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Is High End Gear Really Worth It? Condenser Microphones
Old 31st August 2008
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenny Gioia View Post
The day I started working on a Neve 8068 my boss told me, the only reason your recordings sound less than pro at this point is because of you.
i would love to have a boss that said this to me.

its much better than banging your head against the wall trying to get sounds out of gear when it's simply not possible.

i'd gladly accept a challenge like that...
Old 1st September 2008
  #62
Lives for gear
 
Sk106's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrispick View Post
You focus on the expense of gear. I didn't. Where do I state or imply you have to spend exorbitant, "cutting-edge" amounts?
Here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrispick View Post
Get the best you can afford
-----
Where do I suggest you need to work toward some "impeccably polished pane of crystal glass, a perfect diamond" to do appropriately good work?
Here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrispick View Post
Why dress a beautiful girl in paper towels and scotch tape? "Here's a blurry picture of my girlfriend. What do you think -- hot, huh?"
-----
Look, Yitzhak Pearlman can make a beginner's violin sing. He still chooses to play a Stradivarius. Do you think that's because he's status conscious and a lemming when it comes to marketing hype?
I think he IS a marketing hype, or else we wouldn’t know about him. Pure capability, and no marketing, only carries your name around the block.

If the idea is to make a violin sing, to make it a very responsive and capable instrument, evolution of instrument making has progressed much in the 300 years since the strad family stopped making them. In fact, Strads are somewhat coarse in their attack, and their ‘singing’ is not their prime; the total sound is. There are other violins that have surpassed them. But unlike most other violins from the same time, they have a personal “something” about them and it’s a bit strange that the source of that something – which may or may not be intentional from the Stradivari family – has only been mapped out to 90% with tomography scans and chemical experiments. So, yes, Clones of Strads have been made with good similarities.

This is the source of Stradivari instrument’s fame and value more than anything: the tale, the myth, the entertaining news, ‘the wizard master chemists of ancient times, whose secret formulas cannot be solved even today’. And in paintings and illustrations they are depicted as romanticized hero craftsmen or genius madmen. Nothing in between, not what it really was like. They were simple men, who were only averagely appreciated in their time.

So having a Strad, like having a Koenigsegg car, is portraying yourself as a great connoisseur, a passionate historian. It doesn’t even mean you appreciate that personal something about them. It just means you like the notion of it, the tale, and likes to think of yourself as the envy of some others. That’s what causes their price and word of mouth. That’s why people pay 100 times more for them than for others. Not because they are worth it sonically.

Yitzhak Perlman absolutely knows this too. So, do you still think he plays a Strad because it’s the most expensive and finest piece of art around?

Fact is we don’t know why he plays what he plays. But being portrayed like the finest classical violinist ever, it makes perfect public relation sense to marry that image with ‘the finest classic violin ever’ image, wouldn’t you say? he has not overlooked the benefits of portraying that to reinforce his image, that I can guarantee. It makes the statement twice as impressive. And to some extent it's nessecary too: since the general public "knows" that stradivarius is 'the best there is', period, and anybody defying 'what everybody nows' is just a wierdo. That's not good for anybodies career to ignore that.
He may very well use another violin when playing, because extremely few people would ever know that he did. And for those who would know, he can simply ask them in good faith to not pass that on, and say he wants to carry the Stradivari name on to future generations even though he himself tends to prefers the Amati violin. That is more believable to me.

Same goes with audio gear. Higher price separates the price/value ratio. Generally, the more you pay, the more you’re interested in the notion, the glamour, the image, which commercials plant in us. I’m not saying that’s bad or less good, but anyone saying it’s worth every penny from a practical standpoint is straight up lying and trying to excuse the fact that he doesn’t want to seen as being sold by the image, or that he’s trying to hitch a ride on the product image to his make an impression on those who surrounds him.

So yeah, I’m trying to take the artist plus tools perspective. But I try to prevent from from falling into the trap of believing that a cost is always, always practically related. Sales people aren’t like that. They will take the hair shampoo from a $5 bottle, pour it into a more seductive bottle and put a price tag of $500 on it. Will people buy? Will people ‘see’ totally amazing results compared with the $5 shampoo? Will people think the price tag is motivated? Will they think anyone who says otherwise is just a scheming, babbling, conspiratorial nutcase? You bet your life they will. Are engineers any different? are ‘slutz for gear’ not the prime target of this? heh
Old 1st September 2008
  #63
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I wouldn't mind listening to some audio clips to get an auditory idea of how high-end compares to low-end in real life situations. Of course, we'll need to have blind listening tests as reading the name of the gear will cause us to be biased towards our viewpoint on the debate.
Old 1st September 2008
  #64
Lives for gear
Factors are involved for high end gear.

High end gear serves a purpose. The purpose is unserved if certain factors aren't taken into account. You have to constuct an equation that leads to a solution when thinking about high end gear. It makes no sense to buy a Neve 1073 when recording through a M-Box for example. I had to spend $2000+ on my control room for treatment because my Focal Twin 6 be's would be 1/2 the quality without the treatment. Look at high end gear as a whole and not as a specific piece. thumbsup
Old 1st September 2008
  #65
Quote:
Yitzhak Perlman absolutely knows this too. So, do you still think he plays a Strad because it’s the most expensive and finest piece of art around?
But the more important points you didn't cover are:

1. If he sucked, it wouldn't matter what he played
2. If he couldn't afford a Strad, and he played just a quite nice modern violin, he still would be as good and people would still rather listen to him than someone who had a Strad who wasn't as good.

Because it's the content that counts the most. He plays a Strad because he can, not because he needs to. There's a difference, and at the level of investment most of us folk around here the difference is far more important. We can't afford the Strad. But we shouldn't blame the fact that we can't afford the Strad on any failings in our work, because that's not the problem.

Again, I think a lot of the disagreement comes down to what you do for a living. If you are an engineer, yes it is your solemn duty to make whoever pays you to sound as great as you can, whether they are great or they suck. So the gear is very important to you and you don't want anyone to be able to question where you shorted them because of the gear you have.

For those of us who record ourselves, we don't have that problem. We generaly have limited funds and we need to be very careful about where we spend them. We can't afford to get X when Y will do the job just as well, even if it's not as impressive to look at. We take very much a 'prove it' attitude towards claims of significant superiority once you get beyond a certain reasonable level of quality, and also very much keep track of those products that provide the the quality for a reasonable price, like a Pearlman TM-1, or MC77, or LA-610, or 550A, P-1, etc... We don't have any need to impress anyone with the equipment we have, since the only thing anyone will ever know about is what they hear that we put out.
Old 1st September 2008
  #66
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BLueROom's Avatar
 

jchristopher,

Off topic, somewhat, but the drum sounds on your myspace are really top notch. Excellent stuff and great bands too.

E.
Old 1st September 2008
  #67
Quote:
I wouldn't mind listening to some audio clips to get an auditory idea of how high-end compares to low-end in real life situations. Of course, we'll need to have blind listening tests as reading the name of the gear will cause us to be biased towards our viewpoint on the debate.
I agree, but I kind of doubt it will work as well as we'd hope. These things have been done, but the general flow of it is:

People will find any possible reason why the test isn't valid, if they cannot tell the difference between the expensive one and the less expensive one, going to sometimes just silly lengths to try to explain why there's no
discernable difference, or even just refusing to listen. They'll say that they have to hear the original tracks, or it would only show up if you have 20 tracks stacked up, or the person doing the test was incompetent in some way, or something of that nature.

Once the answer is posted, then lot's of people will start posting their suddenly always correct guesses and how obvious it was which was which.

It always seems to kind of tend to go that way :-)


What someone should do, which I've argued for before, is to do a real piece so that each mic/instrument is fed into two different pre-amps or compressors and onto separate tracks. It doesn't ahve to be a big piece, just maybe a couple accoustic guitars and a few vocal tracks maybe with something else, like a brushed snare.

Then you have a real piece, that's effectively been recorded twice but such that only piece of equipment changed, and the performances are identical.
Old 1st September 2008
  #68
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dbjp's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
I agree, but I kind of doubt it will work as well as we'd hope. These things have been done, but the general flow of it is:

People will find any possible reason why the test isn't valid, if they cannot tell the difference between the expensive one and the less expensive one, going to sometimes just silly lengths to try to explain why there's no
discernable difference, or even just refusing to listen. They'll say that they have to hear the original tracks, or it would only show up if you have 20 tracks stacked up, or the person doing the test was incompetent in some way, or something of that nature.

Once the answer is posted, then lot's of people will start posting their suddenly always correct guesses and how obvious it was which was which.

It always seems to kind of tend to go that way :-)

.
Ha, true. Or people will insist that they're 'only listening to the tracks on a crappy laptop' as some kind of a disclaimer in case they're wrong.
Old 1st September 2008
  #69
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sk106 View Post
Here:

Here:

I think he IS a marketing hype, or else we wouldn’t know about him. Pure capability, and no marketing, only carries your name around the block.

If the idea is to make a violin sing, to make it a very responsive and capable instrument, evolution of instrument making has progressed much in the 300 years since the strad family stopped making them. In fact, Strads are somewhat coarse in their attack, and their ‘singing’ is not their prime; the total sound is. There are other violins that have surpassed them. But unlike most other violins from the same time, they have a personal “something” about them and it’s a bit strange that the source of that something – which may or may not be intentional from the Stradivari family – has only been mapped out to 90% with tomography scans and chemical experiments. So, yes, Clones of Strads have been made with good similarities.

This is the source of Stradivari instrument’s fame and value more than anything: the tale, the myth, the entertaining news, ‘the wizard master chemists of ancient times, whose secret formulas cannot be solved even today’. And in paintings and illustrations they are depicted as romanticized hero craftsmen or genius madmen. Nothing in between, not what it really was like. They were simple men, who were only averagely appreciated in their time.

So having a Strad, like having a Koenigsegg car, is portraying yourself as a great connoisseur, a passionate historian. It doesn’t even mean you appreciate that personal something about them. It just means you like the notion of it, the tale, and likes to think of yourself as the envy of some others. That’s what causes their price and word of mouth. That’s why people pay 100 times more for them than for others. Not because they are worth it sonically.

Yitzhak Perlman absolutely knows this too. So, do you still think he plays a Strad because it’s the most expensive and finest piece of art around?

Fact is we don’t know why he plays what he plays. But being portrayed like the finest classical violinist ever, it makes perfect public relation sense to marry that image with ‘the finest classic violin ever’ image, wouldn’t you say? he has not overlooked the benefits of portraying that to reinforce his image, that I can guarantee. It makes the statement twice as impressive. And to some extent it's nessecary too: since the general public "knows" that stradivarius is 'the best there is', period, and anybody defying 'what everybody nows' is just a wierdo. That's not good for anybodies career to ignore that.
He may very well use another violin when playing, because extremely few people would ever know that he did. And for those who would know, he can simply ask them in good faith to not pass that on, and say he wants to carry the Stradivari name on to future generations even though he himself tends to prefers the Amati violin. That is more believable to me.

Same goes with audio gear. Higher price separates the price/value ratio. Generally, the more you pay, the more you’re interested in the notion, the glamour, the image, which commercials plant in us. I’m not saying that’s bad or less good, but anyone saying it’s worth every penny from a practical standpoint is straight up lying and trying to excuse the fact that he doesn’t want to seen as being sold by the image, or that he’s trying to hitch a ride on the product image to his make an impression on those who surrounds him.

So yeah, I’m trying to take the artist plus tools perspective. But I try to prevent from from falling into the trap of believing that a cost is always, always practically related. Sales people aren’t like that. They will take the hair shampoo from a $5 bottle, pour it into a more seductive bottle and put a price tag of $500 on it. Will people buy? Will people ‘see’ totally amazing results compared with the $5 shampoo? Will people think the price tag is motivated? Will they think anyone who says otherwise is just a scheming, babbling, conspiratorial nutcase? You bet your life they will. Are engineers any different? are ‘slutz for gear’ not the prime target of this? heh
You seem to be laboring the point that high end gear will not make you sound better. True, You and perhaps 99% of aspiring "engineers" probably will gain little benefit from using the "Strads" of the recording world in much the same way that a violin student won't sound any better playing an actual Strad. This is so obvious it doesn't warrant mentioning! (Maybe you just figured this out?) High end gear is for high end users, geddit? If not, keep practicing, maybe one day you'll be the Pearlman of the Audio world and you'll perhaps understand why a Fairchild IS worth $30K to those who work in the rarefied margin you call "High End"- the land of diminishing returns to some but to others that 2% improvement is worth the extra 20000% cost. Because they know why and, more importantly, how.
Old 1st September 2008
  #70
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TobyToby's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sk106 View Post
So, what is true about high end is that you pay alot more money for the benefits you get. A mic may cost $30 and it may be barely useful. But a mic that can be said to be 10 times better doesn't cost $300; it costs $3000. But does it offer you 100 times the value? from a strict quality/price point of view, no. But the definition of "value" comes into play here also.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sk106 View Post

A mic may cost $30 and it may be barely useful. But a mic that can be said to be 10 times better doesn't cost $300; it costs $3000. But does it offer you 100 times the value? from a strict quality/price point of view, no. But the definition of "value" comes into play here also.
IMO
Yes, even more than 100 times, because it offers a value at all . . . a mic for $30 (new) has not much to offer (barely useful for recording a memo or an idea for a melody) . . . as also as a mic for $300 is '100 times better' . . .

Having the right ('true' or/and beautiful character) mic for a designated singer with a designated song, what makes a perfect match, is priceless.

The more balance of trueness, character and elegancy you want to have combined in a mic the more you have to pay. You can get a mic with only one of those destinctive characteristics for less, for sure.
Old 1st September 2008
  #71
Sky
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Sky's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
You seem to be laboring the point that high end gear will not make you sound better. True, You and perhaps 99% of aspiring "engineers" probably will gain little benefit from using the "Strads" of the recording world in much the same way that a violin student won't sound any better playing an actual Strad. This is so obvious it doesn't warrant mentioning! (Maybe you just figured this out?) High end gear is for high end users, geddit? If not, keep practicing, maybe one day you'll be the Pearlman of the Audio world and you'll perhaps understand why a Fairchild IS worth $30K to those who work in the rarefied margin you call "High End"- the land of diminishing returns to some but to others that 2% improvement is worth the extra 20000% cost. Because they know why and, more importantly, how.
Respectfully, I think the flaw in your argument is assuming that anyone who can appreciate the difference between midrange and high-end gear, will always opt for the high-end gear.

But in a business setting, people who need high-end gear will buy it; those who don't, won't. When I'm sitting in a room with ProAc, Crown, Neve, API, Summit, Apogee et al, I can clearly hear the difference. But for my mid-range applications I'm not likely to buy it. I recently sold a loaded Apogee AD8000 because I could not justify making the incremental investment in the signal chain needed to make this piece shine. But if I was working on high-end paying projects, then I absolutely would have done this.

I think it goes back to what James said: "If you are making records in your home that nobody is going to hear, NO, they probably aren't worth the price... If you are making records professionally and trying to make a living at it, YES, its probably worth the price."

And yes I agree with you that high end gear in the right hands will make you sound better, but given the right application.

Sky
Old 1st September 2008
  #72
Lives for gear
 
Sk106's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
1. If he sucked, it wouldn't matter what he played
2. If he couldn't afford a Strad, and he played just a quite nice modern violin, he still would be as good and people would still rather listen to him than someone who had a Strad who wasn't as good.
1. I’m not so sure. What equipment others see you use, tends to have a profound impact on how they regard your performance
2. I see your point, but … don’t people listen more to a Barbie girl with big boobs, than a girl wearing wool sweater and pony tail? Just like they buy the gear with the best look or best fashionable value ..
He may not need to, but … that’s a question of what ambitions one has in the public’s eye. For example, what he wants to portray himself to the public may require that, and in that sense he would need to. That's not always, but sometimes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
If you are an engineer, yes it is your solemn duty to make whoever pays you to sound as great as you can, whether they are great or they suck. So the gear is very important to you and you don't want anyone to be able to question where you shorted them because of the gear you have.
That’s a good point. But it supports both viewpoints to me. Making them sound their best, might defend using a piece of hippie invention with wires sticking out of it that sounds great, but that they wouldn’t touch with tongs, much less trust. If on the other hand we don’t want anybody to be able to question the gear we used, then you need gear that they will trust is good; and that’s usually the most publically visible gear, or sometimes the most pricy, but not necessarily very practically efficient.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
For those of us who record ourselves /../ We take very much a 'prove it' attitude towards claims of significant superiority once you get beyond a certain reasonable level of quality, and also very much keep track of those products that provide the the quality for a reasonable price.
Yes, I agree. And when I read that I also thought “perhaps this is where people differ more than one might think at first”. I feel that I will keep track of anything that will resolve a hard to solve problem for me, or improve on the bulk of my resources – whether that is a Made in HongKong plastic boombox in the local toystore that’s comin out in a new variation, or a shiny 19 inch rack box from Lexicon. If I tried a piece of $$$$ gear that I can’t afford in 100 years, and found it amazing, then I would happily admit that. I just take a bit offense of the fashionable guy who goes around preaching “Higher quality always costs more”. To me that’s more like falling for the window-shopping.
Old 1st September 2008
  #73
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Sk106's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
You seem to be laboring the point that high end gear will not make you sound better. True, You and perhaps 99% of aspiring "engineers" probably will gain little benefit from using the "Strads" of the recording world in much the same way that a violin student won't sound any better playing an actual Strad. This is so obvious it doesn't warrant mentioning! (Maybe you just figured this out?) High end gear is for high end users, geddit? If not, keep practicing, maybe one day you'll be the Pearlman of the Audio world and you'll perhaps understand why a Fairchild IS worth $30K to those who work in the rarefied margin you call "High End"- the land of diminishing returns to some but to others that 2% improvement is worth the extra 20000% cost. Because they know why and, more importantly, how.
You know nothing about who I am and what I do, so drop the patronizing tone.
I never said a Fairchild ain't worth lots of cash. I think it is. I couldn't afford that, but I still think it is.
What I do not think, is that a compressor for the same amount automatically means it will offer the comparable usefulness as the fairchild.
Old 1st September 2008
  #74
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sk106 View Post
Then tell us, why haven't you got the gear that is better than what you got now? wouldn't your clients be worth that?
Would've gone easier on you if you hadn't started the "assumption" game with the above salvo... But yeah, tis more noble to give one the benefit of the doubt, it's just that sometimes..... ehh, never mind.....
Old 1st September 2008
  #75
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Eigenwert's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fooman View Post
Best answer thus far I think.

I went from lowest-of-the-low to a higher-end bunch of gear (some pieces). Like Behringer to Mackie to RNP to API pre's. There is a difference once you start layering 40+ tracks.
So when recording less than 40 tracks you´d say it´s not worth using anything better than b€hringer since you can´t hear any difference?

Worst answer thus far I think
Old 1st September 2008
  #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
The question can only be answered on an individual person/ individual product basis... For me, NO QUESTION the gear I OWN is worth it. heh.
Me too.. I love my gear.. Wouldn't want to be without it!! thumbsup
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