Does anyone here have or know of abnormally clear audio recordings from the 1960s or earlier?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by PowerMac G4 MDD, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. PowerMac G4 MDD macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

    Jul 13, 2014
    At the intersection of Conch and Coral.
    So, I have a theory that there are a couple reasons as to why people sounded so odd in old-time video/audio recordings. The main reason, of course, is the fact that so many people back then (in films and such) spoke with a Mid-Atlantic/Trans-Atlantic accent, which was learned. However, that's too obvious. Even recordings of people who DON'T have this accent make them sound old. What else is it?

    Well, the second thing is the sound quality. It's typically so poor, it makes a normal person sound abnormal. And, if this happens to be coupled with the radio-announcer/TV actor accent, it makes the person sound even weirder.

    The third thing is that, if there happens to be okay-enough sound quality AND the speaker happens to not be using some learned accent, they usually sound odd anyway because they might have an older, non-specific style of talking that we are not used to. Then again, there are rare instances where the person will sound completely fine and will only have an effect on their voice from the poor recording equipment.

    Anyway, I am trying to find a recording that's crystal clear, records candid conversation, and doesn't involve people who use some learned accent. This way, all factors relating to a person's voice, in an old audio recording, can be excluded, and I can listen to the most natural recording possible.

    Thanks in advance. (I personally have found instances in film where those speaking did sound like modern individuals, but, in all instances, the audio was still muffled and gross, which still made them sound old to some degree.)
  2. bunnspecial macrumors 603


    May 3, 2014
    What sort of recordings are you looking for? Speeches? Newscasts? Movies? TV Shows? Music?

    Candid recordings and the like can be pretty poor due to the limitations of the equipment and the recording medium.

    In addition, many early TV shows, newscasts and the like were only preserved using an inherently very poor technology called Kinescope. Basically, the show was broadcast live, and then for recording purposes(such as for time shifting) they would point a 16mm movie camera at a CRT. These tend to be abysmal.

    On the other hand, 1950s and later TV shows that were originally shot on film only look better and better as time goes on and the ability to extract all the information there(and distribute it) improves. Look at I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke, Andy Griffith, and Leave it to Beaver for examples-they all look and sound great today.

    The same is true for 1930s movies-Gone with the Wind is my go-to example.

    For TV newscasts, look at some Walter Chronkite coverage of the space race(the moon landing is a good one). To me, he doesn't sound much different in those than he did when I last heard something from him probably ~15 years ago.

    Music is a totally different story all together. If you listen to an old worn out and scratched to heck record on a bad turntable, it's going to sound like crap. Buy the song on iTunes and you likely won't have any complaints-and it will likely sound even better if you get a good condition record and play it on a good turntable.
  3. Zenithal macrumors 604

    Sep 10, 2009
    I'd imagine anything that was clear would be remastered or have been fixed digitally.
  4. Roller macrumors 68030

    Jun 25, 2003
    I'm not sure what the OP means by "abnormally clear." The hallmarks of a faithful audio recording aren't any different today than they were in the past, at least from the listener's perspective. I have cassette and reel-to-reel tapes from the 1960s that sound just as good today as they did when they were made, though I've digitized the ones I care about to preserve them. It is true that the narrators on many old newsreels sound odd now because their speech was somewhat affected. And, as bunnspecial notes, some early recordings were simply poor technically.
  5. AlliFlowers Contributor


    Jan 1, 2011
    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    I have a recording of myself from around 1961-2. It was made on a Tandberg reel-to-reel, and is extremely clear. No clicks, pops, hisses. I have it now as an .mp3, but it was never edited, just transferred from reel-to-reel to digital.
  6. Takuro macrumors 6502


    Jun 15, 2009
    Although technically late 60's / early 70's, anything recorded by Pink Floyd. They must have used some very high end equipment because it's the only band from that era I've listed to with not the faintest hissing, popping, walky-talky effect, or otherwise. Sounds crystal clear as if it was recorded today.
  7. OllyW Moderator


    Staff Member

    Oct 11, 2005
    The Black Country, England
    Most of their early recordings were made at EMI's Abbey Road studios in London using the same equipment as the Beatles and many other EMI artists at the time.
  8. PowerMac G4 MDD, Mar 25, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017

    PowerMac G4 MDD thread starter macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

    Jul 13, 2014
    At the intersection of Conch and Coral.
    Perhaps I was not specific enough. Song recordings are just fine - they're surprisingly good, in fact. A digital copy of any mainstream song from the 1970s or later is usually almost as clear as today's.

    I am just looking for the most natural (and hopefully also best-sounding) speech audio recording I can (older the better; something from the 50s/60s). I find it hard to relate to most TV clips and such from those days because the sound quality sucks, and/or the person speaking happens to have some horrible trans-atlantic accent akin to actors/actresses at the time. So far, I have found some cool clips within old bloopers (on YouTube), but that's the full extent of it.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 25, 2017 ---
    Well, there IS a 1955 opera recording that I found (although, I want speech - not singing) that is what I mean by anabnormally-good audio recording. I'll link it when I get back home. It's basically modern-day recording quality. I wish I could find something that clear that contains speech or something. As many know, poor recording equipment altered one's voice quite a bit back then, even if they weren't speaking with a fake TV accent. I'd like to find a recording that's least altered by the sound equipment as possible. I find it interesting to hear recordings from then where everything is natural, and the person being recorded doesn't sound like a robot.

    For example, I was once doing a report on the Gideon v. Wainwright trial of the 1960s, and I found actual audio recordings of the court proceedings. HOWEVER, even though they appeared to be clear recordings, they still masked the several speakers' voices and made them sound like generic TV voices from the '60s. Basically, everyone had that low-pitched buzz in their voices that made them sound like Kirk from Star Trek.
  9. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Search for home disc records or record booth recordings on YouTube. Some of these date back to the 1930s. People did sound a little odd in old newsreels, but they often went into stage mode trying to project and enunciate for the camera. People weren't used to being recorded or filmed like today. The early professional performers started before microphone technology and had to speak in a way that could be heard at the back of the house. They had to speak loud, slow and clear for acoustic records made before 1925. And they adopted a stagy British style of speech to class up.

    I think tv, technology, easy travel and relocation has blended our regional sounds together so there aren't as many distinctions as there used to be. Interesting topic.
  10. sartrekid macrumors 6502a

    Oct 30, 2014
    I have the Dr. Kildare series (1961-1966) on DVD by Warner Bros. It has great audio. To me, they sound very contemporary.
  11. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    You're talking about a time where recording someone was much more of a process than it is today - that is, if you want to record something today, you just whip out a phone and do it. Back then, since making a recording was expensive, time consuming, and labor intensive, people didn't really record anything unless they were planning on making something of importance.

    I'm mentioning this because I imagine that, given that background, there aren't going to be a lot of recordings of people just candidly speaking - most everything recorded was either a performance, or a news broadcast, or something like that, so those people who had "learned" accents would use them intentionally, knowing they were being recorded. If you're looking for a recording of what people in those days sounded like naturally, I suspect those will be few and far between.

    But of course, I could be wrong.
  12. PowerMac G4 MDD thread starter macrumors 68000

    PowerMac G4 MDD

    Jul 13, 2014
    At the intersection of Conch and Coral.
    I'll try and find this online. Thanks!
    --- Post Merged, Apr 4, 2017 ---
    I am sure that there are candid recordings out there for sure, but I understand your point. That super clear 1955 recording was of something very important. I will find that opera recording later and post it.
  13. 63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    Pink Floyd were very clear, but to the point of sounding sterile at times.

    Songwriting and musicianship was always great with them, but being too clean and having an overly measured tempo can suck the soul of the song. It was like a 1990s Casio or Roland digital workstation with programmed drums.

    As a guitarist, I have that issue when I listen to a nearly perfect note for note perfection of instrumental guitarist Joe Satriani. Not many think he has a peer on a technical level in his genre and he invented (or reinvented) shred with Surfin with an alien, but it was sterile at the same time, too.

    To this day my favorite guitarists are David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Joe Satriani but the "bed" of music they are playing over sounds as stiff as a board.

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12 March 23, 2017