I'm just one of the very blessed people who got to spend time with Denny Purcell. All of the projects that I worked on from 1987 to the present, Denny mastered for me. I'm an independent engineer in Jacksonville, Fla., and because I am an outsider to the Nashville community, most people might not give me the time of day. But when I got off of the airplane and drove to Georgetown, I was in Denny's world, and there I was equal to anyone who Denny has ever worked with. Denny viewed everybody as an equal; it didn't matter how much fame, money or what you thought of yourself. My money spent the same as Garth Brooks', Rick Skaggs'…you get the picture.
I hope that there could be a tribute or something written about Denny; not just about his mastering/engineering, but about him as a person.
Please read “Current” in our October issue for some personal and professional tributes to the late Denny Purcell.
PRODUCTION SOUND HEROES
I wanted to offer kudos to George Petersen's “Unsung Heroes” editorial (“From the Editor”) in September Mix. Having come from production sound and then moving on to post, I truly appreciate your article. You are so right when you say “least appreciated,” and it's not always by the general public. Sometimes, those in our own industry are unaware of what's going on. So, again — and I know I speak for my brothers and sisters out there — I thank you for getting the word out.
Board of Directors
Cinema Audio Society
MAZER: HD MAKES THE GRADE
Here is an update to my recent rant in these pages about analog versus digital. I now have the ability to record and mix multitracks at 192/24, and I am very pleased with my purchase.
We purchased a Pro Tools|HD system a few months ago. Our only previous experience with PT was with the 001, which we found to be very useful, friendly and easy to use. It sounded pretty good for a 48/24 system when we used our Apogee converters.
Since first hearing 192/24 last year, I knew that I would be satisfied owning a digital system only if it offered the ability to record and mix at least 24 tracks at 192/24 or higher. I wanted user-friendly software that is common to our industry and works on the Mac OS.
I have done two high-resolution projects in the past year, Neil Young's Harvest DVD-A (to be released this month) and Janis Joplin's Cheap Thrills SACD (released last month). Both were mixed in the analog domain. I am very pleased with both, and I want to make sure that any projects I do in the future sound this good. My experience with the 001 also made me want to use a system that remembered everything I did, statically and dynamically.
David Smith, who runs Sony Music Studios, and I do a lot of projects together. His facility can handle SACD, DVD-A, -Video and most every analog format. We call it a Noah's Ark (two of everything). The late great mastering engineer Denny Purcell is my guru. We all talked about PT and agreed that a listening test would be the next step. David took a beautiful George Massenburg ½-inch master recording and an ATR that has response out to 50 kHz and fed it into his PT HD system at 192/24. We did an A/B test comparing the direct output of the ATR and PT. The results were amazing, and I ordered my system the next day.
It is very common to see people moving hard disks, DVD-ROMs and AITs from studio to studio. On a recent project for NBC, we sent an AIT backup of one song to Mike Bradford in L.A. Mike's song, “In a Little While” (Uncle Kracker), was in the show, and Mike wanted to tweak the mix. In a few days, he sent back the AIT with a new session that I was able to drop into the show. It synched up perfectly, and everybody was happy. I am very happy to be a part of this revolution.
New York City
CARE AND FEEDING OF ACETATE
I enjoyed Eddie Ciletti's recent Mix piece on resurrecting old Mylar tapes (“Tech's Files,” July 2002).
Thanks to the Almighty, it seems that my '70s location recordings are in good shape. (They are Scotch 203 and 207, and Ampex 407. I used 1-mil tape to get maximum recording time on my Stellavox, which used 5-inch reels.) Seva (one of the founders of Waves) is a good friend of mine. He has kindly been transferring some of my 1974 Eastern Himalayan recordings to digital, and he tells me that the originals are in excellent condition — and that's after the most casual storage in Hawaii's high heat and humidity! No need to bake them, it seems.
But my 1966 recordings from Bali and 1968 recordings from the Andes are a horse of an entirely different feather: acetate tapes, 1-mil Scotch 150 and such on 5-inch reels. Quite frankly, I've been too scared to take them out of their boxes, fearing that they will simply disintegrate. Any advice to offer?
Incidentally, the 1966 recordings were apparently the first stereo recordings ever made of Balinese gamelan. In Singapore, en route, I went into an electronics store and discovered, to my excitement, a stereo battery-powered recorder called the Concertone 727, ¼-track stereo with 3¾-inch and 7½-inch. It was flimsily built, but it worked long enough for me to make the recordings, which Tracey Sterne issued as the Nonesuch Explorer albums Music From the Morning of the World and Golden Rain. In the Andes in '68, I used a battery-powered Akai, which I recall as being bulky and heavy and also ¼-track.
Thanks for writing. I recently heard a story on NPR about the Nonesuch Series and would love to hear some of your work.
You say you are fearful of the acetate. Is that because they are in poor shape? Or haven't you attempted to play them? I totally understand your feelings about them being 1 mil. My advice is to only play (and not fast-forward or rewind) until you are certain that the tapes can tolerate the abuse. Wind them onto larger NAB reels with plenty of padding at the head, tail and in between until the reel is nearly full. This will reduce stress on the tape. Do not bake!
There are now plenty of high-resolution digital recorder options so that you can comfortably copy these tapes without fear of losing anything. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.
— Eddie Ciletti
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