Stereophile's Test CD 2 Tracks 7-8

Track Information, Tracks 7-8

[7] Franz Schubert: Ave Maria (DDD) 4:35
Takaoki Sugitani (violin), William "Pat" Partridge (Aeolian-Skinner organ)

Recording Venue: Christchurch Cathedral, St. Louis, MO
Recording Date: October 1990
Recording Engineer: John M. Blaine
Microphones: Three B&K 4006s (black grilles) in spaced-omni configuration, with a Schoeps MK4 cardioid on violin
Microphone preamplifier: Schoeps CMC 5
Recorder: Sony PCM-601ES A/D converter, Sony Beta VCR, transferred in the digital domain to Panasonic 3700 DAT recorder

[8] Traditional (arr. Charlie Caranicas): St. James Infirmary (DDD) 3:39
The Brassworks: Christopher Krummel (trumpet), Christopher Olson (trumpet), Frank Groome (horn), Thomas Vincent (trombone), Dana Hofer (tuba), Darren Saner (percussion)

Recording Venue: Christchurch Cathedral, St. Louis, MO
Recording Date: March 1991
Recording Engineer: John M. Blaine
Microphones: Two Schoeps MK4 omnis in spaced-omni configuration, with a central pair of coincident Schoeps MK4 cardioids, crossed at 90 degrees
Microphone preamplifier: Schoeps CMC 5
Recorder: Sony PCM-F1 A/D converter, Sony Beta VCR, transferred in the digital domain to Panasonic 3700 DAT recorder

Medically retired at a relatively early age, John Blaine is a Stereophile reader from St. Louis who has been interested in recording since he bought an Ampex cassette recorder in the 1960s to make tapes for his car. The Ampex didn't have Dolby, but it did come with a couple of "terrible" microphones. Friends asked him to record a concert at Christchurch Cathedral, and he has been recording there ever since. He replaced the Ampex first with a Tandberg open-reel machine, then a plethora of digital gear, and its mikes with first Shure dynamics, then AKG D200 dynamics, then finally the mix of B&K and Schoeps condenser mikes he now uses.

"As cathedrals go, Christchurch is quite small, at 140' by 65', with a 95' ceiling," notes John, "but it has a decay time of around 3s. When you're not recording too close to the sidewalls, it gives a wonderful sense of spaciousness, without being so large as to sound swimmy." John positions his mikes "to give the listener a sense of what they would hear in the optimum position in the hall." For this Schubert arrangement, he used three omnis for his main pickup, widely spaced around 50' from the violinist, who was standing next to the organ console in the gallery with the instrument's pipes around 8' behind him. To get a better sense of immediacy, John placed a spot microphone, a Schoeps cardioid, about 8' from the violin. Its level was 30dB down from the main pickup, however. The organ itself, a superb, classically voiced Aeolian-Skinner from 1966, is about 45' wide and has 77 stops and 67 ranks of pipes, these about 40' from the main floor of the cathedral.

For the brass recording, John used two Schoeps MK4 microphones, set to a cardioid pattern, coincident and crossed at 90 degrees, coupled with a second pair of Schoepses switched to omnidirectional pickup and about 6' apart, all four mikes being 20'-25' back from the ensemble. He chose to use the main pair as crossed cardioids because of their warmer sound, though they ultimately ended up about 10dB quieter than the omnis. John feels that this recording offers "a delicious sense of space." Indeed it does!

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