High Drama at Chasing the Dragon's AIR Studios Direct-to-Disc Recording Session Part 2

The orchestra rehearses downstairs while upstairs the mastering room engineers record and play back a test lacquer.

Finally, it's time for a recorded take of the "Carmen" excerpts with Mezzo-Soprano Rosie Middleton. The tension is palpable in both the control room and upstairs. It's quickly clear that the free-spirited rehearsal has given way to a darker, more constrained performance that satisfies no one, especially Ms. Middleton.

The second take is better but is still missing the required "magic". Take three is "the one". Everyone is relieved and it's technically perfect.

Then, after a lunch break, it's on to the Chabrier "España". After a recorded rehearsal playback, it's time for a take. The first performance is spirited but an orchestral crescendo causes the cutting stylus to crash through the groove wall into an adjacent groove, requiring a second take.

There's another great performance, but higher drama could be found in the mastering suite, all of which is captured on the video.

Quick, decisive thinking and gutsy actions by mastering engineer John Webber saves the lacquer from disaster (as you'll see) but a third take (not shown) proves to be by far the best and it will be the one you'll hear on the final vinyl record.

Please keep in mind the sound you hear on this video was captured by an Audio-Technica "shotgun" microphone attached to a camcorder and is not the actual recorded sound (given what it is, though, it's pretty good!).

Meanwhile, if you want to hear a minute and a half of the full resolution 192/14 bit binaural head recording, you can click on the hyper-link you'll find within Part 1 of this story.

alucas's picture

i'm the first comment? i gotta get a life... it was great to see everyone in action. nice studio, love the expensive little speakers on the deck...2500.00. thanks for the tour!

Nicolas's picture

Dear Michael,I am having problems with the aiff links. They open the vlc player which only plays bursts of a few seconds. Are they downloadable? Plus the website sometimes does not recognize my login.

Michael Fremer's picture
I had the same problem...it clears up if you give it some time to buffer or whatever it has to do. If you immediately hit "play" it will hiccup.
gbougard's picture

wonderful documentary
I still don't understand why a record company would want to produce a direct to disk recording instead of something more conventional, but that's another debate.

Jon's picture

Thanks Michael. Great video. As a classical fan I love stuff like this. I once recorded in a professional studio back in 1980 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation Chatswood Studio, Sydney). It was very hard work. People don't appreciate how much work goes into what often ends up being a relatively tiny piece of music.

eFlatBlues's picture

Mikey, these last two videos are simply fantastic. I have been captivated by the recording process since my teens when I went into a 4 track studio with the band I was in at the time. But seeing the whole process of recording direct-to-disc as it happens is pure gold. And the music... Wow!
I could watch this over and over. For sure, I'll be buying the record when it is released.
Thank you so much for posting.

abelb1's picture

Thanks for posting!

Jim Tavegia's picture

A 24/192 and DSD master copies and the D2D and then compare if a master disc cut from either of the digital files would also work. There is no question that D2D cutting is filled with tension. It takes top notch performers and a superb cutting engineer to make it all work. Different is probably all that one can say. I suppose one could also do 24/384.