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_ Six _



Joined: 03/06/06
Posts: 1461
Gear snobbery
      #1029872 - 23/01/13 07:40 AM
I've been thinking about this a lot lately with renovating the studio. If I would have done the work 4 years ago (when I first bought the house) I probably wouldn't have appreciated the improvement as much as I do now. Many of us (myself included) are very quick to deride a particular piece of kit, turn our noses up at a particular brand or convince someone that it can't be done in xyz space. Thinking about my own personal journey, I've realised that budget equipment and bad experiences are a vital link in the learning chain.

I started my recording career on a Yamaha 4 track tape machine back in 2001 (I still have it!) and it was great fun. I learned how to use aux sends and what monitor sections were for. How to bounce tracks and how to EQ so that they all sat together in the speakers. Listening back now the recordings are laughable but I learned so much from that one unit.

Over the years I must have spent £50k on music gear and I've got a fantastically well equipped home studio now. When i stick a good mic in front of a good speaker, through a boutique preamp and record using a good guitar I know that it's quality. But only because I've used rubbish equipment and had bad experiences in the past, learning the flaws and limitations of what can be achieved for my own ears.

I'm a recording musician.. (not a recording engineer as such) so my passion has always laid in performance. However, I'm very fond of the tech side and it will always be my second love. The point of this post was to express my gratitude for all of those crap mics, chewed up cassettes and dodgy hifi speakers at the beginning....... because without them I wouldn't be where I am today.

So if you're new to recording and feel lost amongst the maze of options and advice.. just take your time and don't focus too much on what gear you own..... but more what it can do and what fun you can have with it. Those experiences will be worth their weight in gold later in your career and keep the game fun... which is the reason why we all got into recording in the first place.

Happytracking and welcome to the club... but be warned... it's addictive and can get very expensive!



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The Elf
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Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1029883 - 23/01/13 08:34 AM
All correct, but, alas, likely to fall on deaf ears, judged by the number of people who seem to think that a single piece of gear, or the carefully-guarded control settings of producer X are all they need for audio perfection.

After all, why spend years honing your craft when all you need is a plug-in to add 'mojo' and 'warmth'?

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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SafeandSound Masteri...



Joined: 23/03/08
Posts: 1042
Loc: London UK
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1029943 - 23/01/13 12:44 PM
I think this comes down to sonic reference and the process of using all sorts of equipment to achieve it. Arguably semi pro equipment out performs equipment of 30 years back on paper. However the references we hold dear and approve as being "reference" quality was made using equipment which was possibly noisier and more distorted, especially in the case of tape.

People have been back pedaling for the last 10-15 years trying to attain this goal.

It is impossible to discount the environment and the engineers influence on the end results using any equipment so it's quite complex.

SafeandSound Mastering
CD Album Mastering


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Persian Bit



Joined: 02/03/12
Posts: 104
Loc: Tehran \ IRAN
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1029949 - 23/01/13 12:59 PM
I guess all of us began with that attitude, dreaming while reading magazines and watching music shows. It takes a while that you realize it's the craft and art, not the hardware. I believe a few lucky ones out of many wannabes realize this in time, focus on the job itself and turn out to be pros. I know an army of people with very huge budgets and dreams, but they just gave up because they thought it's all about the gear and the studio that makes that hit album..

me too started in 4 tracks [tascam] back in 1991. passed a long long journey since then, but I believe too that I learned most of my important knowledges through those years.

You can't do anything about that 'Magic App' that everyone is selling these days. people always like 'quick' solutions for anything, from their weight loss to being a rock star!


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britney
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Joined: 17/10/02
Posts: 3029
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: The Elf]
      #1030257 - 24/01/13 09:10 PM
Quote The Elf:

After all, why spend years honing your craft when all you need is a plug-in to add 'mojo' and 'warmth'?



I been working with some young guys who take their craft very seriously. And they tell me that my sounds are the high point of my music. That that's what makes it sound pro. I keep telling them about my warmth and mojo plug-ins but they insist it must be some technical skill.

Some people will believe anything to avoid shelling out for a UAD card.

--------------------
"If you are getting that much difference with limiters you are probably overdoing it with them." Full Clip Audio


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Martin WalkerModerator
Watcher Of The Skies


Joined: 28/02/01
Posts: 17416
Loc: Cornwall, UK
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: britney]
      #1030294 - 25/01/13 12:09 AM
Quote britney:

Some people will believe anything to avoid shelling out for a UAD card.







Martin

--------------------
YewTreeMagic


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Skerrick



Joined: 10/01/13
Posts: 262
Loc: Sydney NSW
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1030301 - 25/01/13 12:38 AM
haha i love this thread! OP youre spot on, ive been at this for 3 years and probably spent close close to 6 grand at least...
and i agree, although im not a whizz so to speak, i listen back to the stuff i was churning out 3 years ago and laugh my head off, and i thought i was so good at the time!! (having said that, im still getting better and theres always room for improvement..)

the learning curve is great in this particular field/hobby, i DO find that when asking about a piece of gear i wanna get (and i must raise my hand and say i do this too) everyone recommends what they have and bags out on anything else thats suggested and nearly every thread turns into a "my gear's better than yours" kind of discussion haha! always a good read, but you learn so much (especially on this particular forum) and i love that its possible to educate yourself in such a way just through reading what people have to say and learning through trial and error with gear and techniques/setups etc.

i whole heartedly agree its expensive, i find myself often missing out on meals cos ive spent my money on a little monotron or a groovebox or a voice recorder or something haha! i heart it, soon ill be studying audio engineering and i can hopefully join in on the more technical discussions with a little more confidence

PEACE x

--------------------
www.soundcloud.com/skerrick


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Jabba1



Joined: 19/11/07
Posts: 326
Loc: Aylesbury
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: The Elf]
      #1030309 - 25/01/13 01:16 AM
Good advice.

I started with a Fostex 280 back in 1991... In fairness, the biggest expense was the Mac, but thats because I was sick of blowing up PC's. I've tried to build up the rest of it slowly, carefully through upgrades and special offers and the suchlike. The thing that is the big difference in my case is that I cant see me outgrowing the capabilities of the system and I'll sure as heck never stop learning. And yes, a lot of what I learned back in the 4 track cassette days have stood me well to this day.

For instance, much as I'd love a Nucleus and I can afford one, I know that my present and arguably future level of expertise is not going to be able to justify the expense of such a single item.

--------------------
www.alterzero.com || "Semper in excremento sum... solum profunditas variat"


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A. AuCr



Joined: 12/02/12
Posts: 144
Loc: NEW England
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: The Elf]
      #1030325 - 25/01/13 03:38 AM
Quote The Elf:

After all, why spend years honing your craft when all you need is a plug-in to add 'mojo' and 'warmth'?




Ahem.





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Skerrick



Joined: 10/01/13
Posts: 262
Loc: Sydney NSW
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: A. AuCr]
      #1030327 - 25/01/13 05:24 AM
Quote A. AuCr:

Quote The Elf:

After all, why spend years honing your craft when all you need is a plug-in to add 'mojo' and 'warmth'?




Ahem.








^ haha yes!!!

--------------------
www.soundcloud.com/skerrick


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The Elf
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Joined: 14/08/01
Posts: 9387
Loc: Sheffield, UK
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: A. AuCr]
      #1030337 - 25/01/13 08:08 AM
Quote A. AuCr:

Quote The Elf:

After all, why spend years honing your craft when all you need is a plug-in to add 'mojo' and 'warmth'?




Ahem.







I'll take two of these - that makes me twice as good!

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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sambrox



Joined: 20/12/08
Posts: 229
Loc: Denmark
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1030364 - 25/01/13 10:51 AM
As a nineteen year-old, I had the pleasure and honour of having Michael Brauer produce one of my band's demos at the very modest studio we were working in in Longsight (a rough suburb of Manchester). Apart from his extremely entertaining stories of working with the Rolling Stones and James Brown, the thing that still sticks with me today was his ability to get everything sounding right, just using the crappy gear that populated the control room (although he was quite fond of the one bit of 'nice' kit we had - our manager's Medici EQ).

I remember him coming in to the live room to tweek my guitar amp. To this day, I've no idea what he did, but he transformed the sound of my (not very well) home-made Mesa inspired 1X12 combo into something closer to the vintage stadium rock tones that the band were after. It was really was an eye-opener. It really isn't just down to the gear!

Cheers,
Sam

--------------------
http://www.soundcloud.com/sambrox
seedy.dk


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4TrackMadman
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Joined: 30/10/02
Posts: 1725
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1030772 - 28/01/13 09:36 AM
From my personal viewpoint, I never managed to achieve the good studio analog recordings that I did on 16 and 24 track in professional studios in the late 90s. it was something about the ease of use or tactile approach and the fun of 4 guys mixing a song manually in real time, but I never managed to capture those sounds again on digital.

My equipment has improved and so have my skills but still I think the combination of treated studio, analog outboard, tape and analog board were the magic that got lost in the PC conversion.

--------------------
www.descentintomadness.com


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SafeandSound Masteri...



Joined: 23/03/08
Posts: 1042
Loc: London UK
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1030818 - 28/01/13 12:19 PM
In the days of DIY everything people often quibble the "engineer" title when it comes to music, arts, recording, mixing and mastering. If you want to dot the i's then I guess acoustic engineering is a pure form of audio engineering and maybe speaker manufacturer/audio electronic design.

What people understand some what less is that years of professional training and day in day out professional engineering practice can make a significant difference, engineer self title or otherwise.

SafeandSound Mastering
Jazz mastering engineer


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ConcertinaChap



Joined: 20/07/05
Posts: 2564
Loc: Bradford on Avon
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1030826 - 28/01/13 12:36 PM
Most of my kit came via ebay. I've been buying stuff on ebay for about 7 or 8 years, learning how it works and what it's good for and deciding whether to keep it or whether to sell again. During that time the shape of my studio and how it works has changed completely at least three times. I've now got a fairly conventional "in the box" set up, but I know why I've got every piece of kit and what it does. I've not had my fingers burnt on ebay much at all, it's been a great route to self education (that and this place, of course).

Mind you, I could really fancy that mojo enhancer. Do they come up on ebay very often?

CC

--------------------
Back away from the concertina and no-one gets hurt
Mr Punch's Studio


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


Joined: 25/07/03
Posts: 21575
Loc: Worcestershire
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: 4TrackMadman]
      #1030828 - 28/01/13 12:40 PM
Quote 4TrackMadman:

My equipment has improved and so have my skills but still I think the combination of treated studio, analog outboard, tape and analog board were the magic that got lost in the PC conversion.




Having a decent sounding studio is certainly a very important contributor to the final sound, and tape does add a nice quality of squash and dirt which can help...

But there are hundreds if not thousands of 'magic' tracks out there that have been created entirely in the digital domain that prove that the medium isn't to blame. Yes, it's a different medium with different characteristics, but there are plenty of people who can still create great sounds using it.

Personally, I think the loss of 'magic' is more largely down to the changes in the production techniques. We use less 'organic' sources thanks to virtual instruments and samples. We use fewer complete performances of a band in a room playing together, relying instead on multitracking, comping and editing to a degere that wouldn't have been contemplated back int he days of analogue multitrack. We now routinely process everything to death -- everything is compressed, EQ'd, and tuned. The mix is micro-managed with automated everything, and agonised over for weeks on end...

And all because the nature of the computerised DAW allows us to do that, so we do... often losing perspective on what really matters along the way.

Back in the days of multitrack tape the EQ was relatively basic, compressors were restricted to only the few tracks that really needed them, and as a mix bus process, and the mixing came down to what you could physically do on the faders with the fingers and hands available.

Mixes were simpler, and the emphasis was on original performance, rather than created performance.

An interesting point to raise here is that when I used to help train BBC soundies on the practice and aesthetics of mixing, we often listened to the stereo monitor mix recordings made during live concert gigs, and compared them to the remixed multitrack recordings subsequently broadcast. In virtually every case the live monitor mixes were generally preferred for their raw energy and excitement, while the multitrack remixes were always more polished and refined.

I think much the same thing applies here.

H

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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Goddard



Joined: 04/04/12
Posts: 947
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1030852 - 28/01/13 01:59 PM
Hugh, your post brought to mind one of my all-time favorite SOS articles, with Les Paul recounting the "multi-track" recording of "How High the Moon":

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan07/articles/classictracks_0107.htm


In less than an hour. And no VU meters!


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 6702
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1030882 - 28/01/13 04:58 PM
Six,
I think you made a very important point at the start of paragraph 4, "I am a recording MUSICIAN....."

The harking back to the "golden days of analogue" misses the fact that studios were mostly recording very professional musicians (Who said "If you want a great guitar sound get a great guitar" ? Well, also get a great guitarist!

I think Hugh made a nod to this as well?

Dave.


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Folderol



Joined: 15/11/08
Posts: 3573
Loc: Rochester, UK
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1030906 - 28/01/13 08:01 PM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

We use fewer complete performances of a band in a room playing together, relying instead on multitracking, comping and editing to a degere that wouldn't have been contemplated back int he days of analogue multitrack.



I would put this as the number 1 issue. There is a dynamic that is lost when the band no longer plays the whole song, as a group.

--------------------
It wasn't me!
(Well, actually, it probably was)


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 6702
Loc: northampton uk
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: Folderol]
      #1030910 - 28/01/13 08:15 PM
Quote Folderol:

Quote Hugh Robjohns:

We use fewer complete performances of a band in a room playing together, relying instead on multitracking, comping and editing to a degere that wouldn't have been contemplated back int he days of analogue multitrack.



I would put this as the number 1 issue. There is a dynamic that is lost when the band no longer plays the whole song, as a group.




Trouble is Will, WHEN they play as a group many bands do not have the musicianship to achieve a proper balance. This is the root of the complimentary thread "Getting them to turn down"!

(BTW did anyone else catch the BBC4(?) Fairport Convention concert a few weeks ago? Superb sound no doubt greatly facilitated by excellent musicians)

Dave.


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4TrackMadman
active member


Joined: 30/10/02
Posts: 1725
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: _ Six _]
      #1030911 - 28/01/13 08:16 PM
Regarding Hugh's comment - now thinking about it, all these recording were usually of a live band playing together with most of the track being finished takes with maybe a small few bars punch-in and same thing with the eq/compression/other fx treatment, which was quite minimalistic to today's standards now that I think of it. A huge factor was also the amount of time one could spend on a project, which was minimal. I remember mixing a whole album for 8 hours back in the day, whereas now I tune and eq finished drums for 8 hours on just one track

--------------------
www.descentintomadness.com


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Martin WalkerModerator
Watcher Of The Skies


Joined: 28/02/01
Posts: 17416
Loc: Cornwall, UK
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: A. AuCr]
      #1030935 - 28/01/13 10:01 PM
Quote A. AuCr:

Quote The Elf:

After all, why spend years honing your craft when all you need is a plug-in to add 'mojo' and 'warmth'?




Ahem.








As recommended by me in my latest PC Notes column

It really is good!


Martin

--------------------
YewTreeMagic


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Skerrick



Joined: 10/01/13
Posts: 262
Loc: Sydney NSW
Re: Gear snobbery new [Re: Goddard]
      #1030955 - 29/01/13 01:24 AM
Quote Hugh Robjohns:

Quote 4TrackMadman:

My equipment has improved and so have my skills but still I think the combination of treated studio, analog outboard, tape and analog board were the magic that got lost in the PC conversion.




Having a decent sounding studio is certainly a very important contributor to the final sound, and tape does add a nice quality of squash and dirt which can help...

But there are hundreds if not thousands of 'magic' tracks out there that have been created entirely in the digital domain that prove that the medium isn't to blame. Yes, it's a different medium with different characteristics, but there are plenty of people who can still create great sounds using it.

Personally, I think the loss of 'magic' is more largely down to the changes in the production techniques. We use less 'organic' sources thanks to virtual instruments and samples. We use fewer complete performances of a band in a room playing together, relying instead on multitracking, comping and editing to a degere that wouldn't have been contemplated back int he days of analogue multitrack. We now routinely process everything to death -- everything is compressed, EQ'd, and tuned. The mix is micro-managed with automated everything, and agonised over for weeks on end...

And all because the nature of the computerised DAW allows us to do that, so we do... often losing perspective on what really matters along the way.

Back in the days of multitrack tape the EQ was relatively basic, compressors were restricted to only the few tracks that really needed them, and as a mix bus process, and the mixing came down to what you could physically do on the faders with the fingers and hands available.

Mixes were simpler, and the emphasis was on original performance, rather than created performance.

An interesting point to raise here is that when I used to help train BBC soundies on the practice and aesthetics of mixing, we often listened to the stereo monitor mix recordings made during live concert gigs, and compared them to the remixed multitrack recordings subsequently broadcast. In virtually every case the live monitor mixes were generally preferred for their raw energy and excitement, while the multitrack remixes were always more polished and refined.

I think much the same thing applies here.

H





thats a really interesting outlook on the matter man, i read countless "analogue vs digital" arguments.

this sums up the whole evolution of music production rather well.

--------------------
www.soundcloud.com/skerrick


Edited by Skerrick (29/01/13 01:26 AM)


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