Click here and check out the 2nd hour of Ensemble HD’s recent venture onto Performance Today.
Ensemble HD was very happy to have received this from Analog Planet for Christmas:
“A more wondrous and wonderful Christmas present you could not buy for yourself or give to someone else because everything about this record is nothing short of miraculous.” (Here for the full review)
…and delighted to sail into the new year with this from Voix des Arts:
BEST CHAMBER MUSIC RECORDING, 2013 (full review here)
Happiest of new years to all of you.
We recently submitted “Live at the Happy Dog” for Grammy consideration- narrowing ballots are due at the end of October. Voters can check us out here: ensemblehd.bandcamp.com.
Thank you to Mark Smotroff of Audiophilereview.com for his thoughtful evaluation and article about the Live at the Happy Dog vinyl release by Ensemble HD.
Thank you to Bill O’Connell for the shout out to Ensemble HD for naming ‘Live at the Happy Dog’ Choice CD of the Day.
A lot has happened since the Live Recording of Ensemble HD at the Happy Dog on December 4 and 5. If you have been following these posts, you have a sense of the combined efforts of musicians, engineers, producers, graphic designers, videographers, photographers, impresarios – artists all.
The kernel of the idea of bringing chamber music to a broader audience and the experience of hearing the music is best captured by Charles Michener, a Cleveland native and internationally recognized arts writer and arts advocate. His essay is included in the liner notes of the double album vinyl release.
Ensemble HD is about to release its first recording, “Live at the Happy Dog,” recorded at the celebrated hipster Happy Dog bar in Cleveland’s Gordon Square Arts district. Putting all rules aside, Ensemble HD is taking straight-up chamber music and serving it with gourmet hot dogs and brew. Hear the audience erupt in cheers to Beethoven, or murmur admiration of Shostakovich as glasses clink and sirens and busses pass on the street outside. On a December night, in this local watering hole in Cleveland, it was about friends and fellowship and food, but as the final beers were served and the crowd settled in to hear the last set, it was all about the music.
Video Montage – Vinyl Production of “Live at the Happy Dog”
Special thanks to Gotta Groove Records for allowing us to film the process and to Vince Slusarz, Chris Smith, Ray Scott and Matt Earley for taking the time to show us around.
Joshua Smith, Founder of Ensemble HD, flew to Washington DC to speak at the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Council meeting. He was invited talk to the Council about the international attention received for Ensemble HD’s chamber music performances at the Happy Dog. Speaking with Mr. Smith was Joan Katz Napoli, Director of Education and Community Programs for the Cleveland Orchestra. In a time of dwindling audiences for traditional classical music performances, how have The Cleveland Orchestra and its musicians moved to the forefront of outreach innovations? The NEA wanted to know.
Photo by Joshua Smith
World class record production requires a lot of collaboration. Artisans like Clint Holley of Well Made Music are an essential part of the process. We started with superb recorded sound from Erica Brenner, producer and Thomas Knab, recording engineer. But how to transfer the beautifully mastered sound to vinyl? Clint is one of the best in the business at bringing great sound to vinyl. Here Clint transfers the recorded sound to a lacquered disk. The machine that cuts the lacquer is a Neumann – VMS 70 cutting lathe – meticulously restored a few years ago by a recording technician who was in his 80s.
Clint lowers the sapphire cutting stylus onto an aluminum disk coated with nitrocellulose lacquer. The calculation of the groove spacing is a meticulous process. Any imperfections in the coating or cutting of the lacquer will diminish the quality of the final record. This lathe, built in the early 1970s, cuts the lacquer disk with a precisely engineered mechanism. The disk is held in place by a vacuum to keep it secure on the lathe. The magnetic coils that move the cutting stylus get hot as they move. To keep them cool, helium gas flows past them to remove the heat. Helium is used because of its high specific heat. The spirals of cut lacquer coming off the stylus are quickly drawn off the disk by vacuum.
This is the cutting stylus. The small tube entering the top of the yellow triangle of the cutting head, supplies the cooling helium. The metal tube to the right of the stylus, is the vacuum that removes the cut lacquer. Depending on the characteristics of the recording, a sapphire stylus can cut up to 2o hours of music. For the Ensemble HD recording, Clint used a new stylus to insure optimal sound quality.
To check the cutting, Clint can play the lacquer with a tonearm built into the lathe. Generally, only the test cuts are played back. The final lacquer is seldom played because that would diminish the sound quality. Once the lacquer is cut, it is inspected with a microscope to make sure the continuous spiral groove has been properly cut. If it passes inspection, the lacquer is inscribed with a serial number, removed from the lathe, and immediately sent off for plating. The series of nickel plates that are produced from the cut lacquer will be used as stampers to press the vinyl record.
For more information about the process of making a vinyl record, check out the Test Pressing post and video.
Many thanks to Clint Holley of Well Made Music for the tour of his studio. He clearly loves his work!