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#955061 - 03/15/01 01:34 AM Is Gear an Excuse?
Anderton Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/28/00
Posts: 7377
When you get right down to it, you can record music on just about anything these days and have it sound fine. The sub-$1000 all-in-one hard disk recorder holds up well against commercial facilities, and anyone can get a CD pressed.

Yet there's constant wondering about this gear vs. that gear, minute differences in mic preamps, and so on. None of this makes any real difference to the end listener.

Is all this gear lust just an excuse to avoid coming face to face with making music? Do people have insecurity problems that has a ready excuse in "my gear isn't good enough?"

I like Lee Flier's attitude regarding the Yamaha AW4416: "Hey, I have this piece of gear, it works fine." Sure, the debating and pondering is fun, but only if you recognize that gear doesn't have that much to do with the emotional impact of a piece of music.
_________________________
Craig Anderton
*check out my podcast at www.cyberears.com

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#955062 - 03/15/01 01:38 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
hiraga Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 02/04/01
Posts: 1078
Loc: Inside Venus...
We're just too old to play with LEGO..

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#955063 - 03/15/01 02:08 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
copacapri@pacbell.net Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/30/00
Posts: 256
Loc: Hollywood,CA,UNITED STATES
ROTFLMBO

hiraga very funny.......very true...

------------------
Cheers,

La Vida Musica
Copa Capri Recorders
Hollyhood Productions
_________________________
Cheers,

La Vida Musica
Copa Capri Recorders
Hollyhood Productions

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#955064 - 03/15/01 02:26 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
copacapri@pacbell.net Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/30/00
Posts: 256
Loc: Hollywood,CA,UNITED STATES
Whew.....

To answer the question I believe that gear often is an excuse however, maybe that 1073 inspires you to want to do better.
Or that new Vipre gives you so many choices it adds new spice to your ideas. The reality is we all are probably recording on more advanced technology than some of our favoite records were recorded on.
Nothing matters in audio more than a good song anyway. A great performance and a great song recorded on a 4 track is far better than a bad song on an Studer/SSL combo.

I once had a Peavey Sampling system (SX/SP)
It was my first sampler. It was hard to learn at first but eventually got the hang of it. I later had a high profile project come along and my partner had been using Akai samplers. I got a chance to use one and I've been hooked ever since. Switching gear in this instance became inspiring I loved using that instrument. Now I own three Akai samplers. The Peavey still works (traded it to my neighbor) but I just did not click with it. It did not inspire me.

------------------
Cheers,

La Vida Musica
Copa Capri Recorders
Hollyhood Productions
_________________________
Cheers,

La Vida Musica
Copa Capri Recorders
Hollyhood Productions

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#955065 - 03/15/01 02:31 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
hiraga Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 02/04/01
Posts: 1078
Loc: Inside Venus...
Seriously, I do play with LEGO.. no, wrong answer.

It's difficult, Craig.. I'm a musiciam, I'm an engineer, I'm a producer, consultant, loudspeakerbuilder, analog gear designer.. even gotta a half day job as a sales weasel.. so YES, I LIKE gear.

But I try pretty hard not to let gear get in the way..

Btw, I've been a VS1680 user for a long time (no more though)(I wrote that VS manual you asked permission to post here), and that just works peachy along with Neve, SSL, 2" and U47s..

I don't think there's one single technology/way of recording that fits all kinds of songs/albums. I use whatever compliments the project..

If the gear 'isn't good enough', I simply switch..

I too like Lee's attitude.. can't wait to hear some kick ass stuff from that ol' rocker!

I do wonder how much more *home recording gear* the market can carry, though.

And yes, too many people fuck around with gear instead of recording actual songs.. but they're in the process of LEARNING. Nothing wrong with that, imho..

Finally, YES! the listener (not us, the *real* ones) don't give a rats ass if it's PT, AW4416, 2", VS or 4tr cassette, as long as it delievers what they're looking for..

Me, I dig analog, mono and vinyls.. no, I'm not an ol' stuck up fart head. I'm 26.

MUSIC RULES!!

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#955066 - 03/15/01 02:32 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Lee Flier Offline
10k Club

Registered: 09/13/00
Posts: 15398
Loc: Atlanta,GA,UNITED STATES
LOL Craig! I find it highly ironic that you've chosen to single ME out as being the one who has such a great attitude about gear. Because, for the last few days, I've been having major gear anxiety. I'd say it was more like a digital rebellion.

I did wonder, when I bought the AW4416, when it would hit me. I wondered how long it would take me to start sorely missing analog recording. Well, a few days ago that longing kicked in big time. I'm crazy for thinking I can get anything decent out of this little box, I thought (well I'll grant you, a couple of less than stellar experiences with Yamaha's tech support, and their refusal to deal with some obvious and fixable shortcomings, were partly responsible for this attitude). Then somebody told me about a great analog rig that was going for "cheap" on eBay. I was seriously ready to drive out to St. Louis and buy this rig if I could win the auction for a reasonable price... and hey, it could still happen.

Then I called Fletcher and asked him about the Fatso. And OK, if I don't end up scoring this analog rig, I'll probably get one of those or else a Cranesong HEDD. In many ways, this would make more sense for me. But I can't say that I have been very sensible lately.

Am I making excuses? Hell yes! I am blaming my gear for all of my own shortcomings and I'll cop to that. Hell, most musicians (or artists of any kind) are massively insecure about their own work. I think I'm over the worst of the gear fit now... I think. The fact is that I am well used to recording in a certain way that I know will always sound right to me, I am now having to deal with a different way, and when it doesn't sound like I want it to I get frustrated and blame the gear.

Somewhere there is a line that can't be crossed, a place where it really WOULD improve my sound to get better gear. But I ain't there yet. And it would frankly be kinda silly to spend much more money until I find out where that point really is.

So ummm... yeah, I think it can be really pointless to argue over minute differences in preamps and such. However if the difference is really audible, and not so minute, I think it's worth checking out. I think I could improve my studio a thousand percent with a couple of well chosen pieces of higher-end gear - even just one great preamp and a couple of great mics. Maybe the end listeners wouldn't know the difference, but I would.

But all that said, I still suck if I can't make great music with what I already have. So my mission, should I decide to accept it, is not to suck. I guess I am just tired of wrestling with all this new gear and feel like it's hosing the creative part. And I know I'll get past that point soon, but man, that 1-inch 8 track on eBay sure did look nice...

--Lee

This message has been edited by Lee Flier on 03-14-2001 at 11:41 PM
_________________________
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#955067 - 03/15/01 02:34 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
hiraga Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 02/04/01
Posts: 1078
Loc: Inside Venus...
Yeah, Capri, there's nothing like gear that kicks you OFF!

I just bought an ol' ancient Roland S330 sampler.. I'm having a blast..

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#955068 - 03/15/01 03:04 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Valkyrie Sound Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 1891
Loc: LA, CA, UNITED STATES
Is gear lust an excuse? Maybe for some... for
me, I don't think it is....

I record classical music. Yes, a work that
is well performed but poorly recorded can still
move someone.

Can a poorly recorded performance move you
as much as a live peformance?
I don't think so....

I do believe that thinking about how
my gear sounds is very important.
I want to capture the feeling I get
when I hear the music live in a great hall.
If I don't have the best sounding gear,
I will not be able to record all those wonderful
nuiances of the performance....those little parts
of the performance that
make the recording great and that can
help a listener fully feel the performance.

I recorded the LA Phil on Monday. While
I think it was one of my best recordings,
I don't think I could possibly capture
the true, moving, inspiring sound I heard
that evening with any gear.
So far I don't think I've ever heard a
recording that is as moving as a great,
live performance. When I do, only then will
I be able to say that my gear lust is
just an excuse....

I'm looking forward to that day....

Valky
_________________________
Valkyrie Sound:
http://www.vsoundinc.com
Now at TSUTAYA USA:
http://www.tsutayausa.com

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#955069 - 03/15/01 05:10 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Graham English Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 335
Loc: Somerville, MA USA
I'll tell you, I thought I was gonna record my 4 piece rock band with a Korg D8. I quickly found out that wasn't gonna work. So I bought a VS-1680. I was on my way until I tried to really mix on it. That's when I got Cubase to mix and now I'm on my way. It's been a huge learning experience for me. And, yes, I think I need more gear to get it done
Now if I could only get my ass out of this forum and get to work
_________________________
++ Graham English ++
Ear Training, Songwriting Tips, and Music Theory

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#955070 - 03/15/01 05:29 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Alndln Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 08/15/00
Posts: 6451
Loc: ,NY,UNITED STATES
Although I love everything out there new/old I must concede I got way more done when all I had was a 4 track Fostex caseete multitracker.Part of it was I could always say that these were just demo's and will be done over in the studio,now that I have the studio............
_________________________
"A Robot Playing Trumpet Blows"

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#955071 - 03/15/01 05:33 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Uh Clem Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/13/00
Posts: 3443
Loc: Atlanta, GA USA
I have to disagree about none of this making any difference to the listener. First, that lumps every sort of listener into one category of earless clods and I have not seen that to be true. Second, I've been one of those listeners for a hell of a long time - long before I ever thought about trying to create something worth listening to. I don't know if I would have gotten into this if I hadn't heard some recordings that were just so amazing that I wanted to know how to do that.

Most of the musicians I work with can spot really subtle things like mic changes, pre-amp changes, the difference that 24 bit recording makes, using an Eventide verb over a low-end Lexi. Some of the things they pick up on really surprise me. My wife even notices a few dB bumped here and there between a mastered and un-mastered project and she's pretty much a "music consumer".

I think people - probably half a bell-curves worth - hear some degree of the extra effort that _we_ hear. Whether or not they can explain what they hear or just pass it off as low-budget/big-budget does not mean they don't hear it. I've got plenty of fav tunes that I listen to that were low budget recordings, and I'm betting a good many fans of those groups would appreciate better recordings as much as I would. People will put up with it if they like the song, but that does not make it OK.

Lee is right - do the best you can with what you have - and don't buy anything if you don't know what problem you have that it will solve. But don't think that, just because nobody says anything, that they don't notice if you skip a day on your deodorant. If your ears say it matters, then it probably does.
_________________________
Steve Powell - Bull Moon Digital
http://www.bullmoondigital.com

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#955072 - 03/15/01 06:01 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Anonymous
Unregistered


I think that gear lust is very common and a natural part of musicians ,engineers, producers.
As a keyboardist I can find inspiration in new keys, samples and Fx that take me to songs or ideas that otherwise not would have come up.

When recording we are (I'm at least) keen on having the best result that is possible. If we find that a mic is not perfect for a specific target we buy a new, better one, as with compressors and what ever.

Does it makes sence? I don't know.

I can be frustrated knowing that the "normal" people is satisfied downloading some MP3 files, and saying: it sounds awsome!!
Do they hear any differance between 16 bit and 24 bit? I don't think so.

But all this gearlust is a personal thing. If I buy a new gear for 2000 bucks to replace something worth 200 bucks and the end listener doesn't hear any difference. So what?
I do it for my plessure only!


------------------
--Smedis,--

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#955073 - 03/15/01 06:26 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
dansouth Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/01/00
Posts: 3915
Loc: Metuchen,NJ,UNITED STATES
Steve's right - never forget your deodorant.

I think the guys in retail see this problem frequently. Someone orders a Triton. A couple weeks or months later, they call up and say the Triton's not happening for them anymore, can they trade it for a Kurzweil? A short time later, they trade that for an XV-5080. Then they call up and say, "Man, I should never have sold that Triton."

The point is that it's easier to buy a new piece of gear - even an expensive piece of gear - than it is to write or record a good song. We all hit a wall at times when we just can't seem to get past our limitations - technical or personal - and finish that great track. We have to impose discipline and a little psychology on ourselves and find a way to make it work. An equipment upgrade is the answer in perhaps 20% of the cases, if not less. You just have to step back and figure out how to solve the puzzle. A new thingymabob isn't going to do your work for you.

I heard a great quote last year. It keeps coming back to me, because it's very inspiring. Someone said, "Don't think about your goals. Think about what type of person could achieve those goals and what you would have to do to become that type of person." In other words, don't bang your head against the wall because your last project was a disappointment. Get busy fixing the weaknesses that contributed to its demise, so that next time, you'll be able to go further, maybe MUCH further.

On the other hand, Steve is right - always wear... - er, I mean, equipment CAN make a big difference. What if someone asked you to sell all of the equipment that you've purchased in the last three years and replace it with second-hand stuff that's at least three years old? You probably couldn't do with that old stuff what you can do with your new stuff. I know I can't. So, equipment is not necessarily an excuse. It can be, but it can also be very empowering, as long as you don't expect it to solve problems that only you, or another human being, can solve.

Hey Lee, don't you fret, girl! I'm sure you're stuff is COOKIN'. You're just a little too close to it. Let it be for a day or two and see what you think then. Don't hate your AW, and don't let temptation take that little gadget away from you. You two are gonna make a lot more beautiful music together. Oh, and try using a REAL drummer this time - I hear it makes a big difference. Only messin' with ya, ma friend, tryin' ta git cha ta smile 'n' all that. I'm gonna post a couple of my AW mixes soon; just wait'll you hear what I've been doin' with my little no-longer-does-the-fan-make-noise dream machine.

This message has been edited by dansouth@yahoo.com on 03-15-2001 at 03:56 AM

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#955074 - 03/15/01 06:36 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Jazzooo Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 01/17/01
Posts: 579
Loc: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
I don't think that Stevepow's point about his wife hearing the difference between a mastered and a non-mastered recording is exactly what Craig was talking about. I think it's more like a mix that was mastered with a Finalizer versus a software program, by guys with the same level of talent.

<is well performed but poorly recorded can still
move someone.>>

Again, I don't think that "poorly recorded" is analogous to using less expensive gear. It's the talent, not the tools that make the most difference, in my experience.

<as much as a live peformance?
I don't think so....>>

Well, maybe as much as a poorly amplified live performance...

For me, this never used to be a problem...until recently, when I recorded the last three of my own albums with a professional engineer behind the board in fancy studios as opposed to rolling my own as I'd done several times in the past. Suddenly, i recognized the gulf in our engineering talent--particularly in the area of patience. It has wrecked my self confidence in terms of recording at home, making me susceptible to the taunting promises of high end gear advertisers, and it has me looking sideways at my previously loved gear. Will the new gear give me the talent I lack? No...but it might help disguise my flaws.

Then again, sometimes new gear is just a heck of a lot of fun.

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#955075 - 03/15/01 07:02 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
musicman1@ovation.net Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/06/00
Posts: 167
Loc: Duncanville,TX,UNITED STATES
Folks... it's me, Mr. Long Post. Some of you may want to skim or skip, but I am hoping at the wrap up, some may have some advice on my slightly off-topic, but smoothly segued query.

Love this TOPIC. I ponder this sometimes, especially now, and while I do agree some on the "excuse" theory, for myself, I can trace the reasons why, and possibly help myself over certain hurdles. Pardon me if I do it publicly.

First, my roots are deep into the time when all gear was not only not "created equal" (within the bounds of your close-enough-for-listener's-ears ideas, which I agree with), but where studios wanted and needed to find that cutting edge to get a better and more commercial sound.

From 1978 to the mid-80s, I had a Tascam 80-8 w/DBX, a Model 5 mixer, 1 Neumann U-47 FET and a few electrets of varying quality, a large 4 ft. MicMix MasterRoom II spring reverb, 1 channel of Orban parametric, a couple of Gain Brains, a couple of Kepexes, and a fully loaded MXR Digital Delay (I'm not sure if it's actually fully digital or bucket brigade, but it still sounds really cool). Most all my recording... even that which I did for clients... was a matter of me doing overdubs. I played drums with a click track (imagining the song in my head), then went back and played either keys (Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Univox Organizer thru Leslie or Yamaha grand) or main guitar "rhythm" track. Most pop-like songs, to me, are either guitar or keys based. After that, bass. Then I'd add various guitars (electric/acoustic) doing leads, fills, etc., and/or "horn" parts (via one of my two mono analog synths, playing one part at a time, filling up tracks and ping-pong bouncing) or synth parts or "strings" (via my Univox Stringman) and on like that. When I'd do my own stuff, it was common for me to have as many as seven vocal tracks (lead and two sets of three backups doing various parts). The same with the synth "brass" and "reeds", etc. For me at the time, I was most interested in the arrangement. It was a good thing, because when you do all that sub-mixing on an 1/2" 8 track passing through a Model 5, things muddy-up pretty quick. That high transparency that I heard in "real" studios was not there even if I didn't do the ping-ponging. I went all out (for my budget) on the microphone trying to get the sound, but I just didn't know how many other elements were in the way.

I'm not an engineer. I can do what I have to, but I do have to work at it, and even then, I don't work as hard as I might if music weren't always tugging at me to spend my time with IT. I attempted to keep gain structures right, etc., but this was a loosing battle. Still, friends and associates at "real studios" where I've worked as a studio musician (the two 2-inch 16 or 24 track machines that were synchronized, and the racks of great outboard, and the large Harrison consoles, etc.) were always very supportive of the arranging and producing on those tapes, and when I'd pick their brains as to what was "wrong" (I meant, why I getting cleaner recordings that sounded like "records"), they all said I needed more tracks and a "large format" machine(s). In other words, 8 tracks on 1/2" couldn't get the sound of 24 on 2"... that being their "worst case scenario"... and even more so, 16 on 2". Nonetheless, I did a few local/regional releases for clients. Since the clients usually had at least some live musicians, the ping-ponging was less, and the releases were passable for "custom". Sometimes I did bands that just played live and there was no bouncing, and those came closer, especially if the music was hard rock. Even so, still not really the real deal to my ears.

A few years ago (the week before Macintosh went PCI instead of Nubus), I got a Mac 8100 w/80Mb RAM and Pro Tools Project (what used to be called Mac Session Eight) and one black face ADAT. I had eight hardware analog outs for "Project", and I intended on adding another ADAT so that with all of it I'd have 24 tracks to mix. I only had time to discover that (1) I had the only Mac model which, at that time "Project" couldn't deal with (later fixed), and (2) the paradigm shift from being able to slap down track after track without making ALL those decisions and assigning memory and naming segments and trying to get OMS up and going (later easier)... well, it was hellacious. Soon after that, I was "rescued" by family responsibilities that weren't allowing me the time to deal with it anyway. The digital "fix" was a pain in the ass.

Come to NOW. Now I am getting free again to do it again. I'm very enthused, and I want to finally release a few CDs of material (old and new). For my audience's sake (small or large) I want the stuff to sound as much like "records" as possible. In other words, all other things being equal (disregarding my own musical performance and songs), I don't want the audience to get this feeling that the CDs or "sort of" CDs... not really sounding like the real deal. Naturally, even in the world of the real deal, there is variation. For instance, I think "Two Against Nature" is just wonderful... great recording and great Steely Dan. ) I don't have to come to that level to feel OK for myself and audience. Shoot, any "famous" CD recorded back in '82 would do the trick for fidelity, etc. I intend to make whatever investment it will take to get a system that will work with, not against me. As far as the variation from system to system, I do believe at this point, with so many being 24-bit, as long as I get some user-friendly system I can deal with and understand... something that will be MIDI friendly and let me track easily, without being real conscious of hardware/software resources... I will be there. THERE? Well, "there" is that place where I understand the equipment enough to deal with it, and it can make at least SOME use of my older stuff (if it matters). If I can get a system that will let make pro sounding recordings (my performance aside), that will do the trick. I know I could think about various pre-amps and converters and all the rest, but being able to lay down pianos, keys, guitars, drums (most all of this being of the MIDI variety now in my setup... 'cept for guitars)... and do a reasonable job with voice... I will have to look only to myself to do what I want.

I'm having a hell of a time getting the right beam on this thing. Sales people tend to not quite hear or relate to my desire for user-friendliness. I'm definitely computer literate, but in the studio I am looking for flow and as few problems as possible. I'm prepared to get a new Mac. I'm prepared to spend as much as $10K or more if needed. Do I want to? Not really. I'd like to get the direct route to efficiency. I'd like to find the system that I "get" and that takes advantage of what I already have but gets me where I'm headed. I've considered such things as the new Roland 24-track all-in-one. I was having trouble getting an answer to a very direct question, though. Are the tracks recorded as 24-bit linear digital (no compression)? The fact that you can choose all the lower "modes" seems curious to me. It has me thinking that resources is an issue. Also, what of my 24x8 Mackie? Should I go for a computer based system. Will ONE computer do it? I've heard, even from manufacturers, things that make it sound like these systems won't really be solid without two computers. If that's so, so be it. But after diving into a shallow deep end last time, how I long to be informed this time, and not buy based on someone's make-it-look-easy demonstration. The demonstrations are generally the same song and the same "routines" over and over. No wonder it is easy. I am willing to learn a new system and put in all the time I have. It's what I love. But I know there's just the right paradigm of operation out there... both audio and MIDI... and I only hope I can be led there instead of to the latest thing. Two or three things BACK would do me if it lets me roll.

Anybody got ideas on that? Perhaps I should've started another post... "No More Excuses"? But this topic touched all those nerves in a big way. I'm very ready to get past the gear and in gear.

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#955076 - 03/15/01 07:06 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Max Ventura Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 511
Loc: Bergamo, Italy
I am usually the advocate of a "spend as less as you can and have as few things around as you can" philosophy.
I appreciate ease of use, streamlining and simplicity above anything else.
I myself cannot hear a difference in a recording made on a Neve or one made on a Mackie. As much as I cannot hear a difference in a piano sound lifted from a Kurz or from a Casio. And when I got my AKG C-2000 (the cheapest condenser mic on the market) I thought it sounded just perfect and wasn't gonna change it ever again.

What I do upgrade, instead of *quality*, which I cannot seemingly appreciate, is *quantity*. I will always upgrade to more tracks in the same format (I'll really soon step to the VS-2480 from the 1680), and to more features in the same package (if a keyboard synth, besides having great sounds, also has realtime controls, and a built-in sequencer, and other stuff, it'll allow me to be more streamlined, have less things around, and be more productive).
That works for me. My whole life runs along the same rails.
Let any man choose his path, but watch your wallet.
_________________________
Max Ventura, Italy.

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#955077 - 03/15/01 07:09 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Max Ventura Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 511
Loc: Bergamo, Italy
Oh yeah, I forgot one thing:
I do believe that arrangement and production techniques, and fantasy in employing them, are WAY more important than the individual sounds you are using and the equipment you use for processing it. It may happen that sometimes, some sounds or some filtering might inspire some opus, but seriously, what's the ratio of that happening?
_________________________
Max Ventura, Italy.

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#955078 - 03/15/01 07:16 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
BK_dup2 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 03/19/01
Posts: 113
Craig,

These boards tend to be a battering ram for the same topics. Everyone wants to have their opinion heard. More often than not music takes the back seat.

I remember when I got my first 4 track . The new worlds I got to explore and the sounds I realized sparked this seemingly never ending fire.

To this day I still feel the same about hearing back something that came from me or making another artist feel great about their music. The satisfaction can't be measured no matter what the hell I used to record. Sometimes I wish I was on a desert Island with nothing but a guitar and a captive audience.

I do feel I am making a difference one note at a time.

Thanks for a great topic.

Brian Kahanek

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#955079 - 03/15/01 07:47 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Valkyrie Sound Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 1891
Loc: LA, CA, UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by Jazzooo:


<is well performed but poorly recorded can still
move someone.>>

Again, I don't think that "poorly recorded" is analogous to using less expensive gear. It's the talent, not the tools that make the most difference, in my experience.


Well, I believe this topic was discussing upgrades
to better "quality" gear. I never said anything
about price.
Yes, I do think that in my line of work,
cheap gear can lead to poor recordings
right from the start.
I really don't think that the extra
noise of most lower cost equipment can
be called a "good sound" in classical recording.
Sometimes some grunge in a pop recording can be good...

Yes, it is all about talent but what I
was talking about was my desire to capture
the sound I was hearing live with no color
or noise from my equipment. So.... I'll be upgrading
forever....

http://www.valkyriesound.bizland.com
_________________________
Valkyrie Sound:
http://www.vsoundinc.com
Now at TSUTAYA USA:
http://www.tsutayausa.com

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#955080 - 03/15/01 08:15 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
the stranger Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 09/18/00
Posts: 5760
Loc: THE TOP
Musicmans post really summed up my feelings, but I'm on a much smaller scale than he.

I'm still doing the four track thing. I did the two tape decks and a mixer thing (every track is a bounce) for 6+ years before the 4 track thing.
Well, the couple of years of 4tracking has given me a taste of working with a broader palette. I'm also planning on making an investment in a better setup, but I also want to be able to work without a whole mess of issues related to this new gear. I work fast and don't linger around on any given song too long. I am lucky enough to be inspired on a regular basis and don't have enough time to follow every damn riff or idea that I come up with. (Shit, I've got boxes full of tapes of ideas thrown down over the years-I always figure one of these days I'll sample all that shit and get that Acid 2.0 really cooking)
Anyway, I want a machine that is intuitive. (Software is always quite amusingly retarded in this respect. Do they even attempt to use half this shit before they release it to the public?)
Anyway, I can plug in a few things, throw up a mic, arm a track or two and being laying down some riffs in about ten minutes with my current novice equipment. I want that kind of ease of use in whatever I decide to get. The muse is waiting and I'd rather not be scrolling through 14 menus, arming the third world, contacting 4 satellites, and linking up with the NSA just to get a damn riff down.

Oh yeah! Yeah, I make excuses quite frequently. "Man, I need that triple quad de-indistixellaster and then I'll be in the big time." I say shit like that all the time. But, I slobber over the latest mag, catalog, or whatever on the shitter, and then I go in my room and make some music. So, yeah I do think I "need" this and that, but it doesn't stop me from working with what I have. Because, in reality, I'm working with some high tech gear compared to what I made do with for quite a few years. Even if all I had was a little GE tape recorder, I'd still be recording. I used one way back when, I'll use one again if I have to.

(Imagine this: way back when- I would record a guitar part on this little $20 GE tape recorder with the little built in mic. I would then play back that tape on a cheapo boom-box while I played another guitar part and I would be recording this with the little GE. I would end up layering 4 or five damn tracks this way. It would sound like total dog shit, but it worked and I enjoyed doing it. I was totally empowered. This was how I got into recording. It took me almost 8 years after that before I finally got a 4 track. I went from that GE setup to the ultimate: 2 consumer tape decks and a radio shack mixer. I was a ping ponging fool! I did this for 6+ years. I can't even count how many cassette decks I put in the grave. So now, after a couple of years of 4 tracks, I'm going to get me 16 tracks of digital bliss! I paid my dues, damnit!)

Anyway, gear is great. Yes, we ALL "need" that one more piece of gear to make our setup really hum. In the end, though, I try to be grateful for what I DO have, and use it for every ounce it's worth.

Blah, blah, blah.....

dr "radio shack" d saying "man, I just gotta get that zycotixciter and I'll be in business."

This message has been edited by dr destructo on 03-15-2001 at 05:19 AM

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#955081 - 03/15/01 08:18 AM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
alphajerk Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 03/06/00
Posts: 7950
Loc: asheville nc usa
i dont really care if it makes a difference to the end listener, it makes a difference to me. and its not minute differences either. its not an excuse, it a reward for hard learning that made you outgrow lesser gear. like playing a guitar, you buy el cheapo... one of two things happens, it sits in the closet never learned or you buy a better one after you played so hard on it you broke it and so on.

my 4 track is in dire straights, but damn did i pump some sounds through that thing. i recorded hundreds of bands, myself, others... now i am starting to amass high end gear that inspires me, i buy gear to fill purposes, to carry out the sounds in my head. ESPECIALLY when you are still doing rock bands, not this one person holed up in a room type thing [although im known to do that too, usually ripped out of my skull] the sounds in my head cant be made with bad gear but all gear inspires me some way.

well anyways, none of this gear lust nitpicking pres holds up the music at all, i cant wait to use it on different things and lately i have been looking foward to the tracking dates over the mixing [maybe its those pres and mics i bought] i've sunk a bit into my studio and will continue to do so, he who has the most toys wins.


so for me, more gear is just an excuse to record even more. after all... why are your buying it in the first place? to sit there and look pretty?
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#955082 - 03/15/01 12:31 PM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
miroslav Offline
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Registered: 05/23/00
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Loc: NY Hudson Valley, USA
Hey!...looks like I'm not the only one.

http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/000915.html
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#955083 - 03/15/01 01:22 PM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Calfee Jones Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/25/00
Posts: 395
Loc: Memphis USA
Yes, you've got to have a great song, arrangement and players. And there has to be fire in the performance, some sort of emotion that builds up the heat. But the gear it is recorded on can help people enjoy all of that.

And sometimes you take a recorded performance that is not so skillfull and inspiring, but you can get it sold because it is sonically pleasing. So for the big time studios and artists - it is a cost benefit thing. They make enough money off the sales to justify the cost.

I would see improvement in my stuff would some better mics and pre-amps. But as with everything in life - ya does what ya can wid' what ya got!
- CJ
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#955084 - 03/15/01 01:25 PM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
lbjmusic Offline
Member

Registered: 02/27/01
Posts: 23
Loc: Ottawa,,CANADA
Interesting comments. I was thinking about this the other day. My buddy and I were laughing about how cheezy his first drum machine sounded (circa 1987 Korg), and today, expensive samplers and synths actually have patches to emulate those "cheezy" sounds because all of a sudden...that sound is 'cool'.

As for gear lust...it's unavoidable. But I try to make things sound as good and as BIG as possible with as little gear as possible: it forces me to be creative. And in the process, I usually stumble across something really neat that actually helps the songwriting process. Who knew.


Robert

This message has been edited by lbjmusic on 03-15-2001 at 10:33 AM
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#955085 - 03/15/01 01:31 PM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
hiraga Offline
Platinum Member

Registered: 02/04/01
Posts: 1078
Loc: Inside Venus...
The listerner only cares about the music.. if those crunchy saturated drumz we're done with 2", or a 12 bit sampler, a plug in or a stompbox.. well, that don't mean shit to them. Only to *us*.

What I mean they don't care about the process. We do.

That doesn't mean they can't hear the benefits higher bit rates give though...

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#955086 - 03/15/01 01:36 PM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Anderton Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 01/28/00
Posts: 7377
>>I don't think that Stevepow's point about his wife hearing the difference between a mastered and a non-mastered recording is exactly what Craig was talking about. I think it's more like a mix that was mastered with a Finalizer versus a software program, by guys with the same level of talent. <<

You're right. I'm not talking about poorly-recorded vs. well-recorded. Obviously, most people can recognize the difference between good and bad sound. What I'm trying to get at is that talent and experience tends to be the limiting factor in much of today's gear, not the gear itself. I've heard Jazzooo's recordings, and he has the talent; but as his time at a pro studio shows, he doesn't have the experience. That didn't prevent me from enjoying his CDs, because the music was good; but having an experienced engineer will only make it better. On the other hand, give an experienced engineer ANYTHING to record on, and it will probably sound pretty damn good.

But there was a very interesting (and different) sub-thread happening here, and that is about finding gear with which you have chemistry. That's a whole different subject; sometimes gear is just so simpatico as to indeed be inspiring. And sometimes a piece of gear, no matter how capable on paper, just doesn't turn you on. Does having simpatico gear help you make better music? Yes, I think so. After all, WE'RE the ones making the music, not the gear, so anything that puts us in a better frame of mind is bound to help.
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#955087 - 03/15/01 02:00 PM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
BP3 Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 07/31/00
Posts: 6524
As far as the gear goes, I think it falls into 2 categories.

Audio-
As Craig points out, audio gear today allows us to do great music on a low budget. The talent level of the musicians and composer are of first importance. Sure, we would all love to have the best that the gear world has to offer, but for many of us, compromise is necessary and teaches us how to do better with less. Having fewer choices often makes us focus more on the music, rather that the gear. This is usually a good thing.

Instruments-
I've always found that a new synth or guitar effect, etc. will stir the creative juices a bit. Sometimes the inspiration for a new song can come from the first time you discover a new tone on that new piece of gear. In this regard, the gear is not an excuse, merely a new color to choose from and enhance your creative choices.

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#955088 - 03/15/01 02:05 PM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Calfee Jones Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/25/00
Posts: 395
Loc: Memphis USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Anderton:
What I'm trying to get at is that talent and experience tends to be the limiting factor in much of today's gear, not the gear itself. [/B]


I agree. I guess that is the point. So it seems clear that a never ending search for different gear can be an excuse for poor performance (but not always). I also work in the software field and it seems like some computer guys are always saying "You can get that as soon as the next new version of is released."
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#955089 - 03/15/01 02:19 PM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
staupep@hotmail.com_dup1 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/07/00
Posts: 38
Loc: sarasota,,UNITED STATES
I have been lusting after some new software and convertors and mics and preamps etc recently as well. This last year was spent tracking acoustic guitar in a studio with some seriously righteous gear. Vintage Neumann, Telefunken, Avalon, Focurite, Lexicon, 2" tape , $10,000 Martin blah blah. It was a let down to come back to my home studio with DAW, ADAT, Rode, Shure57, Mackie, Presonus, cheap Gibson type stuff.
But I had a major break through with some old AT mics that had been laying around. I don't even know what model because the numbers are not visible. I never even tried them for anything but drum overheads. Mistake! Through them in front of my Gibson Gospel(A difficult midrangy sounding guitar) as an xy and put a Rode NT1 up as a room mic as well and BINGO! It is a different, but totally cool acoustic guitar sound that makes me smile. The AT's are a bit dark sounding and sound very smooth to digital. I have discovered my own sonic signature. And you won't be able to duplicate it This I love. And now I am at least temporarily satisfied and don't even need those new convertors that I thought were surely the problem. I have arrived on the cheap!
Lesson is just keep trying experiments. You may find an interesting combination of equipment that really works together. Well that's all the time I have, I'm off to lay more tracks. See Ya!

Eric

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#955090 - 03/15/01 02:45 PM Re: Is Gear an Excuse?
Lee Flier Offline
10k Club

Registered: 09/13/00
Posts: 15398
Loc: Atlanta,GA,UNITED STATES
Quote:
Originally posted by Anderton:

But there was a very interesting (and different) sub-thread happening here, and that is about finding gear with which you have chemistry. That's a whole different subject; sometimes gear is just so simpatico as to indeed be inspiring. And sometimes a piece of gear, no matter how capable on paper, just doesn't turn you on. Does having simpatico gear help you make better music? Yes, I think so. After all, WE'RE the ones making the music, not the gear, so anything that puts us in a better frame of mind is bound to help.


TOTALLY agree. Yes, I think I can get a good sound out of any halfway decent piece of gear that you throw at me. But how much of a headache will it be for me to get the sound I want? And how magical is it when you find that one piece of gear, or combination of pieces, that you can just plug in and turn it on and it loves your music?

I think there's something to be said for the tactile experience of gear as well. DAW users sometimes like to diss analog-heads for "not wanting to learn to use new tools" for example, but I think more often than not it's that you are sympatico with certain media and the way it works. Some filmmakers don't like to work with video because video very definitely changes the character of the image, and the way you work with video is different from film too. Sure, if you applied some effects and whatever, you could probably get the look of video to simulate film pretty well, but why bother if you enjoy working with film? Nobody would suggest that an artist who loves painting in oils should switch to computer graphics or even watercolors if they are sympatico with oils. Why should it be any different for audio gear?

Of course the reverse is true as well - if working in a DAW is what inspires you, there is no reason you should feel obligated to work with tape or any other format. The one argument I do not buy into is that the tools don't matter (e.g. "It's not the equipment, it's the operator" or "Analog or digital doesn't matter, in the right hands either one will do the job"). These arguments are true so far as they go, but the tools you use and like DO define you and your work in some way, and will affect the end result. It's just that for each person, the tools that work for them and those that don't will be different.

--Lee
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