In this age of manicured digital perfection, where nothing is quite what it seems, I look back with nostalgia to a time when recording was all about capturing a performance by a great artist and not about manufacturing one!
At the present time when so much R & D is being expended on surround sound, virtual reality and other forms of immersive audio, I find myself taking a renewed interest in Mono! Just as black and white photography still has it’s charms I think that there is a good deal to recommend about sound recorded in Mono. Genuine Monophonic recordings made with just 1 microphone are completely phase coherent and coming from a single point there is something very focused and unambiguous about the sound. The listener’s attention is concentrated completely on the music and not distracted by artefacts of multi-channel production. Recordings made in this way can also provide the listener with an excitingly honest account of a real performance. The balance is simply what felt right to the performers (or conductor) at the time and there is little scope for fiddling around with the mix afterwards. For the engineer the art of Monophonic recording is in carefully choosing the right microphone and positioning it in exactly the right place, ie the perfect listening position.
Virtuoso gypsy jazz duo ‘Echoes of France’ (Fenner Curtis violin, and Andy Wood guitar) were looking for an authentic 1930’s/40’s sound for their latest recordings, harking back to the golden years of Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli. We had a very pleasant session experimenting with vintage microphones. In the space of a few hours recording in glorious Mono we laid down 12 complete tracks. No overdubs, no mixing, no editing, no plugins, no special effects! However, what we did end up with is 3 different microphone recordings to choose from!
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