The Nimbus Prima Voce C.D. Series
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