Audio
My approach to recording classical music is to keep it simple and direct. Microphones: My preference is to use a pair of spaced omni-directional microphones. The spacing introduces slight timing differences from the sound source to the mics, depending on its position. The brain is very good at translating these minute timing differences into cues about stereo location. The result is that the listener experiences a vivid sense of the space of the venue with good imagery of the individual voices and instruments. Subtle balance adjustments can be achieved by making slight changes in the relative positions of the musicians. I tend to avoid using more than two microphones because the mixing in of more signals would destroy coherent timing between channels which produces a wonderful sense of space and depth which can be achieved only with a single pair. An added benefit of this method is that the artists can be closely involved in the balancing process, and they know that the engineer can not change the balance of the recording once their backs are turned by fiddling with some knobs in the control room. I have made more than 100 CDs using spaced omnis, from solo voice to baroque orchestra and chorus, and time and again the validity of my approach is confirmed by the reaction of the artists and critics to the recorded sound. Signal path: Keep it simple and short . In a typical setup I use oxygen-free cables to connect the mics to mic pre-amps, avoiding any processing circuitry in the path. Processing the signal: Avoid it if at all possible. The only way to maintain a good signal in the editing and mastering stage is to leave it unprocessed. It is far better to record in a venue with a good sound and reverb than to manipulate a recording made in a second-rate acoustic after the fact by adjusting the frequency response or adding artificial reverberation, though such adjustments are sometimes unavoidable. Of course there will be some fabulous takes during which a plane decides to fly over or a car drive by or the wind blow, and sometimes these takes can be salvaged through the judicious use of sophisticated noise-reduction techniques. A question of terminology: Because there is sometimes some confusion about who does what in a recording, here is a brief explanation.     Engineer: the person in charge of setting up and operating the equipment.     Producer: the person who runs the sessions, pointing out to the artists what has been played well enough and what needs to be better.     Editor: the person who sticks together all the bits and pieces, to make it sound like the artists played the music perfectly and only once.     Executive Producer: last but not least, the person who has organized the recording. Audio Restoration Audio restoration is sometimes seen as a controversial process which takes away from the music. Hopefully if done well and in moderation with the sophisticated software that is now available it allows the music to emerge from the haze of pops, clicks, crackles and turntable rumble. Judge for yourself. Malcolm Arnold - Arnold conducts Arnold EMI CLASSICS BRITISH COMPOSERS 382146-2   BARGAIN OF THE MONTH - Musicweb International "The Second Symphony is my own favourite among the nine. We are fortunate to have this recording in two respects. Piers Burton-Page relates in his admirable note that the recording came about because Beecham cancelled some sessions. Furthermore, the master tapes have been lost and this very successful transfer has been taken from LPs." As mentioned in the review  there was no master tape for Arnold's Symphony No.2, the only source being two 1953 mono LPs, both in very good condition. I took the LPs to a specialist who made a digital transfer from each LPs and I edited together the cleanest sections from the two before undertaking the job of restoration. At one point in the music I noticed a very loud pop so I checked the other transfer in hopes that I could replace the offending pop with a clean version. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the identical pop on the other transfer. Presumably the pop was on the master disc which was used to form the molds from which the pressings were made and the same pop appeared on all the LPs. Below are examples from beginning of Symphony No.2 third movement before and after restoration.
Before restoration
After restoration
Everybody Loves My Baby from Boswell Sisters - Shout Sister Shout Asv Living Era CD AJA 5471 Boswell Sisters with the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra mastered from 78rpm single released in 1932. "If you are looking for something to light your soul and your mind on fire, something wild and beautiful, full of mischievous glee (and purposeful innovation), lightning fast scat singing (often unison!) and untamed hot jazz solos, then the Boswells are right for you." "The compilation has been expertly remastered...and can be recommended without reservation." "Great sound, too, as usual with this label's reissues." Amazon.com Dancing on the Ceiling from Jack Hylton  - She Shall Have Music LIVING ERA CD AJA 5390 Mastered from 78rpm single released in 1930. “In terms of remastering though, ASV has done a superb job: the recording is crisp and crackle-free.” Musicweb International
Before restoration
After restoration
recording producer & engineer
JOHN HADDEN