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Does Everything Have to Sound Classic?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by sdevino, Jun 4, 2002.

  1. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    When tube amps and diaphram mics were invented do you think the studio engineers spent a lot of time trying to make everything sound like funnels and wax cylinders? How long did it take before they started taking advantage of their new tools?

    Does everyone really want to make digital audio sound like analog? Or is it time to take the next great step and start tracking and mixing to make stuff sound great instead of "just like" something else?
  2. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    I take your point ..
    but for a new starter or for those still at the bottom of the heap .. like myself :eek: .. imitation can be one of the best ways to learn or help to get a handle on the best direction to take.

    When it comes to equipment it is a good idea to have a classic or well respected peice from each catagory in the chain. Mic, Mic-pre, comp , EQ etc... Monitor Speakers! and once you have one of these it does make it easier to make judgments on new equipment that you may trial.

    Identifying a good take or good sound before it is mixed is difficult for many people who have not been in a 'Pro' session. To do this in the bedroom with a set of headphones, an SM58 and a Soundcard is very difficult.

    Just as difficult is, to know when to stop tweeking!!

    Once you have some skills and know some rules .... 'Break them!' Having said that we must accept from time to time we are going to get a flood of songs and sounds that might fall into the catagory of say ... "The Autotune Song" ..

    More people , more music ... It's all good.
  3. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member



    My guess would be that the original recordists were looking to capture the sound of real instruments in an actual performance... It can be argued that this has yet to be accomplished.

    The recording studio hasn't brought us much closer in that direction (IMHO) because it emphasiszes the kinds of control and perspective that can only be created in fantasy.

    So if part of what we do is a construct without regard to reality then you don't need to worry much about the technology because it's like argueing Kodak vs. Polaroid... they're different, you can see the difference and one may be "better" but neither would be confused for the original object of the photograph.

    My main problem with mixing in my DAW is depth of field. I just find that it's much harder to get things placed in the mix. I feel like I'm often fighting to get the sound from hanging off the front of the speaker. It was just easier to make this happen in the analog realm. In this regard I'm very interested in the kinds of processes people are using.
  4. I am going to have to sit on both sides of the fence on this one. I think analog tape still has a character to it that sounds better than digital. I think editing digital is way better than editing analog. It's all what you have available and what you know how to use, right? Capturing good performances is job one, whatever you are using. I personally hate the copy/paste sound that most people end up with in digital. If they miss it, punch it or do it over, don't cut/paste. I use Pro Tools like a tape machine when tracking. That's my attitude (subject to complete revision at any time).
    I am so happy we have points of contention. If we were all of the same point of view it would all sound the same. Ahoy the new moderators! Cheers, Doc.
  5. Sir Bob

    Sir Bob Member

    I agree. When CD's came out, I though they were cold and steral. I resisted, clinging to my 33 and 1/3 records. Well eventually I caved in and I haven't looked back, whatever I gave up in warmth, I got back in having no pops, ticks and scratches.

    The same is probably going to be true for digital recording.

    BTW I resisted ATM's for awhile but now I wonder how I ever got along without them.
  6. Jim Chapdelaine

    Jim Chapdelaine Active Member

    Great question and welcome!
    People have come to equate 'classic' with good.
    That's a wrong analogy. Good is good. Old can be good but doesn't become good simply by being old. (look at Wayne Newton)
    If that were true, we would all be flying in bi planes and driving model T's.
    Tom Dowd said he wished he had Pro Tools when he recorded the Allman Bros and Layla but he didn't. He did use the very latest, best stuff he could get his hands on. The results are now considered 'classic'. It seems like the best thing we can do is help try to prevent the dumbing down of sound i.e.: MP3s and aim for the highest quality recordings with the tools we have.
  7. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    I've always just wanted it to sound great.

    Also, what we call "Classic" is just the good stuff from the past that we remember...not all the badly done trash from the past. It's the same today...there are people out there doing great and amazing stuff.....so how about making the new classics for tomorrow.

    I like the seperation that one gets from digital...it saves me from having to window mute everything, like I had to in the "old" days when all we had was noisy (after the million's of o'dubs, comps, slaves, ect) of analog tape.
  8. droog

    droog Active Member

    recorderman wrote:

    "...it saves me from having to window mute everything"

    'window mute'?

    what is that?
  9. GT40sc

    GT40sc Active Member

    Window mute:

    Something like this, I think...

    To automate a mix so that the "spaces" between parts are muted, thus reducing tape hiss...each fader is only "on" when that particular track has music to play...So whenever a part is NOT playing, the open fader will not contribute any "noise" to the track.

    This is not to be confused with a "window edit," which is another horror story altogether. But we'll have to get Bruce Botnick to explain that one...Or is that just an old wives' tale? Old engineers' tale?

  10. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    I degree of seperation tells me thta's it's not.
    I'll leave the telling of that story to you.

    And thanks for explaining the meaning of window mute...a term we should stick in our glossaries of the past.
  11. GT40sc

    GT40sc Active Member

    re: "Window Edit"

    Oh, cool!

    So I get to be the historian? Or, maybe I'm just such a damn philosopher that I can't deal with modern technology?

    (Both true, I'm afraid.)

    Maybe we can get Harvey in on this one? Been there, done that, and all...

    Me, I got it all out of a book about the Doors. And I can't find it right now. So I'll take my best shot, but if I get it wrong, give it to me straight...

    Anyway, I believe the "window edit" story belongs to their first album, recorded at Sunset Sound in 1966...a four-track machine, most likely an Ampex...Bass and drums on one track, organ and guitar on another, lead vocals on a third, with the fourth track used for various overdubs, such as backing vocals, or the "stomping on gravel" part in "20th Century Fox."

    Because each track contained multiple parts, and the early machines were not good at tight punches, it was easier to edit mistakes and replace them with "good" versions from other takes, just as classical music editing is done today. However, in the case of the Doors, keep in mind that we are doing this on a multi-track master...

    So, frightening as it sounds, a "window edit" is sort of a "non-linear analog cut-and paste." Like this:

    Say there is a mistake in the guitar part on track 2. A "window" is cut in the tape; that is, a VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL CUT ON TRACK 2 ONLY. The bad notes are removed, and another piece of tape, containing a "good" guitar part, is pasted into the "hole." Must have used up lots of splicing tape, and how the hell did it track across the heads with no "warble?"

    I don't know, but I guess it did...

  12. OTRjkl

    OTRjkl Guest

    :eek: :eek: WOW!!! :eek: :eek:

    I'm an analog guy (I agree totally with Doc on this subject) but THANK GOD FOR DIGITAL!!! I LOVE the sound of analog, but really appreciate the power of digital.

    How in the world did they know how wide to make the window? Seems like you could VERY easily cut into adjacent tracks. I can't even imagine being the first guy to do this for real on a master tape :eek: :eek: :eek: !!!!!

    Glad it wasn't me!
  13. RecorderMan

    RecorderMan Distinguished Member

    actually, when you have time on your hands, and your at the end of technology you'll do lots of things to get the job done. I don'ty know ab out the vertical part...you (or I would at least) could measure that (from head stack). Horizontally speaking, you could rock the heads and grease pencill the beginning/end.
    I once woked a studio portly ownes by an engineer who worked @ sunset sound, and was the tape op on those and other sessions (like the stones,ect). I remember him telling me that the machines made a noticible sound on punches, and that later they would go back, and edit around all of the punches, placing leader tape on either side of a spot with punches, then punch into record when you were over the front leader, punching out on the last leader (per edit). When you were done, you removed all the leaders and put the tape back together. He even went on to tell me about the time he had a really honey laden cup of tea spill on to a master...he had to undo all his edits (including ones of the type I just mentioned), and clean the tape...then put it all back together.

    For all of that ...I miss tape
  14. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    We used to pull the the tape out of the capstan, mark the bad area on the tape and carefully rock it over the record head in record mode to clean the offending line (or not), then punch the overdub in real time. Punches were more forgiving and you just had to be good at it and willing to do it over if you f**ked it up. "Seemless/ gapless" eh?...
  15. droog

    droog Active Member

    thanx for the explanation

    it sounds like the good ole times, but i'm kinda glad i don't have to go there
  16. Jim Chapdelaine

    Jim Chapdelaine Active Member

    I sure don't miss having a wax pencil behind my ear and a razor blade in my mouth all day.

    See....I miss that. It felt cool.

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