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do you rely on your gear or your ear?
Old 5th September 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

do you rely on your gear or your ear?

i find [mainly due to my lack of top notch gear across the board] that i rely heavily on my ears to get the sounds i want... and more importantly, how i abuse the gear to get what i want.

not that i wish i couldnt rely on gear for a particular situation... sometimes its absolutely necessary. case in point, while i was at wireworld playing with michaels EMI compressor... had it on vox and it was sounding absolutely STUNNING on it... but i wanted to try the EMI on drums for some stupid reason so i tried getting that same magic i had going on the vox with the EMI on several other comps available [1176, distressors, fatso, dbx... even chaining several together] but no combination would get that SOUND. MASSIVE compression yet still detailed with just the right touch of drive to it.

along with that i find myself fully compensating FOR the gear i use while tracking... say im using a R121 on guitar. well i got to make the guitar amp a LOT brighter than i normally would [although i think part of it is that i have probably tortured my R121 that i need a re-ribbon at this point, but i still compensate for that fact]

after a while of tracking snares, i found that if i tune the snare higher than "normal" i get a better crack out of it without having to EQ it. but just about anything i find that if i am after a certain sound, i REALLY have to go after that sound... if i want the bass guitar to have GROWL, i put more growl than i think i need and it usually ends up being just about right. there is however a fine line between just enough and way too much. knowing where that line is...

the signal chain i set up directly effect the source, or is that the other way around. it is almost pointless to argue that ANY gear is fully transparent.... or even comes close to "realism" when recording. there is, and possibly will never be any such thing. simply due ot the fact that we rely on the playback system of speakers fictionally creating the sounds of sources that widely vary from those speakers.

a guitar half stack=FOUR 12" speakers
a kick drum=22" tensioned diaphram with limited excursion
an acoustic guitar=6 vibrating strings amplified by a resonating chamber [hopefully wooden] through a 5" hole.
a piano=need i say more?
vocals=vibrating muscles[?] eminating through a complex cavern known as the mouth

how do we expect to realistically capture these sources? i have to admit, i dont even try to realistically capture them. i am not even seeking realism because i know its unobtainable. i simply try to capture a pleasing representation of it that i can use with the other elements of the mix.

if mics mimicked our ears and speakers mimicked the actual sources within the room than a simple pair of binaural mics could be used in the sweet spot of the room and we wouldnt have to worry about more than 2 tracks let alone even mixing.

BUT, recording is so much more than simple representation of reality. its about creative inducement of our aural senses [or the listeners]... drums in a room live are basically a mono source unless you are the drummer. there is SOME stereo spread depending on the room and the reverberant cues, but not the the hyper-spread a lot of recordings choose to represent the image with.

so we create the mix. when we listen our minds recreate the fictitious image gathered between the information combined from 2 different locations. this enviroment we create doesnt exist. its simply thin air between two boxes with drivers vibrating back and forth. you can visualize the drum set between them or the guitar off to one side, but its not really there. its a lie. we create lies.

where am i going with this? i have no ****ing clue right now.

our ever changing tastes. you ever hear a sound that is completely different than you normally like to hear it and it just blows your world wide open. i cant tell you how many different kind of kick drums sounds i have been after. or guitar sounds. even bass sounds.

for a while i liked the click attack on the kick with a pronounced low, then i moved to a full resonant tone of a LD condensor on a full front head. i have gone from muffled kicks, to ringing kicks, to low low kicks to tight snappy kicks, to just plain thumper kicks. and all of these sounds call for different setups on the kick drum [including the shell itself] and the mics/pres/comps that get used on them.

but the majority of the sound is the source... not the drum kit but the actual player. it seems their sonic imprint supercedes whatever set, mics, pres, anything we use. and is instantly recognizable between seeing them live and hearing the recording. you could have the same kit, same signal paths, same everything set up and all it takes are different players to extremely alter the entire sound of this reproduction.

so in an antigearslut sense, its almost useless fighting what is naturally going to happen anyway with what gear we use. i've said before that 90% of the recording is in the hands of the player. so that only leaves us 10% to actually **** up... but its a pretty important [and expensive] 10%.

now in a feeble attempt to get back tothe topic after severe tangential ramblings, how reliant are you on your gear for that 10% and how much on your ears for that 10%?
Old 5th September 2002
Here for the gear

I've finally gotten to the point where I have some pretty good equipment. The biggest difference the equipment has made has been to eliminate the gear from the equation. If the recording sucks, It's either me or the group.

The few times I have really great musicians, It really doesn't matter what I use. I am not trying to correct anything, but I am actively trying to go for cool tones. It is so easy.

With not so great musicians, It's a battle to get something usable, much less trying to really capture magic.

Old 5th September 2002
Lives for gear
e-cue's Avatar

My ears. Totally. Today I mixed a song with Protools split out on a SSL 9000J. Finished earlier, and mixed a song on a Tascam 8 track cassette recorder, (no automation) through my Massive Passive/Vari Mu Chain that I rented for earlier. Both of these songs are supposed to be 1st singles for the artist.
Old 6th September 2002
There is only one
alphajerk's Avatar

isnt that how you are SUPPOSED to do it? i mean we should all be able to work with anything thrown at us... got cup and a string? lets record this beotch.
Old 6th September 2002
Lives for gear
e-cue's Avatar

EXACTLY. That's why I'm less impressed with TLA oversquashed mixes. I'm more impressed with the engineers that RECORD those records.
Old 6th September 2002
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar

It's about the EAR, not the GEAR.

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