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Does the use of digital devices make your job easier?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Davedog, May 22, 2007.

  1. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Since the subject has come up, I would like to throw this out as a general discussion on the aspects of the digital world we are now firmly a part of in the recording business.

    Does having digital sculpting, digital autotuning, digitally enhanced instruments, modeling, in short any of these 'modern' devices, help you do your business?

    Does it bring in MORE business?

    Does it sound better than analog?.....okayokay lets leave that one for a different thread!!

    Whether or n you have a business or you are simply recording yourself or your band, your opinions are welcomed.

    Lets hear the why and wherefores as well as sharing techniques you have discovered that enhance your recording experiences.
  2. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    It doesn't save time in all cases, because it gives more choices. Choices = taking more time.

    Is it easier than analog days? Heck yeah!

    I seem to recall people moaning and groaning about tape hiss, wow and flutter, S/N, head bump, tape shred, tape print through effect, non-seamless/non-gapless punch-ins/outs, dolby noise reduction costing too much, etc, etc. Now people eat that crap up. Whatever. I think that the majority have lost the top end of their hearing and can't hear the noise and hiss any longer.

    I REALLY don't miss editing with a blade and block!!!
  3. nandoph8

    nandoph8 Active Member

    I have a reel-to-reel and a DAW. Depending on the project, one is "easier" than the other. Take in consideration the amount of vocal edits; that's a lot of rewinding on reel. If a band has trouble with performance, digital might make it easier on them. If a band is solid, they might enjoy the analog. Although it comes down to opinion as far as what is better, I believe that every situation is different. Do you feel like having an apple, or an orange? Digital sample rates have gotten to the point where quality is not even a question. It's the sound that should determine what media to go on.
    As far as "choices" on digital, I agree with that. But when it comes down to recording on a platform, the choices are still the same, in my opion. I always end up bouncing the individual tracks from the tape to my DAW to have the benefits of plugins, editing, and it's going to end up digital eventually. Unless the client prefers analog mixing. But lets all look at it this way, we have to choice to chose! AND having both DOES bring more business. It's not about what you want, it's about what they want and being able to deliver.
  4. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Does the use of digital devices make my job easier?


    I would have to say that the single most important aspect of digital to me is that is has made recording possible...financially.

    I always wanted a 24 track tape machine and a 70 billion channel console. I wanted a patchbay the size of the great wall of china. Actually, I still do, but those things were just simply not within my financial grasp. With the advent of digital, I have those. My hard drive and software give me all the channels I need and almost all of the routing capabilities.

    Now, to what extent will I use digital "correction"? Not a whole lot, for some things, a lot for others. I will have a band or artist redo a take that was "pitchy" instead of reach for autotune. Of course, this assumes I'm the recording engineer. If I'm mixing, and it's bad and the artist is unavailable, autotune is there to help.

    For tempo problems, I really love slicing up a drum track and putting everything back in time as it should have originally been. It's a great time consumer and I get to charge for it. But I'd rather have drum tracks that are all in time so I can spend that time on perfecting the mix and less time on "replaying" the drums.

    One thing 'digital' that has made my life easier is drum replacement. I don't do tons of it, but I do a lot of it. Mostly because the stuff I record is bad drum sets in bad warehouses or drum machines. When I can spend time on drums, I love it, but most of the time it's get in and out quickly so replacement has been a big part of my process.
  5. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    starting with a simple tape-deck and then with a 4-track hiss generator, i'd say digital is the only reason i can make good recordings. i could never afford analog gear that gives me the sonic quality and the possibilities that i get of my daw. and i'm not talking about correcting things, just being able to record in high quality and use eq's and compressors and stuff.

    i don't have a "real" studio. all i have is a computer, a tiny behringer mixer, a preamp, a midi keyboard, guitar and bass and some decent monitors. and that's all standing in my living room, so there is no acoustically treated room.
    but i can make good recordings, good enough that some record labels thought they were made in a big studio.
    if i record analog i would need a bigger mixer, i'd need guitar and bass amps and thus i would need a room, that's treated and where i can make some noise to record drums and guitars.
    i don't have that and i can't afford it, so digital is my way to go.

    correcting things afterwards is ok with me. but it always depends on the artist i record. when i record myself i try to do the best performance i can get. when i can't get it to sound the way i'd like it to, i "cheat".
    when i record someone else and i know he can do it right, i let him do it until it's right. when i know that he can't do it, i'm not going to listen to a hundred takes and i won't let him get a sore throat (or fingers) cause it won't get any better. i'd rather make one ok take of which i know i can fix it and go on to something else.

    i really love the possibilities you get of digital equipment, but don't lose yourself in it. choose a program and a few plug-ins you're comfortable with and concentrate on the music and the performance

    just my 2cents
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Good topic!

    Digital definitely makes my life easier. The editing that I do often involves 8 hour sessions with a symphony or other similar ensemble. In the analog domain, I'd have so many cuts on my finger and I'd be high from alcohol fumes by the end of the day! (Granted, I've done very little tape splicing when it comes down to it, but I've done enough to know how much I don't want to ever do it again!)

    Considering that 95% of my work is classical, I obviously don't use the "benefits" of pitch correction, tempo adjustments and a lot of plug-ins.

    However, I do some rock/country/acoustic projects - I just get the luxury of being very picky as to which ones I work on.

    In those cases, I treat the DAW as a tape machine and little else. I do let it also handle some of the effects (usually EQ and reverb). Obviously editing is done in the digital domain. However, I rarely touch the EQ on things such as vocals, guitar, etc. If I do, it's usually to filter out low frequencies which have no bearing on the sound (usually below 60Hz).

    I've used pitch correction 1 time in 10 years (prior to 10 years ago, I knew nothing of it) and I wasn't satisfied. Instead I wound up finding a better take of the one mal-tuned word in a "dump track" and spliced it in to much better success.

    As for virtual instruments.....hmmmm....a moral dilemma. I don't use them for final tracks - ever. I may use them for scratch tracks or for quick composition, but never on final tracks. I find I can usually hire the equivalent musician for <$25 a song (drummers being the wierd exception to that rule - but a good drummer is worth his weight in gold! That's one of the reasons my assistant engineer is a percussionist and composer!) Using a live musician makes the difference between a good piece and a computer generated piece. With the exception of drums and sometimes guitar, I can always tell a computer generated virtual instrument apart from the real deal.

    My moral problem with virtual instruments is simple. I know WAY too many instrumentalists trying to make a living on their instrument and they would all be VERY willing to play a quick part on a recording for $25 and do a damn good job of it. For me to take that work away from them goes against everything I stand for and have worked for.

    So...the short answer to the question is- yes, digital saves me loads of time. However, I'm somewhat of a traditionalist and will only use the computer if it saves me time, not creates more work.
  7. Kent L T

    Kent L T Active Member

    Hmm... Well If it wasn't for Digital I would not have been able to realize my dream of recording my personal music. Back when I was a teen and had a chance to do some studio work it was the biggest rush I have ever had spending 12 hours straight in the studio. Now I get that same rush but in the privacy of my home. I love the flexibility the digital domain gives me but I still prefer some analog gear. (hmm knobs and women love em both don't ask me to make a choice please!). Of course now I have the bug. Want more and better equipment I keep looking at buildings thinking could I turn that into a studio?

    As for midi instruments I do use them for my personal stuff with the intention of eventually replacing them with real instruments.

    Excuse my ramblings.
  8. zemlin

    zemlin Well-Known Member

    My business wouldn't exist without the afordable power of digital recording. I am totally ITB and never could have made the investment in the necessary analog gear required to get started in recording.

    I've been working on an audio-book project this week. The recording was done by someone else, and done pretty poorly. One of the recordings I received had a balance issue that switched sides part way through the recording. I have no idea what the source of this glitch was, but it turned out that the left and right channels of this mono recording were out of phase by 8 samples. The visualization tools on my computer enabled me to quickly identify the problem and digital editing made the fix quick and easy.

    Taking bits from 3 different recording sessions and piecing them together into a single story - then adjusting spacing, timing, mixing in music ... it would have required a very different approach in the analog world ... and it certainly would have taken a LOT longer - not to mention the noise reduction and filtering I had to do to make the material presentable.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Just the kind of posts I was hoping for. Lets keep it going.

    I would add my own take on the importance of digital in my life, but seeing as how I own only ONE digital device it'll be a 'short story'.......

    Short Story: The Alesis HD24 replaced all the multitrack tape machines I've ever been in contact with, including my precious old Tascam 38 with about 9,000 hours on it. I dont do any editting with it though it says I can do some things! The problem I have with it is the rewind takes so frikkin long!

    I'm kidding.
  10. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    One...ONE?! Cmon...you've got to have a digital delay or reverb or two. ;)
    I know, that's not really what the point of the post was.

    Without those two things...imagine all the people who would be asking for info on how to construct echo chambers in their spare bathroom or how to build their own plate reverbs.
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Okay. Yeah, I gotta a couple or three of them thingys. I dont use em very much. Mostly just as a little fattener here and there. I dont do many mixdowns for serious work here. I mostly go to places with bigger rooms, bigger monitors and lots and lots of processing. I really do like having a comp for every track as well as EQ's, verbs, special things....The room I like to use has HD3 and ALL of the plugs as well as a bunch of cpu power. Then theres the 6.1 monitoring with Big Genelecs......oh and the D-Command mouse thingy....beautiful.

    I just track at my place. Or do mostly demo mixes.

    Of course, one mans demo is another mans album.
  12. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Analog was easier in the sense that you just lived with it's limitations with the mechanics, track count and artifacts. Both recording & mixing was much more straight forward and you were pretty much forced to make hard choices and often final ever lasting decisions as you went along. Digital changed all that.

    Digital is easier in the sense that the tools are cheaper, easier and quicker to use.

    Does it bring in more business? Yes and No. Yes, in the sense that you can do more in less time compared to analog, but no in the sense that digital has destroyed professional traditional recording studios. Digital allows any wanker with a soundcard and a PC to pretend and believe they are an engineer and that has only hurt real audio professionals who were reliant upon recording as a profitable career.

    Because of digital and more to the point, cheap digital, not many people are willing to pay for raw track recording like they used to or the other way around in that they may pay for raw track recording and then take it home and try to mix. So I've learned to adapt and take advantage by adding audio sweetening services that include doing turd polishing of tracks or mixes from the crap the novice and wankers dump on a hard disk or a CD/DVD.

    Digital technology doesn't and will never match real audio engineering skils and experience nor will match true musical talent and performance skills. And while turd polishing isn't as much fun, or provide much satisfaction compared to doing real pro audio work, it is easier and more convienent to do audio sweetening or polish turds on my own schedule and by myself rather than to do all the labor of raw track recording from bands and artists that are not even to play all the way through a song, yet alone without having to ask you loop something so that they can practice in real time hoping that they can perform well enough, and that I am able capture enough snipets to piece meal together something so that in in the very end, they can say to others, "listen to what I recorded in a studio..."

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