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Williams pieces you wish were recorder better


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Acoustics need space for sure!  I've performed in crappy small venues and huge concert halls and its so bad to play when you can't hear yourself because the room absorbs the sound or worse you can't h

So I did a little digging to find out what the story was here... This is from a valuable document called Recording the Star Wars Saga by Chris Malone, who actually interviewed Eric Tomlinson about the

Haha, yes, NOT on the OST. Sorry for the typo on such a critical word!   Anyway, I hope the Malone doc proves useful. At first it seemed like just another random online doc, but then I saw h

TLC, for sure. I've used the word "anemic" before and I stand by it. Its predecessors don't sound identical to each other, but they each have a breadth and energy that are just missing here.

 

Until a few years ago I would have said Superman, but the 40th anniversary set resolved my concerns there. Turns out the recording itself was not the issue.

 

I wouldn't have complained if Jaws had better surviving elements, but Mike did such a bang-up job with them that I can't complain too fervently.

 

Hopefully there will be a remaster of ROTJ in the future...the Anthology would suggest that the recording sounds great with the right elements and the right treatment.

 

 

 

 

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Well, it’s actually Bowers & Wilkins, and Abbey Road is hardly a byword for low quality sound. Neither are Decca, and lots of their recordings use B&W as well. Oh, and so do I and they sound great!

 

Whilst we’re being controversial, I’ve never been a fan of the sound of the original 1977 Star Wars on any release, whereas Jedi only really sounds poor on the 1997 release (apart from Superstructure Chase which really is dreadful - wasn't it recorded at a different studio for some odd reason?).

 

Mark

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21 minutes ago, Naïve Old Fart said:

I wish that THE PHANTOM MENACE had more "guts". That's what you get for using Bowers and Wilkinson as monitors.

 

I can't relate on this one. It's definitely more polished and less boisterous than, say, Raiders or even the original Star Wars, but I still find it to be a rousing and very enjoyable listen. I think it sounds the best out of the PT scores, and better still by comparison to the ST.

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7 hours ago, Datameister said:

Hopefully there will be a remaster of ROTJ in the future...the Anthology would suggest that the recording sounds great with the right elements and the right treatment.

 

Weren't some ROTJ cues recorded in another studio due to scheduling conflicts at Abbey Road, resulting in poorer sound quality?

 

The Demaster ROTJ OST sounds very good though, but I suspect all that material is Abbey Road.

 

EDIT: Apparently just one cue, Superstructure Chase (which sounds atrocious on the SE, but so does everything):

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The score was recorded in January and February of 1983 at a new location after the previous studio for the first two movies’ scores, Anvil, had been demolished. Taking care of the majority of recording was the famous London studio Abbey Road, home of the Beatles, with one cue completed at Olympic Studios, which had previously recorded albums by Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. However, due to the much smaller size of the recording stage at Olympic compared to Abbey Road, that cue, “Superstructure Chase,” suffered. “I went down to talk to John Williams while he was conducting,” said sound engineer Eric Tomlinson to Chris Malone in 2005, “and he just leaned over and said, ’It’s like conducting a silent film!’ He couldn’t hear a damn thing in there.”

 

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1 hour ago, crumbs said:

 

Did you mean "wasn't" included?

Think that must be it, I'm sure it's only on the 2CD Special Edition and is obviously inferior in sound quality to the rest of the score. While fairly pivotal plot wise, it doesn't actually introduce any significant new material in any event, mostly a reworking of Here They Come.

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Except for the old recordings from the 60s and such, which I occasionally wish had better sound (but they usually sound fine for what they are), I can't think of a single, more recent example where I have any issues whatsoever with the recording and sound. It's all been good. And I don't even have new releases in mind here, but the OSTs.

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7 hours ago, crumbs said:

 

Did you mean "wasn't" included?

Haha, yes, NOT on the OST. Sorry for the typo on such a critical word!

 

Anyway, I hope the Malone doc proves useful. At first it seemed like just another random online doc, but then I saw he actually interviewed Tomlinson and was blown away. The quote from Tomlinson about Willams not being able to hear a thing in Olympic studios is really telling because 1) I couldn't find that anecdote told anywhere else (by Tomlinson or anyone else) and 2) you almost never hear Williams complain about conditions while doing the job. That's how you know it must have been gawd awful!

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Not sure I understand Tomlinson's comment. If Olympic Studios was so small, wouldn't that only enhance the volume of the orchestra? How could Williams not be able to hear anything?

 

Or is he referring to the acoustics of the room being so bad that Williams couldn't make out the details in their performance and gauge whether the music was working?

 

It's one of the worst sounding cues on the SE (and that's saying something) so hopefully Mike can work his magic there one day. Would be nice if the performance flubs could be fixed up too.

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28 minutes ago, Edmilson said:

Pardon my ignorance, but is there how to improve the sound quality of the cue? For example, suppose you're Mike Matessino and you're working on the Star Wars box. What would he do to make this cue sound better?

 

Well, he needs to start with modern transfers of the closest generational element that he can find to the original multitrack masters (hopefully the multitracks themselves, if they were ever recovered).

 

Then, through a combination of mastering and clever automated software that cleans up damaged audio elements, he can restore the audio elements to their original glory (and often improves them, adding detail and clarity to recordings that might have previously sounded flat or muddy Ultimately each score is different and it depends on the state of the master tapes (and nobody knows the status of the Star Wars masters, outside of Lucasfilm employees).

 

Sometimes on his restoration projects the tapes are in perfect condition and need very little restoration work to make the audio sound great. Other times the tapes are in bad shape and suffer from artifacts common with old, deteriorating analogue tapes (like hiss or WOW).

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43 minutes ago, Drew said:

The entire Star Wars OT should have been digitally rerecorded with the LSO when the Special Editions came out.

Prioritise properly archiving, cleaning and archiving the first gen elements, then judge their quality any rerecord whatever the hell you want.

 

43 minutes ago, Drew said:

Last Crusade needs a rerecording because of the poor mix.

Again, we'll have to see what Mike could do with a 1st gen multitrack.

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

Unpopular opinion: The entire Star Wars OT should have been digitally rerecorded with the LSO when the Special Editions came out. 

Last Crusade needs a rerecording because of the poor mix.

 

I'm with @Holko on this. While I'd enjoy either or both, I'd rather have a really beautifully handled transfer of the original recordings.

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3 hours ago, Drew said:

Unpopular opinion: The entire Star Wars OT should have been digitally rerecorded with the LSO when the Special Editions came out. 

 

Say, has anyone got a good example of the sort of thing that people with niche interests insist should be done to make the universe a better place when they don't have to fund it? No-one? Ah well.

 

(Not that I wouldn't have loved it if that had been done - after all, in 1997, Maurice Murphy was still going strong in the trumpet section.)

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