On the After The Blast Facebook Page, Ryan poses a great question/thought:
I would like to open up a little debate with everyone. Modern recording versus older recording. When we record music, we mic up every drum, including 2 on the snare, mic up the hi hat, and have 2 overhead mics. We mic and DI the bass guitar, running at least one signal through a distortion channel. We double mic the guitars. When we track, the guitars are double, triple, and occasionally quadruple tracked depending. We add more parts than we have members to play. We do all of this to dial in to our perceived “perfect” sound for us. After that, we edit and eq like crazy. Slicing the tracks up to put them more on beat, and eq unfavorable sounds out. ALL OF THIS IS HIGHLY FROWNED UPON BY OLDER MUSICIANS. They claim that this destroys the life and musicianship of the song. The example most often given is Led Zeppelin. Their hit CDs began coming out in the 70s. Obviously, they didn’t have the technology we have now. They only used a few microphones for everything, and it was all primarily single tracked. Older musicians hail those albums as pure, raw sound, that relied much on the musician’s ability to play as well as they could. Some people love that style of recording, and often hate the idea of modern tracking. Where I enjoy some Led Zeppelin, personally, I think their recording is among the muddiest and unclear ever. I cannot hear the details of their sound. If it were to simply be redone with modern tracking techniques and more microphones to work with, I think it would be far more tasteful. As for all the editing that we do today, all the life is written into the song. When we edit out imperfections, it makes the final product more clear, not less lively. On the flip side of the coin, The newest breakthrough with guitar/bass sound is AxeFx. This is a amplifier modeling technology that allows you to dial into any sound imaginable, but skip the amplifier all together. While this is a pretty sweet technology, My personal opinion is that it sounds fake. I can’t place what it is, but everything with AxeFx doesn’t sound right to me. Perhaps I’m now the old musician and can’t latch onto the newer technology. WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK? -Ryan
Choices, choices, choices… When it comes to the older style of 1 take recordings (band members are all mic’ed and recorded at once.), there is something magical that happens. Each band member has to play with the others to make thing song. In modern recordings new digital multi tracking, each band members plays their part for the song. When then band plays together, that is probably the closest you’ll get to a “live recording” other than recording the band on stage. Sometimes it’s little things. The tone of the lead singer in the song. When his/her voice gets louder or softer. Listening to the singer feel the song. The lead guitarist who may have only had an 8 bar solo, but felt strongly enough to keep going. The drummer that reacts to that. The bassist that throws in a couple extra notes to add more than just a steady ride because he thought it needed some extra “umph.” These things happen almost instantly when the band plays as one unit. One band. One sound.
When it comes to newer digital multi tracking, amp modeling, auto tune and various other things tailor the sound to the specific thoughts of the band. Sure, my guitar sounds great with my $800 amp. However, I can make it sound like this $2000 amp! Who wouldn’t want that? The lead singer that can’t hit a note right, we can auto tune it. With being able to take the same track, double it, triple it, play it backwards as a crazy psychedelic opener, these things add to the overall message the band wants to portray.
So what is the catch? With older recordings there was tape hiss, room tone, degradation of reel tape and the imperfections of an analog and tube sound provide for what seems like a muddy sound these days. With newer recordings, The whole band doesn’t need to be in the studio at the same time. If each member knows the song, they can play to a click track and the music can be put together. With things like MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface, the drummer and bass player may not need to come in at all if the band is trying to save time and money. With newer recordings, preamps, mixers interfaces and software make for a clean sound. Clean meaning perfect. Perfect meaning there isn’t any room for interpretation. No room for interpretation means that it sounds “cold.” The opposite of that really clean sound would be the analog sound of older recordings that people claim to have “warmth” because of the imperfections.
Which sound do you like better? That spawns conversations that turn into arguments as vicious and insulting as republicans and democrats, Mac vs PC, Coke Vs Pepsi, etc.
Hybrid recording with using analog and tube equipment can help bridge the gap between band members who may be arguing over this. But there is an easy way to satisfy both sides… The “dummy” track is sometimes used as a click track for newer recordings. The dummy track is basically everyone playing the song at once like with older recordings. however, with these tracks, the members don’t try as hard and play it just enough to get through it. If the band played that dummy track like they mean it, this would provide for more of the older recording concepts and styles. Keep both versions. Just think about if/when the band makes it big… legendary even… when you release the greatest hits album, wouldn’t you want a “never heard before recording?” Keep your mind, eyes, ears and options open!