Digital vs Analog Recording

After last weeks enlightening video on loudness processing, we are getting deeper into modern recording technology right now!

The dices fell a couple of years ago, but there’s still some discussion on this topic (started at Wired). I must say that digital recording and especially the processing of digital audio have developed a great deal in the right direction. If all that is written in the linked MOG entry is true and profound, than why are there one bit recorders becoming affordable?

I recently hooked up my turntable again, and after a break of more than six months, only listening to digital audio (CDs are digital audio too, in case you didn’t know), I must tell you that listening to music reproduced in an unbroken analog chain is like a warm shower. I read that 1 bit recorders are able to reproduce that, by not having a sampling rate, which is usually about twice the frequency we are able to here, in consumer products/files. Talking about dices.

However, I believe people rate a good tune higher than audio-fidelity. They listen to the lady on the phone, not the phone. I take it as a compliment as composer, and an inspiration as a sound engineer.

Loudness Wars Explained

What a great find! Somebody on a audio recording board posted this link.

It’s an animated movie explaining “loudness”. It’s a high average volume level. Meaning there’s less softer parts in the music. If you read this you probably have a chance of enjoying old music. You probably think about the old recordings as being played by real musicians, on real instruments, projecting real emotions and so forth. All fine an dandy with me. But that’s not all there is to it. They recorded it differently! The guys at the record companies enjoyed loud parts coming after quieter parts. A scary movie is most scary when nothing is really happening, but your senses tell you that something could and probably will happen. Then when all the screams come on, its not scary anymore. You are scared in the fracture of a second actually, the transition from quiet to loud.

With modern music it’s like horror screams all of the time. No wonder most people eventually turn away from it. At first (your early teens) you think “cool – it’s really loud”. But as an adult you will find that the dimensions offered in music are richer for your enjoyment.

Many professionals in the recording industry think that this loudness war is one thing that is hurting the music business of today. Also consider the fact that an artist will sound wimpy on stage by comparison to his recordings. You didn’t read about booed off the stage superstars in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Or even the 80s. It’s fans robbed off another illusion. And they start realizing they have one voice.

Hamburg Recording Studio

Folke Jensen engineered The Looney Tunes band’s second album Modern Sounds of… at his Ultraschall Studio in Hamburg, back in 1995.

Many consider this to be my former surf-band’s best album, and a key factor is the great sound Folke managed to capture on tape.

His project Ledernacken is here on MySpace.

That is a pioneering electronic thing, but trust me when I say he knows what great vintage sound is about.

Got Myself One of Those Old Magicstomps

For a very long time I was contend with my Boss DD3 echo pedal. Of course it’s generic and cold sounding compared to old tube-tape or disc delays like the Dynacord I once owned. But trying to get spare parts for those was impossible in pre-internet days, at least for my amptech back then. And the old echos require collectors money – when I just wanted a tool, not a museum piece. The earlier delay modelers like the Line6 tried to do too much I don’t want and too less of what I want, the variations of multihead delay patterns. I always found them a little too expensive! Now the Magicstomp recreates tape and multihead delays very well. And timebased effects like echo and reverb escape the detached feeling latency encountered with other digitally generated effects, like amp-modeling and distortion. I got mine used and it’s of the first variety, later versions include a headphone jack.

What really convinced me beside the current low prices for them, was finding this page, where a dutch guy programmed a large number of sixties tape echo patches for the Magicstomp, mostly Meazzi and Vox. There’s also a Roland, and the patch really resembles the sonic signature. You can download patches from Yamaha’s site or dedicated www-groups (2 on Yahoo!) and install them with your pc or mac with OS9 and built in usb. Just connect an usb cable and start the Magicstomp editor. You can deep edit a lot of effect parameters and store them to 99 user presets.

Integrating the effectbox into a live-set-up brings some problems. Read this message from one of the Yahoo! Magicstomp boards:

I’ve finally got round to attaching my magicstomp to my board only to
find a considerable drop in volume when patches are engaged. Tried
reducing the input level but no change.
Is this yet another defect (along with the half second pause between
patches) that has lead to this product being discontinued?
Here’s another point. I’ve decided to use my stomp to replace certain
effects that I only use occasionaly – phaser,flanger, uni-vibe and for
delays etc…problem is that I thought I could navigate up and down
and then just use the on/off footswitch to activate the chosen effect.
Turns out that even though the display reads “reverb” for example, I
still have a bloody harmoniser. Have to go back to the patch that the
sound corresponds to and then move up or down. Useless. I never
noticed this before when I used it as a stand alone effect. Anyone had
similar problems ar know something I don’t?????

New Documentary about California Garage Studio PAL, which Produced Surf Music Classics

The very studio where Paul Buff and Frank Zappa recorded one of my all time favorite LPs is The Hollywood Persuaders, featuring tracks like Drums a-Go-Go and Thunderbird.

freakoutincucamonga writes over at Surf Guitar 101:

Check out our web page for our documentary, “Freak Out in Cucamonga.”

For anyone interested in the Cucamonga studios in the early 60’s that brought you ‘Wipeout’ and ‘Pipeline’, as well as recording sessions from Johnny Fortune, The Tornadoes, Conrad and the Hurricane Strings, Johnny Barakat, and let’s not forget, Frank Zappa.

YouTube link to Cucamonga PAL Studio documentary video trailer

Scotty Moore’s Original Amp Cabinet on Ebay

Elvis’s first guitar player Scooty Moore had a costum made amplifier in the 50s that had a built in echo unit, the cabinet of this very amp is now for auction at eBay.

quote from eBay page:

The original Echosonic guitar cabinet used on most all the live and studio guitar work during Elvis Presley’s career (1955-1957).

You can hear it on all the hits from the early years including: Mystery Train, That’s All Right, Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel, Love Me Tender, All Shook Up, and more.

The Echosonic was designed and hand-built by Ray Butts. While only 68 ever being built, the Echosonic found a unique place in history with a built-in tape echo (loop) unit. …

Scotty’s amp

Official Hal Blaine Site

One of the great Los Angeles session men, he played drums on countless hit records, as well as some of the best instrumental studio productions of the sixties. Here’s the Official Hal Blaine Website

here’s his drumming on iTunes
The Gene Norman Group featuring Glen Campbell, Jim Horn, Al Delory, Lyle Ritz, and Hal Blaine - Dylan Jazz
Nancy Sinatra & Hal Blaine - The Essential Nancy Sinatra
Glen Campbell - Classic Campbell