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What *is* important?
Old 16th May 2007
  #1
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Thread Starter
What *is* important?

As an engineer, what is important to you? It's clear from many of your answers that you're comfortable with lots of different gear and you're not too high maintenence, but as an engineer what a few things that really matter?

In my opinion things like good songs, performances and mood would be answers if I was asking you as a producer and asking about creating the content that's being captured. What's most important to you in the capturing the audio process assuming what you're trying to capture is already great?
Old 16th May 2007
  #2
mongrell mixer
 
tchadb's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
As an engineer, what is important to you? It's clear from many of your answers that you're comfortable with lots of different gear and you're not too high maintenence, but as an engineer what a few things that really matter?

In my opinion things like good songs, performances and mood would be answers if I was asking you as a producer and asking about creating the content that's being captured. What's most important to you in the capturing the audio process assuming what you're trying to capture is already great?
Emotion. That's all I'm concerned with.
Old 16th May 2007
  #3
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jchadstopherhuez's Avatar
 

great answer !!!

100 % with you Tchad..

btw..thanks for all your time and contributions to this forum..really been an interesting read...

cheers,

jchristopherhughes
Old 16th May 2007
  #4
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Thread Starter
I agree to the point where I see that as a given. That's the point of making the recording in the first place.


In another post you said you like to have all your gear present for a mix. I'm curious what you might identify not as your bare minimum, I know I could make an album of a 4-track cassette, just some specifcs on what things are important for capturing the emotion rather than creating it (that's a totally different question).
Old 17th May 2007
  #5
mongrell mixer
 
tchadb's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
I agree to the point where I see that as a given. That's the point of making the recording in the first place.


In another post you said you like to have all your gear present for a mix. I'm curious what you might identify not as your bare minimum, I know I could make an album of a 4-track cassette, just some specifcs on what things are important for capturing the emotion rather than creating it (that's a totally different question).

The only thing that's neccesary to capture an emotion in recorded music is anything that will record audio.
I have cassettes, cracked and very worn 78s, perfectly recorded studio- pristine-vinyl records and CDs with a range of emotion that I don't believe was limited by the medium.
I don't think ultimately it matters all that much to most people.
(The rub comes when you determine who you're recording for, your market. Many more things come into play at that point.)
Personally, I like to have all my toys around because it means I'm ready for any idea the artist and I might have. I like my stuff. Conversely, I'd come up with other ideas if I had nothing. I'm not bound.
I'm not sure I understand the question now. Specific things that are important would be what I consider my bare minimum.
Back to the first line- anything that will record audio.
Old 17th May 2007
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
In my opinion things like good songs, performances and mood would be answers if I was asking you as a producer and asking about creating the content that's being captured.
Why couldn't these be the same answers from an engineering perspective as well? Aren't these the same basic elements that everyone looks for?

An engineer creates his own form of 'content', and contributes to the content as a whole, every time he hits record. It just varies wildly as to how much a listener happens to notice, that's all.

Not picking on you here Mike by any means, but I'm a bit surprised that so many questions have focused on the gear and not the man behind the gear...

Cheers,
John
Old 17th May 2007
  #7
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Thread Starter
They could be.

My questions were about gear becuase that's what I wanted to know.

Litteraly, I have longs lists of techniques to get artists and bands to the point where it's a great, natural emotional performance. For me that's easy, that's what draws me to what I do.

In a lot of ways, I don't care about the specific answers to the questions, but I was hoping to get an answer that might inspire an idea of some sort. I can't give any particular examples of what I thought I might hear, but i think it was a post of Tchad's in one of the regular forum threads the reminded me to try tracking with a compressor on the stereo buss.

It wasn't really a gear question, but a process question in the context of gear.
Old 18th May 2007
  #8
Gear Head
 

in defense

I know that it can be a bit beleaguering to hear the fixation on gear. I know that sometimes, some people falsely believe that we are somehow merely what we make our sounds with.

However, in defense of these kinds of questions, I think there is often an inarticulate desire at work, a desire to try to understand the way someone (in this case, Tchad) thinks about things. The final product- the actual sounds, music, and emotions that he is a part of making/communicating- speaks for itself, but there are certainly times when I have listened to stuff Tchad's worked on, that I think, "Dang! That is perfect. How the hell did he do that?" And there have already been several a-ha moments for me in reading this forum.

For instance, finding out the Tchad primarily uses compression and distortion additively (or in parallel) rather than processing the entire sound the same way, that's been a real eye-opener. I started doing it on a mix I'm working on now, and suddenly, I find that there's not only the energy I'd have expected from the distortion, but there's even an additional clarity that comes about as a result. How strange and wonderful.

Anyway, I guess I'm saying that, while it's ultimately true that Tchad is Tchad because he's Tchad (apogies to Gertrude Stein), the reason we're all here, is A) to find out a few of the mysteries behind these captivating sounds, and B) be inspired to go forth and play like mad. So, trying to get Tchad to answer seemingly strange questions may just be a goad to see if he pops out with something else enlightening or inspiring.

Although I can see why questions like this one are irritating too...
Old 18th May 2007
  #9
mongrell mixer
 
tchadb's Avatar
 

Having a great time

Quote:
Originally Posted by kansascitydon View Post
I know that it can be a bit beleaguering to hear the fixation on gear. I know that sometimes, some people falsely believe that we are somehow merely what we make our sounds with.

However, in defense of these kinds of questions, I think there is often an inarticulate desire at work, a desire to try to understand the way someone (in this case, Tchad) thinks about things. The final product- the actual sounds, music, and emotions that he is a part of making/communicating- speaks for itself, but there are certainly times when I have listened to stuff Tchad's worked on, that I think, "Dang! That is perfect. How the hell did he do that?" And there have already been several a-ha moments for me in reading this forum.

For instance, finding out the Tchad primarily uses compression and distortion additively (or in parallel) rather than processing the entire sound the same way, that's been a real eye-opener. I started doing it on a mix I'm working on now, and suddenly, I find that there's not only the energy I'd have expected from the distortion, but there's even an additional clarity that comes about as a result. How strange and wonderful.

Anyway, I guess I'm saying that, while it's ultimately true that Tchad is Tchad because he's Tchad (apogies to Gertrude Stein), the reason we're all here, is A) to find out a few of the mysteries behind these captivating sounds, and B) be inspired to go forth and play like mad. So, trying to get Tchad to answer seemingly strange questions may just be a goad to see if he pops out with something else enlightening or inspiring.

Although I can see why questions like this one are irritating too...
Please don't think I'm irritated in any way by question asking. That's what this is all about.
My irritation comes from not understanding a question or just plain not having an answer, and welcome help from anybody.
I'm learning a hell of a lot here as one does when answering questions. Probably learning more than anyone else, and I'm chuffed if you all have learned or been inspired to learn from this forum.
I'm having a great time.
Old 18th May 2007
  #10
mongrell mixer
 
tchadb's Avatar
 

Emotional

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
Hmm, I don't see my reply made it here.
What I wonder is when you choose real heartfelt emotion over spunky "Energy" or the other way around? Seems like energetic and "poppy" may not always be what to look for althought he A&R guy may want that.
Let's define our terms.
Emotion="an intense mental state that arises automatically in the nervous system rather than through conscious effort, and evokes either a positive or negative psychological response."(Wiki)
Very general but will do for this discussion.
It's all included. How about 'heartfelt energy' or 'dark energy' or 'dark heartfelt lack of energy'.
Spunkyness would derive from energy and for me energy usually comes from feeling good, or really angry, but spunky conotes upbeat, happy, courageous.
You're right about A&R, part of their job is to determine who/what the aim of the music is, and it may be quite specific.
Emotions, there's all kinds and I want them all. Maybe not on the same album, but in a lifetime of albums.......

Last edited by tchadb; 19th May 2007 at 12:24 AM.. Reason: spelling
Old 18th May 2007
  #11
mongrell mixer
 
tchadb's Avatar
 

And door number 2 ??????

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
I agree to the point where I see that as a given. That's the point of making the recording in the first place.


In another post you said you like to have all your gear present for a mix. I'm curious what you might identify not as your bare minimum, I know I could make an album of a 4-track cassette, just some specifcs on what things are important for capturing the emotion rather than creating it (that's a totally different question).
Maybe I understand now and I'll answer even more.
For me, I like contrast. High contrast, contradistinction. So I need gear that will allow me to capture and create that environment.
B&W example= A beautiful soft voice/song/performance contrasted with a tough/lo fi recording of it, or vice versa. Sometimes within the song, other times within the album as a whole (exampl. song1=crunchy, song2=clean, song 3= mixed bag etc..)
If everything sounds absolutely pristine I loose interest as I do if it all sounds crunchy or lo fi. I like these disparate sounds to co-habitate as they sometimes do out in the world, pulling my emotions every which way.
I used to record construction sites because of this. Brutal loud clangs mixed with soft hums of diggers and hissing of water jets, mixed with beautiful echoey squeals of rubbing steel all bouncing around a mud pit. Live and dead at the same time. Incredible.
That's what I require for a recorded emotional landscape.
Old 18th May 2007
  #12
mongrell mixer
 
tchadb's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
They could be.

My questions were about gear becuase that's what I wanted to know.

Litteraly, I have longs lists of techniques to get artists and bands to the point where it's a great, natural emotional performance. For me that's easy, that's what draws me to what I do.

In a lot of ways, I don't care about the specific answers to the questions, but I was hoping to get an answer that might inspire an idea of some sort. I can't give any particular examples of what I thought I might hear, but i think it was a post of Tchad's in one of the regular forum threads the reminded me to try tracking with a compressor on the stereo buss.

It wasn't really a gear question, but a process question in the context of gear.
See above for answer attempt #2
Old 18th May 2007
  #13
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Silver Sonya's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tchad blake View Post
Maybe I understand now and I'll answer even more.
For me, I like contrast. High contrast, contradistinction. So I need gear that will allow me to capture and create that environment.
B&W example= A beautiful soft voice/song/performance contrasted with a tough/lo fi recording of it, or vice versa. Sometimes within the song, other times within the album as a whole (exampl. song1=crunchy, song2=clean, song 3= mixed bag etc..)
If everything sounds absolutely pristine I loose interest as I do if it all sounds crunchy or lo fi. I like these disparate sounds to co-habitate as they sometimes do out in the world, pulling my emotions every which way.
I used to record construction sites because of this. Brutal loud clangs mixed with soft hums of diggers and hissing of water jets, mixed with beautiful echoy squeals of rubbing steel all bouncing around a mud pit. Live and dead at the same time. Incredible.
That's what I require for a recorded emotional landscape.
Unsolicited interjection: I hope it's clear from his writing that Tchad Blake is an artist. In my opinion, this is the main thing you can learn from reading his writing (and from spending time in his presence, if you're ever have the good fortune to do it). He talks and acts like an artist. Because he is an artist.

People often think technicians and artists are different kinds of people. Tchad Blake's work disproves this notion. Hopefully you find this revelation inspiring.

I know I do.

-- C
Old 18th May 2007
  #14
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Quote:
The only thing that's neccesary to capture an emotion in recorded music is anything that will record audio.
Which brings us to the "engineer" part of the question.

IE, reliable gear and recording chain, great foldback, and one button push away from capturing the moment. It's all gravy after that
Old 18th May 2007
  #15
Gear Guru
 
lucey's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tchad blake View Post
Maybe I understand now and I'll answer even more.
For me, I like contrast. High contrast, contradistinction. So I need gear that will allow me to capture and create that environment.
B&W example= A beautiful soft voice/song/performance contrasted with a tough/lo fi recording of it, or vice versa. Sometimes within the song, other times within the album as a whole (exampl. song1=crunchy, song2=clean, song 3= mixed bag etc..)
If everything sounds absolutely pristine I loose interest as I do if it all sounds crunchy or lo fi. I like these disparate sounds to co-habitate as they sometimes do out in the world, pulling my emotions every which way.
I used to record construction sites because of this. Brutal loud clangs mixed with soft hums of diggers and hissing of water jets, mixed with beautiful echoy squeals of rubbing steel all bouncing around a mud pit. Live and dead at the same time. Incredible.
That's what I require for a recorded emotional landscape.


Very nice .... a balance of sonic and emotional extremes. Would you say that pushing these further than you want them in the end is necessary, with mastering processing coming in later? Or do you mix the envelope right to the edge of where you want it to stay, and then just eq and volume level that mix mastering? Or is it more random where you just go for it and let it fall as it may?

Some of the newer mixers I work for can be surprized with the compromises mastering brings to the seemingly more 'radical' things they thought were built in to their mixes .... radical moves that were actually just poorly balanced eqs. So even after musical and respectful mastering they lose a little uniquness. If OTOH your mixes are dead on or very close, then you could mix right to the spot you want it in the end.

So I guess my question is ... do you mix dead on with a vision to the whole CD, a little overboard for each track in prep for mastering, or willy-nilly-crazy-man and just let it be ... with respect to sonic adventurism?
Old 18th May 2007
  #16
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Infernal Device's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tchad blake View Post
Maybe I understand now and I'll answer even more.
For me, I like contrast. High contrast, contradistinction. So I need gear that will allow me to capture and create that environment.
B&W example= A beautiful soft voice/song/performance contrasted with a tough/lo fi recording of it, or vice versa. Sometimes within the song, other times within the album as a whole (exampl. song1=crunchy, song2=clean, song 3= mixed bag etc..)
If everything sounds absolutely pristine I loose interest as I do if it all sounds crunchy or lo fi. I like these disparate sounds to co-habitate as they sometimes do out in the world, pulling my emotions every which way.
I used to record construction sites because of this. Brutal loud clangs mixed with soft hums of diggers and hissing of water jets, mixed with beautiful echoy squeals of rubbing steel all bouncing around a mud pit. Live and dead at the same time. Incredible.
That's what I require for a recorded emotional landscape.

That may be the best thing I have ever read on here. Thanks for doing this.
Old 18th May 2007
  #17
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jbuehler's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tchad blake View Post
I used to record construction sites because of this. Brutal loud clangs mixed with soft hums of diggers and hissing of water jets, mixed with beautiful echoy squeals of rubbing steel all bouncing around a mud pit. Live and dead at the same time. Incredible.
That's what I require for a recorded emotional landscape.

Holy crap! Well written! I think the real answer to this question is brains and it sounds like you got them!
Old 19th May 2007
  #18
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paterno's Avatar
 

I was fortunate enough to work with Tchad for several years, and if anyone had access to the gear and settings, I did. I can honestly say that with all of this 'knowledge', every time I tried to do the 'Tchad thing' I failed miserably.

Tchad is to gear what Bonnie Raitt is to a microphone, or David Hidalgo is to anything he gets his hands on -- it doesn't matter what the instrument [or voice], the vibe comes through. The presence, focus, 'connection' to their performance transcends the medium with which it is documented or generated. I don't know how else to explain it. It cuts through all the BS and gets right to the core of the matter. His focus is intense, he uses his imagination, and he works confidently. And most importantly, he listens -- at all times and at every stage of the process.

Maybe that *is* important -- listening...

Cheers,
John
Old 19th May 2007
  #19
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Thread Starter
I always think it's funny when people are hesitant to reveal their "secrets".

Tiger Woods could stand there and say "No, do it just like this" and show you at half speed and you still woulnd't hit the ball like him. Just knowing how to do it, doesn't enable you to do it.
Old 19th May 2007
  #20
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by tchad blake View Post
Maybe I understand now and I'll answer even more.
For me, I like contrast. High contrast, contradistinction. So I need gear that will allow me to capture and create that environment.
B&W example= A beautiful soft voice/song/performance contrasted with a tough/lo fi recording of it, or vice versa. Sometimes within the song, other times within the album as a whole (exampl. song1=crunchy, song2=clean, song 3= mixed bag etc..)
If everything sounds absolutely pristine I loose interest as I do if it all sounds crunchy or lo fi. I like these disparate sounds to co-habitate as they sometimes do out in the world, pulling my emotions every which way.
I used to record construction sites because of this. Brutal loud clangs mixed with soft hums of diggers and hissing of water jets, mixed with beautiful echoey squeals of rubbing steel all bouncing around a mud pit. Live and dead at the same time. Incredible.
That's what I require for a recorded emotional landscape.
That's a great answer. It's not quite the kind of thing I thought you might say, but it had the same result of letting me see someone else's perspective which gives me something to mull over for a while and maybe modify and adopt.

Thanks!
Old 20th May 2007
  #21
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tchad blake View Post
Maybe I understand now and I'll answer even more.
For me, I like contrast. High contrast, contradistinction. So I need gear that will allow me to capture and create that environment.
B&W example= A beautiful soft voice/song/performance contrasted with a tough/lo fi recording of it, or vice versa. Sometimes within the song, other times within the album as a whole (exampl. song1=crunchy, song2=clean, song 3= mixed bag etc..)
If everything sounds absolutely pristine I loose interest as I do if it all sounds crunchy or lo fi. I like these disparate sounds to co-habitate as they sometimes do out in the world, pulling my emotions every which way.
I used to record construction sites because of this. Brutal loud clangs mixed with soft hums of diggers and hissing of water jets, mixed with beautiful echoey squeals of rubbing steel all bouncing around a mud pit. Live and dead at the same time. Incredible.
That's what I require for a recorded emotional landscape.
That's "popping out with something enlightening and inspiring", btw. Beautiful.
Old 20th May 2007
  #22
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paterno's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
I always think it's funny when people are hesitant to reveal their "secrets".
Maybe there is no secret. Maybe it is as simple as listen, imagine, listen, react, act, repeat. Why does it have to be some magic 'technique' or piece of gear?

As usual, Tchad found a way to say it eloquently...

John
Old 22nd May 2007
  #23
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Thread Starter
That's why I put it in quotes.
Old 22nd May 2007
  #24
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by paterno View Post
Maybe there is no secret. Maybe it is as simple as listen, imagine, listen, react, act, repeat. Why does it have to be some magic 'technique' or piece of gear?

As usual, Tchad found a way to say it eloquently...

John
That's why I put it in quotes.
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