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Get in the Groove!
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In this issue

Get in the Groove!
Did You Know?
Tech Notes
World Premiere
Telly Award Winner!
Recent Projects
“If you don't like what you're doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.”

Timothy Leary

Get in the Groove!

It's 1992.  You make that trip to the basement carrying something that once was the centerpiece of your living room.  Not the coffee table, not the couch, but your record player.  Your turntable is kind of like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 3, who gets  stuffed into the attic with the other toys.  You've grown up to the CD now.  No more static, no more skips, no more flipping the side over.

Well there's a new generation that has discovered that old dusty record player.  They're wondering why you ever stopped playing records.  What is wrong with these kids?  

What's wrong is they crave something they can hold in their hands and see.  You can't hold an mp3.  CDs aren't hip.  LPs are real.  And what's real is that LP sales are the highest they've been in 22 years.  It's the same movement that's going on in photography.  It's also going on in the book world.  People are rejecting digital for analog.  

Why records?  To quote my daughter Mara, "I enjoy being more involved in the listening process."  Records are collectable.  How many CDs have you purchased that you thought might increase in value?  Records have a different sound.  They've been described by new listeners as "full," "warm," and "rich" sounding.  What was your first description of a CD when you heard it?  Mine was "I don't hear any scratches."  They didn't sound warmer, fuller, or richer.  In fact, I remember early CDs sounding harsh and gritty.

The sound of audio CDs have improved since then.  But curiously, CDs have the same sonic specifications from 1980, while recording technology has leapfrogged those specs several times.  It's like watching Avatar on a TV from 1980.  But LPs have retained, and even improved on, the sonic quality that apexed in the 80's.  

To fully capture the full frequency spectrum of a well-mastered and pressed LP, one must at least quadruple the sampling rate (or number of snapshots per second) of standard audio CDs, and increase the dynamic range resolution (or bit rate) from 65,000 possible levels to nearly 17 million.  Even then, digital is not a true representation of a waveform, records still come closer.

The young are not the only ones playing LPs.  Many of us old folk are rediscovering vinyl.  And the record companies are rewarding us with LP-only bonus tracks, re-releases, and specially mastered discs.  Jack White's new LP Lazaretto has brought together many "tricks" from the old LP days, like double grooves, inside-out play, locked grooves on each side, and a first-ever hologram.  He also had a new trick up his sleeve - playable labels.  That's right, the round labels in the center on each side also contain songs, one at 45 rpm and one at 78 rpm. Watch a video with White and Ben Blackwell of Third Man Records as they explain all the details.

You know what else is crazy?  Cassettes are making a comeback.  Now this has to just be a fad, because cassettes can not top the sonic quality of records.  But there are musicians that will only release their material on cassette.  

I think I know what the next craze will be.  The children of today's young parents will dig through the boxes in the basement and pull out a these small round objects in wonderment.  They will marvel at their shiny surface and "Ooh" and "Aah" at the motorized drawer that snatches them from their hands.  They will sit mesmerized by the glow of numbers just counting up, up, up, while brittle music slams into their ears.  They will be the new CD generation.

 

Did You Know?

Here's an old trick we used to do:  Hand someone a record.  Have them examine the surface, and ask them to count how many grooves they see on one side.  You may get answers like, "350," "1,000," or "there's too many to count."  The correct answer is "one."  It's actually one long spiral from end-to-end.  Most of the time the spiral runs from outside-inwards.  But some records, especially short-run records from the 1940's and 50's, went inside-out.

Some records actually had two or more grooves on one side.  Depending on where you set the needle down, you would get a different program.  One classic example is Monty Python's Matching Tie and Handkerchief, a "three-sided record."  Jack White's new Lazaretto album has one song that starts with two grooves (one groove has acoustic guitar, the other electric guitar) that eventually blend into one groove.

In modern stereo LPs, one side of the wall of the groove contains the left channel, while the opposing wall contains the right channel.  Early stereo records used both walls for the one channel, and the valley or floor between the walls for the other channel.  Although the sound quality was superior to double-wall stereo, the "floor" channel would wear out rapidly from friction.

Tech Notes

Mastering for records is much different than for other media, like CDs or mp3s.  When heavy rock came along in the late 60's, producers pushed mastering engineers for more bass on the records.  But the engineer faced a dilemma.  Because bass waves are large, the needle would just bounce right off the record if the bass was too heavy and loud.  Both parties compromised by lowering the overall level of the music and adding more compression than previous records.  

Without taming the dynamic range through compression, the needle will fluctuate and vibrate too much, resulting in poor audio.  Keeping this from happening while maintaining a pleasing dynamic range is difficult.  When Alan Parsons was engineering Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, producer Chris Thomas insisted on compressing everything.  Parsons argued against it.  As a compromise for the final mix, Parsons compressed vocals and instruments, leaving the drums alone.

Neil Kesterson
WORLD PREMIERE
 
A new documentary, directed by Sean Anderson, featuring Bluegrass Fencers' Club of Lexington
 
THE PEOPLE IN THE ROOM One year with a small fencing club

7:15 pm  Thursday, June 19

Farish Theater  Lexington Public Library Central Branch
(corner of Main St. and Limestone St.)

A Silver Telly Winner!

Our self-produced documentary, "The Beat of a Different Drummer: The Story of America's Last All-Female Military Band," is a recipient of a Silver Telly Award.

The Telly Awards was founded in 1979 and is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, and online commercials, video and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world.

A prestigious judging panel of over 500 accomplished industry professionals, each a past winner of a Silver Telly and a member of The Silver Telly Council, judged the competition, upholding the historical standard of excellence that Telly represents. The Silver Council evaluated entries to recognize distinction in creative work – entries do not compete against each other – rather entries are judged against a high standard of merit. Less than 10% of entries are chosen as Winners of the Silver Telly, our highest honor.

“The Beat of a Different Drummer” is the story of America’s last all-female military band - the 14th Army Women’s Army Corp Band. The other military branches fielded all-female bands, but the WAC Band survived longer than any. Through four decades, the WAC Band offered a woman the rare chance to have a career as a professional musician.

The standards were very high for WAC Band members. They were not only elite musicians, they were representatives of the United States Army. Their audiences were diverse - they marched out recruits for morning drills; they performed for enthusiastic audiences in small town America; and they played for presidents.

The struggle for equal rights has been a familiar burden for women throughout history. But these women chose to follow their own dreams. They marched down a road that would usher in a new era for women in America. They marched to the beat of a different drummer.

To learn more about the documentary, click here.

To learn more about the Telly Awards, click here.

Recent Projects

  • "Daniel Boone and the Opening of the American West," a 2-hour documentary that traces Daniel Boone's life and his enduring impact on America's westward migration.  Find out more here.   (Witnessing History, Lexington, KY)
  • "Philly" and "Myrtle Beach" spots for Blue Grass Airport (Stablemate Creative, Lexington, KY)
  • Keeneland "Preakness Simulcast" radio (Cornett, Lexington, KY)
  • SCAPA school singers recording for Alltech Symposium intro video (Alltech, Lexington, KY)
  • Continuing sales training modules for Lexmark International (Lexmark, Lexington, KY)
  • "Focus on First Year of Life" symposium spot (AAEP, Lexington, KY)
  • Audio for HealthStar Awards (IGE Media, Louisville, KY)
  • "Bourbon Tales" documentary (Joanna Hay Productions, Frankfort, KY)
  • "My University" video soundtrack for Lorraine County, Ohio Community College (Video Adventures, Dayton, OH)
  • "Technology" soundtrack for Cane Ridge Cattle Company (Main Street Media, Paris, KY)
  • Location audio for UK Healthcare with UKFB Coach Mark Stoops (DDC Works, Conshohocken, PA)
  • Soundtrack for "10 Millionth Vehicle" Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (Kong Productions, Lexington, KY)
  • "You Got 'Em, We'll Get 'Em" radio campaign for All Rite Pest Control (John E Campbell, Lexington, KY)
Copyright © 2014 Dynamix Productions, Inc., All rights reserved.


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