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What is "studio magic"?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Tupac, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    A lot of people talk about unattainable tones and serious modifications done using "studio magic". What kind of tools do producers use to heavily modify tone?
  2. RedMoses


    Jul 4, 2012
    Compressors, limiters, EQ, Reverb and Delays but most importantly a controlled environment so you can create the sonic atmosphere your going for without having to fight the elements of a room, volume, amps and so many other variables.
  3. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Also, sometime when I see the rig of some big name ... there so much stuff in the signal chain ... So in many insteance the tone and effect used on the album sound very different live ... EQ, the room and many other things have an impact.

    then in a studio they can turn cr*p music into listening cr*p music by polishing it so much ... like the use of autotune ...
  4. bluestarbass


    Jul 31, 2007
    Studio magic = experience + skill
  5. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Get stuff into the digital domain and manipulate it there.

    In digital, you can make a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy and it's identical to the original. There is no noise build up.

    Now mess with the numbers and you can do stuff you can't do otherwise. Phase linear EQ is one example. There is no phase shift with the EQ at all.

    All the compressors, reverbs, doubling, etc. all available in the digital domain. It's manipulating integers. It's not magic. It doesn't need to be. It's science. Tried and true. Predictable, repeatable.

    As bluestarbass points out, it Still needs the experience + skill
    + musicianship.
  6. thumbknuckle

    thumbknuckle In Memoriam

    May 23, 2012
    Westfield, MA
    That's not what linear phase means.
  7. shadow_FIX


    Feb 23, 2010
    In addition to experience and skill, you need time, patience, good players, good listeners, advice, trial/error, etc. My philosophy is to alter one variable at a time until I'm satisfied with what I've done. Then I compare it to the clean, unmodified track and see if what I've done to the sound has helped or hindered it based on the overall picture. Listen to the track you've altered solo, with the mix, etc and try to achieve your goals that way.

    Other accessory things you may need is a brick wall for your head, a pack of cigarettes for the ensuing headaches, ragefits and technological gremlins, and a few buddies to tell you if you're a genius or if your mixing/mastering is complete grade A BS. :)
  8. There's a lot that goes into it, much of which has been mentioned.
    Studios are very carefully constructed, for one, in order to keep out any kind of noise pollution from outside. Also carefully designed to control the internal sound environment as much as possible.

    Then all the EQ, other techniques, and the experience of everyone involved comes into play.

    So the "magic" is a carefully controlled environment, the right equipment, and knowledgeable people to make it all happen.
  9. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
  10. mcm


    Oct 2, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    My studio magic is playing live with my band on analog equipment. No dubs and in one room. And killin it
  11. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
  12. jungleheat

    jungleheat Inactive

    Jun 19, 2011
    The biggest parts of "studio magic" are having a great room and high quality gear (ie low noise, and if it's either "flat" or has its own pleasing color to it). With these on hand, whatever you put into the recording should come out as good as possible. Obviously having a great engineer helps a lot, but the better the gear, the less important that is (ie a mediocre engineer at Avatar will probably still come up with amazing recordings). That's why so many home recordings just don't have that space and depth to them. They were recorded in someone's bedroom (or even worse, their kitchen), with cheap interfaces and mics, so the music tends to sound flat and lifeless even with someone pretty talented behind the controls.
  13. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    This is all there is to it.
  14. Tupac


    May 5, 2011
    What about in direct in? The room's acoustics wouldn't affect it there... would it?
  15. Tuned


    Dec 6, 2007
    Studio magic = harmonic coloration. The reason a standard compressor plug-in doesn't sound nearly as good as a fancy expensive hardware compressor is because the hardware one is adding a lot of harmonics which are pleasant to the ear, literally "even better than the real thing". Premier studios don't advertise that fact because when folks figure out how to do that with plug-ins, their hardware becomes worthless. Instead they say that only their fancy hardware can get that magic sound, and anyone saying it can be done digitally is a hack.

    Do the math, adding harmonic coloration is *artificial*. Which do you think is better at being artificial: analog, or digital? Fact is that plug-ins are getting good enough that many premier studios are unloading a lot of hardware in favor of Digidesign desks for convenience's sake. In other words, they're becoming more like home DAW's.
  16. Chromer


    Nov 28, 2012
    No, but... The acoustics of the monitoring environment will affect the tonal and ambiance decisions applied to that DI signal.
  17. Look at some of the later Beatles albums. Studio magic. But unplayable live.

    - Jimmy Rage
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I laugh every single time.
  19. rupture


    Jan 27, 2012
    Ask Brittany Spears, she knows all to well what studio magic is
  20. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    ^ This is the key. Please note it does NOT say "gear" anywhere.

    Yes big studios have nice toys and acoustically treated rooms, but that's because they also have a bigger budget than you or me.

    The truth is that it's not about the gear. While gear does play its part, even so called crappy (i.e affordable) gequipment can produce amazing results in the hands of a knowledgable person. It's about how well the engineer knows how to use the tools they have available, and how well the musicians can perform. If you need proof ask yourself this: have you ever see a local band at a club and their bass player has an amazing rig or bass, yet comes across as a total hack with a crappy sound? Same thing for recording studios. Having the latest and greatest shiny toy does not guarantee a good recording just like budget equipment doesn't automatically mean your recordings are not going to sound good.

    Oh and don't fall for "We'll fix it in the mix". That's the same as our current budget issues; push it off on the next guy. The better source recording you start with the better the overall project will be.

    Ok I'm off my high horse now. Now back to your regularly scheduled internet post. :D
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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