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Author Topic: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.  (Read 3832 times)

breathe

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Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« on: November 20, 2010, 11:26:15 pm »

Disclaimer: Whiskey is involved.

I finally got some control over the unruly acoustics in my new control room (albeit a laughable attempt to many on this forum) and I am ROCKING OUT to Chris Walla's production of Tegan and Sara's "The Con".  This is an amazing sounding pop/rock record, and I don't think anyone would say it sounds "vintage" at all.  It just sounds really good.  Chris Walla may be a genius, but the iZ Radar with Nyquist converters used in this production has to be given some proper credit.  

I have this problem where I always want more music production equipment.  I've heard it's a common problem and that Internet forums have been started to advise people on what is the best gear to buy.  And it's pathetic that someone such as myself can't just settle down with a certain major equipment purchase.  One would think that all a person really needs to do is make the best of what they have, and do as much work with it as possible.  But still, I yearn to hear the perfect sound, if only for a few seconds, a sound that I recorded, emanating from my studio monitors.  And even though I am beginning to harness the capacity of my full studio to my satisfaction, there is this experience of what I call "the encounter" that completely drives why I want to record music, and learn as much as possible about how to further my abilities.

Actual performances by musicians are inherently temporal, and when recording technology comes into the equation it seeks to forcibly defeat the temporality of what actually happens in a physical space in real time.  The technologies that are available in PTHD seem almost designed if not overtly designed to DESTROY the physicality of space and the fluid motion of time.  THAT's a whole other discussion.  I bought the Apogees for my PTHD rig, and they definitely do sound great on rock and jazz-ish music, and the C777 clock is totally wonderful and drives all my other digital gear, but I feel like Apogees sort of have this nod in their sound to a "colored" aesthetic, and maybe for some genres of music that really is the best thing to have, because in those genres: colored=mystery=the infinite soaring of the human spirit, but I listen to the above mentioned record, and I'm like, "Wow.  This record really sounds different than anything made before it, and it sounds great."  It has a clarity unique to the best digital recording technology, and it has the width and space and dynamic power that only an analog mix can provide.  

I bought API and Manley compressors because I think they sound great, not because I want anything I make to be a bullshit rerun to anything that has happened before artistically.  What I want to do is KILL "vintage".  Violently.  Like a stake into its heart and the vampire that has been leeching off of popular culture since the late 60's (and my dad and his friends are NOT innocent of this mindset) will die an apocalyptic death like the vampires in "The Lost Boys" which I just watched last night.  I want to kill the cultural obsession with vintage because I want to kill nostalgia.  I want to end the belief that the past is always better than the present.  If people had no cultural memory the world would be a better place, or at least more original.  I want to return music to the age when they first questioned the existence of God.  I want to see human consciousness stripped of its worldly armor and stare into the capturing device.  

I think that in any era of time, "truth" and its attempted reproduction (for sake of commerce or art or political propaganda) is always beholden to the language of the time's ability to communicate said truth.  If anything, an era is more defined by its inability to say what is really happening than by its clarity (i.e. "A Streetcar Named Desire").  The naivete in the context of the future is the foundation of what people will eventually romanticize as "the good old days".  FUCK THAT.  I have no idea where the future is going.  I can't even imagine it.  All I have to count for as far as my personal integrity is concerned is my desire to help others and what I see when I stare directly into my eyeballs when I look in the bathroom mirror.

THIS is why I appreciate the iZ Radar with Nyquist converters.


Nicholas





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breathe

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2010, 01:03:46 am »

Sorry for that last post.  I have trouble getting my ideas clear.

Nicholas



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Fletcher

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2010, 06:24:00 am »

breathe wrote on Sun, 21 November 2010 01:03

Sorry for that last post.  I have trouble getting my ideas clear.


Frighteningly - it made sense to me... don't necessarily agree with all you said, but can certainly understand the ideas...
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CN Fletcher

mwagener wrote on Sat, 11 September 2004 14:33
We are selling emotions, there are no emotions in a grid


"Recording engineers are an arrogant bunch.  
If you've spent most of your life with a few thousand dollars worth of musicians in the studio, making a decision every second and a half... and you and  they are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives, you'll get pretty arrogant too.  It takes a certain amount of balls to do that... something around three"
Malcolm Chisholm

Wireline

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2010, 08:06:37 am »

I'll just in throw my caffeine driven retort:

tools are tools.  Nothing more.  There are no magic bullets that can overcome a bad song, iffy techniques at the front end, etc.  Nic, you've got a gear list I would almost kill for, yet you don't seem content.  

What are you looking for, and how will will you know when you've found it?  Our shop has been cranking out indie rock gospel stuff, mega-church releases, rock EPs, etc, for years using production gear that you would likely refuse to look at, but we are working every day (too much, usually).  Exactly all of our clients have had one comment during the production phase: can you make it sound a little less 70/80-ish?

Keeping in mind we use a console, SSL and Digi conversion, a lot of midgrade comps, M2000 and M3000 reverbs.  More times than not, the twist is not in the gear but in the wrist of the operators, self inclusive.  

Moral to this:  Stop worrying about the tools - they are just that --- and worry about what is coming through the speakers, and how it fits into the song.  The song does not care if you are using Apogees, Radar, or RME...the song does not care if you use Manley, API, Burl, or ADesigns.  The song does not care if you process on the way in or the way out.  The song just is, and it is (IMO) the reason for a group of people to gather at your place and undergo this process...The song is not an excercise in gear frustration.

Been there (not to your extent) and still paying for it, man...let it go, and you just might be a lot happier for it...(Sidebar, letting go of the booze wouldn't hurt you either...been THERE as well)

To test this theory - bring in another engineer/producer, and give them a few hours to work one of your more frustrating projects with your gear = hear what the end results are, and take some damn good notes.  I've done this, and was stunned at how well other people can make my stuff sound.   With your collection of uber hi end gear, you simple cannot blame the equipment any longer - its time to look elsewhere.

I offer this as a friendly and honest "been there done that, this is how it worked out for me" adage...take it for whatever its worth.  

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Ken Morgan
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ryan streber

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2010, 09:11:06 am »

"The song does not care if you are using Apogees, Radar, or RME...the song does not care if you use Manley, API, Burl, or ADesigns.  The song does not care if you process on the way in or the way out. The song just is"

That's a great quote.  I've recently had a string of classical piano / violin sessions coming through here in quick succession with a number of different performers, and it has absolutely amazed me how my setup has to change dramatically from client to client or piece to piece.  A mic selection that sounds beautiful on one duo sounds small and lifeless on another; what is ho-hum on one might be magical on another.   I'm constantly having to rethink how I handle things based not on whether or not the gear is "good enough" but rather on whether it's translating what's happening in the room.  This is exactly why so much of GS and other such situations are so completely absurd.  Even with something seemingly as consistent as a single piano, I have to continually rethink how I approach the instrument based on who's playing and what they're playing.  

The gear is a part of your tool set - only a part of it, and it is nothing more than that.

Aesthetic sensibility, intellect, emotions, memories and nostalgia - all of that enters into how you and the artists evaluate what is good and what is bad about the sound coming through your monitors.  There's no reason to resent that.  Rather you should be as aware and appreciative as possible of it so that you can make the most sensitive and informed decisions in response.  Yes, it's a lot harder (and a lot more interesting) than knowing with complete certainty that you're using x mic through y pre into q converter so it must sound good.

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Fig

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2010, 12:47:58 pm »

Wireline wrote on Sun, 21 November 2010 07:06

The song is not an excercise in gear frustration.


QFE.

Get off the gear and into the ear.

$0.02

Osci-later,

Fig
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The easiest thing to do is the thing most easily forgotten.

rphilbeck

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2010, 11:42:29 pm »

If you care about recording music, and gear is a part of that process, there is nothing wrong with obsessing about the gear.  If it is your career path, it's actually damned important.

Now if it's 9PM, and your browsing mic amp comparisons over at GS, and the kids haven't even eaten dinner, than there is a problem.  But I am guessing that's not an issue.  You sound like any other obsessive who believes anything worth doing, is worth doing 110%.

A wise and successful producer drilled into me once that the 3 primary elements in music in order of importance are 1. Performance, 2. The Song, and 3. The Sound.  If he is correct than gear would impact item 3, which while being the least most important element is still a very very important element!

There are plenty of people living under bridges that never obsessed over anything.  
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wwittman

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2010, 12:17:49 am »

great vintages are great because they taste amazing.
not because they are "old fashioned"


if that's what you meant, then i agree.

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William Wittman
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Barkley McKay

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2010, 03:53:45 am »

Fig wrote on Sun, 21 November 2010 17:47

Wireline wrote on Sun, 21 November 2010 07:06

The song is not an excercise in gear frustration.


QFE.

Get off the gear and into the ear.

$0.02

Osci-later,

Fig



That's a great soundbite Thom!

do you know Ryan at North Branch Studio on Goose Island?

cheers

barks
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Seb Riou

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2010, 03:54:30 am »

I am totally with you on that one Nicholas.

I love my old gear which I would not call vintage, if that word means anything else than old, but I love it because it sounds great : ie I can recognize the sound I was hearing in the room (or the way I thought it sounded) before I pressed REC when I press PLAY.But the fact that factor number one is RELIABILITY, most of the time I pick up a new tool, cos I have more new tools that work than old ones !

To me recording equipment is so bad, and at the same time so great, that it's just about making it right.

Many things I hear on the radio don't sound anything at all like an actual instrument played by a human being in a room. And I am not talking production aesthetic here.

Radar Nyquist is definetely a step forward in the good direction.
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soapfoot

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2010, 10:06:36 am »

Quote:

I want to return music to the age when they first questioned the existence of God.


Isn't this nostalgia, kinda?

Twisted Evil
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brad williams

Otitis Media

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2010, 10:23:24 am »

Tell ya what, Nicholas - I'll mix something you're finding difficult, and then you can tell me if it sucks and you hate it, or try and figure out what I did if you like it.

I learn best at the elbow of masters (and I'm by no means a master), so it can be a two sided "put up or shut up." You in?
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Dan Roth
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Nick Sevilla

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2010, 03:56:18 pm »

Otitis Media wrote on Thu, 30 December 2010 07:23

Tell ya what, Nicholas - I'll mix something you're finding difficult, and then you can tell me if it sucks and you hate it, or try and figure out what I did if you like it.

I learn best at the elbow of masters (and I'm by no means a master), so it can be a two sided "put up or shut up." You in?



I offered to mix a song for him as an example.

Over a year ago.

Still waiting for the multirack.

In fact, still waiting for an answer.

At least he just posted something to listen to on another post over here.

I must say the song, while unordinately long and boring, did not grate my ears, which is what I expected.

Cheers
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mixwell

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Re: Further meditations on modernity vs. antiquity.
« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2010, 11:22:46 am »

breathe wrote on Sat, 20 November 2010 22:26

Disclaimer: Whiskey is involved.

What I want to do is KILL "vintage".




Hey Nicholas,

Go to your local CD joint, and buy a copy of John Mellencamps "No better than this"......

And then have a glass of something that hung out in a wood barrel for longer than a fortnight.



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