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nat whilk II

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Posts posted by nat whilk II


  1. I don't gripe, just notice and treat them and don't take them seriously. I don't watch, but then I haven't watched any broadcast or cable TV in over 25 years - with the exception of rented movies in the mail from Netflix (that's the only time the TV goes on).

     

    Promotion is promotion, and whenever an industry awards itself, sooner or later it will be taken over by promotion. As long as you understand that, you won't get upset over who was snubbed and who won.

     

    Insights and incites by Notes

     

    Notes, I always appreciate your comments and your lifelong dedication to your art, no question.

     

    So, in all honesty, I still have to ask - what do you mean, "taken over by promotion"? And what's wrong with an industry "awarding itself"? Industries of all sorts have awards from medicine to auto design to literature to attorneys to composers to architects to retail stores to manufacturers to electronics to just about every industry under the sun.

     

    It just seems to me to be asking the impossible, to have awards of these sorts that somehow award on some purely "objective" or artistic or pure-quality valuation. There is no existing, meaningful consensus on such values - any choice would be at least as controversial and resented as any industry-promotional-biased choice would be.

     

    So if an industry sticks to the commercial winners as a basic group from which "the best" of this and that sub-classification is chosen - I think that has some meaning, and has the best chance of carrying some sort of meaning to the population.

     

    Surely more meaning than, say, a panel of academics would carry to the general population. Or a popular vote which would be truly the lowest common denominator. Or a "most sales dollars wins" approach.

     

    Craig's idea is interesting, although I don't know how a group of artists would be selected out to do the voting. There's got to be some criteria....the NFL Pro Bowl has an interesting approach. The players are selected by three groups - each group having 1/3 weight in the process. The groups are coaches, players, and whichever fans log on and vote online. And sure enough, there's always a firestorm of criticism regarding who was selected, who was neglected, and the process itself. But it seems an honest attempt to give the public some say, but leaving the choices basically up to the actual players and coaches when it's all tallied up.

     

    But I don't know how you could do that with musicians...

     

    I'm a glass-half-full type, as is probably obvious. It's my continual instinct that change is best served by building up the good that's there, rather than tearing down good and bad alike and building some new nirvana out of someone's current idealistic speculations. But I'm out of step with the times, clearly....:)

     

    nat

     


  2. Ok, to see what the fuss is about (since I pay next to zero attention to the Grammy's each year) - here's the top winners for Album of the Year 2018 - 1998

     

    2017 Bruno Mars for 24K Magic

    2016 Adele for 25

    2015 Taylor Swift for 1989

    2014 Beck for Morning Phase

    2013 Daft Punk for Random Access Memories

    2012 Mumford & Sons for Babel

    2011 Adele for 21

    2010 Arcade Fire for The Suburbs

    2009 Taylor Swift for Fearless

    2008 Robert Plant and Alison Krauss for Raising Sand

    2007 Herbie Hancock for River: The Joni Letters

    2006 Dixie Chicks for Taking The Long Way

    2005 U2 for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

    2004 Ray Charles & Various for Genius Loves Company

    2003 OutKast for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

    2002 Norah Jones for Come Away With Me

    2001 various for O Brother, Where Art Thou?

    2000 Steely Dan for Two Against Nature

    1999 Santana for Supernatural

    1998 Lauryn Hill for The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

     

    I certainly don't know enough about the thousands upon thousands of albums and artists out there to be able to say if these choices are "objective" or "commercial" or whatever. There do seem to be a few tribute-type, or maybe call them "lifetime achievement" type winners sprinkled in there. Sure are a few on there I admire, no question.

     

    I can live with this. There's too much music production and diversity to boil it all down on the purely artistic level. So let the industry perspective cull the field - and sure, everyone gripe, gripe, gripe, and judge, judge, judge, the judges. That's the static to me - all the griping. Did we think music somehow still thrives in some non-commercial elysium of pure art and arteests?? The awards ain't gospel and can't be. At least the overall endeavor of songs and albums and artists is celebrated and acknowledged.

     

    Gripers gonna gripe.

     

    nat

     

     

     

     

     

     


  3. Well....if you read up a bit on amps and guitars - re: the electronics and the basic functionality - they are fairly simple gizmos, electric guitars particularly. Once the transducer was discovered/invented, and the vacuum tube was developed, and they figured out how to smooth out AC to a nice, silky DC signal...99% of electric guitars and amps were a done deal. Solid state was the next stage that didn't really outperform the originals....so the changes since then have been incremental, not fundamental.

     

    There's an apparently infinite market for pedals that make marginal changes to the tone that guitars and amps produce...but they are the icing, not the cake.

     

    Playing styles, 'tho, have really changed. Pop types who used to just be able to play a few chords chunka-chunka, followed Clapton and others into increasing sophistication and expressiveness. Early rock lead players played mostly downstroke stuff as fast as they could, and then up/down pickers like Al DiMeola and John McClaughlin took that about as far as that can go....then Danny Gatton kicked off the hybrid technique...not to mention the shredding and tapping techniques that came along...the best electric guitar players (almost) rival the flamenco and classical players in sheer technique.

     

    For interesting advances in music, my money's on the players, not the manufacturers. I mean it was the synth fiddlers that took a total turkey of a "bass replacement" synth like the TB-303 and found a way to make amazing sounds from it.

     

    nat

     

    • Like 1

  4.  

    What is it that makes you think that we need tape today? That you can't make good records without it?

     

    Oh, I'm probably not in the market myself on this. I'm happy with digital and plugins - and the Kramer Tape plugin from Waves in particular. I won't go so far to say I'd never ever go back to tape - depends like everything else on cost and efficiencies and results. I'd certainly go back to a hardware digital recorder if the right one came along. My VS-1680 has been gathering dust for a decade or so....but not because it was hard to use (it wasn't/isn't) but because of the lack of VST support, the small HD capacity, and the less-than-stellar sound quality by current standards. If some new recorder used some super-souped-up-super analog tape and it passed the cost/efficiency hurdles - what do I care what the physical medium is?

     

     

     

    If some new super tape appeared that could provide significantly higher density analog recording and be cost effective, it would probably have its own "sound" that would be different from what people today think that tape sounds like.

     

    You're probably right about that. Wouldn't it be just like the manufacturers then to add digital effects to make it "vintage tape"-like?

     

    WE DON'T NEED TO RECORD ON ANALOG TAPE ANY MORE

     

    Well, "need" is as "need" does. If it works, and it's inspiring to the musicians and studio types, they'll want it. Same type of thing with hardware summing boxes, right? You can tell folks all day they don't need to sum outside the box - but if the hardware summing unit imparts some magic they can hear (or even simply think they can hear), they'll buy it and love it. If people only bought gear they absolutely "need", then the gear market would be a few whales-squared smaller, gear would be more expensive, and a lot of happy accidents would never happen.

     

    My interest in all this is to just see where it goes. Places unexpected is what I expect.

     

    nat

     

     

     


  5. Well, some see it as magic, but it was always the goal of the people who designed and built tape recorders to make them play back what went into them as accurately as possible....The magic with a well designed and maintained analog tape recorder is that it reproduces what went into it very accurately

     

     

    Sure - but isn't what would drive some new market for tape be other than the desire for clean/accurate recording? The "other" being the saturation/distortion, etc.

     

    I have to answer to that. The first on is easy: Digital tape recording. The Alesis ADAT revolutionized multitrack recording.

     

    Appreciate the detailed answers - I am familiar with ADAT and DAT et al. But again, some new market I don't think would be sellable on that.

     

    The other answer is that there were advances in tape manufacturing over the 50-some years of tape recorder glory. Polyester backed tape....better mechanics...better speed stability and gentler tape handling...

     

     

    I'm wondering about another entirely new level of tape abilities...the old tape is, as all have been mentioning, too expensive, too unwieldy, etc.

     

    As far as the amount of tape required to hold a program, look no further than a cassette.

     

    What I've been reading about is IBM's very recent advances in tape storage abilities. A quote from a zdnet article from 2014:

     

    "IBM said they can pack 85.9 billion bits of data per square inch on areal data density on linear magnetic particulate tape. At that density a standard tape cartridge could store 154 terabytes of uncompressed data, 62 times better than existing cartridges. With the advance, IBM is keeping tape relevant for big data applications. Tape still has appeal given that it can last for decades and doesn't require power when not in use."

     

    Just wondering here - if a new super-version of tape came available that held a lot more analog audio per reel - and perhaps could run a lower speeds - and if the new tape machines were improved mechanically over the old lot still being maintained out there...that I think could draw a new market.

     

    nat

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


  6. So where does the magic happen with tape recorders? Is it in the recording head? Playback head? On the tape itself?? The saturation that's always talked about...and perhaps other audio-favorable artifacts.

     

    'Cause I'm wondering if advances in tape manufacturing could tip the scale on the usual problems with tape - noise, friction, clumsy editing potential, degradation over time, and the sheer amount of physical tape required to hold the audio.

     

    I may just be displaying my ignorance, but tape is actually the cutting edge medium for big data storage these days. Maybe there's no translation or relation between storing bits and storing audio...out of my depth on that. (but cassettes used to hold data, right?) But IBM has got tape that holds insane amounts of data per square inch of tape - can such advances t somehow be put to use in the world of audio recording??

     

    If the tape didn't have to move much - would the noise go away??

     

    nat

     


  7. You still read about artists who just don't give up the tape. Indie, old school sorts, Americana, etc. Some record just drums/bass on tape, the rest digi.

     

    A new unit that looks vibey and is better than the old units?...I bet there's a market there somewhere. Won't take the world by storm, but if vinyl can be a niche...why not tape?

     

    nat

     


  8. One example of the failure of direct only sales is Carvin/Kiesel. If this is a model manufacturers in the Music Equipment industry are considering, then they are going to have an uphill battle. Having worked in the industry on and off over many years, as well as for a number of other industrial manufacturers who tried to open their own web stores, the issues are multiple.

     

    Shipping alone can be brutal. Sending a truckload or even an LTL load ot a retailer has a reasonable per unit cost ,and advantages in internal pick and pack efficiencies. Shipping single unit sales ups the operational expenses across the board, degrading the profit margin.

     

    Plus, MAP is rarely the price paid at a retailer, but the manufacturer has to find other 'incentives' to offset the fact that they can't sell a single unit at wholesale to an individual. I did everything I could to discourage my last employer from doing online retail due in no small part to the costs my departments [i was the Plant Director, so all Operations groups were under my budget] would be burdened with, particularly small order pick&pack, single item shipping [we had great bulk rate shipping contracts, but couldn't get to an absorb-able price point on single box without having immense volume]. plus the cost of administration of sales via the web portal [which the Sales Director tried to dump on Customer Service, another department under my aegis]. All CEOs want to think they can compete with anybody in their market, but it isn't so; the logistical aspects alone can be a deal killer. Not to mention how many really crappy web sales/shopping systems I have seen over the years...

     

    That's super interesting. I wonder what sells management on the idea that a bulk-shipping manufacturer can morph into a single-item shipper, starting from ground zero, without entering a significant period of losses before some market share can be captured.

     

    I wonder if third-parties come into this offering the manufacturer some turnkey package to take excess inventory off their hands and handle all the fulfillment and customer service. And how long it would take to get burned that way...

     

    nat

     


  9. I wonder what triggered Chuck Surack's comments? Why right now? As Craig mentioned, some really big manufacturers sell off their websites (Gibson included.)

     

    Bottom line is - if it works, it works. Can't blame businesspeople for trying this and that. The trend is global and inexorable towards online purchasing, away from physical retail.

     

    Sweetwater has a very interesting position in the shopping landscape - it's not brick and mortar - it's not just a clearing house for postings like Amazon - it's basically a big warehouse and a highly trained salesforce.

     

    Sweetwater offers the retention of the actual human connection. They call me year after year, my sales guy - and it's been what, 6 years since I bought something from them? Geez, if AT&T would treat me that way maybe I wouldn't hate their guts....and I'd probably upgrade to something a bit beyond what I bottom-line need.

     

    So far, there's always been a place for a well-trained, informed sales force. They'll try to replace every last salesperson in the world with bots sooner or later - Chuck is probably fighting the long defeat. I'm glad Sweetwater is there - if only there were more outfits like them. They can profit off me, and I'll thank them for doing so.

     

    nat


  10. I'd switch to hardware like this if:

     

    1. it could host VSTs

    2. the audio quality was as good as the upper tier interfaces

    3. had some decent monitor controls, talkback, and phantom power per input (not all or none.)

     

    I've been looking at the SSL X-Desk at lot lately and getting very intruiged. SSL brings that modular, expandable approach in on all their products, too.

     

    What is so irking about using computers - and this goes for a lot more than music - is that the computer industry has simply made "almost good enough" a way of doing business. Sell something that begs for the next, better version of itself. Perpetual market creation.

     

    nat

     


  11. I don't know if I can tell you what you're missing if it doesn't already resonate with you and you've already listened to it lots. If it's not already a "4" or "5" for you, then I don't know what more I can offer to up that for you that you probably haven't already heard yourself.

     

    Yes, it's significant primarily for breaking so much ground in the fusion arena and I agree that Weather Report took it to the next level at least in terms of being more melodic and rocking a bit harder with it. I'm such a big fan of so much of their work. Joe Zawinul may have been God, IMO.

     

    But Zawinul and Corea playing off each other... Two drummers and two bassists working simultaneously... Shorter and Maupin and Miles all soloing.... John McLaughlin weaving in and out of it all. It's a masterful cacophony of sound.

     

    and spread open even wider in a quad mix with them coming at you from all for corners? It sounds like you're in the middle of the room with some of the greatest players in music history.

     

    But I agree that it's not a perfect album. Some of the ideas fall apart. You hear them building to something and they don't always quite get there. But that's also part of the art of it, I think, all these years later. And it allowed others to finish what it started. WR. Hancock on "Headhunters" Cobham on "Spectrum". Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever.

     

    It's not my favorite Miles album by a long shot. I agree with you that when he hit it full on, there's no comparison: Kind of Blue, In A Silent Way, Sketches of Spain. So much of the stuff from the Prestige years. (BTW, there are great surround mixes of those three albums available as well. All different in their own way for how they were created.)

     

    But it is what it is. His "Sgt Pepper's", IMO. Not the best album in their catalog and flawed in many ways. But nothing was more influential or spoke of its time.

     

    Thx for the thoughtful response. I recall reading somewhere that the Bitches Brew album was created by editing down and patching together sections of long jams. After I read that, I went back and listened and yeah, it seemed to help me make sense of the sort of meandering lack of focus that is what bugs me the most about the album.

     

    I've never been one to trust my own taste particularly. When other careful and observant listeners take to something and I don't, it's, as the movie said, "a splinter in my mind" that I worry with. So much music gets panned because it doesn't meet listener's preconceived expectations. Nothing beats, for me, the experience of suddenly getting something that I've never gotten before, maybe even after decades of exposure. It's like exploring your own mind for hidden gold.

     

    nat

     


  12. I've given Bitches Brew a lot of listens over a lot of decades.

     

    I give it many +++s for stirring up the pot of experimentation in that day. Weather Report pretty much got planted as an idea from those sessions and WR has remained an endless source of inspiration for me ever since.

     

    But Bitches Brew itself - I just can't quite give it more than 3 out of 5 - when Miles gets 10 out of 5 from me when he's hitting the ball full on.

     

    What am I missing? Eddicate me.....

     

    nat

     

     

     


  13.  

    I think part of it has become that there is only so much you can do in a 2 hour movie. It seems movies are either story-driven or effects-driven. Rarely are they able to provide both without one sacrificing for the other.

     

    Which is one reason why television has become so much more dominant in recent years, IMO. Once producers realized that your story doesn't need to tidily wrap up in 42 minutes (counting for commercials) we now see most of the best work from the best writers, actors and directors in the business coming on the small screen. Storylines that unfold over a 10-episode "season" on a Netflix, Amazon or HBO show like "Ozark", "Goliath", "Big Little Lies", or "Marvelous Mrs. Maizel", or over several seasons on something like "Breaking Bad" allow for character development and plotline subtleties that rival books rather than what can be done in any movie.

     

    And even over a series of movies --- the 9+ hours (or whatever it is) of "The Lord of the Rings" movies were great. But the 70+ hours (or whatever it will end up being) of "Game of Thrones"? Pretty hard to beat that.

     

     

    Great comment. The episodic TV format is tried and true - interesting how viewer expectations differ between movies and TV series. Easier to let a dull episode slide with TV as a viewer - we seem to tolerate the occasional inept or irritating characters better - more of what we like to come, so we can wait. Game of Thrones, indeed. I just finished reading the five books for I think the 5th time. I would never have gotten through that huge,meandering, dull 4th installment A Feast For Crows if it wasn't part of a larger series that maintained my interest. Same principle...you get more over time if you tolerate the filler.

     

    TV is truly in a golden era that surpasses everything the format has provided since the beginnings. "TV" or "television" is certainly a misnomer. But since we all know what it means.....

     

    Movies will probably just keep leaning toward the blockbuster thing - make use of the big screen, the big sound, the whole "submit to the event" vibe. Only two hours give or take to wow 'em....so blow stuff up bang.

     

    Just curious - all you untold millions who read threads here :) - how many of you have an Alamo Drafthouse in your town? It's such an Austin institution, it seems weird to think that it's doing the corporate everywhere thing...I still love the place, 'tho (even 'tho I have to wear earplugs sometimes.)

     

    nat

     


  14. The Star Wars franchise has always required a certain amount of forgiveness from viewers. Part of the charm is that the films lurch between ridiculous parts worthy of Mystery Science Theater, and great parts as worthy as the best parts of Lord of the Rings. Who doesn't enjoy, as a viewer, getting to be both the scatching, superior critic during some parts, and under the spell in a galaxy far,far, away in other parts?

     

    BTW - watched the Solo film for the first time last night. After having heard nothing but bad news about the film in the media, expectations were low. And greatly exceeded....I thought it was well done and a whole lot of fun to watch. The plot was a bit too switchy, ok - and the girl was kinda bland. But they kept the CGI withing reasonable bounds for one thing. And once you stop pouting that it's not Harrison Ford, the kid playing Solo I thought did an excellent job. A bit more like a young Jack Nicholson than a young Harrison Ford - which works!

     

    I read one review that said "flawed film with some good parts" and thought that pretty much makes it fit right in there with the rest of the franchise.

     

    nat

     

     

     


  15. By way of direct response, I pretty much agree. I did similarly admire Rogue One (my main gripe being that the Big Fight sequence went on way too long.) I was disappointed at many levels with The Last Jedi. Way too many characters, too many story lines, for one. And poor Carrie Fisher...we all want to honor her contribution, but it was painful to watch her just barely get through her lines.

     

    I give the new movies some credit for having jettisoned the silly, childish, comic-relief roles like Jar Jar and the Ewoks, etc. And Daisy Ridley is fantastic IMHO - such a natural as as Rey. That's what I wanted more than anything from The Last Jedi was to see her character brought along. That sort of happened as an aside in the film - but I think her development should be the centerpiece.

     

    The new Star Wars have some interesting ideas. It's always been the ideas that have made Star Wars movies work. Not the spectacular fight sequences, not the pounding tympani and brass of William's scores. The problem is letting all the flashy machinery get in the way of the fundamental drama of the mystical warriors caught between the dark side and the good side. They tried with Kylo Ren, to revisit the gifted young man lured by the dark side. But they mostly just showed him to us, rather than developed him for us. The earlier prequels failed, too, with Anakin's turn to the dark side - it just wasn't convincing. Bad acting and a bad script I credit for that failure.

     

    I haven't written it off quite yet - Disney certainly has a history of making some terrific films....I just feel like some tougher editing, some sticking to basics, less check-the-box list of tropes having to be visited, would do the franchise a world of good.

     

    nat

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


  16. I'm always having latency and over-loaded CPU, maxed-out RAM issues using the VSTs I do. Virtual instruments like East West Quantum Leap Pianos, u-he's DIVA synth (what a fantastic synth BTW), Reaktor, Kontakt, BFD3, a ton of Waves plugs, etc etc, all going at once is just too much. So I do a lot of freezing and bouncing and fiddling with buffers. Just kills the creative flow.

     

    I've been toying with the idea of using two computers for a long time. I'd love to have one fast computer with a big SSD operate as a mega-sound module and take a huge load off the computer with the DAW. I've read very, very many threads where others have tried this - and the trade-offs have been daunting. You gotta sync things...if you just port audio across, you lose MIDI editing...have to use two interfaces...getting it to work technically looks like a whole lot of work and rigging things for marginal gains.

     

    But I've run across Vienna Ensemble Pro and this is a very interesting bit of software. VSL has provided big, pro-level orchestral sampled instruments for a long time - rather like East West - and even with today's huge hard drives and available RAM and CPU speeds, these guys doing film score mockups still have problems running out of horsepower and RAM to run their massive virtual instrument setups for orchestral scores. So VSL has come up with a way to link computers via simole ol' ethernet cables - and with a program or two running on each computer, you can pipe everything from any number of "slave" computers to your main "server" computer with your DAW. And get this - it works apparently CROSS PLATFORM and CROSS 32-64 BIT (!!). Yes - hook up your Apple to your PC - Windows XP to Windows 10.

     

    It's not a simple program - there's some geekery involved so not recommended for software/hardware newbies. But the testimonies are pretty universally gobsmacked.

     

    Not cheap, either - about $340 USD give or take. But you also get a full sampled Orchestral set to play with.

     

    My trigger finger is really itchy for this one - I have an old Win 7 tower PC that I want to keep using for my main DAW computer, but it just can't handle the load anymore. I have an i7 laptop Win 10 with a big SSD - perfect for DIVA and the huge piano sample sets. Add all the storage and processing of the two computers together...plus the additional I/O and USB ports etc. This is a big wow wow wow option from what I've read so far.

     

    Anyone with experience with this? Opinions? Caveats? Praises? Blames?

     

    nat

     

     

     


  17. I've just about decided to move from my Roland Quad-Capture to the UA Apollo Twin USB. The a/d conversion is better by all accounts.

     

    Craig - Phil - what about the preamps on the Apollo Twins? Think they are better than the Quad/Octo-Capture units?

     

    I want to upgrade my acoustic guitar mic pre (old Presonus MP-20) and am wondering if the Apollo Twin preamps would perform better noticeably better for that purpose than the MP-20 (non-modded MP-20). I know all about the subjective clause, so when I say "better" I mean cleaner, better representation of the full sonic spectrum - leaving "color" preferences out of the equation.

     

    If the Apollo Twin both improved my a/d and also my acoustic recordings with one purchase, then it's definitely worth the cash for me. I'd buy it at current prices even if it didn't have the UAD2 processors and beginners kitbag of plugins.

     

    nat

     


  18. Play it into a DAW that does decent notation. Note-for-note if not a keyboard player. Set the key/transpose to what you want, print it out.

     

    Might be too much trouble for someone not used to DAW or notation software - but would be a breeze for a sight-reading keyboard player with some software chops.

     

    nat

     


  19. I've been using the Bandlab Cakewalk for some months now - it's less buggy, less subject to crashing than Sonar Platinum was on my system. Sonar is/was a great DAW, but always had various bugs that just never got fixed in spite of endless new version rollouts. Seems like Bandlab is doing smart things with their acquisition so far. No huge changes, but improved.

     

    nat

     

    • Like 1

  20. Being a Beatle fanboy (or fangirl) can lead to acquiring an education of sorts in music gear, composition, mixing, and related good things.

     

    The resources available are pretty incredible - in addition to the ones out there about the gear:

    [h=1]The Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes 1962-1970 by Mark Lewisohn

    Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles by Geoff Emerick[/h] [h=1]The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 1: My Bonnie through Beatles For Sale (1961-1964)

    The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 2: Help! through Revolver (1965-1966) both by Jerry Hammack[/h] and this one - expensive but by lots of accounts, amazing...

     

    Recording the Beatles by Kevin L. Ryan (lots of scalpers selling this for $400 - $1000. Get it from the publisher Curvebender Publishing for $100 from the website.)

     

    There are just a few among all that's out there...

     

    nat

     

     

     

     

     

     

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