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Author Topic: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?  (Read 18661 times)

Andy Simpson

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #45 on: February 11, 2005, 06:07:42 PM »

I was listening to 'Don't ever change' by the Crickets yesterday, and Cliff Richard's 'I could easily fall (in love with you)'....
I can't get over how alive those recordings sound....massive personality....I haven't heard ANY recent recordings that sound so human.

Are any of you people making recordings with this much personailty? Seasoned proffessionals? amateurs? I put it to you that you cannot do it.

The recordings of this era are lifeless and uninspired. If we do not constantly refer to the benchmark of the best recordings how can we dare to assume we have improved upon them?

We get new gear and expect it to sound better, and we are convinced that it does because we want it to. But it doesn't.
Ask Geoff Emerick.
The Beatles, George Martin and co. didn't know any better than to record their final masterpiece with the worst sound of their career. Bummer.
But why did Geoff not speak up? What the hell was he thinking, allowing them to do all that work and knowing it wouldn't sound as good? Allowing them to set such an important benchmark so low.....

Current recording technology/theory is one of the most highly refined bad ideas in recent history, in my opinion. Right up there with smoking.

Andy

PS. I am recording a top london classical quartet next week - sm57's into tube pre's. I can't wait to see the look on their faces.
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Phil

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #46 on: February 11, 2005, 11:28:10 PM »

Samc wrote on Fri, 11 February 2005 12:36

With all due respect, this is beginning to feel pathetic. A bunch of old folks sitting around eulogizing music, music aint dead! AND IT WILL NEVER DIE! Music is not even sick, there is nothing wrong with music, but just like everything else in life, the business of music is changing for various reasons, and that has affected the way popular music is created, produced, distributed and consummated, that's it. Don't forget also that the taste of the younger generation (which is a big driving force for the business of music) has changed. In the same way that your musical taste changed from that of your parents.

Sam, your post jumbles, music, the music business, and equipment into one subject, but they each need to be addressed independently. Music is a taste thing - some like today's music, and some don't. Some can't live without a background of constant music - some prefer peace and quiet.

However, the music business is influenced by forces other than the younger generations' tastes. If a new artist or song can't be heard, they/it can't become popular. The playing field has never been level, but the chances were a little more even before the broadcast industry was allowed to assume such corporate power. The area of distribution has always been riddled with thievery, and it probably hasn't improved much today. I also don't recall hearing of musicians being routinely being shot, or attacked during televised ceremonies. Now that's pathetic.
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And since most if not all who post here are a part of that creation, production, distribution and consummation process, guess what...............we all play a part in the continuing evolution. I find it really lame that some of the biggest CURRENT players in this game are constantly discussing how great everything was 50 years ago and how bad things are today, and how worst it will get. To top it off there is also now a mad, (almost obscene) rush to see who can post up the latest industry bad news first, leaving the rest something to "wax rhetoric" about who is to be blamed.

You can't deny that some of these closings are news, even though the bubble was bound to pop at some point. Unfortunately, studios are run by humans, and we're all subject to spending more than we should. When you sink a few million into a business that can charge hourly about what a decent therapist can charge, the arithmetic is against you.

By the way, I've rubbed a few folks the wrong way by trying to keep the blame away from home studios - perhaps a relatively 'new' phenomenon (though not for me).
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It doesn't do any justice if we make comparisons between the best of yesteryear and worst of today, If we choose to look beyond the Billboard charts, and the radio station playlist, if we choose to look beyond pop an rock, we will see that great music is still being made, good music played by good musicians and recorded and mixed by good engineers with good results.

There were good musicians before recording was ever invented, and there are good ones today. My point is, it's hard to look beyond the charts and playlists, because they're being manipulated by people who see ledger sheets only.
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And if we want to be honest we will also admit that a lot of lousy shit was made in the past era too, and a lot of it sounded bad, even some of the stuff that have become poster examples of greatness don't exactly have stellar sound. While we're at it lets clear up another myth, not all the equipment that was being used back then always had this aura of romance that surrounds them now. - <snip for brevity> -

I don't think anyone is going to argue with you on that, but, even with all the magic wands we have now, shitty performers still sound shitty. A lot glossier maybe, but still shitty.

I think you're missing the point on the gear, even though some might claim everything old is good (it isn't). What we've come to call 'classic' gear was made in a time when the manufacturer assumed that the gear was to be maintained by competent engineers, and used by trained professionals. Service manuals and schematics were part of the package when you bought the equipment, and the staff techs were expected to do repair and maintenance. Fifty year old Ampexes can still pull tape up to original specs today (if you can find the tape), while fingers are crossed everyday, hoping that this is not the day the computer's primary hard drive crashes - even though it's only a month old. Say what you will, the older equipment was built to last - today's gear is built to sell. Some old gear sounds great - some doesn't. The very same applies to new gear.

If you like the way things are now, then fine. Just remember the old saying about those who ignore history being fated to repeat the mistakes of history. Lord knows, there's a ton of mistakes to learn from in the music biz.

Phil
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Phil Nelson

Samc

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #47 on: February 12, 2005, 06:49:01 AM »

Phil,

While I agree with most of the points you made, If you read my post again you will see that you give me credit for stuff that I did not say or imply.

I really understand about the gear thing, and yes I totally agree that the closure of some of the biggest and most well known studio complexes is news.  Did I say that the taste of the younger generation is the only thing that influences the music business?  

Basically, this post was to offer some balance to the general tone around here and to make the point that;

NOT EVERYTHING DONE IN THE PAST IS GREAT, AND NOT EVERYTHING DONE TODAY IS GARBAGE.

And although everyone will pay lip service to the above statement, just read some of these posts, read the lines, read between the lines and you will be led to believe differently.  This general tone usually covers music, the music business and equipment.

Like most here I earn my living from this industry and have been doing so for the past 26 years.  And while I agree that we have been dumped on the last few years by gear Mfg., record labels, radio stations and god knows who else.  I would like to put forward that this is not new, and also that WE should shoulder some of the blame for all the crap that's happening.  Like the big name engineers and producers who are crying about studio closures while most of them have stopped bringing work to these facilities in an effort to increase their own bottom line?  Like mastering engineers who are constantly complaining about the loudness war!?!?  I guess they have nothing to do with it.

I think it would be more instructive to give credit and pay some attention to the good stuff that's actually being produced today, which in some cases rivals or surpasses some of the classic stuff.

Studying history, so as not to repeat the same mistakes is certainly intelligent, but crying for a return to the past is rather backward thinking.      
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Sam Clayton

Bob Olhsson

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #48 on: February 12, 2005, 09:25:44 PM »

The only past I'm interested in seeing a return to is one in which talented youngsters can earn enough from playing music that their talent rather than their family resources will determine their level of success.

compasspnt

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #49 on: February 12, 2005, 09:31:09 PM »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Sat, 12 February 2005 21:25

The only past I'm interested in seeing a return to is one in which talented youngsters can earn enough from playing music that their talent rather than their family resources will determine their level of success.


Great sentiment Bob, but it's not gonna happen any time soon.
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lucey

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #50 on: February 12, 2005, 10:36:50 PM »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Sat, 12 February 2005 21:25

The only past I'm interested in seeing a return to is one in which talented youngsters can earn enough from playing music that their talent rather than their family resources will determine their level of success.


Bob what are you talking about?  Is Brittany Spears the result of a trust fund or something?  Are rich kids a trend? I know that Phish guy and Ben Folds were trust funders but I see that as a minority.   If anything the trust fund kids are the executives and A+R!

As far as the 24 year old cut off, I disagree.  Sarah Mclaughlin was older and is now established for life, Coldplay was almost 30 and is another U2 in all likelyhood, even Peter Gabriel broke late in life with So, and even Sting (his 'solo' fans today are not his fans from the Police days!)  Not everone is Leann Rimes or Justin Timberlake, nor do they need to be to suceed for many years.  Who says that this parade of youth will last, anyway?  I dont.

And define "talent" that we are lacking?  I say there is lots of "talent" out there today .. Pro Tools engineering, auto tune engineers, sexy dancers in hot outfits, gospel choir voice, and egocentric attitude ... these are the talents of today.




There's no changing the effect of videos and image-to-the-extreme on music, the effect of media conglomeration on the business of radio play, or the fact that the modern young person is a lemming thinker of new proportions when it comes to a need for social acceptance (picking new music is less individualistic)  yet that same person is an strong and individual consumer of new proportions (music downloading) on the other hand. Paradoxical.

These are new times with new youth and new rules.  No five or even ten factors tells the whle story, but I agree, it's not going in a good direction by and large.  

I just wish it would really crash so we could get on with the future.  I have hope for the future but this era needs to end.
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Brian Lucey
Magic Garden Mastering

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Lee Flier

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #51 on: February 12, 2005, 10:45:17 PM »

lucey wrote on Sat, 12 February 2005 22:36

I have hope for the future but this era needs to end.


LOL... I'd say that sums up my feelings exactly!  It's kinda like the 80's: "When the HELL are people gonna get over these horrid gated reverbs and Linn drums?" Laughing

Samc

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #52 on: February 13, 2005, 06:28:54 AM »

I'm a little confused here.  Because if we are only talking about the major label, MTV and Clear channel, pop-rock/hip hop offerings then most (if not all) the sentiments being expressed here are definitely on the money.  But, if on the other hand we are talking about music in general, there should be some revision.

Over the last 4 years I've worked with a number of bands that;
a) Are not signed to a major;  b) Their records are not played on national radio or MTV;  c) Apart from some of the musicians in one of these bands, they are all past 30 years old, the average age in one band is about 60 I think.

These bands are turning out good records that cover many styles from Afro Beat to Reggae, Ska, Funk and soul, they are touring a lot all over the world, and two of these bands played more than 200 (mostly sold out) gigs last year.  These bands are playing and selling records to a wide cross section of the population, from teenagers to grannies, and all of them and their support staff are making a good living.   Although none of these bands could be considered arena or stadium sized acts, one of them did open for two of the biggest stadium acts last year, and I know for a fact that the support staff of musicians and engineers were earning more that their counterparts who were working for the big stadium acts.

If we really want to see good bands and listen to good music with good production and good sound we really need to widen the horizon and look beyond MTV, Clear Channel and the Billboard charts et al.  If we don't, we can't really blame them now can we, since they really have no control over that.  Or do they?  
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Sam Clayton

Bob Olhsson

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #53 on: February 13, 2005, 02:14:44 PM »

Samc wrote on Sun, 13 February 2005 05:28

...If we really want to see good bands and listen to good music with good production and good sound we really need to widen the horizon and look beyond MTV, Clear Channel and the Billboard charts et al.  If we don't, we can't really blame them now can we, since they really have no control over that.  Or do they?  

The facts of life are that the top of the charts represent the most popular music of the day. What I'm trying to get at is why so much of it isn't very good and why so much good music isn't very popular.

In many many cases today's most popular performers are entertainers having limited musical ability and whose rise to stardom happened outside the world of music. We can't change that however it's important to note that this has always been part of the record business as opposed to the music business. I believe it is the blurring of the line between the music industry and the record industry that confuses the issues.

Maybe we can change the ability of stars rising inside the world of music to reach a wide enough audience to compete with the actors, dancers and models who dominate the charts outside the world of Hip-Hop.

stevieeastend

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #54 on: February 13, 2005, 05:03:25 PM »

I think Alicia Keys, Ryan Adams, Keane (from the UK) or Jewel, just to name a few are very talented singer/songwirter/performer.
I think Destiny?s Child are very talented singer/dancer/perfomer...

am I wrong?

I love lot?s of the "old stuff" and I love the sound and music of Motown, the Beatles .... and  I think there will never be a record more pleasing to me than "The Cole Porter Songbook" by Ella Fitzgerald.

But I don?t think that music is better or worse, or that recordings sound better or worse in general. They are different. In every way. You can definitely say that the ability of the average playing musician decreased.
But on the other hand there is so much great programming out there, ... it is so hard to compare. You cannot compare it. Times just changed and there is still brilliant perfomance out there, as well as total crap.

And the reason why the crap is so upfront and is brought to the public so often nowadays is because the business has turned from a supply industry into a demand industry.
Record companies used to find talented music to offer to the puplic. (Supply)
Nowadays record companies try to find what they think what the puplic might want to hear. And that implies that you have to give as many bands as possible a "one-shot-opportunity" to be loved by the public. (demand).
If the artists fails, the next one steps in. And this implies also that record companies got really no interest in building up an artist over a longer period of time and taking the risk of taking a loss in the short run.

So as a results A&Rs are NOT searching for talent, they are searching for what they think what the puplic might want to buy immediately. So quality in terms of arrangement or great sounding record is not really the main goal. The main goal for the record companies is "does the record sounds like a record that people are used to nowadays in order to be bought".  So it is really up to the producer to be brave enough to find that small line between creating an "outstanding" record, which would imply something new, or something which is said to be sellable. Of course the decisions are finally made by the A&Rs and their power to overrule producers and artists, because of the pressure to sell immediately, leads more often than not to crap. (this kind of "think I heard this arrangement, song structure and lines a million times before" with a plastic touch)

cheers
steveeastend

Time may change me, but I can?t change time....

Bob Olhsson

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #55 on: February 13, 2005, 06:37:35 PM »

steveeastend wrote on Sun, 13 February 2005 16:03

...Record companies used to find talented music to offer to the public. (Supply)
Nowadays record companies try to find what they think what the public might want to hear. And that implies that you have to give as many bands as possible a "one-shot-opportunity" to be loved by the public. (demand).
If the artists fails, the next one steps in. And this implies also that record companies got really no interest in building up an artist over a longer period of time and taking the risk of taking a loss in the short run...
I frankly can't think of any time the record industry wasn't demand driven!

I also can't think of a single successful artist at Motown, arguably the most successful talent development operation in history, that was signed based on talent or a demo tape as opposed to proven success and celebrity in either a talent contest or as a local performer. Stevie Wonder was about the only exception but even then he was signed as a novelty and nobody expected him to end up where he did. Talent development has also traditionally been role of management companies and not record labels.

To be honest, I'm utterly amazed by how LITTLE record labels have changed since the mid 1960s! Radio and retail are completely different although this has only been the case for the past ten or so years.

compasspnt

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #56 on: February 13, 2005, 06:44:45 PM »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Sun, 13 February 2005 18:37



To be honest, I'm utterly amazed by how LITTLE record labels have changed since the mid 1960s! Radio and retail are completely different although this has only been the case for the past ten or so years.


Bob has a great point here.  At least a part of the "problem" with the talent level within the major label music business now is that they HAVEN'T changed much.  They are in a pretty big mess right now, because they are dinosaurs, and not changing with the times....just look at downloading for a start!  It's a lot easier, especially for committees, to choose something which is 'just like something else which has been successful,' rather than sticking the proverbial neck out on something different.  How many labels or publishers passed on The Beatles?
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WhyKooper

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #57 on: February 13, 2005, 07:21:12 PM »

.....Record companies used to find talented music to offer to the public....

Like Fabian...Shelly Fabraes..all the kids with top ten hits who were stars on the tv westerns in 1960..while the Beatles were being turned down by every company in town.  Do you remember?  Were you there?

Then, the Beatles get in and get hold..which..then begets lots of talented acts getting signed...AND ..The Singing Nun..Mrs. Miller..B. Kim and the other guy doing the Archies...1910 Fruitgum Company...Those guys in kilts that did S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night...ALL of who got hits.  And on and on it goes.

I see absolutely nothing different in the biz cycles regarding the stuff that gets signed or gets on the air.  However I do clearly see that what gets signed is an attempt at getting a product that will sell.  For crying out loud, it's a business.  And the buyers are kids.  That never changes.

There is a ton of great stuff out now..and junk.  Same thing, different decade.  
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compasspnt

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #58 on: February 13, 2005, 07:29:49 PM »

WhyKooper wrote on Sun, 13 February 2005 19:21



There is a ton of great stuff out now..and junk.  Same thing, different decade.  



One of my favourite sayings "back in the day" (I forgot who actually said it first) still hold true:

"Ninety percent of everything released for public consumption is evanescent tripe."
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jazzius

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Re: IS RECORDED AUDIO BETTER OR WORSE TODAY...?
« Reply #59 on: February 14, 2005, 12:07:24 AM »

Isn't it always the way that the older generations say "it was better in the old days"?........i'm sure the 40+ something engineers/producers/musicians were saying the same thing when the Beatles, Hendrix or Led Zep were banging out their best stuff.....that's just the way it goes......i'm sure the kids of today will be saying the exact same thing when all commercial music is created solely by computers in about 25 years or whatever.......personally i listen to very little new music, but i'm also aware that that's just what part of becoming and moany old fart is all about!...........cheers!....... Very Happy
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