Nimbus Prima Voce Series

 

The Nimbus Prima Voce C.D. Series

Greg Stanford

Since writing my recent piece “What About Today”, I have fortunately heard further evidence that the supply of fine new vocal talent is continuing to increase. At the same time, some of the new voices heard recently have sent me back to singers from the first four decades of the 20th Century to make some comparisons. My collection includes many discs from the British label Nimbus.  They pioneered their remarkable recording technique in 1989.  The Nimbus Prima Voce Series makes listening to these past singers a much richer and more rewarding experience than it used to be. Most of these C.D.’s are easily available on Amazon, often for bargain prices. They are by far the best way to hear singers whose recordings were made on 78 R.P.M. records. The sound quality difference between the Prima Voce Series and other transfer methods is particularly striking in pre-1925 acoustic recordings, though considerable improvement is also obvious in electrical recordings made beginning in 1925, when the microphone made it possible to record a full orchestra, as well as bringing increased fidelity to recorded voices.

Nimbus’s technology for transfer of the old 78’s is unique. They constructed a small, acoustically ideal “hall”, where they placed a specially constructed horn gramophone equivalent to the best models made in the early 20th Century. Thorn needles were used, as they produced the best sound. Digital microphones were placed in the tiny hall and a mint copy of the 78 played on the gramophone while the sound engineers recorded the playback digitally from outside the hall. Thus the voices were finally allowed to resonate in ideal playback circumstances in acoustically perfect surroundings. The results are much more satisfying than before, as the resonance of the little hall frees the voices from the acoustically dry recording rooms where the originals were made. Originally, only people with the highest quality gramophone placed in a room with fine acoustics (obviously a rare combination in a home) could have heard similar results. Nimbus has now made these wonderful old singers palatable to the ears of a more general modern audience than only the collectors and specialists, always a small minority, who cannot help but be delighted as well.  Continue reading Nimbus Prima Voce Series

“Miracle Child”

Plane Crash Crop

“Miracle Child Survives Plane Crash”

This and variations of the same were headlines  early in the New Year of our collective consciousness.  It was a feel-good story and  a welcome antidote to the Syrian civil war’s displaced and dead, Isis be-headings and disappearing passenger jets–to name only a few of the receding year’s dismal news leads.

Even so, I am reminded of a movie moment from my childhood.  The film was called “The Big Fishermen.”  The anglers in question were soon to become fishers of men.  At this juncture in the film the nascent disciples had survived a storm on the Sea of Galilee.  One of the sailors (who had been fished out of the water by the burly, no nonsense  John) was thanking God for his deliverance.   John sagely averred: “You can thank God for the storm–you can thank me for saving your sorry ass!”  That was a paraphrase and there have been those who have questioned my memory of at least a portion of the last line. Continue reading “Miracle Child”