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Author Topic:  Why mixes suck....
ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post Posted 18 Jul 2016 2:36 pm     Reply with quote

So are we done talking about mixing techniques and tips, regardless of style and/or personal taste, like the original post seemed to indicate was the topic?
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 19 Jul 2016 2:06 am     Reply with quote

ajm wrote:
So are we done talking about mixing techniques and tips, regardless of style and/or personal taste, like the original post seemed to indicate was the topic?


you can feel free to post if you like ! This is the internet, nothing is ever finished. Smile
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Alan Brookes


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Post Posted 19 Jul 2016 11:45 am     Reply with quote

Rick Campbell wrote:
...We're so lucky that we can have some of the same toys as the pro guys have at a price affordable to the average guy...

You're not kidding. What would we have given for 24 channels back in the early 60s when we considered ourselves lucky to be able to record in stereo? (TWO channels ...wow.) Winking
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Last edited by Alan Brookes on 21 Jul 2016 9:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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Rick Schacter


From:
Portland, Or.
Post Posted 20 Jul 2016 11:02 am     Reply with quote

ajm wrote:
So are we done talking about mixing techniques and tips, regardless of style and/or personal taste, like the original post seemed to indicate was the topic?


I don't think that's what was meant by the original post at all.
Learn as much as you possibly can.
Practice everything you've learned.

When everything is recorded, if you don't like what you're hearing, you're going to have to figure out why.
It's very possible that you might have to be honest and acknowledge that the song wasn't very good to begin with or that you don't have the skill to perform a certain track.

If you don't like the song, then sh!t can the song, start over and try writing a better one.
Maybe you can keep some of the strongest parts of the old song to use in your new one.
If you don't have the skill to perform a track, you need to either keep practicing or find someone else to perform the track you need.

This is what I understood from the OP.

**Rick Campbell is correct. We are truly blessed to have the tools that we have available to us these days.
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Bill Terry


From:
Bastrop, TX
Post Posted 20 Jul 2016 11:44 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
When everything is recorded, if you don't like what you're hearing, you're going to have to figure out why.
It's very possible that you might have to be honest and acknowledge that the song wasn't very good to begin with or that you don't have the skill to perform a certain track.

If you don't like the song, then sh!t can the song, start over and try writing a better one.
Maybe you can keep some of the strongest parts of the old song to use in your new one.
If you don't have the skill to perform a track, you need to either keep practicing or find someone else to perform the track you need.


That's exactly what I got from the linked article I originally posted, and what I found personally useful. Sometimes you just have to be brutally honest when things aren't as good as you'd like. Of course some of the sidebar discussions have been pretty interesting as well. Smile
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Rick Schacter


From:
Portland, Or.
Post Posted 20 Jul 2016 4:12 pm     Reply with quote

Regarding the gear that's available to all of us these days:

I wish more people understood that just because you might have a powerful DAW on your laptop/desktop, that alone does not instantly make you an audio engineer.
The gear might be more affordable, but you still need to work really hard to become a great engineer.
There's sooooo much to learn.

The fortunate thing is that you don't need to spend a bunch of money on studio time in order to get the practice/learning in.

Unfortunately, so many people don't put in the time that's necessary.
There is so much audio caca out there now.
I'll bet someone like Graham gets fed up with listening to it sometimes.
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 20 Jul 2016 7:32 pm     Reply with quote

Rick Schacter wrote:
...
There is so much audio caca out there now.


I dunno. From a audio standpoint there is so much more great audio out there today , captured by amateurs, that I can easily overlook the audio caca you speak of. That's a function of the gear we now have at our disposal, no doubt in my mind. When listening to home recordings or even semi pro demos from 30 years ago and comparing the audio quality with what anyone can do today it's pretty obvious that quality has come up tremendously in those segments of the field. I can listen to very good sounding amateur recordings on youtube from now to eternity, it's like home movies shot on VHS vs today's kids shooting killer video on DSLRs despite having no training or knowledge about videography/ photography. Digital makes it possible, no doubt in my mind.

What has taken a turn for the worse IMHO is the higher profile stuff.
The quality of recordings made at the high end of the spectrum during the golden days has no equivalent today, not even close. I don't know if it's the engineering or mastering or both but what gets put into the pipeline by many of todays most successful recoding artists sounds like 100% garbage to my ears, much of what comes out of those big boy studios in Nashville, LA or wherever is unlistenable junk, audio pollution to my ears, YMMV.
That's not to say there aren't good recording being made by many artists today, employing proper studios and engineers, quite the contrary, but when you consider the tools at the disposal of todays' top recording and mixing engineers (the well-known top-40 guys) in relation to the audio quality they achieve it's utterly embarrassing and pathetic.
back in the day the top selling albums were done by guys like Bruce Swedien, Al Schmitt or guys like that. Regardless of the music or what I think of it, the recordings each set a milestone in terms of quality because they were done by guys who knew how to engineer, and by that I mean they learned the craft during an era when consoles had little or no EQ, little or no Compressors, etc, so they learned how to optimize what they had and when they graduated to better tools they knew what was useful and what was to be avoided. Many of today's crop of top engineers appear to be really good at turning lot's of knobs on many fancy devices and maybe they know how to use a million mics on a drumkit or get unique sounds but that's about it and it doesn't make good recordings in my estimation.
Don't believe me? Turn on to any FM radio station with current music in rotation. You can't hear the music, you can't hear identifiable instruments, there's no dynamics, etc, so it must be FM radio's fault, right? Wrong, yes, those Orban Optimods and Finalizers/ maximizers and whatnot may be the final nail in the audio coffin but the damage was done way earlier in the chain, proving that, as far as mainstream popular music is concerned the art of recording is indeed dead. Thankfully there are many capable guys out there bucking this trend and making wonderful recordings, but not for that coveted segment that actually still achieves good sales figures.
My point is that , yes , you can learn to be a good engineer, maybe even by subscribing to YouTube channels by Warren Huart and Dave Pensado but one thing is easily overlooked and relevant IMO.: Modern recording technology has, just like the electric guitar half a century earlier, opened up the field to guys with little ability but plenty of enthusiasm to make up for it. There will be more and more people with zero technical knowledge creating amazing content because they can, just like those electrified guitar-dilettantes did earlier and now we call those recordings "classic".
Just my 2 cents worth of rant.
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Rick Schacter


From:
Portland, Or.
Post Posted 21 Jul 2016 10:46 am     Reply with quote

Werner,
That was quite a rant. Smile


-Yes, I agree that it's entirely possible for someone who has no affiliation with a major label or major studio to create a very nice sounding recording with today's gear.
Provided that they still take the time to learn things like different mic techniques, do lots of critical listening to recordings that they like and have a willingness to experiment and practice would be good idea too.

-Major labels/studios are definitely creating a lot of what I called "audio caca" too.
It's not just amateurs.
I'm sure you're familiar with the "loudness war".

Finally,
Some examples of recordings that I think are masterpieces:

-Almost anything that Alan Parsons did
-Almost anything by Steely Dan (especially Aja and Gaucho).
-Almost anything that Ken Scott did (Breakfast In America, Crime Of The Century, etc.)
- Going waaay back...the Time Out album by Dave Brubeck.

You might disagree and that's fine, but those are the benchmark recordings for me.


Rick
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 21 Jul 2016 2:30 pm     Reply with quote

Rick Schacter wrote:

-Almost anything that Alan Parsons did
-Almost anything by Steely Dan (especially Aja and Gaucho).
-Almost anything that Ken Scott did (Breakfast In America, Crime Of The Century, etc.)
- Going waaay back...the Time Out album by Dave Brubeck.

You might disagree and that's fine, but those are the benchmark recordings for me.


Rick


I don't disagree, even though I don't like the music on any of those albums, but great engineering for sure. Now name an album recorded in the 2000's that can compare in terms of audio achievement AND sold more than 10,000 copies. Cool

I predict that the benchmark recordings of the future will be recorded by people w/o any technical training or inclination to master the field of audio engineering at all. They'll simply approach it the same way Johnny Ramone approached a guitar, they'll just go for it and get lucky sometimes in the same way that you can get lucky taking pictures with a digital camera ,because the attention span required to learn it from the ground up is in rapid decline plus nobody will know or care about what a good recording actually sounds like.
All those things we concern ourselves with when it comes to recording will be met with blank stares of disbelief by those who want to create, not master. I know that look, I see it every day at work. And I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. It just is what it is, (d)evolution, technological innovations destroy the craft of their predecessors.

In a nutshell, while you suggest an idea of employing new technologies in ways that build on fundamentals I'm convinced that new technology will dispose of those fundamentals and create it's own rules and aesthetic.
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Rick Schacter


From:
Portland, Or.
Post Posted 22 Jul 2016 2:42 pm     Reply with quote

werner althaus wrote:
Rick Schacter wrote:

-Almost anything that Alan Parsons did
-Almost anything by Steely Dan (especially Aja and Gaucho).
-Almost anything that Ken Scott did (Breakfast In America, Crime Of The Century, etc.)
- Going waaay back...the Time Out album by Dave Brubeck.

You might disagree and that's fine, but those are the benchmark recordings for me.


Rick


I don't disagree, even though I don't like the music on any of those albums, but great engineering for sure. Now name an album recorded in the 2000's that can compare in terms of audio achievement AND sold more than 10,000 copies. Cool

I predict that the benchmark recordings of the future will be recorded by people w/o any technical training or inclination to master the field of audio engineering at all. They'll simply approach it the same way Johnny Ramone approached a guitar, they'll just go for it and get lucky sometimes in the same way that you can get lucky taking pictures with a digital camera ,because the attention span required to learn it from the ground up is in rapid decline plus nobody will know or care about what a good recording actually sounds like.
All those things we concern ourselves with when it comes to recording will be met with blank stares of disbelief by those who want to create, not master. I know that look, I see it every day at work. And I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. It just is what it is, (d)evolution, technological innovations destroy the craft of their predecessors.

In a nutshell, while you suggest an idea of employing new technologies in ways that build on fundamentals I'm convinced that new technology will dispose of those fundamentals and create it's own rules and aesthetic.



I think most (maybe even all) of what you mentioned is true.
There are a few things that seems to be happening today that bother me a bit.

The short attention span that you mentioned seems to be very widespread these days and as far as I can tell, kids don't have that much of an interest in learning how to play a musical instrument because of it.
Sure there are some who do, but it seems like there aren't as many as when I was growing up.
The other thing that bothers me is that as far as I can tell, almost nobody listens to music for the simple purpose of being entertained by it anymore.
When I was a kid, I was so much of a musical geek, that I would be so excited to bring an album home that I purchased, put it on the turn table, then begin reading all of the album credits while listening to my new album.
I don't think there are very many people these days who could sit through an entire album and they sure don't give a flying rat's a$% about who performed what on the album.
While we live in an amazing age where we have extremely incredible tools available to us for creating music.

I'm afraid that all of this magnificent gear that we have available to us today is mostly being used to create more crappy songs, quicker.
(Yes, I know there are indie artists today who are the exception)

Finally, after putting in all of the hard work to create the best songs that you can, while taking great care to record and mix them the very best that you can, in the end, the listener is most likely going to listen to your music through some ear buds that are plugged into an iPhone.
Bummer.

Rick
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post Posted 23 Jul 2016 7:55 pm     Reply with quote

Rick, imagine a seasoned guitarist in the 1950's/ 1960's listening to the primitive riffage of Link Wray , imagine his comments when he hears Dick Dale for the first time, or , god forbid, that crazy black Dude , playing his Stratocaster with his teeth. Those players were a product of the emerging technology (electric guitars) as well as their unconventional approach to utilize the instrument. Everything you say could have been said at that time, by that guy about those "damn kids too lazy to learn it the right way"
Same thing is happening today and we are the seasoned, yet out of touch guys who lament the decline of everything we hold dear about the subject. I for one don't want to be that guy so i listen to music created for streaming by streaming it on my computer, i don't bother with dissecting the mixes, they aren't made for me, they are made for todays' kids and they sound okay on computers, Ipods and whatnot. fastforward 30 years and today's kids, if they're lucky enough to still hear after spending their youth with those atrocious earbuds cranked to 11 (oh wait, there's no numbers anymore, just that stupid bar on your display, yikes) they'll be bitching the same way. It's only fair, in a cosmic sense, if you know what I mean Very Happy
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
Philippines
Post Posted 5 Oct 2016 8:31 am     Reply with quote

Very interesting thread. I can tell from all that posted that you all thought and think about music and recording from many an aspect.

The clip TTAWYMS is true and good Graham arrives at the reality in a youtube clip.

There are much more talented people today at least youtube makes this apparent. They can sing and play. Ever see the best female guitarist clips on youtube? Dang!!!

The Who song Baba O'Riley comes to mind in a heartbeat!

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland
They're all wasted...


Getting the voice together with the song is the magic. Basically it's been that way.

What sonic recipe makes people sit up and listen changes from generation to generation it seems.

The trick might lie in getting to the soul of the song to be able to span the generation gaps.

If you can listen to Steeley Dan, Breakfast in America, Alan Parsons you can still retain your eye in the sky by listening to Breaking Benjamin if you seek the soul of the endeavor.

Graham made some good basic points but he may have left a few things out by not talking about going for the spirit in the project to be recorded. No matter what song is recorded, there is a spark there. Rhodes scholar Kris Kristofferson's early recordings, back then he was not considered a singer but they pushed him and found a spark. At least he wrote songs so it is said. Ringo Starr? They found the soul of the song and finessed it.

Little by little we were inured to accept a lesser quality from the time of our parents. And the same happened to us and our children.

The test of time will change the face of music and what the future will think was a good recording.

Some who think the Beach Boys laid some profound recordings on the planet will only be laughed at by the millennials. And it's only because we don't have their, the millennials', perspective and they in turn don't have ours. Maybe in time they will change their minds about the Beach Boys, the same way some of the older roaring 20's generation changed their minds about the Beatles 30 years after they hit.

Mixing has evolved. Listen to how the early Beatles, even some Rudy Van Gelder mixes were drums on one side other instruments on the other. What did people know back then? Although with Rudy, he did some better recordings before the Beatles hit and went off in left field (or no field) when Gelder for some strange reason started emulating their, Beatles', off-pan mixes in the 70's. Go figure. Listening to some of these recordings today makes one get vertigo.

The song
the SONG
THE SONG.

Yes even today.

And mixing has changed.


And yes it's all about ear buds and iphone mono speakers. low sub sonic bass. Multiple counter-melodies.

But what it is also about and has been even from the last 60 years is about social engineering.

Music is used and controlled by social engineers. Each generation is trained and saddled with an affected genre of music. And if you stand back and analyze it, if you're noticing things have not got any better is because it hasn't and you're right!

But noting what has Devo-ed and what has progressed is key.

The message has devolved, but the music has maintained the hook features in new ways.

AND it's being done on purpose.

The next phase in social engineering is to raise a generation of mindless beehive mentality. To not be able to recognize what is good any more but dumbing everything down and presenting mediocrity as the new norm via short attention spans. And the social engineers have affected every aspect of the younger generation's lives starting from the cradle with vaccines, food, tv, media, video games to prepare them for the smart phone generation of hunched over finger flickers.

The CIA telling MTV to drop rock rotation and put rap and hip-hop on had nothing to do with the population being hip or astute enough to demand the rise in rap, It was force-fed to people while their minds were erased and reprogrammed to accept it.


In the 60's it was to loosen everyone up, tune-in turn-on drop-out.

Timothy Leary was used by the CIA to infiltrate music circles with LSD, a drug developed by the CIA to use as a weapon. And boy did they make the rounds.

Today it's EDM and the Mkultra crowd. Notice the rave concerts with even the symbolism.



The Monarch butterfly is the symbol chosen by the social engineering CIA for their Monarch mind control programs.

You can see the "wings" as part of the Ultra logo.

And the music along with the videos are crafted with subliminals and suspension of disbelief techniques at these EDM concerts.

You think American Idol was free from mkultra?




As an artist today if you don't follow along with the program you don't get signed. And it's not just music, it's also movies that are promoting artists but based on social engineering plans. How many Disney darlings turned into the wrecking ball known as Miley Cyrus?

Maybe country is the bastion of the true art form but that is changing slowly right before our eyes.

But back to what Graham said you only need a few tools to record properly and recording is something that develops.

But even in the dugout (home studio) among the bench warmers, there are things that can be done to mediocre recordings within reason but it's a matter of finding the spirit that sells within the song. And mixing can be creative enough to turn a silk purse or two from a sow's behind.

So many songs have become hits even if the previous generations thought they sucked.

Ever watch the movie La Bamba? Joe Pantoliano plays Bob Keane? The basement recording scenes between "Keane" and "Richie Valens" (Lou Diamond Phillips) are priceless to anyone aspiring to record.




I imagine when Kelly Clarkson went into the studio with the new Keane on the planet Max Martin that the La Bamba basement studio scenes were reduxed or when she went into the studio with Howard Benson to record I Do Not Hook Up. After the band laid down the tracks it was one-on-one singer-producer screaming and yelling time.

But let's not lose track of social engineering because this is the elephant in the room with more than one head.

It has made/broken and will make/break music, artists and careers no matter what any one thinks of the art.

There is a close knit group tapped by the social engineers to produce the latest trends in music. Same as was done decades ago. These guys are good.

Look at Max Martin's discog.

Whoa!




How to change the status quo when the Pied Piper has not lost his touch...
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Bud Angelotti


From:
Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 5:38 am     Reply with quote

That was quite the post Godfrey! Smile
May I attempt to boil it down from my own personal perspective?
Our family owns an old beach house down at the jersey shore.
I have an old pre-transistor, AM only radio.
We bring the radio down the shore in the spring,(no heat in the house) plug it in. The tubes take a minute or two to light up, and we can hear AM Golden Oldies.
It's like a little time machine! Much fun.
The point as it relates to this thread:
The music we play on this little old radio was recorded to be played on a radio of this general type. The mix is "perfect". The vocals come thru, you can hear subtleties in the instruments. There is static noise! It's part of the experience!
So, why do mixes suck? For all of the reasons stated above, and also, IMHOP, because the mixes are not created to be played back in the MP3 environment that they will be downloaded and listened to.
And the mixes that WERE created for this type of listening environment, well, they really DO suck.
Happy New Year everybody!
Smile Smile
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
Philippines
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 9:44 am     Reply with quote

Bud Angelotti wrote:

And the mixes that WERE created for this type of listening environment, well, they really DO suck.
Happy New Year everybody!
Smile Smile


Happy New Year Bud and to all!

That brings up the Caruso effect. The reason he went over was because his voice sounded proper for the old victrola megahorn they used back in the day.







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Alan Brookes


From:
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Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 11:21 am     Reply with quote

I remember, during the 60s, trying to replicate the sound that I heard from Huddie Ledbetter and Woody Guthrie, and never could. In retrospect, the reason they sounded that way was because of the inaccuracies of the recording process that added colour and overtones to the recordings. My Ferrograph tape recorders were too accurate to replicate that. One of my friends cut a half inch of rubber tube and slipped it over the drive spindle, and it introduced so much wow that the sound changed enormously. We didn't leave it on, of course, but we were experimenting. I later slipped that same piece of tube over the drive spindle of my tape echo unit, which created a completely different effect. Of course, it also speeded up the tape, so it changed the timing of the echo.
We had fun in those days. Winking
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
Philippines
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 12:30 pm     Reply with quote

Alan Brookes wrote:
One of my friends cut a half inch of rubber tube and slipped it over the drive spindle, and it introduced so much wow that the sound changed enormously. We didn't leave it on, of course, but we were experimenting. I later slipped that same piece of tube over the drive spindle of my tape echo unit, which created a completely different effect. Of course, it also speeded up the tape, so it changed the timing of the echo.
We had fun in those days. Winking



That's innovative Alan. I'm going to try that on my Space Echo.
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Bud Angelotti


From:
Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 3:05 pm     Reply with quote

I hope it's OK with b0b that I post this-
It's a book.

Title:
The Tipping Point
How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Author:
Gladwell, Malcolm
Subject:
Psychology
Nonfiction
Description:
Why did crime in New York drop in the middle of the 90s? Why is teenage smoking out of control? Why are television shows like Sesame Street good at teaching kids how to read? In The Tipping Point, New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at why major changes in society happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a few fare-beaters and graffiti artists fuel a subway crime wave, or a satisfied customer fill the empty tables of a new restaurant. These are social epidemics, and the moment when they take off, when they reach their critical mass, is the Tipping Point.Gladwell uncovers the personality types who are natural pollinators of new ideas and trends. He analyzes fashion trends, smoking, children's television, direct mail, and the early days of the American Revolution for clues about making ideas infectious.The Tipping Point is an intellectual adventure story with an infectious enthusiasm for the power and joy of new ideas. Most of all, it is a road map to change, with a profoundly hopeful message: that one imaginative person applying a well-placed lever can move the world.
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 4:05 pm     Reply with quote

Bud Angelotti wrote:
I hope it's OK with b0b that I post this-It's a book...

It doesn't seem to be a book with any relevance to Steel Guitars, and definitely not about the topic of this posting, which is about audio mixing.
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Bud Angelotti


From:
Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 29 Dec 2016 7:38 pm     Reply with quote

I said if it's OK with b0b. Not with you Alan. Mad
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post Posted 30 Dec 2016 7:16 am     Reply with quote

When I was an engineer for the BBC much of what we did was live, and we really only had one way of working. When we made recordings the object was to convey the performance, not to create something else. Multitrack did come along, but it was only really used to refine things a bit, not to change the overall sound (which was established by the band, not the producer, who had booked them as an act, not a raw material).

Early on in my career I had to mix a large orchestra straight down to stereo (using about 30 mics). I'd done this plenty of times before and would continue to do so, but on this occasion it just wouldn't gel and I was beginning to panic a little inside. The producer (a much older guy) leaned forward and said quietly "Don't worry, it isn't you". He got on with his job of encouraging the artists and it didn't sound too bad in the end.

Later I did some proper multitrack sessions with rock bands, but the first run-through would always tell me whether we were going to get something good. No amount of technology can fashion a silk purse from any part of a sow.
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Michael Hibner


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Mississippi, USA
Post Posted 22 Jan 2017 11:46 am     Reply with quote

There are a lot of factors that make the recordings of yesteryears so good. To start with they had more feeling. You can't set a metronome to most recordings of the fifties and sixties, the tempos were all over the map but they all sound in the pocket. They all got in the room and counted it off... one... two... three ...four...and then they played the song all together. There was microphone bleed, from track to track, and the engineers slamed the tape with the hottest signal possible that gave that warm great sounding tape saturation. Also, vacuum tubes, transformers, and point to point wiring hasn't been improved on in terms of tone.
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