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Bill Schnee on music formats
06-21-2017, 04:11 PM
Post: #1
Bill Schnee on music formats
Bill Schnee knows about recording live performances. In 2010, he started a company that records live performances in the studio.
Quote:Even the final mixes are created live, in real time as the musicians perform, which inspires a ‘live performance’ from the recording engineer as well.

In the 1970s, he had another company that made "audiophile albums...recorded in real time directly to the phonograph record cutting lathe."

In 2010 he made this informative blog entry about music formats:

Quote:In the last 30 years there has been a huge decline in the quality of sound reproduction to the consumer - from the LP - to the overly compressed CD - to the overly compressed Mp3. Meanwhile professionals have continued to pursue making better sounding recordings in the studio.

Why is there this disparity? Two big reasons…

1. Competition for high level.

In the 60s and 70s, everyone wanted their records as hot as possible. Record promotion people wanted a ‘hot’ single to take to radio stations so it would jump out of the speakers. And no artist or producer wanted their album or single to be quieter when it dropped on the turntable of a record changer or juke box after another artist’s music had just played. But the limitations of the vinyl medium only allowed level to be pushed so far. As the CD took over as the primary delivery medium for music at the end of the 80s, artists and producers began pushing mastering engineers for more and more level on them as well. A big reason for this was the primary listening environment for music had shifted to the automobile, with it’s increased background noise. By using extensive brick wall limiting and digital compression, levels far above the LP could be obtained, but at a great cost to the dynamics and fidelity of the original mix (as in added distortions). What this extra limiting does is make for a much higher average level, but with much less peak factor. It’s higher peak levels that make your speakers ‘jump’ on transients, as opposed to the average level that just makes the music constantly louder. It’s sad that with the compact disc’s great dynamic range of over 90 db, most CDs today are using only 5-10% of it by pushing these high levels. In addition, the D to A converters in many CD players and computers cannot handle this increased level, causing even more distortion. The overly compressed CDs are then turned into overly compressed Mp3s, which have now become the new standard for music.

2. Convenience.

The compact disc won the battle over the LP because of convenience, and the Mp3 is even more convenient. Mp3s and portable players have put music in more people’s ears than ever before in history. But this portability has reduced music to something you listen to while doing something else … exercising, cooking, bike riding, etc. People don’t sit and listen to complete albums the way they did in the LP days. We at Bravura would love for each artist’s efforts to be listened to from top to bottom - at least the first time. And while Mp3s are wonderful technology for convenience, they certainly do not begin to sonically convey what those in the studio work so hard to achieve. Of course to even begin to hear what is heard in the studio, one has to listen on something more than earbuds, an Mp3 docking station, or even computer speakers.

The bottom line:

Today, most music is not being listened to in a quiet room like the control rooms where it’s mixed and mastered. Done in part to combat the noisy environment of the car, the sound of the overly compressed CD has caused lots of serious music listeners to stop listening to music. Our desire is for the serious music lover to regain the enjoyment of listening to new music. As a result, most Bravura records will have had a minimum of limiting or compression used in the recording, and positively NO digital limiting - even on the CD versions. As a result, our CD releases may be as much as 6 db lower than the average commercial CD. You will just have to use your volume control for it’s intended use! But, you will get ALL the dynamics as the musicians played them in the studio.

It doesn't appear much became of the company. It produced tracks whose quality blew people away at shows for hi-fi enthusiasts, but possibly only released one commercial track.

In 2011, Bill said on a forum:
Quote:The problem we're having is getting the proper financing to launch the label properly - not just to the audiophile world, but the general market as well.

I'm sorry for the "tease," as it's become. I can assure you if you like what you hear on the Christmas songs, you're going to love the final album releases.

Forum comment by someone in 2010:

Quote:I met Bill at CES 2009 and was floored, I mean floored!! by his 24/192 demos. i was sitting next to reviewer Dick Olsher and whispered a couple things to him about the sound of the piano. He said i should bring them up to Bill in the demo and I did. Bill was like a proud father and gave me huge kudos for hearing what I wasn't was obvious!! Smile

...Bill and I chatted for quite awhile, and I've emailed him since at Bravura. His stuff will be very very good! He was originally thinking he'd distribute via BluRay but no real audiophile BluRay movement has he's taking a survey on whether to stay there, or release as DVD-Rom or somehow download (they are huge files, which is why few download sites go beyond 24/96). Bill would like a physical medium cuz he, like me, loves cover art, liner notes, etc. PDF's can always take their palce I guess.

Bill has a tremendous passion for HiRez, and for that reason alone he is a hero of this movement. He is committed to making sure the iPod generation hears great music!!

Given his commitment to audio quality, and the time period for the songs, I expect it will be "hot" record with "higher peak levels that make your speakers ‘jump’ on transients."

One curious thing is the fact they recorded to tape. In another blog entry he says,

Quote:I feel I know the ills of analog tape as well as anyone. There’s noise, distortions, tape compression, retentivity (how well the tape holds [or doesn’t hold] the recorded signal - especially after being played for weeks of overdubbing), tape shedding, lack of consistency in tape from reel to reel, and so on. But I chose to continue dealing with those ills rather than record on the early digital tape recorders - for the sake of sound. Then came the digital workstations. I finally had to succumb to digital recording when I saw the production value of ProTools HD, and it does record at 96 and even 192 khz.

A few years ago I needed to find a replacement medium on which to print my final stereo mixes from ProTools. The inconsistency of analog tape from the two remaining tape manufacturing plants became a real problem.

So I enlisted the services of a brilliant young audio design engineer, Josh Florian of JCF Audio, ...(and) commissioned him to build an A/D converter specifically for 24/192KHz.

He sold his studio in 2015.

Quote:Suffice it to say, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Miles Davis, Cher, Toto, Supertramp, Rod Stewart, Diana Krall and Natalie Cole all worked at the studio.

“[Bill] had all these beautiful signatures from clients on the walls. We didn’t want to destroy them, so they’re still here,” under the new wall treatment in the control room, says Burr. “You can still feel the good vibes.”
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06-21-2017, 05:17 PM (This post was last modified: 06-21-2017 05:18 PM by Tom22.)
Post: #2
RE: Bill Schnee on music formats
A similar (if not the same?) subject is often referred to as "the loudness war"

Here is another article that is pretty exhaustive on history a bit optimistic on the future and has diagrams and audio examples.

It is too long to quote.
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07-15-2017, 10:17 PM (This post was last modified: 07-15-2017 10:25 PM by john.)
Post: #3
RE: Bill Schnee on music formats
Bill Schnee mixed some well know records in addition to the Smith version of BIY.

He mixed Carly Simon's No Secrets album

He recorded songs on Aja (and Tom Scott did the horn arrangements) worked on other Steely Dan albums

About recording Deacon Blue

About recording Peg

Jackson Five - Live Recording and mastering engineer

Pointer Sisters mixing on various albums

Lots of other stuff
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