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gear X ear

Discussion in 'Recording' started by JoaoSpin, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. JoaoSpin

    JoaoSpin Active Member

    Jan 16, 2011
    Florianópolis, SC Brazil
    Hi guys and girls from the forum,
    I was wondering how it would be fun for someone to challenge world-class producers to record, mix and master an album with homestudio equipment. Perhaps it would demonstrate how overrated in our little universe top budget gear and even acoustic space end up being perhaps as a way to sell the gear to newbs who don`t know what a compressor is or to further consolidate the superiority of those who define the trade, so to speak. I`ve just recently upgraded my old interface into a brand new spankin`better one and I`ve seen (heard) the quality of my recordings improve, visibly (audibly). However, I`ve also noticed that I have more solutions to old problems that appear and will keep appearing. What are your thoughts on this? How important is experience and a trained set of ears for the job at hand? just how hindering is that old preamp that`s all you can afford and that`s been coloring your recordings in the wrong way (or any other piece of gear, just an example)?
    João (pretty much a newb myself)
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Prince George, BC
    Home Page:
    People produce world class music with little to nothing ITB. People produce world class music with a lot of gear OTB. People produce world class music ITB and OTB, with little or a lot of gear.
    But, there is no doubt you need the skill set first and then the knowledge on how to use the tools. If you don't have the tools, its not fun.
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Resource Member

    Jul 21, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Home Page:
    At the studio i work out of, all i have to do is record-enable the tracks, and boom, instant drum sound. But it's set up like that by 20yr experienced, fellows, and built, pretty well (w/in reason) by me. Our gear isn't anything too wild, but there is a clear difference in the the recordings that the vets, do, vs, me, and the other 2 staff guys. So experience is 90% of it as an engineer. Regardless of how low end the equipment is, dudes/chics, who are better will make a better recording.

    Do i think that regional studios like ours can make recordings that come out of the few remaining 'budget-less' studios, no, i don't. we can come close, but it's that allusive 'thing/or it' that i don't think can't be captured any other way. and honestly, i wouldn't be happy w/ a mix that sounded like nickleback anyway. (no offense Canada :) anyway. But i also couldn't make one if i was asked too. We've got just about every pluugin waves put-out, and some name brand OB, but really, it's the quality of performance way, above any of that. Say every single instrument had a 10k signal path, even the hi-hat, how good are gonna make an average punk band sound?

    It really ticks me off about audio equipment in general, at the concept of 'diminishing returns'. ya know a freaking pre- on a cheapo makie vlz board is like probably ten bucks worth of the board. But to really far surpass that, your looking at $1500, just for the pre. It's the same w/ guitars and amps, put an 11yr who never played on a custom les paul/marshall, and listen to them sound like an 11yr old who never played. Shure, it 'sounds' better than if they were on a crate practice amp, but the content is the same. So it's like to get that last 10% it cost 3k for a piece of wood. And even they are not all the same, i've played cheapo guitars that sounded better than les pauls costing 10x more. I very much agree that when you hear things 'better' you def hear definciencies more easily. Put me in the powerstation or hit factory tomm, and i will screw up a mix as fast as anyone, unless i just get lucky. Once you know what your really hearing, it takes some compensation, No audio system/room/ect is 'perfect', and if it were, how boring would it be. I'm shure sick of 'perfect' quantized loops/editing/drum replacement. It's no more inspirational than an 80's casio playing 'waltz beat 3'.

    If your a photgrapher maybe ya don't want and hd image of an unattractive person, maybe you do, but that is where judgement comes in, same w/ audio. Sure i've done it myself, put my 'best' mic on a source just to use it. But i learned that flattery has no price tag, and sometimes, alot of times, the Neumann 87 is gonna collect just while the sm7 makes chills happen.

    It's weird to me, that people call sound people engineers, cuz while we have to know an abundance of technical stuff, from computers, to cable soldering, impedance, It's just what your hearing, and how you deal w/ it. half the time it's nicely telling people they what they need to improve on, which is really what it has been for me. It took me soo long for me to even reference myself as an 'engineer' and i still don't think i am. the people who engineered the tools i use are the real engineers, i'm just and objective listener, w/ some tools/knowledge to help enhance the performance.

    better equipment will make better recordings, but ya gotta know how to use it. my recordings sucked for like 3 months when i got my 414 a few years ago. worse than they did w/ a 200 AT mic. I do agree that after a couple years using a better setup at studio, my home recordings/techniques are greatly improved. But that's cuz i'm learning more about what i'm 'listening to' and how to compensate for that. I mean the kid down the hall who i helped w/ his studio uses a bare bones setup and sometimes gets better sounds that i do, in a better equipped, well isolated studio.

    My biggest 'aha' moment was when i actually recorded a group of 'professional musicians' the raw tracks sounded better than most of the recordings i did before that. it was like 'oh i just bring the faders up and it's sweeet'.
    Also on the otherside, i really screwed up the live sound on a member of 'the wu-tang clan' just blatantly into nasty clipping on a mackie board, trying to get every last .db of his vocs above the club system. He refused to use the sennhiesser/akg wireless mics, and preferred to go into the peavy mic i brought if it hit the fan. He 'doesn't trust wireless', even tho i put brand new batteries, and experienced no RF issues w/ the openers. Ya know what? the crowd didn't give a crap. they ate the performance up like a piece of pizza and never complained, to me or anyone else. The bouncer was the one who told me about the unpleasant distortion.
  4. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Gear and the room make a big difference in one thing though. Noise. Cheap gear and a poorly treated room can incorporate noise. That doesn't mean you can't produce a good recording. It just means it'll take more work. You may not be able to get the quality you want just because of the limitations of the gear. There were plenty of recordings done in a room with one microphone. Enter the wall of sound.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    I keep demonstrating to people how to get the most out of their own home recording setups. Because it's not the equipment that makes the bad recording. It's the engineer. When it comes to pop music, I don't even give a damn what the acoustics are of the environment that I'm recording in. That's because, regardless of the environment, regardless of the microphones in use, I still have to make it sound like a hit record. And I can make it sound that way on virtually any kind of equipment good or bad. On the bad equipment it won't be as good as on the good equipment but it will be just as good as it needs to be. I'm not out there to compete with other engineers although it is a very competitive industry. I'm there to compete with myself. To take myself to the next level. And to always be doing that. But that doesn't necessarily change my recording technique. It only means I'm using different equipment.

    I can play cuts that I have made throughout my 40+ years in the business. I can still enjoy cuts that I recorded moms just 14 with a crappy Sony home reel to reel tape recorder, a couple of $50 Electro-Voice microphones and a four dollar Sony dynamic microphone and nothing else. A passive mixer I made when I was 14 which actually loaded down the microphones LOL. And it still sounds stellar if it was not for a couple of somewhat saturated peaks which actually is not terribly objectionable, thankfully. Jingles made for a multimillion dollar advertising agency where I had to use a Yamaha PM 1000 PA board and not a real recording console. And I still marvel at those mixes. I used to be able to identify certain engineers just by the sound on the recording. I never thought I had my own sound? It was about 30 years ago that I realized, yeah, I do have my own sound. So any of the mixes that I play that span my over 40 years, have a high degree of consistency and a similar engineering technique of sound. I've been told by many folks that my mixes are very upfront, in your face and quite organic. And that's great! That's exactly what I wanted people to hear. The way I hear things. The way I want them to hear things that I've recorded. I've actually impressed myself with my own recording knowledge and technique. Sometimes, I've had to try and emulate the sound of other engineers recordings for the artists that I am recording live for FM broadcast and television. And I've found that I'm pretty good at doing that as well. Sometimes actually better. My broadcast and recording of the Counting Crows actually reinforced that for me. People seemed to enjoy my live mixes better than their CD mixes, that they most likely took quite a long time coming up with. Me? I had to come up with the same sound in 20 minutes. I not only did that, I surpassed that. So I figured I wasn't bad as an engineer LOL. I was very happy to receive Grammy, Emmy & Soul Train Music Awards nominations, first time out. First time submissions and one of four nominees out of thousands of other submissions by others. Gave me a great feeling of self-confidence. Maybe too much? I've actually become one of my favorite engineers. No. I'm not like George Massenburg, Roger Nichols, Ed Cherney, Elliott Shiner, Bruce Swedein, et al., I'm Remy Ann David. And I'm glad I sound like Remy Ann David. Do I do a lot of cool technical tricks? I don't think so? Perhaps I do? I'm certainly not as intricately involved with creating crazy sounding whatchamacallit thingies. But my balance and my sound speak for me. This is also probably because my background was largely symphonic and operatic. There was no pop music played in my household as a child. But dad did take me down to recording sessions where he played his violin for string tracks for R&B sessions at Motown and United Sound Systems, in Detroit, where I knew as early as seven years of age, what I would do for the rest of my life, professionally. And that's all I've ever done.

    57 in October
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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