when the vinyl disc these days has certainly been created from a digital
recording.
The obvious next step is digitally encoded vinyl discs read optically.
I thought some of the hype about vinyl was an illusion, that "the kids"
were buying records, but for the sake of having something concrete around,
instead actually listening to digital files or CDs. One article I read
claimed some of the buyers don't even have the means to play the records.

I still have my turntable set up, and my records, but it's been a long
time since I listened to any. I am much happier with CDs, even though I
didn't get a CD player until 1997 or so. YOu don't have to turn the CD
over to get the rest of the album, you can skip over songs you don't want
to hear with the remote, so no need to get up and move the needle. And I
don't generally worry about what I play them on, unless the player is
broken it won't hurt the CD. But I sure owuldn't lend out my records,
worried that someone would play them with some awful record player, and
I've had prerecorded audio cassettes get mangled in odd tape players.

It's interesting, CDs were touted as high fidelity and of course at the
start the discs and the players were expensive. But people play them on
all kinds of things, cheap boomboxes even, and the convenience wins out,
at least until everyone decided that music should just be files to play on
some other device.

With a handful of exceptions, I never bought used records, me worrying
about the state they'd come in. The exceptions were when I stumbled
something too good to skip. But lately I've been buying a lot of CDs, and
they are used. Generally they are okay. For a "long time" the CDs I saw
at book sales and garage sales were things I wouldn't want, relatively new
artists or things one didn't want to know about in the first place. But
it's shifted, it's still not perfect but I can find things I want, and for
a dollar or two, it's hard to not grab them. So I have a much more varied
collection, some jazz but all that early seventies music that I heard on
teh radio but never bothered to buy on record, decades later I want to
hear it again, and the CDs are there.

New CDs are a different matter, HMV here in Canada closed down a month
ago. But they had been shrinking, fewer artists and less selection per
artist. And for "rock" albums, a lot has never decresed in price, despite
being decades old. But other things, jazz, one can get really cheap. And
there's a move to consolidate things, issue sets of CDs for a relatively
low price. I got set of five early folk albums back in February from
Amazon for 15.00 Canadian. These were big artists at the time, but
they've mostly faded out of view. But it was a great price.

Michael
The Real Bev
2017-06-05 01:59:19 UTC
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Post by Michael Black
Post by Sylvia Else
<https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanpassman/2017/01/12/vinyl-is-officially-booming-the-new-billion-dollar-music-business/#724065ee4054>
"For Spalding, there are countless reasons why vinyl is superior to any other
music listening format, but above all comes the fidelity, romanticism and
ritualistic nature of the experience. "
Well, I don't know much about "romanticism and ritualistic nature of the
experience", but it seems to me that CDs would do that just as well.
As for "fidelity", it amuses me that people might think the get more of that
when the vinyl disc these days has certainly been created from a digital
recording.
The obvious next step is digitally encoded vinyl discs read optically.
I thought some of the hype about vinyl was an illusion, that "the kids"
were buying records, but for the sake of having something concrete around,
instead actually listening to digital files or CDs. One article I read
claimed some of the buyers don't even have the means to play the records.
I still have my turntable set up, and my records, but it's been a long
time since I listened to any.
We converted all the records we liked, along with the 4-track
prerecorded tapes, to mp3s a couple of years ago. Yes, we still have a
working 4-track reel-to-reel recorder, although the better one we built
by hand in 1962-3 turned up its toes a long time ago.
Post by Michael Black
I am much happier with CDs, even though I
didn't get a CD player until 1997 or so. YOu don't have to turn the CD
over to get the rest of the album, you can skip over songs you don't want
to hear with the remote, so no need to get up and move the needle. And I
don't generally worry about what I play them on, unless the player is
broken it won't hurt the CD.
The one I put in the Caddy eventually stopped being able to read disks.
The new one has both USB and little-round-hole inputs and bluetooth as
well, so I guess I'm covered for a while. I like to listen to
audiobooks on long drives.
Post by Michael Black
But I sure owuldn't lend out my records,
worried that someone would play them with some awful record player, and
I've had prerecorded audio cassettes get mangled in odd tape players.
I had the little camel's-hair brush attached in front of the needle and
one of the black velvet cylinders that held water inside. The records
that got played the most were the Talespinners for Children -- standard
fairy tales read by real actors -- Roddy McDowell, for one. The only
children's records that I actually enjoyed hearing over and over and
over and over again. I ultimately found some mp3s and gave them to my
children for their children and had the decency to NOT ask if they ever
played them.
Post by Michael Black
It's interesting, CDs were touted as high fidelity and of course at the
start the discs and the players were expensive. But people play them on
all kinds of things, cheap boomboxes even, and the convenience wins out,
at least until everyone decided that music should just be files to play on
some other device.
A really sensible thing. When mp3s and wavs are obsolete there will be
programs to convert them to the new format. In batch mode. 'Convert
*.mp3 .newthing' and go for coffee. Of course you'll keep the mp3s and
buy a new drive for the .newthings. 8TB drives are ~$180US plus tax now.
Dirt cheap.

Used CDs and DVDs are dirt cheap at yard sales now. Good ones.
Post by Michael Black
So I have a much more varied
collection, some jazz but all that early seventies music that I heard on
teh radio but never bothered to buy on record, decades later I want to
hear it again, and the CDs are there.
There are on-line radio stations specializing in every kind of music
there is. Even polka :-)
--
Cheers, Bev
Giving out free MS security updates is like giving out free
band-aids with flesh-eating microbes in the pads.
Ian McCall
2017-06-05 11:56:30 UTC
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When mp3s and wavs are obsolete there will be programs to convert them
to the new format. In batch mode. 'Convert *.mp3 .newthing' and go
for coffee. Of course you'll keep the mp3s and buy a new drive for the
.newthings. 8TB drives are ~$180US plus tax now. Dirt cheap.
ish. I started late on this and regret it, but any CDs I ripped towards
the end I saved in FLAC. Not for actual use - I use 320kbps AAC, but
for exactly the purpose you describe - stored lossless, when shiny new
format appears I can convert to the new format without having to go
back and re-rip optical discs (with all the time and fuss that entails).

Same for ripped DVDs - I've stored the ISO so that I can convert to new
formats without needing to faff with optical discs.

For online bought music, I'm rather hoping that over time the store
would just convert anyway (a la iTunes Plus, when they went DRM to
non-DRM). To be honest, the iTunes quality is pretty good although I do
wish they'd do 320kpbs. It's not exactly top of my concerns in life
though - they're fine.


Cheers,
Ian
--
Check out Proto the album: <http://studioicm.com/proto/>
Roger Blake
2017-06-05 23:10:32 UTC
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Post by Sylvia Else
Well, I don't know much about "romanticism and ritualistic nature of the
experience", but it seems to me that CDs would do that just as well.
I prefer vinyl and use it as my primary music medium at home, with tape
filling in mainly for automotive use. I have a very large collection of
LPs and tapes so even if I wanted to digitize them I don't have the time.
Not a big deal for me since I've been playing music this way for quite a few
decades now, it's second nature.

While I really don't much care what anyone else does, the surprising
current popularity of vinyl has made it easy to obtain things like
replacement needles, cartridges, belts, and accessories even at this
late date.

On the other hand I don't expect stylus-type video discs to make a
comeback any time soon, though I do still have a working player and discs.
(Look up RCA CED "needlevision" video discs, one of the wackiest technologies
to ever make it out of the labs and onto store shelves for consumers
to buy.)
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Stefan Ram
2017-06-05 23:22:29 UTC
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Post by Sylvia Else
Well, I don't know much about "romanticism and ritualistic nature of the
experience", but it seems to me that CDs would do that just as well.
When I bought a plastic-wrapped record in the 70s, and I
would open up the plastic, the print of the record sometimes
might have emitted a unique smell. And the act of removing
the plastic wrapper already was like unwrapping a gift.
And of course a lot can be said about the cover art, which
is a large part of what made up the whole record. (A CD
cover is something different, it's a small paper in a
plastic box. CDs do not have covers in the way a record
has a cover.)

And it was bought from a record store which had its own
unique colors, lights, and customers there. The customers
and the clerks were usually of about my age and interested
in records too. There were dark shops with some large
heavy laether armchairs and large and heavy headphones,
and you could sit down and listen to records which the
clerk would play for you before you decide whether to
buy them. In those days, smoking in public was also common,
and it is possible that people also smoked in such shops.

Visiting a record store was somewhat similar to visiting a
night club, even though people didn't drink and dance ther.

And when you asked the clerk to play some record for you, he
would not say a word, but you could tell by the look of his
face whether he liked the record. Yes, the clerk really
would not talk to you, he just would go to the store and
fetch the record. (They had a separate store of records for
this.) Maybe eventually he the would say "2", meaning you
should go to seat number 2.

Once I bought a vinyl record which was made of very soft
vinyl. It was called "Long John Silver". The record would
bend and wobble between your hands. All this became part
of the experience around this record. It was not just the
music.

When a record is converted to mp3, the audio might be
converted, but the other parts of the record are lost.
It's a little bit like make a recording from a live
concert. Listening to the recording is different from
having been to the concert.

The music might be the soul of a record, and the soul might
be immortal. But humans do not only love the soul, they also
love the body.
Marko Rauhamaa
2017-06-06 05:36:46 UTC
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The music might be the soul of a record, and the soul might be
immortal. But humans do not only love the soul, they also love the
body.
Remotely related... I've been wondering about the necessity of
performing music. Way back, the only way to produce music was to have
musicians play it. Musicians had to spend years drilling their technique
and develop a good artistic taste to interpret the score.

Musicians still do it, but why?

A painter or sculptor produces the final work of art. You don't have the
two-step production where one artist composes the score and another
artist interprets it in front of the gallery visitors.

Nowadays, you can have electronics take the role of the musician. The
composer can make the final product at home with the computer. No need
for the middle man. No need to practice the fingerings. No need to
work the reeds. No need for the recording studio.


Marko
The Real Bev
2017-06-06 06:38:20 UTC
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Post by Marko Rauhamaa
Remotely related... I've been wondering about the necessity of
performing music. Way back, the only way to produce music was to have
musicians play it. Musicians had to spend years drilling their technique
and develop a good artistic taste to interpret the score.
Musicians still do it, but why?
Because the act of producing music is enjoyable even if you do it badly,
which is maddening.
--
Cheers, Bev
Just as you cannot explain snow to a summer insect, so also you cannot
explain ski resorts to someone who walks uphill willingly. --ErikL
Ian McCall
2017-06-06 19:49:58 UTC
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Post by Marko Rauhamaa
Nowadays, you can have electronics take the role of the musician. The
composer can make the final product at home with the computer. No need
for the middle man. No need to practice the fingerings. No need to
work the reeds. No need for the recording studio.
Hmm.

Check the sig - I do music and have put out an album. What you're
describing is how I work, but I'll tell you know it's not how I learned
or how I originally come up with stuff.

No need to practice fingering? Heavily depends what you're playing. No
need to work the reeds? Well, various articulations in synthetic
orchestras sound brilliant, but you can still tell the real from the
unreal. No need for a recording studio? Yeah - for -some- instruments.
For others, absolutely. And then there's the singing etc., and also the
sheer buzz you get from playing in a group.


Cheers,
Ian
Marko Rauhamaa
2017-06-06 20:53:05 UTC
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Post by Ian McCall
No need to practice fingering? Heavily depends what you're playing. No
need to work the reeds? Well, various articulations in synthetic
orchestras sound brilliant, but you can still tell the real from the
unreal.
Synthetic can be better than the real thing, and that applies to music
as well.
Post by Ian McCall
And then there's the singing etc.,
I love the opera, and Bach's Passions. However, in most music singing is
overrated and nobody can make out the lyrics -- luckily, since most of
the lyrics are just nonsense. Just think of the "lyrics" of (Mozart's)
Requiem:

Confutatis maledictis When the damned are confounded
Flammis acribus addictis, and consigned to keen flames,
Voca me cum benedictus. call me with the blessed.

<URL: http://members.optusnet.com.au/charles57/Requiem/lyrics.htm>

Or Mahler's "Drunkard in Spring":

Und wenn ich nicht mehr singen kann, And if I can not sing,
So schlaf' ich wieder ein. then I fall asleep again.
Was geht mich denn der Frühling an!? What to me is spring?
Laßt mich betrunken sein! Let me be drunk!

<URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Das_Lied_von_der_Erde#5._.22De
r_Trunkene_im_Fr.C3.BChling.22_.28.22The_Drunkard_in_Spring.22.29>
Post by Ian McCall
and also the sheer buzz you get from playing in a group.
No problem with that.


Marko
Kara M'bola
2017-06-07 12:46:45 UTC
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Post by Marko Rauhamaa
The music might be the soul of a record, and the soul might be
immortal. But humans do not only love the soul, they also love the
body.
Remotely related... I've been wondering about the necessity of
performing music. Way back, the only way to produce music was to have
musicians play it. Musicians had to spend years drilling their technique
and develop a good artistic taste to interpret the score.
Musicians still do it, but why?
The performers and the audience get a kick out of it. Also, jazz. When
it comes to improvisation, machines still have a lo-o-o-o-ong way to go
before they're able to match human creativity and crazy ideas.
Post by Marko Rauhamaa
A painter or sculptor produces the final work of art. You don't have the
two-step production where one artist composes the score and another
artist interprets it in front of the gallery visitors.
Actually, many sculptors only design the work and pay the Chinese to
produce the actual piece of art.
Post by Marko Rauhamaa
Nowadays, you can have electronics take the role of the musician. The
composer can make the final product at home with the computer. No need
for the middle man. No need to practice the fingerings. No need to
work the reeds. No need for the recording studio.
I'm pretty sure this the default method nowadays.
--
:q!
Marko Rauhamaa
2017-06-07 13:10:59 UTC
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When it comes to improvisation, machines still have a lo-o-o-o-ong way
to go before they're able to match human creativity and crazy ideas.
I'm not giving that to a computer (although that might be a cool idea).
Rather, the improvisation should be done by a human composer.

You don't need a musician present when listening to music any more than
you need a writer present when reading a book.


Marko
Andy K.
2017-06-07 13:46:56 UTC
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On Wed, 07 Jun 2017 16:10:59 +0300
Post by Marko Rauhamaa
You don't need a musician present when listening to music any more than
you need a writer present when reading a book.
That depends on what experience you are going for with that particular
listening. Sometimes you want the live performance, which for many
genres is wildly different experience than listening to a canned
recording.

Comparison with reading a book is only partly justified, as the act of
creating a book (writing) and "performing" it (e.g. public reading by
the author) are two distinct activities, whereas creating a music
recording requires performing, the same activity as when performing
live.

Granted, there are music genres for which it doesn't matter much
whether you listen to it performed live or not.

BR
--
AndyK
Marko Rauhamaa
2017-06-07 15:18:27 UTC
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Post by Andy K.
On Wed, 07 Jun 2017 16:10:59 +0300
Post by Marko Rauhamaa
You don't need a musician present when listening to music any more
than you need a writer present when reading a book.
That depends on what experience you are going for with that particular
listening. Sometimes you want the live performance, which for many
genres is wildly different experience than listening to a canned
recording.
Comparison with reading a book is only partly justified, as the act of
creating a book (writing) and "performing" it (e.g. public reading by
the author) are two distinct activities, whereas creating a music
recording requires performing, the same activity as when performing
live.
Creating music *used* to require performing. Necessity isn't
automatically a virtue.

Where performers are not needed, they are generally not used: sculpting,
painting, writing, architecture, pottery...
Post by Andy K.
Granted, there are music genres for which it doesn't matter much
whether you listen to it performed live or not.
I'm hard pressed to think of a music genre where it does matter. Just to
be clear, I'm advocating composing the music waveforms directly into the
file without any performance or recording.

And even where a performance is necessary, a recorded performance is
usually more enjoyable than a live one.


Marko
Andy K.
2017-06-07 15:21:43 UTC
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On Wed, 07 Jun 2017 18:18:27 +0300
Post by Marko Rauhamaa
Creating music *used* to require performing. Necessity isn't
automatically a virtue.
Where performers are not needed, they are generally not used: sculpting,
painting, writing, architecture, pottery...
Post by Andy K.
Granted, there are music genres for which it doesn't matter much
whether you listen to it performed live or not.
I'm hard pressed to think of a music genre where it does matter. Just to
be clear, I'm advocating composing the music waveforms directly into the
file without any performance or recording.
And even where a performance is necessary, a recorded performance is
usually more enjoyable than a live one.
Uhh, based on just this, you and I have wildly different views on
enjoying music, so let's just agree to disagree and leave it at that. :)

BR
--
AndyK
mm0fmf
2017-06-07 18:37:46 UTC
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Post by Marko Rauhamaa
a recorded performance is
usually more enjoyable than a live one.
Choose better venues then!
Marko Rauhamaa
2017-06-07 20:18:25 UTC
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Post by mm0fmf
a recorded performance is usually more enjoyable than a live one.
Choose better venues then!
Oh, I'm holding it wrong?

I think I have chosen some of the best available ones. For example:

* "Jesus Christ Superstar" the movie vs "Jesus Christ Superstar" the
live musical with some of the same actors.

* Queen's CDs vs Queen's live concert.

* "Figaro's Wedding" as a Blueray vs "Figaro's Wedding" at the Helsinki
Opera.


Marko
Dan Espen
2017-06-08 01:02:18 UTC
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Post by Marko Rauhamaa
Post by mm0fmf
a recorded performance is usually more enjoyable than a live one.
Choose better venues then!
Oh, I'm holding it wrong?
* "Jesus Christ Superstar" the movie vs "Jesus Christ Superstar" the
live musical with some of the same actors.
* Queen's CDs vs Queen's live concert.
* "Figaro's Wedding" as a Blueray vs "Figaro's Wedding" at the Helsinki
Opera.
It only makes sense that a studio recording will be better than a live
concert or recording of same.

This seems to bother lots of people.

Each time I mention this in company I get lots of push back.
Each to his own.
--
Dan Espen
Ian McCall
2017-06-08 09:23:10 UTC
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Post by Dan Espen
Post by Marko Rauhamaa
Post by mm0fmf
a recorded performance is usually more enjoyable than a live one.
Choose better venues then!
Oh, I'm holding it wrong?
* "Jesus Christ Superstar" the movie vs "Jesus Christ Superstar" the
live musical with some of the same actors.
* Queen's CDs vs Queen's live concert.
* "Figaro's Wedding" as a Blueray vs "Figaro's Wedding" at the Helsinki
Opera.
It only makes sense that a studio recording will be better than a live
concert or recording of same.
This seems to bother lots of people.
Each time I mention this in company I get lots of push back.
Each to his own.
Will be better -as a recording-. Not necessarily as an experience. I
mean, I write fully digitally in Logic Pro with virtual instruments and
I still think some bands need to be seen live. Do I necessarily want to
listen to the live album afterwards vs the pristine recorded one?
Usually not. Does that mean the show and the experience wasn't great?
No, it doesn't.


Cheers,
Ian
--
Check out Proto the album: <http://studioicm.com/proto/>
Huge
2017-06-08 09:32:54 UTC
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[21 lines snipped]
Post by Ian McCall
Post by Dan Espen
It only makes sense that a studio recording will be better than a live
concert or recording of same.
This seems to bother lots of people.
Each time I mention this in company I get lots of push back.
Each to his own.
Will be better -as a recording-. Not necessarily as an experience.
Completely agree. There's usually lots more going on at a live performance
that is absent from a recording.
--
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I don't have an attitude problem.
If you have a problem with my attitude, that's your problem.
Marko Rauhamaa
2017-06-08 10:40:20 UTC
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Post by Huge
Post by Ian McCall
Post by Dan Espen
It only makes sense that a studio recording will be better than a live
concert or recording of same.
Will be better -as a recording-. Not necessarily as an experience.
Completely agree. There's usually lots more going on at a live
performance that is absent from a recording.
All that extra: the throng that prevents you from seeing the platform,
cigarette smoke, splashing beer, standing in line, nasty portapotties,
parking... I'd rather live without all that.

Even in classical music concerts you will have people shuffle and cough
and wreck the pianissimo.

In a word, if I want music, I want music, not people.


Marko
Ian McCall
2017-06-08 13:08:29 UTC
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Post by Marko Rauhamaa
In a word, if I want music, I want music, not people.
Agreed. But if you want 'event', you want the event. The event includes
and is based around music, but it's not the whole thing.

I had this argument decades ago when it was announced Jarre was doing a
concert. His citywide concerts with 200ft high laser penguins jumping
from building to building - kind of hard to fit on a cassette. Doesn't
even look right on a TV (I was at the La Defence concert, part of a
crowd of 2 million and still the record for the largest concert crowd).

I've since seem him years later in a much smaller venue, redoing
Oxygene. Still great, still enhanced by actually -seeing- the visuals
he has in mind.

Other end of the scale - how about a BABYMETAL gig anyone? Saw them on
their first UK concert - it was chaos, and it was great. Band riffing
off the crowd, the singers clearly having a great time...loved it. Was
it as technically polished with the sound as well balanced as the
studio album? No, of course not. Was it great anyway? God yes.

How about classical - shall we listen to the recordings for 1812 or
shall we sit in the audience being wowed by cannons going off? Second
one please.

You get the idea - they're different experiences.


Cheers,
Ian
--
Check out Proto the album: <http://studioicm.com/proto/>
Marko Rauhamaa
2017-06-08 13:43:59 UTC
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Post by Ian McCall
Agreed. But if you want 'event', you want the event. The event includes
and is based around music, but it's not the whole thing.
[...]
You get the idea - they're different experiences.
Sure. At the peak of their popularity, some Beatles members were
frustrated that the concert audience was too loud for anybody to hear
the music. They were wondering what the audience had come there for.


Marko
Ivan Shmakov
2017-06-14 18:45:44 UTC
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[...]
Post by Andy K.
Comparison with reading a book is only partly justified, as the act
of creating a book (writing) and "performing" it (e. g. public
reading by the author) are two distinct activities, whereas creating
a music recording requires performing, the same activity as when
performing live.
Creating music *used* to require performing. Necessity isn't
automatically a virtue.
sculpting, painting, writing, architecture, pottery...
Well, AFAICT, "architecture" involves both the "design" step and
the actual "building" ("performance".) There doesn't seem to be
much practical reason to design a piece of architecture that
will never be build, does it?
Post by Andy K.
Granted, there are music genres for which it doesn't matter much
whether you listen to it performed live or not.
I'm hard pressed to think of a music genre where it does matter.
Just to be clear, I'm advocating composing the music waveforms
directly into the file without any performance or recording.
I'm afraid that giving computer the score and letting it perform
it into a musical recording is only marginally more sensible an
act than giving computer the script and letting it perform one
into a movie.

The first problem is that, for all the advances that we've got
in the field of acoustic modelling -- and 3D modelling, for that
matter, -- we still have to either do it "cheap", -- or do it on
a server farm. As it happens, a decent guitar or violin costs
much less than the hardware needed to accurately model the same.

The second problem is that musical notes are just that -- notes.
The composer does not necessarily want to specify how exactly
the piece is to be played; he or she may leave much to the
performer -- the same way that a film director may leave more or
less to live actors. That way, the burden of creation is spread
across more heads than one, which may be a good thing in itself.

That said, a lot of bands and musicians /do/ perform music of
their own make. And then, take a look at all the amateur ones
at YouTube -- more often than not, they do just that: make a
score and let the computer "perform" it. That's sure a cheaper
way to do music, but I'm afraid that hiring a real musician may
still get you a better result overall. And is, in turn, much
cheaper than modelling even the instrument alone on a HPC.

(For one thing, when I stumbled on some c. 1960 cartoons that
originally used orchestral music and were "enhanced" with
something sampler-made in its place, it hit my ears quite hard.)
And even where a performance is necessary, a recorded performance is
usually more enjoyable than a live one.
But that's a matter of taste, isn't it?
--
FSF associate member #7257 np. Faraway -- Apocalyptica 3013 B6A0 230E 334A
Anssi Saari
2017-06-08 08:01:53 UTC
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Post by Marko Rauhamaa
Remotely related... I've been wondering about the necessity of
performing music. Way back, the only way to produce music was to have
musicians play it. Musicians had to spend years drilling their technique
and develop a good artistic taste to interpret the score.
Musicians still do it, but why?
It sells. Isn't that enough? Also, resistance to change is a core human
value.

Then again, at least in Finland (AFAIK) record sales have never been big
enough for anyone to make a living, bands have to tour to get by.
Post by Marko Rauhamaa
A painter or sculptor produces the final work of art. You don't have the
two-step production where one artist composes the score and another
artist interprets it in front of the gallery visitors.
Still, I've found it interesting to participate in art show tours where
the artists themselves or a guide explain something about the art and
its creation.
Philemon Phonon
2017-06-06 11:50:13 UTC
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Post by Sylvia Else
<https://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanpassman/2017/01/12/vinyl-is-officially-booming-the-new-billion-dollar-music-business/#724065ee4054>
"For Spalding, there are countless reasons why vinyl is superior to
any other music listening format, but above all comes the fidelity,
romanticism and ritualistic nature of the experience. "
Well, I don't know much about "romanticism and ritualistic nature of the
experience", but it seems to me that CDs would do that just as well.
As for "fidelity", it amuses me that people might think the get more of that
when the vinyl disc these days has certainly been created from a digital
recording.
Hi to all in the newsgroup. Just an (ex-)lurker wanting to take part in the
discussion.

Sylvia, you're right here that almost every piece of music issued today
on vinyl has been created from a digital or transferred-to-digital
source.

However, ironically, because of the technical superiority of CD, some
digital mastering techniques can be used to LOWER the dynamic range (DR)
of the music (make it sound "louder"). The same is not always possible
on vinyl for physical reasons (too loud bass and the stylus can't stay
on track).

See :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

You might wonder why someone would want to lower the dynamic range,
which is almost always done in modern pop (and some jazz) recordings and
also in remastered reissues of older recordings.
Advantages are : making listening in tough condition (crowded area, car)
possible, it is also argued that "loud" music sells better.

However, in good listening conditions (Hifi set), listening to low DR
music gets quickly tiring. It can also be argued that it is useless to
lower the DR (which is a lossy process) on the digital medium because
this could now be done in real-time effortlessly on the digital player.

So actually, for what is basically the same tune, large difference in
sound quality can be heard because of the mastering, whatever the final
medium is (vinyl, CD, high-res digital file).

So it's not unusual that a vinyl, despite its technical limitations, can
sound better than a CD or a high-res digital file. It's also not unusual
that a non-remastered work does indeed sound better that a remastered
one !

For an example in pop music (there are numerous others), see :
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=michael+jackson&album=bad
Post by Sylvia Else
The obvious next step is digitally encoded vinyl discs read optically.
Sylvia.
--
Philemon Phonon
Dirk T. Verbeek
2017-06-06 13:59:30 UTC
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Post by Philemon Phonon
Hi to all in the newsgroup. Just an (ex-)lurker wanting to take part in the
discussion.
Sylvia, you're right here that almost every piece of music issued today
on vinyl has been created from a digital or transferred-to-digital
source.
However, ironically, because of the technical superiority of CD, some
digital mastering techniques can be used to LOWER the dynamic range (DR)
of the music (make it sound "louder"). The same is not always possible
on vinyl for physical reasons (too loud bass and the stylus can't stay
on track).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war
You might wonder why someone would want to lower the dynamic range,
which is almost always done in modern pop (and some jazz) recordings and
also in remastered reissues of older recordings.
Advantages are : making listening in tough condition (crowded area, car)
possible, it is also argued that "loud" music sells better.
However, in good listening conditions (Hifi set), listening to low DR
music gets quickly tiring. It can also be argued that it is useless to
lower the DR (which is a lossy process) on the digital medium because
this could now be done in real-time effortlessly on the digital player.
So actually, for what is basically the same tune, large difference in
sound quality can be heard because of the mastering, whatever the final
medium is (vinyl, CD, high-res digital file).
So it's not unusual that a vinyl, despite its technical limitations, can
sound better than a CD or a high-res digital file. It's also not unusual
that a non-remastered work does indeed sound better that a remastered
one !
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=michael+jackson&album=bad
Interesting and possibly insightful, thanks.
Johnny B Good
2017-06-06 16:13:30 UTC
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Post by Dirk T. Verbeek
Post by Philemon Phonon
Hi to all in the newsgroup. Just an (ex-)lurker wanting to take part in
the discussion.
Sylvia, you're right here that almost every piece of music issued today
on vinyl has been created from a digital or transferred-to-digital
source.
However, ironically, because of the technical superiority of CD, some
digital mastering techniques can be used to LOWER the dynamic range
(DR) of the music (make it sound "louder"). The same is not always
possible on vinyl for physical reasons (too loud bass and the stylus
can't stay on track).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war
You might wonder why someone would want to lower the dynamic range,
which is almost always done in modern pop (and some jazz) recordings
and also in remastered reissues of older recordings.
Advantages are : making listening in tough condition (crowded area,
car) possible, it is also argued that "loud" music sells better.
However, in good listening conditions (Hifi set), listening to low DR
music gets quickly tiring. It can also be argued that it is useless to
lower the DR (which is a lossy process) on the digital medium because
this could now be done in real-time effortlessly on the digital player.
So actually, for what is basically the same tune, large difference in
sound quality can be heard because of the mastering, whatever the final
medium is (vinyl, CD, high-res digital file).
So it's not unusual that a vinyl, despite its technical limitations,
can sound better than a CD or a high-res digital file. It's also not
unusual that a non-remastered work does indeed sound better that a
remastered one !
http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=michael+jackson&album=bad
Interesting and possibly insightful, thanks.
I'd go further and restate that as, "Interesting and insightful" :-)

"The Music Industry" is just another business which, like any business,
is ultimately dependant upon achieving profitability. Whilst any business
is dealing with a novel, perhaps even unique, product or service, it can
afford the luxury of providing its clientèle with the best technically
possible product or service being asked of it by its customers.

However, rarely does such a business model survive unmolested by its
"Johnny Come Lately", "jumping on the bandwagon" competition, so a drive
towards developing improved quality of the product ensues which, whilst
initially is a good thing for the more well off of its customers,
ultimately results in a race to the bottom in a bid to exploit a much
wider but less discriminating market which in most cases means a
compromising of the original goal of offering the best technological
quality possible.

It's not just the "Music Industry" that demonstrates this abuse of the
original goals of supplying the best quality of product or service to an
initially small but discerning market when chasing after a global market
of indiscriminate users several orders of magnitude greater in order to
both beat off competition and improve profitability for their
shareholders at the behest of Bean Counters who seem to have had the
phrase, "raison d'être" expunged from their vocabulary in Bean Counter
School. If you want to look outside of the Music Industry, Microsoft is
the other major classic example of exactly the same business model.

All this leads up to the facts as to why "The Music Industry" embarked
on "A Loudness War". It was basically a result of the practicalities of
commoditising popular recorded music so that it could be 'enjoyed' in
less than ideal listening conditions such as in a relatively noisy urban
home environment or whilst 'on the move' (typically, the even noisier
environment of a moving vehicle) or in even noisier places such as pubs
and clubs and harked back to the days of AM broadcasting in America where
a 'louder record' could extend the effective service range of such
transmitters considerably and hence their audience.

The modern digital production methods meant it was possible to take the
earlier analogue methods used to tame the dynamics of a musical
performance needed to make it fit within the limitations of the recording
medium to much higher extremes of compression using sophisticated DSP
techniques without introducing gross clipping and intermodulation
distortions.

The Producers seized upon the wonders of modern DSP to 'improve' their
'product', even applying it to earlier works being re-released on audio
CD that had previously only been released on vinyl or musicassette.

At that time, there had been no thought given to the question of end
user control over the way such recordings could have their audio quality
manipulated beyond the matter of basic 'Tone and Loudness' controls
(including such ludicrous items as the "Graphic Equaliser") so such
measures were deemed a necessity since the basis of all music playback
systems was 'As Faithful a Reproduction as Possible (within the
constraints of a budget) Performance' excluding the end user from
applying their own levels of compression other than by overdriving the
replay amps or turning off the Dolby noise reduction whilst listening to
Dolby encoded cassettes in their ICE cassette players whilst speeding
along in lanes 2 or 3 of the motorway.

Once such end user DSP based 'replay tuning' controls become a standard
feature of modern digital playback systems, we just might see a "Cease
Fire" issued to the recording studios to finally bring the whole sorry
"Loudness War" to an end.

There was, and always will be, some legitimate need to modify the
dynamics of a recorded musical performance. However, the illegitimate
(or, more aptly described, Bastard) levels of compression that were being
applied indiscriminately by a younger generation of over-enthusiastic but
audiologically incompetent 'record producer', no longer has any
justification for its existence in the modern recording studio's
repertoire.

Hopefully, this practice will die out as the current generation of
studio producers mature[1] and lose their childlike fascination with DSP
technology. After all, once such DSP based dynamic control becomes a
standard feature on consumer grade media players, the end consumer will
be able to ruin the playback to his/her heart's content without any such
studio inflicted assistance. :-)

[1] Meaning they'll realise the truth of the adage, "The Customer Is
Always Right!" and let go.
--
Johnny B Good
Philemon Phonon
2017-06-08 09:08:18 UTC
Permalink
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[...]
Post by Johnny B Good
Post by Dirk T. Verbeek
Interesting and possibly insightful, thanks.
I'd go further and restate that as, "Interesting and insightful" :-)
[...Snipped lots of interesting and well-written stuff...]
Post by Johnny B Good
Once such end user DSP based 'replay tuning' controls become a standard
feature of modern digital playback systems, we just might see a "Cease
Fire" issued to the recording studios to finally bring the whole sorry
"Loudness War" to an end.
There was, and always will be, some legitimate need to modify the
dynamics of a recorded musical performance. However, the illegitimate
(or, more aptly described, Bastard) levels of compression that were being
applied indiscriminately by a younger generation of over-enthusiastic but
audiologically incompetent 'record producer', no longer has any
justification for its existence in the modern recording studio's
repertoire.
Hopefully, this practice will die out as the current generation of
studio producers mature[1] and lose their childlike fascination with DSP
technology. After all, once such DSP based dynamic control becomes a
standard feature on consumer grade media players, the end consumer will
be able to ruin the playback to his/her heart's content without any such
studio inflicted assistance. :-)
[1] Meaning they'll realise the truth of the adage, "The Customer Is
Always Right!" and let go.
I hope you are right that a "Cease Fire" will eventually happen: the
"Loudness War" has begun more than 20 years ago now and is still going
strong.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that I am a potentially big music consumer,
I find myself buying used pre-1995 CDs, ripping DVDs' audio tracks
(motion pictures and music DVDs generally have better Dynamic Range due
to standardization: THX, etc...) and supporting the rare pop artists
that care about this matter (KBush, for instance: if you know of any
others, please let me know !)

I do not buy vinyls myself but understand the one who does, even if only
for ripping them to digital audio files... Admittedly, in our digital
world, the situation could be better.

Take care,
--
Philemon Phonon
Johnny B Good
2017-06-08 16:22:29 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Philemon Phonon
[...]
Post by Johnny B Good
Post by Dirk T. Verbeek
Interesting and possibly insightful, thanks.
I'd go further and restate that as, "Interesting and insightful" :-)
[...Snipped lots of interesting and well-written stuff...]
Post by Johnny B Good
Once such end user DSP based 'replay tuning' controls become a standard
feature of modern digital playback systems, we just might see a "Cease
Fire" issued to the recording studios to finally bring the whole sorry
"Loudness War" to an end.
There was, and always will be, some legitimate need to modify the
dynamics of a recorded musical performance. However, the illegitimate
(or, more aptly described, Bastard) levels of compression that were
being applied indiscriminately by a younger generation of
over-enthusiastic but audiologically incompetent 'record producer', no
longer has any justification for its existence in the modern recording
studio's repertoire.
Hopefully, this practice will die out as the current generation of
studio producers mature[1] and lose their childlike fascination with
DSP technology. After all, once such DSP based dynamic control becomes
a standard feature on consumer grade media players, the end consumer
will be able to ruin the playback to his/her heart's content without
any such studio inflicted assistance. :-)
[1] Meaning they'll realise the truth of the adage, "The Customer Is
Always Right!" and let go.
I hope you are right that a "Cease Fire" will eventually happen: the
"Loudness War" has begun more than 20 years ago now and is still going
strong.
Well, to be fair, I did pontificate on this more in hope than
expectation but you never know, there may come a day when the "Record
Producers" will finally realise the pointlessness of the whole exercise.

However, the origin of this 'loudness war' goes way further back than
just the past couple of decades of "The CD Era". It just wasn't spoken
about until its effects had been taken to the extremes only made possible
by the abuse of 'modern' DSP processing techniques that could be applied
to media and playback systems free of the limitations inherent in the
analogue vinyl recording system.

Prior to that, it had been applied in the 1950s to the "Three Minute Pop
Record" primarily to give them 'the punch' that not only improved their
reception by the target audience tuned into the AM Pop Radio stations in
America, which were the mainstay of advertising the availability of the
record industry's pop record products, but also to literally improve
"reception" by the radio sets themselves[1] used by that audience.
Post by Philemon Phonon
Meanwhile, despite the fact that I am a potentially big music consumer,
I find myself buying used pre-1995 CDs, ripping DVDs' audio tracks
(motion pictures and music DVDs generally have better Dynamic Range due
to standardization: THX, etc...) and supporting the rare pop artists
that care about this matter (KBush, for instance: if you know of any
others, please let me know !).
I don't know any 'modern' artists/bands/groups who specifically claim to
care about preserving the dynamics of a recording, whether 'live' or
'studio' based but I would imagine most modern artists and groups, who
followed and were inspired by the Beatle's ground breaking "Sergeant
Pepper's..." 'concept album' to create recorded performances that went
beyond the "Three Minute Pop Song", did wrest more control of the
recording process from out of the hands of their 'record producer'.

The most obvious exception applying to the artists who had placed their
faith in Phil Spectre's, oh so recognisable, winning "Wall of Sound"
formula. The "Wall of Sound" effect was so recognisably a signature of a
Phil Spectre produced recording that the artists involved could almost as
well have been an anonymous bunch of session musicians. Luckily for the
artists themselves, this wasn't quite true enough for PS to get away with
reducing production costs to quite such an extreme as this.
Post by Philemon Phonon
I do not buy vinyls myself but understand the one who does, even if only
for ripping them to digital audio files... Admittedly, in our digital
world, the situation could be better.
I wasn't much interested in the craze of the Pop Culture Single when it
was at its height in my own teenage years in the sixties. The only
'single' I ever bought new in a record shop was the Beatle's very fine
double A sided "Strawberry Fields/I Am The Walrus" 7 inch 45 rpm disk
(and that, primarily for the "I Am The Walrus" A side rather than the
"Strawberry Fields" A side that most of the Beatle's major teenage girl
record buying audience[2] were attracted to).

My younger brother had bought the "Sergeant Pepper's..." album when it
was first released half a century ago and I borrowed it off him shortly
after so I could record it onto a 3 inch spool of reel to reel quarter
inch tape on a Philips portable tape recorder.

I think this used the same 4.76cm/s tape speed as cassette tapes. The
wider half track mono format and the larger, 4 inch diameter, built in
speaker provided a much better replay audio quality compared to the
typical portable mono cassette recorder of the day and I often used to
listen to it whilst at the workbench when stationed on site in a major
customer's PABX room.

I got to borrow it again, about ten years later after I had upgraded to
an Akai GX630DB tape deck (and a similar record deck upgrade from a
Garrard SP25 to a Thorens TD125 MkI with SME 3009 Series 2 tone arm with
an ADC XLM cartridge) recording in glorious Dolby stereo to the less than
glorious Scotch Dynarange 7 inch spool of LP tape I had earlier chosen as
"A Quality Brand of Tape" to use with my previous Akai 4000D tape deck.

As magnetic tapes went, it wasn't a bad choice at the time but it was
well and truly outclassed by the newer Japanese brands of tape, such as
my newly discovered favourite brand, Maxell UDB (and 2nd best, TDK SA)
which I started stocking up on to properly do justice to that Akai GX630DB
which outclassed all the competition before (or since).

My digital copy of this album was captured from this tape dubbed copy of
the vinyl record. If I wanted to re-digitise it today, I'd do it direct
from my record deck's built in phono pre-amp to bypass the analogue tape
stage to marginally improve the quality to best possible.

I have never heard a CD re-release version of this album so I have no
idea whether this has ever been re-issued on CD nor whether it suffered
any co-lateral damage from the "Loudness War" as a result. Considering
the original effort that had been put into its production, I would be
extremely surprised if it were to fall victim to such sacrilege and
vandalism. Since it was released on the EMI Parlophone label rather than
Apple Records which Sony got their grubby mitts on, I'm hopeful that the
or a subsequent re-issue on CD will be free of any Sony Tricks(tm).

[1] AM radio reception was badly afflicted by both man made noise (QRM)
and natural background static (QRN) where such sources of interference
competed directly against the modulation of the AM carrier wave (the
music content riding on the top of the transmitter's carrier wave).

The 'louder' the music, the more it could stand out from the background
of QRN and QRM. However, if the transmitter was modulated beyond a
certain level, it would cause not only distortion but, more importantly,
generate interference to other transmissions and bring down the wrath of
the FCC upon the radio station operators.

The problem of unwanted interference by over-modulation of the carrier
arose from excessive negative modulation where the carrier would be
completely reduced to zero voltage (power) in a rapid transient event
that would create uncontrolled distortion products at radio frequencies
outside of the allocated band and into adjacent channel allocations
resulting in the characteristic 'sideband splatter' affecting listeners
tuned into the adjacent radio stations.

Fairly early on in the history of MW AM broadcasting, the transmitters
were equipped with automatic modulation controls to prevent such
interference by detecting *both* the level and polarity of the asymmetry
of the modulating signal from the studio so as to prevent carrier cut off.

Most natural audio generators, human voices, trumpets, drums, pianos etc,
don't produce perfectly symmetrical sine wave forms, so merely guarding
against excess negative modulation of an AM transmitter by automatically
adjusting the level of the modulating signal from the output of a studio
mixing desk can result in very different experiences for the distant
listener, depending on the phasing of the microphone and that of the rest
of the audio chain feeding the transmitter.

The normal operation of the phase reverser relied on making the switch
during the quiet parts of the radio programme so as to avoid the rather
loud clicks and bangs that would otherwise result during a fortissimo
segment. Since even switching phase during quieter moments still has this
undesired side effect of clicks and bangs, the circuit was designed to be
sparing in its activity.

For most programme material, the modulation limiter could operate with a
ruthless quiet efficiency. However, some carelessly produced records or
album tracks could result in a dramatic reduction of an AM radio
station's service area. Typically, the microphones on the two lead
vocalists in a duet would have been wired in anti-phase and the error not
corrected in the final stereo mix used to cut the disk.

The human singing voice in most cases, exhibits a very strong asymmetry
in its waveform as observed on a 'scope trace corresponding to tall
narrow compressions with wide shallow rarefactions of the air pressure in
front of the vocalist's microphone. The transmitter's modulation limiter
circuits will detect this asymmetry and force the narrow tall pulses to
correspond to positive modulation so as to allow the maximum modulation
without interrupting the carrier on the negative peaks which would
otherwise bring down the wrath of the FCC for causing unnecessary and
avoidable interference to other radio station operators using the
adjacent frequency allocations.

When such a track with a duet between two vocalists is played out, it
may start off with the first vocalist phased to produce narrow positive
modulation peaks ok but as soon as the other vocalist takes over, the
modulation limiter is forced to reduce the level and wait for a quiet
enough moment to sneak a reversal in to allow it to turn the wick up
again. Unfortunately, this happens during the handover back to the
original vocalist so that when he starts up, the phase is now switched
but in the wrong sense for the original vocalist forcing the modulation
limiter to keep things quiet. Of course, this cycle repeats until the
track is finally played out to its end.

There were a few famous examples of such studio cock uppery way back in
the 80s and 90s, the details of which escape me right now other than
recalling that at least one of these infamous tracks involved a Stevie
Wonder duet. I don't know whether any of these tracks were ever remedied
in later "Digitally Remastered" re-issues or the lessons totally ignored.

[2] It seems we have the sexually frustrated teenage girl audiences'
propensity to hysterical screaming their adoration of the 'Fab Four' at
their live concerts (and the lack of a readily available supply of dildos
and vibrators in those dark and unenlightened times) to thank for the
revolution which was kicked off by the Beatle's retreat into the Abbey
Road studio to produce that ground breaking "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band" concept album. :-)
--
Johnny B Good
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