Monday, June 27, 2016

Audio Recovery

Tape recorders have been part of my life since I was a toddler. When I was 3 years old I had a phillips reel to reel that I used to record records on to and in my early teens I was doing sound on sound recordings with a pair of my dads Pioneer RT-707 machines.

Technology has moved on a lot in the last 30 years but nothing preserves the past more than tape
Over the years I have been hunting around Car boot sales, recycling centres and the internet looking for old tapes that might have something of interest.
Mostly what I am looking out for is old TV and Radio programmes that were recorded at home. So much stuff was never recorded or kept by the broadcasters that domestic recordings were the only way things were preserved.
Some of the most famous home recordings are things like John Peel sessions from the 1960s and 70s as well as off air recordings of Doctor Who and Hancocks half hour.

Myself I have located a number of missing audio recordings over the years. The Beatles on the Mike and Bernie winters Big Night Out show in 1964, 3 missing episodes of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s ‘Not Only But Also’ are probably my most significant finds. Though 2 audio recordings of missing Top of the Pops episodes and a 1967 interview with The Monkees from Radio London.

I have several good quality machines of various formats that I use for transfer.

Pioneer RT-707 – Quarter track Hifi machine up to 7” Spools. This is one of the best Hifi recorders ever made. And with modern tape stock such as Pyral LRP35 can create some stunning recordings. I have 2 of these (as mentioned above inherited from my dad) and I use one on my regular Hifi and the other for dubs.

Revox A77 – I have two of these a MK2 and a MK4 both run at the standard speeds of 3.75 and 7.5 ips. The MK2 is quarter track and the MK4 is half track.

Revox PR99 – I also have two of these both are high speed machines of 7.5 and 15 ips. One is a MK 1 and the other a MK2 and both are ex BBC.  Being professional machines they are half track.

If tapes are at the slower speeds then this can be done by slowing down in software. I always record at 96k 24 bit when doing this. I have baked tapes that have sticky shred syndrome. There is an art to this, and you must use decent spools else some may melt!!!!

I have been asked if its possible to transfer digital recordings to tape and play them back again to add some tape sound to recordings. Yes I can do this. Any audio format pretty much using either and Tascam or M Audio interface up to 192/24. The best machines for this would be the PR99 at 15ips or the A77 at 7.5 depending on the sound you want.

If you have any old tapes that you think may have something interesting on them please get in touch.

I can also do Cassettes with either a Sony or Nakamichi deck. Always looking for old off air recordings of TOP 40 radio shows too (Esp 1980 to 1984 to re live my youth!). 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Local music for local people ??

There was a meeting last night in Plymouth about the state of the music biz. I didn't go because I'd been to similar before. These sort of things usually end up as a bun fight or a love it, people being all chummy for a hour then back to every man for himself. I have never been part of the music 'scene' as such though I have lived here for 10 years. Most of my live work is all over the UK. but I though I'd share a few thoughts about why live music is in decline with some specific references to Plymouth.
1) All live music is in decline at the grass roots level. Has been even since the inception of the internet. Computer Games ate the new rock and roll for the youth. When I was a teenager everyone was dressed in their favourite band T-Shirt. Teenager these days are not like that, they are more likely to have a T Shirt for a film, TV Show or computer game than a band. 

2) Because of the internet the concept of paying for music is an alien concept, second to that the internet is saturated with music that there is too much choice ad when there is too much out there people cant be bothered to look. 

3) Toilet venue gigs are just that, they serve a purpose, but people have less disposable income so they have to pick and choose what they go and see.  Major acts are always going to get the audience as do festivals, many people now will go to 2 or 3 festivals in the summer and that will be their musical intake for the year. 

4) Venues do not help themselves. Not replying to emails, making bands sell tickets, not bothering to advertise beyond a few facebook posts. Booking bands based on social media reach rather than on musical content. 

5) Music costs money and you need investment. People will not pay money to see a band in a pub or small club if the drinks are poor, the toilets are dirty and the pa system isn’t good. 

6) Its 2016 and not 1986 ‘Local’ music is an alien concept when most people have access to music all over the world. Yes its sad that if you are a band that you cant get a local gig now and again, or regular local gigs to build up a local following but that’s gone. If you want a following you have to record good music, only put out the very best product online, be prepared to travel vast distances if you want a live following and do something that isn’t done 1000 times before. 

7) The word is saturated with Teenage Girls / Boys with guitar singing covers people don’t care. 

8) Plymouth has sadly a long history of being know as a city to get drunk in on stag and hen nights but not a city for live music like Exeter. Plymouth does not have a proper arts centre like Exeter, Its university does not open its doors to the public for live events like Exeter does. Plymouth does not have a venue like The Cavern that has been putting on underground bands for over 25 years. Plymouth does have a live music scene based on a small number of bands and artists playing the same venues week in week out. Its very much a closed shop and has been for the 10 years I have lived here. I myself find it easier to book a show in London or Birmingham than I can in Plymouth.  Ironically 20 years ago it was far easier to get a show. For example The Cooperage was the main club venue, and it was run by several independent promoters that knew their audience and the place was always busy and vibrant. Then a lottery winner bought it, sacked the promoters and it went downhill from there.  In my opinion if Plymouth is seen to be a city for live music and culture then it needs investment it needs an Academy venue something big that does regular events that will get people out from behind their playstations and x box’s and go and see bands and artists. Once you have something big in place then naturally other things will spark off it. 

9) Too much has been made blaming Plymouth City Council. My only beef with them that I have is the ludicrous car parking charges after 6pm. If Plymouth wants a night-time economy that isn’t just drunks on the barbican (and even that is dwindling) then please drop the parking charges. Playing out 5-6 quid just to park your car for a few hours is barking, for that I can drive to exeter and park for free something I prefer to do  

I'm sure there is more but there is a few thoughts to be going on with. 

This is my blog, its for the public to see but not for you to copy. Yes you Plymouth Herald..