CEDAR Cambridge brings the BBC's Navy Lark up to speed
13 June 2013
Those of a certain age in the UK will remember with great fondness The Navy Lark, a radio show that ran between 1959 and 1977 and featured comedy luminaries such as Leslie Phillips, Jon Pertwee, and Ronnie Barker. Now the complete run is becoming available again as AudioGo, the home of the BBC's audio books, releases the Navy Lark Collector's Edition series, which will eventually contain every episode broadcast in those 18 years.
"Many of the episodes were not kept by the BBC and others only existed as edited versions for Transcription Service issue", explains project engineer and former BBC sound engineer, Ted Kendall, "so I had to source the missing material from wherever it could be found."
"One source proved particularly valuable," he continued. "I discovered that another BBC engineer had taped many of the episodes at home on his Ferrograph recorder. He did so from the VHF transmissions and, because his equipment was skilfully used, it should have been possible - with a touch of CEDAR restoration and equalisation - to make them sound like studio tapes. Unfortunately, the recorder was usually operated by a time switch, and it drifted in speed by up to 6% as it warmed up during the course of each half-hour programme."
Initially, Kendall attempted to solve the problem by operating the machine's varispeed controls manually during playback, or by adjusting the speed in his DAW. This proved to be extremely time-consuming, and in his words, "resulted in a large degree of coffee consumption and excessive bad language".
At this point, CEDAR Audio released the Respeed™ process for its CEDAR Cambridge audio workstation. "This made it quick and simple to correct the speed throughout each episode", Kendall explained. "Respeed works with speech because it looks at the whole signal, not just things such as the harmonics in notes, or bias tones running throughout the material. Having said that, many of the Navy Lark recordings included a mild and inoffensive mains hum, so it was simplicity itself to instruct the software to ensure that this remained at a constant frequency, and then remove the hum after it had been used as a guide. A problem that before had taken hours to solve was now sorted out in seconds and, on the occasions when the music links played in from disc were carelessly handled - which resulted in the first few notes suffering from wow - a swift tweak of the speed template allowed me to fix the problem. As is the case with CEDAR's other processes, the repair left no trace of itself on the sound, and it wasn't possible after treatment to hear that the audio had been damaged in the first place."
Many of the Navy Lark Collectors Editions are already available from AudioGo. See: www.audiogo.com.
About CEDAR Respeed™ - see: Respeed™.
For further information
CEDAR Audio Limited
20 Home End, Fulbourn, Cambridge, CB21 5BS, UK.
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