The "culling" process.

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Kevin Glenn, May 16, 2005.

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  1. Kevin Glenn

    Kevin Glenn Guest

    Some friends of mine on another forum recently turned me on to this forum, and lo and behold the very first thread I read is now titled "This is what affordable gear has done for the industry".

    This isnt going to make me any friends here especially with the moderator, so I am going to stay clean - this is my real name, not a knickname. If you know me, fine. I am not going to hide behind a screen-name to make my point. Call me a troll if you want, but at least I am not being an anonymous troll. If "trolling" means pointing out BS when I see it, then so be it.

    I ask only that you take the time to read my thoughts before you kill this post. It will only take a moment.

    I take some issues with you here Kurt, with all due respect. While I agree that the orginal poster was probably a troll, your quote above makes me seeth inside and I am calling you out on it.

    "This is what happens when an artform gets democratized." ???? What in the heck kind of statement is that???
    Sheese if the case were applied to musicians who cant play their instruments then U2 would have been "culled" in 1981. And who are you to decide who gets "culled" and who doesnt? Is this a good thing?

    If this is the sort of all-arrogant, elitist attitude that permeates from the world of audio engineering, then perhaps the "culling" or "weeding" process in the past that you brag about did not work quite well enough.

    Sure, cheap gear yadda yadda yadda.... but friends, the culling process goes on and on and on regardless of the gear you own. I freaking hate that excuse. It rather pisses me off because of this elitist attitude - this cock-sure, egotistical arrogance from so-called engineers that actually results in trollish attitudes that seem to ooze out of the online world of recording engineers.

    I wonder how some of you have any clients at all. What if that would have been an actual poster, and not a troll? What if it was a kid... 17-18 years old and truly looking for information.. not too good at communicating. Wow, what a beautiful example you have made. Now if he actually makes it one day, he will likely become an arrogant a--hole too. Careful.

    Your whole banter about the so-called "weeding" process is one of the most asinine statements I have ever read in all my years of participating in audio, pro-sound, and recording forums. Sort of reminds me of some billionaire lamenting that there are too many millionaires coming up. Hogwash!!

    And who is going to do the weeding? You? God? A government agency? Perhaps Uncle Sam could invoke licensing for audio engineers just like they do hairstylists and school-marms. Would you have passed the bar exam when you were young and inexperienced?? Do you not look out into your vast expanse of capable engineers and see that one guy who found success, but you cant figure out why? How would you feel if you were determined, yet you were culled?

    Isnt it the truth that the bottom line is that there are only so many high-paying audio engineering jobs to go around, and some young bucks with a protools rig might start chipping into your business? Is that where that statement stemmed from? I suspect so.

    Kurt, I wanted to PM you and take this matter up with you in private , but you have no email information. I am truly sorry for bringing this into the public, but your statements in the quote above were public as well. You can and probably will delete this post, and maybe even throw me off the forum. But I have said to you exactly what I felt from the bottom of my heart and I hope you read this, and take it to your own heart, and humble yourself a bit. You could have been "culled" too, and I am sure you wouldnt have liked hearing that some senior engineer out there was the one calling out for it. I regard your skills as an engineer as worthy, but you just might not be where you are today if someone decided to "cull" you.

    I for one am going to keep after my dream, despite arrogant naysayers such as yourself. This modern age is not a good one for Luddites. I am sure there will be a few who agree with me on this point.

    Fellows, do not listen to Kurts words. If you have to start out bouncing on a half-track to get your career started, then go for it. Do not let bitter negativity such as the above quote get in your way. Be an inspiration to yourself, and do not allow yourself to be "culled" as Kurt would have you.

    Thanks for your time,

    Kevin C. Glenn
  2. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    troll walters

  3. Kevin Glenn

    Kevin Glenn Guest


    I love a grand welcome!
  4. smub

    smub Guest

    I agree with you Kevin, some of the opinions posted here are crazy and make no sense.

    The above statement (This is what happens when an art form in democrotized ... and made affordable to anyone who has a few extra bucks) is obviously disgusting.

    That said, a man who can say that anything involving creative expression (in this case recording music) should not be accessible to as large a proportion of the world as possible IS quite entertaining. Hence why I love browsing this site at lunchtimes.

    I'm glad that every single person involved in the creation of every single piece of music i've ever listened to in my entire life didn't browse this site and take heed of these reccomendations before starting their careers. They'd still be saving up to buy the right equipment.
  5. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    count me among the people agreeing with you.

    I have a little different interpretation of Kurts posting though. I read it as a person getting really tired of a discussion going on and on and not really having anything than a bunch of invectives in it. Finally, resignated, he saw no other possibility than to stop the discussion. And at that point he wrote a statement showing this tiredness, and in isolation this statement sure looks bad. I am not quite sure that is a balanced summary of what Kurt really thinks on the subject.

    Anyway, as far as I am concerned, the more people recording and mixing and creating music, the better. I find it a good thing that the tools are in financial reach for so many more. No weeding necessary if you ask me, some of the really great changes are going to come from this very group of people. Just see what punk did to the rock stage (and I do not think even themselves cared whether they really could play) or what rap has done to the pop scene (and, well, singing in a traditional sense is not really what they are showing off at). And on the examples go.

    (my real name as well).
  6. smub

    smub Guest

    I'm not a jerk. I'm not agreeing that trolls are worthwhile additions to messageboards, they are a waste of time. I am agreeing that Kurt's argument is wrong as I believe that anyone who wants to record music and have a go in the industry should be allowed to do it within their means.

    ITGA, Do you honestly disagree with that? If so, what are the prerequisites we must accrue before meeting the requirements to attempt to create high quality recordings?.
  7. Kevin Glenn

    Kevin Glenn Guest

    Well, its that guy again. 8)

    LOL - I just got this creepy feeling that you guys might think I am actually Walter.. it was just this sinking feeling I had suddenly.

    No I am not he. Not even close... and ask around, there are some regulars here that know me from other forums.

    Folks, I wasnt defending walter at all.,,, he was trolling obviously, and was probably having a good time pulling everyones chain. Thats not my point at all.

    All that got me steamed was the arrangance statement regarding the "culling" process. I slept on it last night, and sure I was a little pissed off yesterday being a cranky Monday. I am not quite as mad about it today. Today, I just think of it as a stupid Luddite statement. Unfortunatly many people really believe this.

    I see this a lot... not from all engineers mind you. But some just have this insecurity about the new guys, and if they had it their way, no one would enter the profession without an invitation.
    Screw that. If I have the time and money, I can get in there and do it too, and may the best man who can do the best job with either the cheapest of the most expensive gear wins.

    The other thing that pissed me off was the "democratization of an artform"..: statement.

    HUH??? :shock:

    So art shall be exclusive only to who? Obviously, the bourgeois are not allowed in this club. Its for royalty only? Is that how I am supposed to take it? Or does one have to be born into the recording engineering society? What are the dues?

    You mean I cant drink out of that waterfountain? I have to ride in the back of the bus?

    Anyway, ITGA, you cleaned up your post from last night, and thats nice. But trust me, I am not walter.
    My point isnt about walter.
  8. cleamon

    cleamon Guest

    I'm a man of few words, so all I can say is that the product (the end result) will do the culling. I've heard many a great recording done on "cheap" gear. Produce S*&T and you'll be culled.
  9. took-the-red-pill

    took-the-red-pill Active Member

    Jan 10, 2005
    Near Clagary
    Home Page:
    Maybe we should all take a step back.

    Without putting words in anyone's mouth, I'd imagine that the moderator was likely frustrated. He's here to help the forum flow, so that the learning happens and people get to say their piece. The thread in question was doing neither. So I could see how that would make one very frustrated if one was volunteering time for this endeavor.

    This thread may be frustrating too, but to his credit he let it through.

    I'm a fairly new guy too, and I haven't gotten the impression that this is some elitist old boys club. (Ironically I did make a statement to that effect elsewhere, but I was exersizing my frustrations of a situation through sarcasm.)

    Maybe it would help to have a reminder/warning from the moderators to stay on topic and on track when things begin to wander, before a thread deteriorates to personal attacks and off topic rhetoric. Then if it persists and he feels he has to lock it, the warning was issued and there's no hard feelings.

    Peace dudes
  10. Annand

    Annand Guest

    To anyone that was offended by Walter...
    I have a feeling it was some kind of 'bot'. I wouldn't claim to know much about them, or how they work, but I think it's a kind of automated program designed to stir up any forum. It has key phrases it uses, tends to be very repetitive and talks alot of nonsense. With a little external nudging from time to time it can create personalised havoc...
    Seen one on a different forum a while back with a similar result.
    Nothing said was personal, but simply 'designed' to cause offence.
    Hope that helps! x
  11. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    Apr 24, 2001
    I can vouch for Kev..... He is DEFFINATELY NOT Walter!

    The thing is folks, the part of Kurt's post that was most valid was "DON'T FEED THE TROLLS". It was pretty obvious to me after the first couple of pages what was going on, and I suggested we all ignor it.... but of course too many people just can't help themselves.
  12. Kevin Glenn

    Kevin Glenn Guest

    Thanks Mark!! :D

    I'm really not a bad guy either.

    We should all be encouragers to the newbies and folks who are interested in getting into the business... their abilities will dictate who makes a living at it and who doesnt.

    Troll-management is easy and can be fun.

    But the last statement was far more serious, and I would like to see a justification of his statement.
  13. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Kevin, I agree with everything you said in your post. On the other hand, I personally can vouch for Kurt's desire to help out the newbies and up-and-comers. He has always been more than helpful to me and many others I have seen on this board. I take his post, like everyone else said, as nothing more than frustration. I think Cleamon has it dead on. The end product is what will do the "culling". There's nothing like word of mouth and dissatisified clients to put you in your place. If you are a good engineer though there is no need to be culled. Let your clients and productions speak for themselves.
  14. Kevin Glenn

    Kevin Glenn Guest

    Thanks Rain.. and I am with you too. I dont know Kurt, so I would hope to see some clarification. I've only been lurking here for a while, and the place seems pretty amiable.

    I have seen that sentiment before on some other recording forums, and even though I personally dont agree with it, it doesnt sway me.

    I will say this though on a personal note. I'm probably a little older than a lot of folks here and I got into the music business with absolutly no blessings from anyone in my traditional family. Granted, I am not famous, and dont have a booming career, and I admit, I am not the best in the industry by far, but I'm working on it harder than most :)

    ...but I just hate to see discouragement, born of frustration or elitism. Sure the industry isnt what it used to be. There isnt a lot anyone can do about it really. Technology changes... remember when you had a reel to reel four track and could be the only one in town to have one... those were the days. If cheap gear (leading to a saturation of inexperienced users and bedroom recordists)is the death to the recording industry, it wasnt a very sturdy industry to begin with. Thats got a lot of guys worried and probably unneccesarily.

    - You still have to have good ears.
    - You still have to know how to use your gear, cheap or not.
    - You still have to have a facility to work in in order to become a professional recording facility.
    *******trust me this is the biggest "culling" process, because it takes a LOT of money to build and supply - just ask my accountant errr wife!!!!
    - You have to have a work ethic.
    - You have to have people skills.

    THIS is where the cream rises or falls. It shouldnt, and doesnt depend on a flood of cheap gear... Behringer still has a long ways to go. Protools is only as good as the operator. I dont think that is the problem.

    Basically I see it like this. The worst problem with the flood of affordable gear is the subsequent flood of silly questions by guys who arent really going for the big time anyway. Thats nothing at allllll to be worried about... If you are really good at what you do, and people like you, then the kid down the street with an MBox isnt going to hurt your business unless you rely on half-baked demo recordings to put bread on your table..

  15. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Hey Kev ...

    I will say unequivocally, that over the four years I have moderated on this forum, the cheaper the gear gets, the dumber the questions have gotten.

    That pretty much summs up my reply but let me add ...

    I didn't think for one second that you were Walters .... so don't worry about that. You are entitled to your opinion ... just try to keep the personalities out of it and we can talk on the subject of whether or not the "culling process" was a good thing or not ...

    I do not discourage the talented. I have and continue to teach talent and deserving students of audio. Sometimes I even provide gear for them to use, if I really like them. I have learned that if there is something one really has a passion for, no amount of discouragement will influence them. On the other hand, if the first time someone says "BOO" to someone they cut and run ... well then perhaps they aren't that interested. Anyone who is discouraged by anything I say, is probably in the wrong business in the first place. I can't tell how many people told me that a music career was a bad idea. In the end, I think perhaps you give me too much credit as to how much my comments might influence others.

    In the early days or the recording industry .... record companies and recording studios for the most part, were run by people who had a passion for music. Guys like Bill Putnam, Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler, Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley. These people knew and understood music inside and out and they were well versed in the technologies of recording.

    Anyone who wanted to get into the recording business on either side of the glass, had to do something to impress these people. You had to sing like Elvis or Roy Orbison, play like The Funk Brothers, or the Wrecking Crew ie: Glen Campbell, Barney Kessel, Billy Strange, Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye among others ... or you had to have ears like Geoff Emrik, Bruce Swedine or Phil Ramone ... and some of the best records ever made came about. Now days, all you have to do is plunk down a few hundered bucks for a potty studio and your an "artist" or a "producer" .... and just listen to the mess that has come about.

    Nowadays, I don't see or hear the same level of passion or quality in the product. None of the stuff being produced today by anyone, will live on for 50 years like the Beatles recordings have .. or like much or the "Top 40" from the 60's and 70's ... In the end, I am sure this will be proven.

    Every coin has two sides and I am sure there are positives that the advent of "affordable" gear bring to the table. I just can't, for the life of me, seem to see them and I have been around to live in both worlds. Believe me the music world in not better off for digital technology. I don't hold technology alone responsible for the condition of the business. Much of the responsibility lies with the bean counters who have taken over the record companies. But I don't believe anyone can sucsessfully argue that the advent of affordable gear, has raised the bar in terms of how intelegent or talented a person needs to be in order to call themselves a recording engineer or a producer.

    "Elitism" is not what it's about. That's just a divisive term most commonly used to inflame opinion and take the focus off the question, which is, "Is the business better now that 25 years ago?" I do not see myself or others like myself as being elitist at all. Do we know we are good at what we do? Sure we do ... but that in it's self doesn't make me/us feel like we're better than everyone else overall. I'm just a damn fine producer and musician ... that's all. I have great gear sure ... but that doesn't mean I'm rich .... it just means that instead of something else, I'm busy figuring out a way to get that next box I need or want ... It's priorities, that's all.
  16. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Personally, I think its VERY healthy to have an increasing number of people interested in the inner workings of the machine. It can do much more good than harm. Those that will feel the pinch will be the same persons who have entered the marketplace with a half-assed ability and have relied on the fringe musicians to fill the coffers. Its no surprise that when the price of gear dropped low enough that a person with incremental skills could get a usable sound, that that fringe market would dry up. Is this the horde that is soiling the green fields of the industry to the point of extinction?...Not hardly.....Should these people be relegated to some far-away place where they can do no supposed harm to the bright and shiny industry?....PUUULL-EEEzE...If you can afford even the most modest of gear and you have musical ideas swimming around in yer skull-caps...and having some gear no matter what kind or level of quality it is and it gives you personal satisfaction and PLEASURE to cut tracks and mix and (Gawd ferbid...uhhh)MASTER yer recordings...whether its at a a commercial building with sound control in the the frikkin car...DO IT!!! And dont let anyone....Nobody...tell you you're unworthy of doing this. Those that believe there's some kind of barrier that says you must learn the secret handshake to cross the threshold into some mythical world needs to take their communistic attitude and stick it where the sun dont shine.

    I've met a large number of real pros in my day.Yeah I'm older...I dont put myself in this I have pro skills but I dont make a living doing this any more.I have..but thats a different story. I still make 'records'...I occasionally make demo tapes with my friends. I mix and master my tracks at a 'Pro' facility.I work within a budget on projects. I keep track sheets and notes.I beg and borrow fine equipment.I have a great working relationship with Professional Audio dealers which enables me to do this.I maintain my modest little home rig. I have a decent sounding room.Yet, I am not a Pro. I AM a professional Electrician. I make an income doing this. That makes me a Pro....I AM a very skilled and serious Hobbiest. I play music live a LOT. And for money. I am a PRO musician.

    Never in my experience, have I met true pros who had a negative thing to say about ANYONES efforts at recording. I know there are some, but I've only seen them on the internet. I get a chance to talk with local studio owners all the time through hanging at my local Professional Audio Stores..Hey, they're all just like the majority of people, except a lot of em have gone past the beginning stages of skill-levels and have purchasing power to afford nice gear.It doesnt make them better, it just means they are persuing their livlihood as Pro's.

    We all love Audio or we wouldnt be here trading ideas...grasping for that tidbit of knowledge that helps us improve our quest...We're all the same and being here together proves it. Respect for all levels of skill is what we as MODS should be promoting.Since its very hard to know what another person's life is like simply due to the impersonal nature of this medium, it behooves us to give space and be kind as well as thoughtful towards others. You never know who that other person might be.Could be the guy with the worst set of gear and absolutely ZERO skills, has the best curveball and slider in the business and is pitching for Houston this year but dabbles in Audio as relaxation..That person might not understand certain responses said in certain ways. But as my example(lame-o y/n??) points out, this very same seemingly obnoxious person has skills beyond normal in other areas. Another example of you dont know who you're dealing with or what they might know in their lives.So being a kind and decent person at all times goes a long way to obtaining GRACE whether you've got great gear or not. And no matter what, you cant buy Grace....

    thanx back to the program....
  17. karbomusic

    karbomusic Active Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    Everyone on earth has the right to communicate with any one else on the planet regardless, of religion, national origin, beliefs etc... etc...

    However, first and foremost you must have some small amount of ability to communicate with those ideas with someone else.

    Man or Machine, The fellow whose name starts with "W" had an incredibly hard time with his ability to communicate his ideas in an itelligible manner to the majority of the members here. Sounded like Yoda many times. Read them and you will see, it goes on and on and on. Even after it got silly there were members here still trying to help him from time to time... He tried, we tried... Many tried, some just made fun..., some were mean... It just didn't work out. I don't think there was a single post where he said "ah, got it, thanks" and that was the end of it... Could be but don't remember...

    Though Kurt should possibly have not mixed personal industry opinions in with a troll behaviour post, he is still human and not Machine. I was at least able to understand his words, right or wrong.

    Its really easy to skip over a questionable post. It takes a concerted effort to hit the reply button and start typing. The entire responsibility of this forum is in our hands as well as the moderators. It is only a reflection of all of us moderator or not; including this thread and all who participate in it.

    best regards-

  18. I believe its great how affordable gear has become. I'm not saying the gear is great, but I owe my experience and semi-pro career to it. (Semi-pro means I do make a substantial amount of money from it, but it doesn't put bread on the table). Before I decided to go ahead and deal with budget gear instead of saving for my Neve console that I still have wet dreams about, my only opportunity with my passion was mixing at my church on a system that was worse than budget gear in the way it was set up (they really got ripped off... I kept trying to tell them but the pastor doesn't listen unless you are "professional"... he just tells you you don't know what you are talking about) (oh yeah, and couldn't make any adjustments to anything except what was on the console because he put a security panel on the front of the racks to keep me from screwing things up) (and the "professionals" that were hired were just a local band that's been around for almost 40 years) and playing guitar and writing music in a few local bands. I bought a lot of Nady and Behringer gear to rent out my services to local bands and festivals and to DJ school dances with and I had some seasoned veterans (30+ years in the industry) start asking my secret. It turned out the consensus going around was that my <$2000 system sounded better that F--- Audio's Mackie/JBL/Crown system. The budget gear gave me a chance to figure out how things worked in audio. My reading comprehension sucks (ACT == 36,36,36,28 with the 28 in reading comp) compared to my other skills; I am a hands-on learner. I learn by experimenting. If it makes fire, I'll remember that next time we have another freak ice storm and no electricity for 3 weeks. Anyway, I eventually sold the power amps and speakers and eq and crossovers for an Otari 24-track tape machine so I could start recording. In short, I am slowly buying higher end equipment. I still have Behringer all over my racks and desks. I just recently traded off some Alesis Microverbs for Lexicon MPX-1's and Yamaha REV500's. Oh yeah, my preamps: I modded the ones in the Behringer console.

    What I am saying is that if it weren't for budget gear, I could've never got started. Hell, pro audio is like crack, except its more expensive and you can quit crack (I think ITGA said that). I work two full time jobs plus I do live engineering every now and then for local bands and have a contract with a small production company for some of their weekenders. One job pays the bills and buys the food, the other buys the gas, and the live engineering pays for the toys. Oh yeah, and I also go to college and get some fropm Uncle Sam too. And for some reason, I still have to ask my parents for food sometimes.
  19. axel

    axel Guest

    nicely put brian, i have to add one... pro audio forum, fair enough that's what it is, but what is all the gear for? making and recording music, right?, an entirely creative process IMO, i have seen people (musicians and engineers) with an truly amazing talent, working with $*^t (that means worst condition gear) and coming up with the most amazing results... a marvelous performed and recorded piece of music, and i have seen people swimming in high tech gear, wanking off... (sorry, for my rude expressions) for me music come first!!
    obviously we all love nice gear to work with, both have there place in their own rights, also i don't know anyone (pro, or not pro) who was born in front of an neve or ssl with a U87 in his mouth!!
    axel junkuhn

    P.S. but i agree with kurt about the "trolls" and to delete repeatedly endless on and ons... of (what i think is) missing the point like "W"
    mind me, people could have easily excluded me from this forum since my entry as well, 'cause me ain't any skills in communication when it comes to the PC / MAC debate either, i just black out! and the inside of mine turns into red glowing magma waiting to explode... still human :D
  20. Kevin Glenn

    Kevin Glenn Guest

    I think, Kurt, that we are viewing the same issues, only from a different perspective, which is why we appear to disagree. I dont really think its a huge issue though, although I can see where it owuld be more troublesome for a seasoned professional than for a hobbyist, or someone who just has a passion to create music.
    I do also apologize for my "elitist" remarks. I certainly do not intend to enflame anything, and I will take you as your word that you are not of that frame of mind.
    I'm not going to set down long on the state and quality of todays music.. this is pretty subjective, and has many many exasperating circumstances that in reality are only available for judgement through ones perspective. In other words, while you and I would probably rather listen to some pristine Steely Dan recordings, the kids are listening to the ultra squashed Linkin Park and what-not... folks.. the industry goes where the money goes, like it or not.. You can go to, or get left behind.
    Now this might offend some, but please dont take it wrong, because I in fact, do use some of the afforementioned "affordable gear" when I have to...which sometimes is more that I would chose.

    When we were children, our dads gave us little Playskool tools and lawnmowers as toys.. we learned form them. I personally became a pretty damn good carpenter because I got a little toy toolbox when I was a child... it instilled in me the learning knowlege of tools, how to use them and how they work.
    Pro audio gear can be viewed as much the same. Trust me, no one is going to remain satisfied with an all-Behringer rack - not for long anyway.
    There arent enough internships in the major, stocked studios to go around, and they dont pay $*^t anyway. So what do you do to hone your trade? You make do with what you can afford, and move up when you can. This isnt something to be shunned or laughed at.
    I started out my recording career with a Teac A-2340.
    This unit was left at my house by one of my band- mates... it was already old as dirt. Sounded like crap, and the stuff I recorded with it was HIDEOUS. But you know what? I did what I could do, and worked that machine to death. Hell I didnt even have a mixer at the time.
    This POS machine sparked the bug in me that has lasted for the past 25 years. I still have it, and I still like to play it from time to time.
    But I couldnt have afforded a Studor and a rack of LAs and 1176s etc, and like I said, the intern jobs were all taken.
    I taught myself, listened and learned. And honestly, I am extremely grateful for the mentors I had that were not constantly bemoaning the advent of cheap gear, and glut of self-proclaimed producers. I was not deemed talented, or a natural. I was considered a clean slate, and full of interest, and willing to experiment. I'm glad to not have been discouraged despite my lack of knowledge. I'm glad no one said BOO to me in the first place!! "Here kid, here is a 4-track... go knock yourself out, lets hear what you did...whew, that hurts! You need to ....and...and....." Boy I learned a lot that way. My motives didnt need to be questioned, and neither does anyone elses. If a guy wants to buy a boatload of cheap gear and call himself a producer, why worry about it? The proof will be in the results.
    Cheap, and affordable recording gear has been around for a while, and it hasnt hurt the business imho, instead has provided its own niche of successes and failures that in no way compete with the big-time studios and producers/engineers/ sessionists that you mentioned. Instead, it proves to be its own learning ground. The guy in his bedroom with his MBox is not taking business away from them... he couldnt afford that luxery anyway unless he has some big bucks.... not gonna happen.
    Cheap gear also evolves..... much of the so called "vintage" gear was not so revered in its time of newness... I could probably name several "crap" peices of equipment that are now like invaluable treasures. Remember that time when you could only buy a Silvertone in the Sears catalogue. "Vintage" can also equate to "old".
    On the other hand, I can think of several cheapo brands that came in recent years and were described as knockoffs and worthless imitations. Some of these have become pretty damned respectable brands, but when they were first introduced, folks laughed at it. Some brands like Teac and Tascam have been worshipped, then shunned as cheap, then worshipped again... its always in flux. It always will be in flux too. Perhaps, we will always be having these discussions for that very reason!!
    Lastly, as far as the dumb questions coming from noobs with their cheap gear. When I was a kid, my own Mr Ponytail at the first commercial studio I worked in told me that the only dumb question was the one that wasnt asked.
    It doesnt hurt to answer a question.. usually the dumb questions are the easiest to answer. Isnt that why we participate in forums anyway?
    I only beseech you and others who stand tall in the industry to help to be a mentor to the wannabees and noobs. Time goes on, and they will eventually become what we make them. Fostering good nature and a willingness to learn, then teach others, will keep our industry strong long after we are gone.

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