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Why were vocal recordings so much better in the 1950s?
Old 23rd May 2020
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DirkP View Post
1 mic, 1 take, 2019:

This is gorgeous.

But if it’s one mic...why are there drum overheads ?!
Old 23rd May 2020
  #62
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Now and then there’s a fool such as I,

Ray H.

Apologies to Hank Snow - I love you, but Elvis rocks!
Old 23rd May 2020
  #63
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chessparov2.0 View Post
[. . .] Sorry No Autotune/2nd Takes! [. . .]
. . .and no remastering.


Now it’s a fair fight,

UNKNOWN


PS. After we shoot it out, you’re not going to tell me there isn’t any name on the grave either, right?
Old 23rd May 2020
  #64
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"Here Lies Les Moore"
"No Less"
"No More".
Chris
Old 23rd May 2020
  #65
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
Just what the title said: listen to Perry Como, Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Julie London and others recorded way back then. They sound as if they're right in front of you. Now, with all the technological advances, it's rare to hear vocalists sound anywhere near as real and many I can't believe the engineers actually passed for release. They sound scheissehausen.
Btw, early 50's stuff from the Capital Melrose studios is exquisite.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CupcakeKitten View Post
I pointed out that "not all modern female singers" need autotune to carry a live song - and i'm right.
Of course you are; never said you weren't. But also, I never said or implied that *all* modern female singers did, and gave what I thought were some specific examples of that. If that's what you took away, well that's an inference problem, not an implication problem.

You're the one that came out guns a-blazin' like I kicked your puppy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CupcakeKitten View Post
On top of that you've gone and made assumptions about my personal taste?
No. That was your thing, right out of the gate with the cruise ship/elevator music comment. My only assumption was that with such a negative reaction to an expressed opinion (which is right, btw), you must be a huge fan of Billie Eilish and/or Selena Gomez.

Anyway, best of luck to you with your music, and I mean that with all honesty and sincerity.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #67
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henryrobinett's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lucasanything View Post


"Yes." Do I win now?
Wait. I just have to weigh in on this. Without question the musicianship was far superior on average compared to today. No question.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #68
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Amen!
Old 23rd May 2020
  #69
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
Listen to those records again tell me what you think of the kick drum sound.

Or the bass.

Or the guitars.

The vocals 'stand out' on those recordings because let's be honest, the mix is mostly vocals. If audiences would stand for that in 2020, I am sure you could get the vocal to sound as if they were right in front of you. It's not technological "magic" - hey some of those same mics are still in service - it's simply a different aesthetic. It's not "better" IMO, that would be a matter of taste.

If I mixed a modern band's song like a Perry Como record, the singer might dig it, but the guitar players would be outside my door with torches and pitchforks.
Very very true, but I'm wondering if this was a result of the move away from producers beholden to the record companies (pre-1969) to either self-produced recordings or engineer in cahoots with the artist(s) recordings. Formerly, the producer was distinct from both the artist(s) and the engineers; his job was to make hit records for the company and placing vocalists way out front was seen as more likely to succeed than singers being swamped by accompanists. Once bands started producing themselves and promoting "democratic" decision-making where every member had a say in the mix the vocalist was only one of many. As many producers have noted, every member of the band wants their contribution out front; consequently, the singer tends to just be another instrumentalist, as it were.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #70
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MandoBastardo View Post
In the 50s, engineers didn't spend their time on the internet asking for opinions on hundreds of boutique repli-mics. Or trying to use out-of-date coupon codes to save 10 bucks on the latest hyped-up plugin that emulates the sound of success.

Instead, they just put up the bog-standard U47 for Frank, hit record on the 351 and glared out the glass at the band if they got too showy.
Well said. Simplicity has gone AWOL. Think of it; they used to record ENTIRE albums in a single day!
Old 23rd May 2020
  #71
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enlightened Hand View Post
I don't know the actual answer. But there are some pretty great vocal recordings from these days too.

In any great recording case it's more about listening, pursuing and knowing what sounds "right" and less about choosing gear/techniques that make you look on-trend.
Of course there are, but it seems to me that they're quite rare. You can take pretty well any vocal recording from the 50s and, assuming the remastering is OK, it will have a magical presence that just isn't there nowadays. If you take Diana Krall as an example of "good" modern vocal recording ( and I'm sure there are plenty who will demur), she sounds distinctly mundane compared to, say, Julie London on her 1957 album, "About The Blues". Or Dion on "A Teenager in Love" from the Rhino Doo-Wop box set.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kludgeaudio View Post
This is a huge part of it. Another big part of it is that the vocalist is in a real room, sometimes with the band and interacting with the band. A huge part of it is that the vocalists you're talking about were very very skilled people. They knew how to work the microphone, they knew how to take advantage of the room, they didn't need fifty punches in every line.

But these are songs, and it's about the song, it's not about the backing band, so the mix is all built around the vocal with the vocal very prominent.

I'll still record and mix stuff like this occasionally when I have a group that can do it. It sounds great.
--scott
A lot of those great vocalists started out with the Big Bands and had to learn their craft from years of slogging it out night after night in Hotel residencies.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #73
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
I'd say it's fairly easy to make anything sound good if you're somewhat experienced and if you don't have to push things. I mean compression, eq etc.

Good room, good performances all natural with Maybe some master bus eq (if that was available early 50s) and voila!

Professionals at that time where also very good at their instruments. Today it's really all over the place since it's more about marketing hype. Not saying that wasn't relevant back then too, but at least you had to be able to perform and could not hide and disguise things with FX, Autotune etc.

And what people pointed out it was all about the vocals back then.
When modern producer try to get the authentic "Sun Sound" or the "Phil Spector Goldstar" sound using modern equipment it generally sounds like a weak parody of the original. Do Chris Isaak recordings really replicate the Roy Orbison sound? T-Bone Burnette tries to make Gillian Welch on "Revival" sound as if she's just wandered in from the Oklahoma dustbowl but it doesn't hold a candle to Kitty Wells' recordings such as "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels" from the early 50s.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmankr View Post
Talent and the weeding out process like Jim said. The singers worked all week with live gigs as there were very few lipsync scams being pulled then and no computer correction. The band members main source of middle class income was playing live most of the week so they knew how to play as an ensemble as opposed to an Im the star / doing their own thing (few of the new class is playing with other musicians on a daily basis). Fewer mics in a larger better sounding room. Singers knew how to work the mic and were not swollowing it. Engineers moved players around instead of the mic and thus achieved a better point source balance (mixing desks didn't have that many channels nor did the tape decks so they got it right in the room as much as possible). Better reverb, real reverb chambers. Mono but stereo was pretty damn good too. Tube gear.

Now the low end, bass and kick were lower level and rounded sounding compared to today. If trying to recreate with a modern sound just balance those parts in OUTSIDE of the vocal space.

A main part is also the song itself. Songs of the time now known as "Standards" have a recognizable melody line and chord changes and as such could be done just instrumentally for people to enjoy it. Thats why 50 different bands could record the same song and through their interpetation of the song, sound unique. The vocals added interesting lyrics and brought you in further. So the song itself was typically very memorable. Contrast that to todays pop which is often the same chord changes as a zillion others with mind numbing stupid very limited lyrics which as a hook are over repeated and you have song fragments posing as a song (basically a polished extended jingle). As for EDM you have a large center section of the 3D mix space taken up by the kick which competes with and cancels out part the vocal as opposed to complimenting it.

Lastly its economics. It's more profitable to have a teen or young 20 something with little to no experience sign a one sided contract whose only talent is that they look good and can do a few dance steps as most of the heavy lifting of the singing part can be done by others using a computer.
I think you just said it all, cynical as it may seem.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #75
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GYMusic View Post
I love this recording. I've mentioned it before on other GS threads. The Horton stuff was recorded at Owen Bradley's studio in Nashville.

Bruce Swedien also had some great 3 track recordings early in his career. Left-center-right. No precessing - no BS.

By the way... anyone heard from The Swede?
Owen Bradley was great, especially on Brenda Lee recordings. Her recording of "I'm Sorry" is one of the most transfixing pieces of magic ever to make it to disc, and she was only 15 at the time. Another remarkable recording is The Fleetwoods' "Come Softly To Me'. And also check out their acapella rendition of "unchained Melody"
Old 23rd May 2020
  #76
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpl. Punishment View Post
God, I miss Julie London and Bobby Troupe.

In any event, it may be that you're conflating "great voices" with "good recordings". Maybe even hearing artifacts related to auto-tune, compression or a number of other artificial enhancements that weren't used in the 1950's.

Something like Goldfrapp's "Pilots", perhaps?

There's this odd phenomenon in the past decade or so where women want to whisper into the microphone, and to me that's not singing so much it's "emotive whining". Selena Gomez's "Good for You", Vaults' "Premonitions" or ... pretty much anything by Billie Eilish. There's just no air behind these voices to sustain a note, so they require a *lot* of post-processing. To be fair, Julie London did her share of quiet breathy vocals popularized by the slow, smoky jazz she's known for, but in her case you can almost feel her diaphragm expanding through the speakers as she takes a breath on songs like "The End of a Love Affair" and "Cry Me A River".

So I don't think it's the recordings themselves so much as the artistry behind these modern songs, or more to the point, lack thereof.
Agreed. I almost wonder if producers are trying to cover up vocal inadequacies nowadays. But even in cases of beautiful voices like Alison Kraus and Hannah Reid there's this residual artificiality that undermines their vocal expertise.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #77
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
This


And this.
--

In any era of recording the gig is easier when the people on the other side of the glass have the **** together. That's why there are great recordings in every era. I was more common for there to be working bands in the 40-50s. Players paying their dues, working their way up the food chain. Those at or near the top were the only ones even considered by the record companies. Les Paul was about the only guy on the planet who had a home studio. What you're recording always trumps how in terms of mass appeal.
Yep, only the top musicians got recorded. Hence, the high quality.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #78
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by junkshop View Post
7 years later than the 50's but still relevant to the discussion. Not a vocal booth in sight.
Also - Lee Hazlewood! Bobby Strange! & Frank......

Lee Hazlewood and Nancy S! An underrated pair of musicians: "Summer Wine", "Some Velvet Morning", "Paris Summer" - really great and unique songs. And Nancy was a hell of a singer.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #79
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpl. Punishment View Post
Something like Goldfrapp's "Pilots", perhaps?
Alison Goldfrapp has a lovely, if somewhat limited, voice. But Goldfrapp's "Felt Mountain" and "Tales Of Us" are IMO two of the greatest albums ever made. From any era.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
These threads that start out with "Why is it that [opinion stated as a given goes here]? crack me up a little.

Those vocal recordings worked for the way they made records at the time.
Yeah, a presumptive conclusion.

Arrangements were designed to highlight the vocals. Everything supported the vocals. There are some amazing vocal recordings done today, but it's a different time and place. Rock n Roll totally blew up the Bing Crosby paradigm in the 50's.

Like, "Why can I hear every word clearly in "Gone With the Wind," but struggle to understand the dialogue in modern films? Now there are massive SFX, and actors mumble, and they talk over one another for realism. Style. Nobody actually talks like Clark Gable on film. Brando killed that.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Honkermann View Post
This is gorgeous.
Yes it is! I'd like to thank DirkP for posting it, haven't heard anything like that in a while
Quote:
But if it’s one mic...why are there drum overheads ?!
https://youtu.be/Qj5z4SbrH20
The backing instruments are also stereo. Listening in mono seemed closer to what one might expect from one mic in the room?
No matter, just my audio geek curiosity kicking in.
Another
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2dI8HkQrz8
Old 23rd May 2020
  #82
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Dubious pressings of 78, 45rpm (played day after day) ...routed to thousands of mismatched sta-levels, towered out as bandlimited am signals beaming across untold numbers of power line interference tripups, landing finally in an oval paper mono speaker in the dashboard of eight million 1957 Impalas weaving between trucks and railroad tracks....with the windows down.

Yeah, I get it.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #83
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
The record biz kept the posers out of the studio.
Jim, that’s romantic, but you have to know that’s not true... for every frank and Dino there were plenty of not frank and dinos... this ratio just grew larger as the record biz moved more units
Old 23rd May 2020
  #84
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
Lee Hazlewood and Nancy S! An underrated pair of musicians: "Summer Wine", "Some Velvet Morning", "Paris Summer" - really great and unique songs. And Nancy was a hell of a singer.
Um... see? We all have different opinions in this business or music as to what a great singer is! But, Nancy plus the Wrecking Crew is a great counterpoint to Jim Williams’ post in my opinion!
Old 23rd May 2020
  #85
Gear Head
 

I do enjoy a good vocal performance.

But when I want to dance I like to hear drums upfront.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #86
Gear Maniac
 
MandoBastardo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
Well said. Simplicity has gone AWOL. Think of it; they used to record ENTIRE albums in a single day!
Sure. But the days were longer then, the albums shorter and the summer wind was always at their back.

They suffered no smartyphone beeps, boops and selfies. The master bus wasn't littered with a LCD wall of 2D graphics derived from a bygone era. And they weren't constantly distracted by drum replacement options or GS notifications that someone was wrong on the internet. Again.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #87
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My previous comments were largely humorous attempts. I do believe there tons of Talented singers and musicians out there.
I certainly wish there was more of a Music Industry like in days of Yore, and plenty of good paying live work-let alone Union Session pay!
Will catch up, later this weekend.
Chris
P.S. Huge Dion fan BTW!
Old 23rd May 2020
  #88
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MandoBastardo View Post
Sure. But the days were longer then, the albums shorter and the summer wind was always at their back.

They suffered no smartyphone beeps, boops and selfies. The master bus wasn't littered with a LCD wall of 2D graphics derived from a bygone era. And they weren't constantly distracted by drum replacement options or GS notifications that someone was wrong on the internet. Again.
Why be old and bitter? If you have to be old (and we all do, if we're lucky), make music, make recordings, have fun. And don't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #89
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MandoBastardo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Why be old and bitter? If you have to be old (and we all do, if we're lucky), make music, make recordings, have fun. And don't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks.
I don't care that you mistake sarcasm for bitterness. It adds to the fun. This backward looking 21st century recording era is too tempting not to lampoon.
Old 23rd May 2020
  #90
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Harold Melvin and the Blue notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass.

Now thats what Im talking about.

Cheers
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