As an owner of a great deal of wonderful vintage equipment as
well as a large assortment of very current digital studio gear,
(including Protools HD), I feel compelled to say, don't blame the gear,
blame the humans using them. I've got mics ranging from RCA 44's,
original (and wonderful) original issue M49's to cheesy mics made in
China. Gear ranging from Pultec's, LA-2A's through Focusrite preamps.
The first hardware Eventide Harmonizer, gritty ugly, and wonderful.
Ultra modern digital processing gear along with lots of plug-in's. It is
ALL good !! You just don't need to use everything on everything... just
use the least possible the music needs. Sometimes that is my 2 analog 24
track machines, sometimes Protools. Many times it is just a couple of
microphones, now and then quite a few. The trick is not letting the gear
get in the way of the music, and as Tom said, PRODUCE the durn stuff. It
shouldn't be a plan of throw up 80 tracks of microphones and a click
track, we can sort it out later ! Know where you want to go, make the
choices along the way, and it mixes itself at the end. Forget the click
track... that and editing strip out any chance of the humanity and feel
from the music. Humans are never 100% on time... so why would we want
the music to be..?
As I heard on a Utube segment, compress very gently. Without quiet,
there is no loud. I don't remember who said it, but that about sums it
Just an opinionated rant, please ignore as desired... :>)
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Roger and Allison Kulp
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 7:06 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] How not to mike an orchestra/the death of high
Sounds to me like you learned a lot from your parents.Sometimes I think
it's too bad that you didn't stay in the family business,you might have
been just as good at it !
You should see some of the posts at the Google classical recordings
group a lot of us belong to.There are certain folks over there,who are
always chastising us "audiophools",who prefer to listen to 50 year old
Mercurys,or bluebacks,or 75 year old Victor scrolls,or whatever,saying
that recording technology has improved so much since the
fifties.Frankly,I don't know what they are talking about.As I said over
there,and was promptly whacked like the proverbial mole,stereo sounded
great from the start.So did electrical recording.It took digital nearly
twenty years to sound musical,and the best sounding digitally recorded
music, today is done as broadcasts/webcasts of concerts,not for CDs.
There is a reason people who make indie vinyl restore,and rescue vintage
studio equipment.and make new records with it.There was a reason Paul
McCartney got Bob Ludwig to master the vinyl of "Memory Almost Full".Go
back to the article, on rollingstone.com,and look for what Michael
Fremer,of Stereophile wrote.As he said,newer is not always better.
Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote: Hi Steve:
I agree very much with your points.
There seems to be an engineer/technologist driven lust for clinical or
"perfect" sound nowadays, especially in carefully-made classical
products. This may well be a "super-fidelity" version of what took place
at that recording session, but I'd argue it usually isn't very exciting
or gut-grabbing like the great older recordings.
If you're a fan of the "classics," take your favorites among them and
given them a good listen with fresh ears -- consider it a New Year's
gift to yourself. Then think about this -- exactly what seat in any
concert hall would you sit in to get that same aural/emotional
experience? I'd argue -- NONE!
That's the whole point of a great recording, to give you a
super-realistic experience so you can play it many times in many places
on many playback setups and get the same feelings. Thus, the music has
to be much more polished than most live performances can hope to be. And
the very best conductors understood how to imprint their distinct
personality on the recording without going off the cliff; when they
pulled it off, they have the listener's emotions under their complete
And, the recording should be cleaner and clearer than the sound would
ever be in a roomful of shuffling, sniffling, sound-muffling people. And
the perspective of the recording will usually be sharper and, for lack
of a better term, bigger than is heard from any one seat in the venue --
in the best cases it is all the good of all the good seats with no
So what is this magic? My goodness, it's PRODUCTION. Yep, your favorite
recordings were most definitely PRODUCED, not "documented" by
white-coated lab technicians with calibration-grade equipment carefully
placed in theoretical positions. The whole problem with too many modern
classical recordings is that there seem to be one of two bad goals from
the outset -- 1) to produce a complete artificial reality, using many
mics and all sorts of mixing and production techniques but discarding
the age-old values of ambient room-tone, conductor-controlled dynamics
and giving acoustic instruments the air and space for their sounds to
flower. Or, 2) to "document" a performance with clinical-cold "perfect"
equipment and yet manage to capture not one ounce of the soul and
vibrance of a human being playing a beautiful piece of music with
passion. I think also there is either a lower level of skill and art or
a false modesty among too many conductors and orchestras. They just
don't let it rip anymore!
This is all one man's perspective, but I will say I've listened to MANY
classical recordings, and listened very carefully. What I seek in the
listening experience is to be uplifted and touched, for the recording
medium to transmit to my soul what the musicians were "saying" that day
the recorder rolled. You can't fake it with over-production and you can
easily miss it with a clinical-technician approach. Somewhere in the
middle live the best recordings, the ones that stand the test of time.
Happy New Year to all of you.
-- Tom Fine
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