Background

Background 2017-08-18T20:50:15+00:00

Gemini Sound was established in 1981 by audio engineer David Wright, specialising initially in high-quality real-time cassette duplication. David’s own location recording activities had exposed a woeful lack of decent duplication facilities, so he decided to develop his own system which proved highly effective, soon attracting a circle of regular clients, a number of whom became firm friends.

Very soon, David decided to launch his own cassette-based label ‘Libra Realsound’ with a set of four re-issues of some fine recordings made by Brian Preston and David Lord in the 70s for LP release on the Crescent label. This was followed by a series of David’s own recordings of instrumental and choral music, and his collaboration with organist and harpsichordist Gerald Gifford over the next 15 years or so was to prove particularly fruitful.

David has long been an advocate of ‘coincident’ stereo, and the great majority of these recordings were made using just the legendary Calrec ‘Soundfield’ Microphone. His MkIV Soundfield purchased in 1985 has proved remarkably successful and is still in use, along with a couple of Sennheiser M-S pairs, and these days it’s not unusual to see them supported by the subtle use of some spot mics.

The first few ‘Libra Realsound’ recordings were analogue – however the arrival of Sony’s PCM-F1/Betamax digital recording system was eagerly welcomed, as indeed was their DTC-1000ES DAT recorder a few years later. The editing stage meant the analogue recorder was by no means yet redundant, in the absence of affordable digital editing at that time. However, the limitations of traditional tape-splicing became increasingly irksome, and David improved the success rate by using his wife Julie’s pinking shears to replace the crude diagonal edit produced by the traditional EMI splicing block. He also devised and built a manual analogue crossfader to deal with some particularly intractable organ edits.

The advent of cost-effective digital editing in the late 80s eliminated many of these limitations, leading to a significant change of direction, and following the purchase of a Digidesign ‘Sound Tools’ workstation in 1991 David decided to concentrate on offering a comprehensive Location Recording, Digital Editing and Mastering Service, which continues to the present day. On sessions, DAT tape has long since given way to Digidesign’s ProTools, enabling up to 16 tracks of recording, and allowing some initial editing to take place on location.

David has been responsible for literally hundreds of CD productions for a variety of labels, featuring many fine choirs, singers and instrumentalists. His own long background as a choral singer, and his acquaintance with the pipe organ, has proved invaluable in his role as producer on quite a number of these projects. The pitch correction of a capella choral music has become a particular speciality.

The introduction by Audioease of their Altiverb reverberation software – enabling real acoustics to be sampled using ‘convolution’ technology – has been a major step forward in achieving a beautiful balance between musical performance and its sonic context. Although Altiverb comes with a comprehensive library of samples, David and a colleague sampled a number of favourite venues over recent years. The added flexibility and freedom from noise have made the use of distant ‘space’ mics on sessions almost entirely redundant.

One of the old ‘Libra Realsound’ collaborations, a recording of Percy Whitlock’s music with organist Roderick Elms, was to bear further fruit in recent years. Roderick (composer & producer) and David (engineer) have worked together on a number of projects, including several fine large-scale orchestral recordings, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others.

Another such collaboration, spanning over 30 years, has been with conductor/composer Timothy Salter. As well as a number of recordings of Tim’s choir ‘The Ionian Singers’ – of which David eventually became an enthusiastic member – there have been many recordings of Tim’s instrumental compositions. The musical and technical challenges presented by some of these have been a fascinating and valuable experience!

Working with composers such as Roderick Elms and Timothy Salter has become a very significant element of David’s work in recent years. The chamber music of Thomas Hyde and a series of choral works by James Whitbourn have provided some very interesting collaborations. James has been working with an excellent Americal choir – Westminster Williamson Voices – and US engineer John Baker, to make some very beautiful recordings of his music. Having already worked together on some UK based recordings, James asked David to undertake the painstaking editing and mixing/mastering processes. One of these discs was even favoured with a Grammy Award nomination.

Inevitably over the years, there has been the occasional project which, with hindsight, it would have been wise to turn down at the outset. David’s younger brother Lawrie suggested the alternative business title of ‘Silk Purse Productions’ for such situations! Now semi-retired, David has the luxury of confining himself to work which has every prospect of proving enjoyably fulfilling.