Applause: Bummer

Now that I have a rig I can call a "system", I often find myself looking up from a book or the computer or whatever to pay attention to a particularly involving musical passage. Finally, it ends and I think, 'wow, that was just right', or 'jeepers, Vladimir or Dizzy or _______ was right here a moment ago'. But if it's a live recording, the applause always brings me down. Never, not once have I heard applause on any audio rig that sounded like hands clapping. Baez "From Every Stage", Dizzy "An Electrifying Evening" and "Newport II", "Jazz at the Pawnshop", Horowitz at the Met", Clapton "Unplugged", nada. Am I opening the gates to hell pursuing realistic applause? Is it out there at $50,000 per? Should I care? Have I ruined anyone's day?
Maybe you could higher a bunch of illegal imigrants to applause for you on cue...... well it would be cheap at least.
I think applause is one of the hardest sounds to reproduce.On my system it kind of sounds like rain on a metal roof.Sometimes I feel my system is a failure because of this but then again the music sounds so damn good it only bothers me briefly.I tend to stay away from live recordings also as I usually cant stand the sound of live rock.The majority of my music is rock so I dont have much experience with live "other" music.I just know most live rock recordings are terrible.Maybe thats why in my system anyway applause doesnt sound real.
Be thankful that the applause does not sound realistic. If it did, the music wouldn't. Reason? When recording, mikes are optimized to record the instruments, and thus are usually quite directional. Even omnidirectional mikes are usually placed in front of or above the performers. To adequately capture the sound of applause, additional mikes would have to be hung or placed in the audience, which would over-emphasize room or hall ambience. Mixing would also become much more complicated, trying to find the right balance. So, if the music sounds right, enjoy it and don't think about the applause -- it's only there to inform you that the performance was done live.
I like it, Sd. From now on, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. It also makes sense. Applause.
Applause sounds terrible on my system also, harsh and noisy. I am glad you wrote this post. But I am surprised by your comments about live recordings, David99. Many of my favorite cds are live. I love hearing the ambience of the room or hall. Imaging is more realistic, and I get a very real sense of a live event. I just listened to Ricki Lee Jones' "Naked Songs". It is amazing. It sounds like I am there in a small club. Or the "Three Tenors". I love the recording. I can hear the open air, a summer night in Milano. Some other favorites are Lyle Lovetts' live album, The Mountain Stage series, Eva Casidy, live, MFSL tribute to Steve Goodman, Keith Jarrett....all live. I could go on forever. I actually look for good live recordings. I find them more involving.
Bibloom-I mentioned live rock recordings.I find them to be distracting from the crowd noise.I also find most to be poorly miked.There are exceptions of course.The Eagles "Hell Freezes Over" for one.....
David99. Sorry. I guess I missed the distinction you made, but I wanted to ask. Don't you find that rock recordings are generally poor, compressed and terribly mixed? I love rock and find rock recordings frustrating. I mostly listen to them in my car. I have a live Clapton disc, I think it's titled "24 Nights", that, IMO, is much more involving than his last two studio recordings. I don't mean to be disagreeable. I am just a bit surprised and curious. Thanks.
I once listened to a live CD by the guy (can't remember his name) who used to work with Roxy Music. It sounded like they focused on recording the audience and that the music was just an after thought. I also recall that it was a European performance. Highly recommended if you want the "all that you can be" out of applause and audience chattering.
Sounds like we need a new thread on Best Audiophile Applause Track.
Rather than being disappointed in the sound of applause, we should be amazed. Amazed that plastic cones, aluminum ribbons, metal dones, mylar sheets and the like, are capable of sounding so much like kick drums, bassoons, Steinway concert grands and 300 year old violins. And all of this information is being retrieved by a beam of coherent light reading pits in a piece of aluminum foil! Or a stylus reading an erose canyon wall. It is truly amazing and wonderful that it sounds as close to live music as it does. Be amazed! Happy listening, Don
Quite right, elgordo. On the topic of live rock recordings, let me add that IMHO many of their technical limitations are probably the result of the equipment used in the live performance. Having the lead vocalist sing into some Shure dynamic microphone -- that's designed to be rugged enough to drive nails with so it will survive a concert tour -- will not yield the same quality of vocal as a Neumann condenser microphone that costs thousands of dollars but stays in the studio. Then the vocalist, inspired by the sheer energy he (or she) is drawing from the crowd, lets a particularly gutsy high note wail a few db louder than at the sound check before the performance, with the microphone virtually in his mouth, and the additional signal clips the input of the mixing console or the compressor that's in the signal path before the console. The console may be full of chips that don't sound particularly good, but hold up well to the rigors of travel and enable the manufacturer to produce a mixing console that doesn't cost more than your entire house, like the ones in the studio. Then, a different equalization curve is devised for virtually every microphone, so the mix sounds the way the sound tech thinks it should when played through the massive array of speakers that are deafening the audience members who are standing directly in front of them. Meanwhile, the output of the mixing console is also feeding a recording device of some sort, from which your CD or LP will be mastered. Small wonder it doesn't sound all that impressive by the time you settle into your listening chair.
If the applause sounds right, there's something wrong with your system. In live recordings, generally the performers are closely miked, with one or two mikes on the stage for ambience perhaps, hardly ever there are mikes over the audience, I would assume. Just my 2 cents...
Dekay, "that guy" is Bryan Ferry.
Dekay, that would be Bryan Ferry. Roxy Music is touring as we speak, BTW. As for live recordings, they vary much like studio recordings do. For the most part, there tends to be more energy conveyed and even the mistakes the musicians make add to the experience. Personally, I prefer live over studio, and having electrostatics that reveal everything, I've learned to ignore the applause (it's usually only prevalent in the opening and closing of the songs anyway).
BMP & Jeff: Yes, it was Ferry, thanks. My CD vendor at the flea market smiled and nodded his head when I asked him if I could exchange it, he apparently felt the same way about this particular recording. In regard to noise (not necessarily audience noise) in recordings, I find that sometimes the music itself and the performance over power the annoyance of such noise. One example of this is the two CD set issued by Pearl of Gershwin Plays Gershwin (I just picked it up yesterday at the flea and compared it to another issue that I have). Lots of pops, cracks and static, but the material and performance is so good that I only notice it at the beginning and at the end of the songs. I used to have a vinyl copy of Louis Armstrong that was transferred over from cylinders/tubes (that preceded flat records, I believe) and the same was true of this album that I used to listen to all the time. I also love live recordings when they are done well, some of which include "Hell" mentioned above, various Cowboy Junkies cuts and Pink Floyd (PF needs to be played rather loud for some reason). My wife will occasionally borrow my cigarette lighter when I am listening to the Pink Floyd CD, stand in the middle of the living room and ignite the lighter over her head (which is her polite way of asking me to turn it down a little).
In response to Sugarbrie, I nominate the applause track from the Stakatto disc from way back (the one with various instruments and, my favorite, the crystal glassware being thrown against the wall). A couple of minutes of a huge ovation--just what you need when you're feeling beaten down at the end of the day!
Realistic sounding applause is not any more difficult to reproduce than any other sound. What most of the above posts are really commenting upon is the poor quality of the recording of audience applause. In a typical live recording setup, everything possible is done to eliminate audience noise (applause is included in this category). At some point during the concert when the band is not playing, the engineers "bleeds" crowd applause into the recording. This sample of applause is then edited, EQ'd, compressed and then reinserted throughout the final mix of the "live" recording. If you hear sudden changes in sound level whenever the applause kicks in, then they probably used this technique.
Hey Blbloom, I agree about Clapton "24 nights" - that was a great tour and the cd sounds pretty good, not compressed. He hasn't moved me much since Journeyman although back to the cradle has some good moments.
Applause on Jazz at the Pawnshop can sound very realistic and the music sounds fine, too. How about, indeed, having one or more legal friends stand in front of your system and applaud to see what the room does with it, just for kicks?
I guess no one liked my idea:-(
Tiredguy- I loved it; edsel- legal friends?