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Author Topic: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?  (Read 37908 times)

turtletone

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2006, 11:50:03 am »

I agree that it's the people and not the gear that are at fault. I think the people hope the gear will make up for their lack of ability, so they buy more. I think the gear available today is better than it used to be, the difference is the person tweeking the knobs are not as good as the older generation. That's why there is this aura around vintage gear, IMO.
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carlsaff

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2006, 12:17:16 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 10:25


I know mastering guys who won't turn on the lights if they don't have at least three compressors to work with, yet all the great records we love had ONE compressor and ONE EQ in the mastering chain.


Well, now that I have only ONE analog EQ and ONE analog compressor (along with many solid software choices), there are days when I feel like I finally have all I need. There's always that nagging doubt tho, about needing color choices available that I don't yet have at my disposal.

Some of this is driven by the prevalent feeling amongst both my fellow mastering engineers and many mastering clients who feel that if there are aren't SEVERAL analog boxes to choose from, the place can't be trusted. I agree with you that this is ridiculous -- proof is *always* in the pudding. But it is indeed a very prevalent belief.

Dave Davis

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2006, 12:50:13 pm »

While I tend to agree with your hypothesis in general, I'll point out that when I was coming up (in the 70s-80s), there were damn few pieces you COULD chain as they are today without degradation.  Yes, Sontec's have been around forever, and are very quiet, but how many LA-series compressors would YOU willingly put in line before squealing "uncle!"?  For me that number was 2.  And that was at the high end!

My point is that every single stage of the process, including those you cite, Brad (pres, consoles, effects), was much noisier than contemporary equivalents.  Many modern Pultec clones are cleaner than the originals.  Further, most balancing in "classic" gear was done with transformers, and most manufacturers weren't Neve, so the signal got duller and less defined at every interface.  How many studios had speakers as good as todays B&W or Lipinskis?  Amps as quiet as a Pass or Cello to hear what was going on.  Conservatism in processing wasn't a choice so much as a necessity.  In short, a modern workflow would rapidly fall apart in a vintage setting.  Albums like Sandinista! and Scary Monsters pushed those limits, and fairly creak under the processing of the day.

Furthermore, most studios only HAD one or two "money" pieces in the day.  We used our LA2's and 4's on nearly EVERYTHING at the tracking level when overdubbing.  We used our best EQs when needed, but mostly got it right in tracking because there was no automation like we have today.  We simply couldn't kick every can down the road for mixdown.  This forced  a degree of focus that ultimately helped the records.  You had to be in the zone when you hit record.  Everything we did was lossy and destructive to a much greater degree than is the case with 24 bit PCM, so you had to think ahead and plan for those losses at the outset.  I would argue that focus and mindset accounts for much more of the difference than "over processing" ever could.  I see this in classes I teach as well as records I master and projects I consult on.

If I had the kind of automation we take for granted then, and an unlimited processor budget, I might well have pushed this envelope long before plug-ins let me put my best stuff on every track at will.  But we didn't.  I still apply the focus I mentioned, and try to move things as if every step mattered, just as before.  Only now I can undo.  I am certain my current work sounds better, not worse, as a result.  And while I've gained a lot of knowledge and experience, if I had a time machine I STILL wouldn't over-process past sessions with "classic" gear and tape formats.  The signal and its path were simply too fragile to support this.

Finally, I often feel that ProTools TDM is every bit as fragile as those older platforms, and it's dominance has more to do with contemporary sound than the plugs and processors people use inside and outside of it.  A string of 24 bit TDM plugs is a just a different wringer, trading quantization and filter distortion for tape hiss and low dynamic range. I know PT users will disagree, but this is an easily measured effect (string some plugs and do simple gain changes, watch the s/n plunge!). In that sense I'm completely with you, Brad.  The ability to over-process leads folks to do it, and the dominant tools are no more friendly to that approach than old-time analog was.  Still there are cleaner platforms and plugs that are amenable to this (Sonar, Sequioa, Sonic all pass data between stages at much higher resolution, and Algorithmix and other plugs can maintain the precision through the chain), so it's no so much a question of method, but means.\

Playin' devil's advocate today...

-d-
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2006, 01:20:59 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 10:25

I know mastering guys who won't turn on the lights if they don't have at least three compressors to work with, yet all the great records we love had ONE compressor and ONE EQ in the mastering chain.


For the past few weeks I bypassed my second EQ, just to see how much I could do with exactly that...

One EQ (Sontec), One Compressor (Manley), One limiter (L2), a set of convertors (Lavry), and a DAW (PT HD).

A simple but effective chain, Sounds like we're on the same page here Brad.
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Bob DeMaa

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2006, 02:39:02 pm »

Barry Hufker wrote on Wed, 18 October 2006 23:33

As no one thing is enhancing modern records, no one thing is destroying them.  Life is too broad for that.

Barry



Barry, you've summed up my feelings exactly, and much more eloquently than I could have.
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Gold

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2006, 02:48:24 pm »

I think it has a lot to do with there no longer being an apprentice system. It's easy to think there is a magic box when you don't know any better and work in isolation.

As an apprentice it becomes painfully apparent very quickly that the band you just recorded sounds like crap and the big fancy console didn't sound as good as it did an hour ago when the other guy was sitting there. Time to go to work.

Good equipment has the potential to sound good and make your life easier. An extra 6dB of headroom isn't going to change the world though.
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Paul Gold
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Sonovo

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2006, 03:01:09 pm »

Hi Brad,

great thread! Smile

I've discovered during the last few years that I use less and less processing, yet still arrive at the same (or better) results. I think my work has improved because of it, less stuff in the path (I process primarily with analogue gear), and happier clients. It's much too easy to think 'a little of this and a little of that' and end up with a chain full of stuff, but I think less is (often) better. The occasions I find myself using more than a few items in a chain is more often than not trying to 'save' somthing that really should be remixed or retracked.

Other's have also made valid points as to other important aspects that have changed the last 20-30 years (few great rooms, few trained and experienced engineers, poorer performances, poorer planning - no one want to make a decision, they leave it for editing, mixing or mastering, i.e. for someone else to fix). And of course, if the talent isn't talented, we're all just wasting our time...

Cheers,
Thor




bblackwood wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 12:25

Just think about it more, deeper.

All the records people herald as 'the greatest sounding records' we made in a similar manner - no outboard mic pres (no one used outboard pres until maybe the mid 80's - virtually everything before that was done with onboard pres), simple mic selections (focusing on placement), large format consoles, some outboard. Very often tracked and mixed on the same console. Mastered in rooms with simple gear (look at TML or BGM - all good sounding custom (and simple) gear).

Are records really better sounding today than they were 25 years ago?

I know mastering guys who won't turn on the lights if they don't have at least three compressors to work with, yet all the great records we love had ONE compressor and ONE EQ in the mastering chain.

Choices are generally considered good, but are they?

Everyone seems bent on buying the next piece of gear to help them make stuff sound they way they want, overlooking the value of having a solid, simple chain that they know extremely well. The 'great' records of yester-year were not made with dozens of processors in front of the engineer, but with simple, well understood chains.

I'm just thinking aloud, but it seems to me the focus has become the gear and not the development of engineering talent.

I mean, do you require more gear to cut great sounding records? If so, ask yourself - why didn't our forefathers require more than one or two EQ's and compressors to master such stunning records?

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EP

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2006, 04:30:58 pm »

Gold wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 19:48

I think it has a lot to do with there no longer being an apprentice system. It's easy to think there is a magic box when you don't know any better and work in isolation.

This statement really makes sense to me. I would add that, while not so many years ago mastering was shrouded in mystery, it is now a pretty well documented process-at least the parts (gear mainly) that can be summed up easily. I've noticed recently a surge of interest in room acoustics. While this is extremely important, it also seems to be spurring some R.A.S (room acquisition syndrome) Laughing I mean now that you can copy the gear lists of the big shots, you need to get that cool room with all the name brand diffusers and you are stylin right?

Erik
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jtr

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2006, 04:44:16 pm »

I've got a fairly simple chain, one eq, one comp, and find that it seems to be working out quite well. Haven't run across any problems I couldn't  resolve with either my chain or a combination of the chain plus ITB plugs.
Mastering a beautiful Marimba recording today, all it needs is a bit of Massive Passive and we're all smiles.

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Gold

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #24 on: October 19, 2006, 04:46:26 pm »

Oh, and I totaly agree with the premise. But you gotta check out the Gastronic HYP-1. Ask Bill about the mod.
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Paul Gold
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turtletone

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2006, 05:05:09 pm »

I'm usually able to do just about all I need with a basic chain, but If I didn't buy a new piece of gear at least once a year, I'd die of boredom.

The problem is, I don't get rid of any gear. I think I need to start selling at least as much as I buy. Heck, I was going through a box the other day and found 2 jaz drives. has a library of S950 samples, at least that's what it says.
 
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stevieeastend

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2006, 08:17:40 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 16:25

yet all the great records we love had ONE compressor and ONE EQ in the mastering chain.




Hi Brad,

I would be curious being given examples..

Thanks
stevee.

mastermind

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #27 on: October 19, 2006, 08:24:11 pm »

Gold wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 13:48

I think it has a lot to do with there no longer being an apprentice system. It's easy to think there is a magic box when you don't know any better and work in isolation.


+1 on that.... big time.

Well said Paul.

t

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Ben F

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #28 on: October 19, 2006, 08:35:53 pm »

I watched the 'Protools Method One' DVD the other day, and the approach that the tutorial had to recording and mixing made me realise why people at home have so much trouble getting a decent result.

Whilst the session set-up was quite informative, the recording process was focussed on loop record modes, dubs and multipule takes. The microphone position and type was not discussed, and the mic was placed right on the hole of the guitar, which IMO is one of the worst positions. The artist didn't have headphones on for doing overdubs! 'get the level as hot as you can' was explained using 24bit depth to record. Nothing about pre/post fader metering.

Then in mixing, straight to a plug-in compressor to make the bass and crappy drum loop louder. EQ briefly was explained and used on one instrument (a HPF on the rhodes).

Then straight into mastering! The Maxim limiter was used in conjunction with a compressor on the master fader. The limiter was A/Bed without volume matching- so naturally it sounded better on. Then that was it, song finished, bounce to disk. Makes the misconception that mastering is just about loudness even more valid.

It really demonstrated what people wanted, instant results, fix everything in Protools, look how these plug-ins can improve evrything an make it louder. Whilst Digidesign and other DAW manufacturers are pushing this approach, I can't imagine people wanting to learn the art of recording and mixing properly.
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2006, 12:25:10 am »

An awful lot of bad headphone mixes certainly get "fixed" with Autotune!

I'm co-producing a project where we are using virtually no signal processing and minimal overdubbing or headphones. It's amazing how much better it sounds than most things and even more amazing how loud it gets with just a very occasional 3 dB peak lopped off the mix with an L-2.

I've come to the conclusion that signal processing can REALLY screw up people's performances and only leads to the need for applying more to make the record hang together. I've been rethinking a great deal about what we commonly do.
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