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Author Topic: Production quality of the Sunflower/Surf's Up era  (Read 3122 times)
phirnis
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« Reply #25 on: August 19, 2021, 12:52:40 AM »

I like Sunflower and Surf's Up although I think they don't sound as interesting (to me personally) as the records that the band made when Brian was in charge. Their sound changed dramatically after Friends and while subsequent albums did still sound very creative there's a particular originality missing from most of the material. Wild Honey, for example, sounds pretty lo-fi as far as I'm concerned but it still has that sense of originality. It's hard to describe really; to me it feels like Carl's vision of the Beach Boys did not have the same level of energy as Brian's, although he did a tremendous job on those early-70s records, so please don't get me wrong.
I feel the same way often, even if I love a lot of songs from 20/20 thru Holland. Do you feel the energy returned with 15 Big Ones/Love You?

For the most part, yes. I think this is why I love to listen to 15 Big Ones although it is such a flawed record. They lost that energy for good with M.I.U. and the Light Album.
I'm really not a fan of Bruce's production on LA or KTSA. I have a love-hate relationship with MIU. This is probably a bad way of thinking about it, but when I'm convinced Brian played a bigger role on the album, I enjoy it more. When I'm convinced he was a bystander, I'm less of a fan. Reality isn't in absolutes and the quality of the music shouldn't be impacted by how involved Brian was, but it still kind of matters. As an aside, I have a (maybe twisted) obsession with the Brian's Back era live shows. They're really fun and I like when Brian had a lot of energy out there. 1977, or maybe early 1978 is the last time the Beach Boys feel fun to me. I do think that maybe in the very early KTSA sessions some of that magic might've been there too, I hope we get to see a copyright extension set on that era (the last time Brian and Mike collaborated in a major way, I believe).

L.A. is a nice listen from time to time but Good Timin' is the only song I find myself coming back to on a regular basis. I'm the same, I definitely prefer it when Brian was actively involved. Most of those songs really stick out, like Funky Pretty which I can't imagine any other member to come up with in terms of arrangement and production. Carl's approach, in comparison, often sounds to me like he was determined to make some solid rock tracks and get everyone to perform really well. That's fine (I'm a big Holland fan) and he did have some very creative ideas too but Brian's approach was more eccentric and more pop at the same time, to my ears anyway, and that for me is the Beach Boys at their very best. Speaking of M.I.U., that eccentricity is what I find is really missing from this album despite Brian's (inconsistent) involvement as a composer. There's nothing too daring or unusual about the arrangements or the harmonies or the bass parts on that album as far as I can tell, so it ends up sounding pleasant but a little boring - sorry, Al. I agree about the live shows, although I'd extend that time frame somewhat into the early 80s depending on the band's overall condition on the given date.
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Greg Parry
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« Reply #26 on: August 19, 2021, 01:48:28 AM »


But at the end of the day, like 99.9% of people listening to the stuff back then *AND* to this day are going to do so with some sort of standard set up to listen to stereo mixes. No, this stuff shouldn't be listened to (or at least analyzed) via smartphone speakers or something. But it also shouldn't require anything more than me putting a CD in and plugging some headphones in or listening on normal speakers. If something more than that is required, then that is, arguably, a flaw or at least "issue" with the original recording/mixing methods that is worth pointing out. I absolutely should *not* need a "study video" to hear this stuff as intended. I'm not saying such videos aren't highly interesting and welcomed.


Preach it, brother!

Bonnevillemariner, if I came across as sanctimonious I genuinely apologise. I was trying to answer your question with what I saw, and still see, as a possible answer to your question. Let me reiterate that there is no 'wrong' way to be moved by art.

Going back to Hey Jude's argument quoted above, whilst I am aware I am cherry-picking from your full reply, which was fair minded in its acknowledgement of my points, I do need to take exception to this idea that a system is flawed simply because one needs to meet a certain set of criteria in order for it to work correctly. Something cannot be flawed for working, this is a logical fallacy. Of course one does not need 'study videos', but what these videos instruct is the correct seating position in relation to the speakers. Traditional headphone listening will not work, nor will lying on the sofa with the speakers wall mounted. Let me be VERY clear, I am not saying these listening methods are wrong, merely that they will compromise the illusion of the stereophonic field. To listen to stereo optimally requires effort on the part of the listener, which seems to be what you are criticising. Effort does not equate to a system being flawed.

There are peer reviewed papers documenting research into the stereophonic field going back to the 1930's. The auditory illusion that stereo presents under the correct conditions has been fully explored. This research is still extremely pertinent today, insomuch that EVERY stereo recording you listen to has been mixed and mastered by someone sitting in exactly the position prescribed for correct stereo listening. Logic therefore dictates that in order to fully appreciate the recording, one must adopt the same position. This becomes even more true for a record such as Sunflower, which was really quite an experimental recording when it comes to stereo mixing. I know I am somewhat misrepresenting your argument now, but you should never think of such experimentation as flawed. That way lies the mass homogenisation of music in which we currently find ourselves!

You posit that 99.9% of music listeners want to access music with the minimum of effort. I can neither agree nor disagree with this assertion. I myself can be both audiophile and casual listener, depending on the circumstances. What this assertion would seem to suggest however is there is a sizable disconnect between the way people digest art, and the method that goes into creating that art. The best artists have always understood the science behind what they do, be that perspective in painting or maths in composition. I fully acknowledge that most people don't want to know about the methods that lie behind the art and cultural artefacts they digest. It can destroy the illusion and impair enjoyment when one concentrates too much on the inner workings. I just don't agree this is the case with stereo listening, where an understanding, or at the least an acknowledgment of the science is vital if one wishes to hear exactly what the creators intended.

Before anyone thinks I am some sort of advocate for stereo, I really am not. I'm currently researching how music can be presented in virtual spaces via HRTF through headphones This is a far different beast to stereo. Funnily enough I find myself mixing in mono most days as monophonic sources translate much more convincingly to the illusion that a particular sound is coming from a particular point. As a result I've had to re-educate myself as a mixer after years of working within the stereophonic idiom. We are entering a very exciting time in music mixing actually, as stereo starts to (finally) give way to new mixing paradigms.

Pet Sounds 60 in VR anyone?


« Last Edit: August 19, 2021, 02:58:57 AM by Greg Parry » Logged
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« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2021, 05:06:41 AM »

I don't want to wade into the rest of the discussion, but in the case of This Whole World in particular, I think it's clear that at least some of the perceived tininess of the backing vocals is an intentional effect. The 2009 remaster of Sunflower is harsh and trebly accross the board. The 2014 AP remaster and 2015 HDtracks remaster (latter is my go-to) sound warmer and closer to Desper's needledrops of the original pressings, but still, it's there to an extent in This Whole World. The vocals apparently just have that unusual EQ right on the tape. In the om-dot-didits, Brian's got Al and Dennis down on the lower parts singing with this pinched, nasal tone that stand out among the harmonies - obviously a specific thing he was going for there for better or worse, accentuated with the recording technique. There are many places on the album with vocals that don't sound like that.

It may have something to do with favoured trends in the moment too. Feet, recorded during the Sunflower period, also has that vocal quality. None of the rest of Surf's Up really does.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2021, 05:24:11 AM by WillJC » Logged
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« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2021, 05:30:17 AM »

Is there any way to listen to Stephen’s study videos? The only link I could find is dead.
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« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2021, 05:55:13 AM »

Is there any way to listen to Stephen’s study videos? The only link I could find is dead.

Yeah, I think Stephen has his videos up on the Endless Harmony forum…you have to make an account there to see them. Needless to say, many people here won’t be hearing Stephen’s mixes.
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« Reply #30 on: August 19, 2021, 07:29:11 AM »

Is there any way to listen to Stephen’s study videos? The only link I could find is dead.

Yeah, I think Stephen has his videos up on the Endless Harmony forum…you have to make an account there to see them. Needless to say, many people here won’t be hearing Stephen’s mixes.

I remember going on a wild goose chase to gain access to one of them through this board. It was many years ago and it involved following clues to passwords that would unlock the video or something. I didn't bother trying to find the rest.
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bonnevillemariner
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« Reply #31 on: August 19, 2021, 07:47:07 AM »

Bonnevillemariner, if I came across as sanctimonious I genuinely apologise. I was trying to answer your question with what I saw, and still see, as a possible answer to your question. Let me reiterate that there is no 'wrong' way to be moved by art.


No, you didn't come across as sanctimonious at all. I really appreciated your explanations. For me it boils down to this: If the music doesn't sound good in a simple setup or a casual listening environment, there's a problem with the music-- not my method of consumption. Thus, purchasing a specific set of equipment and arranging my listening space just so isn't a real solution. The longer we discuss it, the more I realize there probably isn't a solution...

...aside from the re-record idea that I posited above.  Grin

I don't want to wade into the rest of the discussion, but in the case of This Whole World in particular, I think it's clear that at least some of the perceived tininess of the backing vocals is an intentional effect. The 2009 remaster of Sunflower is harsh and trebly accross the board. The 2014 AP remaster and 2015 HDtracks remaster (latter is my go-to) sound warmer and closer to Desper's needledrops of the original pressings, but still, it's there to an extent in This Whole World. The vocals apparently just have that unusual EQ right on the tape. In the om-dot-didits, Brian's got Al and Dennis down on the lower parts singing with this pinched, nasal tone that stand out among the harmonies - obviously a specific thing he was going for there for better or worse, accentuated with the recording technique. There are many places on the album with vocals that don't sound like that.

It may have something to do with favoured trends in the moment too. Feet, recorded during the Sunflower period, also has that vocal quality. None of the rest of Surf's Up really does.

I fear you may be right, and that is unfortunate. The Boys were known for their rich, lush sibling harmonies. Any Tom, Dick or Harry could have sung most of the harmonies on that track. "Hey, we're infamous for doing this thing. Let's purposely subvert that for this record." So, so stupid. The Beach Boys' later eras are filled with decisions that turned out to be unfortunate.

I find it interesting that Feet was recorded during the Sunflower period. I was not aware of that fact. The backing tracks on Sunflower sound pretty pristine to me, hence my comment earlier about it being the best sounding track, instrumentally, on Surf's Up.
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Joshilyn Hoisington
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« Reply #32 on: August 19, 2021, 08:51:37 AM »

Nothing is universal with these things, but I think we can see photo evidence of sessions from the early 60s compared to the later 60s and early 70s where the later ones after 8 and 16 track machines started showing up are showing much more baffling and more gobos on the studio floor, and more attempts to isolate individual instruments. The engineers wanted more control over individual instruments and tracks especially in the mixing, and isolating the players more if not tracking individually versus as a group gave them that control, aided by more tracks to work with. Drum tracking and drum sounds especially changed drastically too as the 60s turned into the 70s.

It's kind of an "if you build it they will come" scenario -- I don't think engineers hated having some lack of isolation in the three and four track eras.  Only after the paradigm shift to the idea of having a discrete track (or many discrete tracks) per one instrument did they start to care enough to hate it.
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« Reply #33 on: August 19, 2021, 11:15:07 AM »

Nothing is universal with these things, but I think we can see photo evidence of sessions from the early 60s compared to the later 60s and early 70s where the later ones after 8 and 16 track machines started showing up are showing much more baffling and more gobos on the studio floor, and more attempts to isolate individual instruments. The engineers wanted more control over individual instruments and tracks especially in the mixing, and isolating the players more if not tracking individually versus as a group gave them that control, aided by more tracks to work with. Drum tracking and drum sounds especially changed drastically too as the 60s turned into the 70s.

It's kind of an "if you build it they will come" scenario -- I don't think engineers hated having some lack of isolation in the three and four track eras.  Only after the paradigm shift to the idea of having a discrete track (or many discrete tracks) per one instrument did they start to care enough to hate it.

I think it's similar to a lot of these issues, in that it would also be a case of what the goals were in any given project leading up to when the technology met up with the audiences and the genre-specific techniques started to mash up with each other as stereo took over, FM radio became more dominant in rock and pop circles, and the art of making a full album went into all genres. I think any working engineer would want the best sonics possible no matter what the end product would be geared toward, but when they were recording rock and pop groups, mixing to mono with the main goal being getting a single on AM radio, it was a different mindset than those engineers recording projects geared toward the "Hi-Fi" and audiophile audiences who were generally older and had more money to spend on equipment to listen more critically at home versus in a car or on a pocket radio.

One of the examples from the late 50's would be Esquivel. Working with the engineers, Esquivel would write arrangements specifically for recording in stereo, and in those earlier days of stereo mixing, they even went as far as splitting two orchestras into two separate studios and linking them together in order to get the most pure stereo separation, and have more control over the ping-pong effects during the mix. That is a super extreme example, but it shows just how far they would go in the early days to exploit the new "stereo" techniques geared toward those Hi-Fi enthusiasts. The audience was definitely not the teenagers buying pop-rock 45's and listening to AM radio.

Sometimes the frustration in trying to break down and analyze these issues related to the specific time of the mid 60's is that so much seemed to be in a constant state of flux and changes that were literally affecting the entire music and recording industry were happening year to year. Just going from 1966 into 1967-68 in terms of pop music saw a shift from mono being the standard to making dedicated stereo mixes, AM radio being the band to hear pop music and Top 40 shifting to FM stations with more open formats and better sound, the concept of a full album in pop becoming just as important as a single, the rise of TV and movie exposure being a sales-driving factor in marketing new music more than it had been previously, and the rapid developments in recording technology overall, where the availability of more tracks trickled down to more studio facilities and in 5 years the standards changed from 3 or 4 track machines to 16 tracks.

I think the studio photos tell a pretty good version of the story when you see the changes from even '65 to '70, in how they were set up, baffled and isolated, and even in the number of mics they had available to use. I think that element was also a major factor in how things started to sound as the technology allowed for more separation, and instead of limiting a drum track's setup to three mics, they could use 10 on a kit and get a much more present drum sound. The sound of a present, in-your-face kick drum is one thing that we can notice clearly as a difference between 65 and 70, again because more tracks were available to accommodate all those elements.

I don't know if engineers or producers across the board went with the bleed-through because they had to given what they were recording, or if they liked it aesthetically given the limitations they had with 2 3 or 4 tracks, but as soon as more tracks opened up, the separation and even the more dry sound overall seemed to become the norm. If it were aesthetic I'd say more records throughout the 70's would have been done in an open room setup with all the leakage versus trying to baffle and isolate everything.
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« Reply #34 on: August 19, 2021, 04:12:43 PM »

What you heard is probably the change from 4-track tape machines being standard at Abbey Road to 8-track machines first being used widely on the White Album, apart from the independent studios the band would book outside Abbey Road. The simple fact of having more free tracks to overdub and not have to "bounce" sub-mixes to free up more tracks, or what they called "reduction mixes" in the UK, made the fidelity increase immediately. The more bounces that needed to be done, the worse the sound quality would get as each bounce or reduction mix was done. Every time you mix down and copy three or four tracks over to one, you lose fidelity and control over the overall mix. Whatever you're bouncing down becomes locked in - You have no more control over individual tracks. Even going from 4 to 8 tracks made a difference.
Yeah, I kinda figured that would be the case ... actually, after I wrote that I read the Wiki article on the White Album and it noted that partway through its recording, the Beatles insisted they start using some new 8-track equipment that had been sitting in the studio unused for several months.

Quote
An even more startling change happened with "Abbey Road" when they changed gear and started using solid-state boards and preamps versus the older tube equipment. Listen to the White Album, then put on "Abbey Road". It's a drastic change in fidelity and overall sound.
I never noticed that particular change. I'll have to give the 2 albums another listen.
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Stephen W. Desper
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« Reply #35 on: August 20, 2021, 11:28:15 AM »

Quote from: Greg Parry link=topic=27869.msg674204#msg674204 date=162921885[quote


Perhaps Stephen Desper can chime in with information about the original mastering matrix, because there is some controversy regarding the  digital remastering of these post Capitol albums going back to the original set of Joe Gastwirt remastered CD's in 1990. I've always found there to be a world of difference between the 1990 CD and the original LP pressing that goes way beyond analogue 'warmth'. It wasn't until I heard about the mastering matrix that this made sense. So perhaps it is the lack of the correct mastering matrix which is impairing your listening experience? Try the original LP if that is the case.

COMMENT to Greg Parry,  The matrix is analog not digital.  If you wish to hear the correct and Carl Wilson approved release of SF and SU, the only source for this today are my Study-Videos. I am sorry that you must deal with passwords and other security things, but this is all required of Copyright Law in the United States. My book comments on these copyrighted recordings as they play and provides resolved versions, mastered by Carl and myself in the best fidelity I can provide. Most fan feedback is positive and comments reflect what I heard when I re-mastered all my recordings for use in the Study-Video series of explanations and experiences during my time as BB engineer.

The above release (via Artisan) and approval of the first pressing issues marked the end of my connection and/or control over any further modifications made to these productions by other mastering houses or individual engineers. Without matrix resolution, the whole (re) issue is kind of like DOA. All these productions were intended to be released in, what today would be called "virtual surround." It's all encoded within the original master, but no one seems to care enough to release the resolved version.

It's very frustrating as an artisan and engineer to create a work of art, but not be able to get it released as it should be. Like painting in color, but only being able to make copies in black and white. So at least you can find a source for these productions in their intended format, even if the record companies are stuck in stereo.
 
At one time the good folks here at Smilesmile hosted the series for several years. It is currently available at one of the other popular message boards. Registration is required there as it was here; part of the copyright law.

 abonnevillemariner -- look for a personal message for more details.
 ~SWD
« Last Edit: August 20, 2021, 11:54:00 AM by Stephen W. Desper » Logged
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« Reply #36 on: August 20, 2021, 06:39:47 PM »

Quote from: Greg Parry link=topic=27869.msg674204#msg674204 date=162921885[quote


Perhaps Stephen Desper can chime in with information about the original mastering matrix, because there is some controversy regarding the  digital remastering of these post Capitol albums going back to the original set of Joe Gastwirt remastered CD's in 1990. I've always found there to be a world of difference between the 1990 CD and the original LP pressing that goes way beyond analogue 'warmth'. It wasn't until I heard about the mastering matrix that this made sense. So perhaps it is the lack of the correct mastering matrix which is impairing your listening experience? Try the original LP if that is the case.

COMMENT to Greg Parry,  The matrix is analog not digital.  If you wish to hear the correct and Carl Wilson approved release of SF and SU, the only source for this today are my Study-Videos. I am sorry that you must deal with passwords and other security things, but this is all required of Copyright Law in the United States. My book comments on these copyrighted recordings as they play and provides resolved versions, mastered by Carl and myself in the best fidelity I can provide. Most fan feedback is positive and comments reflect what I heard when I re-mastered all my recordings for use in the Study-Video series of explanations and experiences during my time as BB engineer.

The above release (via Artisan) and approval of the first pressing issues marked the end of my connection and/or control over any further modifications made to these productions by other mastering houses or individual engineers. Without matrix resolution, the whole (re) issue is kind of like DOA. All these productions were intended to be released in, what today would be called "virtual surround." It's all encoded within the original master, but no one seems to care enough to release the resolved version.

It's very frustrating as an artisan and engineer to create a work of art, but not be able to get it released as it should be. Like painting in color, but only being able to make copies in black and white. So at least you can find a source for these productions in their intended format, even if the record companies are stuck in stereo.
 
At one time the good folks here at Smilesmile hosted the series for several years. It is currently available at one of the other popular message boards. Registration is required there as it was here; part of the copyright law.

 abonnevillemariner -- look for a personal message for more details.
 ~SWD
Would you ever make your study videos available here again sometime?
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Stephen W. Desper
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« Reply #37 on: August 22, 2021, 01:43:34 PM »

COMMENT ON A COUPLE OF POINTS:

Quote
There are peer reviewed papers documenting research into the stereophonic field going back to the 1930's. The auditory illusion that stereo presents under the correct conditions has been fully explored. This research is still extremely pertinent today, insomuch that EVERY stereo recording you listen to has been mixed and mastered by someone sitting in exactly the position prescribed for correct stereo listening. Logic therefore dictates that in order to fully appreciate the recording, one must adopt the same position. This becomes even more true for a record such as Sunflower, which was really quite an experimental recording when it comes to stereo mixing. I know I am somewhat misrepresenting your argument now, but you should never think of such experimentation as flawed. That way lies the mass homogenisation of music in which we currently find ourselves!

To remark that Stereo Reproduction has been fully explored is paramount to saying, everything has already been invented, so let’s close the Patent Office.  Obviously you have not read my peer reviewed white papers, nor reviewed my four peer reviewed patents on the subject of Stereophonic Sound Reproduction. You may also find interesting technical reviews of the $10.000 ProSpatializer, a two-channel mixing tool that can place any sound within the panorama of the sound stage AND anywhere within the area of the sound field; in effect at any point in any room. This illusion is heard while sitting anywhere within a six foot wide listening space -- about the same as standard stereo. The point being that the field of Stereophonic Sound recording and reproduction advances are far from being finished.

Don’t think for a minute that sound engineers are stupid enough to only get the mix right while listening at the ideal playback spot. We know that our recordings will be heard over a vast variation of listening situations. As such, engineers monitor using near-field, mid-field, and far-field monitoring situations, both high-fidelity and small-speaker situations, and strive to make the stereo illusion as wide as possible. No engineer expects his or her listeners to sit with their heads-in-a-vice in order to hear a stereo recording. The idea in commercial mixing is to make a product that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people listening in a wide variety of situations. The art of compromise is certainly in play, but remember . . . THIS IS THE MUSIC BUSINESS . . . and in business the goal is to make money. If your audience is limited it’s not good for business. So engineers strive to not limit their product to a small segment of the listening population – with the exception of special audiophile records.

Of course the best listening position is generally agreed to be as far from the speakers as they are apart. That is the standard; not a limit. The human brain is capable of much more than most engineers realize, but commercial requirements and industry standards are hard to advance beyond what already works and makes money.

I was hired by the Beach Boy organization to “take them out of mono and into the full capacity that Stereophonic Sound facilitates.”  That I did. I took them beyond the common everyday stereo sound into the world of virtual imagery. But the record company did not wish to move from the old amplitude stereo format in to the future. Thus, the Beach Boys could have been a major force in the development of Virtual Surround (or 3D sound as it later was called), but was denied that distinction by their parent record company, preferring to stay with the status quo.

Quote

But at the end of the day, like 99.9% of people listening to the stuff back then *AND* to this day are going to do so with some sort of standard set up to listen to stereo mixes. No, this stuff shouldn't be listened to (or at least analyzed) via smartphone speakers or something. But it also shouldn't require anything more than me putting a CD in and plugging some headphones in or listening on normal speakers. If something more than that is required, then that is, arguably, a flaw or at least "issue" with the original recording/mixing methods that is worth pointing out. I absolutely should *not* need a "study video" to hear this stuff as intended. I'm not saying such videos aren't highly interesting and welcomed.


I agree. You should not need to do anything special to get the full enjoyment from a virtual surround mix than a conventional stereo mix. And you don’t. This has been proven over and over, the most potent display being one summer Olympic sound, successfully broadcast using equipment of my design, in virtual surround, and heard by two-Billion people – that’s a thousand gold records in sales. Such technically successful technology together with sales of over 60 million channels of virtual surround IC's hardly qualifies as experimental.  Therefore I take issue with your statement that Sunflower was an experimental mix of an album. Maybe not common, maybe cutting edge, maybe an advancement, but not experimental. To hear Sunflower when issued in virtual surround or resolved through the matrix (as I like to say) you only need two normal stereo speakers placed some distance apart -- nothing else -- same as any regular stereo setup. Your brain does the rest.

But when the Beach Boy advanced technology format is rejected and the standard stereo format is released, this engineer was given no alternative but to offer the advanced or virtual surround version in the only format available, Internet streaming of the advanced format via The Study-Videos.  Granted, no one should need to go to a special website just to hear the original mix format, but if the record companies and stuck in regular stereo and refuse to release the preferred and sonically superior advanced format, what do you suggest I do if I want dedicated fans to hear what was actually produced.

Be aware too that I am limited in what I can provide to the fans by the Copyright laws. The study-videos all deal with copyrighted material and exist only by the good graces of The Beach Boy organization and the owner of their copyrights.  

Your comments are welcome.  ~swd

« Last Edit: August 22, 2021, 01:57:16 PM by Stephen W. Desper » Logged
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« Reply #38 on: August 22, 2021, 04:43:49 PM »

Re: Brian's thin vocals - that's just how his voice sounded at the time, not a mixing issue but a performance one.
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« Reply #39 on: August 22, 2021, 08:18:56 PM »

Re: Brian's thin vocals - that's just how his voice sounded at the time, not a mixing issue but a performance one.

COMMENT:  I see. You mean his voice sounded thin on stage?  Of course, unless you are hearing the raw, unamplified voice of Brian Wilson  , any sonic issues could be the fault of electronics and not of his vocal chords. And having many times stood directly in front of Brian as he sang a part or previewed a solo to me, I can tell you that Brian's vocal delivery is quite consistent. Back when he traveled with the Beach Boys, I mixed hundreds of shows with Brian and never found his voice sounding thin.  Of course the man is growing older (as the same rate as us all) and along with that is loss of vocal control and breathing control. Can't hit all those high notes he once could and the lungs don't hold as much air as decades ago. Still the talent shows forth and we all love to hear him sing. ~SWD
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« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2021, 12:16:12 AM »

Quote

To remark that Stereo Reproduction has been fully explored is paramount to saying, everything has already been invented, so let’s close the Patent Office.  Obviously you have not read my peer reviewed white papers, nor reviewed my four peer reviewed patents on the subject of Stereophonic Sound Reproduction. You may also find interesting technical reviews of the $10.000 ProSpatializer, a two-channel mixing tool that can place any sound within the panorama of the sound stage AND anywhere within the area of the sound field; in effect at any point in any room. This illusion is heard while sitting anywhere within a six foot wide listening space -- about the same as standard stereo. The point being that the field of Stereophonic Sound recording and reproduction advances are far from being finished.

Don’t think for a minute that sound engineers are stupid enough to only get the mix right while listening at the ideal playback spot. We know that our recordings will be heard over a vast variation of listening situations. As such, engineers monitor using near-field, mid-field, and far-field monitoring situations, both high-fidelity and small-speaker situations, and strive to make the stereo illusion as wide as possible. No engineer expects his or her listeners to sit with their heads-in-a-vice in order to hear a stereo recording. The idea in commercial mixing is to make a product that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people listening in a wide variety of situations. The art of compromise is certainly in play, but remember . . . THIS IS THE MUSIC BUSINESS . . . and in business the goal is to make money. If your audience is limited it’s not good for business. So engineers strive to not limit their product to a small segment of the listening population – with the exception of special audiophile records.

Of course the best listening position is generally agreed to be as far from the speakers as they are apart. That is the standard; not a limit. The human brain is capable of much more than most engineers realize, but commercial requirements and industry standards are hard to advance beyond what already works and makes money.


Stephen, thanks for the comments. I of course defer to your greater knowledge. I must confess however to being somewhat confused by your relaxed position on equidistant stereo listening, as you have always strongly advocated it's use in your study videos and also in other sources attributed to you. I merely thought I was best defending your work by also advocating it.

Regarding sound engineers, of course I am aware that the whole room, and at least three different sets of monitors are referenced whilst mixing. I usually leave the console room completely to change my perspective of the bass balance. All I meant was that the main listening position is the equidistant one. It is as you say the standard.

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Therefore I take issue with your statement that Sunflower was an experimental mix of an album. Maybe not common, maybe cutting edge, maybe an advancement, but not experimental.

I apologise for misrepresenting your work. Is the word pioneering better? I myself work in the experimental field so was not aware there was a negative connotation. Surely it is through experimentation that new standards are set?

As for your papers, I would of course love to read them. I searched the ARSC database but came up empty handed, and your Wikipedia page is very scant. Yet another example of you being overlooked by the industry, this time from its academic wing. This is why I always feel the strong need to defend your work. Please can you provide me with your papers? Perhaps then I can better educate the colleagues in my department, none of whom have heard of you!  

Hopefully your contributions will be well recognised in the boxed-set literature. I'm still sad on your behalf you weren't consulted, and was quite vocal on this matter on the pertinent thread. If it were me I would be very hurt, but you obviously have a thick skin. After all, how else could you ignore all the comments on this thread which basically criticise you mixing choices? At least you put me straight though. Smiley

As a huge fan of your work, I will continue you sing your praises. Perhaps a little less frequently now as I would hate to feel I were misrepresenting you.

Best wishes, Greg
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« Reply #41 on: August 23, 2021, 07:05:26 AM »

I'm sure Steve will have way more insight into his papers than I, but to get you started, the main publications I've been able to track down online are these, and both, unfortunately, are behind a paywall.  However, they are worth paying for, especially the AES one as it has to do with the Beach Boys in an indirect way.

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 98, 2401 (1995)
https://asa.scitation.org/doi/10.1121/1.413312


JAES Volume 18 Issue 6 pp. 667-670; December 1970
https://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=1457
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« Reply #42 on: August 23, 2021, 09:09:08 AM »

Just wanted to offer my opinion. Sunflower sounds pretty damn good even with the couple of things that I miss (Brian vocal on Our Sweet Love as an example). Surf's Up is good but some of the sound is like washed up or dry, you know what I mean? It works sometimes but then again there are some mistakes (SDT).
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« Reply #43 on: August 24, 2021, 06:00:29 AM »

Quote from: Greg Parry link=topic=27869.msg674204#msg674204 date=162921885[quote


Perhaps Stephen Desper can chime in with information about the original mastering matrix, because there is some controversy regarding the  digital remastering of these post Capitol albums going back to the original set of Joe Gastwirt remastered CD's in 1990. I've always found there to be a world of difference between the 1990 CD and the original LP pressing that goes way beyond analogue 'warmth'. It wasn't until I heard about the mastering matrix that this made sense. So perhaps it is the lack of the correct mastering matrix which is impairing your listening experience? Try the original LP if that is the case.

COMMENT to Greg Parry,  The matrix is analog not digital.  If you wish to hear the correct and Carl Wilson approved release of SF and SU, the only source for this today are my Study-Videos. I am sorry that you must deal with passwords and other security things, but this is all required of Copyright Law in the United States. My book comments on these copyrighted recordings as they play and provides resolved versions, mastered by Carl and myself in the best fidelity I can provide. Most fan feedback is positive and comments reflect what I heard when I re-mastered all my recordings for use in the Study-Video series of explanations and experiences during my time as BB engineer.

The above release (via Artisan) and approval of the first pressing issues marked the end of my connection and/or control over any further modifications made to these productions by other mastering houses or individual engineers. Without matrix resolution, the whole (re) issue is kind of like DOA. All these productions were intended to be released in, what today would be called "virtual surround." It's all encoded within the original master, but no one seems to care enough to release the resolved version.

It's very frustrating as an artisan and engineer to create a work of art, but not be able to get it released as it should be. Like painting in color, but only being able to make copies in black and white. So at least you can find a source for these productions in their intended format, even if the record companies are stuck in stereo.
 
At one time the good folks here at Smilesmile hosted the series for several years. It is currently available at one of the other popular message boards. Registration is required there as it was here; part of the copyright law.

 abonnevillemariner -- look for a personal message for more details.
 ~SWD

Stephen,

When I got back into vinyl a couple of years ago, two of the first albums I made the effort to track down were Artisan first-pressings of SUNFLOWER and SURF'S UP. Thank you for ALL of the work, craft and talent you put into those albums! I keep telling fans to track down these pressings before any reissues if they want to hear these albums at their best. Thanks for making the study videos available again.

I remember your original book of Recording The Beach Boys including a home version of The Spatializer. Any thought of making The Spatializer available again?

Best regards,

Jonathan
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« Reply #44 on: August 24, 2021, 12:09:17 PM »

COMMENT TO Greg Parry,   Over the years I have not only read your comments and found them interesting, but also I have learned details from your posts that I did not know.  That goes for your comments here and on other message platforms . . . you are indeed an informed and experienced fan.

As to the equal-distance-rule EDR;  we are subject to the EDR because of the anatomy of the human body. The engineering is based in physiology.  Head Related Transfer Functions (HRTF) dictate to the brain how to interpret inner-amplitude differences (IAD) and inner-timing-differences (ITD).  The manner in which signals from the tympanic membrane (including timing Cues from the ear Pinna) are analyzed once inside the brain cannot depart from the fact that humans are bilateral symmetric, not only having two ears, but two eyes, hands, feet, lungs, heart chambers, brain lobs, etc.  The brain is binaural. It does not hear stereo sound. Stereo sound is what we call two-channel reproduction wherein the two channels contain related information. Binaural sound is the name we give to how the brain works relative to sound perception. Binaural sound is subject to our physiology, whereas stereo reproduction and the listening position we assume can be anywhere relative to the speakers.

What all this means is that YES -- for the best stereo imaging a listener should be equal distance from each speaker, but this requirement is not some engineering rule set up by an AES committee on standards, but rather the rule has as its genesis in, and is bound by our human shape.  However we must also acknowledge that humans are social beings too. We live, eat, play, worship, plan, fight, together and have families. We also enjoy group entertainment, movies, sports, records, concerts. So at times, more than one person may wish to hear a stereo recording from one stereo sound system at a time. This group listening situation has produced the term "sweet spot" or the best seat in the house. When listening with our binaural hearing, but in a group, the sweet spot is defined as how wide the so-called best seat in the house will hold up with respect to imaging or the stereo image as we move off-center. Usually the sweet spot is about five people wide for a commercial stereo system.

In the case of the study-videos the sweet spot may narrow to two or three people wide. That is because HRTF play a major role in virtual surround reproduction. That is not to say that stereo reproduction also has a limited sweet spot. However, if you wish to take advantage of the virtual surround or resolved matrix presented in the study-videos, you will need to limit your sweet spot to about two to three people wide ... the best being centered; same as stereo. The reason I make such a big deal in each study-video about the EDR is that it has been my experience that many sound systems are not setup correctly, often due to room limits or furniture restrictions. So I wanted to make certain that it was well understood that each study-video was made to produce virtual surround only if the listener conformed to the EDR.  You can't get away from the HRTF phenomenon.

I hope that clears it up for you. 

These differences in terms may interest you:

Stereophonic Sound  -- playback using two related signals from spaced loudspeakers

Monophonic Sound -- playback using one loudspeaker.  (note: combining left and right signals while listening over two speakers is still stereophonic sound. It is monophonic when one speaker only is used for reproduction.)

Binaural Sound --  being aware of the differences in biometric pressure changes to the atmosphere as sensed by the two spaced ears.

Monaural Sound -- being aware of pressure changes to the atmosphere as sensed by one ear only.

     Thanks for the conversation,
~swd
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Stephen W. Desper
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« Reply #45 on: August 24, 2021, 12:43:02 PM »

Just wanted to offer my opinion. Sunflower sounds pretty damn good even with the couple of things that I miss (Brian vocal on Our Sweet Love as an example). Surf's Up is good but some of the sound is like washed up or dry, you know what I mean? It works sometimes but then again there are some mistakes (SDT).

COMMENT:  Over the years and since I signed-off on the release of SF and SU, I too have been disappointed at the many variations of masterings (like 20 or so for Sunflower) that have been released. Some are better than others, but none IMO can stand up to the original mastering by Carl and myself. This mastering was done for the LP format. I can take no responsibility for any disappointments resulting from the modification of the original mastering thereafter.

I do not want you to think I am disrespectful of your opinion, but to make some sound judgement and comment without specifying the listening conditions is meaningless.

Are you listening in digital? If so, any comments as to dullness or brightness is a function of the analogue-to-digital conversion. What type and make of speakers are you using? What are the acoustics of your listening room? Are you even listening over speakers?! What is your age?

Making a comment about the music does not require specification of the listening situation. However, judgements and statements about the mix, mastering, or sound, does -- to be a meaningful opinion.

But I do agree with you, depending on what format and release you are playing and listening to -- some of the product out there does sound dull, some I would even sound like crap. Even more reason to find an Artisan LP or listen to the study-video needle-drops.

We will soon find out if the FF re-mastering has improved conditions. Mark is a smart and able engineer with a good ear. I am encouraged and looking forward to the new masterings. 


~swd

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