Open Letter to Ethan Winer
babydaddymusic
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#1
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #1
Gear addict
 

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Open Letter to Ethan Winer

I have been on GS for a while, and have read many of your posts on GS.
As someone who has been recording music since 1997, and been really fortunate in business with my career, I pride myself in being able to detect and enjoy subtleties in my environment, especially when it comes to music.
I have found myself silently disagreeing with you on more than one occasion while following various threads.
I am the guy who's friends in the band convinced to that he must use B&W stereo speakers, and Monster cables, etc.. yes, I am that guy!

I decided however on Friday, to watch the AES video on audiophile myths. To anyone reading this post- do yourself a favor and watch that video.
It was eye and ear opening. I think most of us are aware of expectation bias in many situations but like to think in our given profession that we are somewhat immune to it.
Seeing and hearing the scientific evidence of how the human mind and ears interact in your seminar has allowed me to be ok with the times when I truly can't tell a difference in something I am comparing.
The part of the video with Poppy Crum was particularly interesting with the Led Zepplin song being played backwards with written lyrics.
After watching the hour long video, I started to feel a real sense of gratitude for the service that you provide this site- which is a balance to the marketing and other types of hype that those of us who love to create and listen to music are so easily sucked into.
I used to think you were kind of wanting to pee on everyone's parade but you mentioned in that presentation things like quality of build and reliability which are things that I think are important.
I had previously gotten the impression that you thought everyone should be using MXL microphones and Sound Blaster cards, and that's not really a fair representation.
Anyway, I know you have your fans and not-so-much fans on here, but I wanted to say a sincere thanks for the effort that you put in.
What you said about the monitoring environment being the area that needs the most attention makes so much sense, but I hadn't put it all together. After getting my rooms under control with Rock wool traps, I could definitely tell a difference- now I am thinking before anything else, I may need to invest in really, really good monitors.
Anyway, thanks for being a balance to the hype in the world of audio.
I forgot one thing!
Watching that video, and reading your posts has now had the opposite effect from when I started. Instead of feeling like you are trying to kill the romantic in me, and the guy that gets excited about a new piece of gear (and its possibilities) I now see that having that balance that your work provides actually does the opposite- which is to free me to just freaking go make music and enjoy the gear that I do have. I realize I actually need to understand how frequencies interact with each other and my room, before even thinking too much about anything else. Plus, I am excited to get to know my current gear, inside and out, and what I can do with it!

Noel Hartough

Last edited by babydaddymusic; 8th February 2010 at 10:57 PM.. Reason: I forgot the most important thing!
2
#2
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Storyville's Avatar
 

+1. We as engineers work in a field that is all about perception.
#3
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #3
Banned
 

Great post !
#4
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #4
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
the hugeness of a u47 or a neve 1073 is no myth

but..... I do agree if you do not have either of them you should still make music any way you can.......

babydaddymusic
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#5
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
the hugeness of a u47 or a neve 1073 is no myth

but..... I do agree if you do not have either of them you should still make music any way you can.......

Oh I definitely agree, but the favorite guys that I have worked with could manage great things with not so great gear, and it's a really good way to learn the technical and stay creative.
It's kind of fun because it forces you to really milk the performance, and think about the specific spot you have your traps at, and how that one inch closer with the mic made your acoustic sound 5 times better than before, etc...
I guess the phrase I would use is it's healthy not to be too "gear-centric" especially when first learning.
I love gear- trust me, but I had to admit that I do have expectation bias even when doing something I am really well versed in.
I wanted my Apogee Duet to be miles better than my new Profire 2626, but I can't say that it is.
So, it's kind of cool knowing you don't have to be tied to a piece of gear to get great results.
Now, I do think certain tools make the job a lot easier. I would love to have a 1073, but you know what I mean.
The thing I loved about that video was how it literally shows you "this is how the brain works", and you get tricked right there and then once you know the trick your only conclusion is "geez, that sort of thing happens all of the time, in many departments of life". You can then see how you probably are subject to the same things when evaluating gear, especially when you just paid money for that gear.
Noel
1
babydaddymusic
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#6
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #6
Gear addict
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
the hugeness of a u47 or a neve 1073 is no myth

but..... I do agree if you do not have either of them you should still make music any way you can.......

And also, I am not saying that everything any one person on here says is gospel, I just hadn't given Ethan and his cohorts a fair shake in terms of the research behind the posts.
I do think gear matters, but I also like being able to admit that I am a human who is subject to expectation bias, which leads me to always be thinking "if I just had this thing or that thing I could...".
Instead of just pissing on everybody's romance with gear, I think it's more about balance. Good gear is still good gear, and it holds its value for a reason. I just had really started down that slope of gear slut mania, which is fun, but it masks the heart of the matter sometimes which is to create and record great music and have fun. I had gotten my priorities out of whack.
2
#7
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #7
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
Quote:
Originally Posted by babydaddymusic View Post
Oh I definitely agree, but the favorite guys that I have worked with could manage great things with not so great gear, and it's a really good way to learn the technical and stay creative.
It's kind of fun because it forces you to really milk the performance, and think about the specific spot you have your traps at, and how that one inch closer with the mic made your acoustic sound 5 times better than before, etc...
I guess the phrase I would use is it's healthy not to be too "gear-centric" especially when first learning.
I love gear- trust me, but I had to admit that I do have expectation bias even when doing something I am really well versed in.
I wanted my Apogee Duet to be miles better than my new Profire 2626, but I can't say that it is.
So, it's kind of cool knowing you don't have to be tied to a piece of gear to get great results.
Now, I do think certain tools make the job a lot easier. I would love to have a 1073, but you know what I mean.
The thing I loved about that video was how it literally shows you "this is how the brain works", and you get tricked right there and then once you know the trick your only conclusion is "geez, that sort of thing happens all of the time, in many departments of life". You can then see how you probably are subject to the same things when evaluating gear, especially when you just paid money for that gear.
Noel

well yeah.........

But he question is at the end of the day is.... would Dark side of the moon or Abbey Road sound as good cut on a Profire 2626? the answer is NO! and they wouldn't sound as good cut on a Duet to be fair. But that is the difference and must be considered in the grand scale.

Sure the guys that recorded that stuff were talented perhaps the cream of the crop, but the fact of the matter is those records would not sound as good on lesser equipment. But that's not to say the records would not be great from a song perspective. Since they probably would be as good? But without certain gear certain sounds are just not possible and it is often these devices that create certain signature textures associated with our favorite records. This must not be overlooked. BinB has been hot on threads lately. What would that record sound like without the invention or use of the eventide harmonizer? It would be different. But would it be as good? What about if they miced the gtrs with chinese mics and not german u87s? I don't know ? But I can guess it would not be as good. What if they used an adat and not a 2in analog multitrack? Would we still like it as much as we do? and think it sounds as cool as it actually does. I'm not sure.... but I would think it would not sound as warm, punchy and open. I could be wrong.

What would have 'The Wall' sounded like cut on a Behringer ADA8000 using mackie preamps? I don't think I want to know ! thank gawd that is an audio myth............

#8
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #8
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#9
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #9
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
Great guys can manage with less than great gear however what great gear brings to the table is the ability to work really fast. That often makes all the difference in the world between capturing mediocrity and capturing greatness.
#10
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #10
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Great guys can manage with less than great gear however what great gear brings to the table is the ability to work really fast. That often makes all the difference in the world between capturing mediocrity and capturing greatness.

that would be another important aspect that cannot be overlooked
babydaddymusic
Thread Starter
#11
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #11
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Thread Starter
Also, I will add that I do not always agree with the more science minded folks mainly because I think the human brain and sensors are more capable than science can fully quantify.
The Godfather has more impact because of the way the film looks, I get that. There's a difference between the home video and a full length feature, which uses a panavision camera to tape.
I'm all for it. I want to get a Neve, I want an API 3124, I would love to have the high end Apogee stuff.
I just think it's nice to have the balance here. That's all I was saying.
There are things that make something sound like its on a record, that are hard to describe but they matter.
I'm not saying that null tests are the end all be all
Also, I do trust my ears over time, which is how I came to the conclusion about my Duet versus the 2626.
The Duet is better than my old FW 1814, in several ways but the 2626 is more in the league of the Duet. I mean in terms of onboard pres, and headphone amp, things that you can really notice. As far as the converters, I am still working through that whole world of "stacking" etc...
I think though that a big part of evaluating gear is we sort of get told what to listen for, and therefore we don't see how that colors our perception.
I can hear differences between mic pres, etc...but I know basically the reputation of the gear and it influences my perception when listening.
I may have actually come to the same conclusions by simply listening, but I just found Ethan's video a nice balance.
#12
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #12
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 

Anyone got a link to the vid in question?

Searched yes before you call me lazy!
babydaddymusic
Thread Starter
#13
8th February 2010
Old 8th February 2010
  #13
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post

that would be another important aspect that cannot be overlooked
VERY VERY true. No doubt about it.
When you can hear something in your head, and then the producer/engineer puts up a Neumann and you are running through great pres, it feels like you are already there.
I definitely get that
#14
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #14
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
Quote:
Originally Posted by babydaddymusic View Post
There's a difference between the home video and a full length feature, which uses a panavision camera to tape.

there ya go.. same applies to audio.

so one should be able to make Starwars or Indiana Jones with a logitech usb camera and MS paint brush for composites, as long as you are talented and have an acoustically designed film set...lol

I agree with you pretty much, You do not need an api3124 or Neve to make great records. but there is a fine line....... there has to be some level of quality somewhere.
#15
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #15
Lives for gear
 
Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
My self I found the video very very interesting.
Makes me thinking of audio gear DIFFERENT!!!

I guess a lot companies play with our perception of new gear... there is a reason for the marketing hype....

For sure there has to be a certain level of quality.
But it makes me questioning of spending thousands and thousands.

I could hear a huge difference when I got my first good preamp an SPL-Channel-One coming from cheap Motu-MKII onboard preamps.
But I could not hear a huge difference anymore when I got my second preamp that was 3 times more expensive as my first preamp.

Yes there was a difference but I also could do great overdubs just with the SPL and be happy as well.

For example in the demos Ethan did with the converters the difference between the converters was there but a very very subtle thing...
So we pay big bugs for getting better and better with gear but the differences are not like night and day they are subtle.

This shows me the sentence "there is no magic gear" is so true...

Watch this video.....if you have not already.
#16
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #16
Lives for gear
 
John Suitcase's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
there ya go.. same applies to audio.

so one should be able to make Starwars or Indiana Jones with a logitech usb camera and MS paint brush for composites, as long as you are talented and have an acoustically designed film set...lol

I agree with you pretty much, You do not need an api3124 or Neve to make great records. but there is a fine line....... there has to be some level of quality somewhere.
I think that's trueish...

But to be fair, the difference between some nicer 'cheap' gear and the great stuff of yesteryear isn't that great. In many ways (specs, etc) the newer stuff is superior.

But of course, that technical superiority can take away from the mystique of the recorded sound.

Which is why I only use vintage preamps these days. Well, 'old' might be more accurate...;-)
#17
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #17
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JoeyM's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
Great guys can manage with less than great gear however what great gear brings to the table is the ability to work really fast. That often makes all the difference in the world between capturing mediocrity and capturing greatness.
That was a cool beer in the desert
#18
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #18
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Suitcase View Post
I think that's trueish...

But to be fair, the difference between some nicer 'cheap' gear and the great stuff of yesteryear isn't that great. In many ways (specs, etc) the newer stuff is superior.

well yeah.. thanks to automated modern manufacturing prices have come down on many things. I remember buying a new akg414 (a gs fav) in 1988 for $950 new... now 20+ years later they are like $750. So much for inflation

where I paid $550 in 1985 for a les paul standard now that same gtr is 2300 new. I agree audio gear price/performance is in your favor thanks to modern technology. but not all of it. If you want hand wired discrete designs they are still pretty pricey due to labor costs.

in general you are correct though. some of the stuff you can buy now for short money sounds killer
where in the 70's 80's all high end audio gear was big bucks.
#19
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #19
Motown legend
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Suitcase View Post
...But to be fair, the difference between some nicer 'cheap' gear and the great stuff of yesteryear isn't that great. In many ways (specs, etc) the newer stuff is superior...
Yes and no. It depends on exactly which specs and which older gear. There's plenty of stuff thats fashionable today that always sucked. The zone between subjectively acceptable noise and subjectively objectionable distortion can be much much greater with some older gear. While it measures as noisier and more distorted, if you measure from noise to where it completely flat-tops, there can be as much as a 20 dB. spread.
#20
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #20
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hazelmossobrien's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
the hugeness of a u47 or a neve 1073 is no myth

but..... I do agree if you do not have either of them you should still make music any way you can.......

Yes, a U47 and a 1073 sound huge out of the gate. The fact is cheaper gear can sound as good, but it requires a lot more skill, recording savvy, and major attention to detail.

I went to school at CRAS. My "10th cycle project" was tracked through an SSL 4056G to a Studer A-827 in a great sounding room.. I had tons of great mics and outboard at my disposal. The thing is I was totally green, so it didn't sound that great. Probably not as good as something recorded & mixed by a pro in an apt. with a 2626 and MXL mic's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
well yeah.........

But he question is at the end of the day is.... would Dark side of the moon or Abbey Road sound as good cut on a Profire 2626? the answer is NO! and they wouldn't sound as good cut on a Duet to be fair. But that is the difference and must be considered in the grand scale.

What would have 'The Wall' sounded like cut on a Behringer ADA8000 using mackie preamps? I don't think I want to know ! thank gawd that is an audio myth............

The question is : if you put that 2626 or Duet in the awesome rooms at Abbey Road with Pink Floyd playing, does it still sound great? Moreover it would probably sound better with the pro engineers at Abbey Road on a 2626 than me at Abbey Road as is.

Michael Jordan would smoke me at basketball in soccer cleats , even if I had sweet Nike pumps!!

This shit is all so relative to so many factors like skill, gear, room, talent, etc etc etc. Each situation the parameters change. I'm not sure why we continue to toil over it.
#21
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Ultimately, people who spend a lot of their hard earned money and/or time playing with new gear don't want to hear that the differences are smaller than they would imagine. Not to say that there aren't differences, but at the end of the day, many times these differences are not that huge once you surpass a certain threshold. The average consumer would be hard pressed to hear the difference between a $1000 vocal chain and a $10,000 vocal chain, if both of the final recordings were done by a top rate mixer and recorded in a great room/booth. The best piece of gear you have is between your ears.
#22
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #22
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangible View Post
Ultimately, people who spend a lot of their hard earned money and/or time playing with new gear don't want to hear that the differences are smaller than they would imagine. Not to say that there aren't differences, but at the end of the day, many times these differences are not that huge once you surpass a certain threshold. The average consumer would be hard pressed to hear the difference between a $1000 vocal chain and a $10,000 vocal chain, if both of the final recordings were done by a top rate mixer and recorded in a great room/booth. The best piece of gear you have is between your ears.
Your englisch is better as mine but that was what I thought as well.
You even can talk yourself into hearing things.... I remembered that sentence form a video... do not remember where it was....

Ethan's Video also shows how subjective the world of audio is what is true for person one does not has to be true for person two and so on....

This video brings in a lot psychology as well!

Did this ever happened to you?

You bought new gear spend 2 grand on a new compressor and you where totally crazy about it you loved it and you worked with it.
After a few weeks you work less and more less with it ....the reason.... is it is not that great to you anymore..... a few weeks later you think it is crap.... another 2 weeks later you sell it on e-bay.

This happened to me two times....
I talked myself into hearing things which have not been there.

I find this aspect that we can change our hearing by expecting things getting better so unbelievable interesting that I ask myself how often we fool ourself.
1
#23
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #23
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fossaree's Avatar
 

I'm pretty sure Ethan will be very happy to read this open letter .
#24
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #24
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fossaree's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by babydaddymusic View Post
I decided however on Friday, to watch the AES video on audiophile myths. To anyone reading this post- do yourself a favor and watch that video.
BTW , where can I watch it ?
#25
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #25
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#26
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #26
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#27
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #27
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelmossobrien View Post
I'm not sure why we continue to toil over it.
boredom?

#28
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #28
Gear nut
 

yeah ive always loved ethan`s posts
he saves you money and makes you squeeze your gear***** mind
#29
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #29
Lives for gear
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
boredom?

and it's gloriously fun!
#30
9th February 2010
Old 9th February 2010
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thiagoabreu View Post
yeah ive always loved ethan`s posts
he saves you money and makes you squeeze your gear***** mind
Yes this true it is good to have some one around GS who just has contact to earth.

Myself I lose contact sometimes too.

Without Ethan I may would have never made a final decision how to treat my room.
He helped me a lot and I was not a customer of his company because transport to Europe would have been expensive a few years ago.

It is good to have someone around who does things because he loves to do what he does.

I believe the same love and science, elaborateness goes into his acoustic treatment stuff he sells.

Thanks ....
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