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favorite recording with "space"

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You're asking a tough one here!

As you probably well know, most commercially recorded music is made with a zillion microphones, one or more per performer.  This is certainly true for studio recordings, and is very often the case for live recordings.  So, usually what you're hearing is the wizardry of the engineer using processing tricks to get "space" in a recording.  After all, how much space can be captured with a bunch of microphones a few inches or a foot from an instrument?  What performer wants to be placed at the back of some recording?

OK, enough babble from me.  I've curated a few recordings that you might like for showing off space.  In no particular order...

Clark Terry Live at the Village Gate

Rhapsody in Russia: A Gershwin Celebration

The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads (check out Psycho Killer)

Live At The Bowl '68 - The Doors

Heart Still Beating [Live] - Roxy Music

Live At Tanglewood: July 21, 1970 - Chicago

The Yellow Shark - Ensemble Modern

Friday Night In San Francisco - Di Meola, McLaughlin, & DeLuca

You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore, Vol. 2 - Frank Zappa

There's also the very fine recordings made by Alan Lomax.  Many are available online.  Plus a couple dozen more that I didn't feel like typing.   Each has its own special aspect to it in regard to that "you are there" feeling.

There's also a surprising number of concerts on YouTube that sound pretty good.  Go figure.

You should also investigate John Marks website:  https://thetannhausergate.com  He's got some recordings buried there that he's made himself that are glowing.  At one time, he made an organ recording available from a very old church in Rhode Island.  Nobody in the church, aside from the organist and him.  Brilliant sound quality.  I don't know if he still has that one available.

But, if you really want to hear true spatial recordings, go find some soundscape and SFX recordings of running rivers, water falls, birds, frogs, insects, and so on.  Seriously.  Those are almost exclusively recorded using a stereo microphone pair and a field recording rig.  No layered multitrack or any of that stuff.  These will show you just what is possible with modern recording.  It'll make you sigh or feel sick when you listen to most music recordings after that.

One more thing...  I'd be remiss to not include: Frank Zappa Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa: A Memorial Tribute.  The live tracks are exceptional music.   Watermelon in Easter Hay is something everybody should listen to in their lifetime.  A thousand times.  There's a half dozen other live versions of this on YouTube, and this is my favorite:



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hey thanks great suggestions. so i forgot the village gate! i can search for performances recorded there.   i know what you are saying about all the technology and mixing.  but speaking of that, there was a company called q-sound i believe that did a mix of madonna songs called Immaculate Collection.  there's some crazy things ggoing on with the whole cd. when it first came out it blew me away.  they also did a bryan adams cd so i want to download that.  but yeah, that's crazy mixing and in a lot of cases it's fairly distracting.

for other music, i have a recording by a fellow named "mighty" sam mclane. the song is who made you cry and wow i really liked that especially the opening. it was a studio, but really a converted small church.  so i guess when i say studio, i mean a flat sounding small room with lots-o-sound absorbers ha.

i have some telarc discs that i can get lost in, and i want to replace a lost cd of Kodo - Live at the accropolis.  as i recall there's a lot of chesky recordings that did both - a larger recording area as well as artificially created spaces.

oh, i used to remember listening and demo'ing for customers, the quad-bells in the 1812 overture on telarc records.  people always thought i had surround sound setup when they heard that ha.

i have a couple of nora jones albums and while very good don't seem "live" - which is pretty obvious. but yeah like that sam mclane, or like the village gate (thanks again!) they aren't studios and they aren't giant stadiums either.  the right mix.

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I'll add a couple more.

Yuko Mabuchi Trio (Live)⁩

Who's Next [Deluxe Edition]⁩ - The second disk is mostly of a live concert in a somewhat small rehearsal hall when they were getting ready for a tour.

 ⁨Rarities Vol. I (1966-1968) & Vol. II (1970-1973)⁩ - The Who.  The last track of Baby Don't You Do It is a live recording and not only sounds pretty live, but also displays the four of them doing what they did best at their best.

I realized just now that my suggestions pretty much all were about how "live" a recording is.  This implies lots of real space. but they aren't necessarily great examples of gigantic spaces.  So, if I got that wrong, I apologize.

You should ask Mr. Vandersteen himself your question.  He may know about recorded music than about loudspeakers.  Nah.  But, it's probably close.

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The truly maddening/irritating/frustrating/annoying/disappointing part of this is that all the various versions are different from another.  There's little rhyme or reason which one sounds best.

You can have a 192 KHz, 96 KHz, and 48 KHz recording of the same album from the same download service.  You'd think the 192 would pretty much always sound best, with the 96 a little less good, and the 48 a little less good than the 96.  But, the 192 can sound great, the 48 pretty good, and the 96 is crap.  These supposedly are all from the same master - why wouldn't they be?  So, why do they sound so different in an illogical order?

Then, you have the famous "re-master".  Is it better, or just more modern so that it sounds more appealing through earbuds attached to an iPhone?

My theory on this is that the best source material us mortals can get are the original vinyl recordings in most cases.  Most were mixed on an analog mixing console, with most if not all the musicians in the same room playing at the same time.  Early digital recorders stunk. The studios decided to crank out every album as a reissue.  Some clever young engineer, chemically motivated to work through the night, would often "fix" the mix and master.  So, you got ick.  Plus, early versions of Pro Tools editing was, ahh, shall we say "suboptimal."  Now, the A/D converters can be pretty good and the editing tools are much better, but the target sound isn't good.  So, a great turntable system with nice clean records may be the solution.  You can even digitize them for later playback.  It's the time to do all this that kills.

Listen to those nature soundscapes and SFX recordings.  Or, find a decent small recorder and some workable microphones and make your own recordings and listen to them.  It becomes clear pretty quickly that most musical recordings are not aimed toward sounding like a recreation of the real thing.  They are created to be something else.

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I’ll look forward to checking out some of these suggestions!  For feeling like you are there with the performers, this is one of my favorites. There is a lot of ambiance - faint noises from table service and audience, and great “texture” from the recording.  It is easy to turn the lights off, relax,  and imagine you are at the jazz club with them. I’d love to find more like this!


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Can't find it on Tidal.  errrr....  ha.  Listening to Brubeck and Desmond right now though ;). This is going to be a great thread to keep going.  We can use it as a reference for well recorded and fun arrangements.  

BK, I agree, but I'd put down tape first.  I used to love being in the studio mixing.  I totally agree on analog vs digital.  I currently own what I believe may be the best server made.  They finally even figured out a way to deal with the jitter with streaming services.  I get my unit back in a week and it will have the built in DAC and true balanced, dual analog volume controls to go direct to Richards amps and I can't wait.  I pray the DAC is at the level of the DCS Rossini with clock.  It's a huge ask, but based on what the designers told me, they believe it is.  

I've heard my server with the fully upgraded DaVinci.  That was in a system I knew and it was the most analog like digital presentation I've ever heard.  I honestly felt it was better than nearly all the analog I have heard.  Digital just does some things better than analog (dark noise floor) and when you move all the types of jitter to uber low levels, you get that detail and ambiance if yo would, that great vinyl gives you when cleaned properly and played back on a nice system.  I like vinyl better still, but need the ease of digital, so I do listen to it a bit more critically when choosing my gear.  It's a personal thing, but the high Rez recordings I have were amazing with my Ayre AX5/20 with built in top of the line crossover and the server with the old DAC.  I can't wait to get back home and finally set up the new system.   Sorry to go on, but excited about new gear to play great music on.   Thanks for reading if you did, ha.  :). 

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i have some telarc cd's - time warp, star tracks I and II, love them and love the movie. i do get a sense of space of the hall. also another telarc - round up!.

i love the who, i'll have too look for that track.

ha if it's like jazz at the pawn shop, there's another one i will get.  although JATPS doesn't give me a sense of space beyond where the group is performing. well, the audience does, but i feel more intimately connected to the band as per the description of how they recorded it.

for the cowboy junkies, i never really was in love with their music but i'm tempted to try that album b/c of it's space.

yeah, i think a lot of things can be lost in 'gigantic' live performances, like a stadium or whatnot.  i guess that's not bad and i bet i'm missing out on "space" for the cool factor.  most of the live performances i've seen of trio's or orchestras/chorals have been either performing arts centers or what might be cconcidered smaller jazz clubs - or 100 person capacity spaces. oh and a few performances of xmas music at smaller to medium sized churches. thanks again.

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20 hours ago, MNSki said:

BKDad, I’m really enjoying Friday Night In San Francisco - Di Meola, McLaughlin, & DeLuca - thanks for the recommendation!

Glad you're having fun!

John McLaughlin recently claimed to be retired from performing.  That didn't stop him from performing at Montreal last summer.  He probably can't help himself.  

He's certainly got a very varied career behind him.  It's worth looking at his history if you aren't familiar with him.  He's played with a very wide range of musicians and very different genres.  Where I live used to be a hotbed of ethnomusicology back in the 70's, because of the local university.  It's not quite as wild now, although still very well known and regarded.  Anyway, McLaughlin used to hang out locally and studied Eastern music here for a couple years.  Between gigs, of course.

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2 hours ago, BKDad said:

Glad you're having fun!

John McLaughlin recently claimed to be retired from performing.  That didn't stop him from performing at Montreal last summer.  He probably can't help himself.  

He's certainly got a very varied career behind him.  It's worth looking at his history if you aren't familiar with him.  He's played with a very wide range of musicians and very different genres.  Where I live used to be a hotbed of ethnomusicology back in the 70's, because of the local university.  It's not quite as wild now, although still very well known and regarded.  Anyway, McLaughlin used to hang out locally and studied Eastern music here for a couple years.  Between gigs, of course.

What a cool personal (or at least local) connection you have with John McLaughlin. I enjoyed playing the album at my office on cheap computer speakers, and again later at home on the Quatros. I'll definitely enjoy checking out more of his music!

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Well, you have wide range of choices.  This is a guy who:

Played in the Graham Bond Quartet with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce

Gave Jimmy Page guitar lessons

Jammed with Jimi Hendrix

Played on several Miles Davis albums and performed live with him

Was the main guy in the Mahavishnu Orchestra

Recorded an album with Carlos Santana

Had an Eastern music band named Shakti with L Shankar

Played with Frank Zappa

Played with a big band on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

Made a zillion jazz fusion recordings with a zillion other notables.  The list is long.  You could spend a year just listening to him.  Kinda like Lee Ritenour.


And...  Some actually are recordings with big space!

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Learning a lot here.  Please keep it coming.  I have always enjoyed his jazz as that's why I mainly know him for.  That said, I didn't know he was in the Tonight Show band.  Joe Bonamassa has a bass player, Michael Rhodes who is out of Nashville.  He's one of the more decorated bass players and has appeared on everything from country to rock to blues to jazz to...  Great musicians can do anything.  Journey guitarist, Neil Shoen is one of my favorite 'watercolors' jazz guitarist.  HIt's an emotional spot at times.  

Di Miola is always a favorite of mine.  The original Take 5 Audio (was across the street from Yale) owner Ralph LOVES Al Dimeola   He can't get enough of him and he always played his albums during auditions.  He was a former Vandersteen dealer in the 80's-90's.


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