[Dixielandjazz] Bessie Smith and "distortion"

Richard Broadie rbroadie at dc.rr.com
Mon Jan 10 19:44:54 PST 2005

I agree that "gurgles" are usually untoward artifacts of digital 
single-ended noise reduction equipment and are not likely to be caused by 
early electric mic recordings.

Dick Broadie

self-proclaimed expert
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Robert Smith" <robert.smith at mitransport.no>
To: "Dixieland Jazz" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2005 11:36 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Bessie Smith and "distortion"

Hello Mike and Anton

Sorry, I don't have the May 6th, 1925 takes of "Yellow Dog Blues" only the 
May 5th take (presumably the second take).
I've listened to both tunes using the maximum volume my ears could take 
through hi-fi earphones, and I still can't hear any gurgling or distortion 
(other than the inherent distortion of early equipment) on CBS LP 66264. The 
"inherent distortion" is a tinny sound on loud notes, but this is common to 
all early electric recordings using Western Electric equipment.
The recording was done in an improvised "acoustic tent" in the Columbia 
studio using a carbon microphone. Carbon microphones were very 
shock-sensitive so I find it hard to believe that the recording engineers 
(who were also in the tent) would allow Bessie to stand too close. In fact, 
given the power of Bessie's voice, she would probably have been standing 
quite a way away.

It wouldn't surprise me to hear that digitalization is the real culprit, as 
I can hear "gurgles" on some of the CD's that I have.


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