compression & dynamics, 1970 vs now

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by audiokid, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Wow, I just put on JJ Cale "Naturally" , man, does that bring me home. But beyond the memories (God rest JJ Cale), I can't believe how dynamic the sound is compared to music today. Blow my mind.

    Man, are we all over compressing everything today. I know the sound I get today is so much better but, after listening to this album it clearly relieves how we all are over editing audio. Granted, I wouldn't be going back to that raw a sound but its an eye opener.
    The background noise is crazy high. There were times I thought a vehicle was going by my house when it was just the sound of the turntable needle lol. You don't really notice it while the songs are playing. I'm thinking that rumble and the microphonic feedback (is that what we call it?) that occurs between the room and the grooves is all part of the "sound" some miss so dearly.

    Do yourself a favour and put on an old album, its pretty cool. then lets hear from you?
     
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I guess the loudness war as got the best of us.
    It's very funny because back then, you wanted to record hot to minimise the noise floor.
    Now that we have better recording tools and nice headroom, we could make some pretty natural recordings. But NO ! It has to be loud ! lol ;)
     
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    It's certainly relevant to the type(s) of gain reduction used - but let us not forget that we are also hearing these in connection with the inherent sonic properties of tape... that "sweet spot" of saturation, and the even-order harmonic distortion, that sounded so nice to our ears.

    Gain reduction was approached differently in those days, and used mostly as intended - which was as a way to reign in transients; to control volume level changes, as as a protective circuit to tame the outputs.

    I really don't believe that Jim Lawrence - the inventor of the optical T4 circuit - (we know it today as the heartbeat of the Teletronix LA2A) - was looking into the future in those days and thinking " someday my GR circuits will be globally sought after for their unique sonic signature." I think he was designing and building those units to simply fill a need and to perform certain tasks at hand. I don't believe he was aware that what he was building at the time would one day be considered to be "classic" in any regard.

    These days, it seems as though GR is being used as more of an effect, or, as we all know, to make things sound incredibly and often un-Godly loud. I'd also wager to say that it's probably being used more
    "incorrectly" than ever before.

    One of the things I notice quite a bit as a home studio consultant, (visiting the home-recording spaces of rookies and hobbyists in an effort to help them improve what they do) - is that so very few of them actually understand what GR is, what it does and how it does what it does - and as opposed to using GR as intended, as needed and for a particular reason - instead, they are using GR as an effect, very often cramming all kinds of compressors and limiters all over the tracks. I think it's for two reasons - the first is because they see it as an effect and not as a protective circuit as designed, and the second reason is because they have VST libraries full of all kinds of GR plugs at their disposal, that they have purchased, and because they've spent money on them, they feel the need to use it as much as possible... and some are also under the mistaken impression that "more is better". Not just "more" in the sense of the amount of gain reduction, but also "more" as in how many different GR plugs they have.

    The results are there everyday for all of us to hear... all over the web, in all types of home-recorded music ... that sound of overuse, misuse and all too frequent use: squashed, pressed, steaming hot messes. LOL ;)

    d/
     
  4. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    you are comparing gravy to lawn mowers. the only thing digital recording has in common with analog recording is the recording part.

    the best analog recorders have about 75 dB s/n. the first 16 bit digital did 90 dB. that's 15 dB more room to fill. nature abhors a vacuum.

    no bit left behind ......
     
  5. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I started recording in 1973 or so - and didn't even have a compressor until the 90's - and even then only used it sparingly.

    When I was teaching in college - I hated the bit when we started doing compressors, because 90% of the kids couldn't hear the difference until it was extreme. In my live music experience, somebody is teaching the newcomers that compression MUST be applied to as many sources as you have compressors - and now we're digital, it's even easier. So we invent new systems with greater and greater dynamic range, and at the same time, give people simple access to how to avoid using it! Madness.
     
    bigtree and pcrecord like this.
  6. mberry593

    mberry593 Active Member

    It is very interesting to listen to the work of Rudy Van Gelder. I believe all of it was jazz. Much of the Verve, Impulse!, and CTI music was recorded by Van Gelder. He was fairly secretive about his techniques but it is obvious from just a quick listen that there were not a lot of dynamics being used.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudy_Van_Gelder

    Personally, I started in college in 1965 and professionally in 1968. Back then we didn't use compression for anything in the studios except disc cutting. We had interchangeable leadscrew Scully lathes. The challenge was to fit the length of a tape recording to a disc. You had to choose a leadscrew with a wide enough pitch to handle the loudest excursion of the material. Limiting out the peaks was a tool to allow material to fit in the time limitations of a disc. Things got much better later on with variable pitch lathes and first look-ahead tape heads and then digital delay but we got out of the disc cutting business before those things were invented so I never had a chance to appreciate them.
     
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    One big difference from the old days, Bass was rolled off a lot compared to today, vinyl couldn't deal with it? I think this limitation created a taste for a much different style and approach to capturing and mixing/mastering.
    Digital audio is capturing a much wider bandwidth. I think we respected all we could get, and then did our best to keep it clear. Where today, its so clear and so wide that we are doing the opposite (crushing and cramming). Its much easier to get out of control with our DAW.
     
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think that the style of music plays a big part in whether compression is used (or not) and if it is used, to what degree. If I were recording a jazz combo, I'd be using a lot less compression than I would if I were recording a band with loud drums, screaming guitar amps, driving vocals, etc.

    If I were tracking a section of strings, say something in the baroque style, I don't think I'd bring a compressor anywhere near that recording.

    There's no point in adding compression without purpose. There should be a reason as to why it is implemented.

    IMHO of course.
     
  9. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Excuse the french guy in me but what is driving vocal. Do you record them in their cars ?? :LOL:

    Seriously, the style related thing is kind of going away, since most people are gonna add you songs against their ipod collection and listen to them on shuffle mode...
     
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I understand that these days, everything - or mostly everything - ends up being listened to through ear buds. But, I just can't bring myself to mix to a lowest common denominator.

    I know I'm gonna take a lot of heat for that statement.
     
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I agree with you Donny,

    I was just saying that in the past, most music styles were seperated. You had to put on the vinyl or put in the CD or choose the radio station accordingly.

    Now a day, our music is shuffled through thousands of other songs. Some mix and mastering engineers are aware of this and already started to adjust to this new reality.
    If people play a britney spears song against a soft jazz album, some may feel it's missing something. (Volume Wise and sonicly)

    It's better to be aware of this and make conscient decisions ;)
     

Share This Page