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The future of major studios verses home based Pro Tools/

Discussion in 'Pro Tools' started by audiokid, Oct 14, 2000.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff Resource Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Prince George, BC
    Home Page:
    Just an observation here.

    We have tried to get the major recording studios ( the ones governed by record labels) to add their studios to RO ( http://www.recording.org ) but have yet had one comments from any of them. The indie studios are very supportive.

    Does this shows the power of Pro Tools/DAW's and the indie markets competing potential now and in the future for the recording industry.

    Are we a threat or can we work together? What's going to happen in the future?

    looking forward to other comments from our members.

  2. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    I think this is another 'given'...
    It's easy to spend 5 grand in a big fancy recording studio on just recording a few songs.
    For the 'little guy' it just makes more sense to
    "buy-in' to the digital recording revolution with that 5 grand. You can then record 'til your heart's content, with no pressure, and nobody
    else's head in your mix.
    As far as the 'big boys', why would they possibly want to be invloved in this? Over the
    past few years, this has done nothing but keep money from going into their pockets.
    Why would they want to give away their tricks
    of the trade to 'the little guys' who are contributing to their possible downfall?
    However, this is not so much a revolution as
    an evolution. The technology is only going to keep getting better and more accessible, as
    is the information. So, as for the future, it is
    inevitable and unstoppable. And, not only aren't us 'little guys' using the big studios after we get our gear. As we get better at using our new technology, other 'little guys' who don't yet have the cash to 'buy-in' are going to guys like us to record their demos and such at a much cheaper rate.
    The one area where the big studios will be able to absorb some of this loss is in mastering. With all this recording going on,
    lots of guys are going to want their tracks mastered by a pro. So it only makes sense
    that mastering is going to become a much
    larger part of their business in the future.
    ARE WE A THREAT? %$&# YES !!!
  3. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Oct 5, 2000
    While the old-school engineers are whinning about how protools lacks warmth, I'm mixing hit records. I love tracking in protools, mixing at home, and then booking a major studio & tweeking my mixes. I print about 4 mixes a day at the majors. This allows me to charge more, and still save my clients money.
  4. Soundscape

    Soundscape Guest

    I belive there will be a "balance" at some point reached. in all do respect, the big studio's are not going to go away in the since that they will become extinct.
    After all what they are selling is, the "environment", an acoustically colored room in various deferent flavors. I feel that the DAW has and will continue to allow the separation between the multi-million dollar facilities and the home musician to narrow down. As far as the SSL's and Neve's of the world they will continue to evolve around the market, if you look closely you can see that is what they have been doing.
    We all agree on, no matter what you use to record it, it must first start at the source. So what you might see in the future is " Acoustic Rooms for rent" to track those drums, And that room may be equipt with a DAW so you just take your session home with you to add the other various instruments to it, then you may mix it at a "Mixing room"
    You see where I am going here?
    The Current studio's would just change how they offer the facility to the public.
    But the multi-Million dollar toy's will always be there, simply because of the need to say you have the "very best that man can offer in the field"

    Joel Gette
    Soundscape Digital
  5. Anything that I can listen to or might have heard?

    Mark Plancke
  6. Maybe what that 5 grand is paying for is acoustically sound environments and experience. Many inexperienced people think that buying gear with tons of time on your hands equals a good product, that's just not true. You have to have the "ear experience" to be able to produce excellent results and that's something that money can't buy.

    There are no "tricks" or short cuts involved in quality audio production, another commonly held myth.

    Again, it's not the gear it's the ears (experience). Someone lacking experience could go into the best studio in the world and still produce a turd.

    Not many people go into big studios to cut demos and that is the one thing that personal recording setups and basement studios excell at.

    If you have the experience to create a stellar product in your environment then I would agree, otherwise all the cheap technology in the world ain't gonna get you there.

    Mark Plancke
  7. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    Sounds like you missed the whole point.
    If a guy buys into digital recording for $5000, he is much better off than if he blows that hard-earned cash on a one time, one or two song trip to big-wig recording heaven. You can feed a man once, or you can teach him to fish...applies perfectly here.
    The experience and education that a musician gains with a DAW is far more valuable than a
    trip to Mr. Bigwig's. That $5000 trip isn't going to make anyone a star, as we're all aware that it takes more than that to produce a song in a major recording studio,
    but a $5000 DAW just might allow that musician to GROW into a star. He may even end up producing his own hit eventually.
    You took a common phrase, 'tricks of the trade', at face value. I don't think there's anyone here who thinks big shot producers say
    incantations over their recording media to
    achieve their results...hehehe. My original point, I believe, was very clear. As in any trade or business, if a person is successful,
    and making the lion's share of the money, why
    in the world would he give his knowledge away
    to lots of people who would turn around and use that very knowledge to keep him from making as much money? It's a very valid, logical point. And apparently, it's correct,
    as I don't see big-time producers beating down the doors of the DAW sites to give away
    the fruits of their experience. In fact, the only exception that I've seen to that is Stephen Paul, and we are truly blessed to have him here.
    Whether Mr. Bigwig, or even Mr. Mediumwig
    likes it, DAWs are going to hurt their business, big time. Fact of life.
    BTW, I've heard plenty of turds come out of mega-studios and get airplay, and I've
    heard plenty of bands and musicians who couldn't sound like a turd even on a $29
    cassette deck from Kmart. The Beatles still
    sound great on their 4 track recordings.
  8. My point is it's the guy behind the board not the gear. If you're talented you could make a record on $5000 worth of gear, if you're not talented you could make a turd on $5M worth of gear.

    Repeat after me...
    "It's the ears not the gear."

    No it really doesn't. My point is that you can learn more from someone with the talent and experience in one session than you could sitting in your basement for 5 years trying to make a hit record. Unless you've been exposed to that situation you would never know. Repeat after me....

    "Owning a 747 doesn't make you a pilot".

    Wrong, see above.

    No amount of money spent in a recording studio will make someone a star. Repeat after me....

    "In most cases it's the song, not the person singing it".

    Repeat after me....

    "It's the song".

    Stephen Paul is one person who is more than willing to discuss his techniques, in ensence he is giving away his knowledge. You'd be surprised at how many successful people are willing to pass on their knowledge to someone who takes a genuine interest.

    Not really, the basement DAW operators will allow people with a limited budget to produce a recording to sell to his friends. How many projects have you worked on that pressed more than 1000 CD's? How many projects that you have worked on still have 500 CD's sitting in the closet?

    Thank you,Repeat after me....

    "It's not the gear it's the ears."
    "It's the song, not the singer."
    "Owning a 747 doesn't make you a pilot."

    Mark Plancke
  9. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Not exactly. You can't teach a man to fish by giving him a string and a hook, then making him walk out onto a frozen lake. He might get lucky and get it right, but there's no guarantee he'll make it. Doesn't seem to be the most intelligent thing to do when there are eons of accumulated knowledge and techniques available to accomplish the task quicker, more efficiently, and without hurting onesself.

    As long as there is talent present. And the DAW might either make you think there is none when there really is, or decieve you into thinking there is some for many years. Neither here nor there. An experienced ear can sort that out real quick.
    Even if there is talent, there is the risk of getting caught "in a bubble" of your own "creativity", where you can't sort out the wheat from the chaffe. Again, exposure to experienced ears who can quickly tell you what you might be doing wrong - when you don't even realize you were doing it - can be a good thing.
    Whichever way you decide to go, don't forsake the advantages of other routes.

    Taking such a combative view doesn't get anywhere. Who do we have to look to for help, if not each other? And who wants to associate with a knowledge scrooge, let alone hire one?
    We get gigs because of our "vibe", not because we know some trick that somebody else will eventually figure out - whether we teach them or not. And no one can take "vibe" away from you. Not to mention that there is an endless stream of "tricks", and no matter how many you give away you can always make more.

    Umm... ok, that's just arrogant. Hehe.

    They're too busy working in studios and giving away their experience to the assistants and interns who work there. There are the few "new hot tricks" that happen, which are like trademarks that some producers are not as free to part with. But there are plenty of freebies to pick up.

    Can't argue with that one. Tho for their day, the Beatles were recording on state-of-the-art gear. And Sir Martin weren't no slouch neither.

    Can't argue with that one. I might add "It's the song and the ear, not the gear."

    Usually, yes. But there are a lot of great songs that never see the light of day due to s****y performances. And likewise, a lot of great performers who can turn scrawled gibberish into a work of art.

    And neither does watching over your pilot's shoulder for a couple short flights.

    I think we all need to pause and try to see everyone's point of view from their perspective. All these points don't neccesarily contradict each other. They're almost saying the same thing at times, but using different words.

    "Can't we all just get along?"
  10. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    HEHEHE...You know, I'm lovin this, guys.

    We have all just unknowingly demonstrated the
    core idea of the DAW evolution/revolution.

    Let one guy dare say "screw those high-priced studios, I'm getting me a DAW",
    and the studio owners get their panties in a wad, and start trying to pick you apart.
    Thanx for helping me make my point!

    SonOfSmawg - "It's the ears not the gear"
    ...yup, and I was also born with two, just like you! But, I'm sure you have better speakers to treat yours to, as well as a
    hell of a lot more professional recording experience and education. However, since I
    bought my 001 last February, I've taken a great liking to recording, much more than I did with analog recording, and I now plan to go to school. In my case, I've recorded in some nice studios, but they've never had such an impact on me that I wanted to pursue
    recording like I do now. Do you see my point?

    SonOfSmawg - "Owning a 747 doesn't make you a pilot" ... That's for sure! But flying around in a little ultralight has peaked my interest enough to make me want to pursue
    earning my wings.

    SonOfSmawg - "It's the song" ... Yup. And if I can record the song at a level of quality
    that is acceptable to me, and I'm happy with
    it, then that's cool. I've yet to make a recording that led me to believe that I'd better pack it up and leave the recording to
    Mr. Bigwig. In fact, I've generally been more happy with my own recordings than ones
    I've done in bigger studios, because I'm more at-ease in my performance, and I can take my time. I can also go back and change things at a later date as ideas and inspiration dictate. Sure, the "sound" isn't
    quite as good, but the "song' is better.

    So, Ang was right, we are basically saying the same things, but from a different perspective. However, Ang, I wouldn't call recording on 001 "walking out on a frozen lake with a hook and a line". Sure, there are quicker, and more efficient ways to record, but I'm in no big hurry at this point, and I don't have $50,000 laying around to sink into recording gear. And as far as 'guarantees'...
    When someone walks into a studio, does the
    owner ever give you an "it's gonna be a hit"
    I totally agree that a DAW may not be right for everyone, and that for many, they should
    hire a studio when they want to do serious recording. But there are thousands of us who
    are very content making decent recordings on
    our cheap little systems, and gain great satisfaction from it. As for me, I'm glad
    I learned to fish!


    [This message has been edited by SonOfSmawg (edited December 31, 2000).]
  11. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    You're right... that's a Hell of a lot easier to figure out than PTLE! LOL
  12. Let's say you've got really bad tooth ache and you call up your friend who has just purchased a shiny new pair of pliers and studied a bit of dentistry on the cable Health Channel. He offers to "fix" your pain for a "lot less" than the big time dentist dude that you normally go to.

    Do you jump into your car and visit your friend for his treatment that's "just as good" as the big guys?

    Mark Plancke
  13. zod

    zod Guest

    Mark, we're not comparing things to that here. We're talking about professional engineers and future musicians in general that use modern tools, one being a DAW
    If you think DAW's are a pair of pliers, start reading more.

    In the next year PT for sure and others to follow like Soundscape, Nuendo, Logic etc. will be the backbone of 90% of all digital editing that goes on in BIG STUDIOS (if there are any left "making money").
    To play, promote, transfer studio data to other professional studios around the world a DAW will be the logical route not to rule out probably the "only" supported universal format for exchanging real-time sessions through companies like http://www.rocketnet.com . Online music commerce, digital watermarking and thousands of indie artists using DAW's are reasons to start reading more about the future of the recording business.

    Big is not better. More wires are not better.

    Computer, the internet, DAW's and e-trade is what's coming.

    Plan ahead or you will be sitting on a BIG STUDIO Console scatching your head sadly realizing that it ain't worth too much more than an impressive looking desk that you can show people.

    I know I won't be buying one and, I know that if a "BIG STUDIO engineer" told me that big desks are the way to go this century I would think twice about his knowledge of the business.

    Right now I can do 90 % of all the work needed to produce and market a world class album for thousands of dollars less than BIG STUDIOS can; graphics and on-line marketing to boot!. put me side by side with a big desk and I will win 90% of the business.

    Who sounds better is not what this is about anymore.
    The only thing that we indie DAW studios are faced with now is distrubution politics.

    That's the real battle coming.LOL


    [This message has been edited by zod (edited January 01, 2001).]
  14. Okay, so you've missed the analogy. That's cool.

    <snipped trade rag induced coma ramblings>

    I get my share of mixing work from small DAW based studios. It's one of the things you have to do to survive in this industry. In my experience most everything coming out of small DAW based or Mackie/ADAT studios is just that... small sounding.

    There's a place for every type of studio. Musician owned studios excell at certain types of production as do small ADAT/Mackie based studios. There's also a place for a big commercial studio with big rooms and good acoustics. Telling each other one or the other is going away is simply crazy.

    Mark Plancke
    Windsor ON, Canada

    [This message has been edited by mp@soundtechrecording.com (edited January 01, 2001).]
  15. zod

    zod Guest

    Mark, not a problem.

    You make using a DAW sound like a sacrifice or like cleaning dishes or something like that.

    More on my thoughts, not replying to your comments.

    I think the majority of people that used digital samplers, older DAW's (other than PT at least) still think that the quality is grainy like 8 bit.

    Digital recording takes a different knack or approach when tracking. It's not forgiving like analog. You can't drive the meters into red. You need room for air in the levels.

    I think the direction of RO, this forum and myself are looking ahead. This is why I like it here. It's different than the DUC. friken egos or newbies with startup problems is the majority of most topics. I like it here because the topics are forward thinking and diverse.

    I think the big thing that everybody is missing when it comes to talking about DAW's is, Big Studios or old school engineers feel like they are being attacked every time someone starts talking about the future of recording studios. They come barging in yelling "no way man, daw's are only good for editing, their sound is thin and so on"

    I really don't care about the sound difference anymore. It's close enough for me, (but, I know how to find the sweet spot using PT) The big question and advantage to Digital Audio Workstations is, recording without spending a million bucks and, editing to the limit if needed and the power of multimedia in one system.

    By next year do you think the sound difference is going to keep musicians from buying more DAW's?
    Are Big Studios going to be doing more indie releases?

    I bet more and more DAW studio will be popping up , going online, jamming, self promoting etc.
    Musicians will ignore all the talk about how big analog sounds.

    I compare this to opera and rock and roll

    SSL and Pro Tools

    Old and New

    Piano and Keyboards

    acoutic giuitar and electric

    and so on

    What sells and works, popularity, and how things blend into the system is the way to go from here. We win if we go with the grain and find our niche. If you are a freelance or a guy depending on work from Big Studio work, start planning for a layoff or start promoting how you can make DAW's sound better in a positive way at a reasonable price.

    It's just a matter of years before the computer will control everything.


    [This message has been edited by zod (edited January 02, 2001).]
  16. Change DAW to DIGITAL and you'll be closer to the truth.

    Agreed. But even with careful tracking habits and conservative levels I still feel that digital lacks the air that a good analog machine gives you. Not to mention the other benefits from tracking analog that certain types of music benefit from.

    I tracked on ADAT's for many years when I started my studio. I was constantly pushing their performance by upgrading opamps, dacs, power supply bypassing, etc, etc. I was constantly fighting the machine to get the sound I wanted, it gave me a headache most of the time.

    When I upgraded to a 2" 24 track MCI I instantly noticed how much better things sounded including all my outboard gear. My headache instantly went away and I wasn't fighting the machines anymore. That sealed it for me. Good Analog is hard to beat.

    Not in practice, Pro Tools is used everyday in big studios, mostly for editing and comping multiple takes like you say. 9 times out of 10 these tracks are dumped into Pro Tools from an analog deck and in this role I find digital to be pretty good at preserving what's on tape.

    You're not the only one who doesn't care about the quality of the sound. Look at the poliferation of bad sounding MP3's, look at the dumbing down of audio in general. They've been saying digital is perfect for the last 20 years but they seem to "improve" it every couple of years. Strange indeed.


    If the budget is there, sure.

    Maybe, but those with a budget and a clue will want to mostly likely track analog with lot's of classic outboard equipment. Let's face it, it's the sound that everyone grew up listening to, it's kind of like an old friend. Listen to Lenny Kravitz his 24 bit Pro Tools recordings sound like ass, must have got a bunch of freebies for that one. Of course he's got a big assed API console that he tracks through, that doesn't hurt but it still doesn't sound as good as his other records.

    They've been saying that for 20 years. <g>

    Mark Plancke

    [This message has been edited by mp@soundtechrecording.com (edited January 02, 2001).]
  17. After following this thread for a while I thought it was about time to join in.

    There is a good analogy here between musicians and engineers/producers. I agree that the most important attributes of an engineer/producer are: The ears and the imagination/creativity. Likewise for a musician the most important atrributes are musicality and technique. Let's take the case of the violinist. A good professional will need a good violin, maybe $40K worth. A $1m Stradivarius to this professional is a waste of money because it doesn't make that much of a difference. However, there are a small number of great violin soloists. These are people who are pushing the boundaries of musicality and technique. For them being so close to the boundaries, the relatively small difference of a Strad quality violin becomes an important factor.

    For musicians who record or the good professional engineer/producer the $1m worth of studio gear is a waste of money. However, regardless of the "dumbing down" of audio, there will always be a demand for the very highest quality. For this reason there will always be respect and demand for the very finest engineers/producers (golden ears) and a demand for the very finest audio gear to realize their talent.

    It maybe that a number of years in the future the "very finest audio gear" will be a DAW and the "Golden Ears" will switch to using one. However, there are currently a lot of the relatively insignificant differences between DAWs and the high end gear which will take many years for the DAWs to catch up with, that's if they want to.

    While the differences between different quality violins is well understood it seems to me that the differences in audio gear is not. This is evidenced in the arguments between users of Host based DAWs and users of systems like PT TDM/Soundscape. The host based users can't understand the huge leap in price of say a TDM system over a Digi 001 system, seeing only relatively minor differences between the two.

    If you don't feel that TDM is worth the extra over a host based system, or that the very high end audio gear is not worth the extra over a TDM system, then IMHO, you don't need the higher quality, for you it would be a waste of money.

  18. Thanks for putting it most eloquently Greg. <g>

    Here's something interesting I found that may be of interest. This is in reference to the recent AES show and an exhibit entitled "When Vinyl Ruled". I think it was a shock to many people when they realized how "dumbed down" audio has been in the last 40 years.

    And in response Bob Olhsson said

    Mark Plancke
  19. RNorman

    RNorman Active Member

    Jan 6, 2001
    Well, I don't see any big studios barging in, but I can tell you one thing. If they do, they'll be more interested in helping others learn how to accomplish more with what they've got then disparaging one's abilities based on the equipment used. The problem is that most people who start with digital don't understand the basic premise of proper recording techniques including mic selection, positioning, judiscious use of EQ, FX and dynamics, the soundstage, acoustic room anamolies, the difference in mic pres, etc. The list could go on, but the point is that it's the music that's important, not the tools, and it's the experience that drives the music, not the equipment. A reasonably advanced engineer knows this and works accordingly in either environment. A reasonably advanced engineer also has experience in multiple environments where there are circumstances beyond their control, yet they still come up with consistently good product.

    How this relates is this. The argument is that DAWs are taking over, and to a large degree, given that A) digital equipment is now cheap enough that everyone can get in on it, and B) digital usage seems to somehow preclude the requirement of knowledge and experience in order to produce a product, it appears that most people are now going to see DAWs as something which they are not. Having a DAW does not make one an engineer. Only experience does that. Having a DAW does not mean that the owner has musical qualifications, which, while not a necessity certainly are an advantage. And having a DAW with it's vast editing capabilities immensely eases the requirements on whom one records, because it's now no longer necessary to have talent that can sing, or play, or even write a decent tune.

    So just what are these major benefits that having a DAW produces? Over the top recording and mixing techniques that drive audio into a new low of musical quality, not because of some inherent problem with digital, but because of the inexperience often found behind the mouse. With even the basic dynamics found with 16/44.1 CD quality people are shredding the top 3% of that dynamic range trying to get everything as loud as everything else. It's a mismatch of digital quality vs quantity of experience.
    And it's definitely a mismatch in thinking for one to view a DAW as anything but another tool in the toolbox. DAWs don't make music, musicians do, and it's the engineer's job to capture it as close to how the talent wants it as possible. On the flip side, Tape doesn't make music either, but IN GENERAL, those experienced in tape usage are in better shape to capture the music, not because of the tape, but because of the experience.

    So I'm completely satisfied that my clients come here because of what I can do with what I have, but when the going gets tough and I have to face my limitations, I'll recommend using a facility that doesn't present those limitations to my clients. I don't present a threat to these facilities and they know it. They aren't running scared. If anyone should be running scared it's me and those like me that have invested a lot more money than should need to be invested in order to make as little money as I do. My last job only required a few suits, and attache case and constant upgrading of knowledge with a hell of a lot better pay. Sometimes I feel like it would have been better to be a ditch digger because there are no requirements to upgrade your shovel. And that's because experience tells us it's the proper tool for the job.

    Roger W. Norman
    SirMusic Studio
  20. zod

    zod Guest

    I agree with you all if we are talking about engineers here.

    I think most of you are missing the focus here. I still see the majority of you as defensive.

    You are going on about your personal experience. (I don't mean your not welcome) Same thing on the DUC. "Big Studios" going on and on.

    I this see the topic in a very different way. I like what's coming and don't care about the sonic differences anymore. The sonic differences aren't going to make us more cash. That's the truth here.

    The music scene is changing and I'm going with it.

    This topic is not about the songs quality, This topic is not about your years of experience.
    This topic is about the future of the daw and where it's going to take us.

    I'd rather see some positive conversations on the future rather than how great the old engineers are. golden ears etc. bla bla bla.

    I already know how to mix

    Let's talk about things we can use in this new journey?

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