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How did we survive before digtal editing???

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by JimmyM, Sep 21, 2019.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I just rescued two bass tracks from my band's upcoming new album through a little judicious editing magic. I hated to cheat but I hated to throw otherwise good tracks away over a couple of minor clams even more, so a little nudge closer to the beat here, a cut and paste there, and my tracks are now golden and completely seamless in the editing. If I didn't tell you, you'd never know. Did have to recut one because it was easier than editing, but I've saved two so far. Only 5 more to go, then everyone else can go to work. Ask me how badly I feel over doing it...

    HINT: Not even a little.

    But it makes me think of how miserable tape editing was. I've never done it myself but I've seen engineers do it, and it's a giant pain in the ass to sit there endlessly rolling the tape across the head till you're positive you have the right edit point, cut the tape with a single edged razor, then tape it to another piece of tape and hope that your tape job holds up through mastering. And God forbid you run one too many bounces, lest you ruin sound quality. It's as mind-numbingly slow a process as you think it is, too.

    Miss the days of tape? I sure don't miss that. I also don't miss the cost of tape.
    MonetBass, JeroB666, djaxup and 22 others like this.
  2. Let's sit in awe for a moment, thinking of the sound engineers who created the tracks we grew up with and loved.
    thabassmon, MonetBass, ak56 and 26 others like this.
  3. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    Yep, razor and splicing tape were the order of the day. The world moves a lot faster now and I’ve got no problem with fixing a couple of things on an otherwise good take, I don’t like fixing a track with so many clams or lacklustre performance when you should really take another pass at it.
    I’ve noticed with a lot of vocalists lately that they will say “you can fix that, I don’t really want to do another pass”. That irritates me, it’s your product, take some pride in it.
    There have been some takes with this type of scenario where I refused to go any further, come back tomorrow and try again.
    Hey, I’ve done work for others, I prepare, take a couple of good basses and nail it in one or two passes, I don’t like wasting other people’s time.
    Last time I was in a studio I was able to take a five hour sleep when they were doing the guitar take, I was refreshed for the gig that night, guitarist- exhausted.
    My point is, shifting a couple of notes in a good take is no big deal, it’s when it takes longer to edit than it would to just do another pass well, you should just do another pass.
  4. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Jim Bonnefond, who engineered Celebrate and went on to produce a bunch of stuff for Kool and the Gang, taught at the recording school I went to. He told us how on Celebrate, the drummer wasn't used to the 4-on-the-floor thing yet (they were a funk band before that record) and couldn't keep a steady kick drum. Jim ended up splicing just track 1 of the 24-track 2" tape to move the kick drums around and line them up in time. Probably an hour or less of work today I don't remember how long he said it took.... days I'd guess... worth it considering the success of the song!
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
  5. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    He also flew stuff onto 1/4" tape- did the editing there- and then flew it back on to the 2". Lots of ways to skin the cat without digital. All more time consuming...
  6. Low84

    Low84 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Big mistakes are one thing... but little musical imperfections express the human quality which make songs sound so sweet to us. When you leave in some of those things that are a little off, music can sometimes get thick and fat... and that's a good thing. :D

    When today's producers and engineers digitally align every stinkin' thing to pristine perfection, you lose that sonic attractiveness we tend to subconsciously gravitate toward. Yes, there is a drawback to everything sounding too good -- you wind up sounding like everybody else who using the same tricks and the music develops a mechanical quality, like a Bruno Mars record.

    When we look back at in 50-60 years, making everything "perfect" with digital editing is going to be seen as one of the missteps of the 2000s and 2010s music. Everyone's music sounds the same and as a result, it's got that cotton candy quality = it quickly dissolves and is seldom remembered.

    YMMV... but I know I'm right. :smug:

    thabassmon, MonetBass, ak56 and 15 others like this.
  7. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    I didn't start learning anything about production until about 6 years ago. I can't even imagine.
    DJ Bebop and JimmyM like this.
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    How did we survive before digtal editing???
    :laugh: razor blades! we bought them #100 to-a-box, a dozen boxes at a time. but the real tool was the splicing block!

    i am (was?) an expert with a blade and a block, jimmy...but i wouldn't go back to that in a million years compared to what we can do with a mouse, these days.

    that said: mice put me out of business! :laugh:
    JMacBass65, Ghook, djaxup and 8 others like this.
  9. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Sorry, I'm old and set in my ways. I miss the days of tape recording. I struggle with figuring out how to work all this new digital stuff. I have trouble following the signal path, and it takes me way longer to do stuff than it should. Give me back the days when I could follow a wire.

    I miss the days when we embraced our clams :p
    JMacBass65, G-Z, DJ Bebop and 7 others like this.
  10. TemplesOfSyrinx

    TemplesOfSyrinx Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    New Jersey
    Make sure that you share the release with me so I can add it to the TalkBass Member Projects Spotify playlist in my signature.

    Looking forward to it Jimmy
    JimmyM likes this.
  11. Man, I do not miss tape one single little bit, at least when it comes to recording. The kind of facility at the disposal of the public today is completely incredible. I only keep my old Tascam 414 around for nostalgia.
    DJ Bebop, JimmyM and The Owl like this.
  12. Londo Molari

    Londo Molari

    Jan 1, 2014
    2 blocks east of Mars
    Decendant from the Clovis culture. "Emitting that wonderful bass effect since 1970".
    Live to two track will always be the epitome of goodness. Splicing tape was an art, a pain in the a**, but still an art that escapes most folks. All hail those who did it so well!
    G-Z, Ghook, DJ Bebop and 3 others like this.
  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    The one negative with digital recording is that with limitless tracks, some people think they have to fill them all.
    oysteivi, delta7fred, G-Z and 15 others like this.
  14. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    previated devert
    I can still cut tape, but digital editing is so painless and efficient it's difficult to think about going back.
    DJ Bebop, JimmyM, Winslow and 2 others like this.
  15. with the right machines, you could punch in fine... but don't forget there was no undo.

    However in general, it was, ok guys, take it from the top... again.... again..... again....... again.......

    until nobody screwed up.

    got the best guitar solo in take 3 but best band parts in take 30?

    hopefully the tempo and tuning are the same, so teh engineer can do a razor tape splice in and out there, or maybe he can take the solo guitar part (if no bleed from other parts) and play it back on one deck while recording it onto an empty track (unlikely to exist) of the original tape, or record it over the solo on teh take that otherwise was good.

    scary stuff!

    And in the end, the best part was - everyone worked harder, practiced more, rehearsed more, and played more accurately without needing silly things like pitch correction, midi timing fixes, "fix that note" punch ins, and composing-through-daw-looping.
    JMacBass65, G-Z, DJ Bebop and 2 others like this.
  16. see, that's odd to me.

    digital, in the box, mimicks analog signal paths perfectly. it does so because engineers should be able to transfer knowledge from product or technology without too much learning curve, or nobody would ever buy this new product.

    I found when learning on a daw that actually learning to become a real recording engineer with tape taught me far more than learning in-the-box only.

    digital makes little difference to the signal path, it's just a recording device. but DAWs are where it all exists like outside the box, but in clicks and plugins and such.

    Once you take the time to learn how the inputs and puts map in your daw, you'll see it's exactly like a patch bay.

    Of course, patch bays are a huge learning curve for most people, so maybe not the best analogy! LoL
    JMacBass65, DJ Bebop, JimmyM and 2 others like this.
  17. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    DJ Bebop, JimmyM and The Owl like this.
  18. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    I've got acute ADHD so somehow I can play some songs over and over for six hours and, so long as I'm well slept and nourished and distraction-free, have it feel like I only did four or five takes.

    Back when I'd get the rare occasion to do tape- that's how I'd push for the band to do it. Fill up a reel or two per song and pick the most fire take.

    Stupid expensive. Just embarrassingly stupid. I'm less stupid now that I'm medicated, but also less patient. Even just waiting on someone to switch reels is annoying. The DAW is easily my favorite instrument.
    G-Z, DJ Bebop and JimmyM like this.
  19. Sonicfrog

    Sonicfrog Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2008
    Fresno, CA
    i did it!

    It's a pain, but it was fun to develop the ear for it. One thing that you have to do is always make the first cut long on the beat. Leave a bit of room on the tape to fine tune and make smaller cuts to get right on the beat pulse. You cut the tape too short and you end up with slivers of tape being put back on the reel. That's asking for trouble.
  20. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Again, it's more that the easy digital editing, limitless tracks, and auto tune changes the way we approach recording. I remember back in the day with 4 tracks - fill three tracks, then ping pong it down. You were forced to be economical. Also, since you could only fix a mistake by punching in or re-recording your track, you really had to concentrate and know your parts.
    JMacBass65, Bemo, konfyouzd and 3 others like this.

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