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"Compressing" an orchestra by choice of miking

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Listening to my recording of Klemperer conducting Brahms #2, recorded in 1958 on EMI, I can't help noticing the brass is virtually inaudible except as a bland, vague loud sound that blends with the drums. You can tell when the brass enter because everything gets louder, but there is no brass timbre--no bite or edge, no distinction between trumpets and trombones, etc.

 

Meanwhile the oboes are clear as a bell. So are the flutes and clarinets.

 

The strings are audible but lack some presence.

 

It makes me think they achieved some form of compression by miking and mixing instrumental sections differently. Close-mike the quiet instruments, use an intermediate distance on the strings, and put a muffler on the brass. The overall dynamic range will be compressed but not by the use of a so-called compressor.

 

Anyone know if things were deliberately done this way for this reason?

 

Mike

post #2 of 4

I think that may have had something to do with Klemperer. He worked slow and dense, building up massive textures instead of spotlighting parts. Karajan did a Brahms 4 with the Philharmonia. That likely was miked and recorded the same, but with a different sort of approach.


Edited by bigshot - 2/13/14 at 10:22am
post #3 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

I think that may have had something to do with Klemperer. He worked slow and dense, building up massive textures instead of spotlighting parts. Karajan did a Brahms 4 with the Philharmonia. That likely was miked and recorded the same, but with a different sort of approach.

Hi Mike!

 

bigshot's explanation might be the primary reason.

 

Also, at the time, they were still experimenting with proper stereo mic'ing. DECCA famously went through various "tree" configurations, as well as using outriggers to enhance the stereo sound. Sometimes during minimal mic'ing, you can suddenly hear sections get louder as the engineers would sometimes "ride" the volume faders to make sure the 2 or 3 mic pick-up scheme would highlight the proper section at the proper time. The sure sign is a rise in audible hiss (assuming no noise reduction has been applied).

 

Hope that helps.

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hmm, I find it hard to imagine Klemperer didn't want the audience to enjoy the brilliant timbre of brass. I agree he probably went for a blended sound, but I suspect the miking still had something to do with it.

Mike

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