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Sounding Off: Is New Gear Better? (Ethan's article on SOS) Condenser Microphones
Old 20th November 2009
  #181
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TheMarqueeYears's Avatar
 

I think in life and especially on forums like Gearslutz, one has to be able to spot "a vested interest" in presenting a point of view.

If wanted to sell "acoustic treatment" to cash strapped musicians then I'd propergate this point of view as well.

I bought a CM7 for $6500 because it's an exact clone (bar the valve) of a 1950's mic!! Modern mics like the new Neumanns sounds brittle and harsh to me .... I hate singing into them, I LOVE singing into a CM7

You can't blind A/B test human experience can you.

The new is better aurgument is often far, far from the truth esp. when it comes to audio gear in this mass produced prosumer market today - specialized boutique is often the only solution to quality and performance

After all Ethan, do you suggest instead of Real Traps, I make a trip to the local bed shop and buy lot's of foam to stick up in my studio, I think not.

TMY
Old 20th November 2009
  #182
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulbrother View Post
I do thank you, and I am quite happy with my results, as I am well aware that anything in them that is lacking is my own damn fault, and not about some mystical, magical mojo that one finds in the simple device that amplfies the gain on the mic signal.
Nothing magic or mystic needed. Just basic engineering. I built my own API 312-type pres. Exceedingly simple (and affordable, component-wise) design.

They do exactly what they're designed to do, and they do it well.
Old 20th November 2009
  #183
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
And if 90% of the plugins I've seen are built around modeling that "undesirable" analog distortion, it can't be so undesirable after all.
This is undeniably true and a statement i can align with. Modeling old amps, modeling old mic pre's, modeling old mics, old analog synths, modeling tape saturation, and of course old rack gear from compressors to delay to tape anomalies like Wow, Flutter, and level of THD, etc. Even vintage guitar pickups and amp speakers go for top dollar, older guitars go for top dollar because of the tonal differences in the characteristics of body wood. There's a huge long list of modern gear that seeks to emulate "vintage vibe" because it's what people want to hear, it's what they like to hear.
Old 20th November 2009
  #184
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Quote:
They do exactly what they're designed to do, and they do it well.
Im sure they do, not disputing it. Just denying that its necessary that's all. My M-Audio DMP3 will do me fine thanks.
Old 20th November 2009
  #185
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For sure. The vintage old school stuff has the flavor that make people feel comfy. I don't use any pluggins and honestly can't stand the idea of a computer being part of the music process. But there we're plenty of pluggins I thought sounded fine really. When most of your tracks where captured with room sounds from mic'd amps and you went for the right sound upfront in the tracking process, using something like Fabfilter for delay's or effects seem to blend in nicely without sounding too artificial. Some of the compressors and e.q.'s like the SSl4000 I though sound fine, without sounding cheap.

I think alot oviouslly has to do with the quality of how the source was recorded to begin with .... (duh.. , it's when the pluggin tries to be something it's not when everything turns to ass.

I replaced pluggins with one hardware box and alot of guitar effects pedals. They sound better, and the process is more enjoyable.
Old 20th November 2009
  #186
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulbrother View Post
Im sure they do, not disputing it. Just denying that its necessary that's all. My M-Audio DMP3 will do me fine thanks.
Nobody has said it is necessary for everyone everywhere all the time.

It IS necessary if you want the specific sound that design produces. If you don't (like Ethan), then you're satisfied with a different aesthetic or workflow.

Use what you like regardless. No one's telling you not to.
Old 20th November 2009
  #187
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
Jim, I extend the same challenge to you that I suggested to DanDan. Please upload a pair of clips that sound different, but that I won't be able to measure a difference. They don't have to be MP3 files. Ten-second Wave files are not that large, and that should be long enough to prove your point.

--Ethan
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.

Once you digitize those analog signals you are simply measuring the sound card. Now, if you want to rent an AP system, I can send you the DUT so you can see the results yourself, but relying on limited resolution sound cards and AD converters is not going to show anything but the converter's effects.

Now if a multi thousand dollar AP rig shows NO measurable differences with a cap change, why would you believe software tests would show anything the AP does not?

If you can't swing an AKG, I can do the same thing with a $49 MCA SP-1.

Got $49.95?

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 20th November 2009
  #188
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tmrstudio's Avatar
 

I like the article; mostly because it invokes thinking about what we do. One can easily say something is better but what does better really mean. True, we can pay a lot of money for a piece of gear that is colored but if that is worth it to you, then go for it.
Old 20th November 2009
  #189
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superiorsound's Avatar
 

great article however ethan your freakin me out with that cat.
Old 20th November 2009
  #190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmrstudio View Post
I like the article; mostly because it invokes thinking about what we do. One can easily say something is better but what does better really mean. True, we can pay a lot of money for a piece of gear that is colored but if that is worth it to you, then go for it.
Color is one reason. Usability is another. Like narcoman described, many analog eq/comps can be pushed much farther and more dramatically without getting harsh/lifeless/dull. For example, a lot of people (even CLA fans) find with the CLA EQ plugin his presets' top boosts make everything accumulate way too abrasively in the high end.

The same boost with a nice hardware EQ will not produce the same result. For better and worst.
Old 20th November 2009
  #191
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fossaree's Avatar
many times, the article's actual point has been completely misunderstood trough this thread ... it's not a dispute !
Old 20th November 2009
  #192
Harmless Wacko
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
How about you prove you can't hear those differences first?
Jeez Jim.

I think Ethan has provided an astonishing number of examples of what he can and cannot hear over the years.

Bewildering number, really.

I suspect that since so few potential room treatment customers, err... sycophants, err... ethanianados seem remotely interested in what he CAN hear... he has become especially adept at explaining that which he CANNOT hear.

I mean... MEASURE.

However, I feel compelled to unequivocally state that I am becoming both alarmed and concerned that this little dispute over any difference between ethan's cutting edge (soundblaster/spectrafoo?) system and your AP rig's MEASUREMENT RESOLUTION might, most terribly, cause you to end what has turned out to be such a brilliant and fruitful internot relationship on GS.

What a desperate and tenebrous turn of the cards that would prove to be.

I'm gonna go wear out a pew down at the local Church of Satan.


SM.
Old 20th November 2009
  #193
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JulianFernandez's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by superiorsound View Post
great article however ethan your freakin me out with that cat.
Hahaha, Ethan seems to be a great guy... So true about the cat!
Old 20th November 2009
  #194
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP11 View Post
in a mix, I don't believe anyone would ever know if someone was using cheap plugins or stock plugins from whatever DAW they use, or expensive Waves or UADs or whatever...the overall sound would essentially be the same...
that is a different argument all together. Maybe this is a bad analogy but lets say someone said
"All guitars sound the same" We know this is not true

but if someone said "in a mix, I don't believe anyone would ever know if someone was using cheap guitar or an expensive guitar" (like your plugin analogy)

you could make an argument that one couldn't tell. There is a difference in plugin quality for sure. Can someone
tell in a final mix? I guess it depends on who is mixing. Just like it depends on who is playing the gtr

I think most people can tell the difference between plugin quality when they process a track with it. Since they
know what the original unprocessed track sounds like and then processed track. It is very easy to tell which plugin sounds best especially with reverbs.

In a mix? you may have a point. I guess at that juncture there are so many variables. But a track soloed up with plugins,
it should be pretty easy to tell which plugin is the better one.
Old 20th November 2009
  #195
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fossaree View Post
<snip>

[...] it's not a dispute !
Well, it certainly is an ANSWER to an ongoing dispute, and recognizes itself as such (in the header) thusly:
"When it comes to gear, old is good, but new is better."
...Followed by (in the first paragraph):
"In my frequent visits to audio forums, I notice much fascination with old audio gear. I don’t know anyone who prefers old cellphones, or old computers, or even old medical cures, for that matter. Audio recording is based entirely on technology, and for the most part, technology only improves over time. So I don’t understand the obsession with ‘old’ when it comes to recording."
While the article certainly is an admittedly civil discussion, it certainly IS addressing a dispute!

Namely: "
Is old or new gear better?"

...A silly dispute, perhaps; but a dispute, nonetheless.

PS:
Reminds me of an old saying: "Old age and treachery will beat youth and skill every time!"

Old 20th November 2009
  #196
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everybody back to work now... we all know it's about art, and art can be made with anything, the same as someone can make crap with a neve and an old neumann...
Old 21st November 2009
  #197
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by analogjeff View Post
... we all know it's about art, and art can be made with anything, the same as someone can make crap with a neve and an old neumann...
True dat!

However, I must chime in here to say that the design and construction of excellent gear is ALSO an art form in its own right!

It was true in the old days, and it is true today, as well.
Old 21st November 2009
  #198
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fossaree's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
Well, it certainly is an ANSWER to an ongoing dispute, and recognizes itself as such (in the header) thusly:
"When it comes to gear, old is good, but new is better."
...Followed by (in the first paragraph):
"In my frequent visits to audio forums, I notice much fascination with old audio gear. I don’t know anyone who prefers old cellphones, or old computers, or even old medical cures, for that matter. Audio recording is based entirely on technology, and for the most part, technology only improves over time. So I don’t understand the obsession with ‘old’ when it comes to recording."
While the article certainly is an admittedly civil discussion, it certainly IS addressing a dispute!

Namely: "
Is old or new gear better?"

...A silly dispute, perhaps; but a dispute, nonetheless.

PS:
Reminds me of an old saying: "Old age and treachery will beat youth and skill every time!"

Hey 12ax7 (sorry , I don't know your name ), thanks for bringing this to table .

If that is a dispute , I'm completely out of this ! Don't count on me ;-)


Back to his article , I think he targets crucial points that I witness everyday here on Gearslutz .

I think everyone who shares Ethan's point of view , as well as the " old is better " folks , and after that may rest somewhere in between , will be in really good shape !

And probably happy ;-)

Last edited by fossaree; 21st November 2009 at 12:42 AM.. Reason: grmr
Old 21st November 2009
  #199
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Michael_Joly's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams View Post
Old 451's use polystyrene film caps, new ones use mono ceramics. Old U-87's used polystyrene, new ones use mono ceramics. TLM103 and 193 use mono ceramics. KM84's used polystyrene, later moved to polycarbonate film. KM184's use mono ceramic caps.

Old 414EB's used polystyrene film caps, later B versions use polycarbonate film. New models use mono ceramic caps.

Notice a pattern?
Bean counter wins, you lose.

On another note, a great mic preamp will have THD+noise below .001% at +40 db of gain. IMD should be .0002% or 2 parts per million. Noise should be below -135db EIN with a shorted input. It is done here.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Jim baby this is great! In the KM 84 thread the KM 74 mic came up. What a beautiful peice of mechanical engineering and machining. A mic with incredible attention to acoustical design that was just too expensive to continue to manufacture compared to the '84 and the even more plebian '184.

It still blows my mind that Sennheiser bean counters don't seem to mind dragging the good Neumann name into the mud by dictating the use of sonically inferior caps and SMT to save a few pennies.
Old 21st November 2009
  #200
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
that is a different argument all together. Maybe this is a bad analogy but lets say someone said
"All guitars sound the same" We know this is not true

but if someone said "in a mix, I don't believe anyone would ever know if someone was using cheap guitar or an expensive guitar" (like your plugin analogy)

you could make an argument that one couldn't tell.
And to a point, there is no reason to buy a ridiculously expensive guitar.

There are other good reasons to buy at least a decent guitar...intonation, playability, general workmanship, and so on. (Plus, it should hold most of it's value if not grow. )

But how many guitars does one need? For most people, 1 is really all you need. One guitar that's decent. Maybe 2. You don't really need 10 or 20 or 30 expensive guitars unless you are rich and famous and have money to burn. It's not going to make your music or sound any better.

But in plugin land, I think that's exactly what has happened. There is this idea that not only are expensive plugins way better, like some sort of magic fairy dust, but that you need a million different ones and different "flavors". It's all bull**** and marketing. I don't think a bunch of different and expensive plugins is going to make any difference at all. If anything, it's going to distract and it's going to empty your wallet.
Old 21st November 2009
  #201
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fossaree View Post

Hey 12ax7 (sorry , I don't know your name), thanks for bringing this to table
<snip>
I think he targets crucial points that I witness everyday here on Gearslutz.
I believe that as well.

Old 21st November 2009
  #202
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JP11 View Post

<snip>

There are other good reasons to buy at least a decent guitar...intonation, playability, general workmanship, and so on. (Plus, it should hold most of it's value if not grow. )
Yep.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JP11 View Post

<snipage again>

But how many guitars does one need?
...to do WHAT?



Quote:
Originally Posted by JP11 View Post

<again with the snipitude>

I don't think a bunch of different and expensive plugins is going to make any difference at all. If anything, it's going to distract and it's going to empty your wallet.
Yep. (Same as it is with guitars!)

...Something about a goose and a gander, I believe...

Old 21st November 2009
  #203
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP11 View Post
But how many guitars does one need? For most people, 1 is really all you need. One guitar that's decent. Maybe 2. You don't really need 10 or 20 or 30 expensive guitars unless you are rich and famous and have money to burn. It's not going to make your music or sound any better.
If want a diversity of tones/textures you certainly need more than 1 or 2. I would say 5 at least - strat, les paul, steel string acoustic, nylon string acoutic, perhaps a hollow body or semi-hollow body.

I'm not a huge fan of plugins but can definitely hear a big difference between reverbs and compressors, less so with eqs.

They are all just colors, how many you need depends on what you are doing. There is no right or wrong.
Old 21st November 2009
  #204
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer
I don’t know anyone who prefers old cellphones, or old computers, or even old medical cures, for that matter.

Cell phones are not artistic tools or even entertainment devices for most, and are far less mature than analog at its zenith (anywhere between now and ~40 years ago). As for old computers, JamesNintendoNerd (AVGN) has one of the most popular channels on YouTube, and his channel centers entirely around playing 20 year old 8 bit video game systems. Branching further into games, chess is centuries old, yet many still find that entertaining.

As for medical cures, have you ever heard of penicillin? Or lithium? Or flurouracil? Plenty of decades old cures are still the primary treatment for any number of diseases. Morphine has been used medically for literally hundreds of years. Aspirin is similarly over 100 years old. But of course, technology only gets better and better, right, so why would anyone still use any of that? Must be only the quacks with their outdated "vintage" science, right?

If the above quote is indicative of your outlook, you need to get out more. Or get in touch with reality.

Technology may be changing, but human physiology isn't. We still experience sound with the same basic biology we did 100 years ago, and probably will 100 years from now. If it works, and when you hear it you feel good, why should anyone care how old it is?
Old 21st November 2009
  #205
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyc View Post
If want a diversity of tones/textures you certainly need more than 1 or 2. I would say 5 at least - strat, les paul, steel string acoustic, nylon string acoutic, perhaps a hollow body or semi-hollow body.

I'm not a huge fan of plugins but can definitely hear a big difference between reverbs and compressors, less so with eqs.

They are all just colors, how many you need depends on what you are doing. There is no right or wrong.
Yes, no right or wrong, I'm just throwing out my 2 cents.

I don't believe there's much difference at all in plugins. I've never heard anything I would call a big difference. There used to be lousy reverbs, but I think there all pretty much at the same level now. If someone's reverb plugin sounds terrible like a tin can, I could see why they would want to replace it or get another. If it doesn't sound that bad, I don't think a different one will matter.

I do agree that an acoustic sounds different than a strat, however!
Old 21st November 2009
  #206
Registered User
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDan View Post
On a critical, very hi fi album I mixed to several 2 track recorders simultaneously.
AMS Audiofile, Otari 1/4 inch, with and without Dolby SR, Several DATS, and a Sony F1.
There were four involved listeners, a blind test with a second engineer switching.
All preferred the AMS
You're not the first person to say this, that's why I'm keen to track one down. Must have great converters?
Old 21st November 2009
  #207
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KevWind's Avatar
WOW 7 pages of relatively informed debate sparked by an internet infomercial, what an amazing time to be alive
Old 21st November 2009
  #208
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TurboJets's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyc View Post
If want a diversity of tones/textures you certainly need more than 1 or 2. I would say 5 at least - strat, les paul, steel string acoustic, nylon string acoutic, perhaps a hollow body or semi-hollow body.

I'm not a huge fan of plugins but can definitely hear a big difference between reverbs and compressors, less so with eqs.

They are all just colors, how many you need depends on what you are doing. There is no right or wrong.
+1, and to add...man if you can't hear the difference between a solidbody and a hollowbody archtop you've got some problems. The difference between a new issue vibro champ and the real deal? Not to mention the sonic differences between quality NOS tubes and poor quality modern chinese tubes...
Old 21st November 2009
  #209
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narcoman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
WOW 7 pages of relatively informed debate sparked by an internet infomercial, what an amazing time to be alive
i think it's because a lot of casual observers hold Ethan in high regard. I find that, within the realms of our unimportant industry, rather disturbing. Ethan is a nice guy, well meaning and all that - but has no track record to justify his large grand claims. Mind you he's hardly alone. heh

Sorry if that's a bit cold - and I DO think Ethans company is superb - they have made brilliant pieces that really work.... so hopefully that balances my negative opinion of his article. When dealing within his own area of expertise he's spot on. But quantifying "mojo" with measurement is just silly. they are not related.... there is no such thing as "better" in terms of aesthetic, and this business and/or art is ALL aesthetic.
Old 21st November 2009
  #210
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I must admit I haven't read every post in this thread...so forgive me if this is redundant....

Old vs. new....plug ins vs. hardware.....SM technology....

When I started engineering it was pre- DAW, so we had tape. By that time, tape had evolved about as far as it would go with decent sounding +9 levels and formulations that would handle a degree of transient response. But there was obviously a fair amount of color being added by the tape. So people were looking for "clean" from their outboard gear often times. The color was happening elsewhere, and transparent was what was often needed. Then...the DAW world sprang into being and the criterea changed. Now people are clamoring for color and character from their outboard gear because we are, after all, recording music and it needs to still be an artform. There is a time for crystal clean, but there is also a time for glorious, imperfect coloration.

Old vs. new.....Back "in the day" the designers were working with a somewhat limited set of resources as compared to today. I don't think they always designed with the thought of "hey, let's make something that adds color", but many times, they were just putting together the best they could do with the material available. Sometimes this meant they had to drive a 600 ohm load, so the output stage was different that what we usually find today. As a rough generalization, the transformers were sometimes better than what we often get today, while the caps and resistors weren't. (Not inculding the modern budget stuff that Jim was addressing.) They hadn't developed all of the topologies that designers use today. Sometimes that produced a unit with a cool vibe and color, and sometimes it just meant the circuit wasn't very linear or stable.

There are old peices of gear that do things that are difficult to re-create due to price point. Are people willing to pay for the overbuilt design and quality of a V76 or whatever? In the world of mics, can you find guys that can REALLY re-create the workmanship of a capsule from the 60's?

There are times when old gear has a vibe (should that be what you're after) that many examples of new gear can't capture. But on the other hand, I feel thankful to work in a time when we have SO many choices in new gear. We can get decent sounding equipment in almost any flavor. Sometimes it requires a mod to acheive ultimate cool-ness, but that's fairly easy as well. Squeaky clean? Disgustingly raunchy? Anything in-between? It is all out there.

Personally, I don't always want perfectly transparent. I LOVE the sound of a good 2" machine and a good console, will all of it's flaws. I'm not as concerned about the scopes if the playback makes me smile. I recently did a session on an SSL 900 and while I'm sure it's more linear than my 80b, I personally found it to be dead boring. An coupled with PT it, for me, was totally uninteresting. I'm sure it spec's better, but it sure seemed not as musical.

Wake back up......I'm done

Kirt Shearer

Last edited by kbshearer; 21st November 2009 at 06:05 PM.. Reason: typo
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