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Old 20th July 2011, 09:43 PM   #1
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Default BBC Proms sound

I am listening to tonight's live Prom broadcast on BBC Radio 3 FM - Smetana's Ma Vlast. It sounds horrible, like a bad recording! I'm sure the musicians are doing their best but the engineering is letting them down. The opening harp section was about the same sound level as the full orchestra so heavy compression is obviously in use. Prom live broadcasts used to sound almost like being there - I know because 30 years ago I might be there one evening and listening on the radio the next evening. I know what the Royal Albert Hall should sound like.

Theories:
1. the sound engineer on duty tonight is incompetent or deaf.
2. he knows what he is doing, but his boss has told him to engineer poor sound.
3. the BBC has no sound engineers on duty tonight.
4. my local transmitter (Peterborough) is faulty or adding extra compression.
5. the FM sound is being deliberately degraded to boost interest in either DAB or the new online 'HD' digital sound.

A live concert broadcast from the BBC used to be about the best sound you could get (apart from the 15kHz FM bandwidth), but that is no longer the case.
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Old 20th July 2011, 09:49 PM   #2
Did it Himself
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Write to them and complain!
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Old 20th July 2011, 09:55 PM   #3
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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No point. The BBC is now run by accountants and 'media' types. The days when you had to be a musician or engineer (preferably both) to get a job there have long gone.
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Old 20th July 2011, 09:59 PM   #4
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I so agree.

I go to as many Proms as I can, usually about 5 a year. I listen to and record as many of the broadcasts (inc TV) as I can.

Like you, I know the AH sound. I even remember it pre-mushrooms when I lived in Olympia and queued every night. I still have a small area of favourite seats.

You know they still use the same OB Vans outside the AH? How can the sound have got so bad in the last few years.

What was the name of the blind reviewer for HFNaRR who could tell which mics were in use?

Sorry, I'm rambling ...
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Old 20th July 2011, 10:57 PM   #5
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Angus McKenzie? He was a good engineer, musical and had good hearing. The BBC didn't dare put out bad sound then, as AM would ring the people responsible and comment in his magazine column.

He was also a radio amateur. He lived in North West London. In those days I lived in NE London. I remember hearing him on the 2m band, including his tests of wideband FM (I guess he needed a special permit for that?).
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Old 20th July 2011, 11:10 PM   #6
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Unfortunatly, the "loudness wars" mentality seems to have taken over everywhere. It seems like years since anything has been done on CD, radio, TV, webcast - whatever, that hasn't been compressed and squished until there's no life in it. And then there's MP3 and and all the other lossy compression schemes, giant step backward

Mike
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Old 20th July 2011, 11:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DF96 View Post
Angus McKenzie? He was a good engineer, musical and had good hearing. The BBC didn't dare put out bad sound then, as AM would ring the people responsible and comment in his magazine column.

He was also a radio amateur. He lived in North West London. In those days I lived in NE London. I remember hearing him on the 2m band, including his tests of wideband FM (I guess he needed a special permit for that?).
Angus! Yes, thanks for that!

Perhaps you also remember the "stereo" experiments with R3 MW and (was it?) R3 FM for each channel.
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