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dubbmann
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The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear
      #911739 - 01/05/11 07:12 PM
Hi all,

Over the years of reading discussions here and elsewhere of musos and the quest for the vintage synth, the marquee guitar, the boutique tube preamb, etc, I've been struck by two contradictory thoughts:

1) 90% of it is bollocks. If you're talking about the unique sound of a type of electric guitar, for example a Les Paul of a tele, most people play with so much FX that all of that is lost in the purple haze, so to speak, of distortion, reverb, etc. Likewise with laments for manufactures to re-issue gear like the roland TB-303 (to cite a topic being hotly debated in another thread): I listen to (and play) lots of electronica and am pretty familiar w/t gear involved, and if somebody can tell me that they can tell a real 303 from a clone (even a vst like rebirth) once it's been put through heavy distortion and other FX - as it almost always is - I'd be willing to wager they're mistaken. I'd love SoS to do a blind listening on this one, the way Downbeat used to (still does?) with musicians listening to unidentified records and giving their opinions. As I said, I think the fetish over most equipment is just disguised gear-lust. (One area of exception: if you play a/o record acousitically. Classical music, for example, is where the instruments and the recording equipment really do show their virtues and flaws).

2) that said, I believe people are sincere in their beliefs that, for example, an ARP Odyssey v2 (white face) is *way* better than an ARP Odyssey v2 (brown face) because the filter was slightly different. Ditto with buying a $3000 Fender Custom shop strat or a 192KHz A/D converter.

In medicine there is a well-known phenomenon called the placebo effect, which occurs when a patient is given a harmless pill but nonetheless gets better because they *think* it's real medicine. And this leads me to my question: is there a placebo effect on how people play (or record, I suppose) because they believe the gear is "top-drawer" (not to say top Drawmer ;-)? Do they play better once the gear they're using is better than the gear they were using before?

Speaking personally, I'd say the answer is no. Some of my best work is stuff I did nearly 22 years ago when I had 5% of the equipment I do now. Don't get me wrong: I've enjoyed the purchase of everything I've bought in the subsequent years, but I know little of it has made me a better composer or player. To the extent that I've advanced, it's because of lots and lots (and lots) of hours playing and experimenting and scrutinizing critically what comes out, etc.

But does the placebo effect exist for you? Has your playing improved when you've gotten that piece of gear you've lusted for and finally acquired? If so, why do you think it's happened?

Cheers,

d

--------------------
http://www.thinkbluecounttwo.com/
http://www.phichibe.com


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Gary_W



Joined: 18/10/06
Posts: 446
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911741 - 01/05/11 07:46 PM
Opinions warning - willing to be proved wrong or have the error of my ways otherwise pointed out

Whilst I think the placebo effect is live and well, there is more going on IMO....

I personally think that the most important thing is confindence in your ability to get the best out of whatever it is you happen to be using... If you personally feel that you know something backwards, you'll be able to wring every little last bit out of it and do something special. This goes for most things in life.... I'm very fond of cooking and, given ingredients I know well I can make something fabulous. If you gave me razor clams I'd be out of my comfort zone and would have to rely on top quality ingredients to give my dish chance to shine - my confidence in my own ability would be gone so I'd have to fill in the confidence gap with throwing money at it

If there is something that you are less confident in then the help of better 'ingredients', 'gear' or 'presets' is most welcome and, with a bit of the confidence restored, you ease up a bit on yourself and potentially do things better.... I think this may be where the placebo effect works with gear.

The confidence thing / knowing equipment backwards is why Seasick Steve can make a plank of wood with one string going through a £100 amp sound pretty amazing - he knows what he's doing with the stuff he's using.

As I'm primarily a guitar playing bloke who sings, when I need some synth sounds I rely very heavily on presets and have lots of 'em (Komplete 7 with Kore 2). To my (synth uneducated) ears, most of the presets are very good indeed and will do me fine. This attitude would probably disgust a keyboard player in a similar way to me being weirded out by keyboard folks buying guitar samples


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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911745 - 01/05/11 08:23 PM
Follow the recorded career of any favourite player. Do you go "Aah! THAT'S when he got the [some piece of gear]!"?

I think you're more likely to go "Aah! THAT'S when he started working with [new producer/musician/drummer etc.]!"

It's all too easy for a solitary musician to get his head firmly stuck where the sun don't shine. I prescribe regular visits from a cynical practical musician who, after briefly admiring the new box of tricks, says "Let's get on with it then! What have you DONE with it?"


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bugiolacchi



Joined: 01/10/09
Posts: 439
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911751 - 01/05/11 09:01 PM
100% Correct. I am a multi-instrumentalist but the guitar is what I studied and worked on all these years. I also have a unique view point of musical instrument manufacturing with close family connections with Italian past glories such as EKO, ELKA, CRUMAR, FARFISA, etc..

So, guitars: EKO guitars struggled for years to capture the 'magic' of Gibson and, in the 70s, the YAMAHA SG2000. They produced a guitar called M24 which was built with the exact materials as a Les Paul, sporting Grover machine heads, Di Marzio pickups etc. Played from a Marshal amp with some overdrive the sound was if not identical, comparable with the above mentioned 'classics' and with similar, if not better playability of the Gibson. The retail price was half of the others... so, did it became a classic.. of course not!
The response from the retailers was: they couldn't feel the magic.

A step back. I was there when EKO again was experimenting with different electric guitar body materials and various pickup samples from Di Marzio. The shocking realisation was that even radically different body wood types made a tiny difference on the amplified sound of the guitar. Let alone when 'tubed', compressed, distorted and FXed.

The 'magic' for the guitarist is to hold an America made guitar which reminds him of gone days and many an idol from their youth. Little to do with the 'sound'! And as a proof, just listen to a musician with a unique sound and technique such as Santana. He played all sort of guitars through his life, from Gibson, to Fender, Yamaha and now PRS.
His guitar sound has hardly changed at all and it is readily recognisable from the first notes he plays. But...

On SOS pages we are bombarded time and time again that a replica of a vintage compressor would sound even 'better' if using a particular discontinued transformer. I wonder, if this is this a joke or for real? Do you really think that a transformer in one of the compressors used to record a vocal take, before being equalised and effected and double tracked will lift the song to a more 'professional' tone or sound?

And what about the 192Khz A/D converters and recording for pop? Toys for the boys... but, OK, it's fun! But let's be serious. In a typical home recording environment, a well set up £100 capacitor mic (in a acoustically treated room) plus a similarly priced decent pre-amp (maybe off a 4 channel Mackie mixer) will be almost indistinguishable (with a good singer) when recorded digitally at 16 bits than PT with exotic signal path. Fact. Tried and tested. But again: vive le toys!!

--------------------
www.bugiolacchi.com
Songwriter/guitarist


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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
Posts: 5345
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: bugiolacchi]
      #911753 - 01/05/11 09:18 PM
Quote bugiolacchi:

1And what about the 192Khz A/D converters and recording for pop? Toys for the boys... but, OK, it's fun! But let's be serious. In a typical home recording environment, a well set up £100 capacitor mic (in a acoustically treated room) plus a similarly priced decent pre-amp (maybe off a 4 channel Mackie mixer) will be almost indistinguishable (with a good singer) when recorded digitally at 16 bits than PT with exotic signal path. Fact. Tried and tested. But again: vive le toys!!




Well, the preamp won't cost anything LIKE £100!

"With a good singer". Interesting point. A bad singer will sound no different either. But a good singer sounds pretty good straight away and you more-or-less leave it alone. What if it's a bad singer (or, worse, a self-recording, and NOBODY likes the sound of their own voice!)? We're into that favourite home-studio game of "remedial mixing", or more graphically, "turd-polishing". That's where the search for that magic bit of gear really takes over :-)


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nathanscribe



Joined: 19/01/07
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911764 - 01/05/11 10:47 PM
On the other hand (and I do agree with all the above) there are certain bits of gear that a person can just 'click' with and get a lot out of. Other pieces can be really off-putting for no obvious reason. Part of the relentless GAS-driven stockpiling of gear is to do with that, I think - the search for tools that really fit like a snug pair of *insert favourite piece of clothing here*.

For example, I've been through a few dozen synths. How many do I use on a regular basis? Three or four maybe. Often just a couple. I'm not a great player, far from it, but the interface and the way it feels is important to me - if I find it intuitive and somehow 'right' (and that's partly the control method and arrangement, partly the sound) then I'll get more use from it. If the sound is great but the interface is awkward I'll perhaps hang on but not use it, or maybe get rid.

The 'vintage' aspect is part of the mythology of getting 'that' sound, but there are some things within the mythology that are true - some synths can create great searing sounds, others not - some can provide rich creamy textures, or brittle weirdness, others not - so the search for what feels right is partly based on the 'mythology' of the history of that gear's use, in whoever's hands - and partly on the desire for attaining that level oneself.

It's absolutely true that no amount of ownership will improve one's ability. But if i 'click' with a piece of gear, I get more from it, and maybe - maybe - as a result of being happier in using it, I relax into getting better results. I know the opposite can be the case - worse experience using something, worse results - but I can get equally bad results using almost anything, so who knows..?

--------------------
my nerdy synth tech blog


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zenguitarModerator
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911769 - 01/05/11 11:03 PM
I can see sense in all the scenarios put forward so far, and would add the 'Security Blanket' effect to the mix too. But putting them all together, I would say that anything that helps a musician give a better performance without putting them into debt is a good thing. But I would prefer it if people made their decisions with their own ears rather than learning by rote from magazines, web sites, and old wives tales.

Andy

--------------------
When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro.


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vinyl_junkie
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911771 - 01/05/11 11:14 PM
+1 For the last two posts, couldn't of said it better my self.


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Tony Raven



Joined: 15/11/09
Posts: 180
Loc: Minnesota, USA
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911796 - 02/05/11 05:47 AM
Some years back, I had a chance to help out on overhauling the well-used axe of a local guitar phenom. To be brief: it was utter crap. Chewed-down frets, silly-high action to compensate for a clear neck bow, broken nut, no string correctly intonated -- no, hadn't been dropped down the steps, that's how he'd been playing it until he brought it in the door.

...yet he'd been making fabulous noises with it.

We were reluctant to "mess with the mojo," so rather than do a rebuild & full setup we pretty much just cleaned things up (literally, & with stuff like a light fret levelling) & poked it back towards normal. The owner was delighted.

If a tool works for the user, that's about all that counts, really. There's so much post hoc attempt to figure out how someone else gets The Magic that overlooks how much Magic comes from wrestling with an instrument's quirks. I remember trying to get a surf-guitar tone using various Fender axes only to find that the original had actually been recorded with a Gibson with minibuckers....


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Dave B



Joined: 03/04/03
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Loc: Maidenhead
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: Exalted Wombat]
      #911820 - 02/05/11 09:19 AM
Quote Exalted Wombat:

Follow the recorded career of any favourite player. Do you go "Aah! THAT'S when he got the [some piece of gear]!"?




Sadly ..... yes .... polyphonic synths, Fairlight, Eventide, Lexicon .... I hear them all creep in.

It's a bit sad, I know ...

--------------------
Veni, Vidi, Aesculi
(I came, I saw, I conkered)


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The Elf
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911821 - 02/05/11 09:20 AM
Not just placebo, I'd say.

When I'm overdubbing lines of MiniMoog the instrument is constantly shifting (most noticable in pitch, but not limited to this) and I'm finding myself manually tweaking to keep things sounding sweet. Each overdub is adding random complexities that are very hard to emulate convincingly with VSTis and VAs.

I'm very familiar with this effect. Over at 'the other place' I use MiniMonsta (one example...) to pseudo my MiniMoog parts for artists. When I get back to home base I replace those parts with the real thing. The more parts are added, the more you get of the character of the instrument making its mark. Often I prefer MiniMonsta to the real thing - it depends on context.

So I'd say it's not just placebo, but too many people equate 'old' with 'good', which I see as unnecessary. Anything that can make a sound has something to offer - for me, the mark of true creativity is being able to see (and make use of) the good in everything.

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


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Dave B



Joined: 03/04/03
Posts: 5543
Loc: Maidenhead
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: The Elf]
      #911823 - 02/05/11 09:23 AM
Quote The Elf:

Often I prefer MiniMonsta to the real thing - it depends on context




Heresy!!! He's a witch - burn him!!!

Actually, for publicly speaking (posting) such an obvious profanity, we demand recompense! Just send your 2600 to me and you Mini to Zuke and we'll let it drop ...

(This has been the Synth Correctness Police - we are watching you!)

--------------------
Veni, Vidi, Aesculi
(I came, I saw, I conkered)


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The Elf
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: Dave B]
      #911827 - 02/05/11 09:35 AM
Quote Dave B:

Quote The Elf:

Often I prefer MiniMonsta to the real thing - it depends on context




Heresy!!! He's a witch - burn him!!!

Actually, for publicly speaking (posting) such an obvious profanity, we demand recompense! Just send your 2600 to me and you Mini to Zuke and we'll let it drop ...



Tch! What would I use to cover up the damp patch?!

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


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911838 - 02/05/11 10:37 AM
Okay, that's it! First, you combine too many words together on Fridays and think I won't notice, then you come out with the Minimonsta remark.

You're really treading on some thin ice there Elf.





--------------------
Samplecraze
Stretch That Note


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The Elf
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: Zukan]
      #911840 - 02/05/11 10:44 AM


Ah dun got mah mind right now boss!

Ooh! Happy Birthday Zuke!!

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


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ZukanModerator
Zukan


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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911841 - 02/05/11 10:47 AM
Thanks Elfness!



--------------------
Samplecraze
Stretch That Note


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desmond



Joined: 10/01/06
Posts: 8619
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: Zukan]
      #911847 - 02/05/11 11:31 AM
Yeah - FM8 is really no substitute for a DX1, it really isn't...


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hollowsun



Joined: 20/01/05
Posts: 5471
Loc: Cowbridge, South Wales
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: desmond]
      #911852 - 02/05/11 11:59 AM
Quote desmond:

Yeah - FM8 is really no substitute for a DX1, it really isn't...



It's the Zuke's bidet, for God's sake! That was just cruel!!!

--------------------
Website / Music Lab Machines / Blog


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ken long



Joined: 21/01/08
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911854 - 02/05/11 12:05 PM
Happy Birthday Zuke!

--------------------
I'm All Ears.


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vinyl_junkie
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911863 - 02/05/11 12:46 PM
Happy Birthday ol'chum


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desmond



Joined: 10/01/06
Posts: 8619
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: hollowsun]
      #911867 - 02/05/11 01:19 PM
Quote hollowsun:

It's the Zuke's bidet, for God's sake! That was just cruel!!!




I have no idea what you are talking about... I was just picking a random example out of the air to support the conversational thread...

Totally at random...


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hollowsun



Joined: 20/01/05
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: desmond]
      #911873 - 02/05/11 01:44 PM
Quote desmond:

I have no idea what you are talking about... I was just picking a random example out of the air to support the conversational thread...



The Zuke never did get over the trauma of selling his DX1!

--------------------
Website / Music Lab Machines / Blog


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desmond



Joined: 10/01/06
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: hollowsun]
      #911876 - 02/05/11 01:49 PM
Quote hollowsun:

The Zuke never did get over the trauma of selling his DX1!




He had a DX1? Wow...

And sold it?

Wow.

Still, must have got an absolute *fortune* for that, those things are kinda once in a lifetime rarities... no-one's gonna part with one of those for anything less than serious cash...


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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: desmond]
      #911879 - 02/05/11 02:04 PM
There's a DX5 in my shed. Not working, but probably fixable. And a TX802. Has that stuff become "vintage" yet?


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desmond



Joined: 10/01/06
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: Exalted Wombat]
      #911880 - 02/05/11 02:12 PM
Quote Exalted Wombat:

There's a DX5 in my shed. Not working, but probably fixable. And a TX802. Has that stuff become "vintage" yet?




I always wanted a DX5. How broken is it?


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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: desmond]
      #911888 - 02/05/11 03:23 PM
Quote desmond:

Quote Exalted Wombat:

There's a DX5 in my shed. Not working, but probably fixable. And a TX802. Has that stuff become "vintage" yet?




I always wanted a DX5. How broken is it?




No sound comes out. I haven't investigated further. The volume slider has been replaced with a rotary pot. Well-gigged but not particularly battered. It's in East London/Essex.


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tomafd



Joined: 03/10/05
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: Dave B]
      #911891 - 02/05/11 03:38 PM
Quote Dave B:

Quote The Elf:

Often I prefer MiniMonsta to the real thing - it depends on context




Heresy!!! He's a witch - burn him!!!

Actually, for publicly speaking (posting) such an obvious profanity, we demand recompense! Just send your 2600 to me and you Mini to Zuke and we'll let it drop ...

(This has been the Synth Correctness Police - we are watching you!)




Back in about 1985 or so I was working in Rod Argents shop in Denmark st (when it still sold synths). We ordered in a bunch of them TB 303 things (new at the time) and about six months later started punting them out at 50% off, because everybody they thought they were crap and we couldn't shift them.

I still think they're crap....

--------------------
http://anotherfineday.bandcamp.com/ http://anotherfineday.co.uk http://apollomusic.co.uk


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bugiolacchi



Joined: 01/10/09
Posts: 439
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: tomafd]
      #911896 - 02/05/11 04:04 PM
Tom, in 1986 I was on the other side of the road, the better Rose-Morris ( ). Sure, the Tuberculosis 303 sounded as pleasant as its namesake, but then its blipping noises became 'cool' in the house-music/acid dancy community. You can make pretty unique note slides with it, or so it appears! Horses for courses, obviously... And apparently these amazing sounds it produces cannot be replicated by the most sophisticated analogue or modelled apparatus known to man. Interesting world. I am glad they assigned me to this planet!

--------------------
www.bugiolacchi.com
Songwriter/guitarist


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ken long



Joined: 21/01/08
Posts: 4461
Loc: The Orient, East London
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: tomafd]
      #911927 - 02/05/11 05:41 PM
Quote tomafd:

Quote Dave B:

Quote The Elf:

Often I prefer MiniMonsta to the real thing - it depends on context




Heresy!!! He's a witch - burn him!!!

Actually, for publicly speaking (posting) such an obvious profanity, we demand recompense! Just send your 2600 to me and you Mini to Zuke and we'll let it drop ...

(This has been the Synth Correctness Police - we are watching you!)




Back in about 1985 or so I was working in Rod Argents shop in Denmark st (when it still sold synths). We ordered in a bunch of them TB 303 things (new at the time) and about six months later started punting them out at 50% off, because everybody they thought they were crap and we couldn't shift them.

I still think they're crap....




Yeah Tom. I totally agree. Who needs all that old junk now anyway?

So what time shall I come pick up that Studio 440?



--------------------
I'm All Ears.


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vinyl_junkie
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Joined: 24/06/03
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Loc: Kent, UK
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #911960 - 02/05/11 08:45 PM
You know Ken there is one on ebay right now saying buy me hahah

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Sequential-440-Vintage-Drum-machine-Emu-SP-Korg-Rola nd-/250809003227?pt=UK_Drum_Machines_Grooveboxes&hash=item3a6561acdb

Edited by vinyl_junkie (02/05/11 08:46 PM)


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Garry McKee



Joined: 04/04/09
Posts: 63
Loc: Clare, Ireland
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #912000 - 03/05/11 12:12 AM
You know I have played about 4 or 5 "real" synths in my entire life, lots of vst emulations of them though, and lots vst synths that aren't emulations, I've coaxed great sounds out of all of them! I have a solid state HiWatt combo practice amp, my only "real" amp, I use GR and Amplitube for the rest, and once again it sounds good to me! I don't disagree I would love a vintage Hi Watt stack, (preferably one Gilmour touched) but I've been making music with my band, by myself and for other people (recording them i mean) and it has ended up sound pretty damn good (if I do, so blatantly, say so myself)Vintage gear fetishes remind me of people talking about Vinyl, ( I don't own any by the way). I understand the arguments, and I don't disagree but maybe people can get a little...too anal about vintage gear. If something sounds good, it sounds good, right? .....right?
My naive, young and inexperienced 2 cents

--------------------
"Insert witty snippet about my music" - http://soundcloud.com/realisms/sets/realisms-e-p/


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Richie Royale



Joined: 12/09/06
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Loc: Bristol, England.
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #912068 - 03/05/11 10:37 AM
Quote dubbmann:

Some of my best work is stuff I did nearly 22 years ago




Was that on vintage gear then?

--------------------
http://soundcloud.com/richie-royale
http://www.mixcrate.com/richieroyale


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narcoman
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Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: bugiolacchi]
      #912254 - 03/05/11 09:45 PM
Quote bugiolacchi:


And what about the 192Khz A/D converters and recording for pop? Toys for the boys... but, OK, it's fun! But let's be serious. In a typical home recording environment, a well set up £100 capacitor mic (in a acoustically treated room) plus a similarly priced decent pre-amp (maybe off a 4 channel Mackie mixer) will be almost indistinguishable (with a good singer) when recorded digitally at 16 bits than PT with exotic signal path. Fact. Tried and tested. But again: vive le toys!!




I could take you up on that. Cuz it's most certainly not "fact". Might be good, might be aces, might be brilliantly usable. But most certainly will not be indistinguishable.


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bugiolacchi



Joined: 01/10/09
Posts: 439
Loc: London
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: narcoman]
      #912260 - 03/05/11 11:13 PM
Narco, you are right.. I was caught in the flow of thoughts and typing... sure, not a 'fact'. Of course different gear will offer slightly different and subtle results. Years ago I was working in a music shop and as 'the manager' I could take bits home and try them out. Although Italian, Pavarotti I ain't, but within my little home studio, Neumann mics always performed worse than decent handhelds on my voice (make it what you will).

Nonetheless, I am sure that to capture the nuances of a string quartet performance in a live setting requires the best microphones available, blessed with a flat-response, ultra-low noise, dynamics handling, etc. going through a pristine and excellent signal path to a 24 bits recorder. But, a 'shouty' pop voice, which is going to be 'warmed up' by valve equipment (i.e. distorted), with heavy EQ and masses of effect can really benefit from a higher quality transformer within the (first) used compressor? And even if it does, would speakers worth more than £5,000 and an impeccable listening environment be the minimal requirement to enjoy the 'magic' from this vintage transformer?

I am not trying to be provocative, just understanding. I am sure, I might be well wrong (as the youth of today say..).

--------------------
www.bugiolacchi.com
Songwriter/guitarist


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desmond



Joined: 10/01/06
Posts: 8619
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: bugiolacchi]
      #912262 - 03/05/11 11:33 PM
Quote bugiolacchi:

but within my little home studio, Neumann mics always performed worse than decent handhelds on my voice (make it what you will).




I had a mate who always sounded horrible though pretty much all capacitor mics we used - it mad his voice harsh and nasty. A dynamic, though not nearly as "hi-fi" sounding, just toned and softened that harshness and suited him fine.

It's not that these capacitor mics are "performing" badly, it's just that they never suited that particular voice. You might have something similar. It's all down to the recorded sound and performance at the end of the day - how you get there is only really relevant to you.


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Exalted Wombat



Joined: 06/02/10
Posts: 5345
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: bugiolacchi]
      #912268 - 04/05/11 02:47 AM
Quote bugiolacchi:


Nonetheless, I am sure that to capture the nuances of a string quartet performance in a live setting requires the best microphones available, blessed with a flat-response, ultra-low noise, dynamics handling, etc. going through a pristine and excellent signal path to a 24 bits recorder. But, a 'shouty' pop voice, which is going to be 'warmed up' by valve equipment (i.e. distorted), with heavy EQ and masses of effect can really benefit from a higher quality transformer within the (first) used compressor? And even if it does, would speakers worth more than £5,000 and an impeccable listening environment be the minimal requirement to enjoy the 'magic' from this vintage transformer?




Actually, the string quartet would record very nicely into 16 bits - quite enough for a natural acoustic source that wasn't in the habit of sucking the mic then shouting into it :-)


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narcoman
active member


Joined: 14/08/01
Posts: 8488
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: bugiolacchi]
      #912430 - 04/05/11 11:40 PM
Quote bugiolacchi:

Narco, you are right.. I was caught in the flow of thoughts and typing... sure, not a 'fact'. Of course different gear will offer slightly different and subtle results. Years ago I was working in a music shop and as 'the manager' I could take bits home and try them out. Although Italian, Pavarotti I ain't, but within my little home studio, Neumann mics always performed worse than decent handhelds on my voice (make it what you will).

Nonetheless, I am sure that to capture the nuances of a string quartet performance in a live setting requires the best microphones available, blessed with a flat-response, ultra-low noise, dynamics handling, etc. going through a pristine and excellent signal path to a 24 bits recorder. But, a 'shouty' pop voice, which is going to be 'warmed up' by valve equipment (i.e. distorted), with heavy EQ and masses of effect can really benefit from a higher quality transformer within the (first) used compressor? And even if it does, would speakers worth more than £5,000 and an impeccable listening environment be the minimal requirement to enjoy the 'magic' from this vintage transformer?

I am not trying to be provocative, just understanding. I am sure, I might be well wrong (as the youth of today say..).




agreed - indeed have had those same mic' experiences myself. Sometimes the SM7 is the right thing!


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ef37a



Joined: 29/05/06
Posts: 6375
Loc: northampton uk
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #912450 - 05/05/11 08:08 AM
Well I am REALLY not fit to judge (old, deaf, don't listen to "synth" music!) but I do often think "Oh! FFS not another electronics box of noises when yet another synth is reviewed (There are PLENTY of other things you could/should test SoS. Call a moritorium on synths!).

But the placebo effect extends I would say to "classical" instruments as well. I well remember seeing a docc'y about a young cellist who took her instrument to a 'tech' to have the sound post adjusted. He spent a couple of hours tapping it around (and was no doubt handsomely rewared!) but it sounded no bloody different to me! That of course is not the point. If SHE was happy all is well!

In another place I constantly read of the sonic benefits of NOS valves(and frigging capacitors!) or of one brand over another. NEVER do we get a before/after voltage or signal level table or an A/B set of .wavs!

Dave.


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Kolakube



Joined: 01/12/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: Geordieland
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #912877 - 07/05/11 08:44 AM
Interesting post, I have an altered way of looking at this that In don't think anyone has considered yet though:-

Lets not underestimate the power of the placebo effect!!!

EG - We give control group 1 some smarties and tell them is a multi vitamin and they feel great. We give control group 2 the actual vitamin and they feel great also.

In Vietnam the US government issued a placebo pill to help US troops deal with the intense heat. Soldiers reposted feeling far more comfortable after taking one smartie a day for a week. Some took to wearing long sleeve shirts when off patrol!

So, lets not underestimate the power of the Placebo, its healing effects and how it improves things for unknowing users and test subjects defies scientific description proving that the human mind has an enormous effect on the perception of ones well being..


To tie this in with this thread:-

I "feel" my hardware set up sounds better and the actual over all experience of having a tangible character filled instrument under my fingers, that I have ownership of and have lusted after whist saving up cash sounds better.

Perhaps in a pepsi challenge when rammed through all the FX you mention IE in a mix I wouldn't be able to tell them apart is a valid point. So how can it sound better to me then? Well, perhaps it doesn't...

But..

... thanks to the ownership and touchy feely experience for me at least it offers the placebo effect and as such I perceive it to sound better. As such the whole experience (not just sound) drives me on to compose far better music.

So again , yes, maybe it is a Placebo but as I highlighted above Placebos DO make a difference.


However, not wanting to kick this all of again as we just all contributed to the largest thread on the SOS vintage forum ever covering what im about to say.....

I love my hardware studio with classic gear. Theres just something inspiring to me about using this kit and nothing else. As such no matter what tools are better or worse than whatever the fact remains for myself "I" am actually better in this environment.


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Chaconne



Joined: 21/02/05
Posts: 1293
Loc: Oxford
Re: The Placebo Effect and Vintage Gear new [Re: dubbmann]
      #913003 - 07/05/11 07:06 PM
Absolutely spot on Kola - head nailed.

I had an interesting thing happen the other night. I tried out a recommended JX8P plug in - a freebie. I started it up expecting another paper thin impression, but was actually gob smacked by how good it was. I would say 95% there and easily as good as anything from Arturia.

The thing is I love my JX so much, I did not WANT it to be good. So I started listening for flaws - and yeah it is not quite there - but if I am honest that 5% would easily be compensated for by ease of recall, programming, not have to record it etc. But i felt stupid, why have an existential crisis over the brilliance of modern DSP?

Its because I felt I had to use the plug in for some reason. Whereas before I always started a drum machine, and worked out songs first, recording ideas to tape, now I could see no reason not just to get a dummy keyboard and just get on with the VST's.

But then I saw a video of the guy from a well known dance act with his ridiculous collection of synths, sequenced by Sonar 1 or something, and saw his methods were the same - live drum machine and synths first. Ideas first - computer later. I smiled and felt justified. I knew I was not the only one!

So I know what Kola means. I am not anti VST, or digital, or computers at all, and should never ever spend, waste, any more of my life worrying over these issues - nobody is telling me how I have to work.

Whatever works for me - even if I like the smell of my room when too many transformers have been on - thats what I do.

After all, music itself is one big placebo. Ultimately you can use all the best gear in the world, and somebody will isten to it and go 'meh', wereas somebody else will melt, maybe even cry.

Music itself is not a drug -- but a pretty powerful placebo. Irrational and inexplicable and not reducible to sample rates.

--------------------



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