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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:20 pm
by Barry Say
Hi All,

I think the [url][/url] site is a wonderful idea. I find it far preferable to youtube where the videos which come with music generally uninformative and distracting, as far as I am concerned.

For anyone thinking of contributing to TOTM it seems like the ideal vehicle. The recording remains under the control of the originator and, even better, it looks to be possible to restrict access to the recordings making them available only to those internet users who are given the specific URL of the recording. So, those who wish to can make their recordings private and publish a 'secret link' in the TOTM section, so that only those who are sufficiently interested to follow the thread will hear the recording.

I'm off to sign up now!


Re: Soundcloud

PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:56 pm
by Dally
The sound is better too, or so it seems. The youtube files have to be compressed to such a degree that the drones sometimes sound like they are shifting or wavering when they aren't.

Re: Soundcloud

PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 7:34 am
by edric
My first few attempts at using SoundCloud seemed to come out a bit lower quality than the "original" WAV file on my computer. I've tried adding some compression before uploading - that seems to help - but maybe I simply still don't have the levels quite right when recording.

I must say I prefer not having the visual aspect to worry about - don't have to worry whether I'm gurning too much while playing. My main non-musical challenge remaining is keeping a constant distance from the recorder so that the volume stays constant.

Re: Soundcloud

PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:42 am
by Francis Wood
Careful listening probably overcomes any technical deficiency with the sound. There are plenty of examples of fine musical performances recorded pre-electrically, using horns and clockwork where the original musicality shines through, despite the medium.

There does seem to be a big difference in the final quality of files uploaded to SoundCloud as mp3s or wav. However the final result is heavily compressed, though adequate. Perfectly suitable for the TOTM project.

For making uncompressed files available, setting up a free Dropbox account and using its public folder is probably as good a solution as any:

What would also be useful is a plugin to add some genuine Tom Clough 78 crackle.


Re: Soundcloud

PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:52 pm
by Richard York
When making a pseudo wax cylinder recording I found that adding a track of dry rice grains being spun round and round in an old yoghurt pot, suitably adjusted for treble and bass, did the trick rather well.

Sorry, this is somewhat OT to pipes, however :)

Best wishes,

Re: Soundcloud

PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:04 pm
by Barry Say
Personally, I must take some issue with Francis here. The crackling rendition of historical recordings is something I am happy to cope with, but I feel that there is something particular about the sound of NSP which is extremely susceptible to damage by modern manipulation in audio reproduction.

Personally, I found that listening to some tapes of NSP on the inbuilt stereo of our Peugeot 405 estate was extremely distressing. I think that the 309 we had before it was just as bad There heavy 'wow' on the drones destroyed any enjoyment in listening to the tapes.

I have experimented with converting files to .wav and .ogg format and it seems to me that the sound of our pipes suffers more noticeable distortion than other sorts of music. I think that the reason for this lies in the nature of the instrument.
  • The drones should be constant throughout the performance.
  • The volume of the chanter should be constant throughout the performance.
Much of modern technology is dedicated to reproducing the the sounds of Classical Orchestras, Opera, Brass bands and Stadium performances by modern, commercial performers. These generally involve huge changes of volume. The BBC has great difficulty in simultaneously satisfying its customers who listen on high quality equipment at home and those who listen in an 'automobile'. It is generally accepted that more 'bits' and 'stereo' are good. 16 bit stereo is 'standard' CD. Taking some older recordings of Jack Armstrong I found that 8 bit mono (which occupies 25% of the space) produced a perfectly acceptable rendition of the recording.

I don't think this will lead them to reproduce Adrian Schofield's well-known rendition of Forster Charlton's recorder, but rather, I suggest that muddy recordings will dull their sensibilities and fail to inspire them to play in a crisp manner.

Once again, Northumbrian pipers are out of step with the world (did I mean horde?). Huzzah

Older mechanical recordings are very imperfect:
  • the rendition of tone can be appalling.
  • the background noise can cause difficulty
  • The recording technique is non-linear.
To my mind these are difficulties we can surmount, but I feel that the distortions introduced by modern electronic/digital techniques can be more destructive. If we customarily listen to recordings which contain distortion, our perception of the proper sound of pipes could well be some what off-beam from the tradition we hold in such high regard.



If you think different, please say so.
If you agree with any of the above, please say so.
If you are coming from left field, with an entirely different approach -- let's here it.


Re: Soundcloud

PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:17 pm
by Richard York
Hi Barry,
I have found that I simply can't listen for very long to smallpipes recordings in the car. And it's not that noisy a car, but it still gets in the way of the drones.
I can turn it up to a tiresomely high volume, but get fed up with that after a while - there's still interference, and since, unlike the famous ticking clock which you don't hear, it's of a variable sound quality as the road surface changes, I can't easily zone it out; I tend mainly to listen to nsp recordings at home, I find.

And as to most commercial recording sound expectations... that's a very unpleasant minefield!

Do we need a separate thread on sound reproduction?
If we get onto that I can do truly Grumpy Old Man about what a lot of sound engineers dot to live performance too...

Best wishes,

Re: Soundcloud

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:03 pm
by Dally
Richard York wrote:If we get onto that I can do truly Grumpy Old Man about what a lot of sound engineers dot to live performance too...


Well since we started TOTM I've been on a steep learning curve about recording technique, hardware and software. I have been converting stereo to mono thinking it will clarify the sound, but now I believe converting to mono creates an unnatural drift in the drones. Also, I record 24 bit wav files, then reduce them to 16bits to upload. Perhaps this is also creating intereferance? The first thing I do with the editing software is normalize the track, which brings the volume up to "normal" but that process too might monkey with the tone.

I think all this processing adds mistakes to my playing as well. :P

Suffice it to say, there's nothing like a live, accoustic performance!

Re: Soundcloud

PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:21 pm
by Barry Say
Dally wrote:Suffice it to say, there's nothing like a live, acoustic performance!

Oh so very true.