To this day I marvel at my recordings from the late '70's and '80's with a TEAC 3340 four track. My 1963 blue Ludwig set was mic'd with Unidyne Shure stage mics, and I'm still trying to recreate that sound.

Since that era I've gone through Otari 1/2 inch 8 tracks, a Scully 2 inch 16 track, a Tascam 16 track 1/2 inch and 1 inch. So I've pretty well run the gamut of fidelity. The 2 inch Scully filled the room from top to bottom, and the 1/2 inch Tascam had the smoothest, most pleasing overall tone with Dolby noise reduction. Now it's a digital and analog mixture.

But with every machine and every session, there were different idiosyncrasies, which is where the solo button comes in.

One machine might have a low, almost undetectable 60 cycle hum on one or more channels, other times an air conditioner might kick on or off, or someone might be flapping their jaws in the middle of a good take. When you play back everything together as a whole, there may be small mysterious annoyances.

I usually solo tracks quickly just to make sure there's not little problematic sounds that you end up hearing and not knowing where they came from. That's a legitimate use of the solo button.

Obsessing over soloed tracks for getting a certain sound is silly, because once you pull all the other faders up, that perfectly tweaked sound goes down the drain. Everything can't be "in your face" clear or it doesn't sound like a band. Space is essential to any style of music unless it is meant to be a slap in the face.

Much of the sessions I record involve real musicians playing real instruments, string quartets, real percussion, and real grand pianos. So sometimes that solo button comes in handy when someone say's "What was that?!"

Joe Danger