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Question for the Pro's (Led Zep subject matter):


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i don't own the CD. and honestly, that difference can be attributed to many possibilities, if there is a difference. i need to read or hear an interview where page or someone in the know say's, "btw, we sped up all of our records after the first."

the two main reasons people like srv and hendrix tuned down was to help with heavy strings and high action. i think for jimi's vocals it helped too.

maybe an official zep site might track down a quote.

but, i don't care enough right now to do anything else. i am just voicing my opinion why i do not believe it. and, if one day i find out that it is true.....i will be surprised.

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And I have good equipment. I can get a guitar sounding awesome.

 

But I can't get it sounding like those old recordings.

 

And IMHO, you probably won't, unless you go to extreme measures to replicate what they used. :)

 

I've made it a bit of a hobby to do occasional "Faithful" versions of various recordings that I like; where I try to cop the sound, feel, arrangements, etc. of the originals as closely as possible. It's a great learning exercise and I highly recommend trying it sometime. :) What you quickly learn is that if you only have a Telecaster available, it's kinda hard to get it to sound like say, a Gretsch that was used on the recording you're trying to emulate. ;)

 

I've said it many times, but here it is again: SOURCES MATTER.

 

Anyone have any idea of what model acoustic JP was using on the recordings in question? I sure don't - my apologies, but although Zep was probably the biggest band in the world when I was in high school, I wasn't a huge fan at the time, so I'm not the guy to give you definitive answers on their methodology or instruments. Sure, I know JP used Supros on some stuff, and doubleneck Gibsons, and Les Pauls live (I'm sure in the studio too, and I've heard they were modified...), and a Tele on Stairway, and he produced, and they used a lot of room sound (wasn't some of their stuff done on a boat or barge?), and Bonham used Ludwig Vistalites with a 26" kick drum (IIRC) on many of their recordings, and IIRC, the early stuff was 16 track, but beyond that, you're going past my limited knowledge of their recordings. :o

 

But I can say this much: Without that same model of acoustic, with the same type of strings and pick, and the same basic type of room and signal chain, and a guitarist who can cop JP's playing style and feel / phrasing, it's going to VERY hard to duplicate that sound. Digital vs analog is the least of your worries - I think it can probably be done fairly closely with a digital system, and that's probably a lesser part of the tonal equation than the guitarist and the instrument...

 

Did LZ use varispeed? I don't know. It's certainly possible, and that was certainly not an UN-common technique back then. It wasn't only used to make things easier to sing, but also for timbral / tonal reasons. McCartney is capable of singing pretty high when he wants to, and has a beautiful head voice ("falsetto"), but they used varispeed on his voice on numerous recordings anyway (examples - Penny Lane, Here, There And Everywhere, etc.) to change its timbre... IOW, sometimes it's a matter of sonic preference and tonality as opposed to a crutch or fix for a singer who can't quite hang with the song in a given key. :)

 

Bruce Swedien sent me a recent remix of a classic Chi-Lites song called Oh Girl that he served as the engineer on back in the early 1970's. On the original there is a pitch issue, and it isn't on the remix, and I noticed it right away (perfect pitch does have its uses ;):o ), and so I asked him about it. Turns out it was an issue with the tape deck that he had struggled with back in the day. The point is, sometimes tape stretches, and sometimes machines run at slightly different speeds from other machines (and multiple decks in multiple rooms are often used on projects...), and some decks play at different speeds depending on where you're at on the tape - start / head of the reel, near the tail, etc. Analog had it's quirks too, and that's a variable that has to be taken into consideration.

 

Was the pre-echo on the breakdown of Whole Lotta Love a intentional thing that the engineers added, or was it the result of someone storing the tape "heads out" for too long? Beats me - but it's a cool effect either way. :)

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As far as famous people go, we have a few who show up here from time to time, and they're always welcome. :) So are complete rookies. :) I only ask that everyone treat each other with decency, civility and respect, no matter what their status or level of expertise. Noobs shouldn't be made to feel unwelcome or belittled for their lack of knowledge, and pros should share their experience and knowledge with them.

 

Differences of opinion are bound to arise, and that's fine - but I do ask that everyone remain civil, and present their position without resorting to name calling or other insults. Please remember the motto: Be excellent to one another. :wave:

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Was the pre-echo on the breakdown of Whole Lotta Love a intentional thing that the engineers added, or was it the result of someone storing the tape "heads out" for too long? Beats me - but it's a cool effect either way.
:)



No doubt- if they didn't mean to do it, then talk about a happy accident...

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standard A tuning is what i mean. if the instruments are there i hope the voice is.


varispeed for a song or two is different than all albums.

 

 

Just for clarification:

 

I don't remember which albums or whatever they used varispeed on. I know that they used it numerous times, but I couldn't tell you which ones or whatever or whether it was for every album. And I've only heard about them using varispeed on the vocals, not on the instruments.

 

I'm not trying to convince you one way or the other. I just know that I read it before. A lot of Zeppelin fans don't believe it, and I remember that when someone mentioned this on a Zeppelin forum before, a lot of people really got pissed off and flamed the guy.

 

The only way I know this is from reading various books and magazines throughout the years. I've read so many articles on them that I really don't know which magazine or book said what. I do know that I've read it more than once.

 

I don't know about the other stuff, like the circus drum or whatever. The only thing I know that's "different" about the kick drum is what I mentioned earlier - the aluminum foil inside the kick. And I don't know how often he did it, but I know that Bonham did it in the early days.

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And I have good equipment. I can get a guitar sounding awesome.


But I can't get it sounding like those old recordings.


And IMHO, you probably won't, unless you go to extreme measures to replicate what they used.
:)

I've made it a bit of a hobby to do occasional "Faithful" versions of various recordings that I like; where I try to cop the sound, feel, arrangements, etc. of the originals as closely as possible. It's a great learning exercise and I highly recommend trying it sometime.
:)
What you quickly learn is that if you only have a Telecaster available, it's kinda hard to get it to sound like say, a Gretsch that was used on the recording you're trying to emulate.
;)

I've said it many times, but here it is again: SOURCES MATTER.



Yeah, that's exactly right. I'm missing a LOT of things, too, which is what I'm trying to say in this thread. I'm missing Jimmy Page (he just doesn't come around much anymore... :D ), his guitar, his room, strings, yadda yadda, long before it gets to the signal chain (much of which I don't have either, such as the compressors, mics, going through a juicy Neve board, going to tape, etc. etc.).

So...I wasn't really expecting to get that sound with what I have. But it's fun to see how close I can get even if I don't have that other stuff. You know, I run my acoustic guitar through the Neve Portico on Silk Mode...okay, it's a little closer. Then I run it through the FMR RNLA. Well, it's colored, and it sounds kinda fun. Doesn't really sound like that vintage sound, but y'know, it sounds pretty damn good. I run it through a couple of Pulteq plug-ins or a Bomb Factory LA2A compressor....ehhh, doesn't do too much for more vintage sounds - kinda effs up the sound in a way I'm not going for...but I'm having fun... :D

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Just for interest's sake, I Googled stuff about Plant's vocals being pitched up and found a few references. Whether you believe it or not is up to you. Some of the things I found are obviously more dubious than others! :D Okay, enjoy!!!

 

 

 

"No Quarter" was recorded in 1972 at Island Studios, London. It was engineered by Andy Johns and also mixed by Johns at Olympic Studios, London. The version that made it to the album evolved out of a faster version they recorded earlier at Headley Grange, an old mansion in East Hampshire, England. Jimmy Page applied vari-speed to drop the whole song a semi-tone, in order to give it a thicker and more intense mood.[1]

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Quarter_(song)

 

`~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Achilles Last Stand" is one of the longest songs in the Led Zeppelin catalogue, at 10 minutes and 22 seconds. It is famous for John Bonham's immensely powerful drumming, John Paul Jones's galloping bass line (played on a custom Alembic made eight string bass), Jimmy Page's overdubbed orchestral guitar arrangement (the dozen or so guitar tracks having been recorded in Munich in a single session), and a dramatic, epic guitar solo which is considered by many to be among Page's best. It has similar qualities to a song in the speed metal genre. Jimmy Page applied vari-speed during production of this song to speed it up, one of the few times he employed that device in the studio for Led Zeppelin songs.[2]

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achilles_Last_Stand

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"The Song Remains The Same"

Plant's vocals were sped-up.

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=340

 

The studio version of the track has slightly sped-up vocals, making his voice attain an even higher pitch than usual.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_Remains_the_Same_(song)

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Except for "The Crunge," which closes Side 1, the first side of Houses of the Holy is extremely strong. The exuberant "The Song Remains the Same" leads it off. The music is fast and upbeat and Robert Plant seems to feed off of that, singing such off-the-cuff lyrics as "Sing out Hare Hare/Dance the Hoochie Koo." Though exuberant, it sounds like Plant ingested helium and is ready to burst--tell me they sped up the vocal track and that's not his natural voice.

http://www.epinions.com/content_300637458052

(no, that's no proof, but it sure is fun!! :D )

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Houses of the Holy" album review:

The final highlight on the album is the opening title track which stands as a tour de force of production with about a hundred guitars overdubbed and Plant's vocals artificially sped up.

http://www.jackfeenyreviews.com/ledzeppelin.htm

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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McCartney is capable of singing pretty high when he wants to, and has a beautiful head voice ("falsetto"), but they used varispeed on his voice on numerous recordings anyway (examples - Penny Lane, Here, There And Everywhere, etc.) to change its timbre... IOW, sometimes it's a matter of sonic preference and tonality as opposed to a crutch or fix for a singer who can't quite hang with the song in a given key.

 

 

Exactly what i'm saying. McCartney could sing his ass off and was rock solid live. Robert Plant is one of my favorite vocalists ever, and was definately no slouch, but I dare anyone to produce a live performance of his where he duplicates the power he sang with on "Immigrant Song". It's just too high, almost to the point of being inhuman.

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Was the pre-echo on the breakdown of Whole Lotta Love a intentional thing that the engineers added, or was it the result of someone storing the tape "heads out" for too long? Beats me - but it's a cool effect either way.
:)



Dr. Phil:

I do remember reading a few years bnack about the recording of Whole Lotta Love that the pre-echo was a recording glitch that, once heard, the engineer wanted to eliminate (record again; whatever) and that Page said absolutely not, that he dug the sound (as do most of us LZ fans).

Ah, my earlier college days (went to five schools before finally getting the degree)! But driving my first car, a '65 Mustang 289 3-speed on the floor up to William Paterson College (now Univ) in NJ usually involved a listen of Zep's first two albums --- on my 8-track Panasonic player! I actually liked the first 3 albums better than the 4th (probably the most popular). The mix of electric and acoustic guitars, layered as they were, was "music" to my ears.:cool:

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Exactly what i'm saying. McCartney could sing his ass off and was rock solid live. Robert Plant is one of my favorite vocalists ever, and was definately no slouch, but I dare anyone to produce a live performance of his where he duplicates the power he sang with on "Immigrant Song". It's just too high, almost to the point of being inhuman.

 

 

That and "The Song Remains The Same" (studio) just reek of being pitched up (vocally, obviously). And yes, I'm sure this was done for effect, as it is pitched up so much that the timbre of the voice has seriously changed.

 

You'd also be surprised at how many times varispeed was used to knock things ever-so-slightly off for a slight detuning effect. A common trick that I used to do - and I'm sure I'm not alone - was to record a guitar pass with the varispeed nudged really slightly off, flat, and then record another guitar pass with the varispeed nudged really slightly sharp just to thicken the sound slightly. A great trick which I learned from an engineer a long time ago. You can apply this to other instruments or vocals or whatever as well. The net effect is not really noticeable, but it sounds thicker, and since it's mechanical, the effect is different from using chorus or a plug-in or an effects box.

 

You can mimic this effect somewhat by using an Eventide pitch-shifter, and turning a vocal, guitar, keyboard or whatever several cents sharp and panning that, and then also pitching it several cents flat. Same idea. Sounds different from the varispeed, but is utterly cool (Peter Gabriel does this all the time with his vocals).

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Oh man, I still have nightmares using Eventides to correct vocals. If I'd used them the way you're talking about, I would've actually had fun using them. Thanks for the idea. May be worth picking up an old 910. The new digital ones look promising, but I don't trust them as much to give me the effect you're talking about.

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It works really well. Obviously, you have to be quite tasteful with it. Small increments, and you tweak the levels on either side to get it nice and thick without it sounding artificial (unless you want that, obviously). PG said in an interview that he feels "naked" without one, and apparently even gigs with one of those in his vocal chain, according to Mix Magazine.

I'm surprised that no one's leaped down my throat saying that they don't believe Peter Gabriel would ever "stoop" to this level, and how the internet is rife with misinformation (without, of course, bothering to investigate it for themselves before flaming). :D

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On varispeed:

 

That's one of the main things from the old analog days that I really miss. Okay, I don't really miss it, because I found a way to get it back, but the point is, most DAW programs lack a varispeed control. More's the pity, because it can be a very useful creative and problem solving tool (see Ken's excellent post above). However, many stand alone SIAB's (studio in a box - Yamaha AW's, Roland VS's, etc.) include varispeed.

 

How to add varispeed to your DAW:

 

Well, you can get a master word clock that has varispeed control (IIRC, the Big Ben has that feature), but not many clocks have that capability - my Lucid certainly doesn't have it. :( However, Pro Tools and most DAW's can sync to external clocks at +/- of 5 to 10% above or below the target fs (sampling frequency). That means if you feed it a word clock signal that is a bit faster or slower than your sample rate, it will speed up or slow down accordingly.

 

I keep one old ADAT deck on hand for just this purpose. I don't record to it, I just use it for a variable clock source when I need varispeed. Route the lightpipe out of your ADAT deck into your lightpipe in on your DAW interface. I'll use Pro Tools as an example, since that's what I use the majority of the time. In the PT software, go into your hardware setup menu and change the clock from internal to ADAT. Make sure your ADAT in is set for ADAT and not optical S/PDIF. Now you can use your ADAT's pitch controls to control the clocking speed of your PT system, pitching it up or down as needed. :)

 

On pitch shifting:

 

I'm a big fan of that. No, I don't miss the old analog era days of sampling a phrase and flying it somewhere else on the reel, or using MIDI and a Harmonizer to "correct" out of tune notes, but I do find detuning useful. It's different than a varispeed type of effect, and different than true double tracking (IOW, having the singer or musician play or sing the part again), but a little of a dual pitch shifter, with one side a few cents sharp and the other set a few cents flat can do cool things on BGV parts, some guitar parts, etc. You can also do this with your DAW by making a couple of clones of the track and then using your DAW's tools to pitch shift the clones up and down by a few cents, but if you go that route, make sure you have the option of adjusting pitch without affecting the file length. But that's more hassle than I usually want to mess with, and so I usually will use a outboard processor such as the Yamaha SPX-900 for the dual pitch detuning stuff.

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Marshall, if you're using a TDM system (Pro Tools HD), Eventide now makes a plug in bundle called Anthology that offers lots of cool tools - you might want to check that out. It would certainly be more powerful / flexible than an old 910, and getting parts for a 910 and keeping it in service isn't exactly a trivial concern at this point. If you prefer hardware over plug ins, I'd suggest checking out an Eclipse. The 910 was amazing back in its era, but it's pretty old / tired these days. :)

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On varispeed:



How to add varispeed to your DAW (snipped):


That means if you feed it a word clock signal that is a bit faster or slower than your sample rate, it will speed up or slow down accordingly.


I keep one old ADAT deck on hand for just this purpose. I don't record to it, I just use it for a variable clock source when I need varispeed.



Hey Phil, when you do this, you ever try pressing yer fingers against the flanges of the ADAT to get that beautiful variable sweep? ;)

I hear Led Zeppelin did this all the time with their ADATs to get their flange sound. ;);):D

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It would certainly be more powerful / flexible than an old 910, and getting parts for a 910 and keeping it in service isn't exactly a trivial concern at this point.

 

 

Thanks for reminding me about the most important issue with vintage gear-maintenance. I remember those old Neves that had to have at least one channel swapped out by a tech every session. Rented Pultecs would also crap out quite often. And maybe someone else has had a Fairchild that worked perfectly every time, but was about 30% for me, including 2 bad ones in one session.

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Yeah, I would think that if you actually attempted that, it'd glitch all over the place. Have you tried that already, just for giggles and you-know-what?

Actually, it has come up for discussion! :D When we were working on John McGill's Journey From La La, (spamalertcoolguygreatmaterialbuyhiscd :) ) John and I talked about using the sounds of various ADAT glitches, but never actually did. There's a really cool (in a bizarre sort of way) sound they'll make occasionally that's sort of like a digitalized / quantized version of a analog tape deck spooling up to (or slowing down from) speed that would have been cool to capture and use, but it's so random that you'd have to wait forever to capture it... and I never came around to digging the idea and distraction of running a DAT deck on the main stereo bus for days and weeks at a time "just in case" it happened. ;) But the varispeed glitching - that's easier to grab. :)

John's a blast to work with in the studio. Not only is he a talented artist, but he's a MIT / Caltech trained physicist, so we get to have our share of tech and theory conversations - about 10% of which I manage to keep up with. :o:D
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Thanks for reminding me about the most important issue with vintage gear-maintenance. I remember those old Neves that had to have at least one channel swapped out by a tech every session.

 

Plenty of cool Neve, Neve clone, and Neve-esque preamp choices available today though. :) AMS-Neve, Great River, Vintech, Chameleon Labs, Brett Averill, Rupert Neve Designs, etc. etc.

 

Rented Pultecs would also crap out quite often.

 

CoughManleycough. :thu:

 

And maybe someone else has had a Fairchild that worked perfectly every time, but was about 30% for me, including 2 bad ones in one session.

 

Not to mention the sheer cost involved in re-tubing one. ;) Didn't someone clone it? :confused: Even if they did, it's still going to be a monster, take a ton of tubes and cost a lot. :(

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Plenty of cool Neve, Neve clone, and Neve-esque preamp choices available today though. AMS-Neve, Great River, Vintech, Chameleon Labs, Brett Averill, Rupert Neve Designs, etc. etc.

 

 

I use the Waves Neve plugin for portability, how does it stack up? And has anyone used the Manley? I was just wondering about coloration, because I actually loved the coloration of the original on my basses.

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