The World of Sound
Peter K. Burkowitz, born 1920 in Königsberg/OPr. 1937 Start of continuous autodidactic engagement in HF- and LF-Engineer-ing; first sound-foils cut with self-built disk cutting equipment. 1938 High school qualification acquired at E. M. Arndt-Gymnasium, Berlin-Dahlem; after the obligatory six months work-service, military service (trained in military signal engineering, wire-bound and wireless traffic and signal-intelligence) in Poland, France, Russia until 1945. 1945-46 first post-war recording equipment made for Deutsche Grammophon, Hannover. 1946 balance-engineer at RIAS-Berlin; studio- and live-recordings of all genres. 1953 Electrola/Lindstroem, Cologne (which later became EMI-Germany), head of the recording department; design and acquisition of complete new technical outfit. Introduction of multichannel recording and magnetic drum-based reverberation-delay, design of the REDD-line of mixing-desks for EMI Abbey Road. Since 1960 board member. 1954 through 1967 member of the DIN-Committee on Phono-Engineering and of the Technical Committee of the 'Bundesverband der Phonographischen Wirtschaft'. 1967 executive director at Deutsche Grammophon and Philips Phonographic Industries. With their being renamed PolyGram Record Operations, 1979 vice-president of studios & recording operations, responsible for DGG, PPI and Decca. Introduction of full scale digital operations. Numerous publications and patents, i.a. the basic patent on the auto-adaptive compressor (DBP 1113474); author of DIN-standard 45544 (measuring of rumble-noise [10a singular case when a record company built measuring gear]. Since 1960 member of the 'Informationstechnische Gesellschaft ITG' and the AES (Audio Engineering Society); Co-founder of the AES Europe-Region; chairman of the conventions 1971 Cologne, 1972 Munich, 1973 Rotterdam; president 1979/80; honorary member 1984. 2008 VDT honorary-medal (Verband Deutscher Tonmeister).
The World of Sound
1 The Tonmeister's credo: What does "recording" mean?
Recording is the main subject of this book. Let me, therefore, put the emphasis it deserves at the very beginning; particularly as it is frequently mistaken. In the worst case people think it is like simply taking an acoustic photo; and using a camera is a widespread hobby. Everybody can do it. Is there really any difference when it comes to sound recording?
Now, if all that were so simple, photographers should long have discovered "multilensing" (as an equivalent to multi-miking 1 in audio); just take the subject with plenty of lenses and copy the mix, as audio people do with sound. Shouldn't that enhance the details?
No! It definitely doesn't; because in optics, the totally blurred contours would become obvious at first glance. In the acoustical domain, contours are blurred, too, but, because of the much longer acoustical wavelengths the resulting auditory cues are less easily perceptible – at least to the untrained ear. Listening to today's everyday audio results the question arises if there are still any really trained ears at work. There are so many digital gadgets to put even the most rotten sound right!
That is why the comfortable but self-deceptive notion could spread so wide that what sounds dull in front of the mikes can be made to shine in the post-mix. The disappointing result can be heard from almost all audio-channels these days: Instead of intelligible articulation – both in speech and in music – dull acoustical rubbish emerges, compressed to zero decibel mash; as if all know-how had gone down the drain.
No modern audio engineering can replace true musicianship, as it cannot replace conscious, knowledgeable, listener-controlled miking!
It is not by chance that evolution has granted mankind a most valuable ability – hearing. This is a faculty that outperforms everything that even the brightest engineering brain could ever construct. Hearing is one of the most elementary, useful, sensitive and substantial senses we possess. While working in a recording job it is essential to realize this elementary truth from the very beginning. This implies that it is an error to believe it may suffice to register a bunch of raw signals and to take it for granted that the digital work bench will polish them to perfection. Already in the outset of multitrack it was a misnomer when users praised the new possibilities by saying "we'll fix it in the mix!". The surrogates one gets in the post ops aren't any better (but any worse either) than the fake cheese that has recently been put on pizza. The food industry should prevent the consumers from mistaking the fake for Roquefort. The cultural values represented both by culinary and auditory enjoyment deserve the same degree of attention and care. Let's hope that successive generations will not disagree with these principles. Because of the actuality of this topic some critical remarks of a young student from Ireland may with his and the publisher's agreement be cited here (PSNE, 2009/2, p. 49):
"Creativity is being drained out of the recording process, and the Pro Tools Operator is to blame, states Brian Sheil.
You realise the music business has changed somewhat when you start hearing of 'recording colleges' and 'sound engineering courses' being offered across Europe. Each college seems to be trying to outdo the other in their slick advertisements for young students to attend their 'wealth of knowledge classes'.
It has even gone as far as someone standing over you and examining your proficiency in typing keyboard shortcuts, to see if you can copy and paste a vocal take. It seems implausible that someone can now walk out of secondary/ high sc