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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => Brad Blackwood => Topic started by: bblackwood on October 19, 2006, 12:22:01 am

Title: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on October 19, 2006, 12:22:01 am
I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and after having some interesting discussions with friends, I've come to wonder if Gear Acquisition Syndrome is destroying modern recordings.

Ponder it for a bit then tell us what you think - I'll weigh on it more later...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on October 19, 2006, 01:14:49 am
Well it's sure destroyed a few trust funds along the way... but seriously folks...

I suppose shortly after the first reverb was invented, the tendency was to overuse it on everything.

With all the zillions of current recording & processing gadgets available, a neophyte engineer (who's just blown his trust fund), might indulge in the tendency to spend more time focusing on the equipment than the actual music itself, accomplishing nothing in the process.

He'd be better off with a couple of basic tape machines, a console, a few good mics, a decent room and little else, other than a good band to record.

However G.A.S. has been good to me this year, we've picked up numerous choice pieces to get up with current trends.

...gee, now I sound like an addict in denial : - )

Good topic Brad.

JT
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: chrisj on October 19, 2006, 01:15:37 am
Well, I notice that when I'm playing with significantly new toys my ability is quite impaired... if it's a completely unfamiliar thing, anyway. Types of new toy that are similar to things I've long worked with aren't a problem (I just coded some chebyshev harmonic enhancers which were easy, but that's because I've played with stuff like that many times before) but strange new things are a learning curve.

And you wind up exploring the new things, and NOT the point of the music- which is a very serious drawback.

I'm trying to get a toolset that is good and comprehensive but boring... so there aren't any surprises about what's possible. Some would find this strange Smile I just feel that if I have to respond musically to work coming in- all the more now that I'm actually getting some real gigs- I want to not be distracted by sound as sound. I want it to be about the meaning of the sound, the purpose. Having the tools boring helps.

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Barry Hufker on October 19, 2006, 02:33:33 am
As no one thing is enhancing modern records, no one thing is destroying them.  Life is too broad for that.

I believe it always comes down to a matter of "taste".  Not the kind of taste where one person says this is good and the other says no it's not.  The kind of taste a mature person has.  "Mature" here means "someone with a lot of artistic experience and a well-developed aesthetic".  Some people are born with it and just need to develop it.  Others, like me, have had to acquire it and work to keep it.  Some never will have it.

This kind of taste is highly discriminatory and yet all-encompassing.  The person with this quality knows exactly what they want to hear and how to get it.  He/she is open to all ideas but is very selective in their choice.  And when they do make their choice, it's the exact right thing for the project.  It may not be the thing you choose.  And your choice may be just as good.  But this person's choice is right on the money for the style he/she is working in.

It's not the gadgets that are killing modern records.  In fact, gadget buying is keeping the audio industry alive.  If it weren't for all the peripheral musicians/engineers/producers/wanna-bes, there wouldn't be any gear.  No store, no manufacturer can stay in business any longer by just selling to "the pros."

If equipment is the "colors" of sound, then how can one have too many colors?  The trick is in knowing when to use certain colors and how much.  I suppose music is in its "red period" where everything has to be extremely compressed and loud.  But what art movement hasn't had its followers and detracters?  Eventually people will tire of red and then we'll move on.

The talented and innovative always take us to the next idea, whether it is a new one or the revival of an old one.  The only thing destroying modern records is "poor artistic judgment" -- at one level or all levels.  That poor artistic judgment comes from an underdeveloped sense of aesthetics -- which equals "bad taste".  Improve a person's aesthetic sense and you'll improve modern recordings one person at a time.

Barry
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: MASSIVE Mastering on October 19, 2006, 02:33:50 am
G.A.S. is only as dangerous as the person who has G.A.S.   Laughing

Seriously though - On a personal level, if someone knows what they're looking for, I don't think it's a bad thing - The potential for great recordings is still there for sure.  As are the tools and the quality.  

But when G.A.S. gets out of control (which it certainly does) it makes me appreciate "simple" recordings more - A jazz trio, a live recording with great musicians - Recordings that are just done with great gear and "allowed to happen" (for lack of a better term).  I still record straight to two-track here and there and I generally enjoy listening to some of those recordings more than the artist's studio recordings in many cases.  

(Epiphany occuring as to may have pushed me into mastering as I type)

Back in the "good ol' days" (when I was a tracking & mixing guy) I was very much into trying to capture the performance and then mix it.  When the place I was working at went digital (tape) it was pretty much the same.  When it went to hard disk - That was where I started going nuts...  I could edit a horrible performance into something totally usable - and I hated it.  It ate at me as a musician.  Over time (after the owner wanted to get a basic mastering setup) I wound up assisting and engineering during tracking, another engineer would mix, I would master ("half-aster" we called it at the time).  

The further things went, the more freaky things got - The same engineer that I worked with at JEM is still a good friend and client now.  We talk all the time about this and that.  I can't even imagine where he gets the patience he has...  Now, you can take a poor performance on poor sounding gear and completely rewrite it - He changes crappy sounding drums with Drumagog (he also came up with the "Rock Drums" drum samples collection in the process).  He can reamp a crappy guitar tone and get something usable with a Pod or one of several amps at his studio.  He can tweak an out-of-tune and off-time vocalist into near perfection.    

I don't have that kind of patience...  I expect more from the band than that.  

So - Has G.A.S. destroyed recordings...  I don't really think so.  But I *do* think that it's made recordings that wouldn't have ever been recorded & released a reality.  I think it's "dumbed down" the talent.  It's taken recordings from "let it happen" to "make it perfect" - I'm slightly guilty myself - I was hired to record & mix a band a several years ago that flew in for only several days from NY.  They were pretty good.  Pretty good.  The vocalist wasn't "feeling it" for a few tunes, so I pulled a "Cher" on him and ran him through a pitch corrector with extreme settings.  Everybody loved it.  It sounded "modern" and yada, yada.  

I felt dirty...  

I hope I didn't go too far off-topic here...   Embarassed
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Larrchild on October 19, 2006, 03:31:49 am
Once a powerful force becomes available to you and your competitors, the inclination is toward mass-buildup and stockpiles of said force as a deterrent. This MAE, or Mutally Assured Equipment, causes all participants to earmark greater and greater percentages of their GNP to keep pace.

Sensible parties will meet and agree to scale down the stockpiles and allow confirmation via inspections, in the interest of protecting our children's future.

The alternative is unthinkable.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: lowland on October 19, 2006, 04:11:00 am
Yes, I think this is undoubtedly true, Brad, and thanks for bringing it up.

It's a sizeable subject, but one small area of it that gives me particular heebie-jeebies is the whole microphone preamp thing - you'd think reading some internet forums that mere ownership of the Hokey Cokey 2000 or whatever mic pre is a guarantee of a great recording, apparently ignoring (or in ignorance of) factors which are *far* more important such as the song, musicianship and arrangement. This is not to say that gear is of no importance, but it's just a means to an end and I'll freely admit it took me a long time to realise that!

When I look back on recordings I've made over the years, those that still stand out to me and others are those with a 'people vibe', something that usually owes little or nothing  to the equipment used.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on October 19, 2006, 08:48:17 am
If what I see at GC and Sam Ash is any indication GEAR and LOTS of it seems to be the new way of operating. I stand at GC and listen to the people talking to the "salesmen". They are all looking for the one piece that will make their recordings a million seller. They drool over new microphones, new pre amps new processors and of course new software. They want to own something that will make them stand out from the rest of the crowd on the radio or on a CD.

In the "old days" you had a limited amount of equipment and you had to learn how to use it to the best advantage. There was lots of time spent figuring out how to get the best S/N ratio on 4 tracks so when you bounced it you would still have a good sounding recording when you wiped off two of the tracks to add the vocals and you had to how to get the best performance from gear that was at best "vintage" because new gear was very expensive and very hard to get.

Today, thankfully,  you don't have those limitations. Digital if done correctly has a dynamic range that we could only dream of in the '60's and '70's and we have so much equipment to choose from it is mind boggling. Studios that use to be proud to state that they had 8 or 16 tracks today can boast almost unlimited tracks. Microphone technology has come full circle and every day there are more and more ribbon microphones coming out and TUBES are the new in thing. Even with the simplest recording rig people today can access the complete resources of a studio of 30 years ago in a box that costs 1/100th of what the same equipment would have cost 30 or 40 years ago. IT should be a time of GREAT improvements in the sound of recordings but it is not.

Why is that?

Here are some problem areas....

1. People no longer take the time to learn how to record. They just open the box and plug it in and start recording. Their "experience" is measured in hours and days instead of weeks, months and years. They also don't develop the ears that engineers use to develop since in a lot of cases they don't have any good reference recordings to base their listening experiences on and they wrongly assume that since they are doing the recording everything they are doing sounds the way it is suppose to sound.

2. People today no longer have to learn how to sing or play instruments. They can fix all their mistakes in a Pro Tools session.

3. There is so much equipment that no one has time to learn all of its complexity and most people today use unmodified presets for all their needs since to learn a piece of equipment would take time and by the time they learned it completely it would be superceded by something that can do 100 more things and cost half of what they were using.

4. The magazines of today offer cookie cutter approaches to recording, mixing and mastering. If this process and equipment worked for so and so then by having this equipment and doing what they did with it you can have a million seller album.

5. The magazine of today don't review equipment like Hugh Ford did in the old Studio Sound magazine, they hype the equipment and make it seem that by owning this you can be  Bruce Swedien or at least get things to sound like it was recorded by Bruce Swedien.

6. Before, in the old days, when you went into a studio you had to be prepared. You had to write good music, you had to practice the music and be proficient at playing it and you had to be ready to get it done is a reasonable amount of time since the clock was running. Today, working in your own studio,  you can put down a scratch track and then modify it and build off of the track and come up with new ideas and basically write the song as you go. In one sense this is great because you literally have all the time in the world to work on your ideas with no one worrying about how much this is all costing. But on the other side pre planning something was and is a very good thing to do and being prepared for a session and having the clock ticking was good for the adrenalin rush that was a part of every recording session.

7. The push for having everything louder has not helped the music that is being published today. It is like the arms race the person with the most weapons (or the loudest CD) wins.

8. With more and more plug ins being written everyday and with most software coming with a plethora of plug ins people who do recordings and mastering think that because they have them they have to use ALL of them on every track. I see posting on the Wavelab site and the person is complaining that there are only so many slots available in the master section and  they want to use 12 to 20 plug ins to master the song. <If you have to use 12 to 20 effects to master a song there is something REALLY wrong with the song IMHO>

9. in the old days the recording of music was a collaboration between the musicians, the producer, the A&R person and the engineer. Music was talked about, it was changed, it was played again and changed again so that when it finally came out it was a team effort. Today so much music is written, performed, recorded, mixed and mastered by one person who is doing this all by him or her self and has no one else to bounce idea off of or tell them what sounds good and what does not.

10. Music today is not happy music. If you listen to the tunes of the 40's 50's 60's and 70's most of it makes you feel good. Today music is much darker and the lyrics are about things that would not even be talked about in a high school men's locker room let alone in polite company. It is raw, it is in your face and it is loud.  In the old days music was an enjoyable part of your life and you took the time to savor it and learn from it. Today most music is background and you very seldom, if ever see someone sitting down for any length of time actually listening to music. It is always done literally on the run, whether driving the car, on your IPOD while you are traveling somewhere or as a background to other tasks that you are performing. It has become the background sound for this generation and is just part of the background clutter that they have to deal with on a daily basis.

My thoughts....and FWIW.

<Interesting discussion topic. I was discussing the same thing with the Station Manager of the local classical station about two weeks ago. His take was that technology is overwhelming us and that no one has time to understand the current technology before you are working on new technology which will then be superceded by newer technology in the coming weeks so no one tries to learn anything since it will be old technology by next week. His current example was the IPOD and where it started from and where it has gone in a couple of short years. "There are people walking around today with 7,500 songs in their IPOD and no time to really listen on one song so why take the trouble to download and upload all those songs if then you don't have time to listen to them" was his final comment on the subject....>
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Arif Muhmin on October 19, 2006, 10:28:36 am
G.A.S.? What equipment? I only use a PC these days. And it sounds far better than the days of racks and mixers. And not to speak of how much easier it is to deal with.

But for a while there I thought you meant G.A.S. the electronic music band/producer, who makes some good music.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: turtletone on October 19, 2006, 11:01:18 am
I don't think I own nearly as much gear as I used to. No one I know owns as much as they used to now that I think about it. I used to have racks and racks of gear to be able to record. Now all you need is a few select pieces. the gear used to be huge which ment you needed big rooms, which ment you could get more gear. I see it more as fewer pieces doing more things now.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: djwaudio on October 19, 2006, 11:12:26 am
 I haven't noticed that modern records are destroyed any more than they used to be. The guy over-using a plug in EQ is the same guy who was cranking the EQ on his crummy board ten years ago.

Same result.

The process of acquiring gear is like going to a shopping mall. There is something primal that gets eroded under the florescent lights and aisles of cheap wears from China.

Gear lust, can take you away from what is fine.
The best tools can be a catalyst for getting closer.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on October 19, 2006, 11:25:46 am
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?
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Spiritwalkerpro on October 19, 2006, 11:28:18 am
I think of it as a combo

To much new gear too quick and not enough time to explore it's full potential.

Many musicians, engineers and producers working day jobs to support their artistic desires.  This leaves them little time and energy to improve their craft.

A modern audience that does not have time to sit and enjoy music as they too are working hard to make ends meet.

The result is that music is becoming disposable.  And as with garbage, when it got out of control we started to look at recycling.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: dave-G on October 19, 2006, 11:36:37 am
Maybe this is a tangent to Brad's concept .. but with my mixer hat on, I can say that for many gear-acquisitors, there is a problem.  And if it doesn't make me seem older than I actually am, I'd even say it's generational (read: younger producer/engineers suffer more).

A problem I've seen far too much of is that the choice and application of gear is driven by its reputation and percieved status more than by good engineering/listening decisions.  

For example, I've seen a few too many ProTools sessions that show up for a mix, with labeling and notes in the comments section indicating that they chose some top-flight, household-name mics, pres and signal paths.   Only when I listen to the tracks, I find that they often sound horrible, the mic's position was so bad, or so poorly chosen to match the source;    ie: acoustic guitars miked way too close with a great mic still have huge, wooly resonances .. That airy, sizzly C12 might be a defacto for female vocals, but the singer has nearly speech-impediment-level sibilance, didn't need that mic, nor the +10 on the hi-shelf of 1073, so ... ouch!  ... The coolest overhead condensers in the universe positioned too close to the cymbals on a bashy drummer are still going to sound strident when you try to use them for kick and snare 'air'... that U47fet through the 1073 on kick whose stand sagged to the point that the mic was touching the ground, and getting physically thumped on every kick impact ..  Well, that's just not a good kick sound.  Bad settings on a pristine blackface, 'rev D' 1176 are not undoable once printed. ..

Yadda yadda yadda .. You get the idea .. but some of the sounds I hear from "hall-of-fame" signal chains  are so bad, that it amazes me when I have to figure that those sounds reflect that basic listening and 'engineering' techniques were so completely ignored during the tracking.  It seems that they were so impressed with the gear they were using that nobody stopped and listened and tried to improve on what should have been fairly obvious problems.  

Fixitinthemix-ism for sure .. but gear don't make records by itself.

-dave
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Craig Patterson on October 19, 2006, 11:42:12 am
Brad, I think you make some excellent and perfectly valid points.  But I also think it's the engineering world that helped cause this mentality, because before the '90's, no one could record anything themselves - it had to be left to the engineers in the big studios, because the little guys "just don't have the gear."  

I think there's a segment of society that's been waiting (figuratively) for the gear to come to them, and now it has.  They've proven the big-time studios wrong in the only facet of the argument that was shared with them.  What wasn't shared with them was that it takes time to learn the gear, and time to create the knowledge of when to use something, when not to, what room to use, and how to arrange.  All that was left aside in the past argument, because the engineer knew that *anyone* could get those things, if they were willing to put in some time.  So they concentrated on Lording themselves with what they thought was an impenetrable wall.  Little did they know that people would choose to not learn the skills that would do them the most good.

-Craig
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: turtletone 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.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: carlsaff 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.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Dave Davis 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-
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb 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.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Bob DeMaa 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.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Gold 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.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Sonovo 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?

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: EP 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
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: jtr 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.

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Gold 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.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: turtletone 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.
 
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: stevieeastend 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.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: mastermind 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

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Ben F 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.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Bob Olhsson 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.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: NoWo on October 20, 2006, 03:01:36 am
Mh,

Brad makes some statements that I can
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Adam Dempsey on October 20, 2006, 04:52:42 am
Without generalising, I say G.A.S. is likely having a detrimental affect more often than it is not. There's so much to be said for keeping the signal chain simple (surgical treatment notwithstanding). I find I work faster and more in tune with the music, as opposed to against the grain tonally or dynamically. I'm enjoying limiting myself for now to just the Chandler comps (and/or their Gain tone!), STC-8 comp, API & Massive Passive EQs (rarely all at once). And working the gain stages/transformers for colour.

(Yes, very priveledged to be working from the new room and facility here with Jack! The room's almost twice as large as the one I'd spent the last 10+yrs in. 4 projects completed after much listening and so far surprisingly little adjustment for me to the monitoring, as the Duns & the custom ones I was using were very much based on similar designs, although the subs are much tighter & defined. But I digress  Smile  )
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Arif Muhmin on October 20, 2006, 07:58:55 am
Warning: Pessimistic view follows.

Whether G.A.S. destroys modern records or not, is probably not the problem.

The problem is G.A.S. or not, if you make a hot record, spend hours finetuning all the equipment or plugins, and you release the record, ten thousand monkeys are gonna pop up from everywhere and try to duplicate your recording. And all your effort is lost, drowned in a sea of disinformation. Who will ever notice your recording? Usually, these people have lower morals, and play on "popular concepts" such as promiscuity, ignorance etc.. and they get more popular, and credit, for ripping off your track. Even though it may not sound quite as good, it still sounds like it, and so "they win". Face it, high quality recordings, and productions are not mainstream.

The root of this problem goes deep into the structure of society.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on October 20, 2006, 09:23:20 am
steveeastend wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 19:17

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.

Any record before 1980 would likely qualify...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on October 20, 2006, 09:32:29 am
I think some are missing the point...

GAS is not a gear issue, but a human issue. The gear doesn't buy or use itself. More gear in and of itself isn't the issue, it's the general attitude that more = better, that more options = better product. I have more tools in front of me (with my relatively simple chain) than Bernie or Doug had for decades (perhaps have even now) yet they cut some of the most stunning records ever, heralded to this day.

Does more options = better or does more options = more distractions from listening?

I see so much discussion centering on what compressor or EQ one should buy, I see searches for 'color' devices everywhere, yet the great records we all seem to enjoy (generally speaking, of course) were pretty much made the same way: experienced engineers in good rooms with simple but effective chains recorded/mixed/mastered great performances.

Anyone with enough money and half a brain can amass a pile of gear, but few seem to know how to use it. I've mentioned this before, but have you ever noticed that a vast majority of established mastering engineers do not change their chains often? They have spent the time learning what are (more often than not) simple chains built to be transparent and focus on achieving results with those known devices.

Just seems like everyone wants to know what the best comp or EQ is when most everyone I know has more (better) tools than any of the greats did when they cut the classics. I'm not accusing anyone of anything, just hoping you guys will think about this and discuss it openly and honestly. I see it as an issue, perhaps you disagree...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Masterer on October 20, 2006, 09:55:31 am
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 20 October 2006 09:32


Anyone with enough money and half a brain can amass a pile of gear, but few seem to know how to use it. ..


I agree.


...except with the "half a brain" part.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on October 20, 2006, 10:44:41 am
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 20 October 2006 08:23

Any record before 1980 would likely qualify...


especially "Dark Side of the Moon"

Beatles, Hendrix, Led Zep, Miles, Mingus, many, many others.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: craig boychuk on October 20, 2006, 11:34:14 am
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.


As someone who has benefited from the dying apprentice system, I can really relate to this.

I was getting seriously into audio right around the time when the "prosumer revolution" was starting with the advent of the 001. I went to school to learn the fundamentals, and afterwards I was lucky enough to get an internship of sorts at a real studio where the owner gave me lots of hands on experience, and lots of advice!

Of course, I eventually went out and got a 001 just like everyone else.

Difference is, I actually had an education, both theoretical and practical.

I have friends / acquaintances whose only education is the crap they read on-line or in magazines. No wonder they think that more is better!

Quote:


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.




Perfect example. And it has to be the right method, because it's official digidesign course material!


This sort of thing make me want to scoop out my eyeballs.




-craig
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: jtr on October 20, 2006, 11:57:35 am
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 20 October 2006 06:32

I think some are missing the point...

GAS is not a gear issue, but a human issue. The gear doesn't buy or use itself. More gear in and of itself isn't the issue, it's the general attitude that more = better, that more options = better product. I have more tools in front of me (with my relatively simple chain) than Bernie or Doug had for decades (perhaps have even now) yet they cut some of the most stunning records ever, heralded to this day.



I suspect that the titles to which you refer were probably "close to stunning" on the way IN to the mastering shop. Certainly the ME's earned their reputations , but I don't think these records represented the same production quality  most of us see on a regular basis.  Maybe that's because of G.A.S. at the mix stage.

We all appreciate the fine work of Mark Wilder. I think his remastering work is a good example of what a great engineer would have done "back then" if the tools were available.

I just ran down to my cd rack, and pulled out the titles I mastered that I am most pleased with. With one exception, each of these sounded great when I received them. My contribution had more to do with tiny touches to create a good listen, sequencing, spacing, and a bit of fade work.  The classic 5%....






Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on October 20, 2006, 12:08:07 pm
jtr wrote on Fri, 20 October 2006 10:57

I suspect that the titles to which you refer were probably "close to stunning" on the way IN to the mastering shop.

Of course, I'm just focusing on the mastering aspect as that's what we're about here. In the initial post (as well as some successive posts), I've mentioned the tracking and mixing stages.

The point is, the entire production was done with a more simple chain in past years. Now we have all this great gear available and fewer people than ever seem to know what they are doing with it.

I'm starting to think that 'more options = more distraction/more crutches'...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Arif Muhmin on October 20, 2006, 12:11:23 pm
G.A.S. at the mix stage could definately be a problem.

Although I definately have taken material to 9dB++ without compromising soundquality.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: j.hall on October 20, 2006, 12:23:33 pm
interesting topic.

i wonder how much this relates to the general decline of the master/apprentice relationship.

runner, intern, assistant........people seem to be skipping these things.

i'm sure there are many reasons, but i'll bet the price of admission is one very large reason.

it seems like far too many people on recording forums highly advocate just buying an Mbox and teaching yourself how to do it.

i wonder how this current mindset plays into brad's point.

"all i need is a sontec, crane song, prism, and manley EQ, and THEN i'll be able to cut records as good as *insert A-list mastering person's name here*"

instead of, "i need to get an internship with *insert name here* to learn what they know."

personally, i had the chance to do the apprentice thing and i was too young and arrogant to take it.

now years later i am now in a relationship like that, and seeing everything i missed.  in my early 20's i threw gear at problems because i lacked the experiece to know the room sucked acoustically, or the sound i printed was horrible, or the technique i used wasn't right for the application at hand........in my mid to late 20's i stopped throwing gear at problems and set forth to learn my craft.

so, with all this in mind, ande assuming it's true, i'd say GAS is a huge problem that stems from a deeper issue.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Gold on October 20, 2006, 01:54:03 pm
It is much more of a human problem than a gear problem. I've heard many awful recordings from yesteryear. If you put a huge pile of gear in front of someone who knows what they're  doing they'll ignore the stuff they don't know or will take too much time to set up or won't make much of a difference even though it's better.

In mastering excess gear really interferes with getting the job done. It's part of what I like about the job. I really like limited tools. Years ago I did sound for an acapella group. One of my favorite things was to get to the radio station and get handed four RE60? and a Shure mic mixer. It gives you something to do.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Masterer on October 20, 2006, 02:26:21 pm
j.hall wrote on Fri, 20 October 2006 12:23

interesting topic.

i wonder how much this relates to the general decline of the master/apprentice relationship.

runner, intern, assistant........people seem to be skipping these things.

.


This may be the greatest single problem with "engineering" today.

Many problems like G.A.S. and the S.H.I.T.S. [skipped hard intern time, sorry!!] are symptoms of this phenomenon.

Consider this old and overused analogy: There are lots of reasons why becoming a doctor is hard. The years of study, the cost of schooling, and the brutality of residency. One of the results of these trials is that only the most dedicated, stubborn, obsessive and egomaniacal [and in a few cases, talented] will make it. It's a system that culls the weak from the herd. I'm generalizing of course [there are some very bad doctors] but it's a very hostile envoronment for a dilettante.

Imagine if all you needed to become an M.D. was some cheap software and a six month course at DigiDoctor [or maybe a book] and you could hang a shingle and start chargin' the big bucks for botox down in Boca.

Everybody wants to skip to the front of the line and start charging Tom Lord-Alge money.

I have lots of kids ask me how to get into this business [I have a couple of friends that audio school teachers]and I always tell them the same thing. You can start at the bottom and work your way up, or you can go to school and get a degree/certificate and then start at the bottom and work your way up.

Needless to say this kind of thing gets greeted with a lot of blank stares.

It's so appropriate that someone would mention Mark Wilder. Mark is as old school as it gets [in a good way] even though he has plenty o' gear. It's no coincidence that he's a skilled and patient mentor [couldn't have done it without ya buddy, seriously]. Mentoring is hard work. Being an apprentice is hard work too. You can't make up for that by buying a Sontec.

Nobody wants the real answer to the question what gear should I buy to get [fill in blank] sound, or what settings should I use to make my master [fill in blank], cause the answer is always the same. Buy whatever box you want but you still gotta start at the bottom and work you're way up.


... or you can just buy ProTools.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: greg charles on October 20, 2006, 02:42:56 pm
Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 05:48

In the old days music was an enjoyable part of your life and you took the time to savor it and learn from it. Today most music is background and you very seldom, if ever see someone sitting down for any length of time actually listening to music. It is always done literally on the run, whether driving the car, on your IPOD while you are traveling somewhere or as a background to other tasks that you are performing. It has become the background sound for this generation and is just part of the background clutter that they have to deal with on a daily basis.



Couldnt agree more.

Music has been "cheapened."   It became free on Napster, and to  younger generations it is still free.  In the 70s people sat in their "listening chair" in the living room and played the whole album. They read the liner notes.  The CD killed the liner notes and besides we dont have the time any more.

Today most are happy with MP3 quality and no one seems to care or notice Paris Hiltons "Stars are Blind" averages around -8dbRMS because after all no one is really listening to it.  

Look what Alan Parsons did in the 70s.  We have all this great high tech gear that gets less expensive each year and available to an increasing number of people. But the people aren't as experienced.  Listen to Walter Sear rant on about the death of the big recording studio and how you interned for years and slowly worked your way up the chain.  Today we want instant gratification and get frustrated when the new vintage emulation doesn't achieve what Alan Parsons did 30 years ago.  So blame the equipment and conduct more gear "shootouts" right?

Im sorry I sound like a jaded 70s hold-over.  I was just a kid then.







 
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: turtletone on October 20, 2006, 08:18:53 pm
Come on guys, your ruining my gear purchase high.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: jtr on October 20, 2006, 09:24:21 pm
TurtleTone wrote on Fri, 20 October 2006 17:18

Come on guys, your ruining my gear purchase high.



OTOH, I'm feeling pretty good about my simple setup right about now! Smile There's gotta be middle ground somewhere!

(Wow, Chris Athens sorta quoted me!)

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on October 21, 2006, 08:34:58 am
I really love what I do and I really love music and working with musicians as part of the process of making a CD.

The problem is today everyone seems to be in such a hurry.  They want to get the CD done and to the replicator and out to their adoring fans. If this process takes anytime at all they loose interest or start to get upset with anyone that is standing between them and their goal of getting their music out.

Many musicians today don't seem to take the time and/or really know or care about what they are doing with the gear. This makes for some very bad recordings. They bring the hastily done recordings to me and say basically "fix it" and "make it sound the way we want it to sound but were unable to do ourselves".

When I suggest, after some careful listening, that the mix needs some work they get upset and do one of two things. Either they say "I don't have the time or the money to redo the tracks so just work with what you have" or they say thanks and take their work to someone who will not ask questions or someone who has a less critical ear and will just do the mastering and take their money.

I don't think a lot of people have the ears or the experience to really know what something sounds good or not good and they base their judgements on what they hear on their car stereos or IPODS playing MP 3s. I had a client recently that, while we were mastering, asked me if I had a way to plug into his IPOD because he wanted to show me how he wanted the songs we were working on to sound. After listening to the MP 3 on his IPOD he said "that's the way I want my stuff to sound like"

His frame of reference was a $200 IPOD and a pair of ear bud headphones. He could not relate to my monitoring setup and full range uncompressed music. He told me that he had a room full of equipment to do his recordings on but that he carefully converted everything he mixed to an MP 3 so he could listen to it on his IPOD and that was the way he was making his decisions on the mix.

Maybe we are going about mastering the wrong way and instead of worrying about a perfect monitoring setup we should instead shoot for the lowest common denominator instead of the highest since most people will be listening on less than ideal equipment and in a less than ideal listening environment.<GRIN>

I have a good friend who is a carpenter. The best one around. For years he worked with nothing but a hammer, a ruler and a saw and did outstanding work. He did not have any battery operated equipment and never used an air nailer. Within the past five years he has gotten a whole range of battery operated drills and saws. He also has purchased a whole range of air nailers that he loves. His work has gone from GREAT to EXCEPTIONAL since he has more time and has to work less physically to create his work. He is also able to do things now that he could only dream of years ago like putting a nail though a piece of very thin oak trim without the oak splitting or having a big nail hole to fill. He told me the other day that he does not know HOW he ever got along without the stuff he now has nor would he want to go back to the "good old days".

His way of approaching work has taught me a lot. If you master the basics and use them on a daily basis and then when needed add a new piece of equipment when the genuine need is there you will always be doing good work with the best equipment.

FWIW...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: compasspnt on October 22, 2006, 01:03:37 pm

As a wise man stated recently, the inmates are now running the asylum in many cases.



Having been involved in hundreds of mastering sessions with several of "The Big Guys" of the profession over the years, I can attest to the fact that in many instances of mastering these "classics,"  processing consisted of .5 or 1 dB changes in a few selected areas, and 1-2 dB of gentle compression.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Andy Krehm on October 22, 2006, 09:52:04 pm
Masterer wrote on Fri, 20 October 2006 14:26

j.hall wrote on Fri, 20 October 2006 12:23

interesting topic.

i wonder how much this relates to the general decline of the master/apprentice relationship.

runner, intern, assistant........people seem to be skipping these things.

.


<edit>Consider this old and overused analogy: There are lots of reasons why becoming a doctor is hard. The years of study, the cost of schooling, and the brutality of residency. One of the results of these trials is that only the most dedicated, stubborn, obsessive and egomaniacal [and in a few cases, talented] will make it. It's a system that culls the weak from the herd. I'm generalizing of course [there are some very bad doctors] but it's a very hostile envoronment for a dilettante.
<edit>

I like the Doctor analogy to learning and finally "graduating" to the first pro level of mastering.

However, taking it one step further, we should also note the innovations that the medical profession can now use to diagnose and heal, as compared to 20 or 30 years ago.

In other words, I mastered my first 1,000 albums with only one outboard compressor and equalizer along with some plug-ins.

Would I give up any of my current fabulous and very carefully selected pieces of gear and simplify my chain? Of course not and neither would any one else who finds their collection useful.

After all, if you have a choice of a tube eq, a precision analog eq and a digital eq,  you almost always have the right choice for the job. Sometimes all three, sometimes one or two and occasionally, none. Can you do it if you only have access to one eq? Of course but it might take longer and may not be quite as good. And if we can afford it, why not also have a alternate brand of one or all of the above three classes of eqs. It's up to the engineer to know when to use it and when to hit the bypass switch.

It is always the good engineers that turn out the best mixes and the best masters. And while the gear is definitely less important than the skill, talent and experience of the engineer, to do your very best work, it is important to have quality gear and a good selection of it, especially if you master a wide variety of music.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: twelfthandvine on October 25, 2006, 02:37:18 am
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 20 October 2006 23:32

I think some are missing the point...
Does more options = better or does more options = more distractions from listening?


Your topic, Brad (and some of the posts here so far) really made me pause and think again.  By chance, an old skool producer and I were talking about this just last week.

The producer is still on PT5.x and his rack hasn?t really changed for a period resembling forever.  Still manages somehow to pump out world class mixes for world class talent.  He puts this down to knowing exactly what the gear actually does.

Whilst I don?t know that GAS ?destroys? modern records I will agree that it doesn?t always make them ?better?.  We all have to look in the mirror sometimes and I?ll admit that when I get something new I am guilty of putting it in the chain as an experiment to see what it?ll do (especially if there?s the luxury of time).  Objectively, it probably doesn?t do the track any favours with the advantage of hindsight.

FWIW, most of the guys I?ve looked up to seem to ?hear? what the music can become and pretty much what?s required to get it there as they?re listening to it being loaded up.  There is no doubt that this comes in part from an intimate knowledge of their chain.

It?s maybe a bit like being an MD for a jazz act.  Lots of people can be great players, but the skill in taking charge of the arrangements is partly in knowing what doesn?t need to be played.  And this takes experience as well as good ears and learning how to play.  

Kind regards,
Paul Blakey
12th & Vine Post

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on October 30, 2006, 12:47:53 pm
bblackwood wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 10:25

Just think about it more, deeper. <snip> all the great records we love had ONE compressor and ONE EQ in the mastering chain.


OK I'll tighten the focus on Brad's original topic:

If you had to choose only One Equalizer and One Compressor to use for mastering, which ones?

You know my choices already.

I challenge you to do it for 3 days, see how much you can get done.

Bypass all the extra processors and focus on the basics.

Think of it as "Survivor" for mastering engineers : - )

JT
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Gold on October 30, 2006, 01:01:33 pm
I only have two Eq's and one compressor. And the second EQ isn't full featured. So it isn't much of a stretch. I wouldn't mind another compressor but I'm not in a big hurry. I have a couple of plug in EQ's but only because I had to buy them with the L2. I'm about to add a more full featured EQ. If it covers the bases that the QE covers then the QE goes.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Barry Hufker on October 30, 2006, 01:04:29 pm
OK, let me take a slight but important turn.

While we probably can't know, would the engineers who made the classics we love have used more signal processing if they would have had more?

I will give Tommy Dowd as an example -- he embraced 8 track the moment he could; he multi-miked, he embraced digital...  Those that knew him... did he use more processing gear as it became available?

Barry
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on October 30, 2006, 03:29:14 pm
Barry Hufker wrote on Mon, 30 October 2006 12:04

...I will give Tommy Dowd as an example -- he embraced 8 track the moment he could; he multi-miked, he embraced digital...  Those that knew him... did he use more processing gear as it became available?
According to Joe Atkinson, one of my mentors who worked as Atlantic's mastering engineer for over ten years before he came to Motown, Tom did not embrace the 8-track for overdubbing. He saw it as being the best way to do stereo mixes in the future as a means of preserving the value of Atlantic's catalog.

Joe told me they had 5 Pultecs in the whole place. One in the mono cutting system, two for stereo cutting, one in the control room that was generally used on the EMT plate and a second used to EQ. lead vocals. They would add mids and clean up the low-end in mastering.

Here in Nashville they had individual channel eq. early on but engineers tried not to use it because they felt it kept things from blending together right.

On the other had at Motown, we generally used LOTs!
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: dcollins on October 30, 2006, 11:39:05 pm
Jerry Tubb wrote on Mon, 30 October 2006 09:47


If you had to choose only One Equalizer and One Compressor to use for mastering, which ones?



The ones you are most familiar with.

Quote:


I challenge you to do it for 3 days, see how much you can get done.



Some guys have done essentially this for 40 years, so it must have some merit!

DC

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Barry Hufker on October 31, 2006, 12:54:36 am
According to Tommy's own words in that wonderful DVD documentary about him (I'm being sincere).  He liked 8 track because of the mixing flexibility no matter what.  He delighted in demonstrating to people how the balance could be changed at will.  That was how he got everyone hooked on it.

Barry
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on October 31, 2006, 03:00:38 am
dcollins wrote on Mon, 30 October 2006 22:39

Jerry Tubb wrote on Mon, 30 October 2006 09:47


If you had to choose only One Equalizer and One Compressor to use for mastering, which ones?



The ones you are most familiar with.

Quote:


I challenge you to do it for 3 days, see how much you can get done.



Some guys have done essentially this for 40 years, so it must have some merit!



Amen.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on October 31, 2006, 01:39:22 pm
Claude Hill told me the other day "I've never heard of anybody replacing a recorder with one that didn't record more tracks than the one they already had."
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Sonovo on October 31, 2006, 01:56:19 pm
Well,

I just got a Stellavox SM8 that does 2 tracks only. A bit of a step backwards compared to a laptop that will do a gazillion 24/96 tracks (with plugs and other junk as well).

I like the purist approach, and am looking forwards to renting the conservatory and doing 2 track direct to tape recording. Should be fun. Besides, mixing is such a chore, better to get it right the first time  Razz .

Cheers,
Thor
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Greg Youngman on October 31, 2006, 02:10:01 pm
Just because a contractor has a truck load of tools to do a re-model doesn't mean he uses them all.  He may never use a few of them, but it's good to have them around just in case.  And if I hire him, I won't ask him what brand of Sawzall he has.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Andy Krehm on October 31, 2006, 07:18:06 pm
Greg Youngman wrote on Tue, 31 October 2006 14:10

Just because a contractor has a truck load of tools to do a re-model doesn't mean he uses them all.  He may never use a few of them, but it's good to have them around just in case.  And if I hire him, I won't ask him what brand of Sawzall he has.

Amen, brother!

It's taken me several years to acquire the very nice selection of gear that I now have. Every piece was carefully chosen. Sometimes I use it all and sometimes one or more gets bypassed.

Why on earth would I want to limit my self? I've already done plenty of masters when I had a very limited number of pieces to work with! I did a good job then and I do a good job now but now I can work more quickly and more precisely, when I need to. The corrective work that I can do with units like the TC 6000 just cannot be done with one eq and one compressor.

Really the main point of interest in this thread is that some engineers don't know how to use what they have and therefore are ruining mixes and masters.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on October 31, 2006, 08:57:56 pm
Andy Krehm wrote on Tue, 31 October 2006 18:18

It's taken me several years to acquire the very nice selection of gear that I now have.

And that amounts to what? Anyone with some cash can buy gear...

Quote:

Why on earth would I want to limit my self?

Exactly my point! How do you know you aren't limiting yourself by having such a dizzying array of equipment to choose from? Do you think DSoTM required 7 compressors and 4 EQs? As I stated earlier, the very records most of us love were made with far simpler chains, why do we require more?

Food for thought, that's all - I just think it's interesting that in all parts of production, sound quality is down yet we have more toys than ever...

Quote:

Really the main point of interest in this thread is that some engineers don't know how to use what they have and therefore are ruining mixes and masters.

Indeed, the most interesting comments are those concerning the lack of mentoring nowadays - I think that truly has had the greatest impact. I see so many posters advising young guys to spend the $30k on a bunch of gear and learn on their own ('just use your ears, dude') rather than use that money to live off of and intern with experienced engineers...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: turtletone on October 31, 2006, 10:32:46 pm
bblackwood wrote on Tue, 31 October 2006 20:57

Andy Krehm wrote on Tue, 31 October 2006 18:18

It's taken me several years to acquire the very nice selection of gear that I now have.

And that amounts to what? Anyone with some cash can buy gear...

Quote:

Why on earth would I want to limit my self?

Exactly my point! How do you know you aren't limiting yourself by having such a dizzying array of equipment to choose from? Do you think DSoTM required 7 compressors and 4 EQs? As I stated earlier, the very records most of us love were made with far simpler chains, why do we require more?

Food for thought, that's all - I just think it's interesting that in all parts of production, sound quality is down yet we have more toys than ever...

Quote:

Really the main point of interest in this thread is that some engineers don't know how to use what they have and therefore are ruining mixes and masters.

Indeed, the most interesting comments are those concerning the lack of mentoring nowadays - I think that truly has had the greatest impact. I see so many posters advising young guys to spend the $30k on a bunch of gear and learn on their own ('just use your ears, dude') rather than use that money to live off of and intern with experienced engineers...


yep, I agree. But.... the emails and calls I get from would be interns are more along the lines of. "I'm looking for a studio that can teach me the ins and outs of mastering." meanwhile in their signiture they have a weblink. click on that and what do you know, recording, mixing, and mastering webpage.

"Interns" aren't looking for internships anymore, they're looking for a quick lesson. It's a shame really.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Bob Boyd on November 01, 2006, 03:20:22 am
bblackwood wrote on Tue, 31 October 2006 19:57


Exactly my point! How do you know you aren't limiting yourself by having such a dizzying array of equipment to choose from? Do you think DSoTM required 7 compressors and 4 EQs? As I stated earlier, the very records most of us love were made with far simpler chains, why do we require more?

Because we're not always getting in Dark Side of the Moon quality mixes.  The more "special" mixes often end up getting the most "love".  

Different tools for different tasks, each excelling in different ways.  The key is the discipline to know the strengths of each.  It's not about having one item in the chain or 10.  At the end of the day, how does it sound?

Let's take the System 6000 for example.  For 90-95% of the stuff I master, it doesn't get utilized but when I need it, it can do some really nice things.

You can take a guy like JJP who has a ridiculous amount of gear but has also produced, recorded, and mixed some excellent work.  The key is he knows what to reach for to paint really great picture.

I agree with the general premise of the thread that often people will try to cover inexperience with thinking the answer is just in another box or plug.  On the other hand, sucky mixes going in one great eq and one great comp may come out less sucky but with the right tools and the right craftmanship you might just be able to work a little magic.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on November 01, 2006, 06:14:11 am
Bob Boyd wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 02:20

The key is the discipline to know the strengths of each.  It's not about having one item in the chain or 10.  At the end of the day, how does it sound?

Indeed.

Realize that most of this thread is stream-of-consciousness from me - I have no agenda, nor have I formed my opinion on any of this, just want to hash it out and see where things stand...

So far, two things have resonated with me - that lack of mentoring is killing the modern engineering craft and serious experience (and the associated discipline that comes with it) is required to know when to say 'when'. Neither of these are revelations, but it's nice to see other people seeing things the same way.

Many have forgotten (or never learned) that simple is always better, but only as simple as needed...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on November 01, 2006, 08:01:40 am
I have two interns from the local college.

They are both very nice people.

The one is a Freshman and is very easy to work with and does what he is asked to do and comes back and asks questions if he does not understand what needs to be done. The other is a Sophomore and is enrolled in the recording course at the college.

We all did a remote recording together last Sunday. The person from the college's recording course astounded me with her lack of basic knowledge of even the most simple things like which end of an XLR to you stick into the microphone and why can I get the cable to release. She is a strait "A" student and one of the best graphic designers I have seen in quite a long long time. As to what they are teaching her in the recording courses is beyond me.

These are not the first interns I have had and I get requests from people wanting to intern here all the time especially from people who have just graduated from a recording school. The main thing that I find amusing is that they say things like "I want to learn to be a mastering engineer I have two weeks and can work a couple of hours per night so can you show me everything you know?" or "They did not teach us how to master so I was wondering if I came in could you show me how to master and how much would you pay me for being an intern?"

The other thing that amazes me is the lack of understanding of how money is made in this business. The graduates of some of these recording schools assume that they are going to go from the school to a job and that EVERY recording studio has an SSL console or Digidesign ICON console. They also assume, and I guess the recording school must tell them this, that they will be making $40,000 per year as an entry level engineer. Most recording studios today are one or two person operations unless you are in New York, LA or Nashville. Today, with what is happening in the economy and to recording studios in general, there is not a lot of fat anywhere and most studios are cutting staff not adding them and if you are hired you are expected to be producing income very soon after you come on board.

I find that a lot of people who are applying for internships think that is is a free ride and that they will be getting coffee and snacks for big name artist and that after a couple of weeks they will be sitting behind the board and doing sessions. If you talk to the graduates of these schools and ask them questions about what they have learned you start to discover that it was mostly a quick overview of a lot of subjects and that there is not a depth of understanding about what was really going on. Certainly there is almost zero understanding of electronics or hooking up of equipment. I had one young man who told me proudly that he could align a 24 track tape deck. I handed him a scope, an AC voltmeter, a test tape and a tweeker and told him to align our 2 track MTR-10 which should have been a walk in the park for anyone who can align a 24 track machine. He looked at the equipment and sheepishly said "well I watched someone else aligned a machine I did not really do it myself" which is what I think happens more times than not.

Students from large audio schools also seem to be gearaholics and if you don't have the latest or the greatest equipment in your racks they turn up their noses or ask where the really good equipment is kept.

Sorry to be off topic but a couple of posts talked about interns and I wanted to share my viewpoint.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: turtletone on November 01, 2006, 09:56:44 am
When I was an engineer, we used to send the obnoxious interns out to get a bag of 100 hertz for a session. They'd be gone for hours.

While it seemed cruel, it also served a purpose. They quickly learned that they weren't as smart as they thought.

When I was a young assistant, I thought I knew what gear was needed  and what you had to have and do to get "Pro" results. I thought you needed all this outboard gear and effects, the console was just for faders and effects sends. One day I assisted for Elliot Schiner on a mix date. The 2"'s came in, not very many. I thought the rest must be coming. No outboard gear request was in my session setup, but I have 4 interns ready and waiting to grab tons of gear to haul in and setup. He came in, we met, blah blah. I put up a reel for him, only 24 tracks???. He asked me to patch in a couple of spx90's. I figured he just wanted to play around and see what was on the tapes. Two hours later we were printing mixes. I couldn't believe it, I refused to believe that these were the final mixes, but they sounded so great. From that day on, it completely changed my outlook. It may sound stupid, but these ahhha moments are what mold engineers to listen. It doesn't happen overnight, but over years. This can't be learned in schools, in forums, at guitar center's, or by buying equipment. It's a thought process. Then you'll be able to pick and choose your gear, hopefully.

This is the main difference between old school and newschool engineers IMO. Not the tools they use but the thought process behind the tools they pick to use.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on November 01, 2006, 12:10:15 pm
bblackwood wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 05:14

Many have forgotten (or never learned) that simple is always better, but only as simple as needed...


Brings to mind the old adage: "the tailor that cuts the best, cuts the least".

I find that many times, the least amount of mastering you can do to a mix to get it up to par, the better... a matter of philosophy.

Why Re-Invent a mix? If the producer wanted it heavily manipulated, he probably would have done it in mixing.

*** I think the Loudness Craze has inspired a lot of MEs to over-use processing ***

I also think that having lots of juicy gear can be a bit of a security blanket for an ME.

When it's really the Skill and Experience of the ME that builds Confidence.

The same philosophy can apply to using Automatic processes to make Repairs:

Take De-essing for instance. Why run a whole song through the DS process when you could probably fix the offending 3 or 4 esses manually and be done. The mix might sound better as a result. I've yet to find a De-esser that I like better than doing it with a little EQ, and repairing the worst offenders manually ITB. If the esses aren't really all that bad (painful to the ear), they may not need repairing anyway. (some would argue that the Weiss and/or Quantum units handle the job very well)

Same goes for LF Plosives, why HPF the whole song, when a bit of selective EQ will do.

Same goes for De-Clicking, fix the bad ones manually, don't filter the whole song.

Noise Reduction is overrated as well.

Multiband Compression doesn't impress me much either.

"Perfection" may well just be over-rated too !

No, I'm not advocating letting a bunch of sloppy junk slide through, just don't use a Machete when a pocket knife will do.

Experience can teach you that sometimes less ~ is~ more, but not always.

And like my pal Bill Johnson says, "the enemy of good is better".

Just philosophizing today : - )

index.php/fa/3659/0/
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: robot gigante on November 01, 2006, 06:40:54 pm
I use one EQ and one compressor most of the time.  Sometimes I use two.  It depends.

I've been lucky enough to work with an intern who is humble and only interested in interning.  The only frustrating thing about this intern is that he has an amazing set of ears and intuition, so it's hard to have him only as an intern, because there's not enough work/rooms here for another engineer.

He also interns at another studio and I think I would trust him over most of the people there.  I'm sure he will have a promising career if he sticks with it.

There are a lot of records being destroyed out there for various reasons, but I think it's not all storm clouds.

However...

I've gotten work from people who have been established in the business a long time and although they have fine gear I would say they are not subject to G.A.S.   What I've gotten from them, whether to mix or master is pretty horrid sometimes where it should have been a piece of cake to get an ok sound if they had a pair of ears.  I think about these people and then I think about my intern who I think could engineer circles around them and I think that you either have it or you don't.  I'm not too sure what to do about the people who don't, but still stay in the business.  Especially since the intern for example is way too humble to self-promote like these guys do.

So is G.A.S the problem?  Or is using a gear list as a crutch for no talent and as a selling point to attract clients?   I have a fear too that this kid will get frustrated in this climate of tin-eared self promoters and choose a different career- I wonder if the state of things is these days that intelligent, talented young people will move to doing something else.  Maybe that's what's destroying modern records as much as anything.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Gold on November 01, 2006, 08:33:17 pm
robot gigante wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 18:40


So is G.A.S the problem?  Or is using a gear list as a crutch for no talent and as a selling point to attract clients?   I have a fear too that this kid will get frustrated in this climate of tin-eared self promoters and choose a different career


This is certainly nothing new. I know a few people who managed to get through a whole career without knowing very much. It's showbiz.

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: greg charles on November 01, 2006, 09:20:55 pm
Here is a classic example of GAS.

http://cikira.com/gear/

For some reason she hasn't recorded much with all that gear...I wonder why?
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: jtr on November 01, 2006, 09:21:16 pm
I'm sitting here trying to craft yet another contribution to this thread, but as I type there are lots of animated advertising graphics for gear flashing on and off all around the screen.

No disrespect intended to our sponsors, this is almost too funny to be scripted.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: turtletone on November 01, 2006, 10:33:48 pm
greg charles wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 21:20

Here is a classic example of GAS.

http://cikira.com/gear/

For some reason she hasn't recorded much with all that gear...I wonder why?


Cause she's way to hot to work around.


Insert pervy laugh.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on November 02, 2006, 04:13:11 am
jtr wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 20:21

I'm sitting here trying to craft yet another contribution to this thread, but as I type there are lots of animated advertising graphics for gear flashing on and off all around the screen.

No disrespect intended to our sponsors, this is almost too funny to be scripted.


Hey Jim,

Kinda reminds me of that 1965 Russ Meyer film:

Faster, Engineer! Buy! Buy!

JT
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on November 02, 2006, 01:03:51 pm
OK so I'm a total hypocrite.

I succumbed to G.A.S. today.

Ordered Fred Forssell's upgrade PC board for the NSEQ-2, and SonicStudio's PMCD software.

The Shame! The Shame!

hello, my name is Jerry and I'm a gearaholic.  Cool
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: djwaudio on November 02, 2006, 02:00:57 pm
TurtleTone wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 06:56

 Two hours later we were printing mixes. I couldn't believe it, I refused to believe that these were the final mixes, but they sounded so great.


Very cool. I am interested in what his listening approach was? It might be helpful here to think about how we actually listen while mastering, regardless of gear addiction-side-effects (unintended pun assured). What goes on in your ears while you work? Possibly a new thread here?

I go through the following steps when I work on a track:

I internalize the *Song Form* & time signature so I know where I am and if there are any sections that are unusual.

Then I listen to what the *Arrangement/Orchestration* is. How are the instruments working together to become the whole; are there any featured instruments, etc.?

The next phase is *Analytical Listening*. This is where decisions are made about how the mix is working and if I can do something with the sonics the help the music come across more effectively. Here is where all of the subjective listening is. It is important to continually shift perspective, focusing on details vs. the global character of the piece.

The next thing is *Critical Listening*. This is usually where I'm committing my work, logging settings and listening for technical quality, and any anomalies in the signal.

Finally after all the assembly and cutting is done, my ear shifts to enjoyment/passive listening. =) Though sometimes I do get excited about a track while I'm working on it and get all Beavis & But-head about it. =P

Most of these ideas are taken form DR. Will Moylan, and his book "The Art of Recording". You can check some of it out here.

http://prosoundweb.com/recording/books/focal/ch8/ch8_1.shtml
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: dave-G on November 02, 2006, 03:31:35 pm
TurtleTone wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 22:33

greg charles wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 21:20

Here is a classic example of GAS.

http://cikira.com/gear/

For some reason she hasn't recorded much with all that gear...I wonder why?


Cause she's way to hot to work around.


Insert pervy laugh.

Don't get too pervy. I just looked at the site ...  I think Amanda is a man, duh.

Well .. NTTAWWT..  I guess. ..

-dave [/EJECT!]
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: maxdimario on November 02, 2006, 04:06:19 pm
no.

people who must 'do' something to the masters to feel secure are destroying modern records.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: turtletone on November 02, 2006, 04:48:59 pm
dave-G wrote on Thu, 02 November 2006 15:31

TurtleTone wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 22:33

greg charles wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 21:20

Here is a classic example of GAS.

http://cikira.com/gear/

For some reason she hasn't recorded much with all that gear...I wonder why?


Cause she's way to hot to work around.


Insert pervy laugh.

Don't get too pervy. I just looked at the site ...  I think Amanda is a man, duh.

Well .. NTTAWWT..  I guess. ..

-dave [/EJECT!]



I feel dirty now.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Barry Hufker on November 02, 2006, 06:48:28 pm
My immediate reaction is that she is a man.  And then it was what the hell does anyone do with all that gear.

Barry
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Masterer on November 02, 2006, 07:37:28 pm
That dude is pretty hot though.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Samc on November 02, 2006, 09:14:12 pm
Might I suggest that the real problem, the single biggest destructive thing to happen to modern audio engineering, (and hence modern records), in general is actually the internet forum.  

G.A.S. is just one of the more woeful results of this modern phenomenon.  If you're not a well known big shot, with G.A.S., you can post fancy pictures on your website...of course the more gear you have, the bigger the pro you are.

More bad information is passed around to a greater number of inexperienced engineers through internet forums than any other source.  Why do you need to go through the hardship of being an intern now when you can get all the information and experience you need on Gearslutz, PSW et al.  

There is a new class of "engineer" whose only frame of refrence is the internet forum.  Everything they do is based on their forum "experience".  Need to know which Mic, pre-amp, comp. etc is best for whatever........just post away on your forum of choice and the responses will come flying faster than a TGV.  Sometimes I cringe when I read some of the questions and responses.  Heck, now you can even buy comparison CDs which will help to answer all your Mic and pre-amp questions without too much effort on your part.

One of the most troubling thing about all this is the fact that all of this is being helped, or in some cases pushed along by experienced and well known engineers and gear pimps.  

Yeah, for all its good, the internet forum is probably the worst thing that could happen to an inexperienced engineer, and the biggest fly in the ointment of modern engineering and production.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: dcollins on November 02, 2006, 11:49:55 pm
Samc wrote on Thu, 02 November 2006 18:14

Might I suggest that the real problem, the single biggest destructive thing to happen to modern audio engineering, (and hence modern records), in general is actually the internet forum.  

G.A.S. is just one of the more woeful results of this modern phenomenon.  If you're not a well known big shot, with G.A.S., you can post fancy pictures on your website...of course the more gear you have, the bigger the pro you are.

More bad information is passed around to a greater number of inexperienced engineers through internet forums than any other source.  Why do you need to go through the hardship of being an intern now when you can get all the information and experience you need on Gearslutz, PSW et al.  

There is a new class of "engineer" whose only frame of refrence is the internet forum.  Everything they do is based on their forum "experience".  Need to know which Mic, pre-amp, comp. etc is best for whatever........just post away on your forum of choice and the responses will come flying faster than a TGV.  Sometimes I cringe when I read some of the questions and responses.  Heck, now you can even buy comparison CDs which will help to answer all your Mic and pre-amp questions without too much effort on your part.

One of the most troubling thing about all this is the fact that all of this is being helped, or in some cases pushed along by experienced and well known engineers and gear pimps.  

Yeah, for all its good, the internet forum is probably the worst thing that could happen to an inexperienced engineer, and the biggest fly in the ointment of modern engineering and production.


Sadly, I think you're right.  As much as I like these discussion forums, it's incredible what passes for advice.

A fair amount of time is just spent "debunking."

DC



Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: turtletone on November 03, 2006, 12:06:27 am
That's why I hang crystals over my modem too. reduces internet jitter.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on November 03, 2006, 09:31:39 am
dcollins wrote on Thu, 02 November 2006 22:49

Samc wrote on Thu, 02 November 2006 18:14

Might I suggest that the real problem, the single biggest destructive thing to happen to modern audio engineering, (and hence modern records), in general is actually the internet forum.  

G.A.S. is just one of the more woeful results of this modern phenomenon.  If you're not a well known big shot, with G.A.S., you can post fancy pictures on your website...of course the more gear you have, the bigger the pro you are.

More bad information is passed around to a greater number of inexperienced engineers through internet forums than any other source.  Why do you need to go through the hardship of being an intern now when you can get all the information and experience you need on Gearslutz, PSW et al.  

There is a new class of "engineer" whose only frame of refrence is the internet forum.  Everything they do is based on their forum "experience".  Need to know which Mic, pre-amp, comp. etc is best for whatever........just post away on your forum of choice and the responses will come flying faster than a TGV.  Sometimes I cringe when I read some of the questions and responses.  Heck, now you can even buy comparison CDs which will help to answer all your Mic and pre-amp questions without too much effort on your part.

One of the most troubling thing about all this is the fact that all of this is being helped, or in some cases pushed along by experienced and well known engineers and gear pimps.  

Yeah, for all its good, the internet forum is probably the worst thing that could happen to an inexperienced engineer, and the biggest fly in the ointment of modern engineering and production.


Sadly, I think you're right.  As much as I like these discussion forums, it's incredible what passes for advice.

A fair amount of time is just spent "debunking."

And one of the reasons I chose the name for this forum - I wanted to build a forum where real, accurate information was spread and BS was not tolerated. I think it's come close to being that, but agree that some folks seem to feel that they don't need a mentor if they have access to experienced engineers via the forums, and that's just not true...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Samc on November 03, 2006, 10:33:37 am
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 03 November 2006 14:31

..... - I wanted to build a forum where real, accurate information was spread and BS was not tolerated. I think it's come close to being that

Yes it has...and without being too stiff and uptight.  

Quote:

but agree that some folks seem to feel that they don't need a mentor if they have access to experienced engineers via the forums, and that's just not true...

The dilemma here is that problem solving now means posting a question on the net and then selecting the response that is most popular....Or just buying the DVD.  Knowing what gear is used by so and so and his favorite settings for said gear is golden these days.  Why do I need to know how a compressor works and what all those fancy knobs do when I can just use "what's his name's" special settings for vox, kick etc?
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bigaudioblowhard on November 03, 2006, 12:23:48 pm
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 03 November 2006 07:31

...

And one of the reasons I chose the name for this forum - I wanted to build a forum where real, accurate information was spread and BS was not tolerated. I think it's come close to being that, but agree that some folks seem to feel that they don't need a mentor if they have access to experienced engineers via the forums, and that's just not true...


I have NEVER met anyone who was interested in being an intern, or mentored or anything. I think this is a deeper problem within American society. We don't have a current tradition of mentor/apprentice in virtually ANY industry anymore, except perhaps medicine. How can you blame young people for not seeking this experience when it isn't encouraged anyway? What does seem to be encouraged is "go be a cowboy".

bab
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: jtr on November 03, 2006, 01:16:30 pm
Bad, anecdotal information has always been around. The internet just does a better job of immortalizing it faster.

In my previous life as an academic audio engineer, I always had to deal with highly intelligent music faculty saying things like " [insert famous name here]  says the [insert product name] is the way to go."     Usually these quotes came from some of the less critical music magazines, where a famous producer or recording engineer discussed some of their methods. The academics would set aside their critical research hats and momentarily turn into rabid fans who hung on every word.  

The forums in various formats have actually been beneficial, but only to those who used them appropriately.   Some of us know each other from past forums efforts- the old rec.audio.pro  list, the Sonic list, early Digidesign list, Sadie list, Mastering Webboard  etc etc. Each of these efforts connected us in a much faster way.  They all contained good stuff, and nonsense. At first, they connected users of specific gear in almost real time - and had a direct impact on some of the manufacturers who didn't count on customers actually comparing notes.



No source of quick information is a substitute for good tradecraft and artistic judgement.  It's unfortunate that the mass marketed music today isn't always  the shining pinnacle of technical achievement in preproduction , but what mass media is?
(well, maybe the Daily Show)  


Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Adam Miller on November 03, 2006, 03:22:23 pm
bigaudioblowhard wrote on Fri, 03 November 2006 17:23


I have NEVER met anyone who was interested in being an intern, or mentored or anything.



Wow. I just can't relate to that at all. The common consensus in this thread that people don't want mentoring, or don't have the patience for interning seems completely alien to me.

I wonder if everyone in this thread who has been mentored at some point in their career has taken the time to pass that knowledge on to someone else?

I would jump at the chance to intern with any one of a long list of people on these forums- I can't believe there aren't others out there who'd do the same.

When I apply for work experience here the UK, I seldom get an acknowledgement, let alone the opportunity for an interview. I want to intern- I'll do odd jobs, food runs, cleaning, whatever, just be in an environment where I can be around and learn from experienced professionals. But it seems that where opportunities exist, there are more than enough people waiting to jump at the chance.

Adam
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bigaudioblowhard on November 04, 2006, 02:38:03 am
Adam Miller wrote on Fri, 03 November 2006 13:22

bigaudioblowhard wrote on Fri, 03 November 2006 17:23


I have NEVER met anyone who was interested in being an intern, or mentored or anything.



Wow. I just can't relate to that at all. The common consensus in this thread that people don't want mentoring, or don't have the patience for interning seems completely alien to me.

I wonder if everyone in this thread who has been mentored at some point in their career has taken the time to pass that knowledge on to someone else?

I would jump at the chance to intern with any one of a long list of people on these forums- I can't believe there aren't others out there who'd do the same.

When I apply for work experience here the UK, I seldom get an acknowledgement, let alone the opportunity for an interview. I want to intern- I'll do odd jobs, food runs, cleaning, whatever, just be in an environment where I can be around and learn from experienced professionals. But it seems that where opportunities exist, there are more than enough people waiting to jump at the chance.

Adam


Hey Adam, Liverpool has a rich history of people who have bucked the odds against them and persevered to become icons of music. You know the list. I was once exactly in your shoes and you know what? Eventually someone allowed me to clean toilets in a Hollywood recording studio. I sent out something like 110 CV's and got three interviews. Nearly 20 years later, I still work in a Hollywood studio (as an ME). It certainly CAN be done. I'm no genius, I just stuck it out. No big secret.

"Where we goin fellas?"

"To the top Johnny"

"And where's that fellas?"

"To the topomost of popomost!"

bab
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Samc on November 04, 2006, 06:15:15 am
bblackwood wrote on Fri, 03 November 2006 14:31

...- I wanted to build a forum where real, accurate information was spread and BS was not tolerated. I think it's come close to being that,...

The fact that there is a much higher ratio of mature, experienced professionals on ths board than most of the other boards, (this is the demographic that generally gains the most, (I believe) from the forums), greatly reduces the BS allure around here.

Guys who hang here have a lower tolerance for BS, plus they can usually spot it a mile away, they are also less likely to ask the kind of questions that invite BS responses.  

Notability, fame and hence business can be gained on internet forums.  This fact changes the game and complicate matters a lot.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on November 04, 2006, 08:49:27 am
Jim Rusby said...

In my previous life as an academic audio engineer, I always had to deal with highly intelligent music faculty saying things like " [insert famous name here]  says the [insert product name] is the way to go."     Usually these quotes came from some of the less critical music magazines, where a famous producer or recording engineer discussed some of their methods. The academics would set aside their critical research hats and momentarily turn into rabid fans who hung on every word.

Being the Director of Audio Services and Concert Sound for the local college for 26 years I can relate.

One major problem with people with higher academic degrees was that they seem to  loose their common sense when they got their PHD. It seems as though the two don't go together very well.

As a good friend of mine who is a PHD told me. "As you learn more and more about less and less you forget more and more about why you want to know what you want to know"

We had music professors who would see an article in a magazine about some new piece of audio equipment or technique and immediately decide that they were missing out on it because my audio service's department did not have the latest and the greatest technology and they would go tell the dean that we needed to have this whatever ASAP. This would normally have been GREAT news for me (new equipment)  but having what amounted to a zero budget for capital equipment this was, more often than not, very difficult, if not impossible to do.

I would be told by the dean (in the immortal words of Jean-Luc Piccard of Star Treck fame) to "Make it so" but with no budget I usually could not do what the faculty member wanted and so he or she got upset with me for not fufilling their "needs".

I remember that at one point I was told by the dean to start making four channel encoded recordings for playback on the local classical station but we did not have a multichannel console or four matched microphones or an encoder. When I took in the estimate to get the equipment we needed the dean said "that's impossible and way too expensive just do it with what you have"

Academicians and deans are not known for their common sense or their willingness to admit that someone else know something more than they do about a given subject and they proved on a dialy basis.

Fun!
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: robot gigante on November 04, 2006, 07:04:33 pm
Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Sat, 04 November 2006 08:49


Academicians and deans are not known for their common sense or their willingness to admit that someone else know something more than they do about a given subject and they proved on a dialy basis.



That's one of the biggest problems I had going through college!

As far as the internet forum thing goes, some of the most frustrating times I have had were before forums really started to happen with people who didn't really have a grip on digital technology but thought that they did.  You know, the same people who were trashing their tape machines and analog gear for ADATs and early Pro Tools systems with their horrible converters and awful plugins.  

I remember being yelled at repeatedly for not recording hot enough to "maximize the bits" even after digital technology got to where that was not needed (as if that would have made a difference even with ADATs, I dunno, ADATs sounded like crap no matter what the levels were to my ears).  I could tell even at the time that recording that hot didn't sound as good once we got to 20 and 24 bit..  I also remember being shouted down at the mere mention of breaking out the tape machine or for patching an analog piece of equipment in.

I don't know if these people ever read internet forums now, but at least on most forums there are a few wise and respected people who do the service of debunking the worst myths.

Again, I think it breaks down to talent and ears- even people with GAS will put all that gear to good use if they have the talent and ears to do so.  Experience and mentoring is important too, although I cringe at some of the 'mentoring' that I received when I was younger.

Forums aren't that bad imho, if people don't have the ears/talent to figure out if what comes up on a forum is good or bad advice, then chances are that they would do just as poorly with or without that "advice."

Again, I wonder if intelligent people with talent and potential are turning elsewhere due to the climate of the recording industry while every self-promoting hack with a gear list and/or a DAW takes their place, and that is what the problem is.  

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: UnderTow on November 04, 2006, 09:01:53 pm
bigaudioblowhard wrote on Sat, 04 November 2006 08:38

Adam Miller wrote on Fri, 03 November 2006 13:22

bigaudioblowhard wrote on Fri, 03 November 2006 17:23


I have NEVER met anyone who was interested in being an intern, or mentored or anything.



Wow. I just can't relate to that at all. The common consensus in this thread that people don't want mentoring, or don't have the patience for interning seems completely alien to me.

I wonder if everyone in this thread who has been mentored at some point in their career has taken the time to pass that knowledge on to someone else?

I would jump at the chance to intern with any one of a long list of people on these forums- I can't believe there aren't others out there who'd do the same.

When I apply for work experience here the UK, I seldom get an acknowledgement, let alone the opportunity for an interview. I want to intern- I'll do odd jobs, food runs, cleaning, whatever, just be in an environment where I can be around and learn from experienced professionals. But it seems that where opportunities exist, there are more than enough people waiting to jump at the chance.

Adam


Hey Adam, Liverpool has a rich history of people who have bucked the odds against them and persevered to become icons of music. You know the list. I was once exactly in your shoes and you know what? Eventually someone allowed me to clean toilets in a Hollywood recording studio. I sent out something like 110 CV's and got three interviews.



I sent out close to 1000 CVs (no kidding!) before finaly getting lucky and getting a chance in post work (forget about any music related studios. I don't think they even open their mail). I actually got in on my IT knowledge (and the fact that my previous career shows that I am serious and can handle situations and people) and not on AE knowledge although I allready had quite a bit of that.

As far as music is concerned, it was/is mainly knowledge more than experience. Although having been doing my own music for years means I do actually have experience but it is all self-taught and not learned from other experienced engineers.

I would have loved to have received a chance in a music studio (and now a mastering studio) but they receive thousands of such requests and can't afford to take anyone on or so I'm told

Now things are more complicated: There are bills to pay so working for free isn't an option for me. That having been said, I would still love to sit in on recording/mixing/mastering sessions when time permits and see how others do things. Talking about things on internet forums is all fine and dandy but it isn't the same as discussing person to person what you hear and do while sitting IN the studio with direct feedback from the monitors and the person. (WUMP and IMP are the closest thing to that on the Internet).

What really got me the job was plain old arrogance. I started calling back the studios that sent me declination letters/emails because I knew they were decent enough and cared enough to bother responding. I would call and say something like "No I don't have the 5 years experience that you request but I'm good, I learn fast and I will be up to speed in no time.

In my first post job I started off editing dialogue but within four months I was responsable for 3 TV drama series doing all the mixing, sound desgin, overdubs and foley. There is no point in being arrogant if you can't deliver but how many youngsters coming out of school have the self confidence, life experience and professionality to pull that off? Diddley squat!

Don't just blame the kids. The mentorship system is broken by society itself. Just as kids want instant stardom, people and businesses want instant results and have no time, money or inclination to invest in new talent. It is a two way street that is so fast paced and busy that it is hard to turn off into a side road.

This is understandable as it takes alot of effort, energy and money to train and mentor someone with no guarantee of return on investement and/or loyalty. The state of the music industry doesn't help...

So, we can bemoan the state of affairs as much as we want but it isn't going to solve anything unless we are in the position to offer mentorship and put those opportunities into practise.

I can't help with that any more than I do (trying to demystify and debunk on the net and with friends like others here do) but I'm sure some of you are in a position to make a step in the right direction.

If we want to change the world we have to start with ourselves. (How corny but true!  Laughing )

Alistair yet again sleep depraved.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 05, 2006, 01:24:05 am
UnderTow wrote on Sat, 04 November 2006 21:01

...sitting IN the studio with direct feedback from the monitors and the person. (WUMP and IMP are the closest thing to that on the Internet).

"they" don't have time for "us". so i guess, not close enough.
we have the technology to do our listening and discussions in real time, but nobody seems willing to commit like that.  we are all "too busy".

bblackwood wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 06:14

Bob Boyd wrote on Wed, 01 November 2006 02:20

The key is the discipline to know the strengths of each.  It's not about having one item in the chain or 10.  At the end of the day, how does it sound?

Indeed.

Realize that most of this thread is stream-of-consciousness from me - I have no agenda, nor have I formed my opinion on any of this, just want to hash it out and see where things stand...

So far, two things have resonated with me - that lack of mentoring is killing the modern engineering craft and serious experience (and the associated discipline that comes with it) is required to know when to say 'when'. Neither of these are revelations, but it's nice to see other people seeing things the same way.

Many have forgotten (or never learned) that simple is always better, but only as simple as needed...


i must be an audio communist by that definition. urgh!   if it needs 100 processes, that's what it gets.  my small group of clients love my sound though. they are not fooled when i spin off a "simple cheapie" either.  my best work so far has been with the most complex chains. sorry, really, it would be so much easier for me to not put in the extra time and effort.

if you don't wish to respect complexity, that is ok as an opinion, but know that i work hard, so the continuous re-enforcement here of a k.i.s.s. mentality kind of hurts; and i think it's wrong:  the journey of electrons inside a sontec could not be simple, or every yahoo would have that sound in their pocket by now.

brad, i have mixed feelings about your very colored aes '06 posts. did anyone record thomas lund's presentation on loudness?  to me, that seems like a better reason to attend aes than to report from the floor mostly about... gear. but maybe someday i'll be needing that information; i still find it useful and am grateful that you showed us some interesting new gear...

thanks for letting me speak my opinion.  

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: UnderTow on November 05, 2006, 07:08:16 am
cerberus wrote on Sun, 05 November 2006 07:24


"they" don't have time for "us". so i guess, not close enough.
we have the technology to do our listening and discussions in real time, but nobody seems willing to commit like that.  we are all "too busy".



That would be really hard to pull off not least because of the time issue. And timezones of course.

Anyway, I am not criticizing the WUMP and IMP. I think they are quite fine as they are. The potential mentors are not the only busy people. Smile One of my points is that the WUMP and IMP are  not replacements for sitting in the studio with someone. They never can be and nor should they attempt to be. I'm commending them as they are actually.

Quote:


i must be an audio communist by that definition. urgh!   if it needs 100 processes, that's what it gets.  my small group of clients love my sound though. they are not fooled when i spin off a "simple cheapie" either.  my best work so far has been with the most complex chains. sorry, really, it would be so much easier for me to not put in the extra time and effort.



I'm not Brad but I'm quite sure his comment is not about "simple cheapies"! I think he is refering to the beautifull elegance of simplicity. He is saying that it usualy doesn't need 100 processes.

When two processes achieve exactly the same goal, the simplest one is invariably the better one. This is something philosophical  and doesn't just apply to audio. It applies to everything in life.

Quote:


if you don't wish to respect complexity, that is ok as an opinion, but know that i work hard, so the continuous re-enforcement here of a k.i.s.s. mentality kind of hurts; and i think it's wrong:  the journey of electrons inside a sontec could not be simple, or every yahoo would have that sound in their pocket by now.



There are different types of complexity. There is the chaotic inefficient type that stems from confusion and lack of understanding and there is the type which is built up of many simple and efficent layers or sub processes to form an elegant complex whole. There is nothing wrong with the latter type.

Alistair
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: malice on November 05, 2006, 07:32:19 am
I'm too lazy and too busy to read all the previous posts right now, but I just can't skip this brilliant question. Sorry if I will raise points that has already been mentioned.

The answer is yes. To me it does.

The problem is that before, the artist was not even bothering about buying gear. He was focusing on his/her music, picked his Martin and performed.

Now he/she has to deal with budget shortage and he/she has to deal with the idea his/her demos will be, wether he/her likes it or not, the backbone of his/her production process.

The record companies are just not ready to pay for a full month recording in a major facility, a producer, a technician etc ...

Now they caress the idea that they should track as many things as possible in their own home, where the vibe is soooooo much better than in a 1000$/day facility + personel.

And even if the budget allows it, the major artists realised that they could take benefit from building a small private studio and get involved in the production process and get more pieces of the cake.

The result is that the artists spend now a great amount of time buying gear and less time focusing on the songs.

It is interesting to see that gear manufacturers are just not aiming their products to studios anymore, but to musicians.

They are building preamps by thousands, maketing the whole thing with vintage hype like : "you need this Neve clone, because nothing else will give you that "insert famous 60/70' hall of fame production" vibe anymore.

The result is that we are spending countless amount of time starting "pre A vs pre B for acoustic gtr" kinda thread at gearslutz.

... and no, Rode mikes in you bedroom alone with cakewalk is no substitution to Abey road with a 47 long body and George Martin coaching your vocal performance.

Yes: this lowered the standarts of music productions to an incredibly low level.

But as long as we are focusing on unimportant matters such as preamps "vibe", we won't notice this problem.

malice


Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on November 05, 2006, 08:33:37 am
I think a very complex chain with lot of plugins and or external processors is not something that I would want to do as a part of a good sounding mastering job for a client. If you have to use a lot of equipment/plugins to make something sound good then there is a good chance that the original material is flawed and your are having to do a lot of "sonic surgery" just to make it sound "normal". I understand the need to keep clients happy but....at what expense?

All the time I see people on the CuBase net asking for more slots in the master section on Wavelab since they are using up to twenty plugins on each track for mastering. I personally cannot fathom WHY you would need that many effects to master your material. I also see some people on the net telling what their outboard effects chain is and it goes on for ten and twenty items that they use on each and every track. If you have to use that many outboard effects in order to do a "proper mastering job" I cannot imagine what the original tracks must sound like and I cannot fathom how running though all that equipment would do anything good to the tracks.

To me the simplest path is the best path but I deal mainly with acoustical material and I can hear very quickly what overprocesing dose to a track. Maybe with Hip Hop or Heavy Metal the over processing does not matter as much since the original tracks are so over done to begin with.

MTCW
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 05, 2006, 11:10:25 am
tom,  this is hard.... but i have a differnent kind respect for the uh abbey road mic... aren't they using sennheisers in the "get back" sessions, like it matters?  u-47 may color the music and possibly too much, not be right for the instrument or the music or whatever.  malice cited that kind of mic by example, but i hear you also saying there is something sacred about the recording, as opposed to the music, (which is all i think is important to the client or the listener.)

50 processes are a lot of garbage removal.. i do lots of polarity inversions and at levels so quiet that protools cannot reproduce the effects nearly as well, modulation effects for example. (oh, now i've really stepped in it...)

the remaining 50 processes are to add distortion and noise in small increments so as to fool everyone that it was recorded the way the artist hears it in their head, not how it was really recorded.  that goes especially for acoustic material.. the more sublime and subtle the product needs to be, the more tiny incremental processes to get there, but it is a way.  it is valid if it works, as alistair suggested in his most recent post. (thank you alistair for the generous comments...)

to me, there is no recording that can't be improved this way, but i especially don't really like the "sound" that recording gear has:  say compared to live acoustic music, like when the musicians aren't even amplified.  unless you actually want to hear the mic, preamp, tape, protools (haha), etc...  in which case,  i <opinionate> that you'd have a bad case of g.a.s.

assuming your gear affords you control, then i think you don't have g.a.s:  you have more control.


jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: chrisj on November 05, 2006, 12:43:00 pm
I once invented a plate reverb vocal mic. I took a dynamic element and stuck it on the middle of a plate as if it was a giant PZM, and got a singer friend to help me test it.

Told her it was going to sound beyond awesome because of the PZM technology combined with the warmth of the dynamic element  Rolling Eyes

On playback, we learned that the mic element was actually pretty terrible- but on that take, and no other, the plate went 'spang!' now and then as her performance hit it- always at the moments that would put chills up your spine.

Performance variations go way beyond pre differences- even mic differences- in magnitude.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on November 05, 2006, 09:05:13 pm
malice wrote on Sun, 05 November 2006 06:32

...It is interesting to see that gear manufacturers are just not aiming their products to studios anymore, but to musicians...
This is the "democratization" argument, the idea that being able to afford recording gear creates a greater opportunity for success in music. I rate this right up with songsharking as being one of the most unethical rip-offs of musicians on the planet.

The truth is that a band needs a publicist, a demo video and enough money to play a lot of break-even gigs far more than they need a CD, much less the gear to make one with. It's a very expensive dead-end.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 06, 2006, 03:30:00 am
how about advising clients to have a beer with a clear channel executive?

aren't mastering engineers much better off if the client spends more of their limited resources on recorded music and toward promoting their recorded music?

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: AndreasN on November 11, 2006, 01:54:24 pm
GAS is everywhere in society, not just music.

Most people take the buy-it shortcut rather than going through the long process of changing themselves.


Me too. Wish it actually worked!
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 11, 2006, 04:32:42 pm
that's part of capitalism...we work for 8 hours a day at one thing and the rest comes to us... don't want to go back to farming and basket weaving i suppose?

but we are theoretically not the best capitalists..   we must be in this because we love it, not for the money (unless we are snakes, in my opinion).  so we are here.. and  wall street is thataway ->>> if money is all one needs.  i think the average investment banker could afford sontecs for their telephones if they wanted to have them... go there and earn the dosh, and then come back here a winner to show it all off... (i figure that covers some of us anyway).

gas because some gassers egg the crowd on... it's a sport.

yet i notice that there is a certain maturity and responsibitity that comes with being trusted with people's music that also allows the professional to say "no";  and not spend their time pining for the next toy like we all did as children.

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on November 13, 2006, 07:36:03 am
I got a call last week from a client. First question he asked was what do you use for equipment? Second was what programs do you use for mastering? Third was how much is this going to cost me? Forth when can I come in for a listening session?

He is not alone. More and more people seem to be gearaholics and are concerned more about what gear you have in your racks then how good a job you will be able to do with their material.

Maybe it is the GC approach. Have tons of semi expensive gear sitting around that no one knows how to use (least of all the salesmen) and you can pick and chose what you want by looking at the equipment and the price tags (that in some cases are larger than the equipment)

I ran into this situation early in my career when I worked at the local college and had a personal recording studio on the side. People would call up and ask if I had such and such a piece of equipment (whatever was the new HOT piece in Mix) and if I did not have one they would hang up and be on to the next studio.

Now some of that seems to be spilling over into mastering. One potential client was upset that I did not have a pro tools rig, another that I had no Manley equipment in my studio, another that did not have multiple speakers because he just read in Mix that a mastering engineer who was interviewed had three or four sets of speakers in his mastering room and this person did some mastering of a CD that my potential client really liked.

It has been my observation and that of my mentor that professionals don't really care what equipment you have or how expensive it is...they are looking for results. If you can give them what they are looking for and are using a Mackie 1604, a Tascam Model 52 tape deck and some hi fi speakers then they could not be happier.

What we are dealing with a lot of the time is someone who is a newbie to the whole recording/mixdown/mastering process and who has no idea of how or why things are done so they turn to the Internet, to friends or to a trade magazine for their information. Most people don't make the connection that audio magazines are making their major revenue off of advertising new equipment. They see some piece of equipment talked about or reviewed in the magazine and that becomes their reference point. They talk to friends or the salesman and the local audio store and ask questions not realizing that the people they are relying on for information maybe less knowledgeable then they give them credit for.  They go to a chat room or forum and read posts from people talking about things they really don't understand either.

It is hard enough to judge how good a mastering studio is. So I think people have the idea that if the person has enough money to buy all the best equipment they must have the best mastering studio and the one they want to chose to do their mastering.

I know, as most of the people on this board know, that equating lots of very expensive equipment with a high quality mastering job is not really the way it is but for the people who are looking for a way to "judge" a mastering studio it seem to make perfect sense.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Dave Davis on November 13, 2006, 08:37:49 am
The newbie represents growth within our industry.  A fashionable paradigm these days is "long tail", which to us means: many more hobbyists and artists with no need or expectation of profit, and thus no value on professionalism per se, but rather results.  The early stage of this shift puts an emphasis on two things: learning/experience and outcome/product.  These new clients come to professionals as much to learn and experience things they don't have and can't afford as for the results, which are also a reach for them.  This will change, and these clients will develop. What won't change is demand for professional services and _experiences_ at the low end of this new market.

Given that, it's not surprising so many callers are interested in your gear and facility.  If the experience you offer (in terms of equipment and venue) is similar to what they have at home, you're competing mostly on budget and dollars.  OTOH if you have a great looking room with unfamiliar gear, curiosity and gear lust enter the equation and the experience becomes more valuable.  People don't like to feel dumb, nor do they like to pay for what they think they already have.  So, if your DAW is one they own, or your room similar to theirs, your rates will be affected.

More important than the gear is the experience.  If they come in and the experience is positive and novel (to them), it has value.  In particular, if they learn something while attending, it's especially useful.  I'm not offended but flattered that most of the new mastering engineers and rooms in my area were opened by former clients, and I recall sessions where they noted each piece of gear, every twist of a knob, and laughed a little inside when they wanted a copy of a session files they will never be able to open or parameters that have little bearing to the cracked Waves plugs they're opting to use!  The experience itself, not the settings or specific boxes, set the standard and the bar.  Talking to me about their music, learning about the priorities and workflow, all of that stuff.  Still the gear plays a role in getting them in the door, even if it's never in their chain.

When a session goes right, the client realizes they're getting tremendous value for their dollar.  Most realize they prefer making music, to making music sound better or second guessing themselves and those around them.  More to the point, those capable can do the math: It would cost them at least $10-20K to do what I do and hear what I hear, so unless they plan on making 20-40 records, it's a huge waste of money to build a mastering studio to accompany their home recording studio.  Hell, even I'd trade a fretless wonder Les Paul or 64 Stratocaster for a Sonic, a Sadie or a Weiss any day!  And that is the real choice the DIYer faces.

-d-
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on November 13, 2006, 10:16:11 am
Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Mon, 13 November 2006 06:36

I got a call last week from a client. First question he asked was what do you use for equipment? Second was what programs do you use for mastering? Third was how much is this going to cost me? Forth when can I come in for a listening session?

He is not alone. More and more people seem to be gearaholics and are concerned more about what gear you have in your racks then how good a job you will be able to do with their material. way to "judge" a mastering studio it seem to make perfect sense.

Could also stem from fear or experience of being burned by the multitude of 'mastering engineers' out there using a kracked version of Cubase on their mom's Dell...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 13, 2006, 01:51:56 pm
so hubris could affect the quality of our services?

interesting thoughts. back to work.

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: jtr on November 13, 2006, 06:39:19 pm
Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Mon, 13 November 2006 04:36

I got a call last week from a client. First question he asked was what do you use for equipment? Second was what programs do you use for mastering? Third was how much is this going to cost me? Forth when can I come in for a listening session?

He is not alone. More and more people seem to be gearaholics and are concerned more about what gear you have in your racks then how good a job you will be able to do with their material.
(snipped)


I find the opposite here.  Most of the initial inquiries I receive are questions as follows: 1. Experience  ,2. Cost, 3.Schedule-

my phone log shows the last 5 inquiries I took didn't really care about the gear.  Maybe it is my region, and client base background.

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Viitalahde on November 03, 2009, 08:19:01 am
I'm bumping up an old topic again, but there's no sense in starting a new one when there's plenty of good discussion here.

I've been pondering this lately myself. I'm in a good spot in that my customers value what I do instead of what I own. It could be vice versa since I build a majority of my tools myself, but most of my customers seem to be only mildly curious about it.

But what has really got me thinking is the whole gearslut thing. I constantly see people changing their perfectly fine tools within months just to get the new one. I don't see how anyone could really dig deep into the tools within this time.

Another thing that always makes me grin my teeth are the topics in where people ask opinions about new tools, and what they have been considering are just about the exact opposites of each other, both in sound and in topology.

What's up with just blindly getting new tools without knowing why you need them for? Purpose goes first in here..

Rant off.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Waltz Mastering on November 03, 2009, 09:21:02 am
Viitalahde wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 08:19


I've been pondering this lately myself. I'm in a good spot in that my customers value what I do instead of what I own. It could be vice versa since I build a majority of my tools myself, but most of my customers seem to be only mildly curious about it.

But what has really got me thinking is the whole gearslut thing. I constantly see people changing their perfectly fine tools within months just to get the new one. I don't see how anyone could really dig deep into the tools within this time.


I think when people start swapping out gear all the time, or start stacking up to many boxes, they are chasing a sound or they are searching for a better result than  what they hear coming from their speakers, which in the end is more likely tied to their technique or practice more than the box it's coming out of... and I think this ties into the reason a client (unless they are an engineer) doesn't care much about custom or expensive boxes, but more about the sound they hear.

This is different than upgrading gear that you know will make a marked improvement to your workflow and end result.  IMHO, YMMV, EIEIO, USC VS. ND
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on November 03, 2009, 09:36:43 am
Viitalahde wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 07:19

I'm bumping up an old topic again, but there's no sense in starting a new one when there's plenty of good discussion here.

Thanks for doing so - it's as timely a discussion today as it was several years ago.

Quote:

But what has really got me thinking is the whole gearslut thing. I constantly see people changing their perfectly fine tools within months just to get the new one. I don't see how anyone could really dig deep into the tools within this time.

Yah, indeed. It's frustrating when people spend 90% of their time and energy chasing gear as if the gear is what makes them engineers. The focus on the craft is lost on a majority of folks, likely due to the fact that improving yourself is much harder and takes far longer than just buying a new piece of equipment.

Quote:

Rant off.

No need to stop ranting - people need to hear / read this. Frankly, it's why I called this forum what I did and why my focus has always been predominantly on the craft of mastering instead of the gear. Is the gear important? Yes, of course - I've spent untold thousands having specific custom pieces built in addition to the off-the-shelf pieces I own in order to create a chain that does exactly what I want. But I spent years working with a far simpler chain, upgrading only once the gear became the limitation.

The focus should be on becoming better engineers, so that no matter what gear we're given we can perform, but in today's 'instant gratification' world many seem to want to simply buy their way into the field.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Patrik T on November 03, 2009, 11:44:14 am
Getting to know just a very limited amount of gear over many years of time must be the only way to actually become a better engineer.


Best Regards
Patrik
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: T. Mueller on November 03, 2009, 01:14:45 pm
Quote:


The focus should be on becoming better engineers, so that no matter what gear we're given we can perform, but in today's 'instant gratification' world many seem to want to simply buy their way into the field.




+1 on Brad's and Tom's and others' comments.  I know that realizing and analyzing and working around my current limitations are helping me.  I'm constantly trying to figure out how to do what with what I have. It also forces me to make the decisions about buying gear differently; using gear as a tool to fix a problem in the current chain instead of replacing things willy-nilly.

I appreciate the reminders from this board that go for solutions instead of dollar amounts, and the reminders that at the end of the day, the sound is what matters.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on November 03, 2009, 01:28:39 pm
Some clients seem to be really uptight about equipment and what a mastering engineer is going to use on their material. They worry that if the person doing the mastering is not using all Manley, GML and/or Sontec they are not dealing with a "real" mastering engineer. They get much of this equipment "information" from the pages of Mix magazine and or reading online sites such as this.

I guess to their way of thinking there are too many bedroom or basement operations using cracked programs or people doing things all ITB and one way to tell who is real and who is a phony is to ask about what equipment the mastering engineer is using.

What they fail to realize is that it is all about the person doing the mastering and less about what equipment he or she is using but I guess that is just the way people think!

Good topic!
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: dcollins on November 03, 2009, 02:33:24 pm
Patrik T wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 08:44

Getting to know just a very limited amount of gear over many years of time must be the only way to actually become a better engineer.



Yes.  


DC
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Viitalahde on November 03, 2009, 04:30:49 pm
Patrik T wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 16:44

Getting to know just a very limited amount of gear over many years of time must be the only way to actually become a better engineer.


Precisely.

I love working when I know which thing does what, exactly. If I kept changing my set-up all the time, I couldn't get anything done. I hate installing new equipment. Of course, upgrades can be good but they must come after a long thought process.

Besides, I never understood the appeal of equipment in general. They're tools. You usually don't see a carpenter drooling over his hammer (unless he's a special kind of a carpenter).
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Rick O'neil on November 03, 2009, 04:38:16 pm
As part of the usual GAS we all get  ( more so right now because i am building a new studio .. making plans for   new racks etc ) ,
i just got the massenburg mastering gear in to see if i had a spot for it in my life ... before i move the studios

now i dont need this stuff really  if i am fair to myself  - but i really liked the idea of having it in the new place if you understand.... and as always  if i find something that does something  better then what i have  i generally  buy it .

when i started  in this mastering game in the eighties all i had was a neumann desk , a sontec disc cutting eq and a sontec cutting drc .
i really liked the idea that i could just use Georges newest   versions  of these beasts  in the new place a bit like the old days and nothing else .

so i have spent two weeks just saying to myself , what if these are the only boxes i had ...  could  i make records sound just right with    just the two devices  ..? like back in the day ...

and the answer for me at this point is  no i cannot ...!  there are to many other "tricks  needed in the mastering bag nowadays "

but what i have found is how humbling it is to not know what your doing with new gear  and have to "learn" a box without chewing  up somebodies  album !  
the learning curve  has been a blast and two weeks  later i must admit the subtleness of the massenburg designs , far exceeds and excels anything comparable that i have  !  

but  the point is i have had to put my engineering chops to work to relearn  the freq  numbers and how they sound   on the gml  eq ( every eq brand  is different when it comes to   freq sounds i find ) and i have had to really  look and learn the amazing control  of drc  to get the sounds i want .

but two boxes ARE doing the job of 4  right now , which IS immensely  satisfying
but i have had to work to get there , which is  if i am honest  is something i dont   do too much .

i  probably have "too much gear " if that is possible  but the reason is if something does just one thing really well  that is ok with me ..
well untill its time to try "squeeze it all into a  new console of a sane size "

so maybe we should all go on a two box diet for a month and see  how many rack spaces we could drop .?

as always check back in in a year and see what has changed , something always does  Smile


Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Patrik T on November 03, 2009, 05:05:36 pm
One word I do not quite understand in the mastering context is "toolbox". When I hear about a guy with 4 eq's and 4 comps I get the feeling that at least 4 of those boxes are there to compensate for how the others behave.


Best Regards
Patrik
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Garrett H on November 03, 2009, 05:39:32 pm
I'm worried that people won't finish a project, won't record, or hold off making music because they are constantly holding out for that better recorder/interface/microphone...  
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: hnewman on November 03, 2009, 05:44:12 pm
Viitalahde wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 16:30


Besides, I never understood the appeal of equipment in general. They're tools. You usually don't see a carpenter drooling over his hammer (unless he's a special kind of a carpenter).


I rarely work with a contractor who doesn't at some point want to show off his $300 drill.  

There are many reasons to buy gear, no?  To shake things up, to solve a particular shortcoming, to widen one's palette?  I have equipment that is really good at doing specific things, but I don't have any one box that is suitable for any and all purposes.  Does this just mean I haven't spent enough time using said pieces?  I'm not so sure.

And maybe some will view this as a shortcoming, but I do regularly run into battles I could not fight with a single EQ and a single compressor.  
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: dcollins on November 03, 2009, 06:41:04 pm
Rick O'neil wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 13:38


so maybe we should all go on a two box diet for a month and see  how many rack spaces we could drop .?



Doug Sax used two eq's and one limiter and he got by ok.


DC
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cass anawaty on November 03, 2009, 06:43:10 pm
It's easy enough for me.  STC-8M + Ibis = My toolbox.

Okay...a few plugins...but not many.    Very Happy
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 03, 2009, 07:00:19 pm
dcollins wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 18:41


Doug Sax used two eq's and one limiter and he got by ok.

are you saying that these were very special devices?
or that doug's technique only required that many devices?

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on November 03, 2009, 07:10:46 pm
cerberus wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 18:00

dcollins wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 18:41


Doug Sax used two eq's and one limiter and he got by ok.

are you saying that these were very special devices?
or that doug's technique only required that many devices?

Technique > tools.

Doug is one of the all-time masters of the craft and therefore requires little in the way of tools.

I'd be lying if I said his somewhat minimalist approach wasn't a massive influence on my overall ideas regarding the craft.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on November 03, 2009, 08:08:29 pm
dcollins wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 18:41


Doug Sax used two eq's and one limiter and he got by ok.
When I worked with him during the '70s there was only one equalizer. What is the second one? The first was a passive shelf eq.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bigaudioblowhard on November 03, 2009, 08:58:44 pm
Dougs passive shelf also has a UREI component built in, if I'm not mistaken.

bab
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: mcsnare on November 03, 2009, 10:12:43 pm
I think to say that Doug only has a limiter and 2 eq's (which btw add up to the same amount of bands as the usual single eq) is like saying TLA and CLA only use a pair of NS-10's. It's kind of amazing and daunting at the same time.
I know great engineers that use few tools and some that have lots. Personally I like having options even if I only use a few of them for 80% of the jobs.
Doug likes to remark "Some people need the 64 Crayola box. I only need red green and blue. "

Dave
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on November 04, 2009, 08:14:06 am
dcollins wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 18:41

Rick O'neil wrote on Tue, 03 November 2009 13:38


so maybe we should all go on a two box diet for a month and see  how many rack spaces we could drop .?



Doug Sax used two eq's and one limiter and he got by ok.


DC




Doug Sax is a genius when it comes to mastering but most of the material he was getting in was already well done (well recorded and mixed) so he was literally putting the icing on the cake and did not need a lot of fancy tools to make the material sound GREAT. Now days, IMHO, when people bring in a mess you have to have more tools to make it sound good.

I love to get new gear or new audio software. It is especially nice when the new gear/software lets me do something that I was unable to do before like when I got RX from Izotope or my Weiss EQ1 MKII. I cannot afford a lot of high end equipment. Because of the the clients we serve and their budgets I have to work the magic with what I have. It has taught me that utilizing your equipment to the fullest is the best thing to do before deciding on purchasing new boxes or software. Sometime in the future I would like to be able to have a rack full of nice analog mastering gear but given the economy and our clients ability to pay that is probably NOT going to happen anytime soon.

Good topic!

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Waltz Mastering on November 04, 2009, 08:45:50 am
Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 08:14


Doug Sax is a genius when it comes to mastering but most of the material he was getting in was already well done (well recorded and mixed) so he was literally putting the icing on the cake and did not need a lot of fancy tools to make the material sound GREAT.



I think this is a bit of a myth,  regarding "everything coming in sounding well done".

It's more to an ME's credit that they leave sounding like they came in well recorded and mixed.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Viitalahde on November 04, 2009, 09:03:22 am
Waltz Mastering wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 13:45

It's more to an ME's credit that they leave sounding like they came in well recorded and mixed.



I don't know if it eases with age and working years, but with very good mixes, I find it can take surprisingly a lot of time to do the decision of doing less.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: mcsnare on November 04, 2009, 11:58:18 am
Quote:


I don't know if it eases with age and working years, but with very good mixes, I find it can take surprisingly a lot of time to do the decision of doing less.



True dat.

Dave

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: dcollins on November 04, 2009, 01:39:31 pm
Viitalahde wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 06:03


I don't know if it eases with age and working years, but with very good mixes, I find it can take surprisingly a lot of time to do the decision of doing less.



One of the hardest things to do is to know when to cut it flat.


DC
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Rick O'neil on November 04, 2009, 02:43:27 pm
isnt it curious that when you tell the client you going to cut the track flat it falls 50% between  all smiles beeming  proud engineer  for getting it right and  50 % paranoid  manager/ artist  wondering what the hell they are paying  you for if your not going to "do anything " !
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Patrik T on November 04, 2009, 03:11:40 pm
Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 14:14

Doug Sax is a genius when it comes to mastering but most of the material he was getting in was already well done (well recorded and mixed) so he was literally putting the icing on the cake and did not need a lot of fancy tools to make the material sound GREAT. Now days, IMHO, when people bring in a mess you have to have more tools to make it sound good.



For me there is no big difference between something "great" or something that is not "great". This because the judgement regarding this might trip over into subjectivity much too easily.

A great mix might benefit from one band of eq and turn worse by touching another band. So then I don't use the 2:nd band. I seem to observe that the exact same goes for a "bad" mix. Why should I then use more processing for something that turns worse in the same way as good things turns worse?

I used to think I would need more than 3 bands of eq to become better. Nowadays I almost never activate the additional bands. I could need something wider though, and this I am aware of.

A lot of tools to make something sound great might be a way of making everything sound very uniform and this will result in less and less integrity between artists. I don't consider translation as something that should lead to everyone sounding like everybody else. I find problems regarding real translation to be pretty easily fixed with very little processing. Even on the baddest mix around.

A lot of "fixing" would to me indicate that the wrong is not in the music - the wrong is my approach to the music. If I activate too much processing I usually reset everything and start over because I just know it can't be good for the material.


Best Regards
Patrik
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 04, 2009, 04:38:26 pm
i never think to boost or cut anything with a static filter,  unless somebody tells me to.

imo, a lot of g.a.s. is  about promoting use of eq on everything from a rolloff
filter on a mic, to the preamp, to consoles and outboard, to guitar pedals, to
the stereo in your car or boombox. everybody seems to be qualified to eq !

i hear too many cooks already in this kitchen. and i often notice  a lot of g.a.s.  

seems that an eq which is considered to be "musical" by consensus here is likely
to sport an amp, or some very unique filter shape? well, we never pin it down.
some call it "magic"! what is that, btw ?

---

imo, another source of g.a.s, is from using cheap digital methods, thinking it
is as good as analog. such as: the widespread use of never adequate
sample rates (so as to achieve the highest track and plug-in counts).

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: dcollins on November 04, 2009, 05:29:36 pm
cerberus wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 13:38

i never think to boost or cut anything with a static filter,  unless somebody tells me to.



What does that mean?

Quote:


seems that an eq which is considered to be "musical" by consensus here is likely
to sport an amp, or some very unique filter shape? well, we never pin it down.



http://www.audiosignal.co.uk/Resources/Why_do_equalisers_sou nd_different_A4.pdf


Quote:


imo, another source of g.a.s, is from using cheap digital methods, thinking it is as good as analog.



Agreed.

Quote:


such as: the widespread use of never adequate
sample rates (so as to achieve the highest track and plug-in counts).



Is that to say that 48k is inadequate?


DC
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on November 04, 2009, 05:32:50 pm
Patrik T wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 15:11

Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 14:14

Doug Sax is a genius when it comes to mastering but most of the material he was getting in was already well done (well recorded and mixed) so he was literally putting the icing on the cake and did not need a lot of fancy tools to make the material sound GREAT. Now days, IMHO, when people bring in a mess you have to have more tools to make it sound good.



For me there is no big difference between something "great" or something that is not "great". This because the judgement regarding this might trip over into subjectivity much too easily.

A great mix might benefit from one band of eq and turn worse by touching another band. So then I don't use the 2:nd band. I seem to observe that the exact same goes for a "bad" mix. Why should I then use more processing for something that turns worse in the same way as good things turns worse?

I used to think I would need more than 3 bands of eq to become better. Nowadays I almost never activate the additional bands. I could need something wider though, and this I am aware of.

A lot of tools to make something sound great might be a way of making everything sound very uniform and this will result in less and less integrity between artists. I don't consider translation as something that should lead to everyone sounding like everybody else. I find problems regarding real translation to be pretty easily fixed with very little processing. Even on the baddest mix around.

A lot of "fixing" would to me indicate that the wrong is not in the music - the wrong is my approach to the music. If I activate too much processing I usually reset everything and start over because I just know it can't be good for the material.


Best Regards
Patrik


A lot of our clients do recording and mixing in their basements and bedrooms. Some of it sounds good - some not so good. They bring it in and want it to all sound "professional and commercial". I try and help them by doing what I can to help their music. Sometimes I can get by with a little EQ and some limiting or compression, but many times I have to do some MAJOR "sonic surgery" to get it to sound good.

Many clients are out of time and money by the time they get to us. They really don't understand what mastering is all about but a "friend" told them that mastering could make their stuff sound better. They cannot really go back and rerecord it or remix it due to lots of factors that are out of their control so if I cannot pull off the "miracle" they are expecting they are basically out of options.

I might be alone in getting the type of materials I get from clients and wanting to help them achieve their dreams but I don't think so. I cannot in good conscious take someone's money for making a sh!t recording job into a polished sh!t mastering job. I guess many other mastering engineers (no one on this list) do not have that hangup.

I sometimes hear what the client got when he or she went to another "mastering" engineer before coming to us. Many times they come away with less money but a really sh!tty product and then they come here wanting me to "fix it" so they can send it in for replication or to put up on the WWW.

If they would have come here to begin with I probably could have helped them but now they don't have the money or the time to get it all redone so they are basically screwed. I really feel for them but... C'est la vie.

There are a lot of fast buck artist plying their trade on the internet and locally. They promise a lot but deliver very little and they charge big time rates but do bedroom mastering with a couple of cracked plug ins on a pirated DAW. I guess in the end the client get exactly what they didn't want but paid the price for finding that out.

End of Rant!
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 04, 2009, 07:05:29 pm
dcollins wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 17:29

cerberus wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 13:38

i never think to boost or cut anything with a static filter,  unless somebody tells me to.

What does that mean?

i notice that music is dynamic, so static filters, which are insensitive to dynamics  
do not immediately seem as useful to me as they do to most everyone else.

Quote:

Quote:


seems that an eq which is considered to be "musical" by consensus here is likely
to sport an amp, or some very unique filter shape? well, we never pin it down.



               http://www.audiosignal.co.uk/Resources/Why_do_equalisers_sou nd_different_A4.pdf



imo, this is a great article;  full of interesting conjectures. how many of us are measuring
phase response or examining  the i.r. of filters? how many understand  that the uncertainty
priniciple attached to this math means a tradeoff or compromise inevitably comes with the tool?

one of my favorite statements here : "All filters smear..."

and the article concludes:  

"there are limitations to how far an equaliser can
actually ‘equalise’ an already-coloured signal. "

+1 on that.  what i meant by: "too many cooks...".  

Quote:


such as: the widespread use of never adequate
sample rates (so as to achieve the highest track and plug-in counts).
Quote:

 Is that to say that 48k is inadequate?


imo, that is arguable... for example: a nyquist filter at 24k may be inaudible
to some with some program material. but the aliasing that might otherwise
occur may still be audible, or may impart audible effects to processes.

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Adam Dempsey on November 04, 2009, 11:56:11 pm
Most enjoyable project I've had in weeks was a rock project needing no more than a couple of bands of the Sontec 462 and a couple of the Massive Passive. Then 2dB less gain on the console output for the vinyl versions. No comp or limiting. Done.

Client email: "I've never come out of a mastering studio and put the CD on in my car and instantly liked the changes made to my mixes. It's really easy to listen to."
Always feels good.  Smile

Having said that, I do remind myself that being a minimalist still means doing whatever's required, just no more than that. I like having limitations (I worked for years with no more than a broad 7 band graphic EQ), yet having the options of, say, "ok, which unit for +1dB at 100Hz is right for this track?" always pays off.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Silvertone on November 05, 2009, 06:50:21 am
I'm a minimalist at heart... if I have an EQ, a compressor and a limiter in when mastering that is a lot... I'll usually ask for a remix if I can't get it to happen with just a couple of processors.

Here's a good analogy to that and shows where I come from anyway...

Recently, I just mixed a track for Tony Levins new Stick Men album. Everybody in the band wanted to know how I made an all digital album sound so "analog".  Tony had this song mixed (in the box) already but gave me a shot at it for fun.

I used my 1968 Electrodyne console,  no compressors, EQ in on two tracks and only l, C, R for panning (the edyne has no pan knobs) oh yeah and one old Lexicon PCM60... that's it.

The mix smokes the one done in the box with all the compressors and EQ's on every channel and FX on half the tracks, etc...

Anyway they ended up using my version on the album.

When it came time to master it was a matter of setting the level... that's it.

Get this: LESS IS MORE PEOPLE... LET THE MUSIC SHINE

So many people want to impart "their skill" onto a project that they miss the point of the music... sometimes even the guys who create the music in the first place.  Engineering is a skill, period and end of story. Knowing when it's "done" is the hardest thing to master.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: compasspnt on November 05, 2009, 09:32:49 am
Silvertone wrote on Thu, 05 November 2009 06:50

Get this: LESS IS MORE PEOPLE... LET THE MUSIC SHINE

So many people want to impart "their skill" onto a project that they miss the point of the music...


Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on November 05, 2009, 09:57:07 am
Silvertone wrote on Thu, 05 November 2009 06:50

Get this: LESS IS MORE PEOPLE... LET THE MUSIC SHINE


A couple weeks ago had a song in that only required a third dB added at 21kHz and 1dB of limiting. All other processors set to flat... a good feeling.

JT
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cass anawaty on November 05, 2009, 02:15:04 pm
Jerry Tubb wrote on Thu, 05 November 2009 14:57

Silvertone wrote on Thu, 05 November 2009 06:50

Get this: LESS IS MORE PEOPLE... LET THE MUSIC SHINE


A couple weeks ago had a song in that only required a third dB added at 21kHz and 1dB of limiting. All other processors set to flat... a good feeling.

JT


Don't be so heavy-handed.   Razz
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: mcsnare on November 05, 2009, 03:31:29 pm
I don't think I can hear +.3 at 21K!

Dave

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: mcsnare on November 05, 2009, 03:34:02 pm
That must be the equivalent to the amount of Vermouth in a very very very dry Martini.


Dave

Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: TotalSonic on November 05, 2009, 03:54:37 pm
mcsnare wrote on Thu, 05 November 2009 15:31

I don't think I can hear +.3 at 21K!

Dave




There's no doubt in my mind that I can't hear even +10dB at 21kHz.  My hearing stops at 19kHz on even the best of days.  I figure it must be a super broad & gentle slope shelf eq in which case a push up at 21kHz would still effect things more in the audible band in a subtle way.  

Maybe something left over from my vinyl days where I'd spend more effort at getting rid of these freq's than ever adding them in  - but in the definite majority of cases I find that "air" band boosts tend to be annoying more than they are ever helpful.  OMMV!

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Gold on November 05, 2009, 05:08:33 pm
I was going to to say 'so you were too chicken to cut it flat' but I thought it was mean. Ooops, I said it.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: prolearts on November 05, 2009, 06:14:05 pm
Larrchild wrote on Thu, 19 October 2006 02:31

Once a powerful force becomes available to you and your competitors, the inclination is toward mass-buildup and stockpiles of said force as a deterrent. This MAE, or Mutally Assured Equipment, causes all participants to earmark greater and greater percentages of their GNP to keep pace.

Sensible parties will meet and agree to scale down the stockpiles and allow confirmation via inspections, in the interest of protecting our children's future.

The alternative is unthinkable.



I don't have time to read this whole incredibly long thread (don't some of y'all have work you should be doing!?), so forgive me if someone else has posted this in the subsequent 10 pages, but:

Larry, the above response coupled with your avatar is nothing short of evil genius!

I will say that I have gotten into a happy rut with what knobs I have to turn and am mostly worrying about the music these days. Also, with my mixer hat on, I long ago gave up on buying newer and newer crap and make what records I do make now with a PT 888/24 mix system and a Neotek Elan with the same pile of funky outboard gear I've had for about the last half decade or so. People seem to love it!

J. Ward
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: bblackwood on November 05, 2009, 06:53:00 pm
prolearts wrote on Thu, 05 November 2009 17:14


I don't have time to read this whole incredibly long thread (don't some of y'all have work you should be doing!?)

I don't think 10 pages is a tremendous amount considering I started this thread over three years ago...
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: mcsnare on November 05, 2009, 08:54:25 pm
Hell, I might've been able to hear +.3 at 21K 3 years ago......

Dave
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 05, 2009, 11:23:23 pm
the highest amount of phase shift would be furthest away from its
center frequency. so it doesn't seem odd to me that
a filter that is centered at a frequency which few can claim to hear
could produce an audible effect at a lower frequency.

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on November 05, 2009, 11:38:58 pm
mcsnare wrote on Thu, 05 November 2009 14:31

I don't think I can hear +.3 at 21K!

Dave




OK Ok ok ...maybe it was a half dB.

one click on the top band on the NSEQ-2F...

at least the placebo effect lives!

Cheers - JT
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Bob Olhsson on November 06, 2009, 04:31:29 pm
dcollins wrote on Wed, 04 November 2009 12:39

One of the hardest things to do is to know when to cut it flat.
The difference between really better and just different.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on November 06, 2009, 10:49:54 pm
Gold wrote on Thu, 05 November 2009 16:08

I was going to to say 'so you were too chicken to cut it flat' but I thought it was mean. Ooops, I said it.


Saludo Pablo !

I've never been called chicken before, maybe turkey or dodo...

Adding the small click at 21kHz (bell) in this case actually did give it a touch of sparkle on top : - )

Cheers - JT

p.s. does retubing count as G.A.S. ?

Nick & I both retubed our Manley VariMu's today... a warm experience.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: cerberus on November 12, 2009, 09:49:54 pm
i don't think modding gear is g.a.s. because it means one plans to keep the piece. that
would be an investment; whereas g.a.s. would be like throwing money into a black hole.

----

i think the psychological mechanism behind g.a.s. may be: the placebo effect.
science seems to have proven that we are all susceptible to it.

jeff dinces
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Waltz Mastering on November 12, 2009, 11:17:58 pm
Jerry Tubb wrote on Fri, 06 November 2009 22:49


Nick & I both retubed our Manley VariMu's today... a warm experience.


Curious to hear what kind/s of tubes you went with?
Was going to order a set soon. Any suggestions?
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on November 15, 2009, 06:31:55 am
Waltz Mastering wrote on Thu, 12 November 2009 22:17

Jerry Tubb wrote on Fri, 06 November 2009 22:49


Nick & I both retubed our Manley VariMu's today... a warm experience.


Curious to hear what kind/s of tubes you went with?
Was going to order a set soon. Any suggestions?


We just went with a coupla sets of these:

http://www.tubesrule.com/product_p/retube-mslc.htm

Some of them were 1980's NOS, some Russian EH.

After the installation procedure, tweaking, burn-in, and retweak,
a noticeable improvement in sound, a little more clarity, a less little mushy.
Naturally keeping the old tubes for spares.

Cheers - JT

p.s. had the great pleasure of speaking with Jack the Bear this week!
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Hank Alrich on November 15, 2009, 07:28:58 pm
cerberus wrote on Sat, 04 November 2006 22:24



if you don't wish to respect complexity, that is ok as an opinion, but know that i work hard, so the continuous re-enforcement here of a k.i.s.s. mentality kind of hurts; and i think it's wrong:  the journey of electrons inside a sontec could not be simple, or every yahoo would have that sound in their pocket by now.




There is a difference between working hard and surrendering to complexity. I spent a long, extremely hardworking, damn near grueling session with Jerry Tubb this past Thursday. We worked our asses off getting 16/44.1 and 24/96 and mp3's together for a 10 song album of folk music burdened by a tight dealine. The work was in trying this or that in the face of whatever little problem faced us, while maintaining cheerful focus for hours, and hours, assessing the effect of tiny changes to settings.

The chain, however, was not elaborate and it could deliver anything we could reasonably expect to accomplish to help the final result. More would not have been better, in this case.

When it was all in, it had a touch of this, a tiny bit of that, etc. Those little changes begat a large and positive result overall.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Waltz Mastering on November 16, 2009, 09:25:13 am
Jerry Tubb wrote on Sun, 15 November 2009 06:31

Waltz Mastering wrote on Thu, 12 November 2009 22:17

Jerry Tubb wrote on Fri, 06 November 2009 22:49


Nick & I both retubed our Manley VariMu's today... a warm experience.


Curious to hear what kind/s of tubes you went with?
Was going to order a set soon. Any suggestions?


We just went with a coupla sets of these:

http://www.tubesrule.com/product_p/retube-mslc.htm

Some of them were 1980's NOS, some Russian EH.

After the installation procedure, tweaking, burn-in, and retweak,
a noticeable improvement in sound, a little more clarity, a less little mushy.
Naturally keeping the old tubes for spares.

Cheers - JT



Thanks,  That looks like the best bet.
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Jerry Tubb on November 16, 2009, 11:17:24 am
Hank Alrich wrote on Sun, 15 November 2009 18:28

There is a difference between working hard and surrendering to complexity. I spent a long, extremely hardworking, damn near grueling session with Jerry Tubb this past Thursday. We worked our asses off getting 16/44.1 and 24/96 and mp3's together for a 10 song album of folk music burdened by a tight dealine. The work was in trying this or that in the face of whatever little problem faced us, while maintaining cheerful focus for hours, and hours, assessing the effect of tiny changes to settings.

The chain, however, was not elaborate and it could deliver anything we could reasonably expect to accomplish to help the final result. More would not have been better, in this case.

When it was all in, it had a touch of this, a tiny bit of that, etc. Those little changes begat a large and positive result overall.


Yes it was a long euphoric day... whew!

Don't remember another where I generated as many formats.

24/96 all the way down to 192k mp3.

A simple effective quality chain, no plug-ins.

Having such a talented group of artists, with a live in-studio performance as a reference... wow!

A day like this... affirm it's the best job in the world.

All the Best - JT
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Hank Alrich on November 18, 2009, 12:07:51 am
Jerry,

That was revelatory, playing live acoustic music in your mastering suite. Man, does that show off the excellent acoustical properties of the room. Shaidri immediately noticed how beautifully balanced the sound was.

That was her first experience with mastering, and she came away fascinated by the whole process. I think that's a good sign. <g>
Title: Re: Is G.A.S. destroying modern records?
Post by: Thomas W. Bethel on March 09, 2011, 12:55:03 pm
I know this is an old topic but recently I have noticed that G.A.S. seems to be less prevalent that in days past. I think one difference is the economy and the other is that more and more people are doing ITB processing. Any others here have thoughts??? about where this is now compared to 2006 when the topic started.