Modern Recording Techniques
Modern Recording Techniques
by Robert E. Runstein
Published in the U.K. by Prentice-Hall International
Here's a book that covers a lot of aspects about studio recording, not only important equipment, but also mentioning some of the procedures within the studio from day to day.
Chapter 1 is about the recording chain - the acoustic, mechanical, electronic and magnetic transformation of a signal from live performance to reproduction. It does however exclude the new laser technology and video.
The second chapter on 'Sound and Hearing' gives the essentials of sound waveforms, including how the human ear responds to waveforms at different sound-pressure levels, directions and particular acoustic sounds. Plenty of illustrations clearly explain the text.
Next comes microphones of the dynamic, ribbon and condenser variety, with explanation of impedance, specifications and phasing. The microphones examined are Neumann U87, Sony C-500, C37P, ECM-22, Sennheiser MD42, E-V RE-20, Shure SM57 and AKG C451E. Common miking techniques and suitable mics for instruments are charted but much more of this should have been expounded.
Chapter 4 covers professional audio recorders, focussing on transports by Ampex, Scully, Crown, Studer and 3M. Magnetic tape is only briefly touched upon, although recording and playback heads, EQ and biasing of tape signals are explained. Further on, the recording channels and sync methods leads to examples of track configuration. The latter points to the tremendous expansion of types of machines since the book was written. Tape speeds and digument methods — these make more interesting reading, whether you attempt your own aligning or not. Print through, degaussing and azimuth adjustment are also explained.
Console equipment is dealt with in Chapter 6. Studio mixers, patch bays, types of jacks, pre-amps, EQ, switching and faders, plus methods of multitracking - use of mixer controls, oscillators and other slate peripherals.
Dolby A & B, and DBX are well covered in the Noise Reduction chapter with copious diagrams. There's also mention of the Burwen Noise Eliminator (!) Dynamic Noise Filter, and digital audio recording - the latter hardly informative on today's technology.
Chapter 8: Speakers and Monitoring, considers room layout, crossover networks, phasing and monitoring. Chapter 9 talks about studio session procedures at the stages of recording, overdubbing, mix-down and editing. Some good tips are given by the author for recording electromusic instruments and acoustic drums, as well as track logging methods.
Overdubbing, mixdown and editing are not really given enough attention.
A chapter on interlocking tape machines includes a useful discussion of SMPTE time code generation. If you've any ambition to become a studio engineer or to make composing a career then this forms a valuable introduction. It leads on to automated mixdown basics, with possible ideas for a future HSR project here! Any offers?
The last two chapters have possibly the least relevance to readers, with a detailed chapter on Disc Cutting and Pressing and the final chapter on quad disc systems, from SQ to CD-4.
Although some specific examples within the book are somewhat dated, there is plenty of essential reading for the serious home recordist wishing to broaden his knowledge.
Review by Mike Beecher
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