Manfred Eicher And ECM's amazing recordings

I have enjoyed several LPs from the music label ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music).

Then I listened to the Tord Gustavsen Trio’s LP “Being There”.

It is uncanny how realistic the cymbals and drums sound - so present.

Also, the music is wonderfully cool and direct and refreshing.

But the sound - how did they get that level of realism.

I noticed that the producer was called Manfred Eicher.

This weekend after my 5th listening I looked him up.

Many of you will already know his amazing story, how he has formed a music label according to his goal of presenting to audiences music that he loves and that he personally records.

(This is so utterly different from the normal record company goal of making profits by selling dumbed down tunes smothered in spectacle, titillation and fashion.)

This is probably very old news to most on this forum - but I just thought I’d mention it in case anyone else has missed this amazing library of brilliantly recorded original music.


Excellent! My music collection is full of ECM releases. As well as the beautiful music the album artwork is often stunning and then even the packaging with the cardboard slips around the CD jewel cases is a nice touch as well.

What are your best ones?

That’s a relief - from the headline I thought he must have died!

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Oh bLimey I’d better change title…
Sorry @Richard.Dane would you please change the title to something like ‘Manfred Eicher and ECM’s amazing recordings’

Great news that he’s still with us though , eh?

Absolutely and I couldn’t agree more with you about ECM music and recording.

Is it ok to give a tribute to someone living?
Maybe the title is ok after all…?

Actually my question in the intro was not just rhetorical.

I really am Interested to know how he makes such good recordings?

Obviously very good microphones, cabling, studio set up, mixing and mastering equipment and skills.

Excellent rapport with the musicians, and knowing how to help them enjoy and make the most of the experience.

Good taste in music, based on a deep love of music, and personal training and experience as a musician.

Restraint from mucking around with compression techniques and fancy processing software?

But perhaps also some secret sauce to obtain such clarity and background silence? Or is that it?

I’ve changed the thread title for you.

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This might go some way to answering your question. It is a beautiful 500 page book and an essential companion to the ECM catalogue.

I picked it up in Fopp a few years ago for a couple of quid. Just checked and selling on Amazon for £97 + £2.80 postage !!! That’s ECM for you expensive but a quality product.


here a french list of the best ECM albums. Each person can tell how many of the list he has and which he prefers.

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Here is the worst record on ECM and just about the worst record ever made. It has the brilliant Shankar along with guitar god Steve Vai and the amazing Percy Jones on bass. Oh yes and there is Caroline.

I love Vai and Percy Jones but as is often the case the the parts don’t equal the whole.

Hopefully someone has this in their collection and has something good to say about it - I’d be interested to hear.


…agreed…ECM, ACT, Supraphone,2L…they’re “small” labels and have such a great SQ- even for redbook…so the question is: why do major label produce such crap:-)

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Thanks for that. Have several ECM recordings but didn’t realise there was one man’s vision (and hearing) behind the company.

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Because it sells?

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I had a crack at answering this Q in post 9 above…
But my answer is highly speculative as I know very little about any particular record label.

But I do I understand how the big content-owning companies operate.

Interesting thread (One of my favourite albums !)


By contrast, here is an interview by Steve Guttenburg of a recording engineer in NY who LOVES compression has has two large banks of digital and analog compression machines to stretch and squeeze musical waveforms in every imaginable way.

The way he describes his use of these machines shows that he has learned tricks for making certain instruments sound ‘better’ in his studio in ways that he thinks help the musicians.


Sorry to have created a fuss - I really did think this was another case of RiP. But of course tribute could also be used in the sense you wanted. I think there have been so many deaths of prominent musicians over the last few years, I keep expecting the next announcement.

Anyhow the theme of ECM is a good one (and by the way I think there has been one on the Hoffman forum).

In general I think the SQ is down to an attention to this as well as to the quality of the music itself, which is embodied in the ethos of the company and the leadership of Eicher. The SQ of their engineering, mastering and manufacturing has been a feature through production of LPs and CDs. Maybe one reason for the musical quality is that the standards set by the label attract the best musicians, while Eicher seems to have a knack for fostering creative combinations of musicians.

My interest in ECM is mostly for their jazz flavoured recordings, but these encompass modern American musicians, folk influenced European jazz and jazz with a world music influence. Some of my favourite musicians on ECM include John Surman, Anouar Brahem, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Tomasz Stanko, Kenny Wheeler, Jan Garbarek, Keith Jarrett, etc.

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