Agreed, one of the best albums ever. The record just sounds great. One thing I noticed overall, if I had to be picky, was that there was a little bit of high-mid bite. It almost sounded like an exciter on something, or several things. Was this perhaps a bit of a "zing" boost in mastering? Or was it something you might be able to put your finger on from mixing? Again, one of the best sounding records ever, and this is a huge nitpick, and while it doesn't really bother me, it's just something I've always been curious about.
Having an involvement in the development of hi-fi (for my sins...), principally turntables and preamps, I use "So" as a reference disk.
The "icy" quality previously referenced in this thread, combined with highly precise engineering values, makes "So" an amazing reference record. With the sound being somewhat "cold", but incredibly precise and well-engineered, it enables you to know if the equipment playing the record is introducing any colour of its own.
Much as I love Jazz records and suchlike from the sixties, because they tend to have a lot of inherent colour, they're nowhere as adept at evaluating your repro chain as a piece of clinical excellence such as "So".
As suggested at an earlier thread here, I now agree that the icy tinge to records such as "So" is all part of their charm, and that's not something one can say of many records. It's a testament to the engineering values that people view the record as reference material, despite the Mitsubishi-induced artefacts.
Mind you, any record you play after "So" tends to sound somewhat dull... It doesn't sound like an exciter to my ears, but it is incredibly bright - as are many eighties productions - that was the eighties for you!
Great observations everyone, I will attempt to answer all in this entry.
Yes the album has a brightness to it, but i tend to think of it as a "sheen ". Because it was tracked mostly through a SSL E series , with the exception of the Power Station sessions which were through a Neve, it was easy to accumulate a bite to any sound. Peter and Dan wanted the record to sound soulfull but joyous at the same time and we all tried to avoid over processing a particular sound. Whatever eq curve was employed during recording was not copied for the mix.
The basic tracks were laid to two Studer A80's ( one was heavily modified by a local boffin, Colin Broad). We tried to create character sounds during that portion ( some drum verbs were printed etc etc). During overdubs, Peter , Dan and David Rhodes would often combine three instruments into one part. We had our effects constantly ready to print to tape and it was not uncommon to recirculate one effect into another almost to the point of uncontrollable feedback.
We also employed a lot or reamping, either through the PA set up in the studio or sometimes using the headphone output on the producers desk to drive a pair of small AIWA speakers. They definitely had a sound !!!
We monitored through Tannoy's, NS10's , Auratone's strapped to a pair of Radio Shack Minimus Sevens. All the sounds had to past muster with those systems. It was kind of Lo tech Hi Fi but it translated really well into the outside world.
Peter's lyrics evolve over a period of time so it was important to be able to pick back up where we had last left off. Total recall was used endlessly, as were copius handwritten detailed notes that were supported by polaroids.
As the project progressed we started running out of tracks, so we brought in a 32 track Mitsubishi and consolidated performances and arrangements for the final push. We were in a "mix mode" for the last 4-5 months , adding overdubs and vocals, editing parts. We finally mixed to half inch and Ian Cooper of the Townhouse mastered the album.
In terms of effects we relied heavily on the following
AMS 1580 Delay
AMS RMX 16 reverb
Delta Lab DL2 Delay
Quantec Room Simulator
Decca Tube compressors
Lots of stomp boxes.
Unbelieable songs and performances
Lots of fun
When I compare i do think the remastered versions are a tad brighter but whether that was a subjective choice of the mastering engineer or just the limitations of the original vinyl, is anybodies guess. They only way to truly know is to find those half inch masters !!!!!!!
Does that help?
Last edited by Kevin Killen; 2nd February 2007 at 02:25 AM..