Here are some notes on our recording engineers and recording equipment of the James Matheson recording by Yarlung Records. (Written by producer Bob Attiyeh, June 2016)
This is a recording of many firsts for Yarlung. This was our first Matheson recording, our first experience working at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and thanks to Yarlung recording engineers Arian Jansen and Tom Caulfield, our first recordings in SonoruS Holographic Imaging and 5-channel surround sound as well.
“This is a recording of many firsts for Yarlung.”
Assistant Producer Jacob Horowitz and I recorded the stereo version of Jim’s String Quartet using an AKG C-24 stereo microphone from Ancona Audio, with a special new-old-stock RCA 6072 vacuum tube in it supplied and calibrated by David Bock, Yarlung’s microphone technician. We used two of Ancona’s AKG VR C-12 microphones to record Times Alone. We chose an Elliot Midwood vacuum tube microphone preamplifier for the String Quartet and a Messenger microphone preamp for the song cycle. Our signal split from here into our SonoruS ATR12 analog tape recorder using Agfa 468 tape made by EMTEC supplied by Golden Era. We fed the same signal into our Merging Technologies Hapi converter to record DSD256 using Pyramix Software. Following the release of our album Misha, this is Yarlung’s first recording directly in DSD as well as analog.
Christopher Willis recorded Jim’s Violin Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in their lauded home on Michigan Avenue. Yarlung’s Arian Jansen mixed the PCM digital multi-track concerto recording using the SonoruS Holographic Imaging processor to create our stereo mix.
Yarlung designed our interconnects. Power cords for our most sensitive analog equipment were made for us personally by Gary Koh from Genesis Advanced Technologies. Digital components used power cords from Aural Symphonics. Stereo formats were monitored on speakers from Genesis Advanced Technologies.
2). SonoruS Holographic Imaging
Using our two principal microphones from the String Quartet and song cycle, and adding two additional mid-hall Schoeps M222 vacuum tube microphones, Arian Jansen fed into the SonoruS Holographic Imaging processor to create a 2 channel mix that uses a proprietary matrix incorporating phase, timing and EQ information from the four microphones to reproduce a three-dimensional listening experience from two speakers. Arian captured this Holographic Imaging version using his SonoruS ATR12 analog tape recorder using EMTEC 528 broadcast tape which we then converted to PCM and DSD for our various formats. Arian mixed Christopher’s Chicago Symphony Orchestra tracks into two Holographic Imaging tracks as well.
“Not all premium audiophile systems are designed to incorporate this degree of phase representation.”
Additional information about SonoruS Holographic Imaging: with the correct playback setup, this format can fill the room with musical information, with sound coming from up to 270 degrees around the listening position. Holographic Imaging only works for one person in that exact listening position, however, and it only works if every component in the playback chain is phase coherent. My “best” speakers do not image correctly enough to give me the full Holographic Image. Please don’t be offended if your super-expensive system cannot accurately reproduce the holographic effect. Not all premium audiophile systems are designed to incorporate this degree of phase representation. Please download our Holographic Imaging test track first to determine if your system can accurately portray the signal circling around your listening position. If it can, enjoy! If it cannot, I recommend the stereo or surround sound versions of this album which I hope you enjoy very much. The test tracks are available at www.yarlungrecords.com/sonorus
3). Multichannel: 5 Channel Surround Sound
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, NativeDSD mastering engineer Tom Caulfield came from Boston to record Times Alone and Jim’s String Quartet in 5 channel surround sound using five DPA 4006A microphones. Tom built a carbon fiber array to hold the microphones (which we are proudly storing in Los Angeles for Tom’s next project with us) which takes inspiration from a standard Decca Tree with three forward microphones and two additional surround microphones about twelve feet to the rear. Tom fed these microphones directly into his Merging Technologies Horus converter to record in 256DSD.
We utilized Arian’s mix of the Violin Concerto to create a 5 channel surround sound version.
4). Formats and editing
Yarlung uses complete takes, without editing within movements. We believe that the musical intent communicated directly by our musicians is generally superior to a musical arc that I could create after the fact in postproduction. In this case, however, it was imperative for us to be able to use unedited movements given the number of formats involved (analog tape, DSD, PCM, SonoruS Holographic Imaging and 5 channel surround sound). Happily, our musicians understood and respected our need and prepared accordingly. Some of Jim’s music reaches the heights of poignant lyricism and other sections surpass the heights of technical difficultly. We were blessed with Color Field and with Laura and Tom such that we were indeed able to choose single unedited takes of each movement, which is what you hear on this album. Kudos to them for this level of preparation and performance. The concerts left our audiences thrilled. We were grateful, as will you be when you hear their magnificent music, performed for you in living breathing reality.
Thanks to generous additional underwriting from our executive producers, this is also the first time we have been able to schedule vinyl releases in the same season as the initial CD. Many thanks to Elliot Midwood for underwriting and executive producing the vinyl release for Jim’s String Quartet, Doug Weaver for championing Times Alone, and Sally Swab Austin & Bradford L. Austin who generously serve as executive producers for Jim’s Violin Concerto.
Bob Attiyeh, stereo analog tape and DSD
Tom Caulfield, 5 channel surround sound
Arian Jansen, SonoruS Holographic Imaging
Christopher Willis, Violin Concerto
Assistant Producer: Jacob Horowitz
Steinway technician: Kathy Smith
Mastering Engineers: Steve Hoffman & Bob Attiyeh
Mixing Engineer (Violin Concerto): Arian Jansen
Executive Producers: J and Helen Schlichting
This recording made possible with generous support from
J and Helen Schlichting
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Brad and Sally Austin
Yarlung Photography by Cooper Bates
CSO photography by Todd Rosenberg
Have fun with the Matheson recording and please let us know what you think.