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It's All About The MUSIC!!!
Old 28th August 2006
  #1
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

It's All About The MUSIC!!!

It’s All About The Music
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Someone said this to me the other day: "Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings..." That thought keeps coming back to me. Perhaps it is because I have always felt that I am an artist at what I do...

My pal John Klett said something very interesting to me the other day: “Don’t ever go for some piece of equipment just because it’s got a better number, or because people say this is the thing to do”. (I can't get his statement get out of my head either)

Think about this for a minute... “It is possible for the human ear to quickly analyze complex musical sources and sounds far more quickly and much more accurately than any known test equipment.”

How does this Phenomenon apply to Recording Equipment?

This fact has always been fascinating to me. I have talked to highly skilled technicians who will say that when you test music mixing consoles with very sophisticated test equipment, two different consoles will measure essentially the same, yet when you send the same musical sound source through these two mixing desks, our perception of the musical quality at the output of the two mixing consoles will be very different. In fact, I have found this same occurrence to be true when comparing all music recording equipment.

I believe this dilemma is a good example of the necessity for us to not place our confidence in either the objective or subjective schools of thought when it comes to judging music recording equipment. In this case what I mean by objective thought, is the comparison of sound equipment as an impartial and unbiased process. The word objective is defined as being characterized by honesty, justice and freedom from improper influence. By subjective thought, what I mean is that our analysis of such sound comparison as an intellectual or cerebral process.

This is, as you can see, two sides of the same coin. I think when it comes to equipment comparison, it really goes far deeper than that. To me it really involves our basic instincts and emotions.

The reason I am making such a big point of this one issue is that I see a good number of people in our industry who take equipment manufacturers specification statements at face value.

I don’t mean to infer that equipment manufacturers specification statements are deliberatly falsified. Not at all. It’s the fact that there are so many ways to interpret a technical statement that we absolutely must reserve the right to make an evaluation with our own needs, abilities and emotions as part of the process.

Please don’t let the printed page totally influence your judgement when it comes to evaluating music recording equipment. The specificatons that a manufacturer states as to how his equipment will perform is merely a starting point from which we will select what equipment we want to consider. After we make the initial choice about what equipment we want to assess, we must listen to it with our ears and our hearts and make the final evaluation with our instincts. Making equipment choices must be a very instinctive and personal process.

We must develope a willingness to follow our instincts. Gut reactions translated to music recordings are the most believable. This may be more true in our work than in any other field of endeavor. If we have good instincts to begin with, we must learn to listen to that little voice in the back of our heads, or behind our belly buttons, or
wherever it resides and do what it tells us is right.

If you analyzed all the frequencies and combinations of frequencies in the tone of a few notes from a violin, and then wrote a program for a computer to indicate that sound exactly, could you tell from the resultant computer print-out what kind of a violin it was? The human ear can discern such subtlies almost instantaneously.

The human ear can tell from exclusively subjective means, much more quickly and accurately than any known test equipment. It's like the old musical intrument makers. They didn't measure, they just listened. Stradivarius didn't have a computer. Perhaps his violins would not have been as wonderful sounding if he had had a computer.
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Bruce Swedien

Old 30th August 2006
  #2
Gear Head
 

Bruce,

the title of this thread caught my attention, because that phrase ('It's All About the MUSIC") is often followed by someone's diatribe about 'the gear doesn't matter', that it's all down to the music, and perhaps the person working the gear.

As someone whose personal craft, or art, is revered by so many, (and as someone who has posted eloquently on many different topics) what would be your reply to those thoughts or concepts;

that thinking about and discussing gear is somehow a waste of time; that the only things that matter are the talent and the engineer; that a good engineer can make great sounding records using "a Mackie and SM57s".
Old 31st August 2006
  #3
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

"IT'S ALL IMPORTANT"!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pegleg View Post
Bruce,

the title of this thread caught my attention, because that phrase ('It's All About the MUSIC") is often followed by someone's diatribe about 'the gear doesn't matter', that it's all down to the music, and perhaps the person working the gear.

As someone whose personal craft, or art, is revered by so many, (and as someone who has posted eloquently on many different topics) what would be your reply to those thoughts or concepts;

that thinking about and discussing gear is somehow a waste of time; that the only things that matter are the talent and the engineer; that a good engineer can make great sounding records using "a Mackie and SM57s".
Pegleg.......

Anyone that tells you that "the gear doesn't matter" is absolutely and totally full of 100% HORSE CRAP"!!!! That person is probably SO DUMB that he/she can't figure out the gear anyway!!!!

Of course, "THE GEAR DOES MATTER!!!!!! HOWEVER - > I was talking to Quincy one day a while back, and we came up with the conclusion that "IT'S ALL IMPORTANT"!!!!

Anyone that says otherwise is not with the art of our craft.

Thinking about and discussing gear is NOT a waste of time; BUT it is only part of the adventure.... IT IS IMPORTANT!!!

The music, the talent and the engineer IS IMPORTANT; BUT it is only part of the adventure....

Bruce Swedien


Old 1st September 2006
  #4
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Pegleg.......

Anyone that tells you that "the gear doesn't matter" is absolutely and totally full of 100% HORSE CRAP"!!!! That person is probably SO DUMB that he/she can't figure out the gear anyway!!!!

Bruce Swedien

heh heh heh

Bruce,

THANK YOU!

BY THE WAY, have you done any work or visiting in Chicago in recent years? Though I never did any sessions at Universal, some of my mentors did - Malcolm Chisholm, Danny Leake...
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