André Charlin Presentation : Stereo Microphone Inventor (Awarded for all his Recordings)

André Charlin Presentation : Stereo Microphone Inventor (Awarded for all his Recordings)

Hi Friends, I’ll introduce with pleasure today our first official partnership. This partner is recognized through his excellency and for the technical quality of his work during musical performances he recorded. It’s about André Charlin. André Charlin was a prestigious international sound engineer, the inventor of the stereophonic reproduction in France. He worked for the most prestigious labels before creating his own Publishing house in 1962. He based his collection with the best recordings he made during all these years. We are very proud to be engaged with the Editions Charlin and as a partner. We will be able to offer you this exceptional collection and I believe in keeping these memories alive … Besides, you have already been thousands to enjoy a charlin’s recording : Haydn’s ‘Seven Last Words of Christ’. You can still listen it again here and very soon I ll do a more pedagogic video on this one piece. Now, let’s discover together behind the scenes of this masterpiece recording. When I have to make a recording, I start by going into the room and listening to the Orchestra with my both ears. We must be in such conditions that the echoes of the room do not interfere, we must observe them.. We must find otherwise the place of the ideal microphone and it is around this place that we must have the orchestra and musicians and singers. That’s all. So following the rooms it changes a lot, you have rooms that have what is called flicker echoes.. These echoes are due to lateral walls and are fast high frequency echoes that scramble everything. So we must try to avoid that. Sometimes there are even screens to put on. The example of the recording of the seven words of Christ, is a “typical” example of the centering of the orchestra according to a pre-study of the nave.. Moreover it is almost in the center of the nave that was the orchestra. Which gives this scale and homogeneity to the recording. There were precisely issues of flicker echoes very embarrassing and it was necessary to decenter the orchestra enough so that they disappear. The most difficult recordings to make are in churches and cathedrals. Always we start with the placement of the microphone. We must start by choosing the place of the microphone and then set up the musicians according to this chosen place. In general, we do the opposite. Generally we have rooms that are arranged to receive an orchestra at a place, we put the orchestra and then we install the microphone. Unfortunately it does not work that way, it’s a coincidence when it works. Bruno, we thank you for welcoming us to your studio. With pleasure! Right now you’re working for Charlin Publishing. Besides, tell us about your work so that Internet users can discover you. In fact, a number of tapes were found. I am in the process of digitizing these high-resolution tapes in order to preserve this exceptional heritage. If we do nothing today, in a few years there will be nothing left at all because the recordings are old. It is high time to take care of it. Excellent. When Internet users visit, one thing is really highlighted: the fact that he is a pioneer in stereophony, the inventor of stereophony. The question we want to ask you, who have a lot of experience in the field of sound: Why is Charlin a revolution for the music world and what is the legacy he has passed on to us? In fact, André Charlin started recording with records in 1949. At the time, stereophony did not exist since stereo discs were only available in 1958. But he worked for many people (Lumen, L’Oiseau-Lyre, Discophiles Français, Erato, Bam…) before creating his own record company in 1962. The Charlin catalogue dates from 1962 and contains only stereophonic recordings. There is no mono disc and everything is recorded with the “artificial head” which was his recording process. He had found for many years that working with several microphones was a loss for the spatialization and localization of sounds. So he polarized himself on a two-microphone system by saying: We have two ears, so if we have two microphones to record the sound scene, we must be able to reproduce it with a result that is quite close to what we could hear with our two ears. So that’s his starting point and his observation. To achieve this, he built what he called “an artificial head” but it has nothing to do with a mannequin’s head. It is an acoustic object that looks like a crushed soccer ball with a microphone on each side. The trick was to have a coating that avoids acoustic reflections and conversely, not to absorb everything either. The problem with stereophony when it comes to high-pitched sounds is that they become extremely directive. For low-pitched sounds, there is no problem because they are omnidirectional, you can hear them everywhere, you can bathe in them. As soon as the sound increases in frequency, it becomes more and more directional. At that point, when it hits one ear before the other, we know that it varies in that direction rather than the other. All the stereophony comes from there. This is called phase stereophony: there is a phase difference between our two ears that allows us to locate the sound. Excellent, all right. Earlier we were talking together and you told me that there are currently many microphones for orchestra sound recordings. There are microphones for each desk. Violins, cellos, woods… What makes the difference with Charlin? In fact, recording with many microphones poses many problems of phase and localization distortion. A violin will of course be picked up by the violin microphone but will be a little bit picked up by the viola microphone, a little less by the double bass microphone, a little more by the triangle microphone at the back… The result is that the violin will be in a kind of fog and it will no longer be exactly in its place. This is the problem with multi-microphone sound recording. From the moment we use a pair of microphones to capture the entire sound scene, this problem necessarily disappears because the location of the instrument is clear. The instrument is in its place and we can practically touch it with our fingers when we hear it. What makes the difference today with an André Charlin recording? What will the listeners benefit from by listening to an André Charlin recording? De facto, we could say that it is a “bio” sound. It is a sound not polluted by a sound scene with phase problems and localization distortion. It is an extremely bare sound scene and it required a lot of precautions and skills. Indeed, capturing a symphony orchestra with only two microphones isn’t so simple. It depends on the volume of the scene and how orchestra is made up. As a matter of fact, in such cases, the arrangement of the orchestra is often modified. In some of his records, he explains that the violins are there, that the cellos are there, that the sound axis is in that direction. They modified the orchestra’s layout to make listening as pleasant and natural as possible. Can you tell us about this beautiful device? This is a Charlin console manufactured in the 1960s. It’s equipped with a Thorens TD 124 board. This is the Charlin transistor preamplifier and behind it was a tube or transistor amp. In general, the sound came out on Charlin column speakers. A real collector’s item! Yes, it is clear that it is a tool that is no longer really relevant today. But it still works and gives satisfaction. Bruno, thank you again for your testimony. We look forward to discovering your work and being able to benefit from it 🙂

7 thoughts on “André Charlin Presentation : Stereo Microphone Inventor (Awarded for all his Recordings)

  1. André Charlin (1903-1983) Presentation : Stereo Microphone Inventor, Awarded for all his recordings.
    Presentation (00:00)
    Interview : André Charlin / Sound Engineer (01:18)
    Interview : Bruno Gaullier / Sound Engineer (03:32)

    Music : Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)
    Musica Notturna Di Madrid Op.30 n°6 (10:52)
    Orchestre de Chambre de Cologne
    Direction : Helmut Muller-Brühl
    Sound Engineer : André Charlin
    Century’s recording

    Buy the collection in high fidelity :
    Promotion code : ILOVECMRR

    André Charlin PLAYLIST (reference recordings)

  2. Hola, DECCA ya realizaba grabaciones en estéreo en el año 1955 y en vivo, por ejemplo el Anillo de los Nibelungos registrado en Bayreuth y dirigido por Keilberth. También tengo entendido que la primera grabación estereofónica comercial fue realizada en 1954. Pregunta ¿No fueron los ingleses los inventores del sistema estereofónico?. Saludos.

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