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Why Non-Audio Engineers Beat Engineers Every Time

Brandon Drury —  November 5, 2011 — Leave a comment

When Already Engineered Tracks Don’t Sound Right

For the past year or so I’ve had a running weekly electronic group that comes in every Tuesday. It’s all synths and no real instruments. (Everyone in the group can play a real instrument well, but chooses this method for fun.) I fully expected synth-based music to be a breeze because the engineering is already done. IT IS NOT! It took me 8 months before we figured out how to track, arrange, and produce a synth-based production that I was content with. The arrangement part was, by far, the toughest thing to figure out as we had 50 things going on when we needed more like one…or maybe ½ of one.

I want to re-emphasize this. Since we are dealing with synths, drum samples, etc NONE of the tracks need fixing in the objective sense yet it took 30 something weeks to get a feel for this kind of production on a level I was comfortable with. How could that be? That’s kinda the point of this article.

Do Metalheads Need Engineers?

I’m starting a new weekly project but it’s a bedroom metalhead that wants to have an ongoing thing from here until he runs out of money. He’s doing all his own drum programming and such. I’m just there to make sure it turns out better than his stuff normally would.

So far both of these projects have one thing in common. Both projects demand tip-top production. In both cases, I was running all this gear through API, Wunder, Manley, my Toft ATB32 console, my Distressor, LA-3as, Apogee AD-16x converters, bla bla bla. These clients couldn’t care less about the “do nothing” knobs as one guy calls them. (Pretty funny, I think.)

They sent me to Youtube where a guy who had only one studio monitor somehow figured out how to crank out some sound that isn’t pro, it’s ROBO PRO. Then you find another guy who’s productions just KILL and then in interviews it’s obvious he has no “engineering” abilities. You can tell by the way he talks that he is rather ignorant about a majority of the things we focus on in recording land.

How is it that a client of mine could say, “I dream of my stuff sounding like this someday”, when the guy that did that recording doesn’t even know what a release does on a compressor?

Betrayed By The Audio Engineering Vacuum

I personally feel like I’ve been betrayed. Some scum hole put out a trap to suck people into thinking like audio engineers instead of actually making anything sound good….the kind of good that makes the client get excited. They get people fighting about bit-depth, sample rates, preamps, converters, the loudness war, how many guitar layers to use, etc when there is a GIGANTIC pink elephant in the room.

It’s got to be a government conspiracy and since he’s not talking about it, clearly Alex Jones is in on it, too. (Maybe not.)

This week I feel like Squint Mode is total bullshit. Yeah, give me a 10-clip shootout with 2 of them being a Neve-style preamps. The odds are good I’ll pick out both Neves out of the bunches. Hurray. Give me a freakin medal. That IS NOT what the clients pay for!!!

That’s NOT what is expected from an engineer. That’s not even important when mixing. I’m starting to wonder when it IS important.

Electronic groups expect me to be a master of synths. Metalheads expect my 5150 to sound like Avenged Sevenfold or whatever. I’m supposed to be a master of INSTRUMENTS. You can see the division between instrument guy and audio engineer blur when the engineer is tuning the drums….which is rather normal on just about any “organic” session.

I’m also supposed to be a master at putting the puzzle together. A bass that sounds pretty damn good on it’s own suddenly sounds muddy, weak, or just plain weird when you toss a few metal guitar tracks on it. That’s the puzzle part and I really need to have a FAST solution for it when such problems pop up. Is the solution “audio engineer tools” like compression or EQ? Hell no. Wait. Let me change that to “rarely”. You CAN get by with those in a pinch. If you grabbed 20 random basses, there is one that will work well with no EQ or compression needed. Again, they are really looking for the guy who DOESN’T use his engineering tools and instead is a master of instruments.

This concept is reinforced. One of my go-to tactics these days is to put a UAD Pultec on anything that needs to cut through the mix a bit. The Pultec adds harmonic content even when the knobs aren’t even being used. Take a metal guitar player, mic his amp, and before you’ve found the super super sweet spot perfect for his tone, toss on a UAD Pultec. If he’s inquisitive he’ll ask, “What’s that do?”. You respond by , “Listen, I’ll show you.” In your DAW press the bypass button on and off.

This tone junkie who gets into fights over Marshall vs Boogie vs Axe FX or who’s spent more time adjusting pickups than he has talking to girls this decade and couldn’t take his tone more seriously will in the back of his mind say, “This engineer guy is out of his mind. I’m trying get Dimmu Borgir tone and he’s playing around with a do nothing machine”.

The Conspiracy

The real conspiracy is not the Pultec trick world. It’s subtle, but when we get down to the 1-yard line of mixing we need those kinds of tools as they make life easier for us. The conspiracy is that by being sucked into our world of audio engineering tricks we start to think they are something more than that.

The electronic music nerd or the bedroom metalhead dork may appreciate you focusing on the details, but they are going to think you are liquid ooze when they realize you’ve lost the forest for the trees.

Engineer: “Oh, the 1176 didn’t impress you on your synth track? Let me try the LA2A.”

Synth Nerd: “Dude, whatever you are doing ain’t doing damn thing. Get over here and actually make this synth sound good.”

The Plot Thickens

What’s more interesting is when a guy who is the master of an instrument uses a NON-PRO recording setup, he still sounds PRO. Screw Wunder and API. The guys I’m talking about haven’t even heard of Neve or SSL. He’s using a Delta 44 and a Behringer 3-channel mixer and kicking ASS.

Here’s an example of what I never want to do. Listen to the “metal” clip, which is basically Limp Biskit only different.

http://www.vintageking.com/site/files/hear_the_gear/summing_mixers/api_8200.html

I’m not knocking the band or even the engineer. On this pro audio site, this clip doesn’t seem to get much scrutiny from the pro audio world. By pro audio standards, the clip sounds awesome. (Well tracked, lots of harmonic content.) However, ZERO metal kids I know are going to flip out and say, “Holy shit, run over to Vintage King and listen to THOSE guitars and drums.”

On Bob Katz list of best engineered metal recordings, Korn’s first album is there. What? What the hell is he listening for? I don’t deny his hearing, but there is obviously some kind of generation gap. Anyone who actually BOUGHT Korn’s first album AND BOUGHT a Korn t-shirt looks back now and says, “That record sounds a like a demo.” One of the guys pushing my synth production actually brought up the Korn “demo” sound discussion not long ago. For you old timers compare it to something modern like August Burns Red.

It seems that all the advice is given by old people. (I’m 31) I was watching Nirvana on MTV 20 years ago. I said, “Grandpa, this is the best song ever.” He said, “What’s this? Drug music?” :D Even if he was a pro engineer his opinion wouldn’t be worth anything in that context. He thought Patsy Kline was “real music”….which it is.

Back to gear….

The kids who use an Audio Technica AT2020, which is a BRIGHT SOB, are shocked at the fidelity. They were expecting the sound from talking into a cassette tape deck or maybe talking on an answering machine. They didn’t know a $100 mic could be a REAL mic. It can even if it his bright.

When these kids hear a Horch or a real U47 (particularly in vocals tracks which intentionally used the proximity effect), they are probably going to like an AT2020 better. One old man’s “thick” is another young guys, “muddy”.

I Can’t Tell A Difference

Paul999 brought up an AWESOME point about forgeting which tracks used what. When you do this enough you can’t remember which side is the Marshall and which side is the 5150 although it should be obvious, right? Remembering which vocal had the SM7b and which had the AT4050 can become a real challenge when you don’t have lab-like shootout conditions.

http://forum.recordingreview.com/f8/real-world-audio-sceptics-society-mic-test-testimonial-42409/

It’s even tougher to remember with genres where creative liberties are encouraged on the mixing side. Maybe the vocals done with a Shure Green Bullet were EQ’d to sound a lot more like a condenser. Maybe the hi-fi condenser vocal tracks went through 14 instances of Decapitator.

What High End Gear SHOULD Do

The ENTIRE point of expensive gear is it makes a BIG ASS improvement in what you are doing…..not to appease the old engineer, necessarily, but to make music that excites the musician as much as it’ll eventually excite the listener.

We got into this discussion on the forum this week.

Handing Mr. Metal Kid a Les Paul or Jackson King V to play on instead of his Strat will probably excite him as it is going to be closer to the stereotypical metal sound.

Hand a modern rock drummer a well-tuned Black Beauty in a good room and ditch that thing he found at a yard sale. That will often excite him.

I had to use instrument swapping to illustrate my point as recording gear is a lot more subtle.

I can’t count the times I’ve switched preamps when looking for a sound. Only one time in my life have I been called out on it. It was a singer who noticed that it “didn’t sound the same”.

This is the kind of thing the fancy gear is supposed to do. It’s supposed to take you from a state of unhappiness to a state of, “Hell yeah!!!”

All This Rambling Comes To A Conclusion

I’m 100% convinced that a guy who is the master of his instrument (in terms of the final tone that comes out…not just musicianship and not excluding it either) is the undisputed king of home recording. He can use a rather cheapo interface and get enormous results.

Trying to capture a guitar amp or synth that has not been mastered (I’m thinking more like Heman than Bob Katz) puts you at an extreme disadvantage. I think this sums up many of us guys who run studios for a living. We deal day in and day out with the capture of bands and due to the fast pace of the work, we rarely get the time to sit down and spent 8 hours getting a guitar sound….assuming the player and setup sound that good anyway. Sometimes dumping a full day on tweaking guitar sounds is necessary…sometimes it isn’t. Most of us in this camp have made fun records and done it in situations where we couldn’t put that much attention to detail in it.

This attention to detail in mastering the source is a huge advantage to the home recorder, particularly one who doesn’t need to bother with deadlines or getting paid.

While the notion of having a rack of Neve, API, and SSL preamps sounds like a dream, it also comes at a price. You start leaning on them to solve your audio problems. Mic preamp selection has it’s place, but if switching pres doesn’t make a musician jump out of his skin and inspire him to be more musically intense, how much impact did it really make?

When you have the option of simplifying your setup to having one good preamp that you use for everything, even less expensive options like the

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and even using the same mic or two on everything, you automatically force yourself to focus on the things that make a REAL impact. You don’t immediately switch to console EQ because you don’t have a console or equalizer. Instead you hold your pick differently, move a mic 3mm, or grab a different bass.

For those of us who can crank out decent mixes but always kinda feel like they never get past decent, it may be time to quit thinking like an engineer and start thinking like a musician. A serious musician. A musician who can play and practices. A musician who’s serious about tone. A musician who shows up on time. A musician who doesn’t steal your girlfriend.

Oh hell! Maybe not. I’m going back to engineering.:eek:

Brandon


jpierre – 11-15-2011, 08:51 AM Edit Reply
great article brandon

Danny Danzi – 11-15-2011, 09:08 AM Edit Reply
Good stuff in this article. A few comments if I may?

Over-thinking it: As you know, I’ve been an advocate of doing my best to stop people from buying into some of the hype type gear. At the end of the day, I sincerely believe most of these gizmo’s only improve your sound by about 5%. You have to realize…you already have a good front end, good cables, killer board, good soundcard with converters…anything you add here is NOT (in my opinion) going to make a difference more than 3-5%. Honest man…trust me when I tell you. This is why I got rid of all my hardware stuff other than a few pieces for emergency. Other than the coloration factors of hardware…which I sincerely believe you can cop with a little work and come close to ITB….I still think it’s hype more than “wow”. When a guy throws out a mix that makes you say “wtf” and he find out he doesn’t know what release on a compressor is…and he’s using a Realtek or s Shitblaster 64 Gold card…it’s one of two things. He’s got golden ears or the baystid got lucky on that mix. If he has an entire library of good sounding stuff…golden ears. I have a friend like that. No matter what he uses for recording gear…which is limited, he kills on the sound. I remember when I was first using my Tascam 16 track reel to reel. I put out this little ep for the club scene. I thought it sounded killer and was better than anything anyone else had put out…until this dude releases something on this old Sansui (spelling?) 6 track that only had 5 tracks working at the time! It was killer…and better than mine. He didn’t smoke me…but it was definitely better quality than what I did. He had next to no gear, knew nothing like what I knew…but just knew enough to make things sound great…which is all that is important really.

Betrayed: I too use the Pultec on guitars. Thanks to Beau Hill for turning me onto it as well as some of his settings and how to really use the thing. It’s definitely the magic guitar plug in my opinion. As for that bass that sounds good by itself but bad in the mix…that’s the problem. Most bass guitars don’t sound very good on their own when they are eq’d right for a mix. Guitars can be like that too. There’s something about how all the instruments talk to each other and get along. When one sounds too good by itself, it’s like the other get jealous and purposely rain on its parade to make it sound horrible. One of my worst mistakes man…is soloing something up while trying to fix it. I only do this if I have a problem area that I need to hone in on. I can normally fix a bass in a few seconds while allowing it to play with the drum kit only. Besides…you got me when this problem happens…shoot me an email with a soundclip and I’ll help ya sort it.

Can’t tell a difference: It’s amazing what seeing something can do for us as opposed to just listening. I sincerely believe that if we didn’t see something, we’d not be as anal as we are in over-thinking something. For example…if you create a 30 second project in your DAW at 24/48, and export it while naming it “name of song 48″ and then go into your DAW, change sample rate to 96, and recreate that 30 second project from the ground up, (make sure you play it perfectly as to not let yourself know which version…you know, a mistake in one and not the other tells you which is which) export and name it “name of song 96″. Now take one of the files, and name it name of song 2 just as a mix to mess with your head and listen to all 3 while looking at the names…you’ll pick 96 as the better sound every time. Have your wife or a friend play them at random…watch how the tables turn and how your choices change. You MAY get it right by guessing, but do it a few times and you’ll see you’ll totally blow it.

Conclusion: Yep, you’ll always get better recordings when you have players that have a grasp on their instruments. When someone can play, even if they have a less than stellar sound, it somehow always seems to work well in a mix even if you have to work it a bit. Most people have what I call “tonality finger prints”. That means, whatever they plan on…no matter how bad the guitar, the amp, the bass, the drum kit….their playing and sound identity comes out to where you can always make it work. When you have someone that is just a terrible player…the best rig and recording gear in the world won’t help them. As a matter of fact…it will make them sound worse because the better the quality, the more unforgiving it can be.

-Danny

samth3mancgp – 11-15-2011, 10:07 AM Edit Reply
I’ve been drooling over some Mytek converters for the last several days… (I think they may the the exact same Myteks you have/had? The Stereo 2/96?) I think I really needed to read this article to help put things back into perspective. Reading all the amazing reviews for the Mytek converters had me excited that it would make a big difference in my sound, but all of my personal experiences and intuition keep telling me otherwise Last year I bought a Black Lion Audio Microclock mk2 with the hopes that it would take the cheap converters in my M-Audio ProjectMix and Presonus Digimax D8 to another level, BLA sure made it seem like it would! When I got it, was there really a difference to be heard? I didn’t even know how to go about “testing” it at the time. I felt like my skills as an engineer were improving along with the gear I was buying, but that the gear wasn’t making near as much difference as the source (exactly what you say is imperative to master in this article), mic placement, and the room/acoustics/treatment!! New drumheads (and having a damn clue how to tune them), or a brand new Avatar cab with a real Marshall Plexi through it made an AMAZING and clearly audible difference in the overall quality of the recordings than I’ve ever been able to perceive external clocking, high end converters, preamps, and even mics to be. With every review I have been reading about these Mytek converters, I have had this persistent thought in the back of my mind saying something like “you could buy a used Peavey 5150, AND a different flavor of snare drum for the same price as this Mytek A/D you dumbass, and it will probably make more difference anyway!”Great Article Brandon, I always enjoy the e-mail updates I get from you, because I can expect honest and down-to-earth insight.

garww – 11-15-2011, 10:42 AM Edit Reply
I like Danny’s “fingerprints” thing. Gets my little brain going in different directions.

metaphorman – 11-15-2011, 11:00 AM Edit Reply
I dunno. I find that any capacitors in the audio path make things sound like mud. They somehow suck the tangible passion I want to infuse into recordings, right out of the recordings. If there is one of those in the audio path – or a cheap cable… nothing can recover the recording. I went to Burl converters and ribbons to capture tangible passion. Good mic technique is paramount. Even more paramount is talent. There is no point in recording something if some semblance of passion is not there in your recordings, or else everything may as well be Britney Spears and her electronically altered voice to try to make it sound like she can still breathe some passion into her songs. Passion rules. If you can capture that, you have something. If you can’t, you have lost. As to converters: learn one of them… use the damn thing and get used to what it can do. Get used to what your equipment’s character is, and learn (instinctively, through excessive use) how it get it to do what you want. I find the Burl A/D the easiest thing to learn, and requires the least amount of brainpower to use properly, especially under time pressure. It’s just plain magical. It puts everything exactly where you want it, every time. I can’t say that about any other converter around my studio. The worst thing I ever tried to use was my first Presonus FireStudio Mobile. I could not place why things didn’t have the presence and passion, no matter what pre-amp I used. It’s the Chang capacitors throughout their audio paths. There is some equipment that does damage to the ability to pull in human emotions that we expect from our studio gear that just cannot be undone. If you use junk gear that has 20 cents of electronics per channel and cheapo electrolytic caps – dude you have to have TALENT to get it to do anything that people will actually WANT to buy. The purpose of high end gear is to capture things the way you want them, or at least capture things in a way that you have a vastly higher chance of actually being able to USE them.

davidsony – 11-15-2011, 11:05 AM Edit Reply
Awesome article. Keeps me inspired as I’m definitely not an engineer. I don’t know what you guys are usually talking about with gear. I play guitar. I sing. I play keys. I play bass. A bit of super basic drums. I sometimes think I need to learn a lot more about the technical side of engineering. I DO practice recording. I find for me, the learning is in the doing. I’m getting better. Kind of like how learning guitar was/is. Guess I’m also lucky I don’t have deadlines with my recordings. But I still have to make difficult choices. Cheers — and thanks again for the excellent thoughts! Great stuff.

garww – 11-15-2011, 12:17 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
I dunno. I find that any capacitors in the audio path make things sound like mud. They somehow suck the tangible passion I want to infuse into recordings, right out of the recordings. If there is one of those in the audio path – or a cheap cable… nothing can recover the recording. I went to Burl converters and ribbons to capture tangible passion. Good mic technique is paramount. Even more paramount is talent. There is no point in recording something if some semblance of passion is not there in your recordings, or else everything may as well be Britney Spears and her electronically altered voice to try to make it sound like she can still breathe some passion into her songs. Passion rules. If you can capture that, you have something. If you can’t, you have lost. As to converters: learn one of them… use the damn thing and get used to what it can do. Get used to what your equipment’s character is, and learn (instinctively, through excessive use) how it get it to do what you want. I find the Burl A/D the easiest thing to learn, and requires the least amount of brainpower to use properly, especially under time pressure. It’s just plain magical. It puts everything exactly where you want it, every time. I can’t say that about any other converter around my studio. The worst thing I ever tried to use was my first Presonus FireStudio Mobile. I could not place why things didn’t have the presence and passion, no matter what pre-amp I used. It’s the Chang capacitors throughout their audio paths. There is some equipment that does damage to the ability to pull in human emotions that we expect from our studio gear that just cannot be undone. If you use junk gear that has 20 cents of electronics per channel and cheapo electrolytic caps – dude you have to have TALENT to get it to do anything that people will actually WANT to buy. The purpose of high end gear is to capture things the way you want them, or at least capture things in a way that you have a vastly higher chance of actually being able to USE them.
Straight line is the way to go, no doubt. I often try to present the view of “box of parts”. In my view, if you don’t know what the box of parts is it will be hard to get anywhere with audio. As for converters, one is likely to hear the op-amps. Change the op-amps and you get another animal.

christianfilips – 11-15-2011, 12:22 PM Edit Reply
“One old man’s “thick” is another young guys, “muddy””, Yeah, I have noticed that. I think it is especially true because as we age, we lose our perception in the highs.

deep thought – 11-15-2011, 01:44 PM Edit Reply
Makes good sense.

karp47 – 11-15-2011, 06:11 PM Edit Reply
I needed to read this, thanks.

underunity – 11-15-2011, 07:14 PM Edit Reply
One of the best blogs you have written. Thanks for sharing, as always!

DanTheMan – 11-15-2011, 08:00 PM Edit Reply
Anytime I play well, there’s pretty much no work to mixing. If I don’t play well, well you can just forget it.

barbecutie – 11-15-2011, 11:56 PM Edit Reply
Excellent article! Thanks. BBC

garageband – 11-16-2011, 12:58 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
I find that any capacitors in the audio path make things sound like mud.
All amplifier circuits of the 70 years or so have capacitors in the audio path. All. Where did you get such an idea? The internet?

Great article, Brandon. That’s one of your Top Ten, for sure. That Vintage King link to the “metal” clip was the best. Made me laugh out loud.

You’re supposed to know how to drive the truck. Neither the shipper nor the consignee cares about the minutiae of its operation or maintenance.

adorian – 11-16-2011, 04:11 PM Edit Reply
I think we are missing the elephant in the room – the ARRANGEMENT. Usually, when a song is arranged properly, or scored, or whatever you want to call it – very little needs to be done on the mixing stage. A lot of modern music is done by people that have no idea of musical composition and it shows.

garww – 11-16-2011, 04:46 PM Edit Reply
I think that’s more a missing property, but I’m thinning that doesn’t have anything to do with engineering and recording. That’s the last thing an engineer should be doing.

metaphorman – 11-17-2011, 01:35 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by garageband
All amplifier circuits of the 70 years or so have capacitors in the audio path. All. Where did you get such an idea? The internet?
I open up some tube amps… no caps in the audio path. They support the various components by providing local power. They are not in series. Instead, I find overkill (Jensen, Cinemag, proprietary, etc) transformers on the ins and outs. Then I look at the CJ, wondercaps everywhere… I look at the presonus, caps everywhere in series. I look at the Burl…. Gee, there seems to be a correlation between the circuits that sound realistic and those that make things sound like what I can only describe as “plastic bags”.

moleunion – 11-17-2011, 02:28 AM Edit Reply
I recently went to Mixfest for Pensado’s Place and I have to say that the only real lesson I took home follows this idea. I was talking to Jean-Marie Horvat and the biggest thing I took from him is his attitude. Basically, he’s a “shut up and mix the stupid thing” type dude… quit over thinking and make some music, quit being a sissy about gear and monitors and get creative. I like it!

pablodagnino – 11-17-2011, 01:53 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by moleunion
I recently went to Mixfest for Pensado’s Place and I have to say that the only real lesson I took home follows this idea. I was talking to Jean-Marie Horvat and the biggest thing I took from him is his attitude. Basically, he’s a “shut up and mix the stupid thing” type dude… quit over thinking and make some music, quit being a sissy about gear and monitors and get creative. I like it!
I agree with that.
I have learned that “to be creative” sometimes works better when you don’t know too much about tech stuff.
It may slow down your pace, and make you loose that spark needed to find something “Unique”…

garww – 11-17-2011, 02:38 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
I open up some tube amps… no caps in the audio path. They support the various components by providing local power. They are not in series. Instead, I find overkill (Jensen, Cinemag, proprietary, etc) transformers on the ins and outs. Then I look at the CJ, wondercaps everywhere… I look at the presonus, caps everywhere in series. I look at the Burl…. Gee, there seems to be a correlation between the circuits that sound realistic and those that make things sound like what I can only describe as “plastic bags”.
Ha ! I also get a kick out of those freehand inductors. My last purchase had two farily heavy ones on the rect. tube. Inductors and coils, Baby !

dikh – 11-17-2011, 10:44 PM Edit Reply
Hm. I cannot let my self to agree with point what some “don’t know what is comp rate” guy can beat experienced engineer. Here is the point: after doing mix and mix, every day, ears become not so sharp to your own style of mixes. After that you listen mix made by “don’t know what is comp rate” guy, and feel that your work is BS. I very familiar with that, but if you will analyze it more clearly, you got that maybe gtrs sound amazing in this particular clip (may be drums or over instruments), but overall mix sound not so cool. Because good mix it’s not only get the badass sound of every instruments, it’s more about to make them not harm each over, make the good playing football team that provide good attack and protection instead of “star team” there no one want to support each other and team members fight each one for people attention instead of making goals. And here is the point there “don’t know what is comp rate” guy start to fail.Also, I don’t believe in “golden ears” (if you are familiar with XFiles you remember of some boy who got part alien brain who can read the mind, so, the only way to get “golden eras” is to become part alien, but I really doubt an alien existence). If he aren’t alien, he got normal ears. It’s mean that you are just stuck with you own style and close you mind for other ways of mixing, and he mix in totally different way. Overall good article and nice comments)

garww – 11-18-2011, 08:15 AM Edit Reply
My recent inductor collection. What I thought were two cans on the left turned out to be two EF86 – shielded, and mounted on a floating socket to tame microphonics/ But check out the coils on the right

JayGee – 11-18-2011, 08:37 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
I open up some tube amps… no caps in the audio path. They support the various components by providing local power. They are not in series. Instead, I find overkill (Jensen, Cinemag, proprietary, etc) transformers on the ins and outs. Then I look at the CJ, wondercaps everywhere… I look at the presonus, caps everywhere in series. I look at the Burl…. Gee, there seems to be a correlation between the circuits that sound realistic and those that make things sound like what I can only describe as “plastic bags”.
Yeah, you’re right. Capacitors in any electronic circuit are a unnecessary evil. We don’t need any rc filters, dc blocking and let’s just live with the ac ripple.

garww – 11-18-2011, 10:25 AM Edit Reply
Caps do a job, but I don’t have anything resembling $20-$50 audio caps in my modern gear ( nor my old gear, but they are audio grade)

garageband – 11-19-2011, 12:55 PM Edit Reply
I open up some tube amps… no caps in the audio path. They support the various components by providing local power. They are not in series.
Sorry to belabor this point but this sort of thinking permeates the hi-fi boards and I’m not interested in it poisoning thought around here. If you take a wire and listen to either side of those caps (except the PS), you will hear audio signal. This is a component of the overall sound. The concept itself of an “audio path” is flawed this way as the entire circuit comprises the “audio path”. Even forgiving the error in conception, my console’s inputs channels have a big BP cap square between the input and the first opamp. These preamps sound better than the Millenia HV-3C I had and as good as anything I have ever heard up close. As far as quality of capacitors, my observation is that even cheap Chinese components sound satisfactory for a while although their performance deteriorates over a relative short time in service. I am a believer that good caps are important. A better tact would be to spend less time agonizing over any perceived design or construction shortfalls of your equipment and refocus all that effort on putting something interesting through it. If you have a piece of gear you don’t like, sell it. We live in the modern day of eBay – things can come and go very easily now. Being governed by irrelevant notions such as “any capacitors in the audio path make things sound like mud” is one the reasons non-engineers beat engineers every time.

garww – 11-19-2011, 03:46 PM Edit Reply
That IS very true, GB. But, there are always exceptions. There is a reason Katy Pee has more advanced electronics than my Tascam US-122. It might be easier to think of Audio as really slow speed electronics for most of the audio spectrum – though records can give us up to 90kHz in harmonics.

A Tiny History of High Fidelity, Part 2
“The biggest difference between pre- and post-Eighties design is the awareness that “passive” parts may actually have more coloration than active circuitry. A pre-Eighties circuit will toss “nonpolar” electrolytics all through the design … take a good look at a Revox A77 or Dynaco PAT-4 schematic if you want to see a lot of coupling caps in the signal path. It wasn’t until the mid Eighties the idea arose that every single part in the signal path had to be examined for sonic degradation, not just transistors and tubes”.

I look at a lot of circuits and I always marvel at what the engineers are doing and at what cost. Here’s a clip of one of my A77 that shows the P & R preamp cards. I wondered how that got away with getting such excellent “stereo” out of such simple components.

Quad Spot
“The quality of the capacitors, specially when they are in the signal-line, have a very big impact on the sound-quality of an audio-circuit.

There are several factors that determine the quality of a capacitor, some of them are very important for audio-applications:

•The tolerance and the real capacitance (this is important for usage in filters)
•The dependence of the capacitance on the frequency (1µF at 1000 Hz does not mean 1µF at 20 KHz!)
•The internal resistance (ESR)
•The leakage-current
•The ageing (how will those factors evoluate over time)
The best capacitor-choice depends on the application within the circuit and the capacitance we need”.

metaphorman – 11-20-2011, 03:45 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by garageband
Sorry to belabor this point but this sort of thinking permeates the hi-fi boards and I’m not interested in it poisoning thought around here. If you take a wire and listen to either side of those caps (except the PS), you will hear audio signal. This is a component of the overall sound. The concept itself of an “audio path” is flawed this way as the entire circuit comprises the “audio path”. Even forgiving the error in conception, my console’s inputs channels have a big BP cap square between the input and the first opamp. These preamps sound better than the Millenia HV-3C I had and as good as anything I have ever heard up close. As far as quality of capacitors, my observation is that even cheap Chinese components sound satisfactory for a while although their performance deteriorates over a relative short time in service. I am a believer that good caps are important. A better tact would be to spend less time agonizing over any perceived design or construction shortfalls of your equipment and refocus all that effort on putting something interesting through it. If you have a piece of gear you don’t like, sell it. We live in the modern day of eBay – things can come and go very easily now. Being governed by irrelevant notions such as “any capacitors in the audio path make things sound like mud” is one the reasons non-engineers beat engineers every time.
While I don’t know how your hearing works, I have a very good understanding of mine. It is probably very different than yours, and I would have to say probably wildly superior due to a difference in filtering of the nervous system. Autism runs in my family, for one thing, which means the audio processing part of my brain is VERY different in what it filters out than yours likely is. Simply put, I hear EVERYTHING. Most people psycho-acoustically filter out audio distortions, or at least some types of audio distortions. Not the same with me. Some distortions, like caps in the audio path, a human voice no longer SOUNDS like a voice, it sounds like a plastic bag, and it is just plain utterly maddening.

The non-linearity of capacitors is utterly non-organic…. It causes the recording to sound OBVIOUSLY reproduced.

Condenser microphones sound like kazoos. You can’t hear it because you have fancy filters in your nervous system that adjust for the distortion.

If a BP cap in series sounds better to you than other options… uh…. I’m sorry but we are for all intents and purposes, members of two different SPECIES.

garageband – 11-20-2011, 06:55 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
…. It causes the recording to sound OBVIOUSLY reproduced.

Condenser microphones sound like kazoos…
All recordings sound reproduced and artificial. That’s because they are. They sound that way to everyone, much as all photographs are necessarily of a similar nature: a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional reality. However, the vast preponderance of music recorded in the last 60 years has made use of condenser microphones. I am loathe to disregard any music because it was made with a certain device.

When I’m recording, I don’t think about the guts of whatever gizmo I’m using. That would be distracting and counterproductive.

If you are autistic, I’m enjoying the irony of your screen name as those afflicted are well-known for their literal perspective and understanding of the world. Metaphor is out of that realm.

I’m thinking that if “Condenser microphones sound like kazoos” and “any capacitors in the audio path make things sound like mud”, recording and audio engineering might be better left to others. It is supposed to be essentially an enjoyable activity, not a frustrating trial nor quasi-painful.

garww – 11-20-2011, 09:01 AM Edit Reply
There is a Politics of Experience (good book) to be considered. There are people who think Wonderbread is the best thing in the world. Also, there have been social movements to open the “Doors of Perception” over the years. Auditory filtering is much like eMail filtering, much like you can step on a nail and never feel it. Just commenting. According to the Corona Beer commercials, you can see and hear things differently by drinking beer.

metaphorman – 11-20-2011, 12:27 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by garageband
I’m thinking that if “Condenser microphones sound like kazoos” and “any capacitors in the audio path make things sound like mud”, recording and audio engineering might be better left to others. It is supposed to be essentially an enjoyable activity, not a frustrating trial nor quasi-painful.
The limbic system is hard-wired to find certain tonal signatures to be totally disingenuous. I can hear why. Apparently you can’t….

garageband – 11-20-2011, 01:10 PM Edit Reply
So what are you using instead: wax cylinders or laser sound recorders from The Future? Meanwhile, does that mean you find all recorded music innately unpleasant?

na118 – 11-20-2011, 01:34 PM Edit Reply
If almost the entire population can’t hear this stuff except for you, then why should the rest of us worry about it? Rarely have I heard people on the engineering side of things complaining about kazoos and hating the capacitor mud in their API preamps. Professional engineers use condensers and capacitors all the time because of the sound they produce, and if some of the most critical listeners involved in the production like that sound and I like the sound I really don’t feel like we should be ridiculed for our personal tastes.

Hearing that discriminates based on audio components that very very few other people can hear isn’t “wildly superior”, it just gets in the way of making recordings. I know you didn’t choose it, but to talk down to people based on what you perceive as inferior hearing is utter crap. How many end users hear recordings that don’t use capacitors and condenser mics and say “whoa that sounded a lot more realistic than the last song we heard”. I would guess it would be almost negligible, and I’m assuming most of the professionals in the audio engineering field would say “who cares”.

metaphorman – 11-20-2011, 01:40 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by garageband
So what are you using instead: wax cylinders or laser sound recorders from The Future? Meanwhile, does that mean you find all recorded music innately unpleasant?
Tube amps and pres. burl. ribbons. Specially constructed studio with precisely engineered acoustics. GIANT BASS TRAPS.

Most recording engineers seem to try to eq out the irritating tonal signatures, to try to mitigate them.

And yes, most recordings, especially of voices….. to my ears sound horrifically botched.

Certain tonal signatures, such as the SM57 and SM58, while being totally sucky microphones from a technical point of view are everywhere because they impart a trustable tonal quality to every voice that gets near one. Even Obama picks SM57′s….. They put out a sound that keeps even sucky amps and PA systems from putting across their true tone while not making a mess out of room acoustics that bleed in.

garageband – 11-20-2011, 03:42 PM Edit Reply
And yes, most recordings, especially of voices….. to my ears sound horrifically botched.
Right. Most of us don’t have this problem. We like recorded music, are willing to suspend disbelief (“it’s only a movie”) and accept that in order for something to sound like a record, esp. in the rock style, things need to be reshaped in a stylized fashion. This isn’t “botching” the recording, it’s just the necessity of the medium. If you took a lifelike, very accurate recording of a rock singer singing a song and just laid it on top of the track, it would be amateurish and silly-sounding. I am truly fascinated to know what you find to be acceptable recordings. If you could list about a half a dozen, that would be really revelatory and interesting.

An SM57 has been on the Presidential podium since LBJ. Really nothing to do with a given President’s choice. At one time the standard was the Western Electric 639. These things change.

But, yeah: records are made with capacitors (hundreds of them!) and condenser microphones (a solid handful per song!). It’s a reality. I don’t see any sense in railing against it.

metaphorman – 11-21-2011, 01:17 AM Edit Reply
It is hard to imagine that a blog posting trying to sum up 45+ years of sensory anomalies could get anyone to shift into my paradigms of thought. Neurotypicals utterly, and I do mean UTTERLY lack any kind of common frame of reference. Like a Ferengi talking to a Klingon, or a deer trying to talk to a wolf. I try and try and try, but I just CANNOT GIVE you what you need to make any sense out of what I am saying. I can give you what it would take another autistic person to make sense out of what I am saying, but it only works because he has the same cognitive reference frames that I do, the same sensory and cognitive wiring. Saying that condenser mic’s sound like kazoos, is like trying to tell a blind man what the color of blood should be experienced as. It requires a compatible neurological matrix in the brain to understand what I am saying. I speak “English”, but English is a neurotypical language – a total botched job from the perspective of most autistic people I know (and I know a LOT of them). English is a language is geared for social pecking order and dominance, not conveyance of accurate abstract functional models. It is inherently metaphorical and inherently ambiguous. You people seem to imply that you take “sounds like kazoos” as an insult or a statement of disability or some kind of mix of the two!!??!! You are a bunch of ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET because you are incapable of registering what it would mean to take what I say literally. It is not just talking to aliens, it is like talking to aliens with the maturity of two year olds who feel that they damn well can read my inner thoughts and tone?!

Audio tonal quality is paramount for setting emotional tone in the audience. I watch my audience like a HAWK, watching every microtension and blood flow variation occurring in their face when listening to a recording to gauge how their unconscious processes are working. (Autistic people look away from people because the flood of all this data overloads most autistics, they don’t know what on earth to do with all this data that their central nervous system ranks as “extremely critical” information but cannot decode without excessive training.) The facial expressions of people listening to different classes of microphones attempting to convey the same emotional message are DIFFERENT. I see dishonesty recognition in the faces of people listening to material recorded with condenser microphones, and signs of sensing some kind of “absence” with SM58′s. Ribbon’s (the good ones, like an old RCA 44 or SK46) create a sense of connection and intimacy. They create a sense that the speaker is ready to be close to the audience. This is why Larry King used them on his interviews. Watching the audience for cues is an alien paradigm to most recording people, but something done every moment by live stage performers. I find that what I hear consciously is what others pick up unconsciously. If you want an audience to have a genuine emotional sense of connection with your performers (what else is music for?), why the hell are people using condenser microphones which only create a DRASTIC reaction of untouchability and distance and “put him up on a pedestal” reaction in the limbic systems of their audiences? You people do this kind of thing because you are as utterly blind as bats. You don’t have a clue what a real connection with another person FEELS LIKE, and so you cannot create it. Listen to your irritating cliche filled conversations with no depth of anything to them… most conversations convey competition and pecking order as an emotional substrate. Condenser mic’s generate this sense of competition and comparison with the source. The whole culture is based on this, and so are your MICROPHONES – the devices you use to communicate emotional tone!!!!!! You cannot see it because your brains are utterly culturally warped, and frankly, lack the brainpower. You create a sense of detachment from the source, a sense of separation, a sense of isolation in all your recordings by tinging everything with the sounds of a “raspberry” all over everything… a bzzzzz….. a kazoo. You think it sounds “clear”… but it is like putting a plastic barrier that shrieks when exposed to sound between the source of the sound and the audience. All the information that conveys intimacy is lost to the wavering physics of a drum membrane loaded with standing waves.I

If you listen to really old recordings from the heyday of ribbon microphones, the sound quality might not be optimal, but the sense of intimacy was there. Put on some old black and white movies where ribbon microphones were used for recording…. WOW! What a sense of connection.

Just look at a condenser microphone membrane being subjected to extreme high speed photographic recording, while it is doing audio recording, and you can see the PROBLEM. You are listening to a drum! It’s PLASTIC. It looks like someone dropping water drops on the center of a bowl of water. That is not capable of capturing unmolested sound, because the pickup element is an active component in sound production.

You people just don’t have any notion of the realities of physics, or human physiology, or psycho-acoustics…. or even room acoustics. And you want to lecture someone they sent full time to college when I was 13 years old? How can I not respond by belittling your lack of experience or cognitive modeling abilities? I can’t belittle your passion, but you characters are so PROUD that you don’t want to step back and take in alien information. You seem to lack the wiring to comprehend that the next guy has more functional ideas than you. And believe me, when I read blogs like this, I do it looking for people with ideas that have superior functionality to my own.

To put the “actual” sound of an artist on a recording is an invalid concept: because one has to “define” what the “actual sound” means. At what physical position? Cardiod, bipolar, or omni? How far away? What kind of room treatment, etc etc etc etc. How far from the walls and ceiling (comb filters et al). If you use two microphones on the same track, you get phase cancellations when you mix them. All these factors come into play. Actual sound is radically different when there are different diffusion elements in the recording area? Do you mean “actual sound” is what you hear out of doors on a still day with dead cat muffs on all your microphones to block wind noise?

My goal in recording is to set up certain psychological states in the audience. One cannot set up those intended emotional states in the audience if the tonal quality does not match.

People on the autism spectrum are for the most part extremely aware of things that other people just push out of their conscious attention. I have a LOT of autistic style traits, but the big traits that I don’t have is an inability to respond to non-verbal cues. I READ PEOPLE who are in front of me better than a professional poker player or FBI investigator. My brain is flooded non-stop with microscopic registrations of body language cues, which I interpret usually more accurately than anyone else I have ever known. I respond to this type of information the way an autistic person would, which throws people into a loop, big time. Most people use “gut instinct” to tell them what the guy in front of them is feeding them. I use high speed photographic/eidetic memory of textbooks and previously decoded similar facial expressions, and I decode literally hundreds of them simultaneously from everyone in my field of vision.

garageband – 11-21-2011, 11:05 AM Edit Reply
Ribbon mics ain’t all that. Dull and slightly boxy, a little boomy even. They don’t make a particularly accurate representation of ambient sound. Actual tube preamps have higher noise and much higher distortion than their SS counterparts. I didn’t read all that stuff above but I can tell you didn’t list any examples of songs good or bad illustrating the concepts you are talking about.
You are listening to a drum! It’s PLASTIC.
Right. Drum heads are made of plastic. Eardrums aren’t, though. However, they are still similar to drum heads.
You people just don’t have any notion of the realities of physics, or human physiology, or psycho-acoustics…. or even room acoustics.
Now you’re just being self-aggrandizing and rude. I’m not sure you interpreted that accurately as you were typing it.

All your comments are confusing as to how to characterize your side of the OP. I think this is it: you are a non-engineer with a lot of ideas about engineering in your head as you try to imagine being able to engineer. It’s not a bad start, but there is a fallacy there. You can’t disbelieve what you engage in. That’s hypocrisy.

metaphorman – 11-22-2011, 01:43 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by garageband
Ribbon mics ain’t all that. Dull and slightly boxy, a little boomy even. They don’t make a particularly accurate representation of ambient sound. Actual tube preamps have higher noise and much higher distortion than their SS counterparts. I didn’t read all that stuff above but I can tell you didn’t list any examples of songs good or bad illustrating the concepts you are talking about.
Right. Drum heads are made of plastic. Eardrums aren’t, though. However, they are still similar to drum heads.
Now you’re just being self-aggrandizing and rude. I’m not sure you interpreted that accurately as you were typing it.

All your comments are confusing as to how to characterize your side of the OP. I think this is it: you are a non-engineer with a lot of ideas about engineering in your head as you try to imagine being able to engineer. It’s not a bad start, but there is a fallacy there. You can’t disbelieve what you engage in. That’s hypocrisy.
Garageband, eh? I suppose that means that you probably never even cracked open a book on acoustical physics or psycho-acoustics. Probably don’t have a clue about the mathematics behind a comb filter…

FWIW, I am a UCSC trained engineer, making well into six figures. I work for Disney. I am sitting in a pile of about 40K of sound equipment right now. There is a six foot high shelf, six foot wide shelf of mostly audio engineering books next to me, many of which I have read cover to cover.

You want good examples, go listen to old movies. You want bad examples, turn on anything recorded with a condenser microphone.

I record vocal audio (mostly) and movie tracks.

Most people don’t have a clue how to make a ribbon mic perform. If you get too close to one, they distort because the ribbon moves away from the center of the magnets because of the air pressure from a person’s voice blowing into it. Go look at old stages where they used to use ribbon mics to record opera singers: the ribbon mics were several feet away. They can capture incredible resolution, in the hands of someone who has half a clue how to use one.

To learn how they work, open up a super cheap one and talk into it and watch the ribbon move around in response to your voice as you listen to how it sounds.

Some people think that if they go into a bedroom with a presonus audiobox and an MXL R44 and a monster cable that they can “find out what a ribbon can do”. Gads. Another one of my favorites was the guy who had a basement like ones in the youtube videos from RealTraps. They make a ribbon tell you what you really have: row after row of resonating, plastic strips. The guy pronounces ribbons, that tell him what he really has, to be “not so good”.

In the hands of a clueless noob, a ribbon is a disaster waiting to happen. Their front and back focus makes them highly prone to comb filtering and other disasters. Whatever sonic dispersion characteristics any nearby surface has will be picked up and delivered to the back of the microphone, creating a bizarre sounding phase cancellation if you don’t understand how to use the microphone. Like I said in other posts, you have to know how to use them, and they are more than worth the investment.

There are no dull sounding ribbons here. Certainly some are, when the designers (royer comes to mind) just don’t have a clue and make a strangled sounding mess out of everything.

Have you ever heard a passive Cloud or a RCA 44 or anything like that run through a decent impedance matched pre-amp recorded in a studio optimized for ribbons? Do you even know what acousti-stuff IS? It’s better than foam or fiberglass or rockboard. Can you SEE in your head how different input impedance characteristics changes the physics of a transformer or the ribbon driving it?

When a ribbon distorts (from naive untrained and inexperienced users), it makes things sound ethereal, like a floating cloud…. it “blooms”. when a condenser distorts it honks like a cheap plastic honking party favor that you blow into.

No, I am not being “rude”, I am being accurate. You want “rude” try this: Go back to school. There is no hope for people who cannot recognize someone who knows so vastly more than they do simply because a knowledgeable person says something that flies in the face of their limited interpretations of their limited experience.

garageband – 11-22-2011, 04:41 AM Edit Reply
You are funny. Also tell us more about how much you know than everyone here. That’s always a real crowd-pleaser.

JayGee – 11-22-2011, 06:30 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
There are no dull sounding ribbons here. Certainly some are, when the designers (royer comes to mind) just don’t have a clue and make a strangled sounding mess out of everything.
You probably live within an hour of Royer Labs.
Stop in and say hi to David Royer and his engineering staff.

Here’s their address to save you the time of looking it up:
Royer Labs
2711 Empire Ave
Burbank, CA 91504

TonyB – 11-22-2011, 06:52 AM Edit Reply
Good article. It’s amazing how far a good performer with a good performance can take you!

Of course we don’t always have the luxury of working with good performers. But if you get a bad performer then you’re automatically in “polish a turd” mode.

Once you get passed that, then it’s your job to not make the song into a turd.

I agree with Danny….. top-notch, high-falutent equipment probably only gives you a ~5% improvement.

It’s about know-how and understanding how to use the toys to bring out the best in the performers and the song.

Danny Danzi – 11-22-2011, 07:46 AM Edit Reply
Metaphorman: It’s obvious you have quite a bit of knowledge in what your saying (no offense, but I don’t agree with a lot of it…but I won’t go there) but I have a few questions if I may…

If you have the hearing you say you do which is “alien” better than any of us on this site…why would you go through the pains of hell to let all that stuff matter to you if only YOU and other autistic people can hear it?

To me, it seems like you are being overly critical for no reason. Think about it…say you just spent an incredible amount of time on this great mix to where it sounds great to you. Yet no one else will be able to enjoy it like you unless they are autistic. The average listener (especially if you work for Disney and your majority audience are children and *some parents*) is not going to hear what you hear. If that’s the case, is it really worth it?

What if that difference you THINK you hear as being superior…really isn’t to the majority? That would *possibly* make you a bad engineer to those of us who don’t hear as you do, right? Just because you feel you have alien hearing doesn’t mean what YOU hear is more correct than anyone else. It’s always going to be your opinion verses another persons, ya know what I mean?

I’ve been an engineer for over 30 years. I don’t know 3/4 of what you were talking about and couldn’t tell you the science involved with recording, capacitors, tubes, transistors….the list goes on and on regarding what I don’t know. I’m not ashamed to admit to that. Also, I have no desire to know that stuff because to me, I sincerely believe it’s what you know how to do as well as using your ears properly that makes all the difference. I’ve never heard mics distort unless I made them purposely distort. Your comment on the kazoo was taken seriously because of the comparisson you made. Think of the sound of a kazoo for a second. Think hard. I’ve never heard ANY mic sound like flapping, plastic other than when it was pushed purposely. If this is the sound you are hearing, I personally would think your hearing may be flawed. These mics have been used for years. Some have some grit to them….but most of the time this is done on purpose.

Listen, I’m not trying to take shots at you, stir the pot or upset you. I just find it hard to swallow that an opinion based on the super human abilities of those that are autistic would make anything more credible. At the end of the day, though you may be gifted in areas, some of those gifts can also be curses. It’s still just YOUR opinion even if there are scientific facts to back up everything you’ve said verbatim. You’re in the minority no matter how you look at things, explain yourself, proove your points or your hearing….if it’s all true, only you can enjoy it and since we can’t, it’s really not even worth discussing at great lengths, is it?

It’s like one of us posting the best mix we have ever posted….and disregarding and downing all the engineers that comment on it because WE hear things differently. Could they all be wrong if they commented in a similar fashion? Is chalking it up as the majority not being able to hear like you hear even credible? Again, I’m not saying you’re a bad engineer or anything of the sort. I’m just saying, what you hear may not be what the majority may like. There’s a reason those mic’s are used and a reason mixes sound the way they do. There’s something within them that is done to appeal to a majority of people most of who do not know anything about engineering, capacitors, summing, good pre-amp, bad pre-amp, ribbon, condensor, Mesa, Marshall, Korg, Pro-Tools, Cakewalk or Cubase. I’ll tell you, there are some people on here with great ears and incredible knowledge. When the people that know their stuff speak up around here…9 out of 10 times they are spot on in what they say. Take a guy like me. I know nothing about the deep stuff some people talk about on this forum in regards to recording. I’ve said it again…..but, I DO know how to get good sounds and make an excellent living doing this.

My “figures” are like yours…and I’m booked solid well into 2012….so for a dummy in the aesthetics part of recording, I’m doing quite well with it. You can have 10 mil in gear, all the knowledge in the world, alien hearing and still fall way short as en engineer. I’m not saying you are, but what I AM saying is…none of it really matters man as long as you can deliver the goods. There are guys all over this forum and other forums that talk the talk (again, not insinuating you) that have some of the crappiest representations of engineering that I’ve ever heard. That said, maybe their ears are just so much better than mine that I can’t hear it as they do and it’s actually fine mixing after all? See, it’s really easy to reverse the roles here and make it totally subjective which is why I say “it really doesn’t matter”.

TonyB – 11-22-2011, 07:54 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by garageband
You are funny. Also tell us more about how much you know than everyone here. That’s always a real crowd-pleaser.
Agree.

TonyB – 11-22-2011, 07:56 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by Danny Danzi
Metaphorman: It’s obvious you have quite a bit of knowledge in what your saying (no offense, but I don’t agree with a lot of it…but I won’t go there) but I have a few questions if I may…

If you have the hearing you say you do which is “alien” better than any of us on this site…why would you go through the pains of hell to let all that stuff matter to you if only YOU and other autistic people can hear it?

To me, it seems like you are being overly critical for no reason. Think about it…say you just spent an incredible amount of time on this great mix to where it sounds great to you. Yet no one else will be able to enjoy it like you unless they are autistic. The average listener (especially if you work for Disney and your majority audience are children and *some parents*) is not going to hear what you hear. If that’s the case, is it really worth it?

What if that difference you THINK you hear as being superior…really isn’t to the majority? That would *possibly* make you a bad engineer to those of us who don’t hear as you do, right? Just because you feel you have alien hearing doesn’t mean what YOU hear is more correct than anyone else. It’s always going to be your opinion verses another persons, ya know what I mean?

I’ve been an engineer for over 30 years. I don’t know 3/4 of what you were talking about and couldn’t tell you the science involved with recording, capacitors, tubes, transistors….the list goes on and on regarding what I don’t know. I’m not ashamed to admit to that. Also, I have no desire to know that stuff because to me, I sincerely believe it’s what you know how to do as well as using your ears properly that makes all the difference. I’ve never heard mics distort unless I made them purposely distort. Your comment on the kazoo was taken seriously because of the comparisson you made. Think of the sound of a kazoo for a second. Think hard. I’ve never heard ANY mic sound like flapping, plastic other than when it was pushed purposely. If this is the sound you are hearing, I personally would think your hearing may be flawed. These mics have been used for years. Some have some grit to them….but most of the time this is done on purpose.

Listen, I’m not trying to take shots at you, stir the pot or upset you. I just find it hard to swallow that an opinion based on the super human abilities of those that are autistic would make anything more credible. At the end of the day, though you may be gifted in areas, some of those gifts can also be curses. It’s still just YOUR opinion even if there are scientific facts to back up everything you’ve said verbatim. You’re in the minority no matter how you look at things, explain yourself, proove your points or your hearing….if it’s all true, only you can enjoy it and since we can’t, it’s really not even worth discussing at great lengths, is it?

It’s like one of us posting the best mix we have ever posted….and disregarding and downing all the engineers that comment on it because WE hear things differently. Could they all be wrong if they commented in a similar fashion? Is chalking it up as the majority not being able to hear like you hear even credible? Again, I’m not saying you’re a bad engineer or anything of the sort. I’m just saying, what you hear may not be what the majority may like. There’s a reason those mic’s are used and a reason mixes sound the way they do. There’s something within them that is done to appeal to a majority of people most of who do not know anything about engineering, capacitors, summing, good pre-amp, bad pre-amp, ribbon, condensor, Mesa, Marshall, Korg, Pro-Tools, Cakewalk or Cubase. I’ll tell you, there are some people on here with great ears and incredible knowledge. When the people that know their stuff speak up around here…9 out of 10 times they are spot on in what they say. Take a guy like me. I know nothing about the deep stuff some people talk about on this forum in regards to recording. I’ve said it again…..but, I DO know how to get good sounds and make an excellent living doing this.

My “figures” are like yours…and I’m booked solid well into 2012….so for a dummy in the aesthetics part of recording, I’m doing quite well with it. You can have 10 mil in gear, all the knowledge in the world, alien hearing and still fall way short as en engineer. I’m not saying you are, but what I AM saying is…none of it really matters man as long as you can deliver the goods. There are guys all over this forum and other forums that talk the talk (again, not insinuating you) that have some of the crappiest representations of engineering that I’ve ever heard. That said, maybe their ears are just so much better than mine that I can’t hear it as they do and it’s actually fine mixing after all? See, it’s really easy to reverse the roles here and make it totally subjective which is why I say “it really doesn’t matter”.
Absolutely well said! I’ve been in seminars with some of the best engineers…. Wagener, Ainlay, etc…and they never spat out gobbledy gook I’m hearing on here.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, D!

metaphorman – 11-22-2011, 10:20 AM Edit Reply
Listen to videos by Temple Grandin talk about how her head works.

No unconscious processes.

She and someone like me perceive what others do…. but the signals are routed differently.

My hearing is the same as anyone elses… My brain filters it differently.

Neurotypicals have hardware in their brains that, for lack of a better description, intercepts sensory data and filters it out, feeding in signals that are interpreted unconsciously, and that processing creates a huge instinctive BIAS in their interpretation of any literal view of the information. Then they suppress the information from further evaluation. They “filter out” the acoustic anomalies because their instincts tell them that they already know what it “means”. Most people pick up consciously on the anomolies for a fraction of a second, and then filter it out, unable to place what is going on. Without this, most people would have a hard time walking down the street, because acoustics are changing constantly with every environment, and every passing person. The human brain filters all this “junk” information out, most of the time.

If you don’t have that bias, you perceive what is there.

I am quite a few miles from L.A… at the moment I have no interest in moving there, although it seems to constantly be an option.

I agree, 10 million in gear is useless if you don’t process what you are hearing (or seeing in your audience) in a useable manner.

What matters is whether you can stir the intended level of passion in your audience… Strangled, or honking microphones… impedance mismatching a mic trying to capture a human voice… doesn’t work. Just watch audience members…. look for telltale signs of blood flow variations in their face, and microtensions around the eyes and lips.

Your audience has so much unconscious filtering that they will unintentionally LIE to you…. afterwards they will try to tell you what they WANTED to feel or WANTED to hear as if it were the original experience. Look for the melting tensions, the gradual microtension relaxations, the blood saturation under the eyes. Those are signs you are getting to someone. It just doesn’t happen with something like a U47…. although that mic is better than some.

TonyB – 11-22-2011, 12:52 PM Edit Reply
Alot of this discussion (not all; some good points have been made) has no bearing and is not useful for the typical home studio.

I’ll have whatever everyone else is smokin’ ….

metaphorman – 11-23-2011, 01:06 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by TonyB
Alot of this discussion (not all; some good points have been made) has no bearing and is not useful for the typical home studio.

I’ll have whatever everyone else is smokin’ ….
You either have to have a totally world class setup and recording skills capable of turning out real products, or else you have a potentially very expensive hobby….

If you understand how a total overkill studio setup works and WHY, you can at least have a point of reference to work back from in a low budget scenario. You have to know what is going on in order to know when you can break “the rules”.

metaphorman – 11-23-2011, 02:40 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by Danny Danzi
Metaphorman: It’s obvious you have quite a bit of knowledge in what your saying (no offense, but I don’t agree with a lot of it…but I won’t go there) but I have a few questions if I may…

If you have the hearing you say you do which is “alien” better than any of us on this site…why would you go through the pains of hell to let all that stuff matter to you if only YOU and other autistic people can hear it?
Everybody Hears it. Everybody registers it. Some people register the emotional effects consciously, but MOST register things UNconsciously. They can’t tell you why something moves them, they can only convey that they feel “moved”.

To me, it seems like you are being overly critical for no reason. Think about it…say you just spent an incredible amount of time on this great mix to where it sounds great to you. Yet no one else will be able to enjoy it like you unless they are autistic. The average listener (especially if you work for Disney and your majority audience are children and *some parents*) is not going to hear what you hear. If that’s the case, is it really worth it?
My apologies, but you really don’t have a clue what the autism spectrum is. It is not about being “superman”, it is about a different cognitive and sensory processing style. Why do people come off thinking I am being arrogant? I am trying to tell you something. The “arrogance” you think you see is because I have the obliviousness to tell you something that flies in the face of something you think you “know” with my obvious faith in my own experience.

What if that difference you THINK you hear as being superior…really isn’t to the majority? That would *possibly* make you a bad engineer to those of us who don’t hear as you do, right? Just because you feel you have alien hearing doesn’t mean what YOU hear is more correct than anyone else. It’s always going to be your opinion verses another persons, ya know what I mean?
Only a fool trusts his own ears over the observable reactions in an audience.

I’ve been an engineer for over 30 years. I don’t know 3/4 of what you were talking about and couldn’t tell you the science involved with recording, capacitors, tubes, transistors….the list goes on and on regarding what I don’t know. I’m not ashamed to admit to that. Also, I have no desire to know that stuff because to me, I sincerely believe it’s what you know how to do as well as using your ears properly that makes all the difference. I’ve never heard mics distort unless I made them purposely distort. Your comment on the kazoo was taken seriously because of the comparisson you made. Think of the sound of a kazoo for a second. Think hard. I’ve never heard ANY mic sound like flapping, plastic other than when it was pushed purposely. If this is the sound you are hearing, I personally would think your hearing may be flawed. These mics have been used for years. Some have some grit to them….but most of the time this is done on purpose.
I find myself pressed to suggest that if you have never heard a microphone distort (all microphones do, all the time) that either your ears or your auditory processing faculties are not functioning. If you can tell the difference between an SM58 and a U47… then you are differentiating two different forms of distortion.

Listen, I’m not trying to take shots at you, stir the pot or upset you. I just find it hard to swallow that an opinion based on the super human abilities of those that are autistic would make anything more credible. At the end of the day, though you may be gifted in areas, some of those gifts can also be curses. It’s still just YOUR opinion even if there are scientific facts to back up everything you’ve said verbatim. You’re in the minority no matter how you look at things, explain yourself, proove your points or your hearing….if it’s all true, only you can enjoy it and since we can’t, it’s really not even worth discussing at great lengths, is it?
I definitely have a radically different opinion here. I look around and I see that everyone’s paradigms are fundamentally weak. As to feeling “bad” about anyone else’s “reactions” to what I have to say… ridiculous. I am probably the most unflappable, down to earth, reality centric person I have ever known. I like my life, and I like me. About the only thing anyone could do that might get my goat would be to try to undermine my current rather successful relationships, or undermine future business.

It’s like one of us posting the best mix we have ever posted….and disregarding and downing all the engineers that comment on it because WE hear things differently. Could they all be wrong if they commented in a similar fashion? Is chalking it up as the majority not being able to hear like you hear even credible? Again, I’m not saying you’re a bad engineer or anything of the sort. I’m just saying, what you hear may not be what the majority may like. There’s a reason those mic’s are used and a reason mixes sound the way they do. There’s something within them that is done to appeal to a majority of people most of who do not know anything about engineering, capacitors, summing, good pre-amp, bad pre-amp, ribbon, condensor, Mesa, Marshall, Korg, Pro-Tools, Cakewalk or Cubase. I’ll tell you, there are some people on here with great ears and incredible knowledge. When the people that know their stuff speak up around here…9 out of 10 times they are spot on in what they say. Take a guy like me. I know nothing about the deep stuff some people talk about on this forum in regards to recording. I’ve said it again…..but, I DO know how to get good sounds and make an excellent living doing this.
If you want to spend your life making rap singers sound acceptably talented, more power to you. I’m sure there are millions of dollars in it. That kind of life would make me utterly crazy and depressed.

My “figures” are like yours…and I’m booked solid well into 2012….so for a dummy in the aesthetics part of recording, I’m doing quite well with it. You can have 10 mil in gear, all the knowledge in the world, alien hearing and still fall way short as en engineer. I’m not saying you are, but what I AM saying is…none of it really matters man as long as you can deliver the goods. There are guys all over this forum and other forums that talk the talk (again, not insinuating you) that have some of the crappiest representations of engineering that I’ve ever heard. That said, maybe their ears are just so much better than mine that I can’t hear it as they do and it’s actually fine mixing after all? See, it’s really easy to reverse the roles here and make it totally subjective which is why I say “it really doesn’t matter”.
There is nothing like a virtuoso violin recorded in a ribbon room. It sounds like real wood. If you try that with a U47 or a Manley Reference, that microphone puts it’s own plastic resonating constrictions all over it. It no longer sounds like a million dollar piece of wooden artwork like it does it person… it sounds like a violin made out of plastic. TRY IT. Record A and B with a Cloud and then with your favorite condenser. It is night and day. The condenser chokes the soul right out of the instrument. The problem is all the standing waves on a membrane…. they wipe out the ability of the microphone to capture the harmonic signature of the source and replace it with the “sound” of the microphone. If all you are used to hearing are condenser mics, then you are not going to notice the plasticization it imparts because your brain is so accustomed to correcting for it. But A/B with a properly configured Cloud and good analog gear or something like a Burl at full resolution, and even an old $50 pair of Stax off eBay and it will be like your ears are popping getting off an airplane. That slightly bloomy edge the ribbon can pick up is VERY different from the resonating constriction that most people are used to hearing. Because they are not used to hearing that slight bloomy potentially rolled off high end, when you hear a recording done only on a ribbon you think something is daffy with the Microphone. People are used to the “bite” that condensers seem to have. Put a CAP in the audio path recording that Del Gesu… and the impulse response and non-linearity of the cap make it no longer sound like the source…. more plastic again…. it might sound “good”, but it loses all potential for capturing what it is about the PERFORMANCE that makes the experience so sublime. The human voice is much more complex and varied than a Del Gesu…. so what the HELL is going on in the recording world with everyone praising the horrid U87?

Danny Danzi – 11-23-2011, 03:47 AM Edit Reply
My apologies, but you really don’t have a clue what the autism spectrum is. It is not about being “superman”, it is about a different cognitive and sensory processing style. Why do people come off thinking I am being arrogant? I am trying to tell you something. The “arrogance” you think you see is because I have the obliviousness to tell you something that flies in the face of something you think you “know” with my obvious faith in my own experience.
You’d be correct on that…not being autistic or knowing anyone that is, I haven’t a clue. As far as you being arrogant, I never made a mention of that. What I got out of your posts was you have hearing that normal people like myself can’t understand and that if I’m not autistic, I just won’e ever get it or have a clue. In a sense, that sounds arrogant now that I think about it…but I never implied that. That said, that makes you pretty super human if your brain waves and impulses are working to a higher degree than mine. It wasn’t a sarcastic dig or an insinuation you were being arrogant.

Only a fool trusts his own ears over the observable reactions in an audience.
I peacefully, and most whole-heartedly disagree here. I’m an engineer in a studio. I don’t see “the audience” after the project leaves me. I do the best job I can while trying to find a happy medium with the client. When I play live, yeah I look at the audience and feel out their expressions and body language. I can tell when a new song we may have put into the set might not have been a good idea. I can tell by looking at them that the soundman may be having a bad night. But as an engineer, I am not subjected to any audience. If you don’t trust your ears to put out a good product and rely more on the looks on peoples faces that don’t know anything about the recording field anyway….I’d say you were in the wrong business.

I find myself pressed to suggest that if you have never heard a microphone distort (all microphones do, all the time) that either your ears or your auditory processing faculties are not functioning. If you can tell the difference between an SM58 and a U47… then you are differentiating two different forms of distortion.
I’ve heard mics distort from improper use but this distortion you speak of is not a distortion that I and many others like me would call “an unpleasant distortion”. I don’t like when someone deep throats a mic and makes it distort any more than I like the sound of a mic pre being up too hot or a track clipping. That’s the form of distortion I don’t like. But you hear this other distortion that I don’t. I’m not denying you hear it….but I don’t hear distortion. When I listen to a 58 verses a U47, I hear tonality differences…not distortion.

I definitely have a radically different opinion here. I look around and I see that everyone’s paradigms are fundamentally weak. As to feeling “bad” about anyone else’s “reactions” to what I have to say… ridiculous. I am probably the most unflappable, down to earth, reality centric person I have ever known. I like my life, and I like me. About the only thing anyone could do that might get my goat would be to try to undermine my current rather successful relationships, or undermine future business.
Well I think it’s a bit sad that you wouldn’t feel a bit bad if someone took you the wrong way. You’ve posted some pretty intense stuff here in a manner which is…well, to be honest…a bit like you’re a bit more gifted than the rest of us. That’s just how it comes off. So be it if it’s the truth…but it does come off a bit intense to where it could be easily taken the wrong way. It’s safe for me to say I’m probably one of the most intense guys on this forum. My passion for what I believe in as well as what I have experienced hands on is what brings that out of me. However, the last thing I want to do is press my opinion so hard that it may be taken the wrong way to where I would offend someone and then just call “rediculous” because *I* didn’t find something I said as being out of line. I’ll never run from a good internet fight….but it never gets to be a fight for me unless someone blatantly says something idiotic and attemps to act like they are something they are not with scientific data or other nonsense. Having an strong opinion is one thing…forcefully ramming it down the throats of others to where it can be taken as “I’m superior, you are not” is another story…and to be honest man, that’s how you come off on some of this stuff. Just telling it like I’ve read it. Then again, maybe I also have a comprehension problem to go with my lack of hearing what you hear.

If you want to spend your life making rap singers sound acceptably talented, more power to you. I’m sure there are millions of dollars in it. That kind of life would make me utterly crazy and depressed.
Well see, this is where you and I differ. I’m not just an engineer, I’m also a musician. And with the term “musician” comes “all things music”. So I do not have any bias on any particular style of music. Yes, I’ve made a lot of money with rap, hip-hop, R&B, rock, metal, gospal, blues, jazz, folk, country and have made some incredible connections from it as well. I do what I do to make a difference in the lives of others while learning from them and also growing as a musician while working with all these styles of music. Every day is a different day for me. Between mixing, mastering, producing and literally playing on client material, I would say this makes me one lucky guy. I get to live music on all levels in all aspects. I breathe it in…it becomes a part of me no matter what style as all of it is art and the language of expression from one human being to another. If it takes me auto-tuning someone to make them sound better for the song…so be it. If it takes me literally playing on a piece of music because I’m producing it and the band comes in too coked up to perform and I’m the one that has to answer to the record label….I play on it and send the offending party(s) home. I’ve done it several times before….I’ll do it again. Besides, we all need to eat….in this economy, you have to be happy people are waiting at your door in the morning. See, you working for Disney doesn’t put you in that position. Totally different animal with different circumstances for both of us.

There is nothing like a virtuoso violin recorded in a ribbon room. It sounds like real wood. If you try that with a U47 or a Manley Reference, that microphone puts it’s own plastic resonating constrictions all over it. It no longer sounds like a million dollar piece of wooden artwork like it does it person… it sounds like a violin made out of plastic. TRY IT. Record A and B with a Cloud and then with your favorite condenser. It is night and day. The condenser chokes the soul right out of the instrument. The problem is all the standing waves on a membrane…. they wipe out the ability of the microphone to capture the harmonic signature of the source and replace it with the “sound” of the microphone. If all you are used to hearing are condenser mics, then you are not going to notice the plasticization it imparts because your brain is so accustomed to correcting for it. But A/B with a properly configured Cloud and good analog gear or something like a Burl at full resolution, and even an old $50 pair of Stax off eBay and it will be like your ears are popping getting off an airplane. That slightly bloomy edge the ribbon can pick up is VERY different from the resonating constriction that most people are used to hearing. Because they are not used to hearing that slight bloomy potentially rolled off high end, when you hear a recording done only on a ribbon you think something is daffy with the Microphone. People are used to the “bite” that condensers seem to have. Put a CAP in the audio path recording that Del Gesu… and the impulse response and non-linearity of the cap make it no longer sound like the source…. more plastic again…. it might sound “good”, but it loses all potential for capturing what it is about the PERFORMANCE that makes the experience so sublime. The human voice is much more complex and varied than a Del Gesu…. so what the HELL is going on in the recording world with everyone praising the horrid U87?
Agreed on all of the above…however, the differences can be compensated for to an extent with the tools we have today. If someone didn’t have access to an incredible mic locker to do this, they have to make due with what they have…and if it sounds “good” it is good. The only people that will notice stuff like this are engineers. Common folks could care less and couldn’t tell a difference that would matter to them even if you went through a step by step process with graphs, charts and audio examples. This to me is contradicting in a sense. Meaning…you supposedly watch your audience….do you mix for your audience or for other engineers?

One thing we can agree on…I’ve not had much success with a U-87 on myself. As a matter of fact, the damned thing only sounds good when I sing in the key of G. However, it has done wonders for others just like some of my cheaper mics have when the good ones failed. Sometimes the mic you least expect to work for you is the one that gets the job done. Whether it has audible distortion to you and not to me makes no difference. What matter most is…at the end of the day…you get the job done with the right tool for the right song.

garageband – 11-23-2011, 02:13 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
You either have to have a totally world class setup and recording skills capable of turning out real products, or else you have a potentially very expensive hobby….

If you understand how a total overkill studio setup works and WHY, you can at least have a point of reference to work back from in a low budget scenario. You have to know what is going on in order to know when you can break “the rules”.
I think it’s him again.

paul999 – 11-23-2011, 05:54 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
While I don’t know how your hearing works, I have a very good understanding of mine. It is probably very different than yours, and I would have to say probably wildly superior due to a difference in filtering of the nervous system. Autism runs in my family, for one thing, which means the audio processing part of my brain is VERY different in what it filters out than yours likely is. Simply put, I hear EVERYTHING. Most people psycho-acoustically filter out audio distortions, or at least some types of audio distortions. Not the same with me. Some distortions, like caps in the audio path, a human voice no longer SOUNDS like a voice, it sounds like a plastic bag, and it is just plain utterly maddening.

The non-linearity of capacitors is utterly non-organic…. It causes the recording to sound OBVIOUSLY reproduced.

Condenser microphones sound like kazoos. You can’t hear it because you have fancy filters in your nervous system that adjust for the distortion.

If a BP cap in series sounds better to you than other options… uh…. I’m sorry but we are for all intents and purposes, members of two different SPECIES.
This is an interesting post. I think what needs to be said has been said about audio. What I would be really interested in is hearing if the audio you are producing actually sounds superior or if “lack of filters” actually gets in the way of making good audio. Of course this will be personal opinion.

I know a very small amount about autism from experience with clients over the years. I have found that that these kind of “brash”(to most people) statements like your above comment tend to be the beginning/first impression of most relationships that I have had with autistic people. It can make it hard to fit in socially which tends to make a ton of other issues for some autistic people. Keeping in mind that autism has a hugely wide spectrum of behavior. Once the rooster game ends and everyone believes they are superior again I’ve found that productive relationships can happen. I hope that is what happens here.

Electriclight – 11-24-2011, 02:50 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
It is hard to imagine that a blog posting trying to sum up 45+ years of sensory anomalies could get anyone to shift into my paradigms of thought. Neurotypicals utterly, and I do mean UTTERLY lack any kind of common frame of reference. Like a Ferengi talking to a Klingon, or a deer trying to talk to a wolf. I try and try and try, but I just CANNOT GIVE you what you need to make any sense out of what I am saying. I can give you what it would take another autistic person to make sense out of what I am saying, but it only works because he has the same cognitive reference frames that I do, the same sensory and cognitive wiring. Saying that condenser mic’s sound like kazoos, is like trying to tell a blind man what the color of blood should be experienced as. It requires a compatible neurological matrix in the brain to understand what I am saying. I speak “English”, but English is a neurotypical language – a total botched job from the perspective of most autistic people I know (and I know a LOT of them). English is a language is geared for social pecking order and dominance, not conveyance of accurate abstract functional models. It is inherently metaphorical and inherently ambiguous. You people seem to imply that you take “sounds like kazoos” as an insult or a statement of disability or some kind of mix of the two!!??!! You are a bunch of ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET because you are incapable of registering what it would mean to take what I say literally. It is not just talking to aliens, it is like talking to aliens with the maturity of two year olds who feel that they damn well can read my inner thoughts and tone?!
What exactly then is your goal in writing to two-year old aliens? Knowing full well that we, the other species, are incapable of grasping your uber-intellectual reasoning or experiencing your cyber-sensitive auditory prowess, why waste your time? You are either starved for attention or have self-esteem issues. This really smells like trolling to me.

English is a language is geared for social pecking order and dominance, not conveyance of accurate abstract functional models.

English has become the universal language for science precisely because it is very efficient in conveying accurate abstract functional models.

metaphorman – 11-24-2011, 04:10 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by Electriclight
What exactly then is your goal in writing to two-year old aliens? Knowing full well that we, the other species, are incapable of grasping your uber-intellectual reasoning or experiencing your cyber-sensitive auditory prowess, why waste your time? You are either starved for attention or have self-esteem issues. This really smells like trolling to me.

English has become the universal language for science precisely because it is very efficient in conveying accurate abstract functional models.
check out wrongplanet.net

Autistic people, the high functioning ones, anyway, are EXTREMELY oriented towards DETAILS and FUNCTIONALITY. All modern languages are not geared for this. Look into projects like lojban and others, if you really want to understand why neurotypical produced languages are such a mess… oriented very very far from functional orientation. They are designed to maintain social pecking orders and Aspies never get those aspects of language correct, and generally piss everyone around them off due to simple language pattern differences that make people think the Aspie is trying to wrest control or demean others rather than to help out. Look at this as an example.

The writing styles in textbooks is INTENTIONALLY DESIGNED to convey a social pecking order, with the student at the bottom, and the author at the top, and the teacher somewhere in the middle.

Some autistic guy comes along and says “heh! wadya mean I am inferior…? non-sequitur and inconsistent with my experience. Let me tell you what *I* see.” All you can see is the fundamental flaws in the English language being exacerbated by an Aspie trying to use English to convey how to maximize functionality. Modern language is not designed for functional descriptions, it is designed for pecking order.

So far, the only holes anyone has punched in my thinking is 100% attributable to the flaws in the English Language… if anyone has anything that can punch holes in my thinking, I have not seen it yet.

Maybe I should not be interacting with musicians. They all run on pride, and pride blinds people utterly to the risks at hand with power surge after power surge of raw drive that is utterly resistant to being derailed. I was apparently born without the capacity for pride, and as such when I try to use English, I have a tendency to abuse pride oriented language structure when I try to “copy” other people’s communication styles.

Electriclight – 11-24-2011, 05:42 AM Edit Reply
There is no way to punch holes is something that makes no sense. I defy anyone to decipher your last response.
As an advocate of student-centered education, I can assure you that English is quite useful in reversing any authoritarian, top-down manner of teaching. Obviously you feel you have been mistreated along the way by textbooks, a teacher, whatever, and you are blaming the English language, which has long been a wonderful tool for the fight against oppression, examples of which are too numerous and obvious to bother mentioning.

Again, I ask why you put yourself through such misery as to deign communicating with this other species that has inferior sensory and communication abilities?

metaphorman – 11-24-2011, 10:46 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by Electriclight
There is no way to punch holes is something that makes no sense. I defy anyone to decipher your last response.
As an advocate of student-centered education, I can assure you that English is quite useful in reversing any authoritarian, top-down manner of teaching. Obviously you feel you have been mistreated along the way by textbooks, a teacher, whatever, and you are blaming the English language, which has long been a wonderful tool for the fight against oppression, examples of which are too numerous and obvious to bother mentioning.

Again, I ask why you put yourself through such misery as to deign communicating with this other species that has inferior sensory and communication abilities?
ROTFL

You are so proud, proud, proud of your country, your language, your skills, everything that lets you see who you are. That is a pack animal instinct, probably deriving from early mammals and manifesting in nature most prevalently in wolves. It allows bonding, because survival in groups is more statistically likely than survival alone. That instinct tells you that certain classes of risks are irrelevant, allowing the organism to more effectively mentally/emotionally function. That instinct alleviates latent anxieties.

There is nothing more integral to the group formation than communication patterns. This is why your instincts tell you that English in supreme. Boy, is it ever not.

Go to any company all hands meeting… what do you hear? “WE ARE NUMBER ONE!” Everybody says this. Cannot be all be true. Although, mysteriously, it seems to be functional.

You have never sat around to examine this kind of thing. Pride instincts tell you to trust the group, and so you just don’t question the group because you are hard wired NOT TO. And so you assume that the messages that your culture and your instincts tell you about what to be proud of are unquestionable. The world is like this EVERYWHERE, and it drives Aspies and Auties up the wall.

There are all kinds of books and communication styles out there, such as “Non-Violent Communication” that are great, but they pretty much all break down for Aspies attempting to communicate their points of view, which are almost 100% purely FUNCTIONAL rather than pack animal relational.

Aspies look out with laser focus, like pit-bulls unable to give up on a topic of interest, trying to figure out how something works. Aspie kids will often take apart the TV, the refrigerator… the CAR… it’s amazing. They often put it back together better than it was before, provided they have developed the cognitive abilities to figure out what is going on mechanically/electrically/pneumatically et al. These are people hard-wired with often 150 to 200 IQ’s and say “DAMN, that really does not look very functional, do you realize what you are REALLY DOING?” When someone is proud of something, it usually goes over about as well this: people accusing me of trolling. The more I try to explain an alien point of view, the more people bristle and try to make fun of it… and their instincts tell them to do that because their instincts are hard wired with a massive bias telling them that the social bonding of the PACK is more important than the FACTS. Sometimes that is the case, but often times if you ignore that Aspie geek, the proverbial goo hits the fan.

Musicians are the proudest people on earth, from what I can tell. They spend all their time communicating through wolf like howls (music), just how proud they are.

Ah, what could I possibly expect here?

Brandon Whittington – 11-24-2011, 11:46 AM Edit Reply
dude….. kick rocks…

that is all

Audio~Geek – 11-24-2011, 12:45 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by garageband
I think it’s him again.
I don’t think so.

however at this point I’m very interested to hear what he can do with his superhuman AE abilites.

Metaphorman – who are you really?

Electriclight – 11-24-2011, 11:37 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
ROTFL

You are so proud, proud, proud of your country, your language, your skills, everything that lets you see who you are. That is a pack animal instinct, probably deriving from early mammals and manifesting in nature most prevalently in wolves. It allows bonding, because survival in groups is more statistically likely than survival alone. That instinct tells you that certain classes of risks are irrelevant, allowing the organism to more effectively mentally/emotionally function. That instinct alleviates latent anxieties.

There is nothing more integral to the group formation than communication patterns. This is why your instincts tell you that English in supreme. Boy, is it ever not.
Your ridiculous assumptions about me are simply proof positive you are in equal measures full of crap and full of yourself. Try feeding that garbage to monks, fisherman, or philosophers. You will quickly find they have at least one thing in common with musicians…

paul999 – 11-25-2011, 12:47 AM Edit Reply
The thread has been hi-jacked enough IMO. I’ve banned metaphorman for 7 days. Reason given “rebutting without a clue”.

Danny Danzi – 11-25-2011, 12:55 AM Edit Reply
Whew if that’s what being superior is all about, I sure am glad to be a clueless dumbass.

dubturbomixer.com – 11-27-2011, 01:10 AM Edit Reply
good article, two thumbs up for brandondrury dubturbomixer.com

rosydave – 11-29-2011, 09:48 AM Edit Reply
Yo! I worked for a while with a guitarist who was also a trained sound engineer. For live and studio sound he was useless or worse because he listened with his training, not his ears. Beware of touting your qualifications – it raises people’s expectations and also their ire if you don’t deliver something extra good. I’m a lifelong live musician – the PA EQ gets a slight mid scoop, slight push on bass and top end and always sounds good. Now let’s play.

metaphorman – 12-11-2011, 08:49 AM Edit Reply
Hmm.. Let me try to put this another way.

Think of Spock from Star Trek. His thinking is extremely precise, never misses a detail, and sees everything going on around him by modeling it accurately in his head.

Human emotions and pack animal behavior just have him flummoxed. Unless he is in direct command, nothing he does or says can get through to people.

Try for a moment, to see the world from HIS point of view. Spock was modeled after an autistic person…. VERY similar to myself.

When people leave out the details, or they get full of pride, they cannot see reality clearly. Pride tells people to ignore the details. Pride tells people that because they are traveling in a pack, that they are totally invulnerable. That the pack will make up for in numbers what individuals lack. You gloss over the details relying instead upon things like brand names and well intentioned “advice” from trusted others…. and cannot model the physics of what is going on at each and every step of the way. Your thinking is 100% centered around convenience.

Non-autistic people want results, and they want them NOW without having to bog down in minutia they assume will magically work itself out.

You don’t see anything like that with Mr Spock.

Here is another example: do you realize what rockwool bass traps do to sound? People think they absorb the sound, but that is only part of the story. They are based on the principal of diffusion. An autistic person will look at a RockWool bass trap and scratch his head. Why? Because the autistic person will look at that bass trap and not see some generic claims of function made by another person. When someone pridefully stands up and declares that a rockwool bass trap absorbs errant sound, nobody thinks to question him…. some kind of clamping action takes place in people’s brains. Proud people make the best salesmen, because people somehow trust the pride in the salesmen. This does not effect autistic people… it only confuses him. The autistic person will usually instinctively model the action of the bass trap in his head. He will see the air molecules hitting the bass trap and getting scattered in all directions, and will blurt out something like? “When moving air molecules that rat’s nest of fiber, it will scatter them and bounce them back into the room, with an infinite number of original points inside the fibers, effectively changing the impulse response of the room. It will turn your bass into sawtooth waves…. THAT is a lot of errant sound power to spread into odd ordered harmonics. Why would you have THAT in your studio?”

An EIGHT year old autistic kid like I was will say something like this in front a whole room full of “senior engineers” and stun the whole studio dead quiet. They ALWAYS blew off the autistic kid, and went with the EGO of whoever was in charge and whatever decisions he had invested himself in already. Especially when the autistic kid turns around and does something bizarre like biting his toenails. Why? Because they think that their experience suggests that despite the weaknesses, that the ideas they have been practicing for so long nominally “work”.

Straight out of the mouth of babes. Totally innocent, totally accurate, and flys in the face of everything everyone else thinks.

Not a popular thing to say. Why? Because everyone else was really PROUD of their rockwool solutions. They put them there because they didn’t think it through. They instinctively abort their thinking processes to keep from being overwhelmed by the millions of details.

Mr Spock can see this action just by looking in the direction of the rockwool trap. He is the ultimate engineer, and when he starts talking, he is so annoying to people who make all their decisions based on pride that they censure him. People refuse to accept that the way they habitually think is as shoddy as it actually is. Autistic people can only very rarely keep their mouths shut about things like this, and it is why they are so universally demonized and fired from jobs for “not getting along with others”.

People instinctively think that someone saying something that flys in the face of decisions that they made based on pride does not function within “reality”, as the action of pride in their brains tells them what reality actually is. When an autistic person tells someone that some specific mental model they are entertaining is shoddy or full of holes, the instinct from everyone else is pure pack-animal instinct. They think in terms of WHO and not WHAT. They seem to interpret the things that autistic people say as “trolling” or someone trying to disrupt the social status quo by upsetting the elite people in the groups by saying “the emperor has no clothes”.

Everywhere autistic people go, people turn on them and make fun of them like rabid dogs. Proud people think that banning the autistic guy for a week can make the laws of physics change, or that he will “learn”.

Pffft….

So, now do you see why I look at you people in confusion? I mean, by God you are all using your plasticizing harmonic structure re-organizing condensor microphones, your el-cheapo electrolytic capacitor in the signal path presonus units, low output impedance switching power supplies, masses of impulse response changing rockwool….

And because their are PROUD sounding brand names behind things, you don’t stop to see what is going on. Perception of pride in other people causes people’s analytic circuitry to completely shut down. But that does NOT happen in the brains of autistic people. Pride just confuses them and makes them typically more vocal, trying to be heard above the clamping action going on inside people’s brains.

Is this music? I dunno. Hard to feel the genuine original passion in performances when it is behind all that distortion. People like me just have to roll over laughing because you just cannot see the ridiculousness of how you fail to model everything going on around you. It is not a question of “claims to superiority”… it is a question of everyone else being hard wired in their brains to refuse to think anything through because it is just totally inconvenient.

paul999 – 12-11-2011, 10:42 AM Edit Reply
This is metaphorman’s final statement. I will let it stand if it doesn’t throw the community into a fit. Apparently metaphorman doesn’t need recording review because he is so much better then all of us so being banned shouldn’t be much of an inconvenience to him. On the other hand we will all lose his superior knowledge. I am the dumbass nazi with too much pride to realize all this.

Cheers

garww – 12-11-2011, 12:02 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by TonyB
…….I’ll have whatever everyone else is smokin’ ….
I’m more inclined to see it as a bunch of beer drinkers never aquiring a taste for Sherry : ) Anyway, I only have two condenser MICs for a TTL investment of $100, so, I see no need to defend them : )

I have one ribbon and I knew it wasn’t very good upon first listening.

I posted this on 11/3 and I’m a big beleiver in ribbon tech;
“I think the key is working the multitude of design compromises. A ribbon in both MICs or speakers can be about the quickest dynamic motor available”. Certainly, a condenser can be quicker, but I feel the condensor can be too dependent on the electronics it is (non, or).matched up with for a paticular sound. .

garageband – 12-11-2011, 05:58 PM Edit Reply
Sounds like someone has a big chip on their shoulder and had written “autism” on it.

Electriclight – 12-11-2011, 06:02 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by metaphorman
Is this music? I dunno.
Sad to be Spock – Never finding passion, romance, spice, or freakin’ whacked-out emotion in music.
Lonely to be Spock – Simply visualizing bouncing air molecules and trying to convince humans with beating hearts that they don’t know what they are talking about.

If any megaegoman’s recording psycho-babble had any technical merit whatsoever, it would be immediately nullified by the imperfect reproduction systems and listening environments that the real world must use. Thank heaven the real Mr. Spock was not an arrogant jack-ass.

garww – 12-11-2011, 07:53 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by garageband
Sounds like someone has a big chip on their shoulder and had written “autism” on it.
I’m not thinking that has much to do with it. That he gave us another dozen paragraphs, after being warned, speaks of other problems. It’s also true that few had any success staying on topic

Danny Danzi – 12-12-2011, 12:32 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by Danny Danzi
Whew if that’s what being superior is all about, I sure am glad to be a clueless dumbass.
There….I said it again just to assure myself I still feel the same way.

Two things I really was curious about with that guy…how good was his audio quality and did he really work for Disney? I had the pleasure to do a favor for a pretty big company that is affiliated with Disney. You guys know me…I’m opinionated, but always do my best to explain my stance on something. I can’t see anyone as opinionated and bashing of other human beings as this guy, working for Disney because they wouldn’t take it. The company I worked with that works directly with them…was so set in their ways with things, I couldn’t even offer an opinion on anything…wasn’t asked and was told “just do what you are asked” before the contract was sent my way. That meant “shut up, don’t be a producer, don’t be an engineer, be a yes man and do what we say”. I know for a fact Disney works the same way. Everyone on their staff (and I do mean everyone) is a people person or you don’t work for that company for long. Though I have a feeling in person this guy may not be this intense and was just up on his podium because no one could interrupt him or say “dude shut up you’re making me angry” to his face….the soapbox seemed to be a nice height for him so he jumped on it.

I actually tried to read all of his posts while trying to really understand where he was coming from. I barely got any audio out of any of them. It was all a rant about how he just wanted to believe he was so much better than the rest of us while using autism as his crutch to get away with it. I read because I guess I wanted to see what goes on in the mind of someone with autism. That sure wasn’t anything remotely close to what people have told me in their experiences. Most of them can’t stay focused that long to type all that…from what I’ve heard. Yep, I’m REALLY proud to be a cluless dumbass that can’t hear as well as him. I’m anal enough as it is and make myself sick at times because of it…that’s enough for me.

JayGee – 12-12-2011, 05:15 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by Danny Danzi
Two things I really was curious about with that guy…how good was his audio quality and did he really work for Disney?
He mentions that he works for Disney, but doesn’t say he’s an engineer there.
For all we know, he might spend 8 hours per day dressed in a Goofy costume.

TonyB – 12-12-2011, 08:49 AM Edit Reply
All I know is that this thread that started off with an outstanding article has been derailed. Ugh

AndiP – 12-15-2011, 04:21 AM Edit Reply
I started reading this thread when it was first posted and only just came back to it – what an absolutely outstanding piece of Internet! It’s a lot to take in one reading, but to attempt to sum-up metaphorman’s postings; most of us experience life through a series of cognitive filters, but he doesn’t! Shame he’s not still here because I’d love to know how he knows that he has NO filters and not just a different set. Also, if anyone knows how I can gain the ability to understand all of physics (don’t worry about the chemistry and biology, that’ll just take care of itself) at a purely instinctive level and with no apparent need to study then please PM me with details. Kudos to Danny for restraint and a feast for thought.

irawan gani – 12-19-2011, 01:00 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by garageband
Sounds like someone has a big chip on their shoulder and had written “autism” on it.
i just came back from Vulcan and i saw him at the mall when i was buying a fake pair of ears to blend in with the crowd.

… cognitive… comb filter… tube… capaci… ta.. ta … ta … ta … cannot compute…cannot compute… self destruct countdown begins… 10… 9… 8…

barron27 – 12-29-2011, 09:59 AM Edit Reply
Excellent article. The same principle applies to music theory. I find myself looking for something magic in theory when I should be using my EARS! Listening came before any theory or electronics, and it still is, to me, the most important thing. I certainly don’t know about a lot of engineering details, but I just find an album I like and try to copy that sound by ear as closely as possible. That being said, I have heard some mixes that were really bad, especially back in the eighties when they reduced the kick drum to hitting on a Quaker Oats lid. Listen to the Eightes self titled album Heart. Great music, crappy, thin mix…..

doug hazelrigg – 01-13-2012, 02:08 PM Edit Reply
I have a friend in Norway named Kim Christiansen who is a long-time participant in the Cubase forum and for years he used a SoundBlaster (don’t ask me how) and a Behringer pre-amp… and his stuff consistently ranked at the top in terms of both excellence and listener reaction. And the reason is exactly as Brandon notes: he was a kick-ass guitarist and wonderful songwriter. It’s fun to talk about gear, and gear can impart a wonderful thing, but it will ALWAYS be about musicianship and songcraft in the end

EvaEva – 01-24-2012, 03:15 PM Edit Reply
Agreed, Brandon.

I am very late to comment on this, but, oh, well…
I have one mic pre – a UA tube pre because I had to get one, and it had to be good enough to be the only one. Each purchase I have made has been like that. Since I am always looking to be a better musician and creator (and catch up to the Joneses), and because I’m not independently wealthy, I look to how I can get big results out of a carefully and thoughtfully selected set of equipment and software. I have always been partial to the w a r m analog beefy tube sound, so I focused on that.

paul999 – 01-24-2012, 09:58 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by EvaEva
Agreed, Brandon.

I am very late to comment on this, but, oh, well…
I have one mic pre – a UA tube pre because I had to get one, and it had to be good enough to be the only one. Each purchase I have made has been like that. Since I am always looking to be a better musician and creator (and catch up to the Joneses), and because I’m not independently wealthy, I look to how I can get big results out of a carefully and thoughtfully selected set of equipment and software. I have always been partial to the w a r m analog beefy tube sound, so I focused on that.

The UA pre is very nice. Buying solid purchases instead of buying low and outgrowing them is VERY smart. The UA has plenty of beef:-)

disarmwithasmile – 01-24-2012, 10:09 PM Edit Reply
hey i read this article when it was first posted and hadnt come back to this page in a while and was curious so here i am and wow this was one of the greatests threads of all time lol. as for the article itself i think there is certainly something to the possibilities of someone able to just not worry about what youre supposed to do and just jump in and do it. for some people this is absolutely the best way to go about doing most things. im kind of a hybrid. i gotta jump in and do it myself to learn whats going on but at the same time i need a map just to be like hey umm where the hell am i lol. as far as the thread here my god please unban that guy. absolutely wild stuff there. loved the talking crap about other peoples silly pride while stating it with such grandiose levels of pride as well as the extreme assumptions and huge twistings. i also kept hoping for some audio examples. saying a load of crap is all fine and dandy but i just wanted to hear it for myself even though i supposedly would never be able to hear it since my brain would filter it out. stupid brain!

Dwarfgrinder – 06-24-2012, 11:00 PM Edit Reply
That autistic guy is awesome, I want sound clips. Good article too but i kinda lost all of is meaning after going through the entire thread.

ZanetheVocalist – 10-01-2012, 09:05 PM Edit Reply
Anytime I start squint-moding too often, I come back and reread this article. Its the sole reason I don’t own any uber expensive preamps. After dumping 3k in a pre you can’t help but expect it to do more than it actually can, and that will be your downfall.

irawan gani – 10-02-2012, 02:49 AM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by ZanetheVocalist
Anytime I start squint-moding too often, I come back and reread this article. Its the sole reason I don’t own any uber expensive preamps. After dumping 3k in a pre you can’t help but expect it to do more than it actually can, and that will be your downfall.
Seriously though, I dont understand why no one has mentioned Focusrite Platinum VoiceMaster Pro. It is under $800 and if used properly sounds better than any expensive gear that costs more than $1000. I used to own one and couldnt bring it when I moved overseas.

I have used it as a vocal pre, acoustic pre, bass pre. They all work. And they all work wonderfully.

Again, it only costs $800.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.
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