As always, I couldn’t wait for my human waste management system to kick in so I could delve into the brand new issue of Tape Op magazine. I’m seriously beginning to wonder if it’s a crappy magazine, because every time I open the pages I smell fecal matter. Okay, a “crappy” joke. I apologize.
Every once in a while, the media lets something slip. Back in December, I read in the local newspaper that the auto industry was pushing for partial government ownership of the auto industry here in the US. This hit me upside the head like a sledgehammer. I couldn’t believe that the powers that be let this one “slip”. For the first time, it was made clear to me that there were those making a serious push for pure socialism. I couldn’t believe they spilled the beans in public!
(Getting away from politics)
When I opened up the Nov/Dec 2008 issue of Tape Op, I was equally crushed by an over sized crushing device when I came across a line in the interview with the popular UK band, Elbow. I can’t recall the beans ever being spilled in print before. Not in EQ, certainly not in Mix Magazine, and not even in Tape Op. Before I tell you what that statement was, let’s get some background info on Elbow, because I didn’t know who they were before the article.
I visited the Elbow @ Myspace and at this point they have close to 2,000,000 plays. This puts them definitely in “label territory”. It appears they were actually signed to Island Records (major label) but were a casualty of a corporate take over before the band could release a single album. They have released four studio albums to date and all of them have parenthesis with a “#” and a number afterwards. In other words, these dudes have made the charts with all four of their albums. They’ve won a bunch of awards and received critical acclaim….bla bla bla
This band is not screwing around!
You can get more details here at Wiki. Before I unleash the big secret that no one in pro audio land wants you to know, it wouldn’t hurt to take a listen to their work. Yeah, Myspace really sucks for evaluating audio engineering. What can you do?
- Elbow is a pro band that is in major label territory and makes a living making noise.
- Not only do they make a living, they actually hit the charts. Leaders of the Free World hit #12 in the UK.
- Elbow’s home recordings were good enough that Tape Op was beating down their door for an interview.
So, here goes.
Craig Potter from Elbow says:
“The difference between good mic pres and cheap pres is absolutely nothing in the big picture. It makes a bit of difference, maybe, and I probably don’t experiment as much as I should, but it doesn’t make enough of a difference.”
So there you have it. A band who has made a big expensive record for Island Records, has worked with big boy producers, and chooses to engineer their own records considers high end preamps to be “absolutely nothing in the big picture”. The band is still clearly successful as you can see by their busy touring schedule and their recordings certainly are good enough for Tape Op to interview them.
While I’ve felt compelled to beat this preamp issue to death here on RecordingReview.com, it seems I have to. Way too many kids and hobbyists get tricked into thinking their recordings will never be up to par because they don’t have volume knobs that say Neve or API on them. My goal is not to defame the high end gear, but simply give some perspective.
When considering the high end gear, don’t be afraid of what you’ll lose if you don’t shell out the big ones. Instead, look for what you will gain. If the price to benefit ratio isn’t good, throw away your money on something else!
Elbow doesn’t need high end preamps to chart in the UK. Do you? Find out what Elbow DOES need in their Tape Op interview.