Max Read talks about re-mastering "Touch Me"
- FROM 35 YEAR OLD TAPES!
The existing release of Touch Me always suffered from a lack of "sparkle" and also a lack of real "bottom end". Why the CD ended up sounding the way it does is for a number of reasons. Firstly, the album was recorded at the Enid's home on a home made desk - this gives it plenty of character!
The home made desk introduced mains hum into the recordings in varying quantities and this prevented the original mastering engineer from addressing the problems with the lack of bass; if he added bass he'd be also turning up the hum, which in some places was quite severe.
Fortunately, we now have some very sophisticated software plugins for coping with exactly these kind of problems. I used a plugin that features several notch filters based at mains frequency (50Hz) and then the first eight harmonics. This has the miraculous effect of clearing out pretty well all the hum without having a noticeable impact on rest of the sound.
The other main problem with the tape was clicks, scrapes and pops caused by various things such as:
1. Static discharge from the tape spools.
2. Electrical equipment turning off or on during recording, eg. a fridge.
3. Actual sounds made during recording such as chair creak, woodwind intruments valves etc.
4. Dodgy equipment / wiring.
In the world before digital, the only way to reduce these types of annoying sound was to remove some of high frequencies in the recording by using an equaliser, hence a dull sound.
REMOVING CLICKS AND POPS
With a modern digital work station - and a bit of skill and patience - it's now possible to remove clicks and pops by manually re-drawing the actual waveform. This requires a little "artistic licence" or guesswork, but the results are that the annoying sounds are completely removed without noticeably affecting the sound. In the example below, the click has been drawn out of the left channel but remains in the right:
After removing all the nasty noises, this left me free to adjust the sound with a bit of EQ exactly as it required. The recording was fairly lacking in bass so I used a plugin that generates new bass harmonics to really fatten up the sound. The top end was pretty good straight from the tape and with the clicks removed it could be adjusted in real-time according to the programme material, without highlighting any nasties.
Robert and I are pretty pleased with the results, which are certainly an improvement on existing CDs in circulation. Touch Me is now available as an HD FLAC download along with several other new titles in the HD Download section of the website. A CD version will follow soon.