The making of Dr Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, and Simply Amazing Binaural Sound

The making of Dr Chesky's Sensational, Fantastic, and Simply Amazing Binaural Sound

The making of «Dr Chesky’s Sensational, Fantastic, and Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show!» Page 2

«Dancing Flute and Drum,» with flautist Anne Drummond and David Chesky playing a large African drum is one of my favorite tracks. Recorded at St. Paul’s, the drum’s transients and power are thrilling, and the way the sound of the two instruments reflect off the walls, ceiling and floor is spectacular. The dynamics are unrestricted by compression, and the massive reverberation is real, not created or mixed after the session. The percussion instruments’ high-frequency transients on «Tranquility» are positively vivid, and on another track David Chesky demonstrates actual soundstage depth by speaking from 30 feet away from the binaural head, and then slowly approaches the head and speaks directly into one ear.

Some tracks are better than others in capturing — for lack of a better way of describing it — the binaural effect. Wycliffe Gordon’s New Orleans band sounds like stereo, but other tunes sound like you’re in the room with the band. The type of headphones you listen on can change the binaural perspective to a degree. I heard differences on IEMs vs. circumaural, full-size headphones. In-ears produce a more accurate soundstage, but the over-the ear headphones sound, well, different. More open is one way to describe it, but that’s not exactly what’s going on, it’s less focused, less precise, but the sound is more spacious over full-size headphones.

The Brooklyn Funk Band, recording with the B & K dummy head, in Brooklyn!

In addition to the tunes the «Dr Chesky’s Sensational, Fantastic, and Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show!» has test tracks with acoustic and electric bass scales, where the bottom frequencies are 30 and 16 Hertz, respectively. St. Paul’s mighty organ supplies bass frequencies down to 16 Hz.

Since Dr. Chesky recordings have more lifelike soft-to-loud dynamic range than most of the music you already own the average volume level will be lower. That’s because the music’s original soft-to-loud dynamic range is compressed to be loud most of the time. With the Dr. Chesky tracks you need to raise your volume control to a higher than normal level to access the recordings’ full impact. Nothing wrong with that, but one real liability of on location recording is higher ambient noise levels than modern studios. On some tracks, namely the ones with organ scales, the church’s lighting system buzzes and NYC low-frequency rumbles are audible. That said, the birds tweeting (not the electronic kind of tweeting) outside the church add a special something to folk singer Amber Rubarth’s lovely tune, «Storms are on the Ocean.» The birds are singing along with Amber!

«Dr. Chesky’s Sensational, Fantastic, and Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show!» is available here as 192-kHz/24-bit ($24.98) or 96-kHz/24-bit ($17.98) high-resolution downloads, or as a CD resolution 44.1-kHz/16-bit ($11.98) download from HDtracks.com. A CD version of «Dr. Chesky’s Sensational, Fantastic, and Simply Amazing Binaural Sound Show!» will be offered in a few months.

Editor’s Note: I’ve downloaded this album today, and have spent a glorious morning listening to the tracks as I tried to configure and upload this article. I say ‘tried’ because it’s been awfully difficult to do the work as I keep getting swept away by the sounds.

From the simple clarity of Amber Rubarth’s voice on the first track «Storms Are On the Ocean», to the incredible density and depth of sound on the Bach «Toccata And Fugue» I was simply awash in the presence of the recorded event.

I’ll forewarn you, if you haven’t heard a Chesky recording before you may find yourself a little disoriented at first. As Steve mentions, for most record producers «Realistic is the least likely objective.» When you first hear a recording that is exquisitely faithful to the live experience, it will sound quit different to your ears. Relax, take you time, turn the volume knob a bit higher than your used to, close your eyes, and let yourself get drawn into the space of the recording. If you’re like me, you’ll be wanting more, lots more, recordings like this.

The good news is that, while not done using a binaural technique, you’ll find plenty of other minimally miked and very live sounding recordings produced by the Chesky brothers at HD Tracks here. all are available in a variety of high resolution formats. Some of my favorites are: Ana Caram’s «The Other Side of Jobim «; The John Basile Quartet’s «The Desmond Project «; and one of my all-time favorite albums, Jon Faddis’ «Remembrances .» Enjoy!

I’ll leave you with this short video describing the gear used to make the recording.

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