60s style recording techniques?
Hey im just getting into recording and have found that everything recording i have done so far to sound... um idk clean and new im not sure how to explain it. I have cubase 4 and a firepod. a bunch of sm57s, beta 52, akg perception 200. im looking for that 60s/70s style sound without going into analog. please exscuse me because im a complete newb so i don't know if what im asking makes sense. Im a huge fan of 60s/70s stones, blue cheer, 70s aerosmith, ten years after, the beatles, byrds, cream , t.rex and all that jazz. Stuff like eddie kramer. should i look at some colorful mic pres or are their micing and mixing teqniques i should mess around with? Doing stuff live? idk so if anyone could help me out that would be great!
How to get a 60's sound from gear?
When you think about those sixties and seventies recordings, nobody used any kind of boutique microphone preamps back then. We used the microphone preamps that were in the consoles. There really weren't many manufacturers of consoles back then. Consoles by the major record labels were frequently custom-made.
The early console manufacturers which started up in the middle late sixties were API, Electrodyne, Quad 8, Sphere, Neve, Helios, Norelco/Philips, Auditronics, MCI, Neumann, to name a few, a very few. So you really never complained back then about sonic integrity, blah blah, etc.. We were more concerned with what brand of analog tape and how you tweaked your machines.
Monitor speakers were frequently Altec 604E's or, JBL 4310's. Compressors and limiters were frequently Universal Audio optical LA2 tube or LA3 transistor, FET 1176LN, RCA, CBS, Fairchild and were optical devices or variable "mu" tubes, predecessor to the VCA (voltage controlled amplifier).
Microphone selection was also fairly limited back then. Dominated by Neumann U47/67/87 and a host of others along with the RCA 44 & 77 series of ribbon microphones. And becoming popular was a line of dynamic microphones by Shure. The unidyne series proceeded the well-known SM57 but were very similar.
Much of that sound was a LESS IS MORE approach. We didn't have nothin' in comparison to what we have today. So what you are hearing is pretty much good experience, technique and knowledge, since we were all using pretty much the same stuff.
When it came to Chambers, if you worked for a really good place like Capitol, your chamber was probably specially manufactured rooms or stairwells. If you were poor, you had a spring reverb. If you were rich, you had an EMT plate. If you were really creative, you could use a tape machine for all sorts of effects, like echoes, delays, phasing/flanging. You could also take a beefy power amplifier, connect that to a sinewave oscillator and voilà! Variable speed generator for your tape recorder.
And tape saturation was a big part of the character of the sound. Learning how to bang the meters just the right way, drums took on a different character. You could do most anything if you had 4 to 8 tracks to work with!
So emulating that sound of a late sixties to early and mid-seventies recording can still be easily accomplished. Yes, the sound of the microphone preamps was a big factor in the sound. None of those older consoles had limited headroom like most of the inexpensive mixers have today. So to try and emulate that older sound means, you need plenty of headroom in your console/preamps. You can get that sound by running your microphone gain trims lower than normal, while pushing up your faders for proper record levels. This will give you improved headroom but will sacrifice some of the signal to noise ratio but since we are probably talking rock and roll here, it won't be much of a factor. That additional headroom will give you that higher-quality, expensive console sound with that punchy quality without maxing out your mike preamps.
George Martin thought I was a worthwhile engineer but I declined his offer as a maintenance Tech.
Ms. Stoopid Remy
The recording approach was simplified because of the LACK of gear available. Lack of tracks meant you HAD to make decisions about the structure of the material....what sections to mix down to open some tracks up for more creativity.
Its the very thing that is lacking today in mainstream music. Its so overproduced and homoginized that it lacks depth and heart.
You get those two things to stand out in a song and it wont matter what direction your recording style takes.
Yup, back in the day, you had to think ahead. Even cutting certain tracks out of sequence so that your primary solos and vocal tracks, could afford to be an extra generation down so as to preserve the clarity and transient response of the rhythm tracks. Can you say Bass Ackwords? And without time code or synchronizers! A big problem was wearing down your fingertip skin!
And that's what gets me down more so these days is that music is rarely played anymore but manufactured instead (speaking more in terms of popular music). Minor musical mistakes along with minor intonation problems makes music sound more real. Sometimes, one of my clients will have made a mistake during tracking and wants to do it again. On those special occasions, sometimes those mistakes add so much character and uniqueness to the song, I'll frequently try to dissuade them, or I will say that one and go to another open track without telling them.
It doesn't matter if you have perfection, if it sounds tired. Organic spontaneity is the key and one of the reasons why I changed my basic direction to concentrating more on live recording than on studio work. So now but I'm not doing live recordings, I'm frequently mixing other bands homebrewed tracks since we usually know, I can come up with something better than they can.
Old-fashioned is good fashion
Ms. Remy Ann David
What you can do is learn mic technique. But NOT by reading all the crap they tell you in the magazines about how to mic a Marshall stack for the umpteenth time. Set up a mic, put on some phones and move the mic around. Learn how it reacts, only then can you be open to finding good (and interesting) mic positions. I see way too many engineers setting up mics and saying "that looks good". As a recording bassist I have looked at those people and said: "Uh, guys - we are in the business of audio, we're not setting up for photo shoots...how does it SOUND..." It's scary how often that shocks the engineer...
As far as more basic things like the way that music is produced and selected - I hope that the advent of new "long tail" strategies of people putting out cheap, minimally produced records in the hope of making money selling a few thousand will get us away from bland and perfect and toward great musical moments. One of the greatest moments on record is the part in Fingertips, Part 2 where the bassist goes "What key?, What key?" Can you imagine a major label putting that out today? Can you imagine a major label as good as Motown?
BobRogers wrote: One of the greatest moments on record is the part in Fingertips, Part 2 where the bassist goes "What key?, What key?" Can you imagine a major label putting that out today? Can you imagine a major label as good as Motown?
I had no idea about that! Will hunt down a copy and listen out for it. It's such a groovy track anyway.
My view is that modern music is too perfect. Too crafted. Too clean. It's often flawless to the point of sterility. Add to that the lack of musicianship on the vast majority of todays pop, and well, no wonder boring old farts like me get to moaning!
While we have a lot to grateful to the Japanese for, I would argue that Far East technology actually took away more than it gave us.
Some of my favorite soul records from the 60's are distorted. They hiss. They flutter. And they WOW! The piano is out of tune. The brass section ditto. The vocals crack and splutter. And so on. But it's real. It's human. It's a performance. That's why we used to call them records (short for recording, but also a record of a performance, like a photo captured a moment in time).
It's all gone, and it's so sad.
Studmuffin wrote: [quote=BobRogers] One of the greatest moments on record is the part in Fingertips, Part 2 where the bassist goes "What key?, What key?" Can you imagine a major label putting that out today? Can you imagine a major label as good as Motown?I had no idea about that! Will hunt down a copy and listen out for it. It's such a groovy track anyway.... It comes at about 2:25. One of the stories I've read is that it was a recording of one of those review shows. This was Stevie's finale and they were changing the rhythm section as the next band was coming on. (Little Stevie as an opening act!) Of course Stevie is really hot and the crowd is into it and they just keep alternating horn choruses and harmonica/vocal solos. New bassist comes on the bandstand and is trying to pick up (been there!).
BobRogers wrote: To me the biggest difference is in the way that drums are tracked. The older minimalist techniques really bring out the character of the kit and leave more space in the mix.
That's what I really dig about Dark Side of the Moon. You can pretty much pick out each bit as if you were looking at several platforms spaced out in a dark room with spot lights shining on the performers. All you see is the performer and the background is perfectly black. No filler!