Are mini-disk recorders better than CD? : LUSENET : To Hear Ourselves As Others Hear Us : One Thread

Hello, I have been recording a bit of late and it is a major boon to practice. I have been having some fidelity problems however. I have experimented with three different setups for recording using the same mikes (prob the weak link) and different recording media. Each has its own set of problems relative to fidelity and it is very vexing to get inner voices emphasized on the recording that just aren't that present in the live version. This causes the obvious problem in terms of deciding how to modify performance. Finally, my question.

In "the book" analog is favored over digital. Fine, and understood. My question is whether 1. Anyone knows if the new mini-disk systems use more bits (i.e. more than 16) to encode the digitized signal. 16 is what is present on CD and DAT. I was told 20 bits by a sales guy. I find this implausable.

2. Does anyone have a comment on whether these are superior to 5 - 8 hundred dollar analog systems?

Thanks Dick Norton

-- Dick Norton (, August 09, 1998


Nice to hear that recording is "a major boon." What's your instrument and style; and which of the book's techniques have you found most useful so far? For your technical question, please let us know the equipment you're using. You think your mikes may be the weak spot; are you using ones recommended in the book? If the mikes aren't good, it's pointless to worry about the recorder; for what gets lost at the microphone cannot be recreated later. However, it is very unlikely that you will find anything digital in your price range that can match the "listenability" of the Sony TCD-D5 analog cassette deck recommended in the book. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

-- James Boyk (, August 11, 1998.

Hello - Followup.

I'm recording Beethoven and Chopin played on a 9ft. Grotrian in a 20x40 foot room wiht hardwood floors and fairly high ceiling. There is a wide range of reverb available depengin on whether close or distant miking is used. I'm using a cassette based 15ips 4 track recorder (a low end one - yam $500.00 or so) and a pair of Sure BG 4.1 mics (AA self powered condenser). Their acquisition preceeded that of the book. Any idea where these would fit in the book list? ( I think they're about $180 - $200 each)

My technique for using the recording is to record a fairly short passage ( a minute or so) and then do A B comparison with a commmercial CD that I respect. The goal is to compare/contrast certain specific effects such as pedal, balance, or voicing.

While attributes such as phrasing, tempo, and rubato are faithful on such a recording, I'm less certain on issues such as voicing (problems with non-flat response inaccurately emphasising some registers) and pedal shadings.

My interest in mini-disk is due to my desire to make a CD for archive use. Once the above practice results in a satisfactory rendition, I have a Mac that has audio inputs and I can make an audio CD on this system using the CD burner I also have. The fidelity with the Mac is much better than that of the 4 track system, but still suffers from the mics and/or the preamp, which in my case is the 4 track system, which has an integrated mixer. I don't know how good the audio fron end (A/D ) on the Mac is, and I probably won't know until I get a good mic.

The mini-disk question arises because if I can get a really good recording that way, and I can also move the files to the Mac, I can then produce a CD just for fun. Hence my question.

Understand all this techno-babble is really just frosting, and the real interest in all of this is improvement potential due to actually knowning how it sounds. The point of making a CD of course is that once you do that you don't ever have to worry about practicing or stage fright again - just chuck the thing into the old player and say "see, that's me -- really!". This would free up many hours a day that now go into practice.

Finally, as to what techniques I find of use in the book, I guess the basic approach of listening carefully after recording has been quite helpful. The other idea (upon which the jury is still very much out in my case) is the outlining approach. I find this a very interesting idea and I went back to my Whiteside and found that it really is in there as advertised. I've got the first three pages of the Barcarolle (Chopin op 60) highlighted, but I must say it is an extremely uncomfortable mode in which to work at this time. I've never studied this work prior to this point. Any suggestions on this would be of interest. An good comment might be - "yes, it works for music like that", assuming it is true.

Hoping you really meant hoping to hear from me, I remain, Dick Norton

-- Dick Norton (, August 12, 1998.

Of course I really looked forward to hearing from you! But before I address the technical questions, may I address a fundamental musical question? Your message makes me very *sad*, because instead of working to draw out of yourself the music that is in *you*, it appears -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that you are working to imitate the music that's in some other performer, someone who has made a commercial recording. This is precisely opposite to the meaning of my book!

Of course there's nothing that says that your goals should be the same as mine, but consider: if we wanted to hear Rubinstein, we'd buy a Rubinstein CD. We want to hear what *Dick Norton* thinks Beethoven meant by this piece! We want to hear how *Dick Norton* thinks this Chopin waltz should sound!

I beg you to use *all* the book's various techniques -- dancing is a good one to start with, but they're all important -- to explore *your own* musical sensitivity and develop *your own* taste and abilities. And don't listen to recordings of any piece you're working on or know you will be working on!

And again, with no desire at all to be personally critical, the idea that you want to "free up many hours in the day that now go to practice" is foreign to me. I'm not making a value judgment -- it's your life; they're your hours -- I'm just commenting that it sounds as though your interest isn't the music or the personal growth in the learning, but simply the producing of a CD that will show that once, for a moment, you could play something at a level you were pleased with. This is great! More power to you! But it just isn't something I can relate to!

As for technical questions, there's no such thing as a 15 ips cassette recorder; all cassettes run at 1 7/8 ips. Do not use "reverb"! Your mike is not one I would ever recommend *for these purposes*, because according to Shure's data sheet, it's not 'flat' (not 'tonally neutral'), having an exaggerated 'presence' region and reduced bass when used at any reasonable distance from an acoustic instrument. (It's intended for close-miking of pop-type material. I'm sure it's good for its intended purpose, because Shure is an excellent company.) For more accurate recording of the kind you need, get the Beyer M260 and an appropriate (that is, quiet and good-sounding) mike preamp.

If outlining is uncomfortable, as it is for many, especially at first, ignore it for now.

But do, I beg you, try systematically all the techniques in all those other Sessions in Part I. They work -- but only if your goal is to do *your* best playing, not someone else's!

With best wishes, JB

-- James Boyk (, August 12, 1998.

Sorry to be so confusing in my post. I do appreciate what you are saying and I'll very briefly try to demystify:

Imitation - I'm against it but find that I "disagree" with recordings of pieces I'm actually working on and so feel not at risk on that front.

Dancing technique - very scary. I may try it but if anyone says I did I'll deny it. All the other techniques I have used and find very worthwhile.

CD trophy music - well, feeble attempt at humor - we're in agreement on this.

Microphone frequency response - as I feared. The recordings has a disturbing inaccuracy in certain registers which really confuses one's attempts at voicing.

Thanks for your comments. It is good to know someone of like mind is out there.

Regards, Dick Norton

-- Dick Norton (, August 13, 1998.

Thanks for clarifying; glad I misunderstood about the 'imitation' and the CD-production! As for dancing, remember that *any* whole-body movement is 'dancing' for this purpose; *walking*, for instance, is just fine. You will be amazed at how delicately it lets you pick up on irregularities big & small in your handling of Time; at least, if you're anything like me. Regarding mike placement, I assume you have a stand and shock mount; place the mike a couple of feet off the curve of the piano, looking down at where the hammer strikes say C above middle C. --jb

-- James Boyk (, August 13, 1998.

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