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Author Topic: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?  (Read 3514 times)

zboy2854

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Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« on: March 31, 2005, 08:06:46 am »

From the latest issue of Tape Op:

Quote:


...The digital audio from the control room to here[machine room] is all in solid silver.  It comes here into these Weiss anti-jitter boxes, which are supported on cones.  They have got a Shakti stone on top of them (which has tuned ferrites and quartz crystals in- these help eliminate RF, EMI and microwave interference)...

In my opinion there are a lot of misconceptions about digital audio.  Disregarding the good points, some of the bad points are that it is almost impossible to do a digital to digital copy and retain the resolution; it is far more susceptible to the sound changing from many different reasons - RF, A/C mains, harmonic distortion and fluctuation, physical vibrations, etc., than most people realize...

...We listened to 20 different audio cables, because I needed 23 kilometers of cable to make our own patch bay and rewire everything in the studio...We directionalized them all first, of course.  Every cable sounds different in a different direction...And every termination is made with silver solder rather than lead solder, because again, it sounds better...


OK, so clearly being David Gilmour/Pink Floyd's main guy, there's going to be insane attention to detail.  But some of these things I just don't understand in terms of how they make a difference.  Perhaps others can help illuminate.

For instance, first, why the need to physically put the anti-jitter boxes on cones?  Next, what exactly is a Shakti stone, and has anyone else here used one?  I just keep thinking of some voodoo thing to keep out evil spirits.  Laughing

Then when he says it's near impossible to make a digital to digital copy and retain the resolution, why would that be?  I can understand in certain scenarios, i.e. going digitally from one format to another.  But certainly that wouldn't include, say, transferring files from one hard drive to another, would it?

Finally, has anyone ever heard about cable direction making a difference?  And why would silver solder make an audio difference over lead solder?  Is it that the silver provides lower resistance?
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dwaved

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2005, 09:38:05 am »

I did an album at Astoria a couple of years ago ...

Before working there, I hadn't heard of such a thing as cable directionality. I've since seen and heard more about it in the hi-fi mags. I can understand the ideas behind it and believe it's very possible, but without having gone thru the time and trouble to test it, I can't make a real judgement.
Same thing goes for the cones. Whereas I definitely can attest to their help with speaker resonance and interactivity with stands etc., the guys at Astoria have taken the isolation thing even further. There are cones everywhere! Every PT i/o and every hard drive, every Binson Echo, even the boom box that has a bandwidth of probably 3k has cones underneath it.
The Shakti stone I'm not so sure about.
That said, my time there was the absolute best studio experience I've ever had.
These guys care deeply about sound and have obviously spent enormous amounts of time tuning and experimenting. The care shows and it made my mixing judgements that much easier. The hospitality Phil and his wife Cynthia showed us was above and beyond what I've seen anywhere else.
If you've heard anything about the beautiful surroundings at Astoria, they'd pale in comparison to actually being there. It's breath taking.
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jfrigo

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2005, 10:11:39 am »

dwaved wrote on Thu, 31 March 2005 06:38

It's breath taking.


It may take your breath, but much of that stuff is heavy on the fairy dust and light on the scientific method. If it makes him feel better, great, but don't believe everything you hear. Take this over to Dan Lavry's forum anad see what he has to say about it.

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Loco

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2005, 05:29:48 pm »

It's not tomorrow yet, so.... It's not a Joke. It's a rope, tuco...

You can put whatever adjective to him or whatever he said, because it will sound fine however you listen to it.

If you ask me, that's a lot of nonsense. Hot air. BS. Whatever. Victim of a scam. His own one. There's no such thing as directionality on a cable that carries AC since the electrons go back and forth and at the end, when you leave, they stop where they started.

Did he mentioned a wooden knob in the article?
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Carlos "El Loco" Bedoya

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arconaut

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2005, 08:46:59 pm »

Hi all,

First off, that place looks really tremendous and obviously erring on the side of too much attention to detail is way better than the opposite. I was wondering, though, if they thought the studio sounded better when the boat was in fresh, brackish or salt water. (There's a reason so many antennae are in the Meadowlands...)

Long ago, when I was a green assistant, I f-ed up and lied to cover my butt (a bad trait I quickly outgrew, btw). The engineer, known as a hi-fi guy, "old school", well respected in engineering circles and justifiably so, had just completed a shootout of different isolating cones under a stereo buss compressor. Back and forth, I swapped those cones ten times. He was sure that one set sounded better, and waxed on about it to the client.

Returning to his mix, he focused on one particular track, asking me, "do we have the compressor before or after the eq?". I said, "It's before". He told me to switch it, but when I went to move the patch around, I realized that I had got it wrong. Instead of admitting my mistake, I just pretended to move the cables around, pulling them out and putting them back the same way. He listened intently and turned to me, decisively saying, "much better".

But then, showing the client that you really care is not for nothing.



Noah
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David Schober

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2005, 10:26:49 pm »

"The Mysterious Shakti Stones"
http://www.audaud.com/audaud/DEC01/EQUIP/equip3DEC01.html


Never seen one...never even heard of it until the Tape Op article  But I do know this.  James Guthrie is Yoda as far as I'm concerned.  If he was a part of using all this stuff, I'd give it some consideration before I dismissed it.  As far as cable directionality, can anyone shed some light as to why it supposedly makes a difference?

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David Schober

David Schober

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2005, 10:31:07 pm »

Here's a more technical description as to how it works.

http://www.shakti-innovations.com/audiovideo.htm

Apparently Abbey Road has some and it can make your truck go faster as well.  (not kidding...read it for yourself)

Also they claim Doug Sax uses them at the Mastering Lab.  Doug is one of the biggest no-bullshit guys I know and actually has ears.  
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David Schober

Curve Dominant

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2005, 12:01:29 am »

The cable directionality thing has actually got some interesting nuances to it:
1) If the cables are running north-south, they will sound better, because they are in line with planetary polarity. Makes sense, right?
2) If the cables are near a door, but away from a window, they will carry a dark yet pleasing warmth.
3) But if the cables are near a window, yet away from a door, they will carry more high-register charisma.

The thing with the cones is for real, too. Sugar cones give a short-term boost, but gluten-free cones give a more long-term boost.

Whoever said, "the electrons go back and forth and at the end, when you leave, they stop where they started," is simply taking physics too seriously. Those electrons have feelings, and they don't like being bottled up by your assumptions!

Whoever engineers for The Illustrious Mister David Gilmour cannot be questioned! Don't you all know that His Gilmourness used to have a career? That He used to be relevant?

Where are your manners???

stuntbutt

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2005, 01:06:07 am »

The cones and the cable directionality aside...........23 kilometers of cable?!?   That's 75,459 feet.  Wow.

-----------------------
John Katsafanas
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zboy2854

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2005, 06:40:20 am »

AND it's Van den Hul cable, which is crazy expensive.  I don't even want to do the math on the cost for all that.
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David Schober

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2005, 09:27:53 am »

zboy2854 wrote on Fri, 01 April 2005 05:40

AND it's Van den Hul cable, which is crazy expensive.  I don't even want to do the math on the cost for all that.


No kidding...If I remember correctly he said something about it being "only five times as expensive as normal cable."

Years ago when I was an assistant at Schnee's Studio in LA the Monster Cable people were making the rounds showing how their stuff sounded better than most evey studio's cable running to the two track 1/2".    It was true, it did sound better in every shoot out they did until they came to Schnee's which had the plain-jane Belden cabling.  (good stuff...but nothing esoteric)  Well they were all astonished to hear that the Belden sounded better than theirs!

The reason was that Schnee's custom made console had soldered (probably not silver) the Belden wire directly from the output of the summing amp of the console, which ran under the floor and was soldered directly to Neutrik connectors which plugged in to the two track.  As direct and clean a connection one could have.

The Monster cable people were using their special patch cables which connected to the two track.  Most, if not all of the studios had runs from their consoles to several multi-pin connectors which finally reached their two track.

The conclusion was that most of the tests that had been done around town were really apples and oranges tests.  Not only was the studio's cables a part of  the test, but without someone thinking it through, the studios' connections were a part of the test.  Many studios would have two or three multipin connectors in the path, all of which degrade the sound every time you go through one.  

The Monster Cable people left scratching their heads and Schnee got the last laugh.
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David Schober

JackJohnston

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2005, 07:29:27 pm »


I bet I could dig up some "Shakti Stones", which I will gladly trade for some of that gear.

Jack

chrisj

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2005, 09:22:30 pm »

What the hell are they, copper blocks with a nice enamel finish? You can alter the behavior of things by putting the right sort of copper thingie near it. I'm thinking of copper polepiece caps on moving-coil drivers.

Curve Dominant

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2005, 10:02:05 pm »

David Schober wrote on Fri, 01 April 2005 15:27

Years ago when I was an assistant at Schnee's Studio in LA the Monster Cable people were making the rounds showing how their stuff sounded better than most evey studio's cable running to the two track 1/2".    It was true, it did sound better in every shoot out they did until they came to Schnee's which had the plain-jane Belden cabling.  (good stuff...but nothing esoteric)  Well they were all astonished to hear that the Belden sounded better than theirs!

The reason was that Schnee's custom made console had soldered (probably not silver) the Belden wire directly from the output of the summing amp of the console, which ran under the floor and was soldered directly to Neutrik connectors which plugged in to the two track.  As direct and clean a connection one could have.

The Monster cable people were using their special patch cables which connected to the two track.  Most, if not all of the studios had runs from their consoles to several multi-pin connectors which finally reached their two track.

The conclusion was that most of the tests that had been done around town were really apples and oranges tests.  Not only was the studio's cables a part of  the test, but without someone thinking it through, the studios' connections were a part of the test.  Many studios would have two or three multipin connectors in the path, all of which degrade the sound every time you go through one.  

The Monster Cable people left scratching their heads and Schnee got the last laugh.


David, what a great story.

Out of all the junk science on the boards sometimes, it's nice to see something that's actually helpful.

Syborg Studios

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2005, 10:45:32 pm »

What could be more amusing than blowing smoke up the writers ass during an interview about audio gear. I suspect they're reading the article and rolling on the floor laughing.

wwittman

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2005, 12:57:02 am »

Dark Side Of The Moon was made without Shakti Stones, directional cable, silver solder or any of the rest of it... and sounds about 100 times better than anything Pink Floyd have done since.


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William Wittman
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bblackwood

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2005, 01:01:29 am »

wwittman wrote on Fri, 01 April 2005 23:57

Dark Side Of The Moon was made without Shakti Stones, directional cable, silver solder or any of the rest of it... and sounds about 100 times better than anything Pink Floyd have done since.

As much as I friggen hate 'me too' posts, this one deserves an 'AMEN'...
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Brad Blackwood
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JackJohnston

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2005, 01:24:15 am »



Just better hope you never have to pass a Shakti Stone.

Jack

PlanB

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2005, 03:54:40 am »

I've mixed an album at Astoria last year with engineer/mixer Jon Kelly and producer/arranger Andrew Powell. At first we were very sceptical too, but the place sounds incredible. Dunno if the 'directional' cabling makes a difference though. I'm still sceptical.

But it was nice to just 'think' about using a certain piece of outboard, say, a Fairchild, and just turning to the effects rack and patch it in. The place is out of this world
Also the staff is the nicest and most competent you'll ever find.

Cheers
Arthur
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karlo

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2005, 10:49:31 am »

phil taylor probably "stashed" a huge chunk of gilmour's budget $$$ under his own mattress, and he's now looking to publicly justify the budget overload. sounds like all he talked about was expensive items that are semi-esotheric; shit, they even modified the API pres to make them sound more "transparent".
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Otitis Media

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2005, 10:57:01 am »

David Schober wrote on Fri, 01 April 2005

 
No kidding...If I remember correctly he said something about it being "only five times as expensive as normal cable."


I took this statement to be puffery.  It seems like they've bought into the "audiophile" side of things quite heavily.  Whatever works for you, I suppose.  It's only money.  And we're all odd ducks in this business anyway, so take it with a grain of salt and you'll be fine...

Perhaps Shakti is a misspelling?  


Tchotchke sounds more appropriate to me...http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=chachka
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Dan Roth
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bblackwood

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2005, 11:35:09 am »

karlo wrote on Mon, 04 April 2005 09:49

phil taylor probably "stashed" a huge chunk of gilmour's budget $$$ under his own mattress, and he's now looking to publicly justify the budget overload. sounds like all he talked about was expensive items that are semi-esotheric; shit, they even modified the API pres to make them sound more "transparent".

Wow, I don't think accusations such as that are warranted. If Gilmour was unhappy, do you think he would still be with him 20 years later? Let's keep the character attacks about people we don't know off the boards, please.

Besides, they wouldn't be the first people to modify APIs to make them less colored...
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Brad Blackwood
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karlo

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2005, 01:37:23 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Mon, 04 April 2005 08:35

karlo wrote on Mon, 04 April 2005 09:49

phil taylor probably "stashed" a huge chunk of gilmour's budget $$$ under his own mattress, and he's now looking to publicly justify the budget overload. sounds like all he talked about was expensive items that are semi-esotheric; shit, they even modified the API pres to make them sound more "transparent".

Wow, I don't think accusations such as that are warranted. If Gilmour was unhappy, do you think he would still be with him 20 years later? Let's keep the character attacks about people we don't know off the boards, please.

Besides, they wouldn't be the first people to modify APIs to make them less colored...



you're 100% right and my appologies to mr taylor...no accusation here as i used "probably" to make sure noone gets offended. just a gist of how i felt reading the interview.
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Former Oceanway drone

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Re: Phil Taylor/Astoria article in Tape Op--WTF?
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2005, 04:14:10 pm »

With all due respect, I've heard more than a few things over the years that sounded damn good that could not be scientifically explained by the people at the time. Cables fall into that group. I swapped some cables out once and spent the next 30 minutes trying to get my audience to shut up about how big the change in sound was so that I could enjoy the change.

There's lots of stuff in the world that can't be explained rationally. That doesn't mean it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Moreover, if somebody can walk into a recording studio and get great sounds consistently, I don't really give a shit how they do it, and if others can replicate it. I just want that person to come back.

So until you can absolutely prove that something isn't doing what somebody claims it is doing (something that is notoriously difficult to do), maybe you all could hold off on the "fairy dust" rhetoric which is pretty damn unscientific as well.

Cheers,

Alan Tomlinson
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