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“Has Technology Improved the Quality of Recorded Music?”... Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 29th August 2007
  #61
Gear Nut
 

the quality of the music as in the quality of the players is not as good as it once was because of the ease of editing.
But the vast range of different styles and availability has greatly improved.
as for the sound i cannot imagine some modern records sounding like they were recorded in the 40' or 50's, things progress.
Old 29th August 2007
  #62
Registered User
 

Advancement in technology has two effects I think, each of them with a good and a bad side-effect to it...

First, it makes the recording process much easier.
Good side-effect: There are less time-consumpting things that get in the way of focusing on the music and letting creativity flow. No more splicing tapes, all the automation, totall recall, easy editing...
Bad side-effect: You can edit yourself to death and push decisions on how to do something further and further away and over-edit things to the point of being fubar pretty easily.

Second, it enables people to record music that would not have been able to do this before.
Good side-effect: Hobbyists who do not really care at all how good it sounds compared to professional productions and who simply delight in recording stuff never any soul will listen to except for their wife, kids and pets can pursue a very nice hobby that meany lots of fun, excitement, and fulfilment, and is very good for the local bank and music store. heh And very talented people can produce something all by themselves or with much less money / effort that could become the first foot in the door of the industry.
Bad side-effect: Completely untalented people have a chance to do that, too. hehheh

At the end of the day I totally agree with those here that say it's all about the music, and rather listen to a good song recorded on crap gear than a bad song recorded on high end. It's the musicians who make the songs and the audience who listens to them. The engineers only provide a service to these groups by linking them to each other. They put on tape (or CD or whatever) what the musicians do so that the audience can listen to it, and hopefully make it sound good. But what counts is the song. Period.

Or have you ever met two "normal people" at the bus shelter who were having a conversation like that:
"Did you hear the new XYZ album? It was produced at ABC studio, and there they have an SSL console and three Pultecs and two LA-2As."
"Damn, man, I dunno... the SSL sound is no good on that band. They should have taken a Neve."
"Well, maybe you are right... anyway, I found that the second chorus is a
bit out of phase, and they overcompressed it lots."

I suppose it might rather sound like:
"Hey, have you heard about that band XYZ?"
"Hell, yes, they are cool! That chorus from their first single is totally stuck in my head!"
"Yeah, they have a cool sound, write great songs and seem to be cool guys!"
"Well, you know, I saw them recently on MTV, a video of a live gig. They played excellent there, and the hall was trembling by the audience jumping around and singing along!"

People are still singing along with original old Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley songs. I don't know if they will do this with top-produced well-polished ProToolsed super-engineered Christina Aguilera No. 1 hits.
I am sure you get what I mean...
Old 31st August 2007
  #63
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lofi's Avatar
 

heh... but that IS the big secret.... heh

now you reveald it !!!

Old 31st August 2007
  #64
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My 3 year old daughter wanted to dance with her daddy so my wife threw the CD player on shuffle. 2 songs into it comes a Sinatra number.

No heh. The technology has not improved the quality of sound.

It has made it more convenient, and perhaps more technically creative from a mixing POV. But we got that "sound thang" down 40 years ago.

We got than "musicanship thang" down a few hundred years ago as well.

I do love technology though. The problem is that it takes more discipline to stay focused on the things that really matter. But I don't think tech is to blame, it's a human thing.
Old 31st August 2007
  #65
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lofi's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kats View Post
The problem is that it takes more discipline to stay focused on the things that really matter. But I don't think tech is to blame, it's a human thing.
whoa.... beautifully put !

Old 1st September 2007
  #66
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

You are absolutely right!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by kats View Post
My 3 year old daughter wanted to dance with her daddy so my wife threw the CD player on shuffle. 2 songs into it comes a Sinatra number.

No heh. The technology has not improved the quality of sound.

It has made it more convenient, and perhaps more technically creative from a mixing POV. But we got that "sound thang" down 40 years ago.

We got than "musicanship thang" down a few hundred years ago as well.

I do love technology though. The problem is that it takes more discipline to stay focused on the things that really matter. But I don't think tech is to blame, it's a human thing.
KATS........

You are absolutely right!!!!

Remember - IT'S MUSIC FIRST!!! After that you can do mostly what you want!!!

Bruce
Old 1st September 2007
  #67
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Empire Prod's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kats View Post
My 3 year old daughter wanted to dance with her daddy so my wife threw the CD player on shuffle. 2 songs into it comes a Sinatra number.

No heh. The technology has not improved the quality of sound.

It has made it more convenient, and perhaps more technically creative from a mixing POV. But we got that "sound thang" down 40 years ago.

We got than "musicanship thang" down a few hundred years ago as well.

I do love technology though. The problem is that it takes more discipline to stay focused on the things that really matter. But I don't think tech is to blame, it's a human thing.
This should be required reading for anyone entering this field.
Old 1st September 2007
  #68
Gear Guru
 
u b k's Avatar
 

i confess i'm extremely curious: all you cats who say you'd rather listen to a great song recorded on a portastudio and mixed to crappy dat than a crap song recorded on a neve and mixed to tape, please do the following and report back: go thru your music collection, your cd's and your vinyl, and tell me what percentage of the library you own and enjoy was recorded on a portastudio and mixed to crappy dat.

i suspect that what most people here need to be able to enjoy music is a great song that is at least fairly well recorded. granted, 'well recorded' is an open-ended concept, but 'crappily recorded' is probably less so, and i have a hard time believing many of you can really enjoy a crappily recorded song on a regular basis.

maybe i'm projecting, though; crappy recordings just don't move me, no matter how great the song. production is inextricably bound with overall quality, and i wanna eat my cake and have it too.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
Old 1st September 2007
  #69
Viking
 
Bruce Swedien's Avatar
 

I agree.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
i confess i'm extremely curious: all you cats who say you'd rather listen to a great song recorded on a portastudio and mixed to crappy dat than a crap song recorded on a neve and mixed to tape, please do the following and report back: go thru your music collection, your cd's and your vinyl, and tell me what percentage of the library you own and enjoy was recorded on a portastudio and mixed to crappy dat.

i suspect that what most people here need to be able to enjoy music is a great song that is at least fairly well recorded. granted, 'well recorded' is an open-ended concept, but 'crappily recorded' is probably less so, and i have a hard time believing many of you can really enjoy a crappily recorded song on a regular basis.

maybe i'm projecting, though; crappy recordings just don't move me, no matter how great the song. production is inextricably bound with overall quality, and i wanna eat my cake and have it too.


gregoire
del
ubk
.
gregoire.....

I agree most wholeheartedly!!!

Music is First, but good recording and mixing are also extremely important. Crappy, doo-doo recordings don't move me either...

I also want to have my cake ands eat it too!!! Think of it this way, if we are truly serious about our work and love what we do, and are really good at it, we are entitled to that!!!

Bruce
Old 1st September 2007
  #70
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Jonathan Starr's Avatar
 

On one hand, it's allowed hacks like me to get into the mix, which probably isn't improving the production gene pool... heh

On the other, it's allowing a lot of interesting and experimental music to get recorded and heard. As far as creativity & broadening of horizons is concerned, it's probably the best thing since Nonesuch & others started putting out ethnic field recordings in the early 60s.
Old 1st September 2007
  #71
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

The cost of acceptable mediocrity has come way down but that has nothing to do with excellence.
Old 1st September 2007
  #72
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Empire Prod's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The cost of acceptable mediocrity has come way down but that has nothing to do with excellence.
thumbsup

How many great quotes can we fit into one thread?
Old 1st September 2007
  #73
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
i confess i'm extremely curious: all you cats who say you'd rather listen to a great song recorded on a portastudio and mixed to crappy dat than a crap song recorded on a neve and mixed to tape, please do the following and report back: go thru your music collection, your cd's and your vinyl, and tell me what percentage of the library you own and enjoy was recorded on a portastudio and mixed to crappy dat.
.
Granted, I have a large collection of studio releases like I'm sure all of us do. But, nothing tickles me more than to find another bootleg, or demo recording of one of my favorite bands....The Stones, Faces, Replacements, etc. I want to hear the stuff that Keith Richards just rolls out of bed and plays. Is that party music when guest are over? Of course not, but I enjoy hearing that a lot.

I also think you're exaggerating the idea of what some of us are saying. My point, to use a band above is that give me the music and recording of Exile on Main St any day over Bridges to Babylon. Wouldn't everyone agree?

How 'bout this one....Do you guys often put on a record you can't stand, say Frankie Goes to Hollywood just because of the pristine recording? (insert just relax joke now)

m

Last edited by chetatkinsdiet; 1st September 2007 at 09:11 PM.. Reason: spelling
Old 1st September 2007
  #74
Gear Guru
 
henryrobinett's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
i confess i'm extremely curious: all you cats who say you'd rather listen to a great song recorded on a portastudio and mixed to crappy dat than a crap song recorded on a neve and mixed to tape, please do the following and report back: go thru your music collection, your cd's and your vinyl, and tell me what percentage of the library you own and enjoy was recorded on a portastudio and mixed to crappy dat.
Here's the proof in the the pudding FOR ME Thelonious Monk and Coltrane recorded at the Half Note live. Trane brought in his little mono reel to reel recorder while his wife sat close by. You can hear patrons jawing. 1958. Lame, lame, lame recording. But absolutely brilliant music. Some of the best Coltrane you'll ever hear. Jazz, you know.
Old 1st September 2007
  #75
Gear Head
 
pahji@yahoo.com's Avatar
 

As usual, a thought provoking thread Bruce!

IMHO the technology part comes to the fore in mostly mainstream pop/rock genre Not to say that other genres have not updated themselves to the latest high-tech gear but more artists from the pop/rock genre are dependent on a slick polished product to sell themselves , which is driving them to use technology to cover their musical shortcomings.

Also the making of a song is hardly organic now, unlike earlier, when bands/artists recorded together for months. One can hear too many cases of guitar players as virtual drummers or keyboard players or keyboard players as virtual bass or guitar players. The

At the same time Technology has been a great leveller and it is forcing us to think in more unique ways to come up with something that will make the listen go :Hmmmmm!
To write and compose a great song, with an equally great talent to execute it would be a good place to start!

The way we make music, record music, mix music, hear music and now distribute/share music> All has changed over the years!

But if you notice MUSIC is common throughout:-)
So here is to Music that reaches out and touches you!! Salaam!
And to you too, Bruce. Salaam!

Cheers
KJ
Old 2nd September 2007
  #76
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

One of the funniest things I've ever heard is what happens on the Grand Old Opry broadcasts.

Lots of the older singers will be way off pitch. There's another show called the Midnight Jamboree from a little theater about a half mile away that doesn't have the big stage monitor setup. The very same singers will be right on pitch from there a half hour after singing laughably flat in the big venue!
Old 2nd September 2007
  #77
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Harvey Gerst's Avatar
Is this at the "new" Opry, or the Ryman?
Old 2nd September 2007
  #78
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I'd guess the new room. I hear it ain't that great. Figures, huh?

m
Old 2nd September 2007
  #79
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post
Here’s a question that has always fascinated me... Has technology kept up with recording technique in the studio, or has the evolution of the music itself demanded new equipment and technological advance.
That's a Chicken/Egg. Some music exists because of the new technology, and is bettered for it. Some music would have been better with older technology and older methods. Personally speaking I don't love any particular technology, I love quality. Anything of quality.

The main problem with new technology? It allows laziness for performers and producers, often dictating methods and procedures as defaults. The vision, experience and discipline needed to counter this, the pure will, is rare. The 'easy way' is seldom the way to make the best connection with a listener.

It's also the rare recording that has integrity of process today, whereas that was demanded when technology had more limitations. 'Freedom' and 'efficiency' include the freedom to kill potential. A record is a lot of tiny decisions and small moments, any one of which can derail a thing's potential. Potential realized (the sum of all those moments fully exploited) ... that's beautiful.
Old 2nd September 2007
  #80
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I think technology has created new recording techniques...seems it used to be...how do we deal with these limitations...now...how do we deal with no limitations...not very well in my opinion...there is nothing subtle in the way we record, mix or master generally these days...all my favourite music usually has (at the most) three profound elements meshed together with masterstrokes of subtlety.....I do believe this will change...I feel that it will start with modern players learning how to be musicians again...vibing off each other making great music in the room...at which point a creative engineer can take that great playing and help translate that to everyone else...half the responsibility lies with producers/engineers who should be encouraging this instead of encouraging efficiency....

NO recordings are not better today simply because players aren't playin'
Old 2nd September 2007
  #81
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i spent most of the past two weeks working with an amazing singer songwriter
and her band and her string section - everything live - for the sake of isolation
we had the string section in my kitchen for 8 hours a day for 6 days - live string
section tracking with the singer the piano the guitar the bass the drums - everything
through the daking to 2" 16 track 15 ips + 9 ccir - beautiful - live performances -
the most thrilling way to record for me.....records mix themselves
that' s what i want to do.....i don't care if its forwards or backwards - live music played
by amazing players live to 2" 16 track 15 ips ccir + 9 - that's my thing right
now.......i want to lock a second A827 w/ 8 track headstack for vocals if we
have not got them live.....i want to master the spot erase.....i don't like what
pro tools does to my sound even for overdubs......
i find, in the music community i work in, people love tape, they all feel tape
sounds much better, and the limitations push people in a really healthy way
two tracks for vocals, max.......



be well


- jack
Old 2nd September 2007
  #82
Gear Maniac
 

To me the answer is NO, and YES. Being a big fan of different kinds of electronic music, obviously technology has meant alot there. The invention of the synthesizer, the polyphonic synth, Midi had a huge impact and so on.
Also when the first digital synthesizers came around (such as the yamaha DX ones), that had a huge impact on the palete of sound. Sampling was another step forward.

Then the VAs came around. Most of them sounds like crap to me (with some very fine exceptions). They just sound plastic, and weak (again, there are a couple that sound great).

And now the latest trend the industry is trying to sell us on is the vst-synth or whatever they are called - software synthesizers. To me, some of them sound OK, but most of them sound totally crap. I could never work with that stuff. Some people can make them sound good, but to me it just seems to be an unatural way of working. And have you seen the guy who ownes the arturia v-synth company (he was in the last FM issue), he looks like an idiot .

So to me, it seems like there is no real advancement here. They just emulate (in a bad way) the old classic syths (I know there are exceptions). So, it's cheaper (or free if you get a hacked version). It's a bit more convenient (you don't have to tune your stuff, and no service), but it's a step down in sound quality and way of working.

I got a new PC, and a new m-audio soundcard, and started running cubase. The midi-timing sucked. It was not tight. So I got back to my old system. Maybe a Mac, running Logic would have been better. But it proves that new is not allways better.

This is normally the way I find out what is good. When I get quality stuff (like when I got the MPC, or tr-808, or minimoog model D), I just instantly, when using it know it's right for me.
But I also went the route of getting the cheapest new, hyped gear. The first synth I bought was a microkorg. I thought: "this ought to be what I need, it has all the features, I should be able to make good records". When using it, it sounded good at the moment, but when listening to the stuff later, it just didn't do it for me. So thats why I got into old sythesizers.

I made another huge mistake when bying a mixing desk. I got a Behringer Eurodesk. It had all the features I wanted (semi parametriq EQ....), was cheap, looked fine, and I liked the name. Turns out it really colours sounds in a bad way. It makes things sound boxy, kind of "digital".... So now I have to do research on a better desk.

I'm a big fan of jamaican music, and there was great records done there with limited and cheap equipment (Lee Perry at the black ark for example). So I guess I thought that kind of equipment would work for me. But I think alot of the semi-pro stuff in the seventies were a lot better than alot of the stuff that comes out now.

That was a long rant I guess. But my point being, that it's up to us, to find the best stuff, that works the best for us. And stay away from the stuff the industry is trying to sell everyone. Stay away from the hype (unless it's really good, and for you). And new stuff is often not the best alternative.

I guess this became a bit narrow, and focused on electronic music. But for rock-music, and stuff that is played live, I personally don't see the use for over-editing. If you want a live feeling, just record the musicians. And if the singer sings out of tune, she/he should learn to sing the song in tune. Why not just go through the parts that are a problem.
I guess, often the problem is the drummer. And if he/she is hopeless, I would prefer getting a studio musician before starting to edit live-played drums.

Magic records have been made without all this over-editing, and autotuning. Does records really sound better now? Or maybe I just don't get it.
I either go for a live feeling. I then record the instruments live, and I might then add instruments later (like maybe a guitar solo, or the horn-section is added afterwards). Or I go for a more sample based, or electronic sound, with different combinations.
Old 2nd September 2007
  #83
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cjogo's Avatar
Most of our studios are stuck in the 80/early 90's technology ......and our clients stuck in the 60/70's We have no further fears
Old 2nd September 2007
  #84
epp
Gear Nut
 

I love technology, but does it affect quality of music; no, does it affect quantity of music; yes. It allows us to update our sounds and not put out the same stuff we did last year this year.

With no new gear we might as well just listen to Beatles, David Bowie and Stevie Wonder re-issues, and yes Mike. I mean we can't improve on that.

But's all about creativity and ideas, let's never forget that.

Word to the starter of this thread, Bruce Swedien, I'm a damn viking too.

Old 2nd September 2007
  #85
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien View Post

Here’s a question that has always fascinated me... Has technology kept up with recording technique in the studio, or has the evolution of the music itself demanded new equipment and technological advance.
I can remember making beats for rappers out of tape loops. Literal loops, not digital ones. There were no samplers yet, but the rappers were already sampling. Artistic vision is prescient, usually anticipating the coming technology. The technology usually follows.

Of course with digital technology, there has been an explosion, the power doubling according Moore's law every six months. Even the artists are playing catch-up. We are literally drowning in the possibilities.


Quote:
For in the electric age there is no longer any sense in talking about the artist's being ahead of his time. Our technology is, also, ahead of its time, if we reckon by the ability to recognize it for what it is. To prevent undue wreckage in society, the artist tends now to move from the ivory tower to the control tower of society.
-Marshall McLuhan
perhaps the voluntary adoption of limitations will be the next big thing. themaidsroom's adoption of tape is one example, but even a DAW user could draw a line on what number he puts in the "make track" dialog box and force himself to stick to it.

I once wrote a sonnet, iambic pentameter, 14 lines octave and sestet and all that. It was challenging, but at the same time freeing.

Quote:
Unlimited possibilities are not suited to man; if they existed, his life would only dissolve in the boundless. To become strong, a man's life needs the limitations ordained by duty and voluntarily accepted. The individual attains significance as a free spirit only by surrounding himself with these limitations and by determining for himself what his duty is.- the I Ching
Old 2nd September 2007
  #86
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISedlacek View Post
Yes, the technology of today (mics, preamps, converters etc.) definitely enables us to make MUCH BETTER sounding recordings (more detailed, realistic, 3D) than in the past.

But what is the use of all it if in the end most of it is smashed/crushed/flattened/ killed by all those nonsensical limiters/maximisers for the sake of the highly idiotic "loudness" mania ??? This is a simple madness Just because people are lazy to adjust the volume on their players to their liking ? Unless this tumor is cured, all this highly advanced sound technology makes not much use and the older recordings will always sound better. Because people were still sane in those times. Dynamics is one of the key factor of music and its appeal. If everything is just loud, it is rather noise than music. The worst thing is that there is no escape from this. You cannot make/master a beautifully sounding recording full of dynamics and details because it would sound too soft besides those overpumped pieces around. So you become also a victim whether you want or not and have to do the same ...
Thank you. That had to be said.
Here's hoping something like 'e-gain will put things right.
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