SATURDAY, March 28, 2020
We are stuck at home. The main things to do are sleep, eat, talk on the phone, watch TV, play video games.
This is a good time to mention that YouTube is a miracle, and never before has the opportunity to listen been so amazing.
Without going into technical details, last night I found a recording from 1957 that by the sound I would have thought was recorded this year. What happened: by the late 50s serious recordings were made on Ampex machines. I wish my friend Louie were writing about this, because he knows a million times more than I do, but essentially they had these incredible tape recorders that were picking up sound in a way we still can’t really better right now. But I only heard these recordings on records, and those records and the players we used to listen to those records were primitive. We did not hear the actual recordings. No one did, except the sound guys in the studios where the masters were made.
Fast forward: we now have the capability of taking those amazing tapes and re-mastering them in a way that gets way way WAY closer to what those tapes sounded like, and still sound like. DSD is apparently the game-changer. I don’t understand much of the technical stuff, but the result is a sound that is mind-blowing.
People are somehow uploading these recordings to YouTube, and I found about 10 things last night that make anything I’ve ever heard before sound primitive.
The result is that this 1957 recording of The Firebird not only sounds as good as anything I’ve ever heard of the same piece, in addition the performance is superior to any I’ve heard. It was like going back in a time machine to hear Stokowski, legendary for Fantasia among other things, at his peak. This means that we hear a conductor who was born in 1882 at the same time as the composer, Stravinksy, who was renowned for his conducting and recording innovations, which alone is fascinating. But because of advances remastering, the result is that we hear it all as if both men were still alive and creating all this right now. That’s the kind of stuff on YouTube, so the only problem is that there is so much there, you have to know how to find it.