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Common tools that never get used?

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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Arpangel » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:16 am

The Elf wrote:
Ramirez wrote:Yes, what I’ve always done is in line with yours and Wonks’ posts. I was just fascinated to read this month’s article as its the first time I’ve really seen this challenged.
For every piece of advice of advice you'll find on the Internet you'll find said same advice challenged.

One of the most difficult problems to overcome when teaching (and I'm going through one such example at the moment) is when somebody's hero - especially one with a string of impressive credits to their name - says something utterly misguided, but it is taken as being gospel - after all this guy is successful! Those received opinions take some shifting!

And that is why sponsorship exists... ;)

I'm just trying to think who's influenced me not to use anything? I Can't think of anyone!
But, probably like a lot of other people, I have bought stuff because I've seen it in a studio of someone I admire.
I bought a Mackie mixer many moons ago after lots of deliberation, one day I saw that Brian Eno had one, that sold it. I also bought my Eventide because he had one, it wasn't the only reason, but it clinched the deal. 'These things had potential" in my mind.
Nowadays I don't give a toss, I'll use anything, and I trust my own judgement, if anything I've gone completely in the opposite direction, I'll deliberately not use a popular instrument or technique just to see if it brings something new to things.
Buy a Yamaha PSS keyboard from a charity shop instead of that Prophet 12, you never know, it may just prove more interesting, and unusual, and if it's a failure you've only lost £20 instead of £2,000.
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:22 am

The third is EQ, how over rated is that! I hardly ever use that either, I just make sure the sounds coming from my instruments or mic's is OK to start with.

when I'm recording acoustic instruments here I always have a high-pass filter engaged of some sort, it's always used.

As for my field recordings, a HPF is essential, I couldn't record without one.

OK, who are you and what have you done with the real Arpangel who started this thread?
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:30 am

There are some interesting observations and suggestions in that article, but I'd be wary of taking them as 'laws of audio production'.

It's certainly true that transients play a massively important role in spatial location and instrument definition, and that they can be damaged through inappropriate use of compressors and limiters, amongst other processes.

It's also true that the phase relationships between fundamentals and harmonics can be altered by passage through EQ and filtering.

I also personally think it a good idea to minimise the use of all forms of signal processing -- use the tools because you need to tweak some aspect of the recorded sound, not just because you can, or you think you should, or you bought the plugin so you want to use it...

But all that being said, if you look back through the musical archives, a heck of a lot of fantastic sounding records were made in the days of multiple stages of transformer coupling and high-pass filtering. Massive phase shifts at the low end were not just very common, they were the norm and probably contributed significantly to the 'warm analogue sound' many now aspire to but struggle to reach with their minimalist analogue recording chains!

As far as I'm concerned, not removing unwanted low end does far more damage to the mix than the small amounts of phase shift the filtering would introduce.

So use the tools if you need to. Don't use them if you don't really need to. And listen critically to the results of every action.

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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Arpangel » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:44 am

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
The third is EQ, how over rated is that! I hardly ever use that either, I just make sure the sounds coming from my instruments or mic's is OK to start with.

when I'm recording acoustic instruments here I always have a high-pass filter engaged of some sort, it's always used.

As for my field recordings, a HPF is essential, I couldn't record without one.

OK, who are you and what have you done with the real Arpangel who started this thread?

A LPF is EQ, so that might ad some confusion to my posts! I was referring to "my use" of creative EQ, in a bolder sense, or lack of it.
What Hugh says is correct, we use things where appropriate, of course, but I'm always interested in why I'm using them, or not! Am I just going along with "accepted practice" or am I doing it for definite personal and artistic reasons.
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:05 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:As far as I'm concerned, not removing unwanted low end does far more damage to the mix than the small amounts of phase shift the filtering would introduce.

So use the tools if you need to. Don't use them if you don't really need to. And listen critically to the results of every action.

I suspect this quote from Hugh distils everything in this thread down to one convenient quote :clap:

Of course you do have to have decent monitoring in place to listen to those low end changes in a critical fashion :beamup:


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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:12 am

The Elf wrote:One of the most difficult problems to overcome when teaching (and I'm going through one such example at the moment) is when somebody's hero - especially one with a string of impressive credits to their name - says something utterly misguided, but it is taken as being gospel - after all this guy is successful! Those received opinions take some shifting!

I shared an office for a while with a guy who had been an engineer at a major London studio in the 80's. He a few tales of big name producers who didn't want people to watch them when they were working - usually because they didn't really know what they were doing and they just twiddled the knobs until they got the sound they wanted.
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Arpangel » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:19 am

James Perrett wrote:
The Elf wrote:I shared an office for a while with a guy who had been an engineer at a major London studio in the 80's. He a few tales of big name producers who didn't want people to watch them when they were working - usually because they didn't really know what they were doing and they just twiddled the knobs until they got the sound they wanted.

Sounds like yours truly, without the big name!
I got into a major argument once, and this guy really thought I was hiding things from him, my ideas etc, I had real trouble convincing him that even I didn't know what I was doing, let alone being able to remember settings etc!
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby The Elf » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:31 am

James Perrett wrote:
The Elf wrote:One of the most difficult problems to overcome when teaching (and I'm going through one such example at the moment) is when somebody's hero - especially one with a string of impressive credits to their name - says something utterly misguided, but it is taken as being gospel - after all this guy is successful! Those received opinions take some shifting!

I shared an office for a while with a guy who had been an engineer at a major London studio in the 80's. He a few tales of big name producers who didn't want people to watch them when they were working - usually because they didn't really know what they were doing and they just twiddled the knobs until they got the sound they wanted.
Been there and seen that!

Some of those big 'names' aren't as smart as we (and they) would like to think. I once had to endure ten minutes of clenching my tongue firmly between my teeth while a 'name' explained to a band that he never used balanced cables because he only worked in mono!
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Arpangel » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:51 am

The Elf wrote:Some of those big 'names' aren't as smart as we (and they) would like to think. I once had to endure ten minutes of clenching my tongue firmly between my teeth while a 'name' explained to a band that he never used balanced cables because he only worked in mono!

But...we all know that unbalanced cables and ouputs are superior sonically (big name gear manufacturer not me)
And, as long as all the faders on your desk are at the same position you'll be guaranteed a good mix.

:blush:
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:59 am

I have to say it is a depressingly familiar story that applies to a surprising number of established 'producers' and 'engineers' of all ages and disciplines. I could tell some seriously eye-opening stories of things I've seen, heard, and been asked to help with... but professional courtesy prevents me...

To balance things up a bit, though, there are also a great many who are very switched on, very technically aware and extremely capable, of course!

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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:03 pm

And, possibly, enjoy winding bands up :D
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:09 pm

Arpangel wrote:But...we all know that unbalanced cables and ouputs are superior sonically (big name gear manufacturer not me)

You wouldn't be naiming naims would you? :lol:

To be fair, there are some specific situations where unbalanced connections can genuinely offer the best technical sound quality.

I know Bob Katz has some unbalanced connections in parts of his mastering studio for that very reason, and the German pro-audio manufacturer SPL argues the same case for the neos console's inserts...

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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Ariosto » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:18 pm

I think it just boils down to the sort of music you are recording and how that type of music is usually received and perceived by the particular audience that listens to it.

I personally like the simple approach which means I hardly ever use EQ, reverb, or compression, and other tools. But then I record mostly classical instruments and voice, so it's not too complicated for a dope like me!
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Alba » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:07 pm

I bought a little DAW controller some years ago that I never use ... Can't really find anything simpler than the mouse and a wireless keyboard.
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby John Willett » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:57 pm

Dr Huge Longjohns wrote:
The third is EQ, how over rated is that! I hardly ever use that either, I just make sure the sounds coming from my instruments or mic's is OK to start with.

when I'm recording acoustic instruments here I always have a high-pass filter engaged of some sort, it's always used.

As for my field recordings, a HPF is essential, I couldn't record without one.

OK, who are you and what have you done with the real Arpangel who started this thread?

:bouncy:
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Alba » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:43 pm

We are all so spoiled for choice these days. I remember when every last drop was squeezed out of every bit of kit and there was always something else needed that cost a months rent.

Funny to have a thread like this, now.

Ignore me, feeling my age.
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Alba » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:45 pm

String winders, i just don't like 'em.
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby CS70 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:15 pm

James Perrett wrote:I shared an office for a while with a guy who had been an engineer at a major London studio in the 80's. He a few tales of big name producers who didn't want people to watch them when they were working - usually because they didn't really know what they were doing and they just twiddled the knobs until they got the sound they wanted.

It's not a bad strategy if it works. :)

I think technically minded people like to understand things, and know things, and see how things work in their heads, before they actually exists.

Most others really don't. Judging a fish by how fast it runs is a little pointless.

But everybody likes to be respected and seen as knowledgeable. So a fish talks about running to other fishes, and he gets just that.
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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:38 pm

CS70 wrote:It's not a bad strategy if it works. :)

It's a bit early for pantomime responses, but.. Oh yes it is! :-D

Would you be happy if your garage mechanic tried to replace your car's brake pads by randomly undoing bolts around the suspension in the hope of finding a way to achieve the goal?

It's a terrible 'strategy'... And it's also inherently slow and inefficient... Neither of which are expected of a 'professional'

Judging a fish by how fast it runs is a little pointless.

As is comparing someone who knows what they are doing with someone that doesn't...

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Re: Common tools that never get used?

Postby CS70 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:01 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
CS70 wrote:It's not a bad strategy if it works. :)

It's a bit early for pantomime responses, but.. Oh yes it is! :-D

Would you be happy if your garage mechanic tried to replace your car's brake pads by randomly undoing bolts around the suspension in the hope of finding a way to achieve the goal?


Yeah it was a big tongue in cheek.

But still, if these producers are technically incompetent and yet successful, the only meaningful conclusion is that you don't need to be technically competent to be a successful music producer, innit?.

A mechanic trying random things on the car couldn't be successful, I guess. Actually..hm... I've seen a few workshops so I'm not so sure.

Of course I totally get the irritation about incompetent bozos becoming successful (and the joy when competent not-bozos do). Lots of 'em about, and not just producers..
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