Discrete stereo recordings are annoying!

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by elgecko, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. elgecko

    elgecko

    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Am I the only one who's glad that discrete stereo recordings, where instruments/voices are fully isolated to a single channel, went out of vogue?
    I do a lot of one-earbud listening at work and it's super annoying to be like "Hey! Wasn't there a guitar solo here? ...Oh. it's in the other channel." :atoz: I get that it was neato and novel at the dawn of stereo but unless you're going for Pink Floyd-style, psychoacoustic thing, there are rarely situations in real life where sounds are sounds are fully isolated to one ear! [/RANT]
     
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  2. Standalone

    Standalone

    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    I cannot listen to music through earbuds
     
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  3. Cannot listen to music in one ear, drives me bonkers.
     
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  4. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa
    I take it you've never done any four-track recording. :) In the 60's, that's all you had. (Or if you're a broke dude like I was, it was all you could afford.) In order to bounce two or three tracks into one, you had to pan hard left or right, depending on the recording unit. See: The Beatles.

    Actually Queen used the stereo spectrum quite effectively on a lot of their early records. It's fun IMHO.
     
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  5. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE!

    Mar 31, 2010
    I don't know about that.

    I did the four-track cassette thing (Tascam) for many years (1986 to around 2004). I never found that I had to hard pan when bouncing (aka stacking or ping-ponging) tracks. I had to be extra careful about volume levels and EQ, though.

    Whatever the reason for the hard pan, I agree that it's virtually unlistenable, especially with headphones or ear buds. I do not want to hear congas come into the mix completely in one ear, or a horn section in the other. It can actually be kind of startling, IMO, and it just doesn't sound natural.
     
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  6. elgecko

    elgecko

    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    I have not done any 4 track recording so I'm coming more from a listener/end user point of view.

    If Night at the Opera counts as an early album, then I can give it a pass. It IS fun. The onslaught of innumerable voices from any number of directions is trippy but that's the whole point. It's not trying to recreate a "realistic" listening experience.
     
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  7. elgecko

    elgecko

    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Exactly!

    I guess in the end, it depends on whether you regard a recording as an end unto itself or a recreation of a real life listening experience.
     
  8. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I can forgive those recordings from the 1960s, in part because A) many of them were originally intended to be mono records, and they only got weirdly panned when remixed out of some subsequent desire to jump on the latest tech bandwagon; and B) stereo itself was pretty new, and people hadn't yet figured out what it did, much less what it did well.

    The thing I can't forgive is producers and engineers from the last 20 years who get all into this "buss panning" thing where you don't use any pan pots, you simply assign tracks in the mix to either Left, Right, or Both. It comes across as hipster bandwagonism at best, and at worst through headphones it suffers from the same Brain Suckout Syndrome that plagues those old 60s recordings, minus the charm.
     
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  9. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    I dislike recordings with instruments or vocals that are hard left or hard right. At a former residence there was a stereo/intercom system with ceiling speakers. If you listened to the Beatles you heard half the song. It depended on where you were as to what parts you heard.
     
  10. FilterFunk

    FilterFunk Everything is on the ONE!

    Mar 31, 2010
    That's a big problem with any speaker system when listening to hard-pan recordings. You have to be sitting or standing in the "sweet spot" between speakers to hear everything.
     
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  11. Badwater

    Badwater

    Jan 12, 2017
    Tascam and Fostex 4 tracks (the cheap ones), could only run the tape one way so you had 4 tracks on a cassette= a stereo track in one direction and a stereo track in the opposite direction. Thus to use 4 tracks you could record either 2 stereo tracks, or 4 individual tracks at the same time. Or 1 stereo track and 2 mono tracks at the same time. And depending on how it was recorded, when you played back the cassette on a normal stereo cassette player, you had isolated tracks to one side. Or one instrument on the left and a different instrument on the right.

    Anyway, I was never a fan of listening to music in one ear. Nor was I a fan of people profiting off isolated tracks of instruments or vocals of people's music.

    But, isolated tracks does have its value. Having them allows the musician or singer to hear how they really sound. I have my own isolated bass and guitar tracks, and it tells me when i'm not playing clean or smooth, or not giving each note it's value. Nevertheless, Isolated tracks IMO is not complete music, and sounds like it's out of place, and missing the elements that make the songs a song.
     
  12. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    I've been doing mixes since the mid-70s, and in ~2,000 hours I've probably done a sum total of 90 seconds of hard panning :D
     
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  13. elgecko

    elgecko

    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    I just got a pair of KZ ZS6s so I've been doing a lot of critical listening and have some random musings.

    • I love A Day in the Life but what an annoying recording. Why is John Lennon singing directly into my right ear?
    • I've been hearing a lot of stereo delay especially on snares and hand claps. It's not realistic in any way but damn if I don't enjoy it.
    • For an absolutely fun stereo experience, give this a whirl. Again, it's not realistic, especially when the synths and voices start circling your head, but it's a great example of the fun you can have with stereo and it's VERY well recorded. What a great sounding track!

     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
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  14. Standalone

    Standalone

    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    That's not really what was going on during the technological transition to Stereo. Bands would do a mono mix AND a stereo mix. As I understand it, earlier (or budget) records that were done mono and later re-processed for stereo weren't so much re-mixed for stereo from original tracks as run through a process that sort of isolated tracks through use of EQ and then recombined them for a stereo "effect."

    Edit: there was delay involved, too: Duophonic - Wikipedia

    Hard panning in stereo mixes was, as others have stated, an artifact of bands pushing the limitations of the recording medium, and sometimes intended to have psychedelic impact.

    I don't know about the "hipster" stuff you write about here, and I don't really know about mixes that the OP is talking about -- examples would help. Also, what is "brain suckout syndrome?" :)
     
  15. Standalone

    Standalone

    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    This isn't really what's going on with four tracks, either with cassette machines or wider reel-to-reel machines. It wasn't about direction. A commercial recording on cassette had stereo tracks -- two in one direction, two in the other.

    But a four track used these four tracks in the same direction. It's that simple.

    You could leave one blank and run the tape through the machine again, playing back tracks 1-3 and recording them down on to track 4. Then you could re-record over the remaining tracks, perhaps leaving track 3 blank and running track 1 and two (or 1,2, and your three-tracks-on-track-4 if you're going lo-fi) onto track 3 .... etc.

    It wasn't about direction. :)

    You're right about things being weird or isolated when a four track tape goes into a regular tape deck. I recorded at a faster speed, so everything would also be suuuperrrr slooooowwwww. :)
     
  16. Whil57

    Whil57

    Aug 7, 2013
    Long Island
    I love hard panned music. Not so much the Beatles, because, yeah its to annoying when half the band drops out, but some of the 70's stuff is still my favorite. If they wanted people to listen with only one speaker (ugh, like that crap old radio that came in the car dashboard back when) they should never have invented stereo.
    As Standalone mentions some things about the mixing, there was also a philosophy of keeping instruments in the same range away from each other, to get the fullest effect, then you dont kill the tone with eq.
    One of my favorite cuts is Year of the Cat, by Al Stewart. The whole piano intro is panned left and i find the song works great. So i guess, depends on your listening equipment preference. I like two speakers, i dont like earplugs.
    Also, to me, if anything is stupid, it's surround sound. This i have only heard in movie theatres and not at home, but the musician in me hears the bass coming in from one angle and super highs from other angles. I think to myself, "how in nature, does a thunderstorm get seperated into frequencies on its own", and while it might give clarity to some of the subs, i just hear a removal of those frequencies from the rest of the recording.
     
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  17. elgecko

    elgecko

    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Ask and ye shall receive. I couldn't think of any examples when I wrote the OP but I think I had been listening to a lot of Doors or Led Zeppelin. The Beatles are probably the best (i.e. worst :woot:) example of this.

     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
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  18. elgecko

    elgecko

    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    It's not such an issue with loudspeakers since both ears can still pick up both speakers.
     
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  19. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    I'm old enough to remember those mono records 'Remixed for STEREO !' stickers on the jackets. Could sound pretty strange in cans or if you were very close to both speakers, but it was handy if you were trying to learn this or that part, as it was often just hanging in mid-air in the left or right.

    For modern recording, a little goes a long way.
     
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  20. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    No, that's exactly what I was talking about, I didn't mean to imply that the stereo remix came much later. It was almost always done the same day as the mono mix...as an afterthought, because the original recording wasn't conceived as a stereo thing back in those days.

    That's my term for the experience of listening on headphones to any material that's entirely panned to one ear, with 100% silence in the other ear. Without any ambiance (natural or electronic) in the opposite ear to suggest that the instrument is "off to one side" your brain is forced to conclude that the instrument is simply in one ear, and the opposite ear feels like a vacuum. Very disconcerting, to the point where it can impact your equilibrium.
     
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