Viewpoint

August 5, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

When we make recordings the engineer has to decide from what viewpoint or perspective the recording should be made from.

The best example of this is a symphonic orchestra. It's pretty common and obvious that it is to be recorded from the perspective of the conductor. After all, it is the conductor to whom the orchestra is playing to.

When recording a piano should it be from the perspective of the pianist? It is she, after all, that makes every decision based on her perspective.

What's a bit of a head-scratcher on this topic is trying to decide what's expected and what sounds the best. On the one hand, because I don't play the piano I haven't any idea what it sounds like from the performer's perspective. As well, I've never conducted an orchestra.

And while we're asking ourselves what the right answer is (if there is one), from what distance should the recording be made? Intimate, close, and immersive? A bit distant and encompass the room?

Now with the ability at Octave Studios to capture perfectly whatever viewpoint we decide upon the question becomes ever so much more interesting.

Currently, I am leaning hard into intimate and close. Feeling like I can reach out and touch the performer.

It's where the greatest magic awaits to be uncovered.

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76 comments on “Viewpoint”

  1. My discussions with sound engineers always revealed that they feel as artists too and they always want to create the “best” sound, best sound of course related to their most subjective and individual sound-preferences and based on their reproduction system and the studio’s room acoustics. The result is most artificial. There are only few sound engineers who want to capture a “you are there”-illusion and who permanently compare during the preparation of the recording the sound they hear in a real concert hall on the best seat in the auditorium with the sound they hear in the monitor room. However most productions today seem to focus rather on special and bombastic sound effects and not on the original goal of HiFi-stereo!

    1. The result is always artificial; that's what makes recorded music so subjective.
      Should it be recorded the way that the artist feels it should be recorded or how
      the sound engineer likes to hear it or how the listener would like to hear it?
      Should it be mic'd up close, like Paul says that he is currently leaning towards,
      or back from an audience sweet-spot POV with a holographic 3D soundstage
      & pinpoint imaging?
      Or more suited to headphone/IEM listening?
      It's the endless enigma 🙂

      1. “…..recorded the way the artist feels” - then I guess in most cases mono recordings would be ok. Even the Fab Four preferred their mono recordings! However “stereo” promises/claims bringing a holographic sound image (not just only ping-pong stereo or a racing car/train running from the left to the right loudspeaker) to the listener. Thus stereo requires a most careful placing of the microphone(s) or a recording technique based on a deep understanding of room acoustics and psycho-acoustics and a professional expertise in mixing - at least more know-how about psycho-acoustics than needed for simple bootlegs! 🙂

        1. ps,
          As I have said before that the first time that I heard a holographic 3D
          musical presentation on my home-audio rig back in 1993, it was
          quite a revelation (jaw-dropping!)
          But like all novelties, it can wear off after a while...again, subjective.

    2. They are indeed an artist in their own right. Layering is an art and yes it is artificial but makes music multi dimensional and fuller sounding. I play thru a compressor and use delay to try to construct a pseudo layered sound only achieved in reality by large groups with different sections.

  2. As audiophiles we don’t make music we consume it so I think the recording should be made from the audience or listeners point of view. The distance is harder to call. Solo guitar and vocal sounds great close mic’d. That would be harder to achieve with an orchestra. You surely wouldn’t use just a single microphone, but as a head in an audience that’s effectively what we are, or maybe two, two ears equals two mic’s? What a recording will never capture is the full weight and scale of a live orchestra but can be better than live as it captures more of the subtle detail than you would hear in an auditorium. This can be especially true of an over loud rock band where so much of the detail is lost in a cacophony of reverberation in the hall. I’ve experienced that on a few occasions and didn’t enjoy it at all. Intimate and close is always very effective and impressive in a home hi-fi system.

    1. I listened to Beethoven's 9th last Monday on my main rig, first time through the O/93's, & even though it's never going to rival the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House, I must say that I was suitably impressed by the presentation.

      1. Which recording of the 9th did you listen to? I have something like 15 different recordings of this masterwork, but I kind of nutter in this respect. Okay, definitely a full tilt nutter in this respect (and many others as well).

        'And yon Rat knows me too well.' -- Robin Williams (paraphrased)

        1. "full tilt nutter"?
          That's an understatement 😀

          The Philadelphia Orchestra
          Riccardo Muti conducting.

          I will send you photos via e-mail shortly.

          Full Tilt Boogie!

  3. Haven't you considered doing it from the audience's perspective? After all, they are who will buy the album hoping to relive the moment.
    Regards, Fernando from Montevideo, Uruguay.

    1. I agree with GW Smith. Re: 1 or 2 mics, this has been done with success on the many Mercury Living Presence recordings by Tom Fine.

      I also have a different perspective- literally. The first season my wife and I subscribed to the Philadelphia Orchestra, our seats were orchestra row H. When we looked ahead we saw the musician's socks. Another strange artifact: Piano notes were clearly reaching us by dropping out of the bottom of the piano, rather than reflecting off of the open lid. My boss is no audiophile, but she did not like it either. After 2 annoying concerts I went to the box ofc and changed our seats to orchestra row S. All we could see was the front row of musicians. And, an off-kilter sound balance from the musicians behind them. It was not a hall deficiency. (At least piano notes came out the top of the piano from row S.)

      Ever since, our season tix are Balcony row A. Wow, what a difference! We get a wide, deep, high, textured perspective. At the same time I can close my eyes and pinpoint exactly where on the stage different instruments are coming from. To our surprise, there is Not too much hall ambiance. And we can see a pianist's fingers racing around the keys. And, we can see musicians trading off themes to a different instrumental group. Much better.

      This is the perspective I want at home. Not disembodied pinpoint sounds from musicians who would not be seen from seats in the front half of the hall. I get everything at Verizon Hall (Excellent, though not Boston or Carnegie Hall acoustics.)

      Intimate can work for chamber music, soloists or jazz, but not for Classical. When I listen at home the orchestra should be heard from at least halfway back in the hall. From here the perspective of width, depth, height, ambiance, and instrument location cues comes together.

      -Jeffrey in Philadelphia

  4. This, as in all questions of art and esthetics, is utterly subjective. It is up to the artist in concert with production team to determine what will convey best the artist's intentions. From the recording perspective this begs some interesting questions. Given Octave's affinity for the single housing stereo microphone, with it's ability to easily render an excellent phase coherent image, one might tend to go with that approach. But other questions arise; should it be a single stereo mic at a specific distance, or a set of mics perhaps set along a given distance axis to preserve imaging, and with distances adjusted to prevent nulling or summing of frequencies. The fact is that there is no way to know without trying out the possibilities, and it is weath of experience that enables the recording engineer to make educated guesses when trying out the options. Although it is close to impossible to predict what will work best, you most definitely know it when you hear it!

  5. I remember going along to the launch of the Harbeth M40.1 at my audio dealer and Alan Shaw started with about half a dozen piano recordings ranging from close mic'ed to the point where we were hearing far more of the room than the piano. Of course you have Glenn Gould who recorded close mic'ed in a studio, which probably reflects his pure intellectual approach and total self-obsession with no thought for the audience and anyway he gave up on performing live at a young age. It shows, and whilst well regarded by some his recordings don't sound real to me. My ideal are Levitt's recordings in the Reitstadel in Neumarkt, an old building that is extensively acoustically treated. You need a large studio to record an orchestra, but it is by all accounts a long established skill and there is no time to waste because of the cost.

  6. When you say that it is “obvious” that a symphony orchestra should be recorded from the perspective of the conductor, I don’t know if you’re being deliberately provocative or obtuse. How could it not be “obvious” that the orchestra is “playing to” the audience? The conductor’s job is to assure that the balance of all the instruments reaches the ears of the audience, not his! If the audience can’t hear the piccolos while the horns are blaring, but the conductor can, hasn’t the conductor failed?
    Your first paragraph is still relevant, but the engineer must choose which perspective within the audience/hall is the chosen target of the recording- that’s where the different perspectives apply.

    1. I view the conductor as the time keeper in charge time layering of the different sections. When a section or individual cuts in and transitions out.

    2. As I just mentioned, it is a nice sentiment to believe the conductor is working for the audience. In reality, that's not possible. It has to sound balanced and right to his/her ears (which is how they tell). This means that in a practical sense, the orchestra is performing for the conductor.

      Think about it. Not as a stated goal, but as a practical one. Now imagine the orchestra rehearsing. Who are they playing to?

      1. This issue is not the conductors point of view. I am not the conductor and if I am seated 100' from the conductor. The sound is totally different. Take multiple distance recordings using binaural mikes. That is the way you hear, that is science. If recorded correctly, even through speakers the sound is fantastic. Stage presence is 3 dimensional with depth you have never heard before. Arnie Nudell and John Ulrick felt the same way.

  7. Just to chime in…
    For me recordings sound best when done from the perspective of an audience. The variable being how far away….
    If an artist is just performing for themself, why bother with a recording at all?
    While detail may be great, too much of it can detract from a presentation.

  8. It is ironic that, IMO, the more effort and money we, the consumer, put into our audio system so that it is as true and revealing as we can make it, the more what we hear depends not on what we have done, but rather what the recording, mixing and mastering engineers do.

  9. Wow! It is rare that I disagree with Paul.

    First, the conductor is part of the orchestra. The orchestra is playing for the audience or, in the case of a recording only event, they are playing for those who will listen to their recorded performance. In the case of the pianist, if they are playing for themselves they are practicing. If performing, they are playing for their audience sitting some distance from said performer.

    Your perception explains why Octave recordings Don’t sound ”real” or”live”. I want to listen to a performance as an audience attendee Not as one of the performers.

    1. Thanks for disagreeing. Makes for a more lively discussion. Let me suggest one point of simple logic. The orchestra follows the conductor's instructions. They look to him/her for guidance on tempo and loudness. Watch a conductor sometime and it'll be obvious what they are doing.

      When it sounds correct to them they encourage the orchestra. When it sounds incorrect they change it up, ask for louder or softer, slower or faster.

      I know popular myth has it the conductor is working for the audience and surely that's true. But in the end, they can only make it sound right to them. They are but human.

      Good sentiment but unrealistic.

      1. Really? If you truly believe that a conductor’s job is so simplistic that they strive to satisfy their ears and not the audience in that particular venue then you have very little respect for the much more challenging role they play in the performance.

        This issue affects all musical performances. Performing for yourself is rehearsal. Performing for your audience is a concert. Clandestine Amigo’s “Temporary Circumstances” SACD is composed of songs I like quite a bit, but they sound like they’re playing in an anechoic-like environment. Where is the “air” that one would hear outside the studio? That’s quite a shame both for them as the musicians as well as for us as listeners. Too bad. Perhaps you are letting your personal predilections prevail over service to the group and their audience.

        1. No, I think you miss my point. Of course the conductor has the audience in mind. Of course he and the orchestra are playing to the audience.

          My point is a practical one. The conductor performs his task using his ears. The orchestra literally plays to the conductor. It is his job to interpret what he hears in a way he believes will make happy the audience.

          Think about it.

      2. A good thought…I also tend to agree on this…although it might be, the conductors just have to live with what they get at their palace to listen. Anyway, I doubt, they go to the 15th row, let their orchestra play alone and listen how it sounds there, to then change their interpretation. If so, then just once to check and consider the general sound balance.

        So I agree that the conductor can hardly work on the sound the audience hears, he can only work on the sound he hears. But as he’s not mainly working on “sound” but overall balance, dynamics and interpretation, those aspects arrive at the audience in a similar way, just somehow defeated.

        Does this mean, the Hifi listener should get what the conductor hears? I don’t think so. I think the Hifi listener should get an illusion of his perspective in the audience, but with the kind of dynamics and true tone a conductor gets. A really good concert hall imo tries to deliver the same. The defeated tone reaching the audience in an average concert hall is not the initial concept of a great hall, so it shouldn’t be the initial concept of Hifi.

        I think many who demand the exact live audience experience from Hifi (I assume most listen in average halls), are not aware how “boring” this usually sounds without the visual live experience. A one point recording probably comes closest to the live experience in its advantages and disadvantages. And it’s better than a badly mixed multi mic recording…but the ideal imo would be the combination of a realistic creation of an audience perspective soundstage, combined with the conductors perspective of energy, tone and dynamics.

        This said, I am enthusiastic about classical live concerts…just except for certain characteristics and situations, not for pure sound quality reasons, but for the overall experience and the size of the sound.

  10. As far as the conductor's viewpoint is concerned, the last large orchestral piece I went to (excluding opera and ballet), the conductor was at home with Covid and the orchestra was led by the first violinist.

    I think of some music, like Bruckner's 7th symphony, where the music repeatedly moves back and forth between the strings either side of the conductor, so the sound from their perspective must quite different from what the composer intended for the audience.

    It would also be rather strange for oratorios and the like, where in performance the singers normally stand behind the conductor, at the front of the stage.

    1. That’s also true and is what I’m talking about when excluding special scenarios from my opinion stated here.

      E.g. organs integrated in concert halls are voiced for the audience position.

      Do you think many composers considered the difference between the conductors and the audiences perspective in their works as it might apply in your Bruckner example? I doubt a bit. I guess maybe regarding p and f in instrument groups or solo instruments, but less or rarely in terms of soundstage effects.

      1. If you go to a performance of an oratorio, for example, a Bach Passion, or a piece like Monteverdi's Vespers, the musicians and signers will move around for the audience's benefit, because they are telling a story to the audience. It's not just the vocalists, it's the musical groups as well. It's not something a recording can do well, if at all, and they certainly not playing to the conductor, very much to there audience.

  11. This is a great topic.

    In this context I just wanted to write about my last (great) concert experience in the concert thread anyway which just confirmed those made before.

    To make it short here (and probably a little provocative for some) and relate it to the classical concert example:

    - you never would want to make a Hifi experience as bad soundwise as a classical live concert from the audience perspective (I’m aware there are single aspects which are always better live!!)

    - the in Hifi terms fascinating soundstage/holographic/palpable imaging only artificially exists on recordings, not live, especially not from a typical audience perspective.

    - the real tone and impact of instruments as perceived by someone playing it, can be halfway caught only by quite intimate mic’ing

    - much of the typical Hifi language, comparing recordings with live events is BS, what we listen to on our systems is an artificial scenario, combining close listening and overall perspective in a way that’s soundwise better than the live event in most parts.

    So what’s the right way to record imo?

    - not too intimate, close and without room interaction, that it doesn’t allow the creation of an idealized audience perspective

    - make no intentional artificial creation that doesn’t imitate an idealized audience perspective (like the first Octave recording did with creating a somehow odd perspective of listening to a piano from inside)

    - choose the mic’ing intimate enough to combine an idealized audience perspective with the true tone and energy of instruments and voices

    - make no mistakes (one cymbal in 10 ft distance from the rest of the drum set, a solo artist breathing 3 ft from where he plays etc.)

    IMO the true art is to manage all this for larger ensembles, which most audiophile labels don’t do as they mainly record solo or duo performances (probably for budget, possibly also for skill reasons). Should be much easier for those kinds of smaller ensembles to reach a good balance I guess.

    It’s easy to impress people somehow with certain recording techniques, but it’s difficult to create a realistic illusion that combines all advantages a recording can offer compared to the live event.

    My experiences:

    Chesky and Reference Recordings are great, but a little too distant imo, missing some energy
    MA recordings are great (mostly 2 mic setups as far as I remember)
    Stockfisch are great
    Fone small group and especially the old limited editions classical series are great
    Yarlung Jazz are often great
    Several Sono Luminus/Dorian, UNAMAS, Northstar/Turtle classical recordings are great (to name a few less typical ones)

    1. Well said Jazznut

      I’ve been in the camp that 2 channel and or home audio is an event unto itself - thus should be treated as such.

      If we are all listening to recorded music (at home) we are all at the mercy of the recordings and the way they are done. So like virtually everything audio it all comes down to personal preferences…. From the recording choice- to the playback medium - to the playback gear

    2. Thanks for the tip to those recordings at the end of your comment. I am in the camp with many of them, except I was disheartened to see that Keith J. is a knob twiddler DURING the recording session!! We can do without 'human' fingertip compression.........sigh

  12. In my opinion an orchestra should be recorded from the "sweet" spot in the auditorium. This is because the conductor and the orchestra are "playing for the audience", even if the auditorium is empty. Obviously, in a studio recording this is not possible. In this situation, the conductor's location would be my choice because the conductor is "mixing" the sound and coordinating the volume and presence of the various instruments from her location.

    As for a pianist, I have a similar perspective on perspective. The sound should be recorded from the perspective of the intended listener of the performance. Whether it be a small piano bar, or a club, or an auditorium. This certainly creates judgement issues if a solo piano is recorded in a studio. So the recording engineer and the artist have to decide how to mike and mix the sound in the manner that suits their artistic tastes and the mood they are attempting to achieve.

  13. It always catches my attention when an engineer decides that the various pieces of a drum kit should be spread across the width of the Soundstage. Ridiculous.

  14. A quick question Paul….
    Has there been a recording that has come 100% out of the new Octave Records Physical studio yet?

    If not, any idea of when or what the 1st release from that physical entity will happen?

    1. Yes, but not widely distributed. For those aspen speaker owners, they receive a CD of new recordings done at the new facility in 4XDSD along with a really nice book to help with setup. The first you will be able to openly purchase will be The Audiophile's Guide The Ludspeaker, available late this month or early next month. It'll be a book/SACD combo.

  15. "After all, it is the conductor to whom the orchestra is playing to." BIG FAT NO !

    Paul is not a musician, and unfortunately speaks like a non-musician with a statement like that.

    I am currently working with one of our nations finest symphony orchestras (The BSO), and I attend rehearsals and have watched the mechanics that go into what makes the 'sound' of the orchestra by the many nuances asked for by the music director.

    BTW, Paul's very favorite music director will be guest conducting the BSO at the end of this month! (Michael Tilson Thomas) !

    In the end, it is about the performance for the listener, the concert goer, the music appreciator.

    I will say this, you all know me for my harping on the STEREO BANDWAGON with Paul. And now, it seems that Octave is going the same direction as most every recording facility! Turning EVERYTHING into an intimate 'I can reach out and touch the performer' scheme!

    Yeah, we saw and heard that in the Bach Cello Suites......sigh

    This sickens me. It is harkening back to the sensationalism of QUAD recordings, that putting you in the middle of the performance stage among the performers technique.

    Stuff like this shows that we have not come that far at all. So much for Octave creating a NEW path in the recording industry. Sadly, I don't see it happening now.

    Ok, off my riser box.

      1. Absolutely not! Stay close, keep asking questions and tossing out your thoughts and opinion . You are an engineer and engineers take nothing for granted.

      2. Hi Paul.........in a live orchestral performance, a concert hall or church, my distance from the musicians in that setting are NOT disconnected at all. I feel very connected with the room and how those acoustic instruments on that stage are interacting with my surroundings in that space.

        Why do commercial, live performance / recordings have to 'pump up' everything, making it un-naturally BIGGER then it is? I just witnessed this two weeks ago with the BSO's live performance of the Brahms Requiem.

        I saw the microphone placement chart back stage. 49 channels !!!! I listened to the streaming performance broadcast later that evening. The chorus was blowing away the orchestra AND worse, I could pick out individual sopranos in that 150 voice ensemble!

        What a shame, and disappointment. This is what happens when engineers get carried away with their 'tools' of the trade. and I know who they are.

        I would be happy to send you a snippet of a recording I personally made of a 70 piece college symphony orchestra in a church. No edits, no fixes, no mixes, just the RAW deal with full audience and all.

        It would be interesting to get your honest take on it.

        Let me know, we can use Drop Box.

      3. I've heard the Bach cello suites three times in the last 3 years, in a restaurant (35 seats), in Wigmore Hall (550 seats) and with dancers at Sadlers Wells (1,500 seats). The experience is quite different in each. In a recording, depending on the acoustic, the sound of the room adds realism, it's not either/or. It's about getting the balance right.

        I was listening to a recording today "Belle Époque - French Music for Wind" (on Qobuz), the review comments that there is a bit too much of the room in the recording. It was recorded at Henry Wood Hall in July 2020. The reason is likely that because of Covid the musicians were likely sitting further apart than normal. Listen to a solo violin recording in the same hall made 6 weeks earlier (Alina Ibragimova - Paganini Caprices) and there is far less of the room, but it its by no means sterile.

        The first recording was engineered, edited and produced by one person. The Paganini had the luxury of two people, an engineer and a producer, in different rooms, with the performer in the main hall, listening to playback over headphones. As it was during lockdown, they were never in the same room whilst making the recording. The result is incredible. It just comes from experience of all concerned and familiarity with the acoustic.

  16. It is interesting on the many responses here to this topic. More leaning toward 'audience perspective'.

    Paul has rattled our cages. I am looking forward to his reaction and response should there be one.

  17. The same issue arises with the recording of pipe organs. Do you want to sit at the console, or do you want to hear the organ from out in the hall or nave? The Hauptwerk digital pipe organ program lets you select your position. A typical sample set has hi-rez stereo recordings of each pipe made at the organ console near the pipes, in the middle of the hall or nave, and at the back of the hall or nave. You can select on the fly where you want to be located, or mix them any way you like.

    I am in the camp that prefers recordings made from the audience perspective, except with piano performances I sometimes like to hear it from the piano bench, as though I'm playing, meaning the lowest keys sound on the left and the highest keys sound on the right. In a full orchestral piece the piano is distant and typically occupies left center stage near the first violins. In a jazz piece the piano is often on left stage (left from audience perspective). It is really annoying when in a full orchestral or big jazz band piece the piano occupies too much of the soundstage width with the other instruments spread out behind it. That is so unnatural and, in my opinion, poor mixing.

  18. When listening to a live orchestra or intimate jazz session, it is always my perspective not the conductor or pianist. If you are the musician it is always your perspective not the audience. Being at a jazz night club it depends on where "I am" seated not the musician. But wouldn't be exciting to have the "option" to be able to place oneself anywhere in the audio field, maybe to start, a 3 point option to play the recording in those 3 positions, the musician, the conductor, and audience? When I am at a symphonic concert I am not at the piano, trumpet, string section, nor am I at the podium with the conductor. I am in the 3rd row front center, or 1st balcony 3rd row. It is the blend of sound from different perspectives that make it real. I do not sit in the 1st violinist position. It would be very strange to say the least. You always hear with 2 ears at a certain distance between each. Binaural is the closest way to record a live performance at different listening positions, not miking each section or instrument. When I listen to the kick drum in a live situation, I do not want to listen to an amplified sound of the pedal hitting the skin. I am not 1" from the bass drum or drums. Same goes for individual instruments, or voices. If you want to get as close as possible to real life recordings stop with the multiple tracks of miked sounds. When an audio system is developed correctly, the stage presence with binaural recordings are amazing. The depth of field is astonishing. We have made recordings to complex. Simplify. When it comes to electronic synthesis that is another story.

  19. I can assume that I am in the minority here, but to me there is no real comparison between a live event and playing back a recording. The gap is so big, that I don't even think that it should be the the goal of a hifi to make you think that you are at a live performance. 90% of the recordings I listen to are not even made with the perspective of an audience member listening to a performance. My philosophy is that each recording is a work unto itself, with the music and performance as much a part of the art as the recording and production. My hifi system is the tool with which I observe and enjoy the recordings. The artists choice of melody and tempo are just as much a part of the recording as the mic selection and placement.

  20. I always appreciate Paul's insightful blogs and videos but feel obliged to offer a comment on one detail in this one. Paul considers it "common and obvious" that a symphony orchestra should be recorded from the perspective of the conductor. Indeed, I have read that some RCA mono recordings of the Chicago Symphony (and possibly the NBC Symphony and some others) were recorded using a single microphone suspended over the podium. However, there is a strong tradition among classical music audiences that the best seat in the house, acoustically, is "fifth row center" and that the first row, in particular (which would best approximate the conductor's perspective) is "too close." Musicians in professional orchestras will tell you the same thing, or even prescribe more distant seating. Similarly, in my younger years I used to play violin in various orchestras and have frequently observed a conductor in rehearsals to go check on how the orchestral balance sounded from where the audience would be sitting (while an assistant conducted the orchestra briefly) and/or to ask an assistant to describe to him what they were hearing from out in the audience. So conductors themselves are trying to hone the sound as it will appear from the audience's perspective, not just from the podium. Along those lines, even that single RCA microphone was suspended some 20 feet up in the air, which would provide a significantly more distant perspective than down at the podium. As always, there's more than one way to skin a cat, and many people might enjoy a fresh and non-traditional recording perspective, but it's useful to be aware of the tradition so that artistic and technical choices can incorporate accurate information.

  21. "An audiophile seeks to reproduce the sound of a live musical performance". That being said; as a recording engineer; one can record anyway you desire, being individually miked, electronically mutated. To be trite. The artists palette has many different colors. The point as a listener is "Always" from my perspective, that is science. Sound will always come to my ears as an individual. As a listener and audio engineer, I enjoy many perspectives. I go to a concert not to be in the conductors place, but at a distance which allows me to hear the full blend of sound. Beethoven, Mozart wrote music for orchestra for a purpose, to create a blend of sounds. To me, it would be distracting to sit next to the Tympany player in a symphonic concert unless I wanted the tympany to be the focus of my experience. I did not necesarily come to a concert to hear just the string section unless I was a violists focused on only the violins. I want to "full experience" of sound. My experience with John Ulrick and Arnie Nudell at Infinity Systems taught me to appreciate a live performance of say"Piano" from a listeners perspective not sitting at the Piano or underneath or on the sound board. It is always the musician's choice of melody and tempo and it is the responsibility of the Audio Engineer to Capture that sound the way the musican has intended.

    1. And thus my feeling that the Musicians and the Audio Engineer are both responsible for the recorded work; how it sounds is inextricably connected with the performance and both make up the recording as an art form. That's my viewpoint, and the best way that I have found to enjoy my music at home.

  22. ["PM-Currently, I am leaning hard into intimate and close. Feeling like I can reach out and touch the performer."]

    IMHO, depends on the genre of music and the intention of the performer(s)...I lean toward the "listeners perspective!

    In a live Acoustical large/small ensemble performance (orchestra, chorus, instrumental, piano, chamber, cathedral,etc.), I want to hear the synergistic blend of the sectional harmonies and rhythms as per the intentions of the composer and the conductors interpretations. The performance hall venues ambiance plays a key role in that presentations sonic delivery to my listening seat. In the reproduction playback of that performance in my home, I seek to hear all of the sonic clues, nuances and space that allows for maximum "suspension of disbelief". This transforms me into the performance concert hall (mid-row seating) in all of its holographic soundstage glory (Live...I'm There)!

    In live Non-Acoustical performances (musician/instrument performances amplified), the dice rolls and the setup/sound reinforcement/venue effects can sound amazing, but with little to no 3D presentation effects. Studio recording playback is at the mercy and taste of the engineer/studio, but can present some neat reverb effects that hint at a 3D room performance presentation (this is the realm I find most of Octave Record Productions and would like to hear more of...ex: Scabaret)!! 🙂

  23. If you want to recreate the experience of being "at" the piano do the following: 1. Wear binaural microphones. 2. sit at the piano keyboard and perform and record. Else, record just above the musician. 3. When playing back have a bench in proximity of were the piano ought to be. 4. have the speaker about the same distance wide as the size of the width of the piano. 5. Do not have the volume any louder than what was actually recorded. 6. Do add or subtract from the harmonically structured presentation as heard when recorded. If you want intimate; do not add reverberation. The speaker should eminate in 3 dimensions. The piano has a tremendous range both in frequency and harmonically. 7. The lid should be 1/2 to closed fully. Pianos can be harsh depending on how the lid is situated. Do not mic the interior or bottom of the piano. As a musican you do not put your head onto the soundboard when playing. Nor do you crawl under the piano while playing. This is a feat for a contortionist. And Finally, any solo instrument needs to be recorded in a simular fashion. Miking a sound hole is not were one's ears are. Hope this helps.

  24. I'm okay with "from the audience perspective" as long as there is some presence. There is a risk of the recording becoming anemic. A front row seat would be nice. 🙂

      1. What you you consider presence? If recorded correctly…. Presence will be there. There is nothing like curbing the frequency response so the top end is reduced and all the upper harmonics are lost. I find a bass shaker creates that live present feeling which is missing without having to overpower the subwoofer to create enough pressure to get that feeling.

  25. Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart had it right in the 50s and 60s - put the mike over the conductors head- the result was the ground breaking Mercury Living Presence recordings. Period.

  26. Well, in regards to this post by Paul I’m certainly looking forward to hearing the “Brazilian Beasts” octave recording that should arrive soon.

    The recording from Carmen Sandim should follow right in line with the post here today. 🙂

    1. It's ok. It was not recorded at the new Octave location however.

      Bewhere the noise between the tracks. I wrote Paul personally on this. Heard especially at the end of track #5. Nice white noise hiss going on. He says it was from the guitarists' pedal effect! Surprised they did not put a GATE on that!!

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