Sorry, I'm not too sure what the early stuff was, I think I remember something about an old custom Sound Techniques console (pre Trident?) on one of those early recordings. Don't quote me. Maybe the Yes Album?
Funny what halcyo says about the sound being the talent though. Back in the 90's Anderson was actually stating in ads and interviews that he used a lowly ART two channel tube mic amp for his vocals. The old gold colored one?Definitely the talent there. Could have been just marketing, but somehow I believe him.
I know the later stuff in the 80's was SSL, and the 90's was largely Rabin's Mac / PT rig...a very early system. As far back as using 4 mac's sync'd together with 4 Session 8 rigs together I think. This was mixed via a DDA Profile console, lots of Valley gear, and a U89 used on drum room, vocals, guitar cabs etc. All in his home studio, engineered by Rabin.
If you listen to the song "Lift Me Up" (off of Union), and the whole album "Talk", you can hear this setup. Sounds great. This album? 1994, with 1994 16 bit converters.
When you hear this, it is clearly evident how large a part TALENT plays in a good recording.
Nowadays we have people whining about their 24 bit converters, complaining that they sound terrible, and they need to upgrade to the 192 khz $10,000 EMM Labs etc.
When you listen to that record, you come to the conclusion people today are looking for anything to blame besides themselves, and their shortcomings in the talent department for their recordings being mediocre to crappy sounding.
I think it's safe to say, it ain't the conversion that is the problem.
Not to sound cynical or anything...
Wish I had more info on Fragile for ya, sorry.
One thing that really grabs me about that record, is how vacuum packed dry it is. NO verb on the drums mostly. Almost like anti verb, if there ever were such a thing. Works well with the busy drums. Bruford = BADASS.
I have an old Yes documentary made around the time of the Union tour. It has lots of early studio footage. Maybe if you grab this vid, you will be able yo see what consoles and gear they were using?
I know there is often a mentality around the early stuff being better, but honestly, I like some of the later stuff just as much for different reasons. Mainly the amazing production, ear candy "grab you" tones, and it's combination of simplicity one minute, and the fused out prog worthy crazy stuff the next.
I'm curious too; now watching this thread myself to see if anybody has the info you seek. Love the early stuff. There was a time when it was all I listened yo for like a year.
Thanks for posting.