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Old 16th Apr 2018, 10:31 am   #1
stevehertz
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Default Big Band records - plummy sound

I just bought 'Count Basie' from the so called 'The Legendary Big Band series' of CDs. A quid, seal wrapped from a charity shop. Of course I love it, but it's quite remarkable how plummy and lacking in top end these things are (I've always been aware of that). Being an amateur recording engineer and guitarist myself I fully understand the technical limitations of the recording equipment of the day. They would also have been struggling to keep S/Ns down as well. I sit listening and I can just imagine how it would come to life given a full frequency opportunity. For example, to hear cymbals and a degree of crispness to instruments and voices. Saying that, part of its charm and appeal is 'that sound', the plummy sound of those records from that era.

Out of interest, has anyone got any big band recordings that are more representative of modern EQing? This one I mention above is digitally re-mastered but it seems like they didn't do much in the way of EQ. I have Frank Sinatra and the Count Basie Orchestra 'Live at the Sands' CD and being more recent, has a much better, fuller frequency sound. I suppose it's all to do with when they were recorded and the resultant state of the recording equipment at that time.

As an aside, I think that too much top end, as on many modern day recordings and broadcasts can be the cause of listening fatigue, there's no doubt about it, that mellow, plummy sound is easy on the ear!

I'm not particularly looking for any fixes, EQ is about all you can do, I just thought I'd share my thoughts and see what other people felt.
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Old 16th Apr 2018, 11:55 am   #2
mark2collection
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

I have a 24-bit copy of 'Michael Maxwell & His Orchestra ‎ In The Big Band Mood'.

A modern recording, & yes, on a modern (late 90's early 2000's) HiFi separates setup, it sounds unreal, almost over recorded.

Listening to this album through a vintage radio gives it the warmth otherwise lacking, without sounding woolly.

Peter put a link in 'Websites' for free/downloadable 78's which are also available as EQ'd ... https://www.vintage-radio.net/forum/...d.php?t=145661

That said, some recordings give a sense of 'time', too much EQ & it looses its period charm, this of course depends on the equipment used for auditioning.

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Old 16th Apr 2018, 12:25 pm   #3
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Surely a lot of this is to do with the CD manufacturers being paranoid about letting any 78 hiss or crackle through the remastering process...

Reducing noise, but not throwing away music is a real art.

Playing mid 30s Jay Wilbur 78s through my Columbia turntable and Ultra Tiger caused a Quad / Tannoy owning friend to comment how good it sounded!

Yes the pickup appears to have a brickwall response above 8kHz, but the results speak for themselves. After the war FFRR etc put a whole other octave on top and Hi-Fi as we know it was born.
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Old 16th Apr 2018, 1:40 pm   #4
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by wd40addict View Post
Surely a lot of this is to do with the CD manufacturers being paranoid about letting any 78 hiss or crackle through the remastering process...

Reducing noise, but not throwing away music is a real art.
It used to be the case that reducing noise was done with a severe treble cut but nowadays there are much better ways such as CEDAR if you are rich or Clickrepair for normal mortals. I used to collect CDs of old music but many of them are poor quality especially the older ones. In the meantime I process the recordings myself with much better results.

By chance I have a Jay Wilbur recording here:
Jay Wilbur, Lazybones
I'd be interested to hear your opinion. This is an early REX recording (REX started at 8001) so the frequency range is limited
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Old 16th Apr 2018, 2:57 pm   #5
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Back in the day when 78s were the norm, we were advised to 'listen through' the surface noise to hear the full frequency range of the music. The brain is pretty good at intelligent filtering and learns to ignore unwanted steady background noise. I've always found this approach preferable to serious treble roll-off, though it's sensible to use a steep-cut low-pass filter to limit the reproduced frequency range to that recorded on the disc, i.e. 6kHz for early electric, and around 8kHz for post-1930 discs. Ideally, with Decca post-war FFRR one could open the 'window' to 15kHz, but I find that often their pressing material is so poor that surface noise is then too prominent. It wasn't till the 1950s that 78 surface noise reduced to the level achieved in the 1920s by Columbia with their 'New Process' laminated pressings.

As already mentioned, transcriptions of 78s on to LP discs and CDs can so often be disappointing because of excessive treble roll-off: I personally prefer to listen to the full range 'through the noise'.

Cedar and similar intelligent filters can give remarkable results by doing their own 'listening through the noise'. Whilst Cedar keep much of their technology close to their chest, AFAIK their processor identifies the 'signature' of the noise and subtracts that from the noisy signal, leaving relatively clean music.

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Old 16th Apr 2018, 3:38 pm   #6
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartley118 View Post
AFAIK their processor identifies the 'signature' of the noise and subtracts that from the noisy signal, leaving relatively clean music.
That's a neat trick, noise being noise. I wonder how deterministic surface 'noise' is - that is, whether with multiple plays of one pressing one could average out the random content. Otherwise, one might need to collect large numbers of pressings of the same recording...or possess a clean version of the signal with which one could train an adaptive filter, which rather defeats the object
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Old 16th Apr 2018, 3:59 pm   #7
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

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Originally Posted by mark_in_manc View Post
That's a neat trick, noise being noise. I wonder how deterministic surface 'noise' is - that is, whether with multiple plays of one pressing one could average out the random content. Otherwise, one might need to collect large numbers of pressings of the same recording...or possess a clean version of the signal with which one could train an adaptive filter, which rather defeats the object
I think you'll find that the noise is "recorded" on the record in the granular nature of the record material and wear produced by steel needles. If you play the same record several times you'll get the same noise. I suppose you could superimpose several copies of the same record but in practice synchronizing them would be virtually impossible.

Clickrepair (well actually Denoise) works by taking a sample of the noise somewhere where there is no music. Then it determines the spectrum and removes that spectrum of signal from the rest of the record. I assume the other processors do something similar.

I find that often the noise changes throughout the record as the steel needles used to play them originally wore down during playing. If you want to do things really properly you need to sample the noise in the run in and run out. Then process the record twice, once with each noise spectrum. Then splice the start of one to the end of the other.
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Old 16th Apr 2018, 5:53 pm   #8
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluepilot View Post

By chance I have a Jay Wilbur recording here:
Jay Wilbur, Lazybones
Your recording has much greater range but musically I prefer my Jack Hylton version despite its heavy recording: http://www.petefaint.co.uk/jackhylton/lazybones.mp3

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Old 16th Apr 2018, 7:01 pm   #9
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

I have CD of the Duke Ellington Band purchased in the early 2000's period

Duke Ellington ‎– A Portrait Of Duke Ellington
Label: Columbia ‎– 494270 2 / Country: UK / Released: 1999 / Genre: Jazz / Style: Big Band ..

There are 17 tracks recorded originally between 1956 and 1960..

The later recordings sound very convincing via a good hi fi system. I would not decribe any of them as "plummy"

I would imagine the CD could still be found online.
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Old 16th Apr 2018, 7:07 pm   #10
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Quote:
Originally Posted by peter_scott View Post
Your recording has much greater range but musically I prefer my Jack Hylton version despite its heavy recording: http://www.petefaint.co.uk/jackhylton/lazybones.mp3
What a great Jack Hylton resource that site is. Thank you Peter!

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Old 16th Apr 2018, 7:20 pm   #11
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

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Originally Posted by peter_scott View Post
Your recording has much greater range but musically I prefer my Jack Hylton version despite its heavy recording: http://www.petefaint.co.uk/jackhylton/lazybones.mp3
I agree, I prefer the Jack Hilton version. I assume it's the Decca recording. Both records were recorded in 1933 so I would have thought they would be similar as far as frequency response goes. However the Jack Hilton version drops off sharply above 1kHz whereas the Rex version only drops off above 3kHz. Maybe Jack Hilton has suffered the low pass filter to reduce the noise.
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Old 16th Apr 2018, 8:51 pm   #12
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Both sounding pretty good and not too 'plummy'. Here's a completely unprocessed Jay Wilbur played by AT95E on my 301. Note however EQ is incorrect RIAA so there will be some gentle top roll-off and a bit of bass boost:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ntnfa8sl8o...grets.mp3?dl=0
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Old 16th Apr 2018, 9:19 pm   #13
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

The quality of your reproduction is excellent.

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Old 16th Apr 2018, 11:07 pm   #14
peter_scott
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Quite few of these big band 20s and 30s recordings have a fair degree of reverberation. I really like the atmosphere of a large dance hall that it gives.

e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QA-c4hdW6fA
and http://www.petefaint.co.uk/jackhylton/lonelyacres.mp3
and http://www.petefaint.co.uk/jackhylton/lookingatyou.mp3

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Old 17th Apr 2018, 7:50 am   #15
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

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Originally Posted by wd40addict View Post
Here's a completely unprocessed Jay Wilbur played by AT95E on my 301. Note however EQ is incorrect RIAA so there will be some gentle top roll-off and a bit of bass boost:
That sounds really good. Much better than this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDHcfceb9-Y

The incorrect curve probably won't make much difference. By the time the treble roll-off starts to be significant there will be nothing on the disc. Maybe the bass boost is even correct. It doesn't sound too boomy. In most cases you can only determine the correct EQ by ear anyway.
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Old 17th Apr 2018, 8:35 am   #16
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

I have a CD and vinyl album of Joe Loss playing Glen Miller. Both copies sound superb and I have ripped the CD to iTunes so I can play it on my ipod. It sounds very clear bright and sharp.
On the other hand I have also bought some Glen Miller CD's and they do sound flat or plummy.
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Old 17th Apr 2018, 9:12 am   #17
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

The Piccadilly Dance orchestra specialises in re-creating dance music from the 20's – 40's

On their CD PICCD 102 ( Brighter Than The Sun ) recorded in 2011 are two numbers;

Tr10 “You Ought To See Sally on Sunday” and Tr 12 “If I Had a Talking Picture of You”.


Track 10 follows very closely, the Ray Noble / Al Bowlly 1933 arrangement on HMV 6440.

Track 12 follows very closely the Jack Hylton / Sam Browne 1929 arrangement HMV 5742.



The PDO CD was recorded at a live performance, but gives a very good hi fi re-creation of the two original recordings

I have a cassette copy of HMV 5742 which I made years ago ( garrard 401 / sme 3009 / shure M55 with 78 stylus ) sounds pretty good
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Old 17th Apr 2018, 10:03 am   #18
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

In the past I've used VinylStudio, (which was found on the NAD website many moons ago). Now found here:- http://www.alpinesoft.co.uk/VinylStudio/home.aspx

I trialed the demo version, loooong time ago, which I believe allowed you to sample a quiet passage where the software would 'listen' for clicks & pops. When you wanted to backup your record, it would subtract the noise from the whole recording.

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Old 17th Apr 2018, 12:27 pm   #19
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Thanks for the compliments. As BP says I don't think incorrect EQ makes much difference, especially compared with brutal filtering.

Some years ago I re-built a Quad QC1 as a means of getting accurate EQ plus an HP filter for older discs. I knocked up an umbilical to my STA-15 and sat back. It was really disappointing, my Audiolab RIAA sounded much better!

A vintage loving friend didn't believe me till I demonstrated.
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Old 17th Apr 2018, 8:50 pm   #20
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Default Re: Big Band records - plummy sound

Just to add some science attached picture shows the response of the three files under discussion.

The Hylton Lazybones shows a brickwall, presumably digital, filter at 5.5kHz. It also has a strangely boosted bass leading to there being more tonearm/cartridge resonance than midrange! There is also a slight burble on the vocals suggesting some noise reduction has been applied.

The Wilbur Lazybones shows a more gentle top roll-off and a rumble filter.

The Wilbur Miss Otis regrets has the most extended top of all reaching maybe 8.5kHz before a rapid roll-off. No rumble filtering has been applied.
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