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Sounding Off: Is New Gear Better? (Ethan's article on SOS) Condenser Microphones
Old 27th November 2009
  #271
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Illacov, agreed all around. I like plenty of modern stuff, but to pretend there aren't still tonnes of incredible old designs would be crazy. Also to pretend Ethan is cutting hit records with this approach would be inaccurate as well. No disrespect intended. I am no one special myself, but in my somewhat limited experience doing this, most people want to sound GOOD first and foremost.

And Jim, I think I'd hate to see what you'd do to a vintage AC30.
Old 27th November 2009
  #272
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Listener View Post
Isn't "euphonics" always the goal?

(meaning: "Pertaining to, or exhibiting, euphony; agreeable in sound; pleasing to the ear")
.
certainly was with many acts even "back in the day". Realism was sought in Sgt Peppers - for example. Or Pet Sounds for that mater. Phil Spector never sought realism - just more power ...... so whilst I get the gist of what Jim was saying - it's certainly true that realism is not always the goal from any time period.
Old 27th November 2009
  #273
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
If you wern't there, you wouldn't understand. That's what I'm getting here. Your current audio production fashion techniques and gear lust are blinding you to the end goals.

It's not about the gear! It's about that guy BEHIND the mic. Seems many have forgotten that.

If I told you some of your favorite SW tracks were cut with a AKG 414, would that lessen your opinion of Mr. Morris?

Do I love the songs on those classic albums? Yes. Do I love the sonics? No. I heard live what you all have been only hearing pieces of on those recordings. You only got about 50% of the man's sound. The rest was filtered out by that worshipped audio gear that you expect to substitute for real talent.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Ah - but I LOVE those sonics.... the incorrect replay of the voice. Imagine my shock many moons ago when I recorded a well known "first lady of gospel" and I didn't get the right rasp until using an old valve mic. Half of the "talent" we impose on the genius' of the past is the contribution of he equipment {and setup}. What would John Bonhams drums be without the particular sonics imparted on those early records.

Again - i see what you're saying. But I've the joy of recording many a superstar and super orchestra over the years. Iggy Pop - for example - sounds more like "Iggy Pop" when you record him onto tape yelling through a valve PA. Thats "Iggy".

The sound of rock n roll is half the gear.... or rather exactly what is filters out. That may not have been the intention - but its' what it has become.... with of course, the talent to pull it off!!!.....And why uber clean Protools recordings of rock bands just dont work.
Old 27th November 2009
  #274
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Quote:
Originally Posted by illacov View Post
I'd love to hear what somebody could accomplish with a PT rig and lots of this high fidelity gear and try to recreate Superstition
All in all, I would never WANT to hear "Superstition" anyway but the way it was recorded. Even mixed.

Everything that went into that track from an AE/RP standpoint was as important to it's listener impact as it's composition and delivery.

A lotta folks don't wanna hear that kinda talk around here. That's only OK if the "talent" is in those 2(AE/RP) seats as well.

That's OK. They don't hafta work on the records that I make. I do.

If I didn't think the work we do had the potential of having a VERY SIGNIFICANT impact on the end product, I'd do something lucrative for a living.

Anyhoo.

Track 1 - Kik
Track 2 - Drm Img L
Track 3 - Drm Img R
Track 4 - LdVox1
Track 5 - LdVox2
Track 6 - Clav 1L
Track 7 - Clav 1R
Track 8 - Clav 2L
Track 9 - Clav 2R
Track 10 - Clav3L
Track 11 - Clav3R
Track 12 - Clav4L
Track 13 - Clav4R
Track 14 - Horns L
Track 15 - Horns R
Track 16 - Mini Bass

It's a lot more overdriven and dirty than you would expect. Especially the lead vocal(s), which get battered into some fairly significant distortion throughout the course of the song. Sounds GREAT in the fray.

The minimoog bass is impossibly cool with some fast stuff that is just 'keywipe' gibberish(before the post chorus vamps) but still manages to work perfectly.

Same could be said about the drums. Hardly a textbook technical performance or recording/tuning, but a SUPERB overview of ALL that matters from a groove drummer perspective. In his MIND he's(Wonder) as good as it gets. He comes close enough on delivery to make everything else moot.

Clav's are basically 4 stereo pairs. Each one with a different sound/treatment and corresponding player approach. No big surprise there... What IS a big surprise is that they pretty much all play front to back and WORK. To me: That's just amazing. The album mix is an interesting look at what was PROMOTED from these tracks, and why.

Off the top of my head, the horns sound like a doubled trio bounced to a stereo pair. Insanely great ensemble playing, not without some minor clams but a tsunami of feel and real excitement.

Tape noise is a non issue for the dynamic range of the piece. To tape levels are fairly conservative given the overdriven sound of many of the instrument tracks.

Throw up the faders near unity. Pan some stuff around. Knock some Eq. on a few things and you have something which sounds SUSPICIOUSLY like the record mix minus the fader moves.

Overall... I'd say you'd have a better chance of seeing God than having somebody do this type of work, soup to nuts, in ProTools today.

Especially without knowing the nuts and bolts of it's original assembly.

Why would they?

The LIMITATIONS/FOIBLES/QUIRKS of the medium almost certainly DROVE the methodology, which I am left to imagine must have, in turn, done SOMETHING to propel the spirit of the endeavor. I suspect maybe even in some very profound sense. The drum micing and tuning alone, would NEVER happen on a current major label record. EVER. Something as simple as the sonic nature(NASTY) of the bounce of the close-miced hi-hats into the drum image alone is not going to happen in this age on a pop music record. Just mute everything but the drums, the mini and the horns and you just wanna start taking the stuff you like down off the walls. I Could sing something funky over that backdrop. And believe me... that's a stretch.


In closing, I'll say this: When I first heard this collection of tracks put up on my main desk(which was roughly a week ago)... The hair stood up on the back of my neck for about 10 minutes straight. Not something that has happened to me a whole lot in my career.

I think a whole lot of what was "wrong" with the recording of "Superstition" end up being, or at the very least FEEDING, it's greatest strengths.

ART BY LIMITATION is certainly not a NEW concept in AE/RP, but to my ears, the multitrack of "Superstition" proves beyond a reasonable doubt that it sure can be a fruitful approach given the proper circumstances(sheer musical genius in this case).

Now it's up to Emperor Ethan the First to plot it all on an Excel speadsheet, and get Stevie interested in some better room treatment.

He's got 4 columns to work with.

I'm wishing him luck,

SM.
Old 27th November 2009
  #275
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slipperman View Post
All in all, I would never WANT to hear "Superstition" anyway but the way it was recorded. Even mixed.

Everything that went into that track from an AE/RP standpoint was as important to it's listener impact as it's composition and delivery.

A lotta folks don't wanna hear that kinda talk around here. That's only OK if the "talent" is in those 2(AE/RP) seats as well.

That's OK. They don't hafta work on the records that I make. I do.

If I didn't think the work we do had the potential of having a VERY SIGNIFICANT impact on the end product, I'd do something lucrative for a living.

Anyhoo.

Track 1 - Kik
Track 2 - Drm Img L
Track 3 - Drm Img R
Track 4 - LdVox1
Track 5 - LdVox2
Track 6 - Clav 1L
Track 7 - Clav 1R
Track 8 - Clav 2L
Track 9 - Clav 2R
Track 10 - Clav3L
Track 11 - Clav3R
Track 12 - Clav4L
Track 13 - Clav4R
Track 14 - Horns L
Track 15 - Horns R
Track 16 - Mini Bass

It's a lot more overdriven and dirty than you would expect. Especially the lead vocal(s), which get battered into some fairly significant distortion throughout the course of the song. Sounds GREAT in the fray.

The minimoog bass is impossibly cool with some fast stuff that is just 'keywipe' gibberish(before the post chorus vamps) but still manages to work perfectly.

Same could be said about the drums. Hardly a textbook technical performance or recording/tuning, but a SUPERB overview of ALL that matters from a groove drummer perspective. In his MIND he's(Wonder) as good as it gets. He comes close enough on delivery to make everything else moot.

Clav's are basically 4 stereo pairs. Each one with a different sound/treatment and corresponding player approach. No big surprise there... What IS a big surprise is that they pretty much all play front to back and WORK. To me: That's just amazing. The album mix is an interesting look at what was PROMOTED from these tracks, and why.

Off the top of my head, the horns sound like a doubled trio bounced to a stereo pair. Insanely great ensemble playing, not without some minor clams but a tsunami of feel and real excitement.

Tape noise is a non issue for the dynamic range of the piece. To tape levels are fairly conservative given the overdriven sound of many of the instrument tracks.

Throw up the faders near unity. Pan some stuff around. Knock some Eq. on a few things and you have something which sounds SUSPICIOUSLY like the record mix minus the fader moves.

Overall... I'd say you'd have a better chance of seeing God than having somebody do this type of work, soup to nuts, in ProTools today.

Especially without knowing the nuts and bolts of it's original assembly.

Why would they?

The LIMITATIONS/FOIBLES/QUIRKS of the medium almost certainly DROVE the methodology, which I am left to imagine must have, in turn, done SOMETHING to propel the spirit of the endeavor. I suspect maybe even in some very profound sense. The drum micing and tuning alone, would NEVER happen on a current major label record. EVER. Something as simple as the sonic nature(NASTY) of the bounce of the close-miced hi-hats into the drum image alone is not going to happen in this age on a pop music record. Just mute everything but the drums, the mini and the horns and you just wanna start taking the stuff you like down off the walls. I Could sing something funky over that backdrop. And believe me... that's a stretch.


In closing, I'll say this: When I first heard this collection of tracks put up on my main desk(which was roughly a week ago)... The hair stood up on the back of my neck for about 10 minutes straight. Not something that has happened to me a whole lot in my career.

I think a whole lot of what was "wrong" with the recording of "Superstition" end up being, or at the very least FEEDING, it's greatest strengths.

ART BY LIMITATION is certainly not a NEW concept in AE/RP, but to my ears, the multitrack of "Superstition" proves beyond a reasonable doubt that it sure can be a fruitful approach given the proper circumstances(sheer musical genius in this case).

Now it's up to Emperor Ethan the First to plot it all on an Excel speadsheet, and get Stevie interested in some better room treatment.

He's got 4 columns to work with.

I'm wishing him luck,

SM.
Well my perspective goes the same as yours, when I got my hands on those multitracks, the only place I could get them to sound halfway normal was OTB lol.

I tried ITB with them in Reaper and it was 2D.

Throwing them into my 24 channel buss was eye opening.

I use this track as a drum ref all the time. 3 mics, 1 overhead, 1 kick and a hi hat mic. Holy **** that is one hell of a capture when you think about how large that kit sounds in the album mix.

I've actually done this same setup for hip hop or metal projects and god damn if it doesn't help for groovier songs, because you really have a very balanced yet focused kit sound and you get your snare from the overhead and the hi hat mic via bleed.

Again, I have to keep it conservative here but, Slipperman you and I agree on many things here. Tape despite being "hated," by the engineers of its time was no different than the pigments of the past that was used in the old paints that Picasso and others used. Now we say that lead is bad for you even in small trace amounts, so its out of the paints in most places and artists everywhere are saying HEY WTF what happened to the color??

On some level, I still don't completely buy the fact that the old school completely hated tape, the old consoles which we love so much now. I find that they modded them because they were technically incapable of doing something so this or that was changed but to imply that they were just completely gutted regularly from house to house and all we see were shells, I don't completely believe or even have the imagination to ponder that concept.

Its one thing to imply a desk was serviced, its another to say its gutted.
For example,
I just got word that my 8 channel Dynamix 3000 sidecar is almost done. Now this console is still in use in a few places. I've heard the stock version (Sweet Dreams), I've heard the version that was used on Hey Delilah (heavily modded, pretty much gutted version of itself, no Belclere input tx, opamp swap etc), I've heard recapped but the rest stock. I've heard it input tx gone with the recap but stock opamps.
All things considered, I like stock recapped with a new PSU. Less noise, no PSU sag, no chance for cap failures. Sure the caps could be of a better quality when they are recapped so there's some changes there. But all things considered? Its still a fine board. Now that we track to digital, mix to digital, mostly master to digital, a piece like this presents less problems then it did when you were cutting tracks on a 80-8 with this console, mixing down to tape and then mastering from it to master tape.

I personally dig the way the channels and eqs on this board sound. Hearing what the completely modded board sounded like compared to stock was interesting because the two extremes were in essence two different channel strips at that point.

You take a 1073, rip out the transformers, change the opamps, change cap values and add bypasses, rebuild the psu to your spec.

Is it really a 1073 anymore? Warts and all?? One would think that at this point its no longer a 1073. The only similarities it has to a 1073 at this point are the chassis and knobs.

Some things go un appreciated until we lose them. Or once we go past those points we lose sight of what was important.

Again, I have to look at recordings like a producer and an engineer most times. Knowing your demographic and what they expect should in some regards effect your decision with sonics.

I know my target audience really digs heavy sounding records. Our first album barely scratched the surface when it came to that and we had a bare minimum of equipment to accomplish that. But the second record, incorporates more equipment that helps to retain or impart the grit that the first album had small traces of. Getting back into multitrack tape, helped a ton, using old gear, getting a job at a mic company that builds some kickass tube mics, starting a venture with another company to develop a kickass summing system, those sorts of choices helped alot when you try to sort out your whole strategy to cutting a record.

Knowing you can get some aggression and shellac out of the 456 puts you less into compression mode and more into performance mode. Knowing that you can actually smack up your preamps and get some different flavors affects your tracking technique. As well, knowing that you are going to mixdown OTB really changes how you'd approach that same heavy record.

I mean to be honest, if you want to put more irons in the flame, I think that people have actually fought digital as a medium than analog tape. Yeah I said it, I think that when you consider that people would track with their signal chain and hardly touch a thing at mixdown or patch in a compressor, says a TON about tape.

Digital, you can track with 40k worth of gear on a vocal at the best sounding room on the east coast. Pull up the fader in your DAW of choice and it don't sound right, so you grab a plugin to alter this or to improve that. If you mix like some guys, then before you even pull up levels you've already got your analog simulation of some piece of gear on the channel so that you're mixing with that sound inline so that you can get into that vibe etc...

If you look at the racks of some of those really slutty recording studios, you'd run out of hardware if you mixed the way you do with plugins and high fidelity digital lol.

I find that when you have something like those really nice old school consoles or for if its new, like one of those cool summing units like the Shadow Hills unit or the Fat Bustard, that you'll find you're reach less for plugins and more for volume to drive the signal path and get results that way, which is what you'd see in the old days. If you wanted something louder, you'd turn it up, which pushed the ceiling on the mix higher, which in turn saturated this or causes tape compression or blah blah blah.

I could go on forever all the cool ass **** you can do while you're mixing to get back to those standards. If you have a good deck, then mix through it while its in repro, you'll have a VERY VERY VERY different mix than if you were mixing to digital, guaranteed

If you have a capture of that mix before it hits tape, you'll be shocked at how different it sounds going to digital since the levels will be weird, the eq choices, the compression choices all of that.

Anyhoo, I'm letting someone else jump in from here. Tmw is a busy day, gotta find me a 1tb hard drive. Lots of projects are on the horizon over here and I'm out of hard drive space

I need a new reel of tape too! RMGI anyone? or ATR? Maybe a used reel of Ampex 456...

Peace
Illumination
Old 27th November 2009
  #276
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4'33"'s Avatar
 

I think it's a gross simplification to assume that 'reality' and 'transparency' have always been the goals of record making since 'back in the day'. Some latched on quite early to the fact that the 'record' could be designed as a listening experience in itself, totally unconnected to any musical reality whatsoever. This was cut in 1951, for Chrissake:



Now I dig my Mercury Living Presence, Blue Note and Atlantic jazz stuff as much as any other guy, but I think the world would generally be alot poorer without 'Good Vibrations', dub music, 'Bitches Brew', 'River Deep Mountain High' or any other sonic delights that were only made possible by the reimagining of the phonograph record from a purely documentary purpose into an art form in its own right.
Old 27th November 2009
  #277
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Hi folks, I'm back. Elli and I had a fabulous vacation, though driving more than 2,200 miles in six days was pretty grueling! The last leg of our trip was to visit studio designer Wes Lachot and his lovely wife Lisa. We drove back the day before Thanksgiving, and traffic was a nightmare. What should have taken about 11 hours including stops for gas and food ended up taking 14-1/2 hours. We left at noon and didn't get back until almost 3:00 am. Ouch! Anyway, I'm almost surprised this thread is still going!

There's not much more that can be said, so I'll make just a few points, then address two posts that caught my eye.

* My SOS article was an op-ed opinion piece. Anyone with an opposing opinion should submit their own op-ed to SOS, or maybe write a letter to the editor. The whole point of the Sounding Off column is to get people thinking about stuff, and clearly my article did that!

* My opinions about audio and room acoustics are indeed based on passion and consumerism. Thanks to those who pointed out that I offer tons of free DIY advice on my personal web site, and write thousands of words daily here and elsewhere to help people who will never be my company's customers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
How about you prove you can't hear those differences first? Send me an AKG or similar mic, I'll swap the coupling caps and then you can tell everyone else that pays for those sonic differences that they are hearing things.
Nice try Jim, but you're ducking the issue. Again, if you believe it's possible for audio to sound different but "measure" the same, the burden of proof is on you. And how could I prove what I can't hear anyway? What does that have to do with anything? Please post a pair of clips that prove your point, or stop making that claim.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scrizly View Post
I think that was part of Ethan's point... regardless of whatever mojo inducing triple-recitifier-germanium-flux-capacitizer you use to get *your* sound, at some point you will want to store and reproduce that sound "perfectly", and modern consumer-grade stuff is actually really darn good at doing that.
This is exactly my point. That's also the criteria I use when concluding that a $25 sound card beats a Studer in every way one could assess "fidelity." I'm sure I stated that at least half a dozen times already in this thread! heh

--Ethan
Old 27th November 2009
  #278
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fossaree's Avatar
Welcome back .

Well , if traffic engineering were like today's digital audio ... you'd take the average amount of hours you're supposed to . Let's say traffic it's still in 8 bit era !

;-)
Old 29th November 2009
  #279
DSK
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Very well written article.

The truth is that most persons don't have the opportunity to have a hand's on aproach that hardware gives you.

I bought a couple of vintage synths because of forums like this and all around oppinions. I encourage anyone to do that because it is worth it if you have the cash. Would I still do it? YESS Did I made better music? unfortunaly that's not necessarally no or yes. I still make the same kind of sounds I made in software but theyre more present more fat as you say. The only thing you gain is sound quality. But it's harder to record well and you can ruin them ITB if you're not carefull.

Making better music is all about soul and knowledge. A weird combination. No don't get me wrong. Good gear gives you easy acces to a good sound, but doesn't makes your songs.

With hardware gear you have a quick path to great sound and great control and feeling over it.And after you play with real gear you'll get more done in the box. You'll learn quicker because of the tangibility .

With software you have a quick path to another type of great sound and you get instant recall and can make music anywhere.

If you are smart and lucky enough to afford both you can use them in a killer combination.
Old 30th November 2009
  #280
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSK View Post

Making better music is all about soul and knowledge. A weird combination.
Well, yeah!

...And then APPLYING same.

('Twas ever thus!)
Old 30th November 2009
  #281
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Outlaw Hans's Avatar
 

I hold Ethan in high regard because of his knowledge of accoustics and his kindness to share it with the likes of us. However, when it comes to "sound" he just doesn't get it. He's from another planet as far as I'm concerned. I understand where he's coming from, I just don't feel that what he strives for (scientific perfection) is important in Rock 'n Roll.
I'd go as far as saying it's never important. Real" is in the ear/eye of the beholder. Reality is vague. Look around you. There's no detail. Just memory.
Old 30th November 2009
  #282
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Can you imagine the look on Iggy Pop's face if you told him he'll have to wait until the room acoustics have been fixed before he can lay down that vocal for Passenger? LOL.. "WTF-----get out of my way!".. LOL..

Fixing problems with a room makes sense, especially when the problem prevents the music sound the best it could. Sometimes a bigger problem is when you can't hear the room at all though.
Old 30th November 2009
  #283
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.
Food for thought:

"Inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end."

- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

Old 30th November 2009
  #284
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer
Hi folks, I'm back...

This is exactly my point. That's also the criteria I use when concluding that a $25 sound card beats a Studer in every way one could assess "fidelity." I'm sure I stated that at least half a dozen times already in this thread! heh

--Ethan
Welcome back!

To be honest, my ears can hear the difference between the original voicing going to the mic, and it's mangled copies of analog & digital playback. Neither are true clones of the original sound. Heck, creating copies of the copy has slight degradation in sound.
Old 30th November 2009
  #285
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
This is exactly my point. That's also the criteria I use when concluding that a $25 sound card beats a Studer in every way one could assess "fidelity." I'm sure I stated that at least half a dozen times already in this thread! heh

--Ethan
?

Man, it doesn't matter how many times you say it - it just isn't so. It's actually quite ********.
Old 30th November 2009
  #286
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamnYankee View Post
Welcome back!

To be honest, my ears can hear the difference between the original voicing going to the mic, and it's mangled copies of analog & digital playback. Neither are true clones of the original sound. Heck, creating copies of the copy has slight degradation in sound.
No question that the MOST "damage" done to a source is done by the mic.

This is why the fine art of mic selection and mic placement is CRUCIAL to either getting a "natural" sound into your project, or (in the alternative) to get the "right" UN-natural sound!

That is just one more reason a good tracking engineer is worth their weight in gold.
Old 8th June 2011
  #287
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makesijoseph's Avatar
 

Again I've never recorded a top 40 record or book hours at the Hit Factory

I like that statement heh
1. What about talking to ENGINEERS that has come from the both eras and ask them what they think about the quality of the tape machines/digital THEN compared to the AD convertors NOW...
Old 8th June 2011
  #288
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Is it possible that a similar article to Ethan's actually came out around 1970?

Back then 100's of studios must have read that same article because they unloaded the old tube technology for the new transistor technology. Dumping old tube mics, pre-amps, compressors and EQ's so they can improve their sound with the new technology.

After a couple of years with the new technology a few of the studios were quite confident that they had made the proper decision but the studios that were run by folks with musical ears (as many studios were) realized that the new technology may have much better specs but it does not sound the same nor behave the same in how its used. So most of the studios bought back much of the old technology that they had sold a couple years earlier.

The fact is that in musical instruments like EQ's, mics, compressors, guitar amps, violins, pianos, drums etc. Newer is not necessarily better or worse just different.

I don't expect everyone should hear and appreciate the differences between two seemingly identical pieces of gear for most folks do not have ears. Not the ears that can discern slight nuances and appreciate instruments for what they bring to the table and not what era the instruments are from or what their spec sheet indicates.

Sure there are some possible exceptions like with digi A/D technology but even then some folks prefer the sound of some of the older converters. Although, I am not sure that everyone would call digi converters musical instruments. Anyway...

My point is that we do not live in a black and white world. Older is not better than newer, nor worse... just different.

Enjoy the flavors my friends.
Old 8th June 2011
  #289
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
Nice try Jim, but you're ducking the issue. Again, if you believe it's possible for audio to sound different but "measure" the same, the burden of proof is on you. And how could I prove what I can't hear anyway? What does that have to do with anything? Please post a pair of clips that prove your point, or stop making that claim.
--Ethan
The reason is test measurement gear is not mature. Heck, I have some of the most advanced test gear and it doesn't tell you if it sounds good or bad, it just catches errors, at least most of them. Until actual music is used as the test stimulus, test gear will never have the ability to determine fidelity.

As such the burden is on you, not me nor the manufacturers of that test gear. I'm sure plenty of folks can indulge your search for evidence. Just ask them to send files run through their converters so you can hear those too. Then you can hear the effects of your converters on top of those errors.

Better yet, get a hold of some of this stuff and listen to it without conversion, I try to do that before making subjective evaluations.
Old 8th June 2011
  #290
Quote:
Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
And Jim, I think I'd hate to see what you'd do to a vintage AC30.
I have, it sounded very sweet. You would probably hate it.
Old 8th June 2011
  #291
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
The reason is test measurement gear is not mature. Heck, I have some of the most advanced test gear and it doesn't tell you if it sounds good or bad, it just catches errors, at least most of them. Until actual music is used as the test stimulus, test gear will never have the ability to determine fidelity.

As such the burden is on you, not me nor the manufacturers of that test gear. I'm sure plenty of folks can indulge your search for evidence. Just ask them to send files run through their converters so you can hear those too. Then you can hear the effects of your converters on top of those errors.

Better yet, get a hold of some of this stuff and listen to it without conversion, I try to do that before making subjective evaluations.
It took you over a year and a half to come up with that response? heh

[I don't even think Ethan comes around here any more because there are so many folks who verbally attack him on sight here.]

"Catching errors" is what it's all about when you're measuring fidelity, isn't it?

I definitely understand the position of those to whom accuracy/fidelity isn't as high a priority as other factors. As others have fairly eloquently said, making a great record isn't so much about accuracy as illusion.


But with regard to some folks' claims that their ears are more sensitive than test gear, until these self-appointed golden ears can demonstrate through reliable, verifiable tests that their ears really are as good at measuring actual accurate performance as test gear, I remain entirely skeptical of such unsupported claims -- which, frankly, strike me as outlandish.
Old 8th June 2011
  #292
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
But were they level matched to within 0.1 dB as is required for accurate comparison?

There's a common misunderstanding of the purpose of blind audio tests. The main reason to use blind tests is not to determine which of two or more things sounds "better" as you did with your multiple mixdowns. Rather, blind tests are more commonly used to see if a difference can be heard at all. For example, to compare whether people can reliably discern between two different power amps. When they can see the product labels, most people will pick the more expensive or better-known brand as sounding better. But when tested blind it's common for people not to be able to hear any difference (unless one amp is clipping etc).

--Ethan
Bah... er.. no

A classical music recording engineer chum of mine was auditioning power amps - what his ear was tuned in for was "accuracy' for him during the testing it was difference in reproduction of the mid range of an orchestras cellos that was the telling aspect between on amp over another. He is a career audio engineer wins prizes at the Cannes Film festival for soundtracks, does sessions at London's Abbey Road and Angel studios.

His testing wasn't "people getting it wrong" it wasn't a clipping or not clipping scenario it wasn't about product labels no. It was about a professional using his ears. But That doesn't fit in anywhere in your logic does it Ethan? You hold no stock whatsoever in audio engineer professionals and their ability to hear differences between similar function items, is that not correct?

I have been round and round with you in conversation on this and that is always where your logic hits a brick wall.
Old 8th June 2011
  #293
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
[...]
Heck, I have some of the most advanced test gear and it doesn't tell you if it sounds good or bad, it just catches errors, at least most of them.
[...]
Yep.

If the test gear says it's "bad" and the ear says it's "good", then it IS good! (for something, at least).

But if the test gear says it's "good" and the ear says it's "bad", then you have used the test gear to measure the wrong thing!

...Also, I have NEVER seen a piece of test gear actually BUY a record! (...Or even the gear with which records are made.)

.
Old 8th June 2011
  #294
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Tube World's Avatar
Is new gear better? It all depends on what your definition of better is. If your talking about lower distortion, more accurate high end, and clearer music, than new gear is better.

Personally I would take the following new gear in my studio, and not miss one thing about the old gear.

1. Rupert Neve 5088 console
2. (2) Manley Voxbox's,
3. Manley Massive Passive
4. Langevin Mini Massive
5. Manley Vari Mu
6. (2) Pendulum Quartet II's
7. Pendulum ES8
8. Pendulum OCL2-A
9. (2) Cranesong Trackers
10. (4) GML pre's
11. GML 8200 EQ
12. DW Fearn VT-2
13. (2)Brauner Phantom V's
14. (2) Brauner Valvet's
15. Blue Bottle with multiple capsules
16. Blue Blueberry
17. Blue Kiwi
18. Shure Beta 57 and 58's.
19. (2) Neumann KM 187's
20. Bock 251
21. Audio Technica 4033
22. UAD plug ins including the Studer
23. Waves plug ins including the MPX
24. Blue Mouse (for the kick drum)
25. API 2500
26. Several API 512 C's pre's
27. Several API 55A EQ
28 UA LA2-A
29 UA 1176
Old 8th June 2011
  #295
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
Bah... er.. no

A classical music recording engineer chum of mine was auditioning power amps - what his ear was tuned in for was "accuracy' for him during the testing it was difference in reproduction of the mid range of an orchestras cellos that was the telling aspect between on amp over another. He is a career audio engineer wins prizes at the Cannes Film festival for soundtracks, does sessions at London's Abbey Road and Angel studios.

His testing wasn't "people getting it wrong" it wasn't a clipping or not clipping scenario it wasn't about product labels no. It was about a professional using his ears. But That doesn't fit in anywhere in your logic does it Ethan? You hold no stock whatsoever in audio engineer professionals and their ability to hear differences between similar function items, is that not correct?

I have been round and round with you in conversation on this and that is always where your logic hits a brick wall.
Obviously, I'm not Ethan. And Ethan and I don't see everything eye to eye.

But when someone makes claims of their ability to differentiate very small differences in sound -- but then cannot reliably back up that claim in properly set up double blind testing -- it seriously calls those claims into question.

I don't see a logical lapse there.


Old 8th June 2011
  #296
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Obviously, I'm not Ethan. And Ethan and I don't see everything eye to eye.

But when someone makes claims of their ability to differentiate very small differences in sound -- but then cannot reliably back up that claim in properly set up double blind testing -- it seriously calls those claims into question.

I don't see a logical lapse there.


agreed completely.

the person you replied to seems to be claiming that the test tool is supposed to say which sounds better. OBviously that's not what ethan or anyone else was trying to say way back when....

rather, test gear can reliably (more importantly: repeatably!) indicate any specific differences between two pieces of gear, and it can indicate which gear might be more transparent/neutral/invisible in the audio path as opposed to which one might impart some type of tone of it's own, or impact the existing tone (For better or worse). if a power amp makes cellos sound better, obviously use that power amp. no kidding there. but test equipment would also be able to see that and would be able to tell us WHY they sound different, and therefore would allow us as engineers to replicate that improvement in other ways withotu having to buy that exact amplifier just to get the same wonderful effect.

It's great being engineers and not having to rely upon magic that isn't understood by laypeople isn't it? oh wait, that's what engineers are supposed to do anyway. conductors of symphonies, in all their incredible musical wisdom, are probably not engineers. engineers can take the knowledge gained by "this amp sounds better to this person than this other amp" (or whatever example from this thread you like) and measure and research to find out WHY so that it can be repeated in the future.

We work together to provide the engineering, the science, the fact, behind making-recording-and ultimately reproducing-great music.
Old 8th June 2011
  #297
I think part of the issue here is that we recordists (to use an unloaded term ) straddle the worlds of technology and art.

All the technical knowledge in the world, alone, does not make one a good recording 'engineer' -- but by flip side of that token, having made artistically satisfying, great sounding records provides no certainty that the recordist has a good understanding of the science behind the technology that he uses. Some don't even seem to be able to wield rudimentary logic -- yet can seem to turn around and make great sounding records.

I think it's important to keep clear on where you are and what you're doing in any given endeavor within those overlapping, sometimes seemingly 'conflicting' spheres.

So, when I'm dealing with technical considerations, I try to use objective evidence and logic to sort out the issues and make sure I'm standing on solid ground.

And when I'm dealing with artistic considerations, well, anything goes. heh
Old 9th June 2011
  #298
Lives for gear
 
12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
[...]
But when someone makes claims of their ability to differentiate very small differences in sound -- but then cannot reliably back up that claim in properly set up double blind testing -- it seriously calls those claims into question.
[...]
Yeah; funny how that works, innit?

Unless one just "fell off the turnip truck" (this very morning) we've ALL had that revealing moment when we just realized that the changes in sound we only imagined hearing were absolutely IMPOSSIBLE (because the knob we were just turning was on a dead channel, or whatnot).

Anyone who has ever faced up to this reality would most assuredly have to admit that they might probably also done this a few times without ever even catching on to their mistake!

(Now, isn't that a humbling thought?)

.
Old 9th June 2011
  #299
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
But with regard to some folks' claims that their ears are more sensitive than test gear, until these self-appointed golden ears can demonstrate through reliable, verifiable tests that their ears really are as good at measuring actual accurate performance as test gear, I remain entirely skeptical of such unsupported claims -- which, frankly, strike me as outlandish.
Who uses test gear to decide if gear is good or to make decisions about implementation? Most of us just listen and make decisions. It's only in some weird ivory tower of gear-science geekiness that anybody thinks any of this has to be proven in a scientific way,

-R
Old 9th June 2011
  #300
Lives for gear
 
RKrizman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
But when someone makes claims of their ability to differentiate very small differences in sound -- but then cannot reliably back up that claim in properly set up double blind testing -- it seriously calls those claims into question.

I don't see a logical lapse there.


You're presuming that double blind testing is a useful tool. Perception is way too complicated to be reduced to such a blunt methodology.

The problem with DBT is that even if you set it up so the "hearing" is the same each time, eliminating other factors, you haven't accounted for the fact that the "perception" is different with each listening. Your subjective experience of sound will change according to how you focus your perception, which is constantly changing, so there will always be too much error in a DBT setup to give meaningful results.

-R
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