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The Voice of Reason

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Hambone, Feb 5, 2001.

  1. Through some surfing, I came up with this treatise on the state of the industry. I'm just getting interested in this stuff again and since I missed the 80's and 90's scene, this has enlightened me. You may not agree but there certainly is a lot of food for thought in this essay:


    Perhaps this will get some discussion going
  2. gweimer


    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    It's really late, and I'm dead tired, and I don't even know where to begin. There's a lot of merit to what he says, but I have to disagree a bit with the whole people thing. The recording industry has ALWAYS been about one thing - SALES. Even Grace Slick made the comment that they (the Jefferson Airplane) were pushing revolution, while the record label only saw the bottom line. In those days, revolution sold - actually it still does. Can you say RAP, Limp Bizkit, RATM, etc....
    I have to agree about the technology part, though. Analog sound has, and will always be, a warmer more human sound. It's the nature of the physics surrounding it. Analog sound is based on nice, smooth waves, while digital sound has reduced everything to 0 and 1 bits - the sawtooth wave. It's precise, and unfeeling. So we pathetic musicians go, "Hey, my stuff just doesn't sound RIGHT! I need to do something about it." Now, we introduce active electronics on our instruments to "beef up" the sound. It works, but in the wrong way. It's as if we are throwing technology at technology in the hopes of overcoming it. The fact is, we're now a prisoner of it. The best advice I ever got when I took some recording training was to mix with my ears, and not my eyes (who cares what the needle registers if it sounds right). For all the technological advances we've seen in the recording industry, we still hear very much the same sounds from the guitar/bass/drums/keyboards. It's because the nature of the sound hasn't changed - it's still a plucked string, a beaten head, etc. Just a real quick comment - wonder why we all love (well, most of us) the Fender Precision sound? Leo got it right 50 years ago, and many people feel it can never get any better than that. We still want THAT sound. It's amazing to me that so many younger guys don't understand the simplicity of bass/strings/cord/amp with fingers applied.
  3. I think you are partly right when you say it's always been about sales but I also think that that has only been in the last 40 years, since the introduction and recognition by the labels that rock & roll was the way to riches. I think that earlier, when popular music was dominated by jazz, swing, and other styles the studios were what was described - an almost holy place - where recording art was created along with the music.
  4. I do think that the author of that essay is a bit too precious about "the recording art". the Beatles used techniques that horrified the labcoat-wearing engineers, such as setting recording levels in the red, and using a speaker as a microphone on the bass (on Paperback Writer)- yet got results that everyone marvels at today.

    what annoyed me when I did a sound engineering course (at Gateway in the UK) was the insistence on adhering to set rules- things such as "always ensure musicians use new strings"- did James Jamerson, Bernard Edwards or Joe Osborn? Eddie Van Halen uses worn-in strings to record too. there is no "best" sound- some people like the crisp treble and low noise of digital recording, others like the warmth and natural tape compression of analogue recording.

    engineers do often use tube preamps and compressors to add warmth to digital recordings- the benefit of digital being easy editing (which you could say is unnecessary if the artists were good enough).

    as for active electronics, the only active bass I like the sound of is the Stingray, and I hate people justifying active circuits saying that they add bottom end - a passive Fender's got plenty of low end, thanks.
  5. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    I agree that often too much reverence is given to the universally "right" way of recording something - I've been to studios where my band ABSOLUTELY MUST play to a click track, play this note here, or use a certain setup. Without the likes of the Beatles stretching, if not actually breaking, the rules, there is no chance of change - however, most commercial studios are just happy to churn out identically sounding recordings as quickly and cheaply as possbile. And while we're on this sort of subject, there's not much more disheartening then seeing a perfectly good take chopped up all over a computer screen to correct inaccuracies undetectable to the human ear.
  6. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    Nutz! :mad:

    I thought this was a mis-placed Off Topic thread about Ayn Rand ;)


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