The Hype machine.
Old 23rd October 2008
  #1
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The Hype machine.

I have worked full time as a sound engineer for over 20 years now and about 5 years freelancing before that. During that time I have worked in many varied studios with lots of expensive equipment (ssl, neve, ampex, mci etc etc) For the 10 years prior to that I had a separate career but was a Hi Fi nut and mad record collector. For the last 10 or so years I have also had a home studio of some sort, currently with somewhere around 50 mics and multiple preamps (akg, neumann, sennheiser, shure, great river, chandler, apogee) and one thing is for certain: "My jaw has never hit the floor", I have never been "floored" and I have never heard a "night and day" difference. I have heard some really cool sounds and I have heard some equipment that sounded quite a bit better than other equipment. Is it just me or do some people just go a little overboard?



Also, in all that time, I have never heard anything that I could not use somewhere at sometime for something. I have a little National mic, you know the ones about 1" by 2" with a little switch on the side, they used to come with cassette recorders in the 70's. Years ago I put an xlr on it for a bit of fun, well that gets used about as much as any of my mics.


End rant.

Any thoughts?
Old 23rd October 2008
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Going from mixing in the box to mixing through a 44 input Tonelux rig was definitely a jaw dropping experience.
Old 23rd October 2008
  #3
As most things related to audio, its all in the eye[or ear] of the beholder. A lot of it has to do, I believe, with your expectations as well as if you really care about gear. Some guys, this may be you, could give a shit less about what is put in front of a guitar amp and really only ever listen to what the guitar is playing, not even worrying about tone. All of us serious engineers definitely have a respect for that mindset and partake in it for the most part, but some guys are entirely like that and that is COMPLETLEY acceptable and cool. Again, rule #1: If YOU think it sounds good, then thats all that matters.

Personally, I've been floored by gear MANY times. The first time I heard a 1073, the first time I heard a 2500 buss compressor, the first time I heard a Roland Space Echo....the list goes on and on. But I'm a NUT about this stuff. I get off on tone and gear as its more colors to paint my sonic pictures with and more things to inspire me to create. Its one thing to have gear just to have it, but I believe its a completely different thing to know you have THIS eq and to in the spark of a moment, reach for it, and feel your whole body light up. I dont know. Im probably REALLY rambling by now.

The point is, if nothing really strikes you, THATS OK! Just keep doing your thing as long as it makes you happy!

-brad

ps-i LOVE cheap old mics. I used to have one I stole from a retail store that I worked in. It was the mic used to talk to customers in the store. It was awesome
Old 24th October 2008
  #4
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Thread Starter
Oh I hear the differences alright, and yes things certainly strike me, that's how I decide what to use/buy, its just the descriptions and size off those differences I find a bit over the top on the internet.

Its all good.
Old 24th October 2008
  #5
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I can categorically say I've never heard any piece of kit where I didn't instantly identify some sonic aspects that I didn't quite like about it. Unrealistic expectations feed the modern pro audio industry. Luckily for the more discerning buyer, they also feed the used audio market.
Old 24th October 2008
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brenton View Post
Oh I hear the differences alright, and yes things certainly strike me, that's how I decide what to use/buy, its just the descriptions and size off those differences I find a bit over the top on the internet.
Yes, I agree... especially when discussing the differences between PREAMPS!
Old 24th October 2008
  #7
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colinmiller's Avatar
 

Sometimes the hype machine needs to be recapped.
Old 24th October 2008
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colinmiller View Post
Sometimes the hype machine needs to be recapped.
or re-calibrated.
Old 24th October 2008
  #9
I completely agree that the hype is out of control most of the time. This $4000 stereo converter BLOWS ALWAY that $2500 stereo converter. Like the people who make $2500 stereo converters are utterly incompetent, which they would have to be for there to be that much difference.
Old 24th October 2008
  #10
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Yes, I've also found that there is the anti-hype machine. Those that talk trash about anything that's not engraved in gold. I'm the type of person who finds goodness in all things audio, i've got a toy Blues Clues sampler with 7 seconds of sample time and chrome faders and FX . It's by far the coolest piece of gear I've got because frankly, you cant get the sound it gives you in anything else.

I tend to think everything sounds good, some stuff just sounds great
Old 24th October 2008
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PELicanWord View Post
Yes, I've also found that there is the anti-hype machine. Those that talk trash about anything that's not engraved in gold. I'm the type of person who finds goodness in all things audio, i've got a toy Blues Clues sampler with 7 seconds of sample time and chrome faders and FX . It's by far the coolest piece of gear I've got because frankly, you cant get the sound it gives you in anything else.

I tend to think everything sounds good, some stuff just sounds great
You've obviously never used a TLA mixer.
Old 24th October 2008
  #12
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I would agree that "night and day difference" and phrases like that get overused quite a bit in audio circles when describing differences that are really quite subtle.

I will say that there are a few pieces of gear that I will never forget the first time I heard them. A Pultec EQP-1. A Fairchild 670. And believe it or not, a Valley People Gain Brain-II crushing a drum room mic.
Old 24th October 2008
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
Yes, I agree... especially when discussing the differences between PREAMPS!
I think the differences between preamps are more dramatic depending on one of two things: 1.) the source material, and/or 2.) certain mics.

In other words, in scenario "1", above: preamp "x" may DRASTICALLY outperform preamp "y" on drums, while those same two preamps may not display much of a perceiveable difference on a bass cab... as an example.

In scenario "2", preamp "q" may drastically outperform preamp "r", using microphone "a" on the same source through both preamps.

This is not always the case, of course (preamp "z" could be something in between, and therefore NOT display a drastic difference between either of the other two, for example), and there are always some shades of grey between one extreme & the other, depending on your particular preamp lineup, but surely you've run across plenty of differences such as those described above. No?
Old 24th October 2008
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertDawg View Post
I think the differences between preamps are more dramatic depending on one of two things: 1.) the source material, and 2.) certain mics.

In other words, in scenario "1", above: preamp "x" may DRASTICALLY outperform preamp "y" on drums, while those same two preamps may not display much of a perceiveable difference on a bass cab... as an example.

In scenario "2", preamp "q" may drastically outperform preamp "r", using microphone "a" on the same source through both preamps.

This is not always the case, of course (preamp "z" could be something in between, and therefore NOT display a drastic difference between either of the other two, for example), and there are always some shades of grey between one extreme & the other, depending on your particular preamp lineup, but surely you've run across plenty of differences such as those described above.
The best way to hear the differences is by running pre-recorded clips that have been properly converted to microphone level/ impedance via some Avedis Line Z adapters. Then, you can take all other variables out of the equation.

There are definitely differences between high end preamps, but oftentimes people are wrong about what the differences actually are because of the variables associated with their testing procedures.
Old 24th October 2008
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
The best way to hear the differences is by running pre-recorded clips that have been properly converted to microphone level/ impedance via some Avedis Line Z adapters. Then, you can take all other variables out of the equation.
Pre-recorded clips? Why would I care about what someone else has recorded if I'm trying to determine which preamp might work better on a source I'm trying to record, myself? Unless I'm trying to duplicate someone's sound or signal chain for a specific reason - i.e.: looking for "a sound just like 'x' ", a pre-recorded clip would be the LAST thing that I'd want to use for comparison.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
There are definitely differences between high end preamps, but oftentimes people are wrong about what the differences actually are because of the variables associated with their testing procedures.
OK, forget about "testing procedures" per se' - let's just talk about "what sounds better" for a given application or genre, and forgetting about any particular preamp brands/nameplates... let's pick something simple like slew rate... let's say you've got a drumkit mic'ed up with whatever mics you choose to use, and you run them through a certain kind of fast & clean preamp that gives you great transient response... you might think "Man, those drums just frickin' EXPLODE!!!"; then you run them through another set of pre's that happen to be slower/mushier/woolier, and then you have a completely different opinion of how the drums sound, don't you?

Now, depending on what you're looking for, either type of preamp COULD indeed work, all i'm saying is that you hear a vast difference between the two on the same source material using the same mics.

Just one example.

And then, using the first scenario on my first post on this thread, you could run a certain dynamic mic on snare through preamp "a", which let's say for the sake of argument is a certain kind of preamp with an "edgy" kind of response, and then through another kind of preamp with more of of a "flat" response, and you might not hear all that dramatic of a difference; but then let's say you use that same mic on a guitar cab, and then run it through those same two preamps... well, then you all of a sudden DO start noticing a big difference between the two, or at least the difference becomes more apparent due to the duration of the source material (short-duration snare hits vs. long duration guitar-lines & chording), so again, either preamp COULD work, depending on what you're looking for, but in this case it's the source that's making the difference as to which you choose to pair with that mic.
Old 24th October 2008
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
The best way to hear the differences is by running pre-recorded clips that have been properly converted to microphone level/ impedance via some Avedis Line Z adapters. Then, you can take all other variables out of the equation.

There are definitely differences between high end preamps, but oftentimes people are wrong about what the differences actually are because of the variables associated with their testing procedures.
But then you don't account for the varying output impedances of different microphones, and how that interacts with the input impedances of different preamps. That's a big contributor to the differences people hear when switching between mic amps.
Old 24th October 2008
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertDawg View Post
Pre-recorded clips? Why would I care about what someone else has recorded if I'm trying to determine which preamp might work better on a source I'm trying to record, myself? Unless I'm trying to duplicate someone's sound or signal chain for a specific reason - i.e.: looking for "a sound just like 'x' ", a pre-recorded clip would be the LAST thing that I'd want to use for comparison.
If you want to hear the general differences between preamps, then using the pre-recorded clips is the best way to illustrate the differences... This is something that can provide reproducible results.

You can also do tests on snare drums with the same mic, same position, same gain, etc.... just be sure that they are level matched. Micing reamped guitars is another useful method. Using the same mic, same position, same gain...There's many different tests you can use for evaluating gear. However, if you are trying to determine what is the best unit in your rack on a given source you are about to record... then, that's a different situation... it's called making a record. Testing gear can be done by many different means... actual use is a very important one.

Quote:
Now, depending on what you're looking for, either type of preamp COULD indeed work, all i'm saying is that you hear a vast difference between the two on the same source material using the same mics.
There's no doubts there are drastic differences between an API and a Neve and how they will sound on drums. I'm not saying there is no difference in sound between high end preamps by any means.. there is a big difference. But, I think sometimes people over exaggerate these differences.
Old 24th October 2008
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basho View Post
But then you don't account for the varying output impedances of different microphones, and how that interacts with the input impedances of different preamps. That's a big contributor to the differences people hear when switching between mic amps.
Those Line Z adapters are 150 ohms.... Most microphones, from an SM57 to a U87, have an output impedance of 150-200 ohms.

I am ONLY talking about testing preamps to note the general differences between them with as FEW variables as possible.
Old 24th October 2008
  #19
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Player1

I too have several high end pre and etc. and I have found very fews things to wow over. My first were Genelecs compared to my other monitors back in 1994. Then in 2002 was my Soundelux E47, quite nice! I just picked up a Midas Venice 320 for my band practice, I've been using a Allen & Heath GL 2400. I decided to hookup the Midas and do a comparison and i was shocked at the difference. This was the first wow factor I've had in a long time. The Midas was much bigger and tighter in the low end. The imaging was night and day, it was like using a squeegee to wipe the ugly smear off the audio. The console has that big console sound. I've decided to try it as a summing mixer, should work quite well. I will stem 28-32 channels. We will see!
Old 24th October 2008
  #20
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voiceactor's Avatar
I agree the hype machine is a little well lubricated at this point.
That being said, there are also some people who are just more passionate about stuff than others. Two guys watching a football game....one is sitting there watching...enjoying the experience....the other is jumping up and down screaming at the top of his lungs till he loses his voice..but they are watching the same game.

Just another angle to look at.
Old 24th October 2008
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Player1 View Post
I too have several high end pre and etc. and I have found very fews things to wow over.
I think I tend to "wow" over vocals the most... IOW, the perfect match between voice & mic & pre will tend to give me the "wow-factor" more than anything else.
Old 24th October 2008
  #22
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I find the hype machine to be especially fierce when it comes to vintage gear. I won't name any specific pieces as I don't want to go on the record as saying that some of those mics, eqs, compressors, etc. aren't "all that" because most of them are indeed great. But sometimes I'm let down by hyped gear or pleasantly surprised by gear that is constantly bashed...

Ed
Old 24th October 2008
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
There's no doubts there are drastic differences between an API and a Neve and how they will sound on drums. I'm not saying there is no difference in sound between preamps by any means.. there is a big difference. But, I think sometimes people over exaggerate these differences.
I did NOT name API & Neve... whatever gave you the impression I was using those two characters of preamps as an example? I guess we kind of agree on one hand & disagree on the other... I don't think there are cut & dried differences in EVERY application, but I feel that in some applications there certainly are; and in your case, you state that on one hand that there is no doubt that there are drastic differences between those two preamp types, but on the other hand you say that sometimes people overstate those differences... and without regard to any specific brand or type of preamp, maybe this is where we differ, I guess - because across all the stuff that's out there, there is certainly a huge sonic pallette available and a lot of "in-betweenage"... or maybe it's just more that one person's shades of grey are another person's black & white? Perhaps?
Old 24th October 2008
  #24
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I think context has a lot to do with the WOW factor and experience of that.

Like the biggest argument anywhere is tape vs. digital (please please please do not start). However, listening to audio tracks in a bar on half-assed speakers or any mediocre environment, it's really hard to tell or care. But I started running 16-track 2" and the playback was really...real. That was probably the only time I felt like I was reaching something special that I didn't expect. Like a surprise meal that I didn't think would be so good from the homely exterior. But I wouldn't have felt that way were it not first hand.

Same thing goes with Neve and all that, that's why you can't tell what's being used during a recording. The music, the experience is what is supposed to be wooing us. Not expensive technology.

That is just an opinion, maybe some of you listen for 'toob' amplification.

Inversely, I've had some WOW factor where things have sounded really bad too.
Old 24th October 2008
  #25
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I don't usually hear all that much of a major difference between pres on most sources but I do get real picky about vocals. That's where it matters to me bigtime. I've spent years searching for different combonations of gear that work for different types of singers. So for me that's where it matters and where I put a large part of my affection and $.

Being a singer and a voice coach makes me anal about vocals and in a game of inches each inch matters to me. Everytime a mixer says 'don't worry about that little annoying tone I'll fix it in the mix' it usually doesn't get fixed to my satisfaction and I'm left with something that bugs me. So tracking vocal sound means the world to me.
Old 24th October 2008
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertDawg View Post
I did NOT name API & Neve... whatever gave you the impression I was using those two characters of preamps as an example? I guess we kind of agree on one hand & disagree on the other... I don't think there are cut & dried differences in EVERY application, but I feel that in some applications there certainly are; and in your case, you state that on one hand that there is no doubt that there are drastic differences between those two preamp types, but on the other hand you say that sometimes people overstate those differences... and without regard to any specific brand or type of preamp, maybe this is where we differ, I guess - because across all the stuff that's out there, there is certainly a huge sonic pallette available and a lot of "in-betweenage"... or maybe it's just more that one person's shades of grey are another person's black & white? Perhaps?
I think we are on the same page.. when I say the preamp differences are overstated, I'm talking in comparison to things like the differences between microphones, etc.
Old 24th October 2008
  #27
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Reading and enjoying, thanks all.
Old 24th October 2008
  #28
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meteo's Avatar
 

im 25 years old, and maybe im not so old to speak in this discussion. but i have a studio that i think it's good, and i've done a small test some days ago. i reamped a guitar, one just with an sm57 and my mackie d8b pre, directly to my daw. the second track was recorded with one 57 and one royer 121, through 2 api 512c, than 2 560 and finally through apogee 800. there was not only a difference, but a huge difference. i know what are you thinkg now.. these too examples are too much different. but there was also a big difference between the 57 and the royer. Anyone can hear the difference, you have just to listen to it.

off topic. sorry for my english im italian!
Old 24th October 2008
  #29
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I agree
I've only ever had the wow factor from musicians, not recording gear
(although I have played guitars and had the "wow" factor with what is now my number one guitar AND I had it with my Buchla synth)
Old 24th October 2008
  #30
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Jimbo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by colinmiller View Post
Sometimes the hype machine needs to be recapped.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
or re-calibrated.
Just hype ITB, and you won't have to deal with these issues.

ITB RUELZ!
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