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 Posted:   May 21, 2023 - 2:36 PM   
 By:   Mike Petersen   (Member)

I *think* I can hear what Mr. Berg is referring to in The Hunt Scherzo, and honestly, this is neither a fault in the recording nor is it a problem with the performance. What we're hearing is a nuance in the playing - now in astonishing clarity. We're likely not used to that sort of thing with an old analogue recording. This is "depth of field" (if you will) heard raw, on the stage, exactly as it was performed. In other words: it's meant to sound like that.

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2023 - 7:50 PM   
 By:   WillemAfo   (Member)

What I hear are phasing issues in the "Logo & Prelude" towards the end of the cue, and the beginning 10 seconds of "Fright" but more generally I'm hearing inconsistent mic placement and inconsistent panning.

Regarding inconsistent mic placement, "VistaVision Logo & Prelude" is a good example where the horns and strings sound like they're playing way off in the distance but the percussion section sounds like it's right in your face. But then as the cue progresses the tubas will suddenly become too close. It's pretty subtle, but it seems like something that happens with inconsistent mic placement, mixing sections from multiple takes, and potentially even switching between close and ambient mics.

For the panning, I don't know what the actual orchestra setup was, but at times various instrument groups will be placed in both the L and R channels where they wouldn't normally be. "Snowstorm & The Silence" is a great example of this, where you've got French Horns on both the L and R channels (traditional orchestral setup wouldn't do this, but this is Herrmann so maybe that's what was instructed). But furthermore, the violins are mixed way in the back of the L channel while the brass sits close in front of them - but in the R channel the brass sits further in the back and the bass + cellos sit wayyyy too close to the front, with their little col legno-sounding moments extremely in your face. I find it hard to believe that Herrmann would have written for such an unusual seating arrangement with brass sitting in front of strings, especially since it drowns out the violins.

But that just seems like again, an inconsistent mix of mic placement + inconsistent panning of instruments.

I don't know if it was downmixed to stereo but that might be one source of the problem if it was mixed for a wider surround field and downmixed without properly adjusting the elements. That would result in the phasing that is heard periodically. But really, I don't hear phasing as much as the inconsistent panning + mic placement.

One other oddity I noticed was in "Ambrose Chapel & The Chapel", from 1:03-1:19 the cello playing what sounds like it's intended to be played martelé is almost synthetic - the timing is a bit off and the attack seems a little bit muddled, like it's either synthetic, or the orchestra had unclear direction or issues with timing.

Anyway, all of that said, it's unlikely most people will notice because this is a re-recording - so inherently it's going to have far more clarity and sparkle and energy than the original recordings and original film. It DOES sound fresher and livelier.

I have no idea how any of this squares up against the production process for these recordings and as far as I was concerned they didn't really stick out to me enough to be a bother. I'd be really curious to learn about how mics were placed, if they did switch the panning around or seating arrangements, etc. Herrmann's compositions were also pretty unusual so it's possible the mixers just weren't familiar enough with Herrmann's oddities?

I'm just speculating though.

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2023 - 11:03 PM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

You know, everyone should just stop because so many here clearly don't understand recording. It's not mic placement, for heaven's sake, it's engineering and mixing. If it was recorded direct to two-track, which I doubt, then it's on the engineer (many of Bob Townson's recordings over there were direct to two-track, so blends could never be fixed. I think North by Northwest may have been the first to multitrack). Otherwise, it's the mix - if this was close-miked with a tree for overall room sound, then what you're hearing our mixing choices and while you don't have to like them, it's up to the producer/conductor/engineer to make those decisions as to what they think is required. There is NO "phasing" here - does anyone actually know what that means and what it sounds like? One wonders. Someone actually suggested that a overhead mic and close mic will receive sound at different times and that is just hogwash, sorry. If that were so, you'd hear it on every recording ever made that was miked that way, and that would be thousands of recordings.

I can't get inside people's heads or ears and I don't want to. smile Enjoy it or don't, those are the two options. If it pleases Intrada, the recordist, and Bill Stromberg, then that's kind of the end of the story. Should they redo it and "fix" it when they don't think it's broken? Of course not. And what if another person comes forward and says, "Why is this this way, I don't like it." Should they fix it again for that person? This way madness lies, folks.

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2023 - 12:33 AM   
 By:   JB Berg   (Member)

I can't get inside people's heads or ears and I don't want to. smile Enjoy it or don't, those are the two options. If it pleases Intrada, the recordist, and Bill Stromberg, then that's kind of the end of the story. Should they redo it and "fix" it when they don't think it's broken? Of course not. And what if another person comes forward and says, "Why is this this way, I don't like it." Should they fix it again for that person? This way madness lies, folks.

Based on your statements, then this is the very first time ever that Intrada producers have made such an engraving choice.
I have been collecting and listening carefully to all their products for almost forty years, including all the rerecordings of the Excalibur series, as a true enthusiast, and this is really the very first time that I find myself observing the adoption of such a bizarre solution, given that I feel the flaw does not add quality to the execution, quite the contrary.
knowing the absolute care that Fake & Co. have always attributed to sound quality, I strongly doubt that they have consciously opted for a solution like this.

 
 Posted:   May 22, 2023 - 1:44 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

So some people hear "it", and some people do not hear "it". The thing is, perhaps we all hear "it", just some interpret the heard sound as a problem or issue? It's hard to say if we hear "it" without having a reference point from how else the music is supposed to sound? As this recording was the first time I listened to ON DANGEROUS GROUND, I have not point of reference for comparing its overall sound quality.


I mean, there are many different recordings, and many different ways to approach a recording. Some people have issues with some recordings, sometimes because they are too closely miked, sometimes because they are not miked closely enough, sometimes because of orchestral setups, sometimes too much hall, sometimes not enough hall, etc. But that does not mean the recordings sound "right" or "wrong", some may just not be to somebody's liking. That's the way it is.

Now I'm usually relaxed when it comes to all these things, which does not mean I don't "hear" them, but I appreciate differences in recordings. I just want to listen to good music, I am certainly not combing recordings for flaws. Usually, I put on an album, listen to it, and then it's months or more until I listen to it again. The reason people have a dozen Beethoven symphony sets is not that they should sound all the same. Same with a new recording of a film score: I would not want it to sound exactly like the previous recording, obviously, otherwise, what is the point or recording it again? (Apart from the fact that it's rather silly to record a score with 100 different people and expect it to sound like another recording done with 100 different people.)

Now JB Berg announced the perceived flaw in the recording as the "the proverbial elephant in the room". Now an "elephant in the room" indicates to me a very obvious and plain problem with the recording, certainly not something "subtle" that only a few people might even pick up on. That just doesn't seem to be the case.

It seems many people, including the producers of the recording, do not perceive a problem with the recording, one person present at the recording sessions even stated that the recording sounds "right" as that's what it sounded like. So to hear a "flaw" in the recording appears to be a subjective interpretation. It's to interpret what is heard as a "flaw". Roger stated that he hears "a little vibrato in the string playing, which is how the players performed it", but obviously, "vibrato" is a performance technique, some recordings feature lots of vibrato, some hardly any, but neither is "right" or "wrong" but simply a choice. That doesn't mean people cannot hear the difference, they most certainly can, it's just these differences aren't necessarily perceived as "flaws". (I am not saying that the issue some have with this recording is a matter of vibrato, I just used it as an example as it was mentioned.)

 
 Posted:   May 22, 2023 - 1:51 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

I can't hear the ODG problems mentioned, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. Could it be it's more pronounced through speakers? (I've listened only through headphones) .

I have originally listened to the recording on speakers on my hi-fi setup and did not notice anything particularly unusual. I then checked for the "flaws" with smartphone and Sony headphones. (I have so far listened only to the high-res files Intrada provided me with, I have not yet listened to the actual CD.)

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2023 - 2:22 AM   
 By:   chriscoyle   (Member)

Thanks Bruce. It does sound absurd that sound picked up by mikes spread apart by feet could be the problem. I doubt the human ear can hear such differences. Herrmann gave Virginia Majewski screen credit for her beautiful playing. Maybe the issue is that beauty is impossible to match. In the notes it states “ Stromberg and his wife Anne spent months painstakingly reconstructing the full score- took special care to capture the horn passages with accuracy and acoustic clarity. While conducting it, Stromberg “heard things in the music I’ve never heard before. There’s extra counterpoint, and low trombone chords that blew me away. There’s a piano line that you can’t hear in the original recording at all. It made me wonder if Herrmann had had cut out the piano. But I listened to the outtakes from the original sessions, and I heard Benny barking at the piano player, so it was there- just not recorded very well.” I think they did a wonderful job.

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2023 - 5:16 PM   
 By:   WillemAfo   (Member)

You know, everyone should just stop because so many here clearly don't understand recording. It's not mic placement, for heaven's sake, it's engineering and mixing. If it was recorded direct to two-track, which I doubt, then it's on the engineer (many of Bob Townson's recordings over there were direct to two-track, so blends could never be fixed. I think North by Northwest may have been the first to multitrack). Otherwise, it's the mix - if this was close-miked with a tree for overall room sound, then what you're hearing our mixing choices and while you don't have to like them, it's up to the producer/conductor/engineer to make those decisions as to what they think is required. There is NO "phasing" here - does anyone actually know what that means and what it sounds like? One wonders. Someone actually suggested that a overhead mic and close mic will receive sound at different times and that is just hogwash, sorry. If that were so, you'd hear it on every recording ever made that was miked that way, and that would be thousands of recordings.

Well, if you directly know how this was produced then please do enlighten us with that production information. Otherwise I don't think it's about whether people understand music production, the overall point is we don't actually know what happened throughout the overall process.

Mic placement could actually be a problem if they recorded multiple sessions and then they had musicians switch positions or they moved the microphones around. Should that happen and/or is that likely? No. Could it have happened? Yes. But we don't know.

Did they perhaps not have all the correct microphones for what they wanted to record? Could they not have had enough microphones for Herrmann's unusual instrumentation due to lack of experience or simply budget limitations? It's possible. But we don't know.

I didn't hear much evidence of phasing, I picked up more on inconsistent mixing which could literally be the post-production of the sound or the recordings themselves (see aforementioned microphone notes). The only phasing-like section I did hear could happen if an original mix was done in Atmos, or 7.1, or 5.1 and down mixed to stereo without actually being adjusted properly for stereo. Should that happen? No. Could it have happened? Yes. But we don't know.

There shouldn't be a reason to do crazy post-processing if the recordings themselves are solid, but who knows what happened? Did they add reverb in post? Did they change the panning/orchestra positioning in post? Any of those things are possible but we just don't know.

This was an independently-produced album funded via Kickstarter - it wasn't backed by a gigantic label nor for an active film production. Of course it was made by professionals with integrity, but the question isn't about the professional integrity of the people involved, it's about what issues might someone be hearing and if they are indeed issues what could have been the cause of them?

I don't see the harm in this discussion continuing - I highly doubt this thread is going to dissuade substantial amounts of people from buying the music, especially since regardless of any objective or subjective issues, the music is clearly a sparkling fresh improvement on the original recording.

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2023 - 5:32 PM   
 By:   chriscoyle   (Member)

Do you own any of the recordings of Herrmann’s music that William Stromberg has recorded?

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2023 - 9:19 PM   
 By:   Dr Smith   (Member)

I just don't understand what the point of writing that this recording is not perfect is? I listen to hundreds of recordings weekly, and I am simply not concerned with perfection-I am seeking pleasure and inspiration. So, it is fine to criticize imperfection, but not to blame the creators for making a mistake. They did the best they could, and we are all so much better off for their efforts.
Enjoy the music, and stop worrying about perfection!

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2023 - 10:09 PM   
 By:   .   (Member)

So, it is fine to criticize imperfection, but not to blame the creators for making a mistake.


I recall Intrada blaming the creators of the Tadlow/Prometheus re-recording of Quo Vadis for the cramped "brick-walled" sound in louder passages. There was quite a discussion about it at the time, not dissimilar to now, with most saying they heard nothing at all wrong with the sound (though I was one of the minority who agreed with Intrada's assessment). Only difference this time is Intrada's on the receiving end (though this time I'm one of the majority saying I hear nothing wrong).

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2023 - 10:27 PM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

You know, everyone should just stop because so many here clearly don't understand recording. It's not mic placement, for heaven's sake, it's engineering and mixing. If it was recorded direct to two-track, which I doubt, then it's on the engineer (many of Bob Townson's recordings over there were direct to two-track, so blends could never be fixed. I think North by Northwest may have been the first to multitrack). Otherwise, it's the mix - if this was close-miked with a tree for overall room sound, then what you're hearing our mixing choices and while you don't have to like them, it's up to the producer/conductor/engineer to make those decisions as to what they think is required. There is NO "phasing" here - does anyone actually know what that means and what it sounds like? One wonders. Someone actually suggested that a overhead mic and close mic will receive sound at different times and that is just hogwash, sorry. If that were so, you'd hear it on every recording ever made that was miked that way, and that would be thousands of recordings.

Well, if you directly know how this was produced then please do enlighten us with that production information. Otherwise I don't think it's about whether people understand music production, the overall point is we don't actually know what happened throughout the overall process.

Mic placement could actually be a problem if they recorded multiple sessions and then they had musicians switch positions or they moved the microphones around. Should that happen and/or is that likely? No. Could it have happened? Yes. But we don't know.

Did they perhaps not have all the correct microphones for what they wanted to record? Could they not have had enough microphones for Herrmann's unusual instrumentation due to lack of experience or simply budget limitations? It's possible. But we don't know.

I didn't hear much evidence of phasing, I picked up more on inconsistent mixing which could literally be the post-production of the sound or the recordings themselves (see aforementioned microphone notes). The only phasing-like section I did hear could happen if an original mix was done in Atmos, or 7.1, or 5.1 and down mixed to stereo without actually being adjusted properly for stereo. Should that happen? No. Could it have happened? Yes. But we don't know.

There shouldn't be a reason to do crazy post-processing if the recordings themselves are solid, but who knows what happened? Did they add reverb in post? Did they change the panning/orchestra positioning in post? Any of those things are possible but we just don't know.

This was an independently-produced album funded via Kickstarter - it wasn't backed by a gigantic label nor for an active film production. Of course it was made by professionals with integrity, but the question isn't about the professional integrity of the people involved, it's about what issues might someone be hearing and if they are indeed issues what could have been the cause of them?

I don't see the harm in this discussion continuing - I highly doubt this thread is going to dissuade substantial amounts of people from buying the music, especially since regardless of any objective or subjective issues, the music is clearly a sparkling fresh improvement on the original recording.


Read my post again and try to understand its points. There is NOTHING wrong with the recording. The RSNO these days is one of the MOST recorded orchestras and the engineer of the recording is a terrific engineer. I posit in my post that if people are hearing something that rankles their ears it is either the mix or the mastering, although those people who hear whatever they're hearing are a tiny minority of listeners. But let's not go blaming mics or mic placement or anything that happened at the sessions. Mixing is a personal thing and is peculiar to the tastes of the people who do it - both engineer and producer. If someone doesn't like the mix they can bellyache to their heart's content - that's personal preference and no one is going to "fix" something that one person hears one way and another person hears another way and another person doesn't mind the mix at bar 12 but thinks it's horrible at bar 36 while the other guy loves bar 36 but hates bar 115. For me, it's the height of something or other and very much an Internet discussion board thing, where everyone is suddenly an expert.

Over the course of personally producing original albums, over 200 of them. I've had a few complaints about the mixes - and I tell those people that it's my taste in mixing and that's not going to change and that's how it works. Thankfully, the other 98% love the mixes but there's simply no pleasing everyone.

 
 Posted:   May 23, 2023 - 12:36 AM   
 By:   Tom Guernsey   (Member)

Threads like this do make me think that ignorance is bliss! I wouldn't call myself uncritical of poor sounding recordings or performances, but rather more marginal issues pass me by. I think if I noticed every minor flaw in recordings, I'd find the world an even more depressing place. It's a bit like a couple of music students I got to know at uni through film music (not Mr Southall!) who, by the end of uni, had decided that John Williams and most/all film music was terrible because they'd had it drummed into them at how awful it all was by their lecturers and then went off to hum all their favourite Schoenberg tunes...

Yes, there are some recordings which have obvious flaws (the infamous Varese Torn Curtain definitely has far too much reverb!) and I'm sure many have minor imperfections which are noticeable by far fewer people and I'm glad not to be one of those people. To me it sounds absolutely terrific and the performance is superb.

However, one thought on mic placement - the recording was done over only 2 or 3 days and it seems likely that, in such a short session, all the takes for a particular cue would be done one after another, or at least all on the same day. Therefore, unless there were particular reasons for moving the mics/players around for another cue (which doesn't seem to be the case) and coming back to a previously recorded cue for another take without changing the mic/player position back, everything would be more or less the same from one take to the next, at least not different to impact the placement of instruments in the sound field. Therefore, any changes in their placement would have to have been made during the mixing process. Of course, mics/players might routinely get moved around much more than I realise, which I concede is entirely possible for someone like Bernard Herrmann where he was quite particular about such things. Then again, as these scores are for rather more traditional orchestral setups, it seems less likely here.

 
 
 Posted:   May 23, 2023 - 1:55 AM   
 By:   WillemAfo   (Member)

However, one thought on mic placement - the recording was done over only 2 or 3 days and it seems likely that, in such a short session, all the takes for a particular cue would be done one after another, or at least all on the same day. Therefore, unless there were particular reasons for moving the mics/players around for another cue (which doesn't seem to be the case) and coming back to a previously recorded cue for another take without changing the mic/player position back, everything would be more or less the same from one take to the next, at least not different to impact the placement of instruments in the sound field. Therefore, any changes in their placement would have to have been made during the mixing process. Of course, mics/players might routinely get moved around much more than I realise, which I concede is entirely possible for someone like Bernard Herrmann where he was quite particular about such things. Then again, as these scores are for rather more traditional orchestral setups, it seems less likely here.

I totally agree. All of the things I mentioned are very unlikely.

It's not really clear what JB Berg is hearing, and what they describe as phasing is not something I picked up on really at all. My observations are also only in response to JB Berg's post describing an "elephant in the room" and trying to identify what they might possibly be hearing, but I haven't heard JB Berg's responses to my suggestions and if what I'm pointing out is what they're hearing.

Granted, I'm not the only one throwing out suggestions to JB Berg either so I wouldn't expect a response.

Overall I didn't listen to the score before this exercise so I can't really say what I would have thought of the score with fresh ears. So far nothing that I noticed bothers me personally. Someone else asked if I (or maybe someone else) has heard other William Stromberg recordings - for me I can say I have, some of my favorites being "The Maltese Falcon", "Mysterious Island", and "Trinity and Beyond". Those have always sounded great to me and I've never noticed any odd things with the mixing, although I don't think those were the Royal Scottish Orchestra playing. This does seem to have odd choices with the mixing and panning, but like I said I don't know if I'd even notice them had I not being trying to listen for problems.

All that said, I can't stress enough that none of what I've heard is bothersome to me. I find this fascinating as a mysterious investigation, particularly because I don't hear what JB Berg originally stated but I'm assuming the force of how adamantly they're stating an issue must mean there is something in there to be heard.

Or maybe JB Berg was listening through underwater speakers and just didn't disclose that information to us?

 
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