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Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby CS70 » Thu May 23, 2019 8:24 pm

Elephone wrote:I think many are dissatisfied with what they actually sound like, because let's face it, digital recording offers exactly that. Many bands would be better off carefully choosing their gear and getting their sound right live. And then insisting they use that gear in the studio (and ideally at gigs) so they know what they're getting and asking for a true recording first.

Then they can apply post production analogue gear (or plugins) for effect, exactly as an effect rather than thinking of it as anything more 'true'.

Also, I suspect as hearing deteriorates with age, 'clarity' of sound may become more desirable. I suspect that's why ageing musicians can appear to miss the point of their early sound... maybe they simply can't hear it the same way they did in their twenties! I mean, if they used the same guitar amp, are they turning the treble up slightly with every passing year?

Just a thought.

It's the hallmark of the unskilled to blame the gear. There used to be a time when "common" gear was so much worse than good one that it really required talent to overcome its limitations (and then again.. Keith Richard and his tape recorder come to mind). But nowadays, regular and high end gear are so close that it's annoying. So long it works, you're on (well, maybe not Berry stuff :))

The hard truth is that it's only about the musicianship, to know what one wants to achieve and to have the skills to get there. These skills are acquired only by avoiding excuses and learning, either from someone else (the fast way) or by trying and trying and trying some more (the slow but oh so satisfactory way).

It's just easier to blame the gear - or attribute it magic-like properties. No great guitar has ever made a great song, nor any great console. It's just down to you and your skills. Nothing more, nothing less.


So yeah, distortion may do something nice to a mix, no doubt, but it matters not where it comes from - only how it sounds, and there's a gazillion ways to get a similar effect if one wants. Also, it will never ever make the difference between a great mix and a mediocre one - crap on tape will still be crap :D
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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu May 23, 2019 8:47 pm

Elephone wrote:... maybe they simply can't hear it the same way they did in their twenties! I mean, if they used the same guitar amp, are they turning the treble up slightly with every passing year?

I attended an event in a well-known London recording studio complex a few years ago at which a classic Elton John track was played from a commercial CD. It sounded great to me, but an equally well-known mix engineer there complained that it was a bad mix and, a short while later, produced another version from a re-mastered album which he claimed was far better and a true likeness of the original. However, when he played it the top end was excruciatingly bright and aggressive-sounding. As it happens, I also have the original 1970s vinyl album with the relevant track, and that sounds much closer to the first album played than the remastered version. I wonder who's ears are telling the right story? ;)

H
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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby Elephone » Thu May 23, 2019 8:59 pm

CS70 wrote: It's the hallmark of the unskilled to blame the gear.

But I think it was a lot harder to sound cheap 'n' cheesy before 1973 ...because all the top-end instrument gear sounded pretty great and pushing limitations required creative thought.

Less so with 80's presets "Oh, is this the new sound the kids want? Okay we'll go with that."

If the gear is offering high-output guitar pickups that sound scratchy just lightly picking, that's going to affect your playing unless you know what's going on, and even then you might not know what to do about it.
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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby CS70 » Thu May 23, 2019 9:55 pm

Elephone wrote:If the gear is offering high-output guitar pickups that sound scratchy just lightly picking, that's going to affect your playing unless you know what's going on, and even then you might not know what to do about it.

Yes! The point exactly :-D knowing what's going on - arrange things so that you can know what's going on and then use the kit you have to get what you want - that is part of the skill.

HIgh output guitar pickups, turn down the volume or dial down the amp gain, use the tone knob or the amp EQ section, dampen the strings just so with your fingers, shorten the touch, work your dynamics.. there's many ways to go about it, but you've got to put down the time . No guitar is bad sounding in the right hands.

An hilarious example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWPysY0Wis0 :-D

A Martin it ain't, but the result is musical and it does sound pretty good - certainly far, far better than a Martin in inexperienced hands..
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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu May 23, 2019 9:58 pm

It ain't what you got but what you do with it :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby CS70 » Thu May 23, 2019 9:59 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Elephone wrote:... maybe they simply can't hear it the same way they did in their twenties! I mean, if they used the same guitar amp, are they turning the treble up slightly with every passing year?

I attended an event in a well-known London recording studio complex a few years ago at which a classic Elton John track was played from a commercial CD. It sounded great to me, but an equally well-known mix engineer there complained that it was a bad mix and, a short while later, produced another version from a re-mastered album which he claimed was far better and a true likeness of the original. However, when he played it the top end was excruciatingly bright and aggressive-sounding. As it happens, I also have the original 1970s vinyl album with the relevant track, and that sounds much closer to the first album played than the remastered version. I wonder who's ears are telling the right story? ;)

H

Besides, with age it's mostly high freqs perception that fades, so if anything an aging engineer would probably want to have more distortion, not less - to get these highs and harmonics up enough..

But really most music is about the midrange, so it's really a non-issue.
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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu May 23, 2019 10:20 pm

A close friend of mine, many years ago, was suffering from the after effects of chemo, one of which was severe loss of HF hearing. He was a talented muso and recording engineer with a decent small commercial studio (his hobby but professional in every respect other than he had a day job too). He and his musical/business partner carved a niche in the jazz world recording some very well respected Jazz musicians until Mike succumbed to his cancer. His solution to the hearing problem was to have his teenage son listen to his mixes and monitor the HF.
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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby ef37a » Fri May 24, 2019 7:59 am

Sam Spoons wrote:It ain't what you got but what you do with it :clap: :clap: :clap:

Quite. My dad was a master carpenter and cabinet maker. Not only could he set out and build you a roof but also make exquisite little boxes from Walnut and Mahogany. I have a photo of a scale model of the console of a church organ he made, about the height of the old GPO telephone.

Now, dad could have given a noob the wood and lent you his (first class and bloody sharp!) tools* and TOLD noob what to do but you would not want to live under THAT roof and the boxes would be crap. Give noob ten years or so??

*No! He bloody wouldn't!

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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby Elephone » Fri May 24, 2019 8:40 pm

ef37a wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:It ain't what you got but what you do with it :clap: :clap: :clap:

I'd say it's both. Depends how hung up you are about sound. People don't obsess about Les Pauls, Stratocasters and Telecasters, valve amps, etc, for nothing.

Why not have the convenience of a 90's Ibanez stunt guitar that always stays in tune, that you can play with one hand because it's absurdly easy to play (at the expense of sound) and solid State amp with digital reverb built in? Because I don't like them.

ef37a wrote: Not only could he set out and build you a roof but also make exquisite little boxes from Walnut and Mahogany.

I bet he was pretty particular about his tools and had a decent set then? And of course, the quality of the wood used.

I think it depends what you're trying to do. If you mean you can create good music with any gear, if you have the taste and ingenuity, then sure. But some music is very gear-dependent. There are people who created ambient music and soundtracks in the 90s who were very reliant on certain reverb units and electronic delays. Some music is actually created 'by' the gear to greater or lesser extent.

Ideally, I like to use analogue gear and digital gear... each for what it's good for. I've little interest in analogue interfaces on computer screens, for instance. I rate Reaper and Fabfilter partly for those reasons.
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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri May 24, 2019 9:25 pm

Elephone wrote:
I'd say it's both. Depends how hung up you are about sound. People don't obsess about Les Pauls, Stratocasters and Telecasters, valve amps, etc, for nothing

Sure a nice guitar is inspiring to play and can help get the creative juices flowing but do you believe your music would be better if you owned that '50s Les Paul instead of your current guitar (I'm assuming here that you don't own Peter Green's 'burst BTW ;) )? While it might sound different on a cheaper instrument it won't automatically sound worse. I have a very nice 1975 LP Custom but my main electric is a £130 bitsa Strat I built myself. I have been complemented on my sound by a couple of the local 'tone hounds' playing Sultans Of Swing in the LP and Santana on the Strat, 90% is in the fingers with a guitar.

Like you I don't have said 'stunt guitar' (anymore at least) and play guitars with moderate actors and medium strings through a 'hand wired point to point valve amp 'cos they do sound better to me (and I use super thick 3.5mm picks for the same reason). But if my music or playing is sub-par then even PG's 'burst wouldn't save me.

I think most people (and certainly me) like 'nice' kit because to makes them feel good and as a result they play/create better music but the true genisus' would still be genisus' is they played '90s Squires instead of '60s Strats.
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Re: Digital mixes to tape (pre-master) service?

Postby CS70 » Fri May 24, 2019 10:51 pm

Elephone wrote:
ef37a wrote:
Sam Spoons wrote:It ain't what you got but what you do with it :clap: :clap: :clap:

I'd say it's both. Depends how hung up you are about sound.


We're all pretty hung up for sound here :D

People don't obsess about Les Pauls, Stratocasters and Telecasters, valve amps, etc, for nothing

Well my little experience is that most people who obsess about these things aren't really great players and musicians - and in general because they look outside their own skill. Don't get me wrong, of course any discerning person appreciates quality, and I'm the first to love a beautiful, high end instrument all shiny and lovely. But for the purpose of making music, instruments are tools, they just have to bee good enough for the job at hand. An iron hammer put nails in just as well as a diamond one. A hammer made of plastic doesn't, and that's all there is to it.

Why not have the convenience of a 90's Ibanez stunt guitar that always stays in tune, that you can play with one hand because it's absurdly easy to play (at the expense of sound) and solid State amp with digital reverb built in? Because I don't like them.

Well, liking or not liking is a personal matter, and only the individual knows why (and maybe even he doesn't). And besides that, "sound" is mostly habit, hearsay and group thinking.. but dont want to get too philosophical. The point is that if you want something that sounds like a Stratocaster, you need something that sounds like a Stratocaster, not necessarily a Stratocaster. The Ibanez will sound different. So what? Someone will like it (Ibanez has sold enough guitars to be pretty certain of it). It's not worse or better because you like it or not.

I think it depends what you're trying to do. If you mean you can create good music with any gear, if you have the taste and ingenuity, then sure. But some music is very gear-dependent. There are people who created ambient music and soundtracks in the 90s who were very reliant on certain reverb units and electronic delays. Some music is actually created 'by' the gear to greater or lesser extent.

To an extent, sure, (and it is debatable.. who invented the music and defined the rules? Certainly not the gear).... but the point we (I, at least) are trying to make is that printing to tape and expecting that to create that "sound" is like putting a mic in bathroom and expect to get a Lexicon sound. One is confusing the desired result with one small technicality which, in general, has little to do with it.

There's nothing wrong to want to have the effect that most people associate to "tape" (that is to say. sound like the great recordings from the 70s and 80s) but the tough reality is that these records sound great because they have great musical ideas, great arrangements, great players and were recorded and engineered and mixed by very skilled people (with very poor quality equipment with respect to nowadays). People at the top of their game, master of yesterday, which were able to bend the gear they had to their will and overcome any of the many limitations it had. Guess what, the masters of today do just the same - they've just got much better quality kit in average.

In other words: the OP does not need to print to actual tape to get the effect that he thinks he will get from tape... he will get that effect by writing great music, playing it beautifully and knowing how to record and mix it (or using people who do). In other words, he needs to become a master.
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