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Author Topic: I miss analog.  (Read 21404 times)

breathe

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I miss analog.
« on: October 13, 2005, 06:57:28 AM »

So nearly a year ago I sold my 1" 16-track and jumped back into the digital game (I was in PT TDM/Apogee AD-8000 in a previous life) in the form of a Tascam MX-2424 which I used for one record, and now have Apogee AD/DA-16X units with a Samplitude PC.  For me the mammoth improvement in fidelity with these last two rigs over what I was doing in PT, is that I have enough I/O to do my most important track mixing in analog.  The 'summing' issue aside, the big thing for me is that I get to use all of my mid-range signal processors and effects units, which I strongly feel sound better than any of the high-end plug-ins I've used.  I actually had this first revelation right before I sold my PT rig, when I realized a DBX 160X sounded better on a soloed vocal track coming out of PT than the BF LA2A plug-in.  

Last week I spent some time in a friend's 1/2" 8-track studio, and I have to say, my ears were being treated with a sound quality that I've definitely been missing.  I want to believe in a modern saturation-less sound aesthetic, which my post on post-modernism/Baudrillard was all about, but for most of the bands I record, the 'mystery' component that analog (esp. Quantegy) provides is hard to give up.

Ramble ramble ramble.

My question in this post is if anyone feels this way, and what technology are you using to incorporate this sound into your modern recording gear?  Are many people recording basic tracks to 2" 16-track for example, then dumping it into their digital rigs?  Also, does the palpable quality of analog recording translate in a meaningful way when copied into a DAW, even if later mixed analog out of the computer?  It seems like a lot of records where this was done got the superficial qualities of the sound of analog tape, but listening to them it just doesn't have the same 'physicality' as an all-analog production.  Alternatively, what about the Fatso Jr.'s?  Does anyone have the guts to still be producing songs entirely in analog, or does it just not make sense for recording 99% of the music out there?  Where is this industry going?  Does anyone actually like the sound of modern music?  

Also, as I'm on the Sonic Solutions list and get an earful from those folks, what's the deal with hypercompression in the mastering of high-res formats like DVD-A and SACD?!?  Once in awhile I come across a CD that's totally perfect sounding (like Sonic Youth's 'Bad Moon Rising', mastered 15 years ago), and I wonder if it was just a freak of nature or if someone actually cared.  If it was people caring, you'd think it would happen more often.

Sorry for this rambling post!

Nicholas
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maxdimario

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2005, 08:43:54 AM »

Wait till you go to a studio with a 16 track 2" and a transistor console..

you'll find that there isn't really that much need for 'mistery'.
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John Ivan

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2005, 09:47:53 AM »

Hi Guys,

Yeah, In my opinion, there is nothing that sounds better than 2"-16 if the machine is nice and folks know what they are doing. Also, I might ad that I found the mixer in SAM-7 to sound better than the pro-tools mixer,but this was a mix plus system so,I don't know. I've only heard the newer PT rigs coming out into a console and in that case, it was fine. I prefer Samplitude over PT's for a huge list of reasons though.

The very first time I recorded as a player on digital, something was just wrong. I didn't like the sound at all. These were old Adats. Then I heard the DA-88's and they were better.
.but still, these things drive me nuts. {I own three DA's}

For me,it goes something like this. Digital Recording is broken as far as I'm concerned. You can now get great results but, It still just sounds all fucked up until you beat on it. Only the best gear sound great. And there are still problems.,, I get a lot of grief for saying this but, that's OK. I'm finding out as I get into my 40's now that I can really hear,and I'm not going keep on saying I'm sorry for hearing a broken technology. It's just Broken. Period.

As soon as I can afford it, I'll be recording to some kind of tape machine again,and dumping in to edit. I have dumped from tape into the DAW before and it does help A LOT. But it sounds better if you just never go into the computer at all.



So, the bottom line for me is this. Records sound worse now. There are more engineers and a very very few who can hear. The best Mastering guys seem to be loosing work because they wont damage audio for people. Guitar tones are getting worse not better. Drum sounds? Where? what drum sounds. This appears to be dead in POP music now.

Buy Tape.

Ivan..............
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Fletcher

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2005, 10:52:45 AM »

Eh.  I have a RADAR-V, I have great mics and outboard... I have an old Class-A/discrete console... I could give a shit about tape... I have a FATSO Jr. if I really need that sound.

Getting the depth and dimension to your recordings in the digital domain just means that you have to work like 9 times harder, but you don't have the print through, you don't have the problem of the tape getting the shit beat out of it as you run it over the heads and past the capstan 900,000 times, I don't have to check the alignment and azimuth every morning [or in one case/project, 14 times a day, but that was a very rare case (and also an amazing sounding project... but I digress)].

The first 24 track deck I ever bought ran me $28,000 USD... the last RADAR-V I bought ran me around $17,000... the last 24 track I bought probably ran me about $2,500- $3,000/yr. in maintenance... the RADAR-V ain't cost me jack... backing up masters on my analog deck required a second deck which added a generation to the safety masters... now it's hit a couple buttons, go out to dinner... come back from dinner, file the backup and move on.

As for shit sounding grainy and shitty... well we could blame the big time mixer dudes and hucksters that were buying and renting Sony 3324's and 3348's back in the 80's and 90's for that shit... then came the Pro-sTools warriors with their 666+222=888 boxes and "HD" rigs for even worse audio than you used to get with the fucking Sony pieces of shit [even with the Apologee converters... and you had to have the Apologee converters in your Sony decks to make them sound less like shit than the already sounded... but they were no where near as good as a modern Apogee converter... not even remotely close].

Let's not forget a lot of this was the bullshit economics of the audio industry where big time mixer dude would buy a $200k Sony deck then rent it to the project or mix for $800/day... more than doubling their $200k investment in less than 2 years!!  Try doing that with a "Mutual Fund".  It had nothing to do with the music, it had to do with rich dudes getting richer... much like that fucking dumbass "SPARS" codes... "DDD"; "AAD"; "ADD"; "ADHD"; "FSMe" [Fucking Spare Me"].

Lookit... the digital audio I hear most days is fine and dandy in the right hands, with the right tools.  You wanna buy into the bullshit... well then the Sony decks were perfect [and there was no shortage of famous dudes renting them for large dollars from Alan Sides to George Massenburg, etc., etc., etc. who would be more than happy to tell you that the things did everything but shit ice cream]... and now "Pro-sTools HD" is the saviour of the planet... until the next great thing comes along from Shiti-Design and everyone will have to bite the $30k bullet again so their audio will even better than their perfect audio from the last revision.

I know I'm probably no better than any of these other lying fucks as the shop where I work pimps the RADAR stuff... but damn, there are some other great converter sets... Lavry makes great converters, Meitner [SP?], Weiss, some of the new Apogee stuff and Lynx stuff is pretty fucking excellent if not misused.

Analog certainly has a place and a vibe... and if you have a well maintained analog deck there really isn't anything like it... but capable techs are fewer and farther between, parts are harder and harder to find [they're mechanical beasts... parts wear out... unless you have metal milling machines and the skill to run them then you best have some spares or you're fucked!!].

They told me that digital was "perfect" since the late 70's... and then it got better every year since... well somewhere around like 2001, 2002 it got to the point of "acceptable" from my perspective... it still ain't to the point of "acceptable" to guys like Steve Albini, but for me, it's "acceptable"... or at least it's good enough to not get in the way of the emotion of the presentations I'm trying to record which is good enough for me.

Cheap assed digital [MOTU; RME; Pro-sTools; etc.] sounds like ass... then again, cheap assed analog sounded like ass too... but the Fostex and Trashcan decks of the day didn't sound nearly as shitty as the cheap assed digital crap flowing out of the Banjo Mart like flood water in Nawlins... so yeah, y'all can "miss analog" all you want... but there is some great shit happening in the digital domain as long as you evaluate it for what it is and not what it's been hyped to be.

...ah fuck... another sermon and no way to pass a collection plate.

Shoot me.
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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


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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

Ashermusic

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2005, 12:14:14 PM »

I was told by a knowledgable friend that recording out to a high end HD-R like the Radar simply "glues" the sound in a similar way to what analog did that is very hard  to accomplish ITB, even with great converters. (He swears that the Radar folk designed some kind of track bleed into it for the glue  Smile

So Fletcher, what is it about the Radar that is so special? (Gee, I am soliciting your pimping.)
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John Ivan

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2005, 01:23:40 PM »

Hey Fletcher,, and all,,

Yeah, well. I've made plenty of records on these damn Da-88's that seem to sound just fine. It was harder to get done though. Remember,, when I post stuff, it's coming from a guy who can only afford mid end shit at this point.[I do get work on real shit sometimes tho, too}

Also keep in ind that "the tool's" ,what ever they are never stop me from getting it done and some how,in the end, it sounds like a record.

All I can say is, when I print a vocal track to my 440-B and at the same time ,,to a DA track, "even-out" the volume and listen back, I wonder how I am able to make records with the Digital machines. Of course, I do anyhow.

No doubt I'm talking about cheap shit here. I would give my nut sack for a Radar system and some better input stuff but, for now, It would be cheaper to pick up a 2" machine that me and the old man can work on and maybe take a look at what Mike Spitz is up to with the new tape. When I can get a 60% head life reported MCI machine for 5 or 6 grand and find a huge pile of once used tape or buy ATR or Q-GP-9, that seems like a damn fine deal. I can do some stuff myself maintenance wise and my recordings would sound better.

OTOH, If I were opening my own "room for Hire" I would buy Pro-Tools and Radar and that would be that. I'm just trying to make my personal shit sound better and I think Some more mics and pre's are first, and then tape is next. It looks like tape is the cheapest way for me to sound better at this point.

Ivan..............
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vernier

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2005, 02:25:55 PM »

I switched back to analog ten years ago ...and it's the coolest thing in the world.
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rankus

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2005, 08:52:00 PM »



F*ck analog, I'm with Fletcher! Sold my last deck a year and a half ago.... I was going to post my rant, then I read Fletchers'.....  I agree with every single word.... Albini can have all my share of tape for his collection too.

Get some decent converters and a good sounding DAW (that would be anything but PT btw) .....

It may be true that you have to work a little harder in digital, but you won't be crawling on the ground under the console tracing cables..

PS:  Ivan: not aimed at anybody personally....

You may be able to buy an old deck for five grand... But then you gotta chuck in another $50k for a decent board, some outboard FX , Patch bays.. cabling..etc. etc....  And for those (low) prices you are going to become a damn fine maintenence engineer...

Bin ther, done that... the grass is always greener
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NelsonL

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2005, 08:54:43 PM »

rankus wrote on Thu, 13 October 2005 17:52


$50k for a decent board


Whoa!!!

Is that US$ ?

It better be more than decent.
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Teddy G.

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2005, 09:15:04 PM »

As we get older, we change or we don't - most don't.

Yes, some young persons in 1965 were "discovering" Frank Sinatra and "giving up" on the Beatles - So?

I miss Kodachrome - I hope to soon buy a better digital camera.



TG
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rankus

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2005, 09:34:38 PM »

rattleyour wrote on Thu, 13 October 2005 17:54

rankus wrote on Thu, 13 October 2005 17:52


$50k for a decent board


Whoa!!!

Is that US$ ?

It better be more than decent.


Well I was including the outboard shite as well....  Besides, have you ever priced an MCI  console?  (My thought being that the quality of console has to be at least on par with the deck or your going to lose fidelity.....)  Have you priced out a recording quality snake to connect that high end deck to that console?


More thought on the annie vs digi:   A couple of years ago my cel phone provider went digi and I freaked out at the 8 bit sound and asked if I could stay with the annie network... They said no.  Until I started typing this I have never been bothered by the sound of my phone since that first week.....

My point?  Recording is intended to communicate emotion... the emotion of the caller still comes accross on my digi phone...

PS:  I recorded annie for almost 20 years... Then digi for five... Missed the annie.... bought a Studer.... used it three times and then sold it (for more than I paid)... sounded OK for drums .. Clients didn't want to pay extra for tape....
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Phil

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2005, 09:51:48 PM »

Here we go again.

I hate to quote Rodney King, but "Can't we all just get along?"
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John Ivan

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2005, 10:13:05 PM »

I thought I might ad that I'm not running my shit 12 hours a day either. In my case,a good analog deck should last me for the rest of my life. As far as a console goes, Man, good ones are getting really cheap. You can find GREAT MCI's for 10 grand. These are recapped,or at least some of them are.

The thing I'm getting at is, NOT including the front end, you can get into a GREAT sounding analog rig cheaper than a GREAT digital rig. Working on the shit can be a problem but, I'm either dumb enough to not be scared or, my experience tells me that with a good tech helping me learn, I can do most stuff.

Oh,, um,, why would I be crawling around fucking with cables. I would install a proper patch bay and use really good shit and it would be rare that I would have anything fail.

Hey, I love what I have. when I consider who I am and the fact that my room is a song writing room. I have a good 32x16x32 console,24 tracks of DA-88's locked to a Layla card running SAM and Cubase, a bunch of old comps {mostly mid end shit but,they work and I know them.} some cheap ass verbs and ,hey, I'm like a pig in shit.

Over the years, I've learned to get a sound out of this stuff. It's just that every time I hear a great Tape machine,I wish ALL my tracks could sound like that. It's wonderful.
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Barry Hufker

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2005, 01:01:54 AM »

I don't miss analog.  It has never gone away -- and probably never will.  It is what we hear every day.  I don't mean recordings.  I mean the actual sound we hear every day living our lives.  So what's my point?  It isn't "analog vs. digital."  It is "analog and digital."  The exact ratio of each is up to you.  Learn to use each to best advantage and after that, fuckit.

Barry
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brandondrury

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Re: I miss analog.
« Reply #14 on: October 14, 2005, 02:27:38 AM »

Could someone explain exactly what you mean by "digital makes you work harder"?

Brandon
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