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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => j. hall => Topic started by: Slider2 on December 22, 2005, 10:51:34 pm

Title: Compression
Post by: Slider2 on December 22, 2005, 10:51:34 pm
Steve-

Is it true that other than bass and vocals, you almost never compress anything?
Is mix bus compression ever an option for you at mixdown?
Sorry if this was addressed and I missed it.

Thanks-

Matt
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on December 23, 2005, 02:50:46 am
Slider2 wrote on Thu, 22 December 2005 22:51


Is it true that other than bass and vocals, you almost never compress anything?
Is mix bus compression ever an option for you at mixdown?

As a rule, I don't use compression as a sound effect. Rarely, it is called for, and then it's the perfect thing. I do use compression on bass guitar most of the time, though not always, and even then, not as much as I see other people use. I often have a limiter or compressor on the bass drum, though not always.

About the only thing that I use compression on routinely is vocals. The range of a close-mic recording of a vocalist can span 20dB and more, which makes positioning the vocal within the music problematic; the loud parts are too loud and the quiet parts are too quiet.

Generally, I dislike the sound of a compressor working more than I dislike the little bit of extra effort it takes to balance things without it.

I virtually never use stereo bus compression. In mastering, there is almost always a peak limiter used to catch the occasional stray peak, but I don't generally like the sound of heavily-compressed music. I'm of the opinion that the dynamics within a piece of music can be as important as the notes, and I always feel like I'm missing something when they are flattened.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on December 23, 2005, 09:42:29 am
I'm surprised that Bob and Jim didn't make you compress the room mics on their record, nuclear 1176 style.  

BTW, you don't compress acoustic either?  No Vari-MU type compression on guitar solos?

I guess I'm just one of those people who likes the sound of compression, when called for.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: craig boychuk on December 23, 2005, 11:04:44 am
J.J. Blair wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 08:42

I'm surprised that Bob and Jim didn't make you compress the room mics on their record, nuclear 1176 style.  



I didn't catch the reference, but this brings up a good question...what if ridiculous compression is requested by the client?



Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Ashermusic on December 23, 2005, 11:28:18 am
electrical wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 07:50

Slider2 wrote on Thu, 22 December 2005 22:51


Is it true that other than bass and vocals, you almost never compress anything?
Is mix bus compression ever an option for you at mixdown?

As a rule, I don't use compression as a sound effect. Rarely, it is called for, and then it's the perfect thing. I do use compression on bass guitar most of the time, though not always, and even then, not as much as I see other people use. I often have a limiter or compressor on the bass drum, though not always.

About the only thing that I use compression on routinely is vocals. The range of a close-mic recording of a vocalist can span 20dB and more, which makes positioning the vocal within the music problematic; the loud parts are too loud and the quiet parts are too quiet.

Generally, I dislike the sound of a compressor working more than I dislike the little bit of extra effort it takes to balance things without it.

I virtually never use stereo bus compression. In mastering, there is almost always a peak limiter used to catch the occasional stray peak, but I don't generally like the sound of heavily-compressed music. I'm of the opinion that the dynamics within a piece of music can be as important as the notes, and I always feel like I'm missing something when they are flattened.



Standing ovation here! Accurately stated for an analog guy Smile
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: pg666 on December 23, 2005, 11:56:05 am
yeah, i also noticed when at EA the compressors tend to be 'cleaner' than you find at a lot of places. that GML unit is incredible in that regard.

there wasn't a distressor in sight  Smile
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Adam P on December 23, 2005, 01:48:16 pm
craig wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 11:04

J.J. Blair wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 08:42

I'm surprised that Bob and Jim didn't make you compress the room mics on their record, nuclear 1176 style.  



I didn't catch the reference, but this brings up a good question...what if ridiculous compression is requested by the client?






Steve recorded Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's Walking Into Clarkesdale record.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on December 23, 2005, 02:40:15 pm
craig wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 11:04


I didn't catch the reference, but this brings up a good question...what if ridiculous compression is requested by the client?

If a client requests that I make him pancakes, I'll do it. The client gets what the client wants, anything short of a prostate massage. Often, bands have heard through the grapevine that they should concern themselves with compression, and ask to hear it on many sounds. Generally, they do not prefer the sound of the compressed signal compared to the un-processed signal, but in some instances they find a use for it that I wouldn't.

The Jim and Bob record referred-to above is an example. Jimmy Page requested that a slide guitar part in the song "Heart in Your Hand" have its sustain evened-out, and this suggested compression. I tried several compressors and settings, and all of them made the attack of the guitar sound weird. It occurred to me that if I played the tape backwards while recopying the part through the compressor, the compressor would still be able to even-out the slowly-modulating sustain, but would not have to deal with a sharp attack. This proved to be the ideal solution. I never would have tried this if Jimmy hadn't asked for the sustain on his guitar to be levelled-off.

Robert Plant also really liked heavy compression on his voice, but he "sang to the sound" in his headphones, so it was incorporated into his performance and sounded quite nice.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on December 23, 2005, 03:39:48 pm
Steve, I love the idea of the backwards compression.  Excellent solution.

I don't think that stereo buss compression means that you will lose dynamics, if done carefully.  I like the pumping that I can acheive with a stereo buss compressor.  I find it to make the mix more dynamic, if anything.  I can get the kick and snare to pop out a little more, even.

Here's a mix I did yesterday, with stereo buss compression.  I'd say to the eye, as well as the ear (if you could hear it), it's pretty dynamic.  I was able to get the bottom end to tighhten up in a way that I don't think automation could achieve.

index.php/fa/2098/0/
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Ronny on December 24, 2005, 01:56:07 am


The graphs don't show us much JJ, without knowing the length of the song, for example a 5 minute song will look more compressed than a 2.5 minutes song when viewing the whole song in the display, even it has a more dynamic crest factor by several dB's.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Larrchild on December 24, 2005, 02:39:23 am
"Steve, I love the idea of the backwards compression. Excellent solution." ~JJ

I'm diggin it too. I'm thinkin if i took a stereo limiter and linked it, and ran the master channel from my second output on the Studer set to the sync head of the same channel, I could get "look ahead" in the analog domain for the opposite channel of the limiter.
Methinks I'll try that soon too.

And JJ, kudos on the non-rectangularism of your sound files!
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on December 24, 2005, 04:05:45 am
It's around 5:30, Ronny.  The point was mainly that it did not look like this:

http://mixonline.com/images/2-U2-Vertigo_lg.gif
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bobkatz on December 24, 2005, 09:11:32 am
"Generally, I dislike the sound of a compressor working more than I dislike the little bit of extra effort it takes to balance things without it."


Then you'll love my article, actually part two of a series, coming out in Resolution Magazine in January.

BK
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Ronny on December 24, 2005, 10:50:15 am
J.J. Blair wrote on Sat, 24 December 2005 04:05

It's around 5:30, Ronny.  The point was mainly that it did not look like this:





I understand completely JJ, what you were saying from the get go and commend you for it. Zoom in on the last song so that 30 or 40 seconds fills the display view and compare the graph to the previous song at it's full view and you'll see what I'm talking about. My point being that without knowing the timeline on a given song, like you show at the bottom of graph 2, that the waveform view can be misleading or at best non-conclusive to determine dynamic content. I get a better sense of the dynamics of song 2, because I see how close the positive and negative sides of the waveform are within the shorter timespan.

It's the same with RMS averaged over a whole tune. A song that we may perceive as more dynamic can have a higher RMS than a song that is squashed, if the song that's pancacked has a half volume 30 second intro, several dead air breaks in the song and a long fade out. RMS averaging over the whole song averages the dead air, fade in's and out's, and lower intro's along with the high level content. ITR a song that has full peak gain from the start to end, without the low intro, dead air breaks and fades can have considerably higher RMS average compared to a song that we perceive as degraded due to dynamic loss. For me it's important to show the timeline, as it's relative to how the waveform graph displays dynamic information.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bobkatz on December 24, 2005, 02:18:56 pm
electrical wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 14:40



The Jim and Bob record referred-to above is an example. Jimmy Page requested that a slide guitar part in the song "Heart in Your Hand" have its sustain evened-out, and this suggested compression. I tried several compressors and settings, and all of them made





snip


Properly-adjujsted parallel compression can accomplish control of the sustain or evening it out without losing the attack. In some ways, it IS like playing the tape backwards.

BK
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Ozzy on December 24, 2005, 03:44:40 pm
That's right Bob and you also get to hear the results as you adjust the compression.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Larrchild on December 24, 2005, 04:37:50 pm
JJ, I think I have that CD you posted the waveform of.

It was mixed by you know who, and mastered by you know who, and won 5 Grammies last year! wtf?
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Daniel Farris on December 24, 2005, 11:18:49 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 14:42

I'm surprised that Bob and Jim didn't make you compress the room mics on their record, nuclear 1176 style.


While I appreciate Steve's minimalistic and pragmatic approach to limiting, I don't follow it. I do use compression often, and with great pleasure.

That said, I have never, not even once, been satisfied with the sound of compressed room mics. If given a choice between compressing my room mics or muting them, I would rather mute them.

Even at 1 or 2 dB of reduction, the room mics begin to do more harm than good for me.

DF
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on December 25, 2005, 12:43:21 am
You see, I love that crushed rooom sound.  Give me a pair of ribbons and a pair of 1176s, and I'll give you "When the Levee Breaks".
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: PaulyD on December 25, 2005, 01:04:49 am
electrical wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 11:40

...It occurred to me that if I played the tape backwards while recopying the part through the compressor, the compressor would still be able to even-out the slowly-modulating sustain, but would not have to deal with a sharp attack...


Very clever, Steve. I picture even Jimmy Page marveling at that. Sounds like something he would come up with.  Smile

I hope everyone is having a nice Christmas. Smile

Cheers,

Paul
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: PaulyD on December 25, 2005, 01:18:52 am
J.J. Blair wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 12:39

...I was able to get the bottom end to tighhten up in a way that I don't think automation could achieve...


Do you sometimes "ride the faders" for bass guitar and/or kick drum?

Thx,

Paul
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Ronny on December 25, 2005, 02:18:54 am
PaulyD wrote on Sun, 25 December 2005 01:18

J.J. Blair wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 12:39

...I was able to get the bottom end to tighhten up in a way that I don't think automation could achieve...


Do you sometimes "ride the faders" for bass guitar and/or kick drum?

Thx,

Paul


I do that. I built a time machine for my left ear and transported it 2 seconds into the future. The left side of my brain controls the right side of my body, so when I hear the bass and kick get too loud my right hand zaps the two faders down. I swear by this technique, beats a compressor any day. Only song that I've had trouble with was "Flight Of The Bumble Bee".  
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Daniel Farris on December 25, 2005, 03:54:33 am
J.J. Blair wrote on Sun, 25 December 2005 05:43

You see, I love that crushed rooom sound.  Give me a pair of ribbons and a pair of 1176s, and I'll give you "When the Levee Breaks".


You already have those things. We would have to give you Bonham. And were those metal drums or Vistalites or what?

No, I love that sound too. Those are some of my favorite drum sounds in the world. I use other means to get a similar effect. The reason compression doesn't work with my room mics is because I often have delay on them and, for whatever reason, compression (even in small doses) seems to neutralize the effect of the delay... or something like that. I find it difficult to explain.

DF
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Ronny on December 25, 2005, 10:09:47 am
bacon skin wrote on Sun, 25 December 2005 03:54

J.J. Blair wrote on Sun, 25 December 2005 05:43

You see, I love that crushed rooom sound.  Give me a pair of ribbons and a pair of 1176s, and I'll give you "When the Levee Breaks".


You already have those things. We would have to give you Bonham. And were those metal drums or Vistalites or what?

No, I love that sound too. Those are some of my favorite drum sounds in the world. I use other means to get a similar effect. The reason compression doesn't work with my room mics is because I often have delay on them and, for whatever reason, compression (even in small doses) seems to neutralize the effect of the delay... or something like that. I find it difficult to explain.

DF


Physically this shouldn't happen, except perhaps with parallel compression, however if you are running compression post fader, any time you alter gain on the delayed channel the compression settings would no longer apply to the same values and depending on the material, may have to be reset.


Solo a delayed channel out of the mix and see if the compression inserted pre-fader and pre-eq does the same thing.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on December 25, 2005, 12:59:22 pm
PaulyD wrote on Sat, 24 December 2005 22:18

J.J. Blair wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 12:39

...I was able to get the bottom end to tighhten up in a way that I don't think automation could achieve...


Do you sometimes "ride the faders" for bass guitar and/or kick drum?

Thx,

Paul


I'll automate the kick and bass when needed, but it's still not the same effect as when I get the stereo buss compressor to pump a little bit.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on December 25, 2005, 01:15:43 pm
At the moment I am mixing a very delicate acoustic record and really fighting the urge to throttle the tracking engineer. I have no idea who he is, but it is apparent that he loves his compressors more than he loves listening. Every note of the upright makes a dull snick then drops about 20dB returning to the original attack level at the very end of the note, It is  an obnoxious and misdirected use of peak limiting. The guitars also suffer a similar fate... The bass drum is frequently so distorted that it has a tripled attack. These tracks came from a 'Name' studio. It is so disappointing. The record has already been mixed elsewhere (twice!?!?) and they've always felt it sounds wrong, so they sent it to me...  It's an archaeological expedition trying to figure out what balance they listened to during tracking that made them sign off on this....

I never use limiting during tracking. If you set your levels properly you just don't need it. On the other hand, if you are going for something really specific, go for it, but do it in the monitor chain or print it to a separate track. I have been involved in too many records where the direction shifts dramatically during the course of the production, or the label asks for 6 different versions of the mix for different markets.
I do, however, use much dynamic processing when I mix, but then I can always pull the patch if it isn't contributing.

When in doubt, patch it out.

cz
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on December 29, 2005, 10:42:04 am
interesting thread.

the whole "compression, or not compression" always makes me wonder if those of you that shy away from compression and say you don't like the sound are the ones that have the most trouble dialing in a comp to sound good and musical.  and those who love are the ones who have an easy time working with comps.

i'd say tchad blake is a master of compression.  his mixes are crushed, but they sound so musical and organic to me.  then i'll listen to Ray LaMontagne's new record and love it for it's vast openness and dynamics.

personally, i think it's all approach and technique.  some guys can make compressors work well for them, others can't.

also, application plays a large role for me.  there are certain styles of music that are very difficult to mix without compression.  other styles are hard to mix with compression.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on December 29, 2005, 12:47:36 pm
j.hall wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 10:42

the whole "compression, or not compression" always makes me wonder if those of you that shy away from compression and say you don't like the sound are the ones that have the most trouble dialing in a comp to sound good and musical.  and those who love are the ones who have an easy time working with comps.


That's a fair question (though potentially feather-ruffling!).

Compressors are one piece of gear that I feel everyone should make an effort to understand technically, at least on a block-diagram level. There is more BS and mystique surrounding compressors than any other processor, but  these are simple circuits, and easily understood.
I have more than 40 channels of compression in my outboard rack, and I know how each one works, what it does and how it affects the timbre and appearance of any given sound, so this makes me very sensitive to compression artifact -good and bad- and I hate compression when It's poorly designed, implemented or applied to a track. Record production, engineering, and electronics design all center on one thing: knowing what to listen for.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on December 29, 2005, 01:11:45 pm
we should all know all of our gear inside and out like you say you do.  that's what enables us the ability to make good decisions when working.

fact of the matter is, knowing how a compressor works, and knowing how to work it musically are vastly different things.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fig on December 29, 2005, 02:55:57 pm
j.hall wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 12:11

fact of the matter is, knowing how a compressor works, and knowing how to work it musically are vastly different things.


J speaks the truth (again).

Second only to equalization, in my opinion, compression is the most abused process during mixing.  And compressing while tracking is best kept for those that truly understand - try moving the mic a bit before using a comp in tracking.

I observe compression being applied because folks think they SHOULD apply it - perhaps because they read it in a magazine or within these forums.  Apologies, but the plug-ins make it even worse - especially in the hands of novices.

Its the ears, not the gears.

Don't just strap a comp on a bass because "that's how its done".  Granted if the track needs dynamic processing, then do it.  Or if the client is seeking something in particular and the 1176 or Distressor is the only way to get there, then go for it.

Reminds me of a vocal track that was recorded.  Upon listening back to it, nobody in the room liked it.  The performance was perfect but the capture was poor - didn't serve the purpose of the song.  I was assisting at the time.  Engineer turns around to me and says something like, "I don't get it, I used a U47?!?"

Turns out the voice sounded better through a different microphone.

I see similar situations with compressors.  Currently I'm working on an acoustic guitar-centric project.  "Out of habit" a compressor was strapped across the acoustic.  One day while mixing, a recall was not performed and the mix came from the ground up (my favorite, BTW).  Client says to me, "what did you do to the acoustic?"  I reply, "nothing... yet."  He says, "its perfect, don't change a thing."

All the roughs he had received before had compressed acoustic tracks - again "out of habit".

I compared previous mixes to the one without the compression and -go figure- sounds better.  More lifelike and open.  Granted, I gotta ride the faders between the strummy-strum part and the picky-pick part but hey, that's called mixing.

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE compressors, compression and compressing - but its gotta be, um, appropriate - you know?  Its gotta SERVE the track (and the tune).  Pumping room mics are very cool, but maybe not for a ballad - certainly not for a jazz trio.  

Mixbus compression has its place.  But to hang a comp there ALL THE TIME is a bit much, IMO.  That's coming from a guy who has had a mixbus comp in-line for many years and now does not have one - but only for a few years.  When the tune NEEDS it, its easy enough to patch it in - but I have found I use it less and less.  Instead I've been concentrating on getting the mix to fit with the FADERS, which is much more fun for me - and sounds better to my ears, too.

As always, YMMV.

Warm analog regards,

Thom "Fig" Fiegle
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: peyemp on December 29, 2005, 03:09:17 pm
zmix wrote on Thu, 29 December 2005 17:47

I hate compression when It's poorly designed, implemented or applied to a track. Record production, engineering, and electronics design all center on one thing: knowing what to listen for.



right on.  nothing can kill a track quite like bad compression/limiting.  there are certain compressors and limiters that I tend to stay far away from when tracking,, only to audition them during mix.  
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Les Ismore on December 29, 2005, 04:35:07 pm
I was talking to a friend who has mixed some major records and he was squishing the living daylights out of every track. When I asked him why he said that way he didn't have to move the faders very much so it was easier. I said that it kills the sound of every track. He said, "Have you listened to the radio recently? This is the sound that gets on the radio. It doesn't matter that it sounds like shit because this is what people want."

Personaly I blame SSL for putting a comp on every channel for popularizing this sound. Every young engineer then thought that they had to use that comp on every channel because "it was there and that's the way it's done". Now many people don't even remember what a dynamic recording sounds like, but they've sure learned to "get all the lights going on those compressors".

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: dikledoux on December 29, 2005, 05:09:06 pm
With the limited resources at my disposal, I've found that the least likely reason for me to use compression is to handle volume changes in a track.  That's all to easy to handle with volume automation/envelopes.  Instead, I've gotten to where I use compression and specifically the attack settings to enhance the "impact" portion of a tracked instrument and it's relationship to the "tone" aspect.  I rarely have a desire to hear a compressor "pumping", but I'll monkey with the perceived attack of the instrument with wild abandon.  (I realize my descriptions might be completely useless here, so forgive me.)

For example, on a rock song maybe I'd like the snare to come across the speakers in a way similar to how it seems to in a live settting - the initial impact seems brutal, but somehow I still get to hear the body of the snare sound after (as my ears relax from the initial wince, hehe).  On the recording, with properly applied compression, I can make the attack really separate the initial strike from the rest of the mix, but then I can make the shell and resonance show up as well, without having to just jack the snare sound up overall.

On vocals, I tend to use compression to give the vocal an appearance of being very close to the listener or more "out in the room".  When someone talks RIGHT into your ear, it has a compressed sound - probably cuz your eardrum is being overloaded.  When someone is singing at a distance from you, it comes across in a different way.  But just leaving a vocal dry or applying reverb doesn't necessarily convey "in your ear" or "out in a room".

As a lowly non-professional, it just occurs to me that being able to select from a killer assortment of mics, good sounding rooms and recording media, you can achieve many of these results without resorting to compression as a tool.  If you don't have these resources, sometimes compression can help with that (way more than eq and reverb).

That's all I got.  Hope I'm not way the hell off in the weeds.

dik
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on December 30, 2005, 04:09:20 pm
it's interesting how many people hate compression.  i'll be bold enough to say that you guys that hate it, probably have records you find to be brilliant sounding that are totally crushed.

i'll keep using tchad blake as my example (for continuity)

i've had many people in my forum say similar things about compression then go on to say they absolutely love tchad's work.

my whole point in my previous posts is that if you know how to musically work a compressor, and you know the comps in your rack very well, then compression is a lethal weapon.

i'll stand by my claim.  i think many of those who hate compression simply aren't good at using them.

here's another bold statement.....

compression is the sound of modern rock n roll.  and quite frankly, i like it.

there are some seriously amazing sounding records that are just crushed.

Andy Wallace
Tchad Blake
Rich Costey
JR McNeely

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on December 30, 2005, 04:41:05 pm
The Lord-Alge's webpage has a saying: "If you wanna crank it, you gotta spank it."  

Now, you just have to listen to all their mixes and decide for youself if they are right.

Personally, I find a good compressor more useful than a good EQ.  And I agree with J Hall.  It's completely about using these tools musically.  As much as I hate the L2 limiter, I'm sure I wouldn't object to it so much if people used it musically.  The problem is that nobody has done that yet, that I can hear.  1176s, Fairchilds, LA2As, LA3As, 33609s, BA6As, etc.  These are very musical sounding.   I like them when people tend to use them in ways that I think enhances the performance, rather than beating it into submission, because that's what's radio wants.  And that's what we should be doing, isn't it?  Enhancing a performance?  I'm sure Steve will disagree with that, though.

Very Happy
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on December 30, 2005, 04:49:40 pm
j.hall wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 16:09

it's interesting how many people hate compression.  i'll be bold enough to say that you guys that hate it, probably have records you find to be brilliant sounding that are totally crushed.

Pretty bold, also absolutely off-base. It's not that compressing music never works, but that it should not be a default maneuver, and it should be done sparingly, selectively, as necessary, because it has bad and obvious side-effects. A "crushed" record sounds bad, otherwise you wouldn't call it "crushed."

And it's cute that you think those of us who don't like compression aren't good at using it. I also don't like being stabbed. Is there a technique to appreciating it that I have yet to master? Am I not good at being stabbed?

Quote:

i'll keep using tchad blake as my example (for continuity)

You hit the nail on the head.

Quote:

here's another bold statement.....

compression is the sound of modern rock n roll.  and quite frankly, i like it.

Bold, yes. Also profoundly misleading. A studio tool is "the sound" of something only if an engineer is foolish enough to fall for gimmicks. If that thing in the rack is more important than everything else you do in a session, you've blown it.

Quote:

there are some seriously amazing sounding records that are just crushed.

Andy Wallace
Tchad Blake
...


Substitue "cliche-riddled, immediately-dated artefacts" for "seriously amazing sounding records" and you've hit another nail on the head.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bobkatz on December 30, 2005, 05:48:35 pm
electrical wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 16:49



Quote:

there are some seriously amazing sounding records that are just crushed.

Andy Wallace
Tchad Blake
...


Substitue "cliche-riddled, immediately-dated artefacts" for "seriously amazing sounding records" and you've hit another nail on the head.


You can't argue with taste. I know where I sit on this side of the argument. A record that does not have the feel of a live performance just doesn't make it for me. Many times in mastering I try to put back dynamics that the mixing engineer lost, hower slightly. They love it when they get it back, have no idea how I did it, but they love it.

But too much of anything is TOO MUCH. You absolutely have to keep the sound of the live performance in the back of your head if you're going to succeed, though.

BK
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: wwittman on December 30, 2005, 10:07:38 pm
I'm not prepared, ultimately, to be told how something "should be" used.

Appropriate use is entirely in the ear of the beholder.

I don;t like "over compresion" as *I* perceive it, either... but neither then do I like many "purist" records where use of no compression, no eq and so on becomes a religion at the expense of any character at all.

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on December 30, 2005, 10:31:53 pm
wwittman wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 22:07

I'm not prepared, ultimately, to be told how something "should be" used.

Appropriate use is entirely in the ear of the beholder.

I don;t like "over compresion" as *I* perceive it, either... but neither then do I like many "purist" records where use of no compression, no eq and so on becomes a religion at the expense of any character at all.



Which do you think is a bigger problem, people who don't do enough to change the music they record, or people who do too much to the sound, trying to somehow "make it special?"

I think there is too much of the latter, and a judicious, minimal approach is far from a "religion." It is a response to the problem we all see all around us, that of records that are overcooked in every aspect, and so standardized to a level of abstraction. I think this common tragedy is easily avoidable.

I think there are vanishingly few records that would better serve the bands by being more tweaked, more compressed, or generally more slaved-over. It is so easy to manipulate sound that manipulating the sound has become a goal unto itself. I find that ridiculous, and I defend the approach less likely to create freakish sounds and cliches.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: vernier on December 30, 2005, 11:44:34 pm
Quote:

I think there is too much of the latter, and a judicious, minimal approach is far from a "religion."

I'm joining! ...gonna make '06 a less compressiony year.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Pingu on December 31, 2005, 12:53:51 am
Alright guys i thought id throw this in from mixing with your mind. I loved this when i saw it.

Mike Stavrou




It's Like Cracking a Safe

Compressors have four basic knobs (parameters) and the key to classy compression is as simple as the order in which you reach out and focus on adjusting those knobs. When you get the sequence right, you'll hear more clearly the effect of each parameter - thereby arriving at a truer and more musical setting.

The compressor's combination lock has four tumblers. Adjusting them in a special order also prevents you from returning to a previously adjusted control. Don't you hate it when you are happy with the Release time until you fiddle with the Attack? They affect each other when adjusted randomly or out-of-sequence. Chasing your tail is about to become a thing of the past. Like cracking any combination lock, once a tumbler falls into place, you need not return to it. Each step represents decisive progress.

Getting started (temporary settings)

To crack this combination, you will need to set all the controls to a temporary setting while you focus on one parameter at a time. Once the first one is set, that tumbler falls in place, leaving three more to crack. Focus on the next one - listen - adjust - and tumbler number two falls into place and so forth. Approach this safe-cracking exercise in a different order and you will arrive at a different result.

* Attack to anywhere
* Release to minimum
* Ratio to maximum
* Threshold to sensitive

1. Attack

The first thing you do is set the ratio to as high as it'll go - 20:1, infinity... the highest you've got. Next set the release time to as fast as it'll go - which, admittedly, is faster than you'd ever want it. Then, drive the audio into the unit, either by lowering the Threshold or increasing the input (depends on the unit), and listen while you adjust the only the Attack time.

Listen to the Attack - the leading edge of the sound - while rolling the Attack knob. Try to ignore the horrible pumping caused by the after effects of the fast Release - just listen to the Attack. (The ultra-fast Release lets you hear far more individual attacks than a slow setting.)

Listen to the front edge of the sound. Notice how the Attack knob affects the size of the hit. So, if it's a snare drum that you are compressing, and the Attack is on a fast setting, it's as though the drumstick is really skinny.

Alternatively, if the Attack is on a slow setting, it's as if the stick is much thicker. Likewise, if it's an acoustic guitar and the Attack is on a fast setting, you're just hearing the finger nail come through as it hits the string; while if the Attack is slow, you might get the whole strum through - the entire transient bypasses the compressor. So, forget all the after effects, just listen to the thickness of the Attack until it's "tasty" - you might want it thin, you might want it thick, just think aesthetics. And then, because the ratio is so high and the release is so fast, you'll be able to hear the affect of the Attack time much clearer than if they were on any other setting. This technique effectively "turns your ears up" to heighten your perception of the Attack time control.

2. Release


The second step is to play with the Release time. "Release" controls the speed at which the sound glides back at you after being punched away. The trick is to get that speed to become a musical component of the sound. You might ask, "Do you mean in time with the music?" or "With fast music do I set faster than I would for a slow ballad?" Perhaps, but certainly don't think, "I want it fast because I want to compress the crap out of this" - don't do that. In fact, make it as slow as you can, so the compression envelope bounces back to reinforce or establish the groove of the music. Remember, any dynamic movement in a song affects the groove, and compressor/limiters are no exception. (Whether the Singer is moving back and forth from their mic, or you're madly wiggling a fader, or a compressor is pushing and pulling on a sound, the groove is at risk of being enhanced or destroyed by dynamic movement.) So, don't set your Release to a fast setting just because you want to hear something buried behind the sound. Forget that. There are bigger fish to fry. You're already compressing a little bit, so the  background sounds will come forward anyway. Instead, you want to think, "How slow can I get it while maintaining some control?", because the power in the groove is really a slower-moving, subliminal yet powerful wave - it's not an ultra-fast thing that's there to crunch your sound. Even in a frantically fast-paced tune, a slower, subliminal undercurrent carries most of the power. For example, you might have it so slow by the time the next hit comes along it's not quite fully released. But that's okay. A formulaic approach might intellectually tell you that it has to be fully released before the next hit, but that's more math and less groove.

Listen to the Release. Feel the way it glides or bounces back at you and there will be a point where you sense this bounce-back is kind of like a swing -almost like someone is swinging from a rope in a tyre in groove with the tune. It doesn't have to be perfectly in time, because a groove - as anyone who teaches music will tell you - should keep time, but not necessarily play the time.
Never play the metronome. Never play the conductor's baton. So, don't just make it a quarter of a beat or whatever, just look for that groove, and that's your release time. Make the rush of the Release a musical component that pushes you into the next beat without pre-empting the beat. Let the musician hit you while the pressure is still rising instead of letting the compressor finish its swing - dead air - lifeless moment... no good, Allow the compressor to push the sound towards you until the music makes it's next statement.

If, however, all you care about is maximum volume (no matter how detrimental to the groove that might be), then ignore this last paragraph and set the Release to "maximum irritation"! But I must add that if you aim to make the product likeable (extremely groovy, for example), the wrist of the listener will always turn up the volume for you more effectively than any brick wall compression ever could.

3. Ratio

At this point, the Ratio is set to maximum, so it's going to sound over compressed. So the next job is to take the Ratio and lower it as much as you can without losing the effects you created with your Attack and Release settings.

Think of the Ratio control a bit like a telephoto lens - the higher the Ratio, the smaller the sound is - although it will be more controlled. The lower the Ratio - as in 2:1(given the same output voltage), aesthetically feels like a larger image. So, the lower the Ratio the bigger it is - but at the risk of getting out of control. Meanwhile, the higher the Ratio, the smaller it is - although more contained. The idea is usually to try and make it sound big, but in control. So, bring down the Ratio, then when you don't hear the effects that you like - the thickness of the stick, the groove you created with the Release time - you can raise the Ratio a little, all the time focussing on size. At this stage, don't think about Ratio in terms of numbers - just about size and firmness of the sound. You know how I often talk about "firmness' and "Hardness Factors"? Well, as you raise the Ratio, the sound will become firmer (and smaller) as as you lower the Ratio it becomes softer(but bigger). So you might want to think along the lines of: "How firm do I want this?"


4. Threshold

The last thing you adjust is the Threshold. It's important to turn the Threshold knob so that it's not compressing all the time. The right setting will see dynamic movement coming to rest at special moments - otherwise you get a flatter, more lifeless sound.

Having uncompressed sound emerging from the processor at appropriate musical moments adds colour and contrast to the sound. For example, permitting the dynamic movement to come to rest in some quieter moments allows that moment to attain a momentary, bigger, 1:1 presence, and prevents it from rushing towards the listener with unwanted noise. It's sad enough that the little quiet moments are small without being squashed smaller still due to high compression ratios. Each time the sound comes up for air, so to speak it attains a sense of reality - a 1:1 ratio.

WARNING!
Most engineers do not realise that Ratios are multiplicative, not additive. If you compress your mix 10:1 and then the mastering engineer compresses it at 10:1 you effectively achieve, not a 20:1 but a 100:1 texture. Ouch! Consider yourself warned. This applies to all compression. If you compress a voice during recording at 10:1 and then in the mix again at 4:1 you don't get 14:1 but 40:1. Next time you mix consider the ratios likely to be used at the radio stations that provide the finishing touch. Ask yourself, "How small a sound can I bear to hear On the Air?"

That Very Expensive Sound
If you follow these steps, set your compressor to the settings in the illustrations, and follow the path of the Yellow Knob Road, then by the time you get to this point in the article you'll have a big and bouncy, firm but flexible, juicy and slippery groovy sound. Or as some would say, "a more expensive sound".

Mike Stavrou
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on December 31, 2005, 01:02:12 am
Phi Lion wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 00:53


That Very Expensive Sound
If you follow these steps, set your compressor to the settings in the illustrations, and follow the path of the Yellow Knob Road, then by the time you get to this point in the article you'll have a big and bouncy, firm but flexible, juicy and slippery groovy sound. Or as some would say, "a more expensive sound".

Oh sweet weeping Jesus, this is rank.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on December 31, 2005, 01:13:43 am
mike's advice is very valid and teaches you how to listen, something most people have a lot of trouble with when it comes to compression

not listening is the biggest thing that f*cks up records, imo, much more than fancy overproduction
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: giraffe on December 31, 2005, 01:21:01 pm
i love this thread  Laughing

i think that when people use the phrase "good compression"
they often mean "compression that doesn't make this stuff sound significantly worse than when it started"
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: wwittman on December 31, 2005, 01:43:51 pm
electrical wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 22:31

wwittman wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 22:07

I'm not prepared, ultimately, to be told how something "should be" used.

Appropriate use is entirely in the ear of the beholder.

I don;t like "over compresion" as *I* perceive it, either... but neither then do I like many "purist" records where use of no compression, no eq and so on becomes a religion at the expense of any character at all.



Which do you think is a bigger problem, people who don't do enough to change the music they record, or people who do too much to the sound, trying to somehow "make it special?"

I think there is too much of the latter, and a judicious, minimal approach is far from a "religion." It is a response to the problem we all see all around us, that of records that are overcooked in every aspect, and so standardized to a level of abstraction. I think this common tragedy is easily avoidable.

I think there are vanishingly few records that would better serve the bands by being more tweaked, more compressed, or generally more slaved-over. It is so easy to manipulate sound that manipulating the sound has become a goal unto itself. I find that ridiculous, and I defend the approach less likely to create freakish sounds and cliches.


I tend to agree with you. Steve.

There is CERTAINLY more over tweaking and just outright CHANGING for no reason (or at least with poor taste) than the other way round.
But I also encounter a good amount of "I read somewhere that you should never EQ during tracking" types and that's equally ridiculous.

The idea is to make a great sounding record that represents the songs well (first) and the performer well (probably a close second).

I hate to NOTICE the recording technique except on rare occasions.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on December 31, 2005, 03:00:39 pm
Quote:


Substitue "cliche-riddled, immediately-dated artefacts" for "seriously amazing sounding records" and you've hit another nail on the head.



are you implying that your mixes are not dated, or cliche-riddled simply because they are not compressed?  i think that's as bold and misleading as my statements.....don't you?

to continue with our example.  can you honestly tell me that tchad blake's records sound dated solely due to his decisions in the mix phase?

Peter Gabriel - Up
Soul Coughing - El Osos, Irresistible Bliss, and Ruby Vroom
Low - Trust

let me get this straight.  you claim to be a "neutral" engineer.  you are "the employee of the band".  you simply do exactly what they want done.  so, do the bands come in and pick all the mics, where they want them used, where they are to be positioned, how they want you to print sounds to tape?  if a band comes in and wants a "tchad blake-esque" mix, can you deliver?  you do what the band wants right?

don't you think that's as large of a disservice to the client as the guy who tells them what to play, and compresses everything for the sake of the "gimmick"?

unfortunately, this will all come off as very aggressive, when that isn't my intention
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on December 31, 2005, 03:59:59 pm
j.hall wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 15:00


are you implying that your mixes are not dated, or cliche-riddled simply because they are not compressed?  i think that's as bold and misleading as my statements.....don't you?

No, I'm saying the folks you put up as examples have made a lot of records that were instantly dated and cliche-riddled, and the degree of compression is one of the cliches that instantly dates them.

Quote:

to continue with our example.  can you honestly tell me that tchad blake's records sound dated solely due to his decisions in the mix phase?

Yep, that's probably where it comes form.

Quote:

Peter Gabriel - Up
Soul Coughing - El Osos, Irresistible Bliss, and Ruby Vroom

Yep.
Quote:

Low - Trust

Well, here's another point: When working with geniuses of unique merit, no amount of production can stifle them.

Quote:

let me get this straight.  you claim to be a "neutral" engineer.  you are "the employee of the band".  you simply do exactly what they want done.  so, do the bands come in and pick all the mics, where they want them used, where they are to be positioned, how they want you to print sounds to tape?

No, that's my job. They tell me what they like and don't like, and I'm supposed to figure the technical part out along the lines they describe.

Quote:

if a band comes in and wants a "tchad blake-esque" mix, can you deliver?  you do what the band wants right?

It's never happened, but if it does, I'll take a shot and let you know how I do.

Quote:

don't you think that's as large of a disservice to the client as the guy who tells them what to play, and compresses everything for the sake of the "gimmick"?

No, I think doing what the band wants me to do is the bare minimum they can expect.

Quote:

unfortunately, this will all come off as very aggressive, when that isn't my intention

Don't sweat it. It's the interlink. In person we're all much more loveable.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Ross Hogarth on December 31, 2005, 04:08:41 pm
here we are again, deep in the "albini"
no shades of grey
only black and white as far as the eye can see

compression is a tool
it can also be a paintbrush
BUT
if you stay with and inside of Steve's argument that the engineer does not make artistic decisions
then compression cannot be an extension of artistic expression
now granted
most if not many engineers, have no clue what they are doing
and so
when they are using strong tool like compression
they are doing damage
but
take someone who know what they are doing and considers the engineering field an extension of artistic expression
then compression can be used as a means to an end of that artistic expression
it really goes to the heart of the debate of engineer as an artist or as a carpenter framing for the band and band only
this is where I veer off the road ...
Steve and I have had this argument before
I believe that we can be artists in the control room without ego and without taking the vision away from the artist (band)
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on December 31, 2005, 04:24:20 pm
Ross Hogarth wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 16:08

here we are again, deep in the "albini"
no shades of grey
only black and white as far as the eye can see

When you say things like that, it seems like you're not even reading this stuff.

Quote:

compression is a tool
it can also be a paintbrush

It is one of many tools for changing pre-existing sound. Before one starts compressing something, and then worrying about the subtleties of how "expensive" it should sound, etc., there must first be an impulse to compress it. I have that impulse rarely, and others have it often. That's the key here -- the eagerness to manipulate sound rather than deal with it as it already is. That's why more harm than good is done.

Quote:

I believe that we can be artists in the control room without ego and without taking the vision away from the artist (band)

I guess I don't have that high an opinion of myself. I think I'm an experienced specialist in a technical field, trying to help a band use a sometimes-convoluted process to make a recording. I recognize that my contribution to their record is subordinate to theirs to an enormous degree. I would never suggest that I am "collaborating" with them. I am working for them.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Level on December 31, 2005, 05:04:35 pm
Steve...would you ever say...you have a "signature sound"? Reason..I do know engineers that get into doing things a predictable way and stay with that. You can hear the "signature" coming through..although on live acts, none of that signature is retained..thus meaning that the recording process/mix is certain "contributing" to the art.

I try to be totally diverse and start with a clean sheet and an 'unplugged patch bay'..except..I no longer use the patch bays.

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on December 31, 2005, 05:16:14 pm
Level wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 17:04

Steve...would you ever say...you have a "signature sound"?

I do not want people to think about me when they hear other people's records.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: redfro on December 31, 2005, 05:50:11 pm
Ross Hogarth wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 15:08


most if not many engineers, have no clue what they are doing



Interesting point. I think ALL engineers "fake it" to a certain degree. I remember Steve saying almost this exact thing at TapOpCon a few years ago. I also seem to remember a lot of people in the audience breathing a sigh of relief. It was a "Thank god I'm not alone" kinda thing.

Totally off post, just saw the parallel and found it amusing. I now return you to your regularly scheduled post...
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on December 31, 2005, 09:36:49 pm
hands up who thinks they can recognise an 'albini' record

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bobkatz on January 01, 2006, 12:05:11 pm
maxim wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 21:36

hands up who thinks they can recognise an 'albini' record





!!! Of course, they sound like the band does! Steve is a facilitator, I just think he puts down his role too much. Every decision he makes affects the sound of the final product. Including the ones that help the vibe in the studio.

BK
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 01, 2006, 01:53:46 pm
maxim wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 21:36

hands up who thinks they can recognise an 'albini' record

I'll bet some people think that. I'll bet they can't.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Colin Frangos on January 01, 2006, 03:29:13 pm
maxim wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 18:36

hands up who thinks they can recognise an 'albini' record



Lessee here... Just off the top of my head, here are some of the records I own that Steve recorded: Mclusky, Nina Nastasia, The Ex, Shorty, Uzeda, Don Caballero, Palace, The Jesus Lizard, The Oxbow, Federation X. And of course, Shellac. I'm sure there are others on the shelf, I just haven't looked.

I'm trying to think of what ties them all together. They're very natural-sounding records without excessive effects or processing applied to them. The studio as effect is de-emphasized. In short, they sound like bands playing music in a room. To imply that this is an aesthetic choice on his part is silly. Yeah, in the most literal sense it's a different way of doing things (or at least not the rock standard), and there are choices made in the execution, but that doesn't qualify it as a "signature sound".

And what's more, there are just as many other records on the shelf by different engineers that I could say the same about. The majority of jazz and classical records shoot for the same thing, and I own a lot of those. It's a good goal for any engineer.



Doesn't this debate get old after a while? I'm tired of arguing about the validity of Steve's approach, and don't understand why it's an issue to so many people. And the more I think about it, I don't really care to get why it's an issue. There are a lot more interesting things to talk about.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: pg666 on January 01, 2006, 03:56:00 pm
hah,

in another thread on J's forum someone asked who recorded a specific dirty three record and i knew SA recorded some of them, but not all of them. i've heard a bunch of them and i can't figure out which ones are which! they all sound like the dirty three and not who recorded them (which is a great thing).

which brings up another point; there are many other engineers who use that kind of 'hands-off' approach.

p.s. a lot of the songs are just from mp3s, hence why i can't just go look up the credits.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 01, 2006, 05:21:31 pm
electrical wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 15:59

Quote:

Low - Trust

Well, here's another point: When working with geniuses of unique merit, no amount of production can stifle them.



....or absence of production...



Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 01, 2006, 05:39:41 pm
Fibes wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 17:21


....or absence of production...


Have you ever listened to a record and thought, gee, this sounds too natural? Too much like the real thing?

I haven't. I have thought the opposite though, more often than not.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: minister on January 01, 2006, 06:24:42 pm
electrical wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 16:16

Level wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 17:04

Steve...would you ever say...you have a "signature sound"?

I do not want people to think about me when they hear other people's records.
sure...but let's not go to extremes here.  then why would anyone hire you?  because you are the best faciltator?  'cause you're cheaper than any other facilitator?  there are reasons why you have first time and repeat business.  because you don't use compression (much)?  'cause you make things sound "natural"?

look, give monk a standard, and, dammed if it doesn't sound like monk and not a standard.  you might say, well there's an artist.  and there are those that play it in the style of the standard.  and you might call them a parrot or a facilitator.

but surely when you are "interpretting" the bands desires and making your "technical" decisions, you are doing so in the way that YOU know, with YOUR setup.  you are interacting with the situation.  you are not merely an impartial translator. nobody is.  some AE's pollute a record with their stamp; some attempt to simply realize a band's vision.  but along the way, you do have an influence.  the bands, A&R people, etc. REPOND to what you do.  what they hear from what you are doing -- they respond and get excited or push it further or a different direction.  and they DON'T respond as favorably to what someone else does, or in the way they do it.  otherwise, they would go there.  surely your bias (like we all have and your tape has...)comes into play for SOME of this.  but, yes, you strive to achieve the band's sound not yours!  

yet put that band in YOUR studio with a different AE.  would it SOUND the SAME?  or, this band comes in to re-record everything 2 years later and you have merely maintained your studio.  same setup.  would it sound the SAME?  i contend it would not (though it might be similar)
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on January 01, 2006, 06:40:22 pm
electrical wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 16:39



Have you ever listened to a record and thought, gee, this sounds too natural? Too much like the real thing?

I haven't. I have thought the opposite though, more often than not.



see, i actually have.

the interesting thing to me is that you honestly believe you are neutral.  your records sound absolutely 100% like the band in their practice space.  and that you think you can actually facilitate anything the band wants sonically.

every person on the planet hears sound differently.  so what you think a band sounds like and your opinion of being totally neutral in the process is going to be totally different for some one else attempting to do the same exact thing.

so, peter gabriel and soul coughing are complete crap and deserve to have, in your opinion, dated and cliched albums.  but low (and band you have worked with in the past) is not crap and thus should be respected and given a product that sounds exactly like they would live in a church?

so if peter gabriel hired you, would he still be crap, and deserving of a cliched dated record?

and if other people really thought you were neutral and could make a record sound like whatever they wanted, why did low hire tchad to mix trust and not you?

i also finding it interesting that engineers that are using compression more then you, are considered bad in your eyes.  

so all these other AE's that are horrible at their jobs but some how still working with bands that sell millions of records they will just go down in the history books as cliched and dated.  where things cut in the 50's, 60's, 70's are not dated or cliched?

you stand as this planet's sole champion of an uncliched timeless record?

you honestly think people hire steve albini for the sole reason of getting aneutral sounding record.........i think you're lying to yourself.  people hire you for "that thing you do"  just like people hire me for the same reason.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 01, 2006, 07:24:02 pm
j.hall wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 18:40

electrical wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 16:39



Have you ever listened to a record and thought, gee, this sounds too natural? Too much like the real thing?

I haven't. I have thought the opposite though, more often than not.



see, i actually have.

Granting that you might once have thought that, it must be incredibly rare. Or do you also prefer Cool-Whip to creme chantilly?

Quote:

the interesting thing to me is that you honestly believe you are neutral.

I would never suggest that I am "neutral" in a million years. Of course I have some effect on the records I work on. Of course I do. It is the fact that it is so difficult to avoid having a detrimental impact that makes the job so difficult. I think the unavoidable effect I have on records is enough, and I don't feel the need to control the process or impose my aesthetic on it any more than that.

Quote:

your records sound absolutely 100% like the band in their practice space.

I've never said that, and I don't know if that is a worthwhile goal, as bands generally don't like their practice spaces. I think the records are as close to what the band wants as I am capable of. They generally start with an un-manipulated representation of the band. Sometimes they finish that way, sometimes not. It's a good place to start, and I don't understand what would be better about starting someplace phony.

Quote:

and that you think you can actually facilitate anything the band wants sonically.

I'm pretty good, actually. I can do most things in the studio.

Quote:

every person on the planet hears sound differently.  so what you think a band sounds like and your opinion of being totally neutral in the process is going to be totally different for some one else attempting to do the same exact thing.

That's one of the things that makes it hard. I need to understand what the band is shooting for, and that requires me to listen actively, critically, and be aware of what the band is listening for as well.

Quote:

so, peter gabriel and soul coughing are complete crap and deserve to have, in your opinion, dated and cliched albums.

Oh no, I don't think they deserve it. Nobody deserves that. But they ended up with dated, cliche-riddled albums.

Quote:

but low (and band you have worked with in the past) is not crap and thus should be respected and given a product that sounds exactly like they would live in a church?

I think every band should be allowed to have precisely the record they want. As an aside, Low are incredible. Geniuses.

Quote:

so if peter gabriel hired you, would he still be crap, and deserving of a cliched dated record?
Being crap (or not) is up to him. Not imposing my own set of cliches would be up to me.

Quote:

and if other people really thought you were neutral and could make a record sound like whatever they wanted, why did low hire tchad to mix trust and not you?

Because they wanted to. What the hell are you asking? Low get to make their records however they want. I think Great Destroyer is a really good album, and I think that's Low's doing.

Quote:

i also finding it interesting that engineers that are using compression more then you, are considered bad in your eyes.

Most engineers use more compression than I do, and not all of them are bad. Most bad engineers use way more compression than I do, but that's tautological, because using more of anything is a sure way to get bad with it.  

Quote:

so all these other AE's that are horrible at their jobs but some how still working with bands that sell millions of records they will just go down in the history books as cliched and dated.  where things cut in the 50's, 60's, 70's are not dated or cliched?

Not the good stuff, no. I'll take Patsy Cline's "Crazy" and you can have "Material Girl." I'll take AC/DC, and you can have Interpol.

Quote:

you stand as this planet's sole champion of an uncliched timeless record?

Where do you get this stuff? It isn't about me. It's about not willfully imposing extra-musical crap on a band just because you're working on their record. I don't care who does it. Anybody doing a good job for the band and not trying to have his way with their record is doing fine by me. On a fundamental level, it's about respect. Have respect for the people who hire you and their lives' work.

Quote:

you honestly think people hire steve albini for the sole reason of getting aneutral sounding record.........i think you're lying to yourself.  people hire you for "that thing you do"  just like people hire me for the same reason.

What exactly is that thing I do? Seriously, if there's a thing I do, and that's what gets me work, I'd love to know what it is, so I can advertise that I do it. Name this thing I do.

It seems you have created a vision of me that suits your arguments against it, and this matters to you. I'm sorry I'm not like that, and I don't believe or act in a way that would fit this image. I don't like disappointing people.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Colin Frangos on January 01, 2006, 07:27:28 pm
j.hall wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 15:40

electrical wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 16:39



Have you ever listened to a record and thought, gee, this sounds too natural? Too much like the real thing?

I haven't. I have thought the opposite though, more often than not.



see, i actually have.


Huh. Details, please. I'm having a hard time believing you on this one, so I'd appreciate it if you'd elaborate on this point.

Quote:

every person on the planet hears sound differently.  so what you think a band sounds like and your opinion of being totally neutral in the process is going to be totally different for some one else attempting to do the same exact thing.


While this is technically true on a theoretical scientific basis, to pretend that it matters here is goofy. If there weren't commonalities of perception (also scientifically demonstrable), then no AE would have a basis for doing anything because nobody would hear what they've done the same way. It's a stupid argument, and demonstrably untrue.

Quote:

so, peter gabriel and soul coughing are complete crap and deserve to have, in your opinion, dated and cliched albums.

I don't think he said they deserved dated and cliched albums, but rather that they ended up with dated and cliched albums. Sure they only have themselves to blame, but the word "deserve" implies some higher good/bad dichotomy that I don't think is implied or at issue.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Tidewater on January 01, 2006, 08:44:44 pm
electrical wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 19:24


Not the good stuff, no. I'll take Patsy Cline's "Crazy" and you can have "Material Girl." I'll take AC/DC, and you can have Interpol.


Well! hah!

On compression though, I don't like using compressors that sound like they aren't working.


M
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on January 01, 2006, 10:26:48 pm
steve a wrote:

"I think the records are as close to what the band wants as I am capable of"

what makes you think other ae's don't strive for the same goal, including the some of the ones you bag?

how do you know what the band wants?

aren't you making an ultimately autocratic decision or do you have consensus sessions on how much compression is just right?

did patsy cline have total control over her sound?

does madonna?
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Tidewater on January 01, 2006, 10:56:31 pm
maxim wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 22:26

steve a wrote:

what makes you think other ae's don't strive for the same goal, including the some of the ones you bag?

how do you know what the band wants?

aren't you making an ultimately autocratic decision or do you have consensus sessions on how much compression is just right?

did patsy cline have total control over her sound?

does madonna?



He know's they do. Some people are more capable.

They tell him they like what he did, and he does it again.

Trained intuition, manipulation, sometimes by previous known examples.

No.

Yes. She hires the sounds she wants.


M
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 01, 2006, 11:00:11 pm
maxim wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 22:26

steve a wrote:

"I think the records are as close to what the band wants as I am capable of"

what makes you think other ae's don't strive for the same goal, including the some of the ones you bag?

I'm sure other engineers do strive for it. I never suggested that I am the only one, only that it is a worthwhile target.

Quote:

how do you know what the band wants?

I ask them. This is too easy.

Quote:

aren't you making an ultimately autocratic decision or do you have consensus sessions on how much compression is just right?

If the band aren't happy, I try something else. Until everyone likes it. The end.

Quote:

did patsy cline have total control over her sound?

The Patsy part of it she did. One reason she sounds so great is that we can hear everything she was doing, not just what was being done to her.

Quote:

does madonna?

I have no idea.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on January 01, 2006, 11:12:24 pm
that was pretty, miles

i agree with it all

my point is that steve's position is no different to anyone else's

i also have no doubt bands choose steve because of his "band in the room" aesthetic

giorgio moroder had a "band in the box" aesthetic

george martin had a "salvation army band on a 4 track" aesthetic

it's wrong to say the latter didn't provide "what the band wants", coz what the band wants is for people to hear their music.

whatever works... oops, wrong forum
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Tidewater on January 01, 2006, 11:40:16 pm
Yeah, but you have to accept everything people might say in a forum has certain stipulations, and is full of caveats.

One of the stipulations, when you are discussing someone's methods, and that person is well known for his methods, is that just about everyone that hires him is going to have a fairly good idea of what he's going to help them end up with.

He's not the most expensive engineer ever to live, but he's not cheap enough to 'try, and see'.

I misjudged Mr. Albini over the test thread. I thought he might be lame, but he's a porcupine!

(That's like an... uhh like an oppossum-billed wombat, with painful quills.)


Laughing

Oh, and LMAO on the Moroder BIAB thing.


M
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on January 02, 2006, 12:14:40 am
miles wrote:

"That's like an... uhh like an oppossum-billed wombat, with painful quills"

i appreciate the down-under perspective, albeit somewhat grotesque, but i was born in russia, so all you had to say was "giant hedgehog", and i would understand
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Nama on January 02, 2006, 05:19:36 am
Hello. This is my first post here.
Thanks to Mr. SteveI Albini, I have learned a lot on this forum.
I record improvised music, so I absolutely use no compression when tracking.
No way to record a 60 years old great sax player (pretty known in the avant music world) with compression to destroy the amazing tone.  
When mixing, I could use a multiband comp to bring up some volume to hand out a demo to the musician when the performance is too quite , or when some hits are too loud because of my mistakenly placed mic toward the cymbal or something. I also play in a band which plays structured improvised music. We have just released our first album which I recorded without compressors and used compressors to fix things. I wanted to share my opinion from my side.

"the interesting thing to me is that you honestly believe you are neutral.  your records sound absolutely 100% like the band in their practice space.  and that you think you can actually facilitate anything the band wants sonically."

As Steve said, I don't think many bands want to make records which sound like they play in their practice space, esp if you live in NY, and practice in a really tiny room.


"so if peter gabriel hired you, would he still be crap, and deserving of a cliched dated record?"

IF is fun, but it's important to be realistic when you do business, and I don't really think Peter Gabriel would want to hire Steve. I think some of you are bringing some names which don't really have anything to do with Steve Albini.

"you honestly think people hire steve albini for the sole reason of getting aneutral sounding record.........i think you're lying to yourself.  people hire you for "that thing you do"  just like people hire me for the same reason."

in my opinion, that thing Steve does would be "nothing". I read his posts here, also a recent interview in Japanese Sound & Recording magazine. He clearly says he doesn't use compressors very much. Since my band is a live band, really, we would like to record our live shows to make records rather than going to a studio, but it's very hard and stressful because most house engineers use EQ, or compressor or whatever because they are not so experienced, sometime, interns. (well we still only gather about 50 people to our show, so we can't hire an engineer for us) so, they think they have to use compressors or something. We can use some direct outs to get unprocessed signal, but sometimes we may have to use a mix bus which is processed by a in house engineer.

So,  If I had enough money,  I would really like to hire Steve to record our live shows because he knows how to record and doesn't overdo. I think he is a really special case, so people are jealous about it sometimes.  Smile

happy new year.

Best Regards,
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bobkatz on January 02, 2006, 09:16:13 am
Did anyone consider that the very choice of of close multimiking changes the dynamics of a band?

That close miking changes the peak to average ratio of a sax player, for example----- to be exagerrated beyond what they sound like live and how they balance with the band?

So that compression may be necessary to some degree in order to balance the close miked players together? That some individual's parts may "stick out too far" compared to how you would hear them if the mike were not so close?

It's an art...  and a science. Every decision affects how you have to treat it in the mixing, including where you put the microphones in the tracking.

BK
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: astroshack on January 02, 2006, 09:39:20 am
bobkatz wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 14:16

That close miking changes the peak to average ratio of a sax player, for example----- to be exagerrated beyond what they sound like live and how they balance with the band?



sax players balance with the room! Especially when soloing!  
Razz

Sean
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: massimo santantonio on January 02, 2006, 10:09:42 am
I apologyze for being a bit off target.
While reading Steve Albini's posts I couldn't help but thinking he is at the exact polar opposite of some guy like Todd Rundgren as a producer. I understand they could not be more different. Todd is a pure genius, and is wery well known for putting his own strong sonic mark over anything he produces. In fact many of his productions do sound like a Utopia record (Tubes's Remote Control and XTC's Skylarking come to mind). However, it must be also said that in doing so he was able to expose those artists to his own loyal cult following, who indeed would buy the product to smell that bit of a Todd scent. So this perhaps makes for a rather unique case example.
Best regards and
Happy New Year
Massimo
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 02, 2006, 10:38:10 am
electrical wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 17:39

Fibes wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 17:21


....or absence of production...


Have you ever listened to a record and thought, gee, this sounds too natural? Too much like the real thing?

I haven't. I have thought the opposite though, more often than not.



Steve,

I fall on your side of the coin whenever possible and if genius walks through the door i stay the fuck out of their way, make things go a smooth as possible and allow them to bring their shit to the table untethered.

As per compression digital makes me have to use more since the tape isn't there to help the process. That doesn't mean stun, just using the stuff that makes me feel like I'm using tape. I've found the Distressors and Trakkers to be two opposing types but useful in getting there...

In my market people come to us for different reasons and we have to face the reality that they need us as a guide. The studio can be an intimidating tool that most of the uninitiated don't have a full grasp of. Education is part of the game.
When those clients walk in, as you've said intense listening is what we MUST do. Whether it's a band or solo artist we get as much background info as humanly possible so we can execute their plan.

It's their painting but sometimes we have to extrapolate what colors go in what spots because they didn't fill in the color by numbers unicorn as thoroughly as they should have.

This listening helps us to give them what they want not what they ask (or didn't)for. It's a game of semantics but the reality is that people come to you for what you do and people go to others for different reasons. Neither client is wrong until the results come back from the lab.

In the end, it's just the end...

I just tracked a band that asked for "the Albini drum sound." I told them if that's what they wanted to hire you. I suppose i should have just tracked their drums without changing the heads, tuning them or anything else but somehow i felt like the oatmeal box sound wasn't what they wanted. The moment the drummer heard his heads changed he thought we were much closer to uh "your sound." Hmmm. I think i shoulda stayed outta the way...


I fucking hate semantics...





Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bobkatz on January 02, 2006, 11:54:28 am
astroshack wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 09:39

bobkatz wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 14:16

That close miking changes the peak to average ratio of a sax player, for example----- to be exagerrated beyond what they sound like live and how they balance with the band?



sax players balance with the room! Especially when soloing!  
Razz

Sean



All the more reason to point out why close miking by its nature is an artificial situation that requires a completely different approach, including possibly some compression, to achieve a mix balance. Combine that with the entire act of trying to fit 20 pounds into a 10 pound bag (the stereo image field) and you need to do some compression. Hopefully as transparently as possible, if your goal is the same as Steve A's (and usually mine as well), that is, to capture the band.

BK
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: dikledoux on January 02, 2006, 12:05:57 pm
Since the thread has sorta veered away from a compression discussion, I'll add this.

A friend of mine is a huge fan of several bands that Steve's recorded - the Jesus Lizard and Nirvana are two that I can think of.  My friend has stated that he's an Albini fan as well because of the sounds on these band's records, though he's got no idea about the technical side of recording.  I'm amazed at the HUGE drum sounds on some of this stuff and just assumed they were processed pretty heavily.  My friend can't believe "how Albini gets those sounds".

It now occurs to me in a flash of realization that he got those sounds in much the same way that they got those Bonham sounds.  That guy SOUNDS LIKE THAT when he plays.  Now that I think about it, from what I've seen I understand that Dave Grohl actually just sounds/plays like that.  I've never seen the Jesus Lizard, but I'd love to hear that guy play drums.  I bet he sounds like that as well.

dik
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Tidewater on January 02, 2006, 12:25:23 pm
Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 10:38



I fucking hate semantics...





They have a new label, and a new record due out, I hear..

Loved their old stuff!


M
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 02, 2006, 01:48:36 pm
Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 10:38


I just tracked a band that asked for "the Albini drum sound."

Just delay the room mics 20 ms and call it quits.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on January 02, 2006, 02:15:04 pm
electrical wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 22:31


Which do you think is a bigger problem, people who don't do enough to change the music they record, or people who do too much to the sound, trying to somehow "make it special?"


It has been said that pop music is an evolutionary art form. Because of this, I feel that it is my obligation to provide my clients with something "more" than they came in with. YMMV

-CZ
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: h.bilerman on January 02, 2006, 02:15:27 pm
I like my $10 barber.  You know why?  Because when I go in there & say "take a little off the sides", that's what he does.  He doesn't start cutting before asking me what I'm looking for....he doesn't try to convince me to cut my hair like one of the backstreet boys....and he doesn't give me a mullet once he's taken my glasses off, and I can't see for shit.  It's a nice relationship, and I respect him very much because I can trust him.  Sure I could cut my own hair, but paying someone a fair price to do what I want, only quicker & with more proficiency seems like a good trade.  Usually he'll put some alcohol on my neck without asking, that's cool with me.  I have to ask for everything else.  Ok...now replace gel & mousse & hair dye (his ancillary tools) with reverb & compression (ours).  If I walked out of the barbershop looking like one of the members of duran duran circa 1984 I'd be pretty pissed.  If our relationship turned from a basic service that I pay him for, to one where he decided to do what he pleased because he thought I'd look better, I would cease to give him my business.  I challenge anyone here to say that they would feel differently.  

hb
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Tidewater on January 02, 2006, 02:25:08 pm
electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 13:48

Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 10:38


I just tracked a band that asked for "the Albini drum sound."

Just delay the room mics 20 ms and call it quits.



lmao

'If it were only so easy.'

M
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 02, 2006, 03:35:32 pm
DivideByZero wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 14:25

electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 13:48

Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 10:38


I just tracked a band that asked for "the Albini drum sound."

Just delay the room mics 20 ms and call it quits.



lmao

'If it were only so easy.'

M


It'd be a hell of a lot easier with the same room.

Room choice argument ready to happen...
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: nobby on January 02, 2006, 03:44:08 pm
Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 10:38



As per compression digital makes me have to use more since the tape isn't there to help the process. That doesn't mean stun, just using the stuff that makes me feel like I'm using tape.


I fully expected to get to the end of this thread without anyone bringing this up.

Albini uses analog tape and IIRC at 15 ips. Got tape compression?


Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 02, 2006, 03:48:34 pm
nobby wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 15:44


Albini uses analog tape and IIRC at 15 ips. Got tape compression?

Not unless you're abusing the tape.

Tape does not compress until it is saturated -- beyond its linear range. I don't like the sound of tape run into saturation, so I try never to let it happen.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: nobby on January 02, 2006, 03:53:07 pm
dikledoux wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 12:05

 I'm amazed at the HUGE drum sounds on some of this stuff and just assumed they were processed pretty heavily.  My friend can't believe "how Albini gets those sounds".

It now occurs to me in a flash of realization that he got those sounds in much the same way that they got those Bonham sounds.  That guy SOUNDS LIKE THAT when he plays.  


If they got the John Bonham sound without using compression, I'd be amazed (though either way I'm impressed).


Title: Re: Compression
Post by: kraster on January 02, 2006, 04:06:05 pm
I think John Bonham is the most unique thing about the John Bonham sound. Wink
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 02, 2006, 04:15:26 pm
electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 15:48

nobby wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 15:44


Albini uses analog tape and IIRC at 15 ips. Got tape compression?

Not unless you're abusing the tape.

Tape does not compress until it is saturated -- beyond its linear range. I don't like the sound of tape run into saturation, so I try never to let it happen.



It's not about tape saturation or compression in the biblical sense.

Nope, it's about the way digital handles (or doesn't handle)certain types of transients. It's NOT about warming and NOT about punchy and if you don't track to digital you don't know.

It's a subtle additive scenario riddled with buzzwords and marketing bullshit but underneath it all the issue is still there. It's an issue not a problem.



Title: Re: Compression
Post by: nobby on January 02, 2006, 04:27:15 pm
Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 16:15

electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 15:48

nobby wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 15:44


Albini uses analog tape and IIRC at 15 ips. Got tape compression?

Not unless you're abusing the tape.

Tape does not compress until it is saturated -- beyond its linear range. I don't like the sound of tape run into saturation, so I try never to let it happen.



It's not about tape saturation or compression in the biblical sense.

Nope, it's about the way digital handles (or doesn't handle)certain types of transients. It's NOT about warming and NOT about punchy and if you don't track to digital you don't know.




I haven't used tape in years, but back when I did, if the peak lamp lit a few times or the needle occasionally went into the red, it didn't seem to effect the recording adversely.

From a technical standpoint, exactly how does analog tape handle certain types of transients?

Does it rap them on the shoe with its night stick and tell them to move along?


Title: Re: Compression
Post by: dikledoux on January 02, 2006, 04:43:53 pm
nobby wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 15:53

If they got the John Bonham sound without using compression, I'd be amazed (though either way I'm impressed).

I'm not silly enough to say that compression wasn't used on Bonham's tracks, I'm saying that before the tracks ever saw a compressor he sounded a LOT like that already.  Probably hitting with incredible consistency on a well tuned drumset in a HUGE sounding room.  Since SA says he prefers to use compression only when required, it occured to me that the drum sounds he gets aren't overly processed as a rule.

Prior to reading many of SA's posts, I woulda guessed the opposite.  It's easy to fall into the trap of wondering what gadget makes a musician sound like they do - when the truly badass mofo's pretty much sound like they do no matter where they play or what they play on.

That's all I'm saying.

dik
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Ross Hogarth on January 02, 2006, 04:48:58 pm
Semantics is the core of most agreement and disagreement
If you want to disagree with me, choose to hear what I say through a filter and we will disagree even when what we are disagreeing about we really agree

This tends to be the case here most often with Steve  ... I think on some level

I believe that it takes a serious professional with an abundance of skill and talent to stay out of the way when needed and not add what is not needed
I believe this to be an art-form in and of itself
I am not saying this leads to self importance
I believe the contrary
I believe it goes to the core of the word service
Unless we are the artist
We are in a service position
I believe this is in line with the finest waiter in the finest restaurant
I don't want to have the waiter ask me every 5 minutes if I want more wine or my glass filled
I just always want it filled and not notice
Again, I believe this takes a highly skilled and highly trained waiter
I also believe this to be an art-form in and of itself
is it art without me there to serve ?
of course not ....
Do we have a job without the artist
No, of course not
Do they get to visit our fine establishment without us making it so ?

But
is that the discussion or is the art of serving the discussion
If you choose to disagree with me
It is because your choice of semantics causes you to disagree
because what I hear you say is
You like to stay out of the way and do what you feel is the best way to serve
I happen to agree
except
I feel if someone is floundering and loses themselves in the process or needs help finding their way
I do not have a problem stepping in when needed
If it is an arrangement idea or compression
I feel I am experienced to know when , where and what
This again is an art in itself
knowing what to say when and how to say it and what to do

art i think is the debate
what is art ?
some say good art won't match your sofa
I believe that the word art needs to be defined
but then
who is doing the defining
If you ask my opinion
I am very open with my definition
I believe that my gardener is an artist
My mechanic
My roofer
I believe I am an artist
This is probably where the semantics get in the way and disagreement starts
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 02, 2006, 04:49:39 pm
So now this is from a technical standpoint... Technically it's about the needle and the body of the syringe; you want to feel one and not the other (sometimes).

Are we gonna pretend that digital and analog handle transients the same if I don't supply a white paper?

It's a reality and we either deal with it, ignore it or eschew it by sticking with tape.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: nobby on January 02, 2006, 04:55:25 pm
Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 16:49

So now this is from a technical standpoint... Technically it's about the needle and the body of the syringe; you want to feel one and not the other (sometimes).

Are we gonna pretend that digital and analog handle transients the same if I don't supply a white paper?




All you had to say was you don't know either.


Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 02, 2006, 05:01:55 pm
nobby wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 16:55

Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 16:49

So now this is from a technical standpoint... Technically it's about the needle and the body of the syringe; you want to feel one and not the other (sometimes).

Are we gonna pretend that digital and analog handle transients the same if I don't supply a white paper?




All you had to say was you don't know either.





There is a difference between knowing and teaching that requires 100 times more rigeur of understanding.

I prefer the morphine to the prick IYKWIM.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: nobby on January 02, 2006, 05:23:02 pm
Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 17:01

nobby wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 16:55

Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 16:49

So now this is from a technical standpoint... Technically it's about the needle and the body of the syringe; you want to feel one and not the other (sometimes).

Are we gonna pretend that digital and analog handle transients the same if I don't supply a white paper?




All you had to say was you don't know either.





There is a difference between knowing and teaching that requires 100 times more rigeur of understanding.


I guess a technical explanation isn't all that important. But a lot of non-albini seem to like tape compression and are willing to risk having Albini look down his nose at them while they employ it.
Quote:


I prefer the morphine to the prick IYKWIM.


I kinda like Morphine but I've never heard of The Prick. Are they any good?




Title: Re: Compression
Post by: rnicklaus on January 02, 2006, 05:34:49 pm
nobby wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 13:27



I haven't used tape in years, but back when I did, if the peak lamp lit a few times or the needle occasionally went into the red, it didn't seem to effect the recording adversely.




The "needle going into the red" doesn't mean anything without the tape formulation and alignment info.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 02, 2006, 05:41:17 pm
rnicklaus wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 17:34

nobby wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 13:27



I haven't used tape in years, but back when I did, if the peak lamp lit a few times or the needle occasionally went into the red, it didn't seem to effect the recording adversely.




The "needle going into the red" doesn't mean anything without the tape formulation and alignment info.



Or the meter, mode or type of signal.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Tidewater on January 02, 2006, 05:52:19 pm
Don't watch the meters to get a tape sound, use the monitors.

Every source has a sweet spot.


M
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: rnicklaus on January 02, 2006, 05:57:46 pm
Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 14:41

rnicklaus wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 17:34

nobby wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 13:27



I haven't used tape in years, but back when I did, if the peak lamp lit a few times or the needle occasionally went into the red, it didn't seem to effect the recording adversely.




The "needle going into the red" doesn't mean anything without the tape formulation and alignment info.



Or the meter, mode or type of signal.



Right.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: nobby on January 02, 2006, 06:10:56 pm
Tape was 456

As for that other stuff Very Happy I can't remember. The bias oscillator took a dump about 10 years ago and though I still have the machine, I guess realistically the likelyhood of my going back to analog tape is very slim.

I wouldn't mind checking out that Rupert Neve tape simulator though at some point. Not a budgetary priority right now IYKWIM.

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 02, 2006, 08:05:49 pm
As with anything the tools sometimes dictate the methodology and that was my point.

Then it breaks down that some tools require the use of different tools to achieve the desired effect. To be more specific the choice of mics is different given certain storage systems. This too applies to compression whereas sometimes it's merely a processor for color as opposed to a dynamics processor. Yes, sometimes both but never with a pre-conceived notion that it is needed.

FWIW the last time i did a job without using these tools to temper digital my ME noticed (a difference from other projects) and offered up some of the same at the mastering stage. The differences albeit subtle made a recording sound like music and afterall that was the plan from the get go. Ironically i went into it thinking "i would do no harm" and by my own fault did harm.

Music.

Ears.

Somehow they relate, news at 11.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on January 02, 2006, 10:19:47 pm
i stopped reading at this post, so i have three pages to catch up on....


electrical wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 18:24


I'm pretty good, actually. I can do most things in the studio.



WOW.  you wanna put that to the test?  

Quote:


It seems you have created a vision of me that suits your arguments against it, and this matters to you. I'm sorry I'm not like that, and I don't believe or act in a way that would fit this image. I don't like disappointing people.



see, i'm not trying to argue at all....

i'm honestly trying to fully understand your position.

you decide if it's even worth your time.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 02, 2006, 11:26:19 pm
j.hall wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 22:19


electrical wrote on Sun, 01 January 2006 18:24


I'm pretty good, actually. I can do most things in the studio.



WOW.  you wanna put that to the test?  

Well, I was being funny, but okay. What do you think I can't do?
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 03, 2006, 01:05:56 am
Ross Hogarth wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 16:48

Semantics is the core of most agreement and disagreement
If you want to disagree with me, choose to hear what I say through a filter and we will disagree even when what we are disagreeing about we really agree

Please don't overlook the possibility that we see the world differently, and that we really do disagree.

Quote:

This tends to be the case here most often with Steve  ... I think on some level

I think most of the times I've disagreed with someone, I've actually been in disagreement with him. I take pains to use unmistakeable language, so the literal meaning of the sentences conveys my intentions. I do not think it is merely a semantic difference, in most cases.

Quote:

I believe that it takes a serious professional with an abundance of skill and talent to stay out of the way when needed and not add what is not needed
I believe this to be an art-form in and of itself

An artist creates something from nothing. Something specifically new. Created for its own sake. An engineer is working on --or paralell to-- music (art) that is being made by the band (an artist). This is not merely a semantic distinction.

It is difficult to do well, and the results of it being done well or poorly can have an effect on the music (the art itself) but it is not an art. It creates nothing.

Quote:

I am not saying this leads to self importance

I think the very idea that a subordinate job like engineering is on a par with creative arts smacks of arrogance.

Quote:

I just always want it filled and not notice
Again, I believe this takes a highly skilled and highly trained waiter
I also believe this to be an art-form in and of itself

Unless you are using a metaphor here, I don't understand how anything that isn't creative at its core can be an art. I guess you could say it was "poetry," as a metaphor for it being beautiful and difficult and tricky, but you're speaking literally (I think, please correct me if I'm wrong). One can take an aesthetic pleasure from well-executed service, but it isn't done for its own sake, and it isn't art.

These tasks, being an engineer, being a waiter, being a tradesman, are all difficult tasks. They require special experience, savvy and skill in execution, and they deserve our respect. Still, it remains that they create nothing of themselves. They are execution. They are worthy of our admiration, but they are not art.

Quote:

But
is that the discussion or is the art of serving the discussion
If you choose to disagree with me
It is because your choice of semantics causes you to disagree

I can't be any more plain about it: We disagree. I do not believe recording itself is an art form. I do not believe I am an artist.

Quote:

because what I hear you say is
You like to stay out of the way and do what you feel is the best way to serve
I happen to agree

Yes, that's a simple reading of it, and I agree so far...

Quote:

except

See, there's a disagreement coming...

Quote:

I feel if someone is floundering and loses themselves in the process or needs help finding their way
I do not have a problem stepping in when needed

I believe much creativity is stifled when outside ideas are imposed on difficult situations or critical junctures as "solutions." Part of what makes music gripping is the way the band finds its way through its aesthetic in moments like this. I think it is crucial to allow the band to find its own answers. Making the answering idea a reality is where I can be of assistance.

Quote:

If it is an arrangement idea or compression
I feel I am experienced to know when , where and what

I don't doubt that you can make these decisions and changes, or that you have done it many times, and your clients have been happy with the results. I'm sure all that is true. I just think decisions about the sound and the music need to belong to the band whose name is on the cover.

I don't impose my aesthetic on a band. I am uncomfortable imposing my tastes on someone else's music. I don't think my tastes should be catered-to at every moment. I don't think I represent a universal audience. I'm certainly not objective, but even if such a thing were possible, I think artists ought to indulge their individual whims. Their art ought to be theirs. That's why art is interesting -- because it represents, reflects and is unique to him who made it. Making it easy for them to do this expressing of their creative impulses is my sole responsibility.

Quote:

art i think is the debate
what is art ?

At its most minimal definition, I think art is creating something   meant to be appreciated for its own sake. I don't think these other things that you've ennobled to the status of "art" really qualify.

Quote:

I believe I am an artist
This is probably where the semantics get in the way and disagreement starts


I don't think it is merely a semantic distinction. I don't believe people who do not create anything should be considered artists. I think artists should be deferred-to by these subordinate people they employ.

Is it possible to be invited to collaborate with an artist? Sure, of course. I just dislike the presumption that everything must be a collaboration. I think collaboration (let's call it that, because it sounds nicer) is imposed on bands far more than is warranted. I believe this belittles the bands, their creativity and their efforts to date.

I do not feel the need to turn everything I work on into a collaboration with my fingerprints all over it. I have my own band for a creative outlet, and I am content. I have no nagging urge to stick my nose into every other record I happen to be working on. No desire to claim authorship of it.

I don't think I can be any more plain in my meaning.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on January 03, 2006, 01:14:22 am
steve wrote:

"I think the very idea that a subordinate job like engineering is on a par with creative arts smacks of arrogance."

i think you're stopping yourself from becoming a better engineer

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Linear on January 03, 2006, 01:25:29 am
maxim wrote on Tue, 03 January 2006 17:14

steve wrote:

"I think the very idea that a subordinate job like engineering is on a par with creative arts smacks of arrogance."

i think you're stopping yourself from becoming a better engineer




err, can we see your credentials for a statement like that?

more specifically, how many albums have you engineered (apart from your own)?

it's pretty rich to criticise someone whom has made more records than you've had hot dinners.


Chris
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 03, 2006, 01:34:44 am
Linear wrote on Tue, 03 January 2006 01:25

maxim wrote on Tue, 03 January 2006 17:14

steve wrote:

"I think the very idea that a subordinate job like engineering is on a par with creative arts smacks of arrogance."

i think you're stopping yourself from becoming a better engineer




err, can we see your credentials for a statement like that?

more specifically, how many albums have you engineered (apart from your own)?

it's pretty rich to criticise someone whom has made more records than you've had hot dinners.


Chris


Please, let's not turn this into a dick-measuring contest. The man's idea should be evaluated in its own light, not with respect to the man.

I think he has a point. I disagree with his point, but it is not invalidated because I've made a lot of records.

Now and forever, please stick to the ideas being discussed, not the people discussing them.

That quickly becomes ugly, as we have all seen.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on January 03, 2006, 01:41:37 am
i think anyone can be better at what they do, regardless of their credits

not only did i not engineer my record, i paid an experienced engineer to do it for me (at least, the basic trax)

having said that, i have been recording for ten years, and for the last 4, all of my releases have made it onto jjj, australian national radio station

i don't claim to be good, and i know i can get better

these discussions are one way

as for the tone of conversations, well, we can all get a bit narky at times

anyway, steve can also look after himself, i'm sure
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on January 03, 2006, 01:43:45 am
et voila!

the last two posts were written simultaneously
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: RadioMan on January 03, 2006, 02:40:14 am
maxim wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 22:14

steve wrote:

"I think the very idea that a subordinate job like engineering is on a par with creative arts smacks of arrogance."

i think you're stopping yourself from becoming a better engineer




In my younger years, I loved playing golf.  I worked at getting better at it over a couple years, but I just didn't have the "Feel" or skill to progress any further than a simple rank beginner.  I learned everything I could about the damn game.  Studied the physics behind a great swing.  Studied the masters on how to get and be better at playing.  Even went so far as to study "Turf Management" and took weather classes all in an effort to understand "How" all the elements effect the game of golf.

So in the end, all my knowledge and studying of the game of golf just couldn't get me far enough to get good playing it.  The natural talent just wasn't there.  I knew what club to use, how hard to hit it, how much hook or slice to add to compensate for the weather:  But with no talent in the hands....  I was doomed to making divots and topping the ball.  I gave up playing but stayed close to golf by becoming a caddy.  I figured it was a natual for me.  I KNEW the "How" part of the game, I knew the courses in town (Las Vegas) to the smallest detail, why not make some bucks just being a caddy.  Life was fine.

So what does this have to do with a Recording Engineers job and the discussion at hand??  Just this:

A caddy's job is much like that of a Recording Engineer's job.  The Pro golfer tells me which club he wants to use so he gets the ball where HE wants it.  Without comment, I give him the club.  Through HIS "artistry", he puts the ball on the fairway HIS way.  At most, he may ask me "HOW FAR" it might be to a particular spot on the fairway ahead of him, or ask "What club should I use"....THAT part i know so I share the information with him (275yds), and hand him the tool that best suits HIS goal/destination.  It's still his job to hit the ball to the spot he's aiming for.  The Golfer is the one with the vision of where he's taking his game down-course.  I just facilitate with information (when asked for it), and handing him the club he wants.  If the golfer hits the ball and gets the outcome he was looking for, then great!!  If he doesn't...too bad.  The outcome was based on his decisions.  Good or bad, the end result of his shot rests on HIS shoulders.  I sure in the hell ain't taking credit (or blame) for a good/bad shot. (It would be funny to see Tiger Woods blame his loss at the Masters on his caddy on National TV though Smile )

If all I'm doing in my job as a caddy (R/E) is handing clubs out and sharing basic raw information with a Pro Golfer(Artist).... does this also make ME an artist too??  I say "No".  Can I be any better a caddy for having all the information on the given conditions and sharing it?  I don't see how.  Tell me if you know, I'd love to know as well.  My job is to hand out clubs and information NOT make the decision and take the shots.

When a band hires a sound engineer to record a session, the engineer has all the knowledge (or should have) to accuratly help the band get their sound to the proper distination (accuracy on tape).  It's up to the band to use thier talent and artistry to get the job done.  The R/E is just there to facilitate the process, use his knowledge of the technology to help the band accuratly record what the band wants.  If it means sitting back for a couple of hours while the band figures out a problem or possible new sound direction, then the R/E can go get lunch for all I care.  It would be pompous and arrogant of the engineer to think "HIS type of artistry" is on par with the band's, step forward and start tossing out his ideas on solutions to a problem he has no right to be involved with to begin with.  The band didn't ask him for input for a solution.  The engineer isn't "Creating" anything in a session.  He's just there to help the band with the "Technical How-to" when it comes to getting the sound to tape.  The band communicates "What" they want.  The engineer simply uses his knowledge to deliver.  The engineer knows the "HOW".  The band knows the "What".

I doubt the paint brush cleaner made any suggestion to Michael Angelo on what shade of blue to use on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Just my rambling thoughts from my youth, brought forward by this weeks discussion.

I hope it helps.

Mark Staite
Lighthouse Productions
Las Vegas, NV
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on January 03, 2006, 03:23:35 am
it's an interesting analogy, but there's one big difference:

art is not a sport

all you need to achieve in golf is to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of shots

art has no such objective

i do get your point though, and it's certainly a way to work

i would liken it to the movies though

ingmar bergman works with sven nykvist because of the latter's capacity to capture light and shade

a purely aesthetic decision aided by his technical prowess and knowledge of film stock

tarkovsky worked with him for same reasons

he is a cinematographer in the caddy sense, but he's also an artist (and director himself)

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Johnny B on January 03, 2006, 04:18:50 am
Wow, a thread on compression which seemed to start off innocently enough got off track when people gave their opinions and cited some examples of compression they did not like, or, that they did like, thus resulting the outbreak of yet another round of personal attacks. Sheesh!

Aristotle is known to have said some really stupid things, but he also said some good things as well, among them, "Moderation in all things."  As a general rule, that would seem to apply to the use of eq, comps, 'verbs, distortion, and any other "effects."  Then again, pushing something beyond the moderate level can, on occasion, be useful for a given artistic endeavor.

There is no "accounting" for "taste." Certainly,  there are no math formulas or no cost accounting methods that apply to "good taste."

Too much squashing and crushing? Maybe, and even worse by the time it gets on the radio.

If the "standard" is to have "timeless recordings," recordings that do not sound dated, recordings that will stand the test of time, then maybe people will want to consider or reconsider the application of too much of all the technical gizmo's. I dunno.

I do know that I like the sound of the old Cat Stevens records, I still think they still sound good. Cat Stevens "timeless?" Maybe, maybe not.  Could there be clues in the credits? Your guess is as good as mine, but it does not sound over-compressed to me and seems to me to fit that "good taste" requirement on that score at least.

And that's one for the road.

Cheers.  

Smile












 

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Larrchild on January 03, 2006, 02:03:12 pm
I would like to return to the first few comments regarding compression where Steve says "I don't compress much and JJ sez I like a squashed room mic or 2. re: Bonham.

I have say the success of that sound is tempo and arrangement-driven. As good as that sounds in solo, in a fast, busy song, the extra decay turns to mush. So I've started with that sound but bailed out after more parts are added.

There is no bigger fan of that sound than me. But it does dull the attack and create a boatload of 1st reflections that make the haas effect your enemy. So if and when you can use it, its great fun. It just doesn't cut thru a track so well.=) Zep was 3 instruments so they had space to fill galore.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: craig boychuk on January 04, 2006, 01:00:26 am
electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 12:48

Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 10:38


I just tracked a band that asked for "the Albini drum sound."

Just delay the room mics 20 ms and call it quits.



Ha ha, that's totally it.
How did you come about doing this in the first place?


I was talking to one of my friends the other day about the "albini sound" and he identifies your recordings by the sound of the snare drum...

Perhaps people just get used to hearing the sound of the rooms at electrical and recognize them when they hear 'em.

However, even stuff you recorded outside of your old setup or the electrical facility has a particular quality to it.


Anyway...blah blah blah...
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Adam P on January 04, 2006, 02:11:28 am
craig wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 01:00

electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 12:48

Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 10:38


I just tracked a band that asked for "the Albini drum sound."

Just delay the room mics 20 ms and call it quits.



Ha ha, that's totally it.
How did you come about doing this in the first place?


I found this to be pretty informative:

http://www.electrical.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=879
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 04, 2006, 08:32:25 am
OK, I know this might not be really fair, and I'm really sorry if Steve takes offense to this ... however, since this is his forum and he has made certain statements regarding compression in this thread, it made me think of something.  First, I'm very stoked for Steve that he got to to work with 'Bob and Jim'.  That's so cool, and I'm totally envious.  However, when I bought the Clarksdale record, I remember thinking to myself, "There's something about this drum sound I'm not digging."  Now, to be fair, Steve may have simply gotten the sound that they asked for.  But as this thread started, I finally realized what it was that I felt like I was missing from drum sound back when I heard the record in 1998: The drums were totally ambient, but didn't have that heavy type compression that I consider to be a huge part of the Zeppelin sound.  It's a really brilliant way of having an ambient sound that still pumps and is very agressive.  Part of what I was missing on Clarksdale was a certain authority and agressiveness to the drums, I suppose.  

Steve, was there a discussion between you three guys that resulted in you not compressing the room like that, or was it just a choice that you made?  I also remember reading an interview with you when the album came out and you were talking about using a lot of Blumlein for the ambient mics.

Now, if anybody thinks they can achieve the following sound w/o compression, then you know something that I don't.  I can get a sound comparable to this even in a 15 sq. ft. room with a pair of ribbons and 1176s, even though I do prefer a larger room.  (Maybe I'll post an example later if anybody calls bullshit.)
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Len on January 04, 2006, 09:07:04 am
I think somehow in all these posts about artist vs engineer and who makes the creative choices, there is one word missing:

"Producer".

I assume Steve lumps the producer with "the band".  To that extent, he is 100% correct when he says he is the technical person there to help the band achieve what it is they hear in their heads.  If compression does that, Steve would oblige.  But Steve is also correct in not simply defaulting to use of compression.

I am not a pro engineer.  I am an artist who mostly records my own material.  So many times now, I have recorded/mixed my music, and in the mixing process thought - "hmm the compressor is on - how will it sound if I switch it off?" The answer in many cases (but not vocals) has been "better" - and, stupid me, it always takes my by surprise...

Cheers
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on January 04, 2006, 11:00:44 am
electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 22:26


Well, I was being funny, but okay. What do you think I can't do?


i was only half serious.

a couple last questions though.

so if all these engineers are making dated, cliche-riddled records.  who are you to judge them for it?  honestly, shouldn't you assume that the engineers are behaving like you do and are simply doing what they were asked to do?  maybe all these bands are pleased as punch with the records they have.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Nama on January 04, 2006, 01:08:30 pm
j.hall wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 11:00

electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 22:26


Well, I was being funny, but okay. What do you think I can't do?


i was only half serious.

a couple last questions though.

so if all these engineers are making dated, cliche-riddled records.  who are you to judge them for it?  honestly, shouldn't you assume that the engineers are behaving like you do and are simply doing what they were asked to do?  maybe all these bands are pleased as punch with the records they have.


Well, I'm not Steve, but do you only take black or white?
I think "real" Steve is more flexible than that.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Marlowe on January 04, 2006, 01:29:16 pm
This reply rules.

electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 18:48

Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 10:38


I just tracked a band that asked for "the Albini drum sound."

Just delay the room mics 20 ms and call it quits.

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 04, 2006, 01:53:45 pm
Marlowe wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 13:29

This reply rules.

electrical wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 18:48

Fibes wrote on Mon, 02 January 2006 10:38


I just tracked a band that asked for "the Albini drum sound."

Just delay the room mics 20 ms and call it quits.




"Simple is as simple does."

Did JJ mention a 15 SF room for drums? I've never seen a drum riser that small.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on January 04, 2006, 01:57:58 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 08:32


Now, if anybody thinks they can achieve the following sound w/o compression, then you know something that I don't.  I can get a sound comparable to this even in a 15 sq. ft. room with a pair of ribbons and 1176s, even though I do prefer a larger room.  (Maybe I'll post an example later if anybody calls bullshit.)



JJ,
FYI, those "Bonham Outtakes" are somewhat bogus. Listen to the actual Zep records... none of that over the top ambience is evident in the original mixes...
-CZ
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: electrical on January 04, 2006, 02:16:50 pm
j.hall wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 11:00



so if all these engineers are making dated, cliche-riddled records.  who are you to judge them for it?

I am a listener, a band member (sympathetic to other band members) and an engineering peer. I think all those positions have standing to form an opinion.

Quote:

honestly, shouldn't you assume that the engineers are behaving like you do and are simply doing what they were asked to do?

Not when they say they aren't, and defend an authoritarian or "collaborative" approach. They clearly aren't doing that.

Quote:

maybe all these bands are pleased as punch with the records they have.

I'm sure some of them are. My aunt Mabel liked her husband fine. He didn't beat her much.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 04, 2006, 03:06:03 pm
zmix wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 10:57


JJ,
FYI, those "Bonham Outtakes" are somewhat bogus. Listen to the actual Zep records... none of that over the top ambience is evident in the original mixes...
-CZ


Chuck, as soon as the other instruments fall in, a lot of the perceived deecay is going to disappear, even if they used this exact drum sound.  Maybe those particular songs wound up being mixed less ambiently, but listen to "When the Levee Breaks" or "Bonzo's Montreaux" and tell me they weren't compressing the fuck out of the room.  You can clearly hear how much there is in the absence of the other instruments.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 04, 2006, 03:14:03 pm
JJ---

15 Square feet?

it's barely a hot tub.


Title: Re: Compression
Post by: chrisj on January 04, 2006, 03:22:40 pm
Hang on, 'Levee' was one mic up a stairwell, not a modern multimiked setup with squashed room mics.

You could do that with essentially no compression and have much the same feel, just less washy (as long as the stairwell was empty enough)
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 04, 2006, 04:03:02 pm
Oops, what I meant to say was the drum room is 15 ft squared.  LOL.  That's 225 sq ft.  D'oh!  

Chris, BTW, there's a lot of compression on that one mic.  I think there was a kick mic involved, too.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 04, 2006, 04:06:58 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 16:03

Oops, what I meant to say was the drum room is 15 ft squared.  LOL.  That's 225 sq ft.  D'oh!  



Whew 'cause I thought you were making an amazing claim.

Next thing ya know you'll be micing guitar cabs with whiskey barrels.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 04, 2006, 04:18:24 pm
Fibes wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 13:06


Whew 'cause I thought you were making an amazing claim.

Next thing ya know you'll be micing guitar cabs with whiskey barrels.



There's an idea!  Scotch or Bourbon?
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on January 04, 2006, 04:29:43 pm
it amazes me how many people are fooled by good, musical compression.......
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Fibes on January 04, 2006, 04:46:17 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 16:18

Fibes wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 13:06


Whew 'cause I thought you were making an amazing claim.

Next thing ya know you'll be micing guitar cabs with whiskey barrels.



There's an idea!  Scotch or Bourbon?



I'm glad you made the distinction.

So many folks just don't get it.

As someone who now has lived half of his life in the south my go to would be Bourbon.

I think tonite i'm gonna gut my M269c and put the capsule in my monogrammed Julep cup. It's gonna kill on debutantes.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 04, 2006, 04:51:50 pm
Hey, and I don't even drink!  See how intuitive that was?  LOL.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: chrisj on January 04, 2006, 04:59:00 pm
Youbetcha- something like an 1176 with all buttons pushed in- no kick mic I think- but what I said was, you could do that without compression. It would be rather different but the character would be similar.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Tidewater on January 04, 2006, 04:59:29 pm
I don't drink either, but I DO NOW!

Where are we discarding the pulled out hair?


M
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on January 04, 2006, 06:04:50 pm
chrisj wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 15:59

Youbetcha- something like an 1176 with all buttons pushed in- no kick mic I think- but what I said was, you could do that without compression. It would be rather different but the character would be similar.




SHOW ME.  please!!!!!!!!!

if you can get "that sound" without compression (be it a lot or just a touch) i want to know how.  

and no offense to you, but i'm not buying until i hear it.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: kraster on January 04, 2006, 06:31:58 pm
chrisj wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 20:22

Hang on, 'Levee' was one mic up a stairwell, not a modern multimiked setup with squashed room mics.






It was two Beyer M160s on the first floor of Headley Grange with Bonzo down Below. The two Mics were then fed into A&D F-700 compressors with the slowest attack and fastest release times. The signal was also fed into a Binson echo which in turn was fed to the compressors as well. The Binson gives the whole sound that metallic resonance and the weird doubling effect. But it's Bonham and the Ludwig that is the biggest factor IMHO.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on January 04, 2006, 06:37:20 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 15:06

zmix wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 10:57


JJ,
FYI, those "Bonham Outtakes" are somewhat bogus. Listen to the actual Zep records... none of that over the top ambience is evident in the original mixes...
-CZ


Chuck, as soon as the other instruments fall in, a lot of the perceived deecay is going to disappear, even if they used this exact drum sound.  Maybe those particular songs wound up being mixed less ambiently, but listen to "When the Levee Breaks" or "Bonzo's Montreaux" and tell me they weren't compressing the fuck out of the room.  You can clearly hear how much there is in the absence of the other instruments.


JJ,

dude.... Rolling Eyes

Just throw on the original Zep "all of my love" there is quite a number of discernable differences in the type of ambience. especially in the breaks withoutIt is possible that there were additional room mics that these MP3 files are featuring so prominently, but the sound of theses 'outtakes' reek of 'remix'. and Digital Verb... ugh

Also, if it's true that Bonham didn't allow close mics, what then?  
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on January 04, 2006, 06:39:28 pm
kraster wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 18:31

chrisj wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 20:22

Hang on, 'Levee' was one mic up a stairwell, not a modern multimiked setup with squashed room mics.






It was two Beyer M160s on the first floor of Headley Grange with Bonzo down Below. The two Mics were then fed into A&D F-700 compressors with the slowest attack and fastest release times. The signal was also fed into a Binson echo which in turn was fed to the compressors as well. The Binson gives the whole sound that metallic resonance and the weird doubling effect. But it's Bonham and the Ludwig that is the biggest factor IMHO.


I thought that the "Helios" (aka A+D & R ) compressor myth was put to rest when it was revealed that in fact these were 1176s on that ttrack. Where did you get this info?
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Larrchild on January 04, 2006, 07:54:14 pm
Nonetheless, seems some of Bonzo's drum sound travelled with him =)
: http://www.drummerworld.com/Videos/JohnBonham2.html
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 04, 2006, 08:16:25 pm
Chuck, I don't hear verb at all.  That is nothing but compression and the big marble slabs in Polar Studios.  And just to prove my point...

Here's some drums.  A completely mismatched pair of ribbons (BK-11 and a 4038)through Neve 1073s and an 1178 on 'stun'.  No reverb or delay whatsoever, in a 15x15 ft room.  About 15 seconds into the clip, I mute the room so you can hear the close mics.  As I said, no verb, no delay, no EQ, just all mic choice, placement and compression.

(BTW, it's funny to know that they used M160s for Levee.  When I'm in another room, that is usually what I will use if they have a pair.  That or 4038s.)
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: kraster on January 04, 2006, 08:53:41 pm
zmix wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 23:39



I thought that the "Helios" (aka A+D & R ) compressor myth was put to rest when it was revealed that in fact these were 1176s on that ttrack. Where did you get this info?


"If I remember correctly, both sides were going through [Audio & Design] F-700 compressors set to the slowest attack and the quickest release times possible. You don't want a very fast attack on the limiters, because it won't let any of the actual sound of the skin hitting the snare through. It'll make it kind of dead, you know? When you've got a quick release time, it'll make the sound even liver still because the limiter stops working immediately and turns up the sound of the room. Also, with it that compressed, every time you hit the bass drum, it would drown everything else out and every time you hit the snare it would drown everything else out. It kind of balances itself that way.
I also used a Binson echo unit. It's a delay unit that works with a metal drum instead of tape. It has a great sound, that thing. The return off it doesn't sound anything like the signal. I fed the Binson into each channel so it was going through the compressors as well., meaning that the echo was being affected and changing in relation to what drum he's hitting.

Andy Johns, engineer "When the Levee Breaks"

(Recording Engineer/Producer magazine 1975)
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 04, 2006, 08:56:15 pm
OK, we were all wrong about Levee, or Andy can't keep his stories straight (which is entirely believable).  I found this interview with Andy Johns.  Lots of good stuff:

UA: Not to betray any state secrets, but are there any particular settings you use for certain program material you’d be willing to share?

Andy Johns: It is hard to pinpoint that. Having used the device for this long, it depends on the material. For drums, I will give an example: “When the Levee Breaks” had two microphones up the stairs and nothing else. I didn’t use compressors, but I thought “Levee Breaks” sounded really good, but you can’t do that all the time; it’s not an effect--what an idiot. After a couple of years, I had been ditzing with orchestral micing and things that bleed. You know, bleeding into other mics. I started using room mics all the time. That’s a fact. In any city that you go into now, I can take credit for this without being an asshole. I more or less invented it because of “Levee Breaks.” What you do is, you run your room mics through a couple of 1176s, just so that they are nudging a bit. This brings up the decay time of the room when your guy hits the bass drum or the snare. If it’s a very quick tempo it won’t work, but at medium or half-time tempo it brings up the room. It’s wonderful and there is not another compressor that will do it the same way as an 1176!

For vocals there really isn’t a better compressor. Sometimes an LA-2A is good because it grabs on a little bit more. Plus, on the LA-2A, you have the limiter position. That’s the other trick that I use, which I don’t think anybody has really caught onto. I got awards and all that rubbish for drum sounds; it is insane but true. I concentrate on the drum kit because it is the only instrument in a rock’n’roll band that is actually acoustic. You know getting the proper “trenches?” Everything is bloody-- the bass is electric, the Hammond is electric-- The acoustic guitar and the vocals are the only other acoustic things.

When I am mixing, I melt the bass drum and I melt the snare. The bass drum will not be even, so the first bass drum track doesn’t have the 1176 on and it gets to breathe. Then I put another bass drum next to it with an 1176 at four to one [ratio setting]. It evens it out a bit. I sneak that in and the bass drum is more constant. Of course, you have to change your EQ’s appropriately. You might want to use the 1176 before or after the EQ. For the snare, I use one normal track that I EQ to death. Then I will use another one that has gone through a gate, hopefully a keypex-2. I put an 1176 on it to make it pop. I sneak that in. Not only to get rid of some of the dross because of the gate, the high hat, all the rubbish and symbols and shit. The 1176 will make it pop a little, and you sneak that in and all of a sudden the snare just comes up.

For “Do You Think I am Sexy,” which we did in this very building, [Drummer] Carmine [Appice] had a bunch of kits. This was disco so he needed to be in mono. We used two or three mics and a small kit, and I compressed it so it could breathe. The bass drum pushed the cymbals away so of course I used an 1176. What else are you going to use? I used an 1176 and then I put an extra bass drum on another track so that I could control the volume of it-- but that was an 1176 thing. Now I know that a lot of people hate, loathe that song, but what did that record do? We did twelve million. That was the single that was an 1176.

Would you like the “Black Dog” guitar tone story?

UA: Absolutely—which Led Zeppelin album was that?

Andy: That is the fourth one, the really, really big one. “Stairway To Heaven,” “Levee Breaks,” and “Black Dog.” It sold about eighteen million-- something bloody ridiculous. Who would have known, you know? I had been trying to get this sound from Buffalo Springfield for a long time and I met Bill House. He said, “just put two 1176s in series.” He didn’t really want to let me know what “they” were. It was a direct sound and I thought that I knew what to do. There were three guitars on “Black Dog” so I triple tracked it. When I mixed it, these three guitars were down here and the rest of the tracks were up here. Since the sound was so loud, it gave me much more room for the other stuff. Anyways, he meant two 1176s in series, one of which has the compression buttons punched out, so it is like an amp. You hit the front of the next compressor really hard and make the mic amp distort a bit with the EQ-- a bit of bottom to make it sing. So “Black Dog” has a direct Gibson Les Paul Sunburst 52 or something, going right into the mic amps on the mixer, which is going through two 1176s, and it sounds like some guy in the Albert Hall with a bunch of marshals. I couldn’t have done it without the 1176s. There is not another compressor that will do that, because you can take out the compression stuff.

In England, before we had 1176s, there were Pylamitches. Audio Design and EMT made one or two different versions, and they were cool. They were very good but they didn’t do what this thing does. It is almost-- how can I put it-- Universal Audio springs to mind. If you're doing gardening, you'll need a spade. If you're going to drive your car, you might want to put petrol in the tank and if you're making a record, you need some 1176s. It is paradoxically a universal thing. You have to have them, and if you don’t it’s just sort of sad. You can get around the situation, but they always make life easier.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Tidewater on January 04, 2006, 09:05:13 pm
I love Pagey's direct guitar sounds. I rarely like direct guitar sounds.


M
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on January 05, 2006, 01:56:39 am
J.J. Blair wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 20:16

Chuck, I don't hear verb at all.  That is nothing but compression and the big marble slabs in Polar Studios.  And just to prove my point...

Here's some drums.  A completely mismatched pair of ribbons (BK-11 and a 4038)through Neve 1073s and an 1178 on 'stun'.  No reverb or delay whatsoever, in a 15x15 ft room.  About 15 seconds into the clip, I mute the room so you can hear the close mics.  As I said, no verb, no delay, no EQ, just all mic choice, placement and compression.

(BTW, it's funny to know that they used M160s for Levee.  When I'm in another room, that is usually what I will use if they have a pair.  That or 4038s.)




JJ,
Don't make come to LA just to smack you upside the head!! Laughing
Gee compressed room mics? never heard that sound before.... Rolling Eyes  Rolling Eyes  Rolling Eyes  wickdeed.

Whatever Andy Johns used, I have both 1176s and A+D & R (helios) limiters nyah nyah nyah nyah....
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on January 05, 2006, 05:50:00 am
kraster wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 20:53

zmix wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 23:39

I thought that the "Helios" (aka A+D & R ) compressor myth was put to rest when it was revealed that in fact these were 1176s on that track. Where did you get this info?
"If I remember correctly, both sides were going through [Audio & Design] F-700 compressors set to the slowest attack and the quickest release times possible....Andy Johns, engineer "When the Levee Breaks" (Recording Engineer/Producer magazine 1975)


Vintage King have some F700 compressors for sale:

http://www.vintageking.com/s.nl/sc.14/category.143/it.A/id.2 970/.f

But they do not even have an adjustment for the atack time...

Seems more likely that "Levee" was the 1176 after all....

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 05, 2006, 10:17:02 am
Yeah, no attack time and they are only $4700 each.  

BTW, Chuck, if you feel the need to smack me, you are always welcome to stay here, too.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bjornson on January 05, 2006, 10:18:02 am
J.J. Blair wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 01:16

Chuck, I don't hear verb at all.  That is nothing but compression and the big marble slabs in Polar Studios.  And just to prove my point...

Here's some drums.  A completely mismatched pair of ribbons (BK-11 and a 4038)through Neve 1073s and an 1178 on 'stun'.  No reverb or delay whatsoever, in a 15x15 ft room.  About 15 seconds into the clip, I mute the room so you can hear the close mics.  As I said, no verb, no delay, no EQ, just all mic choice, placement and compression.

(BTW, it's funny to know that they used M160s for Levee.  When I'm in another room, that is usually what I will use if they have a pair.  That or 4038s.)

I think this might be exactly what Steve is talking about....
Weak, standard issue, vibeless use of compression.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on January 05, 2006, 10:27:46 am
bjornson wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 09:18


Weak, standard issue, vibeless use of compression.



i don't think steve has been talking about any sort of vibe or standard issue anything.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 05, 2006, 12:37:28 pm
bjornson wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 07:18


Weak, standard issue, vibeless use of compression.



Vibeless?  I think your monitors might be broken.  Either that, or you are listening on your laptop.

BTW, does this forum have the same anonymity rules as the other forums?  I like knowing who is taking shots at me.  This could be AJ, for all I know.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 05, 2006, 01:25:46 pm
BTW, the point of posting that mp3 was so that you could compare the room decay to the Bonham track (which is considerably brighter than my track or the mixed album version).  The point being that the 1176 on stun makes the room sound much bigger, which as Chuck said, is no surprise to most of us.  My assertion is that it was compression and not verb in the Bonham track I posted.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on January 05, 2006, 01:30:52 pm
http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/t/8975/23/?SQ=3b3 604c89fa17245452fccfb1519a05d
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: vernier on January 05, 2006, 01:31:55 pm
1975 article sounds like the recipe, not the later stories.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 05, 2006, 01:42:56 pm
Vern, I would tend to agree if not for the fact that he's recalling setting a non-existent attack time.  
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: rwj1313 on January 05, 2006, 01:46:37 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 15:51

Hey, and I don't even drink!  See how intuitive that was?  LOL.


Ah Hah!!

Now I know some your post are so angry! <G>

Rick
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: vernier on January 05, 2006, 02:05:33 pm
Quote:

Vern, I would tend to agree if not for the fact that he's recalling setting a non-existent attack time.

Then I'll ignore all those stories and go with what Ron Nevison told me. HEE!
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on January 05, 2006, 02:38:44 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 10:17

Yeah, no attack time and they are only $4700 each.


I have the A & D + R version of the circuit in the F700 and these do have an attack knob, and it's nearly impossible NOT to get the 1176 top-and-bottom-button sound. I mean, they shudder when you run rooms through them.


Quote:

 BTW, Chuck, if you feel the need to smack me, you are always welcome to stay here, too.


Embarassed  ,   Very Happy

Isn't it nice when people are civil and humane towards each other?
Thanks, JJ.

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bjornson on January 05, 2006, 04:20:40 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 17:37

bjornson wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 07:18


Weak, standard issue, vibeless use of compression.



Vibeless?  I think your monitors might be broken.  Either that, or you are listening on your laptop.

BTW, does this forum have the same anonymity rules as the other forums?  I like knowing who is taking shots at me.  This could be AJ, for all I know.


No offense meant,  just giving my opinion. Listening on unbroken BM15a's
My 1178's just don't sound anything like that.
I'll shut up now.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: kraster on January 05, 2006, 05:04:10 pm
zmix wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 10:50

kraster wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 20:53

zmix wrote on Wed, 04 January 2006 23:39

I thought that the "Helios" (aka A+D & R ) compressor myth was put to rest when it was revealed that in fact these were 1176s on that track. Where did you get this info?
"If I remember correctly, both sides were going through [Audio & Design] F-700 compressors set to the slowest attack and the quickest release times possible....Andy Johns, engineer "When the Levee Breaks" (Recording Engineer/Producer magazine 1975)


Vintage King have some F700 compressors for sale:

   http://www.vintageking.com/s.nl/sc.14/category.143/it.A/id.2 970/.f

But they do not even have an adjustment for the atack time...

Seems more likely that "Levee" was the 1176 after all....





What about these then?

http://w1.815.telia.com/~u81503617/f700.jpg

It seems there were different models of the F700.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 05, 2006, 05:13:47 pm
bjornson wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 13:20


My 1178's just don't sound anything like that.


Sure they do!  Just push all the buttons in, crank up the input and set the A&R to 3 and 7.  Typically, I'm sure you don't want that sound as loud as I had it, but that was just to prove the point.

Kraster, you seem to have a point, BTW.  Those are indeed different.  If only Andy Johns' brain weren't mush, we could get a straight story!  
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: kraster on January 05, 2006, 05:18:33 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 22:13



Kraster, you seem to have a point, BTW.  Those are indeed different.  If only Andy Johns' brain weren't mush, we could get a straight story!  


You have a point too. I do recall various "inconsistencies" in Andy John's accounts over the years. He even starts the 1975 interview with "If I remember correctly"...

And in the article on Black Dog you quoted he couldn't remember which album was Led Zep IV. Very Happy

Seriously good engineer, though.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 05, 2006, 05:24:06 pm
Kraster, to be fair, that was the interviewer who didn't know which record it was.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: j.hall on January 05, 2006, 05:34:40 pm
bjornson wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 15:20


My 1178's just don't sound anything like that.



when the attack knob is in the detent it's actually bypassing the compressor......FYI.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on January 05, 2006, 06:03:50 pm
kraster wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 17:04


What about these then?


It seems there were different models of the F700.


Very nice! These are the A&D+R branded modules.... with an "H" designation...

I have 2 questions:

when were they made??

May I have them??
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bjornson on January 05, 2006, 06:35:44 pm
[/quote]

Sure they do!  Just push all the buttons in, crank up the input and set the A&R to 3 and 7.  Typically, I'm sure you don't want that sound as loud as I had it, but that was just to prove the point. [/quote]
The 1178 just doesn't do the 4 button trick as well as a blackface 1176 EOS. It loses all the aggression. My best room crush results with an 1178 tend to be 4:1, Tempo dependent attack and fastest release. Granted with a 40L x34W x 20H room the whole "Bonham Thing" gets alot easier.  here's a shot of a wackie dual position drum kit played by the amazing Dave "Throck" Throckmorton at a recent in studio live recording. Ignore the pastel lighting.  Very Happy

index.php/fa/2178/0/  
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bjornson on January 05, 2006, 06:41:04 pm
[/quote]

Sure they do!  Just push all the buttons in, crank up the input and set the A&R to 3 and 7.  Typically, I'm sure you don't want that sound as loud as I had it, but that was just to prove the point. [/quote]



The 1178 just doesn't do the 4 button trick as well as a blackface 1176 EOS. It loses all the aggression. My best room crush results with an 1178 tend to be 4:1, Tempo dependent attack and fastest release. Granted with a 40L x34W x 20H room the whole "Bonham Thing" gets alot easier.  Here's a shot of a wackie dual position drum kit played by the amazing Dave "Throck" Throckmorton at a recent in studio live recording (with 125 person audience). Ignore the pastel lighting.  Very Happy

index.php/fa/2178/0/  [/quote]
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: J.J. Blair on January 05, 2006, 08:15:01 pm
I wish I could have a drum room that size.  Nice wedges!

BTW, I get pretty much the same results with 1176LNs and 1178s for that type of 4 button thing.  The compression circuits are identical.  The main difference between the units is the input stage, where the 1178 is transformerless and has a 5534 I believe.   The compression circuit is identical, from what I remember from the schematics.  
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bjornson on January 05, 2006, 08:50:37 pm
One of the advantages to Pittsburgh....
Real Estate Prices!
I couldn't afford a dog house in the valley.
Then again you're not going to run into talent at the 7/11 either Crying or Very Sad
sorry for the double post.
Back on topic.
Lower those thresholds!!
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Tidewater on January 05, 2006, 09:33:51 pm
That room is depressingly tremendous!


M
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: kraster on January 05, 2006, 10:02:04 pm
J.J. Blair wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 22:24

Kraster, to be fair, that was the interviewer who didn't know which record it was.


I stand corrected. My Bad. Sorry Andy.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: rankus on January 06, 2006, 02:53:36 pm
DivideByZero wrote on Thu, 05 January 2006 18:33

That room is depressingly tremendous!


M



If you like that sort of thing Rolling Eyes

Makes mine look like a closet...
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: bloodstone on January 10, 2006, 07:12:29 am
I was climbing mountains in Nepal and came upon a wise old man who was living in a stone hut at the top of a peak.  He told me "compression is your friend".  The trick in a lot of cases is to use it just enough to improve the mix or track (I rarely compress when tracking anymore) without it being audible.  I tend to use effects that way: delays and reverbs you can't really "hear" but improve the impact of the tune.

Compression can help you control an unruly signal that's overwhelming a mix.  Some of us don't have fader automation and can't manage the 50 fader moves a song might require w/o compression (mixing alone).  

Then there's the cases where smashing a given sound really hard is just the ticket.  It just depends on the song and the signal.  "If it sounds right, it is right".  Absolutism is dangerous when you're dealing with art.
_________________________
Dominic
Studio Wee
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: chris haines on January 10, 2006, 10:30:05 am
Hello Steve,

I remember reading in the Kurt Cobain journals that you recommended using two mics on top of the snare, one hotter than the other...do you use this technique to avoid using compression on the snare or do you feel that in order to capture the timbre of the drum correctly you need two mics for louder/softer hits?

thanks.

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: zmix on January 11, 2006, 02:01:52 am

[ singing ]
"I love things that are great
Good things are fantastic.  

'Cause I dig everything except things that I don't
And I'll try anything except the things I say I won't.
But one thing's for sure
I like things [ scatting ] that are great!"

[ the audience cheers ]
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Bob_Vandiver on June 18, 2006, 11:56:17 pm
Quote:

there are some seriously amazing sounding records that are just crushed.

Andy Wallace
Tchad Blake
...


Quote:

 Substitue "cliche-riddled, immediately-dated artefacts" for "seriously amazing sounding records" and you've hit another nail on the head.


I know that I am coming to this conversation very late  and am hardly the stature of a Steve Albini OR a Tchad Blake but it would be nice to remind ourselves that today's "cliche-riddled, immediately-dated artefacts" were yesterday's most significant innovations.

Here is a dated reference but it makes my point. I hated watching "NYPD Blue" at times simply because pf those stupid, over-the-top drum treatments used in the show music. They reminded me of the difference between your basic pickup truck and those rediculous monster trucks that are fifteen feet tall and a monument to the stupidity of man.

However, I think that a fair percentage of us originally thought that the drum sounds on Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight" kicked some serious ass, the first thousand times they were heard. It isn't the effect, it is the over-use of an effect that is goofy, especially if you cannot help but hear it in the mix.

Another question raised early on in this thread was, can you name music that sounded weak in its unadorned state (or something like that)? Funny this question should come up. Just this weekend I was listening to some Seventies-era Grateful Dead and specifically thought that the "naturally" recorded drums (esp. Toms)  sounded positively anemic, thin, amateur.    So, yes.

As it turns out, "Natural" is also an illusion.

Use one color in your palate and you always sound clich
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Toomanywires on June 20, 2006, 06:04:46 pm
Great post, Long,,,,,but great.

My thoughts on compression.

For starters not everyone’s take on what sounds good will be the same. Just like food some people love Sushi bars and some just hate them, and some only stop by for a little saki every now and then. Some engineers or bands just love the so called "crushed sound" so they work towards that sound. On the other hand some engineers or bands work to preserve the natural dynamics of their sound, and last but not least some engineers take the middle ground and use compression/limiting in moderation to achieve their sound. Time after time many new AE's ask themselves which method wins the debate. Well I found they all can win if given the right circumstances. It's all a matter of taste. The standard method of trial and error is the first step towards "the sound" you are looking for. Give them all a shot but make sure you have the time and patience for it.

Oh yeah and don’t forget to take a ton of notes........
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Bobro on June 21, 2006, 07:39:04 am
Let's see... let's push down or kill (clip) anything that sticks out of our "standard" so we can bring the whole thing, on the average, up. Then everyone can have everything- a car for example! Let's call it... "the folk's vehicle" for example.

Editing and gating out the "noise" down there below our "standard" goes without saying of course.

"Compression is the sound of rock and roll" - Tony Visconti

"Compression is the sound of cocksucking fascists"- Bobro

Razz

Off to the sea for a month of nakedness and wine, love you all,

-Cameron Bobro

PS. Yes of course I'm exaggerating, a little, but everyone here knows in their heart when they've crossed the line between art and being part of the problem, come on.


Title: Re: Compression
Post by: groucho on June 30, 2006, 01:07:24 am
Quote:

maybe all these bands are pleased as punch with the records they have.


Quote:


I'm sure some of them are. My aunt Mabel liked her husband fine. He didn't beat her much.


While most of what Steve has said on this subject seems pretty sensible, this strikes me as somewhat inconsistant with his general philiosophy of "give the band what they want."

It's one thing to say that he prefers records that aren't super compressed or heavily processed. But to compare those who DO prefer those kinds of sounds to victims of domestic abuse seems to cross the line into arrogance.

Sure, there are tons of engineers imposing their cliche-ridden visions on the band, there are tons of engineers with deluded, overinflated senses of themselves as "artists" and "collaborators", etc. etc. I can buy all that.

But the dirty little secret just might be that... there are a lot of bands who LIKE it this way.Smile

Chris
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: CWHumphrey on July 02, 2006, 08:27:15 pm
groucho wrote on Fri, 30 June 2006 06:07

Quote:

maybe all these bands are pleased as punch with the records they have.


Quote:


I'm sure some of them are. My aunt Mabel liked her husband fine. He didn't beat her much.


While most of what Steve has said on this subject seems pretty sensible, this strikes me as somewhat inconsistant with his general philiosophy of "give the band what they want."

It's one thing to say that he prefers records that aren't super compressed or heavily processed. But to compare those who DO prefer those kinds of sounds to victims of domestic abuse seems to cross the line into arrogance.

Sure, there are tons of engineers imposing their cliche-ridden visions on the band, there are tons of engineers with deluded, overinflated senses of themselves as "artists" and "collaborators", etc. etc. I can buy all that.

But the dirty little secret just might be that... there are a lot of bands who LIKE it this way.Smile

Chris


I was hoping that Steve was going to address this specifically.  He hasn't, so I will.  Don't you think, that if a band chooses to work with Steve Albini, they already know how it's going to go?  Steve has written copious opinions on his attitudes to the music biz, his approach, his love of analog--long before coming to this forum.

I have a hard time believing that a band says they want to work with Steve Albini, but then, in the studio, a conversation goes like this: "Steve, love your work.  But uh, see, we're looking for your sound, but compressed, can you do that?"

But who knows?  It's a whacky biz.  An equally unlikely scenario:  Band to Tom Lord Alge, "Tom, we're so excited to have you mix this song, but, do you think you back off the compression?"

For the record I like both TLA's and Steve Albini's work, contradictory as they may seem.

Cheers,

Carter William Humphrey
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: maxim on July 02, 2006, 09:25:55 pm
cw wrote:

"I like both TLA's and Steve Albini's work, contradictory as they may seem"

contradictory is not uncomplimentary
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: groucho on July 02, 2006, 11:10:04 pm
Quote:


I was hoping that Steve was going to address this specifically. He hasn't, so I will. Don't you think, that if a band chooses to work with Steve Albini, they already know how it's going to go?


Well sure, I think we could assume that to be true. I'm not sure that really addresses what I said though.

While I totally love Steve's "pro-band" ethics I'm just kinda puzzled by this one inconsistancy, namely his assumption that all heavily compressed, heavily "tampered with" records are perpetrated upon the band in some way against their will.

When someone mentioned that it might in fact be the BANDS who often REQUEST this kind of treatment, he responded with the above quote comparing them to people who are too dumb to know they're being abused.

This seems out of line with his general respect for the band's desires, so I assume I'm misunderstanding him here. Either that or, just like everyone else in recording it seems, he really just thinks that his way is the ONLY good way and it happened to leak out in that one comment.Smile

Chris

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: CWHumphrey on July 02, 2006, 11:39:27 pm
groucho wrote on Mon, 03 July 2006 04:10



When someone mentioned that it might in fact be the BANDS who often REQUEST this kind of treatment, he responded with the above quote comparing them to people who are too dumb to know they're being abused.

This seems out of line with his general respect for the band's desires, so I assume I'm misunderstanding him here. Either that or, just like everyone else in recording it seems, he really just thinks that his way is the ONLY good way and it happened to leak out in that one comment.Smile

Chris



I gotta honest with you. I think your trying to put a coat on Steve that just doesn't fit.  More than anything else, I mix for a living.  I have plenty of definate opinions about the business, the state of modern production, and of course, the production process.

However, I especially like working with bands because, ideally, they come in with their own identity musically, and aren't looking to me to create music out bits and pieces or often, the overall "sound" of the record is to be concocted in the studio, as sometimes happens with solo artists (and some bands).   At the end the day, as I have often counseled, it's their name on the front of the album.  Mine is on the inside (and maybe the back).  However, I've even said to people, if you can what I do as well or better than me, you don't need me meaning maybe I do bring something to the table that they need.  Do you feel those 2 statements contradict each other?  

At the end of the day, I want the mix, the album, the production to sound "good" and the band to be happy (or better).  I interpret Steve's comments about production to be in line wih my philosophy.  Servant of the band, yes.  Slave to the band, no.  Don't you agree, there's a difference?

I'm sorry but I have read nothing Steve has ever written (and I've read a lot of his words) that indicates he feels his way the way.  Especially in this particular thread, please quote him directly and show me where he has imposed his opinion.  As I recall, Steve said that he generally doesn't use a lot of compression not that other people should not use a lot of compression.

Cheers,

Carter William Humphrey


Title: Re: Compression
Post by: CWHumphrey on July 03, 2006, 12:23:52 am
CWHumphrey wrote on Mon, 03 July 2006 04:39

Especially in this particular thread, please quote him directly and show me where he has imposed his opinion.  As I recall, Steve said that he generally doesn't use a lot of compression not that other people should not use a lot of compression.

Cheers,

Carter William Humphrey


I decided to do the homework assignment myself.  These are quotes taken directly from this thread:
electrical wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 07:50

As a rule, I don't use compression as a sound effect. Rarely, it is called for, and then it's the perfect thing. I do use compression on bass guitar most of the time, though not always, and even then, not as much as I see other people use. I often have a limiter or compressor on the bass drum, though not always.

I virtually never use stereo bus compression. In mastering, there is almost always a peak limiter used to catch the occasional stray peak, but I don't generally like the sound of heavily-compressed music. I'm of the opinion that the dynamics within a piece of music can be as important as the notes, and I always feel like I'm missing something when they are flattened.


electrical wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 19:40

If a client requests that I make him pancakes, I'll do it. The client gets what the client wants, anything short of a prostate massage. Often, bands have heard through the grapevine that they should concern themselves with compression, and ask to hear it on many sounds. Generally, they do not prefer the sound of the compressed signal compared to the un-processed signal, but in some instances they find a use for it that I wouldn't.

Robert Plant also really liked heavy compression on his voice, but he "sang to the sound" in his headphones, so it was incorporated into his performance and sounded quite nice.


electrical wrote on Fri, 30 December 2005 21:49

It's not that compressing music never works, but that it should not be a default maneuver,


electrical wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 03:31

I think there are vanishingly few records that would better serve the bands by being more tweaked, more compressed, or generally more slaved-over. It is so easy to manipulate sound that manipulating the sound has become a goal unto itself. I find that ridiculous, and I defend the approach less likely to create freakish sounds and cliches.

electrical wrote on Sat, 31 December 2005 21:24


I think I'm an experienced specialist in a technical field, trying to help a band use a sometimes-convoluted process to make a recording. I recognize that my contribution to their record is subordinate to theirs to an enormous degree. I would never suggest that I am "collaborating" with them. I am working for them.


Actually I have to disagree (sort of) with this last one.  In a couple of cases as a producer, I was "collaborating" with the band mainly, because there was a "hole" in the band (more likely a hole in the song) and it was discovered in the studio.  I had to fill the hole, or really give direction to have the band fill the hole.  But most of the time, I do not see myself collaborating with the band either.

Well folks, this cut and paste session has been interesting.  I even got to see where this thread turned confrontational...but you can read that for yourself.  I was surprised who the guilty party was.

So enough.

You may think I'm some sort of cheerleader for Steve Albini, but I'm not.  We could go back into a discussion of billing & money and I can guarantee we will fall on opposite sides (it's already happened BTW).

Cheers,

Carter William Humphrey
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: groucho on July 03, 2006, 01:32:59 am
Quote:


Especially in this particular thread, please quote him directly and show me where he has imposed his opinion.


Um, I *have* quoted him directly. I'm not sure where you're getting the "impose his opinion" thing. Those are your words, not mine.  

Quote:


I gotta honest with you. I think your trying to put a coat on Steve that just doesn't fit.


Again Carter, I kinda feel like you're not really reading what I'm writing, but are responding to some other, larger agenda. You seem very concerned with "sides". I just found that one remark of Steve's sort of curious and inconsistant with the rest of his "philosophy". That's all.

I hope it was clear that my "like evryone else he thinks his way is best" comment was tongue-in-cheek.Smile


Chris

Title: Re: Compression
Post by: CWHumphrey on July 03, 2006, 02:12:19 am
[quote title=groucho wrote on Mon, 03 July 2006 06:32]
Quote:


Again Carter, I kinda feel like you're not really reading what I'm writing, but are responding to some other, larger agenda. You seem very concerned with "sides". I just found that one remark of Steve's sort of curious and inconsistant with the rest of his "philosophy". That's all.

I hope it was clear that my "like evryone else he thinks his way is best" comment was tongue-in-cheek.Smile


Chris




I'm reading it.  I guess I'm just not getting it.  

I'll be honest, I'm not really interested in sides, though I find it curious how this thread turned confrontational about a dozen or so responses in(I'm not referring to you Chris).  But, I've been around long enough to realize that confrontation, as well as controversy, is what gets people klacking on the keyboards so have at it!

Cheers,

Carter William Humphrey
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Ali Moniack on July 03, 2006, 04:10:17 am
I'm responding to this topic (late) because it raises issues i'm interested in, but for what it's worth:

Someone mentioned the drummer of Jesus Lizard, Mac McNielly. Absolutely amazing drummer. I saw Jesus Lizard a coupla times in Glasgow and watching and listening to that band and that drummer was an intense experience, and yes the guy just puts out that sound you hear on the records on his own, live. They were one of the best bands on the planet, ever. To me that sound is the breath of life itself. Angry, passionate, totally dynamic, one of my favourite bands.

Thank god Steve recorded them and I can now close my eyes and imagine Mac's limbs flailing at the kit without the interfering colouration of whichever compressor was fashionable at the time. Great musicians and great music need no "fairy dust". "Fairy dust" is something which disappears up people's nostrils shortly before they attempt to "repair" poorly recorded sounds by playing with their toys. Sorry, but I cannot believe that anyone who believes in the integrity of recorded sound wouldn't rally round Steve's comments, especially in the current situation where good musicianship is clearly being suffocated by ersatz sound production, and where it seems increasingly more imperative that those with sonic influence try to let the music breathe, and preserve the natural qualities of live music. If you're recording in midi pop hell, it's already too late, roof it...and if you're working with bad players, why not try to harness the sound without imprinting the characteristics of various pieces of equipment upon it...


As regards the work ethic of engineering music, I offer this: while some jobs are pure engineering and of course one is never an "artist", occasionally an element of "craftsmanship" is called for...like being given a bunch of slightly damaged paintings and being asked to fill a few cracks, let the intended/original colour through and frame them...or if the painting looks best without a frame, hanging lopsided and faded, leave it alone!

To be fair, Steve was asked for his opinions on compression in this thread (as if that wasn't sonically clear already) and he gave them, clearly he states that there's no rule, but that compression isn't a pre-requisite and doesn't necessarily make things sound "better" - it's my understanding that over-compression and over-use of compression is the issue, & there's no point in attacking those views as though they were directed at yourself unless you know you're crushing sounds intentionally and considering yourself to be an "artist" for doing so. Writing music is art, presenting a sonic impression of a band/artist is at most a craft, and always a technical endeavor.

It's an opinion, a politic almost, an idea about hearing musicians and what they're really playing, I guess capturing that isn't as important when you aren't recording a drummer as incredible as Mac McNielly was and a band as great-sounding and mind-blowing live as Jesus Lizard were.

People like that go to Electrical, or a studio with a similar philosophy. People who want it loud on the radio get it crushed elsewhere. Each to their own.
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: Pingu on July 09, 2006, 09:48:15 pm
Ashermusic wrote on Sat, 24 December 2005 00:28

electrical wrote on Fri, 23 December 2005 07:50

Slider2 wrote on Thu, 22 December 2005 22:51


Is it true that other than bass and vocals, you almost never compress anything?
Is mix bus compression ever an option for you at mixdown?

As a rule, I don't use compression as a sound effect. Rarely, it is called for, and then it's the perfect thing. I do use compression on bass guitar most of the time, though not always, and even then, not as much as I see other people use. I often have a limiter or compressor on the bass drum, though not always.

About the only thing that I use compression on routinely is vocals. The range of a close-mic recording of a vocalist can span 20dB and more, which makes positioning the vocal within the music problematic; the loud parts are too loud and the quiet parts are too quiet.

Generally, I dislike the sound of a compressor working more than I dislike the little bit of extra effort it takes to balance things without it.

I virtually never use stereo bus compression. In mastering, there is almost always a peak limiter used to catch the occasional stray peak, but I don't generally like the sound of heavily-compressed music. I'm of the opinion that the dynamics within a piece of music can be as important as the notes, and I always feel like I'm missing something when they are flattened.



Standing ovation here! Accurately stated for an analog guy Smile





Yep.

Different rules apply ITB
Title: Re: Compression
Post by: robot gigante on July 10, 2006, 11:31:51 pm
Pingu wrote on Sun, 09 July 2006 21:48



Different rules apply ITB


For sure, use even less compression ITB whenever possible!   Since comp plugins never sound as good as rides... or a better way of putting it, they hardly ever sound good period.  

As far as what I think about compression, well let's just say: thank gawd for both the Steve Albinis and the Tchad Blakes of the world!

Both extremes sound good to me!  Both approaches make for variety, and variety is a good thing imho.  It would be a sad thing if you never heard the sound of compressor pumping in music, and likewise it would be sad if that was all you heard in every mix.

I kind of disagree about a lot of compression dating an album, that would make Revolver sound dated then- I don't think so.  Also, Tchad Blake's mixes sound fresh to my ears simply because no one else's mixes sound like his & no one uses compression precisely the same way he does, so you can't nail his sound as belonging to a particular era.  

I think there's absolutely room for both hands on and hands off approaches of molding an artist's sound in the wide wide world of rock & roll.