Friday, September 30, 2016

2016 Grand Final weekend in Australia

If you know anyone in Australia or know any Australian expats, please don’t ask them to do anything this weekend.  This is Grand Final weekend.  It is their equivalent of the Super Bowl.  It is not just one sporting event but two.  One each for separate sports.  Australian rules football has its Australian Football League Grand Final on Saturdays in Melbourne.  On Sundays, it is the National Rugby League Grand Final in Sydney.  It turned out that this year both Grand Finals will include one team each from Melbourne and Sydney, the two largest cities in Australia.  The opportunity exists for either city to claim supremacy if both hometown teams win their respective sporting championship.  Near 100,000 people will attend each game.

The AFL Grand Final will have the Sydney Swans versus the Western (Melbourne) Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs have only ever won a single Grand Final back in 1954.  The last time they played and lost a Grand Final was 1961.  In two years the Bulldogs have become a winning team and their efforts have taken them this far.  A victory by this team would possibly be greater than if the Sydney Swans win in light of the Swans’ superb performances for many years.

The NRL Grand Final will pit the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks from southern Sydney versus the Melbourne Storm.

The NRL Grand Final will be seen on television in the U. S. on Fox Sports 2 which is now widely available as a basic cable channel.  The AFL’s typical self-destructive decision making has limited the U. S. viewing of their Grand Final to Fox Soccer Plus which costs extra each month to view only on those cable/satellite companies that offer it and online which also has a pay wall.  And on both viewing sources Americans are likely to see the game only and none of the pre- or post-game coverage due to expensive royalties owed if copyrighted background music gets heard, something that has been a problem for years.  Those curious or eager enough to watch the games will penetrate any media barriers.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Popular Mechanics magazine article on Sun Records echo

Who would have ever thought that Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, would be the subject of an article in Popular Mechanics magazine?  This article explains the decaying reverberation echo heard on most Sun records made in the 1950s.  Sam Phillips transferred the flat recorded sound to a separate tape recorder to add on the electronically created echo, described many times as a “slapback echo”.  Most other recording studios of the era would create a resonance-based echo by feeding the flat studio recording through an actual echo chamber.  Duane Eddy recorded at a studio in Arizona that had a metal water tank obtained cheap at a scrap yard for an echo chamber.  The audio engineer ran cables to the inside of the tank with a speaker and a microphone to capture the sound of the metallic resonance to add to the recordings.  The Chess studio in Chicago had a long piece of sewer drain pipe suspended horizontally from a steel beam in their building, with a speaker and microphone on each end.  The Norman Petty studio in New Mexico had the attic of their building with the walls lined with ceramic tiles, installed professionally by Buddy Holly’s father and his three sons.  In the middle of the attic was and odd-shaped blob made out of a ceramic type material specially designed by a university audio acoustics professor for the purpose of deflecting sound.  Again speakers a microphone were placed inside.  In every case the flat sound of a band and singer recorded in their small studio rooms would be fed through a speaker inside these echo chambers to create more resonance which would then be recorded separately and then added to the original flat recording.  Sam Phillips at Sun Records, on the other hand, used an electronically created echo.  Echo chamber resonance spreads out and diffuses.  Sam Phillips’ echo would repeat rapidly, a staccato, getting quieter with each repetition.  The Phillips echo is a pretty unique sound.  It is describe in a little bit of detail in this article.

During this era there were also much larger studios, usually older, that were built with the intention of recording large orchestras.  These studios often did not need added echo or resonance as the size and designs of the rooms created their own that could be separately mic’d and added to the mix.