March 31, 2015

Brij Narayan [PolJazz PSJ-89] an LP recorded in India and released in Poland in 1980 (new transfer)

Brij Narayan (born 25 April 1952 in UdaipurRajasthanIndia) is the oldest son of Ram Narayan and also the nephew of tabla maestro Chatur Lal, under whom he started studies. After the death of Lal he moved to the sarod and continues to perform to this day.

This LP, which was recorded in 1980 at India's National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Bombay, does not seem to have shown up anywhere other than in Poland. It seems to have been issued by the Polish Jazz Society. (I should note that Jazz is still very widely admired in Poland and several of my acquaintances who are jazz musicians have found quite a warm and welcoming reception there.)

I had not heard of the album before my friend Nels loaned it to me for digitalization -- thanks, Nels!

Side A: Raga Puriya Kalyan (19:35)

Side B: Raga Jogiva (13:25) and Raga Misra Pilu (6:30)

Tabla by Suresh Talwalker.

Here is a short video of Brij Narayan playing at a house concert

Equipment used in transfer: 
Turntable: Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780

Recorder: Edirol R-09HR at 24/48 resolution
For the new transfer, I kept the original 24bit, 48kHz files and used ClickRepair at a minimal setting to just eliminate some of the more obvious grunge-y sounds. I then used Audacity to down sample to 1644 and xAct to encode to mp3 and to FLAC.

(high resolution file ideal for listening on computer or certain portable players)

(standard resolution file ideal for burning a CDR)

(highest possible quality compressed file ideal for listening on a portable player)

March 4, 2015

Manually adjusting azimuth when playing and transferring cassette tapes

One difficulty encountered when transferring cassette tapes to a digital medium is the issue of proper azimuth alignment. Essentially, this boils done to differences in the direction the play head in the machine is aligned with when tape is passing over it. The goal is to have the same alignment as the original machine which made the recording. This will not be possible in 99% of cases, unless you are using the same deck. 

Here is one excellent article and a fine video on this subject. Anyone who is very serious about helping to preserve recorded musical culture will hopefully be motivated to take a few minutes to read a couple of other articles as well. 

YouTube video on how to manually adjust azimuth

Ashish Khan - Young Master of the Sarod [World Pacific WPS-21444] (1967)

Ashish (also spelled "Aashish") Khan is son of Ali Akbar Khan and grandson of the great Allauddin Khan. He was born 5 December 1939 in Maihar, India and currently lives and teaches in both Calcutta and California. In 2006 he was nominated for a Grammy Award, which is a big deal to professional Indian musicians and, as far as I can tell, no one else. Being a disciple of Ali Akbar Khan is a much greater honor than any ridiculous miniature statue the Grammy's can provide!

This World Pacific LP was released in 1967 and features liner notes signed by George Harrison. This particular copy is visually immaculate but featured some prominent clicks in quiet passages and a subtle "crunchy noise" in the louder passages of side 2. After a thorough and gentle cleaning of the vinyl, the clicks were individually and carefully dealt with in Audacity. Unfortunately noise that is within the spectrum of the music is very difficult to eradicate and I chose to leave it alone rather than mar the essential beauty of the performance.

Tabla is by the great Alla Rakha.

Equipment used in transfer: 
Turntable: Audio-technica AT-LP-1240
Cartridge: Shure M97x
Pre-amplification: Vintage refurbished Pioneer SX-780.

Recorder: Edirol R-09HR at 24/48 resolution

Software: Audacity to normalize and carefully remove a few clicks as well as convert to 16/44.1. xAct was used to convert to FLAC and mp3

(suitable for listening on computer and other devices capable of playing high resolution files)

(suitable for burning a CDR)

(highest possible quality compressed file for portable devices such as iPod and smartphones)