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Vito Corleone

Asking opinions of the engineers here: why are older recordings so often so much better?

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13 hours ago, Red Ant said:

My "music sensei" (guitar/theory teacher, mentor, close friend) insists that everything changed - and not for the better - with the introduction of the click track.  The musicians may still be human, but they're locked into a temporal straightjacket, if you will... it robs the music of its breath, which is essential for imparting human feeling. Im not 100% sold on his theory, but it does make a great deal of sense. 

Having made hundreds if not thousands of recordings, both with click and without, i can certainly attest that the results are different, and not just in how tight the performance is. 

Its always easier for an engineer if the musicians use a click, but whenever I record musicians who have "good time" I will usually lobby for them to forgo the click and play "free". And I never use a click on any of my own group recordings.

I`ve made 4 or 5 albums(cough) with bands and a couple on my own, with a dedicated engineer. I NEVER liked the click track. There always seemed a tendency for the band as a whole to speed up against the click track as the song advanced, and that was probably because there was never one used at practice.

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18 minutes ago, Red Ant said:

I think its absolutely essential - vital, even - to practice with a click. So that you don't need one to record :lol:

And in my experience, if you want to "learn time" its equally essential to keep the click on 2 and 4, only.

Yes and set to 1 and 3 learning to resolve on the downbeats.

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My opinion? Producers and engineers fool around so much with the recording to fit the "formula" that they beat the life out of it. Another, listening to a violin concerto is usually handled by cream of the crop musicians so it will sound better. Rock & Roll? It's not supposed to be very good in the first place. JMHO

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7 hours ago, Telecruiser said:

My opinion? Producers and engineers fool around so much with the recording to fit the "formula" that they beat the life out of it. 

While I've certainly witnessed my share of this, I have to call bs on the assumption that this is general practice. 

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7 hours ago, Telecruiser said:

My opinion? Producers and engineers fool around so much with the recording to fit the "formula" that they beat the life out of it. Another, listening to a violin concerto is usually handled by cream of the crop musicians so it will sound better. Rock & Roll? It's not supposed to be very good in the first place. JMHO

I will share this. I once bought 8 hours, $75 an hour, at a really nice studio. I had 3 guys, myself, a bass player and a drummer. A lot of the time was spent making drum samples from his hits on his kit, fine. But we knocked it out in a few takes. It took a LOONG time for my vocals(original 1950`s C12) The guy became really interested in the song. He had me layer it with a Telecaster and a Rick 12 string. All in all, he spent 12 hours on it, bought us food, and had bags under his eyes when he came out. He said "we don`t have these good of songs come through very often" so he spent 4 hours free time because he enjoyed it. I`ve posted this a lot, but I know some are going to want to hear it. So this is an SSL 4048E -Otari MX-80 2" and I don`t know what else. This was recorded around 1998. It`s old news to most everyone here.

https://app.box.com/s/4be7250990c926505421

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9 hours ago, Red Ant said:

I think its absolutely essential - vital, even - to practice with a click. So that you don't need one to record :lol:

And in my experience, if you want to "learn time" its equally essential to keep the click on 2 and 4, only.

There is a great YouTube video by Victor Wooten about playing with a metronome.  He states that the objective is to ween one's self from it.

It's a bit of a plug for Korg but here it is...

 

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14 minutes ago, onelife said:

There is a great YouTube video by Victor Wooten about playing with a metronome.  He states that the objective is to ween one's self from it.

It's a bit of a plug for Korg but here it is...

 

Vic knows what he's talking about. 

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18 minutes ago, Red Ant said:

Vic knows what he's talking about. 

Indeed...

img_5309-e1515333101726.jpg?w=1242

 

 

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1 hour ago, redEL34 said:

I will share this. I once bought 8 hours, $75 an hour, at a really nice studio. I had 3 guys, myself, a bass player and a drummer. A lot of the time was spent making drum samples from his hits on his kit, fine. But we knocked it out in a few takes. It took a LOONG time for my vocals(original 1950`s C12) The guy became really interested in the song. He had me layer it with a Telecaster and a Rick 12 string. All in all, he spent 12 hours on it, bought us food, and had bags under his eyes when he came out. He said "we don`t have these good of songs come through very often" so he spent 4 hours free time because he enjoyed it. I`ve posted this a lot, but I know some are going to want to hear it. So this is an SSL 4048E -Otari MX-80 2" and I don`t know what else. This was recorded around 1998. It`s old news to most everyone here.

https://app.box.com/s/4be7250990c926505421

Wow, that`s insanely good. Everyone is on spot.

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1 hour ago, onelife said:

Indeed...

img_5309-e1515333101726.jpg?w=1242

 

 

I've got an autographed copy... I used to work for Loud, Inc. which had Ampeg as one of its brands, and part of my gig was doing Ampeg clinics with varuous people, Vic being one of them. I've spent many, many hours on drives talking music with Vic, and more than a few hours jamming, sometimes in the course of the clinics. Was a great experience, and Vic is a sweetheart of a person... though his mysticism does absolutely nothing for me ;)

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2 minutes ago, Red Ant said:

I've got an autographed copy... I used to work for Loud, Inc. which had Ampeg as one of its brands, and part of my gig was doing Ampeg clinics with varuous people, Vic being one of them. I've spent many, many hours on drives talking music with Vic, and more than a few hours jamming, sometimes in the course of the clinics. Was a great experience, and Vic is a sweetheart of a person... though his mysticism does absolutely nothing for me ;)

I've never met the man but from what I know of him I have a great deal of respect. I got the book after hearing an interview with him on the radio.

I really like the premise behind his Bass and Nature Camp which he talked about in both the interview and the book.

 

As for the song, I've articulated some of my ideas about 'mysticism' on this forum so you may understand why I posted it. I would love to have the chance to discuss it with Victor. You were fortunate to have the opportunity.

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On 8/24/2019 at 8:57 AM, moogerfooger said:

Engineers have so many choices in post theses days that they spend less time on the input side and employ the fix it in the mix method.  Thinking you can make a silk purse out of a sows ear leads to more sows ears and less silk purses 

Its the exact opposite for me, since the advent of digital I focus even more on the input side - that's your last chance to make it warm and musical. 

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On 8/24/2019 at 8:57 AM, moogerfooger said:

Engineers have so many choices in post theses days that they spend less time on the input side and employ the fix it in the mix method.  Thinking you can make a silk purse out of a sows ear leads to more sows ears and less silk purses

You can't polish a turd.

But you can roll it in glitter.

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On 8/24/2019 at 6:57 AM, moogerfooger said:

Engineers have so many choices in post theses days that they spend less time on the input side and employ the fix it in the mix method.  Thinking you can make a silk purse out of a sows ear leads to more sows ears and less silk purses 

I was reading a bit where Geoff Emerick talked about bouncing on a four track. It's a destructive process so they had to 'commit' to mixes earlier the project than we do now. He also pointed out that if they came up with a good idea that didn't quite fit the bounced mix, they couldn't use it.

In the mid '90s I was working in a ProTools studio and taking advantage of the new to me editing power of the program (I became particularly fond of the Undo feature). I was asked to create a soundtrack for a short animation project but was only given an hour to to it The animator gave me a time line with descriptions like "frenzied" and "quieter." I quickly played and recorded the bits and put it together within the time frame and it turned out really well for the client.

I thought about how I would have been overly critical of my playing and, had I been given eight hours to do the project I probably would have made more use of the technology and possibly ruined the freshness of my original tracks.

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I think the digital vs. analog thing may have something to do with it, but I don't fully understand the science behind it.

I think analog tape adds a bit of "heft" that digital has come closer to in the last few years, but maybe still isn't quite there yet.

I equate digital recording to CGI in films.  Has it improved dramatically since its infancy?  Yes.  

Is it perfect?   No.

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players were better then, engineers were better then, equipment was more misical 

or it is just another example of selection bias

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They simply don't make 'em like they used to.

Has anyone bought a car, or appliance in the last 10 or 15 years?

Heck, it seems like they've all but quit writing new movies.

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In my opinion...

 

Beatles Revolver is one of my favorite records.  The strings on Eleanor Rigby are some of the best sounding strings I've heard.  And as far as digital goes, Revolver was one of the first CDs I bought.  I had never heard the background vocals on I'm only sleeping until I got the CD.  I certainly didn't think the CD sounded worse than the vinyl.

Revolver came out in 1966.

Another favorite record is Axis Bold As Love.

Although the musical performance is awesome and a few of the studio tricks are cool, I think Axis is incredibly poorly recorded.  Axis came out a year after Revolver and as far as I know, they used an 8 track recorder.  Why does Revolver sound better?  My guess is the engineers weren't stoned and monitoring the mixes at 110 dB.

There is nothing wrong with digital.  What I've found is that analog tape applies multi-band compression and harmonic distortion, and a lot of engineers who don't really understand what's happening, like that effect.  Same with outboard gear.  Distortion.  And if that's the sound you want and you know how to get it, you can do so with digital.

 

Zip

 

 

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On 8/24/2019 at 6:57 AM, moogerfooger said:

Engineers have so many choices in post theses days that they spend less time on the input side and employ the fix it in the mix method.  Thinking you can make a silk purse out of a sows ear leads to more sows ears and less silk purses 

 

Q. What did the Pro Tools engineer say to the band after they played the worst take he’d ever heard in his life?

A. That will do... come on in. ;)

 

Smart artists (and producers) make sure the band is well prepared / rehearsed before they come in. Often engineers are expected to fix things when the artists are less prepared. If you can get them to do it via another take (or ten), that’s generally preferable, but sometimes it actually is faster for the engineer to just fix it and move on... but it is nearly always better if the band is prepared and can come in and nail things themselves, even if they need a few punches here and there to do it. 

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18 hours ago, Tom Hicks said:

You can't polish a turd.

But you can roll it in glitter.

Actually Mythbusters disproved the first sentence. You actually CAN polish a turd. The question is, why would you want to? And the answer is, because the band / label is paying you to do so... ;) 

 

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Posted (edited)

I agree that back in the late 50's and early 60's they seemed to really have it down to a science. And fidelity was critical back then. 

My hobby is vinyl, and I am constantly amazed at the quality of the masters used to create some of my older LP's - Even some of the live stuff. This is probably not relevant in your case, but before the oil embargo, they were not really using any recycled vinyl, meaning some of those old pressings also sounded pretty impressive.

One artist I recently rediscovered is Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Sure, some of the recordings seem to be influenced by the Wall of Sound, but some are truly amazing, as are the arrangements and the musicianship. There is a reason there are a couple of copies of that stuff at every garage sale and Goodwill in the country. He sold a ton of it. People liked it.

I have not figured out how to post videos beyond just including the link, but this is relevant, I think. It's called "Recording, '50s style: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q-scxybnp0

Edited by Easy Listener

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On 8/24/2019 at 11:52 PM, redEL34 said:

I will share this. I once bought 8 hours, $75 an hour, at a really nice studio. I had 3 guys, myself, a bass player and a drummer. A lot of the time was spent making drum samples from his hits on his kit, fine. But we knocked it out in a few takes. It took a LOONG time for my vocals(original 1950`s C12) The guy became really interested in the song. He had me layer it with a Telecaster and a Rick 12 string. All in all, he spent 12 hours on it, bought us food, and had bags under his eyes when he came out. He said "we don`t have these good of songs come through very often" so he spent 4 hours free time because he enjoyed it. I`ve posted this a lot, but I know some are going to want to hear it. So this is an SSL 4048E -Otari MX-80 2" and I don`t know what else. This was recorded around 1998. It`s old news to most everyone here.

https://app.box.com/s/4be7250990c926505421

 

On 8/25/2019 at 1:24 AM, redEL34 said:

Wow, that`s insanely good. Everyone is on spot.

I'm sorry, but are you praising your own work?  :confused2:

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Somwhere we went from recording the instruments  and assembling a song to assembling the instruments  to record a song.

The musicians went from providing a performance to providing a texture.  

We've all heard it: "We need some (name an instrument) here."  The result is a lack of expression and the more tracks you add and tweak the more clarity suffers. 

I think ears seek that clarity and the more auditory information you layer on the tougher their job gets.

Listen to  Miles Davis There's the  drums, there's the bass over there a bit to the right and the piano to the left and in comes the horn, central. Each in his space. Try that with a Madonna track .

When you had 8 tracks or even 4 each track was a full component. Give a producer 64 tracks the likelihood of leaving 56 unused is almost zero, that's human nature.

Just my 2cents :)

 

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I agree that only the cream of the crop had a chance to record back then. It's not really a question of analog vs. digital, imho...

On the plus side, we can all play engineer as a hobby or for fun, because the equipment needed is affordable to almost anyone. That's a plus. I remember struggling to get clear sound with a Tascam cassette 4-track. I don't miss those days. Only the good music from back then. 

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41 minutes ago, Chordite said:

Somwhere we went from recording the instruments  and assembling a song to assembling the instruments  to record a song.

The musicians went from providing a performance to providing a texture.  

We've all heard it: "We need some (name an instrument) here."  The result is a lack of expression and the more tracks you add and tweak the more clarity suffers. 

I think ears seek that clarity and the more auditory information you layer on the tougher their job gets.

Listen to  Miles Davis There's the  drums, there's the bass over there a bit to the right and the piano to the left and in comes the horn, central. Each in his space. Try that with a Madonna track .

When you had 8 tracks or even 4 each track was a full component. Give a producer 64 tracks the likelihood of leaving 56 unused is almost zero, that's human nature.

Just my 2cents :)

 

I was just recently listening to “Kind of Blue” for probably the 7th millionth time and one of the reasons this album never gets old to me is the way it was recorded and sounds.  

Another 3-track masterpiece.  I don’t know how they mic’d things up for this one but the soundstage is fabulous.  That they could create so much space and depth with the recording is a work of art.  Using the 30th St studio didn’t hurt either. Lol.  That room, an old church, was crazy good.  

This is another recording where there is a “surround” version available that spreads the 3 tracks across the front.   On this one they did a trick where they played the album back in a studio and placed two mics in the back of the room and used that to create ambient sound for the rear speakers.   You don’t really anything coming out of them specifically, but it is just enough to give you more of a feeling of being in the studio with the band.  

Too bad 30th St is no longer around so they could have done it there.  But I personally like the result. 

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