Oct 18, 2004 News LISTEN & COMPARE

Correct it or leave it alone? How much should one intervene? Is the special colour of a singer’s voice a characteristic of the voice or of the microphone being used? To what extent can one reduce background noise on the original recording without cutting off the tone signal pitch as well? Is audience noise conducive to the live atmosphere or does it significantly disturb the musical flow?

The questions can only be answered subjectively – and recording engineers who work on analogue tapes with the means of digital technique have to make these decisions daily. Up until now, a CD listener had to accept the recording engineer’s work as a given – there was no way of comparing it to the original.

The audite series “LISTEN & COMPARE” now intends to change this. Both versions – original and the revised version – are on the SACD. When playing these on a modern SACD player, one can hear the unrevised historical archive recording following the restored version. Sometimes the difference between the two versions is hardly perceptible, and sometimes striking.

The recording engineer’s sensitivity in working with the historical material is revealed here. On the one hand, he should not correct everything that would be technically possible in order to preserve the authenticity in the restored version. On the other hand, he should of course make use of all technical possibilities that would improve the recording! The recording engineer gains new freedom with “LISTEN & COMPARE” because the revision can always be understood in relation to the original. The listener has the possibility of comparing the original to the revision.

The point of departure for all steps of the revising process is the copy of the archive tape on a digital medium. Even re-recording old tapes requires a professional because tape machines must be adapted; possible rips in the tape that may have opened up again over the years must be repaired. Sometimes the entire magnetic layer has come off the tape material. The best analogue-digital transformers with a high sample frequency and word-width are absolutely necessary prerequisites for an optimal result. The copy which has been prepared in this way is found unchanged on the “LISTEN & COMPARE” SACD.

The next step entails various processes of revision. According to the quality of the original recording, tape noise and disturbing noises are reduced to a minimum, pre-echoes and echoes removed, rests revised and the recording sound improved as much as possible.
The “Sequoia” work station and the restoring tool “reNovator” have proven their indispensability, selected from a wide variety of possible technical processing tools. But the recording engineer’s qualifications remain the most decisive factor in determining the quality of the end product!

“LISTEN & COMPARE” offers you archive recordings of the highest audio quality. The original recordings represent unique sound documents, which have not only been made available again in this way, but will also be preserved for a long time.