Exploring Music

News from the audio department

Hi, Bill Siegmund here, longtime reader, first time blogger.

I’m the Technical Director for Exploring music, which means I push all the buttons on the electronic things we use to record the show. And what are those electronic things?

Microphone: Audio Technica 4077 cardioid condenser
Mic Pre: Metric Halo MIO 2882 +DSP
A-D converter: Metric Halo MIO 2882 +DSP
Recorder: Apple Macintosh 1.67 GHz PPC G4, 15″ w/ Glyph HD
Recorder: Tascam CD-RW2000 (backup)
Console: PRE BMX III-14
Ace technician: Rodney Belizaire (without him we’re sunk!)
Host facility: WQXR
Piano: Yamaha PF-500
i-Tunes: i-Tunes

Geeky enough for ya? Wait, there’s more.

We record Bill using the above mentioned Metric Halo, which I’m nuts about. It’s a really cool single rackspace unit. (For those of you scoring at home, a single rackspace is 19″ wide and about as thick as Gideon’s Bible.) It’s got eight channels of analog inputs and outputs and 10 channels of digital inputs and outputs. It connects to a computer via a Fire Wire cable, and this is how the audio gets recorded to the Mac. The 2882 also has built-in effects, which we exploit shamelessly. We put a little dynamics processing (compressors & limiters) and equalization (EQ) on Bill McGlaughlin’s voice. Each show is a four channel recording as we record his microphone dry (no effects), wet (with effects), and we record stereo tracks of the piano. The piano also gets a little EQ and other top-secret enhancements. I also make a rough mix of all the elements on the CD recorder as a backup. The system is quite stable and we’ve never needed to use the backup, although now I’ve probably jinxed it.

And how do we record the show, you ask? Very well, thank you. Bill M. may also write a bit about the process, but what we do is take _A TON_ of music and load it into i-Tunes. For each theme (a theme is a week, or occasionally two weeks, of shows) our production team in Chicago goes through the library at WFMT and pulls material to be considered, then they make mp3s (low resolution audio files) of everything, burn ’em onto DVDs and Fed-Ex them to Bill Mac in NYC. Meanwhile, we also comb the library here at WQXR for more gems and pull what seems interesting, and then drop all the audio into i-Tunes (Bill Mac also uses a Mac – no relation).

During the taping of the show (OK – there isn’t actually any tape involved in the recording process, but it’s still a convenient expression, like Dial M for Murder) I play excerpts of each piece. So Bill M. might introduce, say, the Finale of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung with Georg Solti and the Wiener Philharmoniker, and then I’ll play the first 30 seconds or so, and then I’ll skip to the last minute of the piece and play that before Bill says something like, “What a fiery performance of the Finale of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung with Georg Solti and the Wiener Philharmoniker.” (You see why I don’t write the scripts for the show.) Believe me, Bill has listened and listened and listened to all of the performances we use on the show, he knows them inside and out from his years as a musician and conductor and music fan, so that when it comes time to record the shows we need only hear enough of each cut to establish a tone, or sometimes remember a detail that we want to point out. All the music gets added in later by the crack production team in Chicago.

OK – that’s enough blogging for now. If you’ve read this far, then I invite you to tune back in and I’ll tell more about the rest of the production process, and add some photos, and talk about audio, and music, and other possibly relevant but hopefully interesting things. Thanks for reading, and of course thanks for listening.



Bill Siegmund Digital Island Studios, LLC
71 West 23rd Street Suite 504
NY NY 10010
212.243.9753 vox
347.262.6951 cell

Secretary, Audio Engineering Society New York Section

One Response to “News from the audio department”

  1. Aanel Victoria says:

    Thank you very mmuch Bill! That’s all fascinating and great info, and I’ve incorporated it into the Wikipedia article on Exploring Music.
    Thank you again!

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