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Old 10th October 2008
Gear Addict

Interesting to hear about what went on at an actual Hamelin session!

I should say right away that I don't think the aesthetic difference I'm talking about is due to technological advances. After all, digital audio can sound plenty warm and intimate, and I think it offers many benefits over analog.

What I am curious about is the recording techniques that lead to the unusual sound of many recent piano recordings. Gould and Horowitz always have a bit of an edge to them; beautiful, but sonically imperfect. Even when Horowitz was recorded live, it emphatically does not sound like contemporary recordings made in big halls.

So, as a result of hearing this difference I start thinking there must be something "done" to new recordings. Why does a live recording of Horowitz sound raw and edgy, while Hamelin (not to pick on him, but just for example) sounds incredibly smooth and without a single blemish. Why is it that when Gould uses a distant microphone (like in his Sibelius Sonatinas) it sounds legitimately like you’re standing far away from the piano, whereas with Perahia I don’t know where the piano is in relation to me as I listen? The mics are clearly far away in the latter case, but they’re not distant in an acoustically recognizable sense. At least to me, the distance sounds artificial. Where does that artificiality come from?

Perhaps this is all is a simple matter of impeccable attention to detail, but perhaps there are more techniques involved as well? I don't know, but I'd love to learn more!

Originally Posted by Larry Elliott View Post
I have sat in on a session for Hamelin - and this was a very simple set up using a technique that was regularly used by the engineer, Simon Eadon, when he was at Decca. A lot of attention was given to the piano by the tech to minimise any extraneous noises.

I haven’t heard the final CD of this session - but I do not expect that any airbrushing - other than editing, would have been applied.