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  IsoMike -
  T Minus 5: Purity
  "Purity, An Inspirational Collection"

T Minus 5
Track listing:
  1, Precious Lord
2. I Need The Every Hour
3. A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
4. Praise To The Man
5. National Anthem
6. Jesus The Very Thought Of Thee
7. Because I Have Been Given Much
8. Shenandoah
9. Once In Royal David's City
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 2

Site review by Christine Tham January 11, 2008
T Minus 5 is an a capella group consisting of Jason Salmond(bass), Jeff Petersen (baritone), Karsten Longhurst (tenor), Jared Allen (tenor) and a 'vocal percussionist' (Shawn Satterthwaite). Their normal repertoire consist of a mixture of ', classic rock, a bit of country, and even elements of comedy' (at least according to the bio on their official web site, but this is an album of the boys singing a collection of inspirational hymns (plus a rendition of 'The Star Spangled Banner' thrown in at the end).

Sometimes beauty lies in simplicity, and the title of this album ('Purity') is apt. The a capella arrangements are simple and effective, and the heartfelt renditions strongly convey the spiritual and emotional power behind each hymn.

Everything is recorded using Ray Kimber's IsoMike technology (consisting of a microphone arrangement where the mics are acoustically isolated from each other and hence avoiding the potential phase cancellation caused by different microphones picking up common sound sources).

The liner notes claim that no additional processing has been done, and the result is one of the clearest vocal recordings of recent times. To give some perspective: almost all modern recordings of the human voice incorporate peak limiting, dynamic compression and artificial reverb. Often these effects are built into the recording chain (perhaps in the mixer, or the microphone amplifier - I have even encoutered microphones with these effects built in!) and it can be difficult to bypass them.

There are a number of reasons why these effects are prevalent in voice recording. The human voice can be capable of a surprising dynamic range, ranging from a soft whisper to a shout. Peak limiting is a safeguard to prevent microphones and amplifiers from overloading/clipping. Dynamic compression is often used to reduce the inherent dynamic range of the human voice, particularly in pop recordings where dynamic consistency across a melody is valued. Reverb thickens and enriches the voice (as anyone who has sung in a shower will attest!).

However useful these effects may be, they can also cause problems, such as sibilance, hiss, and other artefacts.

This recording, made at the Weber State University Austad Auditorium, demonstrates how clear, subtle and nuanced the human voice can be without additional processing. Without artificial reverb, the sound may perhaps be a bit drier and front focused than one may be used to, but the voices also sound incredibly natural and realistic. I felt like I was in a hall being treated to a private recital by the band, and the beauty and simplicity of the underlying music comes through clearer. Track 7 (Shenandoah) in particular demonstrates how effective the emotional impact of varying the dynamics of the voice can be.

However, the lack of processing can also be cruel in exposing any faults in the performance. I felt that pitch control of Track 6 (A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief) to be less than perfect - not annoyingly so, but just enough for me to notice the some of the notes were slightly off-key.

All in all, this is an album well worth hearing. My only complaint is that the total playing time is way too short (slightly over 25 minutes) and the disc stops playing all too soon. I am also a little disappointed that there is no multi-channel version of the recording available. It would be nice to be able to hear the potential additional benefits of a surround version.

Review by JW September 18, 2004 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A gift from Ray Kimber -in my case both literally and figuratively. I received the SA-CD plus a CD which I guess he uses as a promotional item for his IsoMike (see The CD contains 28 tracks of various classical music, orchestra, piano, choir, plus seven tracks of 'string practice' by the Acadamy of St. Martin In The Fields Chamber Ensemble.

The SA-CD is called 'Purity' by male voice choir T Minus 5. I can honestly say that this is the best rendering of voice I have ever heard in my system. So real, dynamic and communicative, my wife and I sat spellbound throughout the entire 25m40s performance. The music was something entirely out of my normal repertoire of jazz and rock, but it was so beautiful. The spacing, soundstage was awesome, but also like seeing five guys and not artificially 'inflated' if you will. There seemed to be a slight emphasis on the left and right of the soundstage. This could be the way the group was set-up - the middle singers providing more of the melody and background

I have not listened to the entire RBCD, but it does contain a track also featured on the SA-CD so I could compare the downconverted recording. And though the CD displays many of the main characteristics of the SA-CD, one cannot but conclude that the SA-CD is superior - timbre, treble, sheer naturalness and impact, it's all at a higher level.


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