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Old 2nd August 2019
Lives for gear

Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
This thread has psychological ramifications that extend well beyond the bounds of various S R, broadcasting & recording endeavors.
Over the past 50 years I have had the great opportunity to work with some of the best acoustic musicians that have ever plucked or bowed a string. (J.D.Crowe, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Tony Rice, Vince Gill, Jimmy Mattingly, Steve Lewis & Doc Watson to name a few) With every one of these stellar performers a clear and defined parameter of execution exists and they seldom if ever exceed their comfort lane. This is the trademark of a professional session player that can approach perfection with very little apparent effort because they have defined lanes that they stay within and believe me, they have no problem "staying at the house" rather than venturing into uncharted creative waters. I cannot imagine anyone ever asking Andres Segovia to play a rock riff on a telly: he probably could but the reality is he never would! This propensity extends well beyond the world of professional musicians into artisan craftsmen and other every day occupations. It is diametrically opposed to folks that find pushing the margin and risky situations a thrill.
The wonderful thing is there is a need for all types of occupational preferences!
I think I get where you're coming from...the hardware should serve the performance in a thoroughly competent and yet largely invisible way, so that the illusion of the direct connection between performer and audience is maintained at all times. The moment that an audience member (or performer) becomes even slightly aware that their concert-listening experience is being mediated-by or channelled-thru a big bunch of boxes, amps, wires and've sort of broken that spell.

It's a lot easier to pull that illusion off successfully with simple unadorned country, folk, bluegrass or jazz...less so with harder hitting material. It's all about the subservience of ego, volume, hardware and "impact" the underlying performance itself.

A lot of live engineers evince their insecurity about their role by turning up loud, bringing 'heavy artillery' to bear unnecessarily..."Look at me ma..I'm making these musicians look/sound great (ie I'm indispensible to the gig)".
The best engineers make themselves, and their hardware, all but disappear...the worst, they emulate a Cold War arms race.

I've always maintained the belief that the best concert sound is like sitting across the table from the players...only just a bit louder. That's a harder one to pull off in a 100,000 seat arena...but today's line arrays and other gear can indeed do it, if used an informed way..almost with humility (if that concept's not out of place, in this setting ?)

The players you've named have all the dynamics under the control of their fingertips...and know exactly when and how to use those contrasts...little if any help is needed by the hardware to exaggerrate that..indeed it often works counter to the intention of the musicians, if misused.