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What is Stereo Recording? What does it mean? Really..... Dynamics Plugins
Old 26th August 2007
  #1
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

What is Stereo Recording? What does it mean? Really.....

Slutzers All.....

Recording music is not entirely about the buttons and knobs. It goes far deeper than merely that!

Before I can intelligently discuss any philosophy of recording music, I think one major area of Music Recording must be clearly understood first. And that is: "What Does Stereo Recording Actually Mean?

"What Does Stereo Recording Actually Mean To You?

It’s very difficult to find a really good definition of what stereo music recording and reproduction actually is. As we all know if we attempt to precisely define the word “stereophonic”, we find in the dictionary that the first half of the word, “stereo” means, solid, firm or three-dimensional. Of course, the second half of the word or, “Phonic” means pertaining to the nature of sound. I think that may be as close as we get to a definition of stereo music reproduction. I think a real definition of stereophonic should say that “Stereophonic sound is a reproduction system consisting of two or more microphones, placed in front of a sound pick-up area, recorded discretely on two or more channels of a multi-track recording device, and then played back on two or more loudspeakers placed in front of a listening area.”

This system creates the illusion of the recorded sound having direction, position and depth in the area between the loudspeakers.

This playback system produces a sound pattern at the listeners ears which our hearing sense interprets as indicating direction and depth of sound field in the limited area between the loudspeakers.

In most cases, accurate localization is the goal of a stereophonic image. In other words, when recording a large orchestra, the instruments in the center of the ensemble are accurately reproduced in the area midway between the two playback loudspeakers. Instruments at the sides of the orchestra are reproduced from either the left or the right speaker.

Instruments half way between are reproduced halfway to one side and so on... This type of a stereo image is what I would call “Basically - An Unaltered Acoustical Event”.

For me, the problem is that this technique totally eliminates “Sonic Fantasy” from the recording process. It is the clinical approach. I find it somewhat interesting, but not very inspiring. Things got really exciting for me when I discovered that I could successfully record sonic images that existed mainly in my imagination.

In other words, Since the middle 1960’s I think my philosphical approach to using the "Stereo Space", has been to take the listener into a “New Reality” that did not, or could not, exist in a real life acoustical environment. This “New Reality”, of course, existed only in my own imagination.

But what about 'Critical Listening' and how it pertains to developing our own individual “Sonic Personality”.

Sound as a stimulus is the arena of the physicist, sound as a sensation is the arena of the psychologist. We, as professional music recording people fall somewhere in between these two areas of expertise. In actuality, it may help us to be a little bit of both. So, with the little bit of the psychologist that I think is present in all of us, I think I can help you discover your own "Sonic Personality".

I think the first step on the road to developing our own "Sonic Personality" is to find a benchmark for our mind's ear that has as it's basic component true 'Reality' in sound. From that stark, uncolored point, we can then add a new viewpoint for the listener, that we can call truly our own.

Many producers and recording engineers spend a lot of their time listening to and trying to learn their craft from recordings. In my opinion, this is a significant mistake, and is precisely the reason why there are so few engineers and producers in the industry today that have a truly unique sonic character to their work.


I do feel it is true that a certain amount of stylistic intelligence can be gained by listening to other people's records, however my problem with this approach is that one's own "Audio Personality" is short-circuited. In other words, if you try and learn about music mixing by listening to other peoples mixes, in actuality what is happening is that you are hearing the music, or sonic image of the music, with someone elses' "Audio Personality" already imposed on the sonics of the music.

I firmly believe that it is true that we must listen to records to keep up with sonic styles and trends. Personally speaking, I am a bonafide, card-carrying record buying junkie. When I hear a record, on the radio, or on television, that has an interesting music or sonic hook, I am off to the record store in a minute to buy a copy for myself.

Listening to records seems to be a very neccessary part of our development as music recording people, especially if you are in the 'Pop' music recording field as I am, because it helps us keep up with current sonic trends and styles. However, to have an "Audio
Personality" that is truly your own you must start your personal sonic development with a knowledge of natural, acoustical sounds.

To take that line of thought a step further I think I should say that I feel that the best way to develope your ears' 'benchmark' is to hear good acoustical music in a fine acoustical setting.

To fully undestand this concept, let's talk about acoustical support as it relates to music...

All music is concieved to be heard with some sort of acoustical support. This does not neccessarily mean long "Concert-Hall" type reverberation. It can mean very short closely-spaced early reflections and minimal reverb content. Any of these components comprise acoustical support.

Once we know what music sounds like in a natural setting with good quality acoustical support, we can then take that "Audio Benchmark" and through our work, give our sonic images our own distinctly personal touch.


Let’s imagine that we are hearing music for the very first time. An engineer or producers listening ability does not descend on him in a single flash of inspiration. It is built up by a variety of listening experiences. I think we must make a real effort to hear music and sound with as open a mind as possible.

One of our most important abilities as a professional listener is judging balance. So let's consider balance as the first thing to listen for. The balance of the instruments of the orchestra, in a fine acoustical setting for classical music, is the sole responsibility of the conductor. In our work-(recording music)-that resposibility is transferred to us.

It doesn't matter whether the orchestra is acoustical instruments or whether the orchestra is represented by a synthesizer. We must be able to judge balance.

Over a long period of time, if we have the native ability, we will develop a seemingly uncanny sense of hearing nuances of balance and sound that would pass unnoticed by the inexperienced. This ability seems to be aquired almost by osmossis through thousands of seemingly insignificant listening experiences. This random approach is effective and vital.

The antithesis of balance is imbalance. The next time you’re at a concert in a good hall or room, listen carefully for any imbalances that might be there.

I have always thought that to have ones own unique "Audio Personality", you must start your personal sonic development with a knowledge of natural, acoustical sounds.

To take that line of thought a step further I think I should say that I feel that the best way to develope your ears' 'benchmark' is to hear good acoustical music in a fine acoustical setting.

When attending a concert in a good hall, always ask for very good seats. This way you should be able to judge not only balance but many other sonic elements with a certain amount of accuracy.

Listen for spectral balance first. In other words, how well balanced is the frequency spectrum of the orchestra.

See how your ears and psyche react to the over-all volume level of the orchestra. Particularly at extremely loud dynamic levels. How does the orchestra sound at extremely soft dynamic levels?
_________________________________________________________________

Here are some of the most important aspects of sonic values to listen for while attending a concert in a good hall.

A - Listen for the orchestral balance. Harmonic balance as well as section balance.

B - Listen for early relections in the acoustical support of the hall.

C - Listen for reverb quality.

D - Listen for reverb spectrum.

E - Listen for the amount of reverb that you percieve in relation to the direct sound of the orchestra. In other words, reverb balance.

F - Listen for percussion transients and how they sound in this natural setting. Be sure and listen to percussion transients and how they are modified by natural reverberation.

Then take all this and make great recordings!!!

Bruce Swedien
Old 26th August 2007
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I wonder what percentage of us here record mainly pop/rock/rap, etc and never a complete acoustic recording. I'm not talking about an acoustic guitar track here and there, but a true acoustic recording like Bruce is talking about. For those that grew up mainly exposed to the pop or rock side of things and have only attended concerts in terrible rooms with PA's with booming bass coming at you from all directions, what sort of reference do they have?

I absolutely agree with every point you make in the post, but I just wonder how much of that music is being done these days. Surely there are some industry numbers out there that we could base it on, right? I mean how many commercial classical recordings vs jazz vs pop/rock, etc.

Man, I'm right there with you on a nice acoustic recording....nothing like popping on some vinyl of an old Red Seal or Nonesuch recording and just falling into the music.

later,

m
Old 26th August 2007
  #3
pan
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pan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Before I can intelligently discuss any philosophy of recording music, I think one major area of Music Recording must be clearly understood first. And that is: "What Does Stereo Recording Actually Mean?
...
For me, the problem is that this technique totally eliminates “Sonic Fantasy” from the recording process. It is the clinical approach. I find it somewhat interesting, but not very inspiring. Things got really exciting for me when I discovered that I could successfully record sonic images that existed mainly in my imagination.
...
But what about 'Critical Listening' and how it pertains to developing our own individual “Sonic Personality”.
...
I think the first step on the road to developing our own "Sonic Personality" is to find a benchmark for our mind's ear that has as it's basic component true 'Reality' in sound. From that stark, uncolored point, we can then add a new viewpoint for the listener, that we can call truly our own.
...
To take that line of thought a step further I think I should say that I feel that the best way to develope your ears' 'benchmark' is to hear good acoustical music in a fine acoustical setting.
...
Once we know what music sounds like in a natural setting with good quality acoustical support, we can then take that "Audio Benchmark" and through our work, give our sonic images our own distinctly personal touch.
...
A - Listen
B - Listen
C - Listen
D - Listen
E - Listen
F - Listen

Then take all this and make great recordings!!!
Dear Bruce!

Do you mean "learn the rules and then break them"?

Do you think it is essential to be able to reproduce "real" (natural) sonic images to develop your Sonic Personality? Or do you mean that you have to know your personal image from reality?
In a strictly philosophical manner that is.

What I understand from your points is that one needs to know how reality sounds, to be able to abstract sonics from the source. Like to be able to "see the overall picture" as well as the multiple factors that contribute to the impact of a painting:

The canvas, colours, the composition of the image, technique used, the frame and the lightening and presentation.

I assume that by finding your Sonic Personality you mean developing your own style of painting - to continue with my example...

Would it be fair to say that you have to abstract from real images (even sonical images) to create new perspectives?
Or do you stick to common techniques like Blumlein, XY and AB?


Excuse me to answer your questions with so many more, but you really moved my braincells to a point of uncertainty what sonic reality really means.
Old 27th August 2007
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Yeah, I think this is a follow up to Bruce's post last week about education. The underlying message here is what you said....know the rules to break them. As was posted in that last thread, if you don't know the rules, you don't know what you're breaking, er put in context this week, you don't know the reality of great musicians playing live in a great sounding venue, so how can you possibly start to "adjust" off of this. Sure, some will stumble on something cool by dumb luck, but to really do something off the wall that's amazing, you should have the basics...in this case, reality down. Again, this is oversimplifying everything as few of us ever just "have it down".

If the reality must be studied, is it necessary to be able to reproduce it? Could Picasso or other Impressionist/Abstract artist paint lifelike portraits? Hell, could Warhol even draw/paint at all? Was this necessary for them to become masters in their respective fields? Is what we're talking about that much different? I guess if you're strictly talking about engineering, then you should know how to do reality as well as "sonic fantasy" to be great. If you're in a session and the producer or musician asks for something, you should be able to do it, right?

later,


m

Last edited by chetatkinsdiet; 27th August 2007 at 12:13 AM.. Reason: hit send too soon...
Old 27th August 2007
  #5
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Quote:
Could Picasso or other Impressionist/Abstract artist paint lifelike portraits?
he sure could

i've seen a couple of amazingly realistic-looking paintings that were done by Picasso when he was around 15-16

then he said screw reproducing what the eye sees already - and started reproducing what his mind and soul were seeing

personally, i feel that the definition of great art is something that makes the audience view the world through the artist's personal perspective, regardless of the medium used to do so.
Old 27th August 2007
  #6
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heathen's Avatar
 

My approach has always been to imagine the band/performers in front of me (on stage) and firstly create a sound stage that feels kind of real, this is where my balancing is done, I want it to sound realish within a certain minds image of actually being there.

Once I'm happy with the reality part of it then I start to explore different psycho acoustical possibilities where taking the listener to another realm of spaciousness is possible. I think HF roll off is another psycho acoustic effect which is often overlooked, often I hear people ask how do I make something sound distant, my answer is simple (HF rolloff is proportional to distance and ambience).

How would pink floyd have sounded with absolutely no fx. Pretty sterile I'd say.

Great post Bruce.
Old 27th August 2007
  #7
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Harvey Gerst's Avatar
We got into this whole stereo discussion a few years ago at HR. Here's a link:

Mic matching - Fact and Fancy - Home Recording dot com BBS
Old 27th August 2007
  #8
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Unclenny's Avatar
Recognizing imbalance......

Such an interesting concept, especially for a guy like me who is not a pro engineer, but who has played and recorded music in many sonic environments over a great many years.

There have been so many poor spaces and rotten rooms that have shaped my SP over time. Now, after this most excellent read, I can see how they have all influenced my awareness of what a good recording space is and how to use it.
Old 27th August 2007
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harvey Gerst View Post
We got into this whole stereo discussion a few years ago at HR. Here's a link:

Mic matching - Fact and Fancy - Home Recording dot com BBS
Glad you posted that thread. I remember reading that one a few years back, I just couldn't remember if it was there or on RAP. Anyway, that's what made me put the comments above about pop music. As you mentioned back then, this hardly applies to pop of any kind as it's all panning mono sources around and nothing that resembles stereo...in most cases.

m
Old 27th August 2007
  #10
pan
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pan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chetatkinsdiet View Post
As you mentioned back then, this hardly applies to pop of any kind as it's all panning mono sources around and nothing that resembles stereo...in most cases.
That leads to an answer to Bruce's question What Does Stereo Recording Actually Mean?

It is a recording of a single source (an instrument or an ensemble in a room) on two tracks.

These two tracks have a distinct relation that influences our perception of the recorded source.
Old 27th August 2007
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Slutzers All.....

Recording music is not entirely about the buttons and knobs. It goes far deeper than merely that!

Before I can intelligently discuss any philosophy of recording music, I think one major area of Music Recording must be clearly understood first. And that is: "What Does Stereo Recording Actually Mean?

"What Does Stereo Recording Actually Mean To You?

It’s very difficult to find a really good definition of what stereo music recording and reproduction actually is. As we all know if we attempt to precisely define the word “stereophonic”, we find in the dictionary that the first half of the word, “stereo” means, solid, firm or three-dimensional. Of course, the second half of the word or, “Phonic” means pertaining to the nature of sound. I think that may be as close as we get to a definition of stereo music reproduction. I think a real definition of stereophonic should say that “Stereophonic sound is a reproduction system consisting of two or more microphones, placed in front of a sound pick-up area, recorded discretely on two or more channels of a multi-track recording device, and then played back on two or more loudspeakers placed in front of a listening area.”

This system creates the illusion of the recorded sound having direction, position and depth in the area between the loudspeakers.

This playback system produces a sound pattern at the listeners ears which our hearing sense interprets as indicating direction and depth of sound field in the limited area between the loudspeakers.

In most cases, accurate localization is the goal of a stereophonic image. In other words, when recording a large orchestra, the instruments in the center of the ensemble are accurately reproduced in the area midway between the two playback loudspeakers. Instruments at the sides of the orchestra are reproduced from either the left or the right speaker.

Instruments half way between are reproduced halfway to one side and so on... This type of a stereo image is what I would call “Basically - An Unaltered Acoustical Event”.

For me, the problem is that this technique totally eliminates “Sonic Fantasy” from the recording process. It is the clinical approach. I find it somewhat interesting, but not very inspiring. Things got really exciting for me when I discovered that I could successfully record sonic images that existed mainly in my imagination.

In other words, Since the middle 1960’s I think my philosphical approach to using the "Stereo Space", has been to take the listener into a “New Reality” that did not, or could not, exist in a real life acoustical environment. This “New Reality”, of course, existed only in my own imagination.

But what about 'Critical Listening' and how it pertains to developing our own individual “Sonic Personality”.

Sound as a stimulus is the arena of the physicist, sound as a sensation is the arena of the psychologist. We, as professional music recording people fall somewhere in between these two areas of expertise. In actuality, it may help us to be a little bit of both. So, with the little bit of the psychologist that I think is present in all of us, I think I can help you discover your own "Sonic Personality".

I think the first step on the road to developing our own "Sonic Personality" is to find a benchmark for our mind's ear that has as it's basic component true 'Reality' in sound. From that stark, uncolored point, we can then add a new viewpoint for the listener, that we can call truly our own.

Many producers and recording engineers spend a lot of their time listening to and trying to learn their craft from recordings. In my opinion, this is a significant mistake, and is precisely the reason why there are so few engineers and producers in the industry today that have a truly unique sonic character to their work.


I do feel it is true that a certain amount of stylistic intelligence can be gained by listening to other people's records, however my problem with this approach is that one's own "Audio Personality" is short-circuited. In other words, if you try and learn about music mixing by listening to other peoples mixes, in actuality what is happening is that you are hearing the music, or sonic image of the music, with someone elses' "Audio Personality" already imposed on the sonics of the music.

I firmly believe that it is true that we must listen to records to keep up with sonic styles and trends. Personally speaking, I am a bonafide, card-carrying record buying junkie. When I hear a record, on the radio, or on television, that has an interesting music or sonic hook, I am off to the record store in a minute to buy a copy for myself.

Listening to records seems to be a very neccessary part of our development as music recording people, especially if you are in the 'Pop' music recording field as I am, because it helps us keep up with current sonic trends and styles. However, to have an "Audio
Personality" that is truly your own you must start your personal sonic development with a knowledge of natural, acoustical sounds.

To take that line of thought a step further I think I should say that I feel that the best way to develope your ears' 'benchmark' is to hear good acoustical music in a fine acoustical setting.

To fully undestand this concept, let's talk about acoustical support as it relates to music...

All music is concieved to be heard with some sort of acoustical support. This does not neccessarily mean long "Concert-Hall" type reverberation. It can mean very short closely-spaced early reflections and minimal reverb content. Any of these components comprise acoustical support.

Once we know what music sounds like in a natural setting with good quality acoustical support, we can then take that "Audio Benchmark" and through our work, give our sonic images our own distinctly personal touch.


Let’s imagine that we are hearing music for the very first time. An engineer or producers listening ability does not descend on him in a single flash of inspiration. It is built up by a variety of listening experiences. I think we must make a real effort to hear music and sound with as open a mind as possible.

One of our most important abilities as a professional listener is judging balance. So let's consider balance as the first thing to listen for. The balance of the instruments of the orchestra, in a fine acoustical setting for classical music, is the sole responsibility of the conductor. In our work-(recording music)-that resposibility is transferred to us.

It doesn't matter whether the orchestra is acoustical instruments or whether the orchestra is represented by a synthesizer. We must be able to judge balance.

Over a long period of time, if we have the native ability, we will develop a seemingly uncanny sense of hearing nuances of balance and sound that would pass unnoticed by the inexperienced. This ability seems to be aquired almost by osmossis through thousands of seemingly insignificant listening experiences. This random approach is effective and vital.

The antithesis of balance is imbalance. The next time you’re at a concert in a good hall or room, listen carefully for any imbalances that might be there.

I have always thought that to have ones own unique "Audio Personality", you must start your personal sonic development with a knowledge of natural, acoustical sounds.

To take that line of thought a step further I think I should say that I feel that the best way to develope your ears' 'benchmark' is to hear good acoustical music in a fine acoustical setting.

When attending a concert in a good hall, always ask for very good seats. This way you should be able to judge not only balance but many other sonic elements with a certain amount of accuracy.

Listen for spectral balance first. In other words, how well balanced is the frequency spectrum of the orchestra.

See how your ears and psyche react to the over-all volume level of the orchestra. Particularly at extremely loud dynamic levels. How does the orchestra sound at extremely soft dynamic levels?
_________________________________________________________________

Here are some of the most important aspects of sonic values to listen for while attending a concert in a good hall.

A - Listen for the orchestral balance. Harmonic balance as well as section balance.

B - Listen for early relections in the acoustical support of the hall.

C - Listen for reverb quality.

D - Listen for reverb spectrum.

E - Listen for the amount of reverb that you percieve in relation to the direct sound of the orchestra. In other words, reverb balance.

F - Listen for percussion transients and how they sound in this natural setting. Be sure and listen to percussion transients and how they are modified by natural reverberation.

Then take all this and make great recordings!!!

Bruce Swedien

Thank you dear sir !! Your post is by far the most meaningful one I have ever seen on this forum, and it clarifies what i have always thought and felt about music production from the start.

Indeed, most people who call themselves "audio engineers" are obsessed with copying somone else's "sonic personality" who is successful in the industry. I think it is BECAUSE of this fact that they are SUCCESSFUL that this is the motivation for admiring their work and seeking to duplicate it; NOT because it necessarily really moves them in a special or magical way. There are quite a few modern producers/engineers whose work does absolutely nothing for me, yet there are the multitudes who worship them because they would like to be in their place.

The same can be said of music in general, as there are always a million copycats who have placed the dream of rock stardom on such a pedestal that their music is not in any way coming from the soul; and it lacks any originality for the same reason because they are so obsessed with "making it" that they haven't the time to discover the unique subtleties of their own individual personality, which requires a leap into the unknown that any great artist must make as the price of admission to the world where the Gods share their secrets.

Like you, the biggest reward for me has been to realize what I have been hearing in my "imagination" come to life in the recording realm. This is by far the greatest high for me, because my imagination is wild and knows few limits. The reason I had any interest at all in learning the music production process was because the music I hear in my imagination has not yet been created by anyone, and so i felt a responsibility to learn how to bring it into reality for others to enjoy.

And because today's record industry seems more fixated on tits & ass and bling & blang rather than creative artistic genuis, the painful path of learning how to produce music became an absolute necessity.

Concerning the issue of stereo recording, I think if we had 1 ear instead of 2 that there would be little interest in having more than 1 speaker. But since we have 2 ears there is a lust to hear in stereo.
Old 27th August 2007
  #12
PDC
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Bruce. Is your studio complete?

Is your studio complete and do you have pics?
Old 27th August 2007
  #13
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so Bruce...is it just me, or does your post contain an implied argument against using other's work as a "reference" when mixing? I see sooooooooo many people state that they want their clients to give them some sort of an album to use as a reference - what are your feelings on this practice?

personally, i don't like to use a reference CD, except when someone needs me to do some home "mastering" for them - and even then, i only reference the playback level and attempt to get my mix close to the apparent loudness that client is asking for. i believe that it is my job to make the artist i'm working with sound like the artist i'm working with, and really spend no attention to what such-and-such's album sounds like.

as long as myself and the client feel happy with the end result, i could care less if it sounds like the latest and greatest album to hit the streets - but it seems that this sentiment is lost on many in the engineering world.

also...do you track cow bell in stereo as well? heh
Old 27th August 2007
  #14
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There is a left side and a right side.
Old 27th August 2007
  #15
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Watersound's Avatar
 

One thing that has helped my recordings is recognizing that the sound of an acoustical instrument has everything to do with the room and air around it- the way its surroundings interact with it, and then capturing that on tape. I used to mic everything very close and although that has it's place, when I started capturing more of the surroundings it added great depth to my tracks. This is especially important for acoustic guitars and piano- of course having a good sounding space is critical. Just the other day I was sitting with my acoustic guitar in my stairwell playing and thought to myself, "man this spot sounds awesome." So I now have that location to add to my sonic palette. Rather than reaching for the reverb, I have compiled several locations in my rooms that can give me varieties of real dimention. And it's so much more fun!!
Old 27th August 2007
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Watersound View Post
One thing that has helped my recordings is recognizing that the sound of an acoustical instrument has everything to do with the room and air around it- the way its surroundings interact with it, and then capturing that on tape. I used to mic everything very close and although that has it's place, when I started capturing more of the surroundings it added great depth to my tracks. This is especially important for acoustic guitars and piano- of course having a good sounding space is critical. Just the other day I was sitting with my acoustic guitar in my stairwell playing and thought to myself, "man this spot sounds awesome." So I now have that location to add to my sonic palette. Rather than reaching for the reverb, I have compiled several locations in my rooms that can give me varieties of real dimention. And it's so much more fun!!

Agreed. If you can't get a sound that EXCITES you with just your instrument, mic, and mic pre then you have no business reaching for a verb box or compressor thinking it's gonna make it any better. It might do good to "mask" how unexciting the raw track is by itself-- but that people around here seem to call "polishing a turd".

I'm in a 3800 sq. ft. building, and there's 5 different rooms. Wood floors, plastered brick walls, and 14' high wood ceilings -- not 100% ideal for my ultimate tastes, but a plethora of sonic colors from the very start of the tracking process. I too have a stairway that connects to a large hall-like chamber downstairs. There is a natural tight and rather loud reverb and even a slight delay that can work well with some song's bpms snd pulsations. That hallway is my favorite place to sing background vocals because the natural ambience really breathes life into the vocal tone and inspires me to sing better, and more perfectly intune.
Old 27th August 2007
  #17
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bdmctear's Avatar
 

It's wonderful to hear you philosophizing on what might seem like such a simple concept, because as you have pointed out, whatever "stereophonic" means or meant, is an evolving definition.

One very recurrent topic of conversation for me is how popular music recording history has surrealized how we take in music as a culture. It's fantastic to hear you refer to creating a "new reality", because, well, you have made many culturally influencial albums in that music history.... so I guess you confirm my theory!

The stereophonic image (I am guessing) was first prioritized on account that we see and hear in supposed "stereo". So early popular recordings intended to deliver a sound that would match an image in one's mind of a group of musicians performing on a stage or in a live setting. Slowly over time though, the listener's perspective evolved to understand, say for instance, a snare drum so thick and punchy and loud that it sounds like it's in her or his lap. Where this might have seemed bizarre in the 40s or 50s, by the late 60s it had slowly crept into that position. By the 70s you have Fleetwood Mac recordings where all sense of a "place" or "setting" where this music was taking place was completely unnecessary. Sure, as engineers we think of it as a small room, but to most people it's just the instruments; no natural room sound, no distance.

Truthfully, no definition for any word can ever really fully encompasses what the word means to an individual, and all definitions change naturally over time.
Old 27th August 2007
  #18
Gear Guru
 
Sounds Great's Avatar
 

Bruce, I'm not paying for this. I somehow feel a bit guilty! stike

Seriously, thank you so much for such insight. You are able to put into words what I have thought for so long, it really helps me know I'm not crazy after all.
Old 27th August 2007
  #19
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John Suitcase's Avatar
 

I think what Bruce is saying here is that you have to develop your own ears, directly from the source. If the only drums you've heard were on recordings or through big PA systems, you'll likely only ever record/mix/produce drums that sound like what's been done before. But, if you've heard a drumset in person (a good one, with a good player), you probably know that no recorded set ever sounds anything close to the sound of the real kit. The same goes for guitar amps, and singers. It doesn't only apply to jazz and classical, it's about learning to hear all the stuff that doesn't get caught on tape.

Then, once you have your ears tuned up, you can start trying to capture something of the 'real' instrument that hasn't been caught on tape before. You can start trying to create a sonic vision that expands the audio pallet of your listeners, rather than just patching up something similar to everything they've already heard.

Much modern recording is post-modern, in that the sounds aren't representations of the source, so much as representations of cultural references to representations of the source. People aren't trying to make records that sound unique, or accurate, or exciting, they're just trying to make records that sound like other records.

Or maybe that's not what he meant, but it's something I think about a lot...
Old 27th August 2007
  #20
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

Do you track cow bell in stereo as well?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironklad Audio View Post
so Bruce...is it just me, or does your post contain an implied argument against using other's work as a "reference" when mixing? I see sooooooooo many people state that they want their clients to give them some sort of an album to use as a reference - what are your feelings on this practice?

personally, i don't like to use a reference CD, except when someone needs me to do some home "mastering" for them - and even then, i only reference the playback level and attempt to get my mix close to the apparent loudness that client is asking for. i believe that it is my job to make the artist i'm working with sound like the artist i'm working with, and really spend no attention to what such-and-such's album sounds like.

as long as myself and the client feel happy with the end result, i could care less if it sounds like the latest and greatest album to hit the streets - but it seems that this sentiment is lost on many in the engineering world.

also...do you track cow bell in stereo as well? heh
Ironklad.....

What a question!!! Do you track cow bell in stereo as well? Of course I do!!!! How else would I get all those..... (What do you think my answer wouild be to this question????)

Bruce
Old 27th August 2007
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Empire Prod's Avatar
 

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

What a question!!! Do you track cow bell in stereo as well? Of course I do!!!! How else would I get all those..... (What do you think my answer wouild be to this question????)

Bruce
LOL!!!heh
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