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Prima Voce

The Prima Voce series began in 1989 and has become one of the most important and unified vocal archives on disc. The catalogue runs to 150 titles containing almost 3,000 songs and arias from the greatest singers performing from the birth of vocal recording in about 1900 to the arrival of tape and the LP in about 1949. All tracks are taken from original 78 rpm discs. Record buyers and voice fanciers have always responded with enthusiasm to the warm, immediate and appealing sound that our huge acoustic horn generates. In 2006 - after years of detailed experimentation - Prima Voce admitted a modern pick-up to its transfer suite. Some records, typically those made later than 1940, are now transferred in this way on a case-by-case basis.

The process of making an 'acoustic' transfer is more accurately described as re-recording than remastering. First, suitable 78 pressings are tracked down, then studied through careful listening. Instead of a modern electric stylus we use thorns. Much softer than the shellac discs, the thorns quickly wear to the exact shape of the groove. Because they fill the groove and are therefore in contact with all of the information contained in it, the original balance of 'signal to noise' is restored. Our purpose-built horn gramophone is a development of the most sophisticated 'acoustic' swan neck gramophones that first appeared in the 1930s - the horn nearly six metres long! The increase in size, together with some fine adjustments to the curve of the horn, makes it possible to reproduce a greater range of frequencies. The horn amplifies the sound purely acoustically into a much larger one. Placed in front of the horn is the same 'Ambisonic' microphone that we use to make our modern recordings, simply capturing the 'performance'.

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Chandos Records
Chandos House
1 Commerce Park
Commerce Way
United Kingdom