Quantegy closes its doors

general questions, comments and ideas about recording, audio, music, etc.
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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by Girl Toes » Sat Jan 08, 2005 2:09 am

Well, if no one cares about sound quality, then what are we all doing here??? Everyone can record themselves on their cell phones. Hell, its only the song that matters.

I tend to fall on the Steve Albini side of the coin, and see all this as relevant to this thread. This has been quite a frustrating blow, and until we hear some actual good news, where better to vent a little than on a message board where people actually know what we're talking about???

I feel bad for the people that have lost their jobs, and for all the terrible shit in the world, and talk about it regularly in off topic. But this is very relevant to me personally and what I do, and something that I love. I don't think format wars have been a huge problem for tape-op, and there is no need to censor them. Its very relevant when one format, regardless of which one, is possibly disappearing. A lot of people have very strong feelings about this, it may be why they are in this business in the first place. We can't even be sure that we aren't writing its obituary. So let us celebrate our beloved format. There's no better time to ridicule the enemy than now, when we need the support to get through this. Amen.
Last edited by Girl Toes on Sat Jan 08, 2005 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by curtiswyant » Sat Jan 08, 2005 6:29 am

The way I see it, if digital recording had become available in say, 1968, how many of our beloved artists would have used PT? I bet most would at least try digital, if not convert wholy. The Beatles probably would have done wonderful things with computers. Lots of crap is being made on computers but it doesn't outweigh the decades of crap that has been made on 2" tape!

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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by GregW » Sat Jan 08, 2005 6:54 am

Hello there. Here's a few words just for the helluvit, before I go off to today's on-site. (Digitally, I might add, but don't let that scare you away yet... :- ) I might ramble a bit, as my friend Steve will tell you, but hey...this thread is now over 25 pages long!!

First of all, the recorder. It can be a wax cylinder, a wire recorder, magnetic analog tape, magnetic digital tape, a standalone hard drive, PC- or Mac-based, bio-neural gel packs, quantum singularationaries, or tachyonic-centric morgriphiers.

(Oh shoot, is this only the 21st century? Damn, better edit that... :- )

But whatever: it's just a box that holds sounds. A sound box! Now, that box may "color" and "flavor" the sound in ways bad or good, but it is only one piece of the chain. The player's talent, the sounds of the instruments, the room acoustics, the soundman's talent, mics, pres, console used for mixing, these all have a profound effect on the sound. This band I'm recording now is a good example. On an earlier project, we tracked the drums on a TASCAM MS-16. (So, I can't afford a Studer...and remember, it's all on-site, so it has the fit in my Subaru!) The level to tape is set pretty high, due to a happy error, so it can give "THAT ANALOG SOUND" whatever the hell that means. :-) Some tracks had dbx type I, some didn't. I used EMTEC 911; quite a relic from the recent past! I liked the sound of it, as did the band. I like the smell of 911, the look of those reels turning around and around, and the option of having dbx or not. Analog is cool, and not just for its sound. (Moving that monster...oh wait, can't use that word...up stairs is quite the PITA I must say!)

So the band wanted to do more stuff, as the first project didn't quite work out the way they wanted. (They recorded ACOs and VOX first, THEN found the drummer, and tried to add drums to other stuff. Doesn't work.) I suggested that the try all-digital on the TASCAM DA-78hr. (Hey, I can't afford Alsihad w/Apogees...though that all could fit in my Subaru.) Same drummer, same kit, almost the same mics and pres, same soundman (!) We moved to a different room, though, so it's not a perfect scientific experiment. Oh well. Other than some comments about the overheads, everyone thought the digial recording was just fine. (That seems to be a common refrain. Maybe those high-end convertors deal with highs better??)

So yeah, I'll miss analog...but it's only one piece of the chain. It's not reason enough to give up recording entirely. Who knows, maybe those-high end convertors coupled with a good storage device (digital tape, really really reliable computer, etc.) would be just as good as a Studer. What I mean by this is to compare apples to apples: Compare a 2" 24-track Studer to a DA-98hr with 24 channels of Apogee. Don't compare a Studer to an ADAT. Compare a TSR-8 to a DA-78hr. Don't compare a TSR-8 to a DA-98hr with 24 channels of Apogee. (Not that I've had the chance to hear all of those things, but I think the point is made.)


To shift gears a bit:

What about analog?? Hmm?

How about a guess as to what there is, was, and what is worth saving.

Bear with me for a sec, make sure we're on the same page:

So the machines. Studer seems to be the most highly regarded, with the Ampex 102 (??) right there with it. Plenty of kind words have been written about Otari, 3M, MCI/Sony and Ampex multitracks. TASCAM and Fostex stuff, along with lower-end Otari, seem to be in the realm of us poor folks in the "project studio" niche. (BTW, "lower-end Otari" seems to me to be like saying "lower-end BMW.)

2" anything (24-, 16, and 8- track) is top of the line, with 1" 16 getting some respect. 1/4" 2-track is the workhorse for mixing, with 1/2" 2-track being top dog, and 1" 2-track being beyond the realm of the Gods. 1/2" 8- and 16-track is project studio territory, as is 1/4" 8-track.

Ah, tape. Like gas for the above-mentioned autos. People say nice things about Quantegy (formerly Ampex) 456, 499 and GP9 (formerly 3M 996.) There is also fond rememberance for EMTEC (formerly BASF, formerly Agfa(??)) 911 and 900. Then there's Zonal, about which I know nuttin'. And what ever became of Scotch?

So, who's still in the biz? Well, nobody makes new machines. Game, set, match. It also seems that there will soon no longer be tape, though there are enough rumors flying around to keep us guessing.

But, it seems that parts can be had. TASCAM, last time I checked, still had many parts available. I've heard the same about Studer. I'm led to understand that ATR Services can basically rebuild an ATR 102 from old and new parts, and to better-than-factory spec. JRF magnetics can relap heads and also has many parts. I think there's another company out there that does head services. How 'bout MRL...still around? How about local repair techs? How about tapetape.com, or whoever else that recycles and reuses tape? I would assume that they all know of each other's existence and are working together in some way. After all, they have a common goal, the use of a particular format. I wonder what the head honchos of those companies are saying? It'd be interesting to know...

And, of course, it's all meaningless if no one uses tape...and from the responses at tapeop, among other forums, it seems there is still a demand. So how many people out there still have the machines in their studios and the ability and desire to use them?

I guess what it all comes down to is collaboration, something I've found to be rather difficult in this biz. Maybe if everyone who still likes tape and wants to see it survive got togther, then it would survive. This would have to be those who make parts, those who do repairs, those who make tape, and those who use it in the trenches every day...or every month. Is there some kind of site in which people can "stand up and be counted" as it were, as to where they stand with analog? (i.e. "Hi, I'm Bob and I do analog repairs in Boston. Hi, I'm Al, and I record on analog in NYC.) If not, maybe there should be one, If so, whoever is running it should make a thread on every recording forum they can find...spread the word.

Analog is, and has been for a while now, a small industry. (Come to think of it, recording is kinda like that in general...) For it to continue, I would think that those who are still interested should get together and make it work. If that's already happening, great, how do I sign up? If not, could someone who's a better entreprenuer than me get something going? :-)

All right, that's enough from me. I have to go record...which is what it's all about!!!

-GRW
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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by GregW » Sat Jan 08, 2005 6:55 am

Wow! What I said was so important, it posted twice!!! :-)

-GRW
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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by wayne kerr » Sat Jan 08, 2005 8:00 am

Professor wrote:
dwlb wrote: Thanks for posting that, Jeremy. You're absolutely correct.

I'm getting kinda used to the periodic smitings from the fundamentalists, though.

-dwlb (heathen)
It's frightening, isn't it? Like some kinda screwed up radical religion. That's also why I never discuss Mac vs. PC with someone who owns a Mac.

-J :worthy: :devil:
C'mon guys it was a joke! Sheesh. I actually OWN a ProTools rig and use it when it is judged necessary - tho this does generally not include cutting tracks, it certainly has and likely will now increase. But anyone who can not hear the difference between 2" tape and a hard drive is simply deaf, all things being equal. :lol:

CC
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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by wayne kerr » Sat Jan 08, 2005 8:08 am

dwlb wrote:I try to avoid that conversation as well (and for me it fits in with your "digital users have a respect and admiration for tape" concept--I am a mac user primarily but I recognize the value of, and use, PCs as well). The Digidesign message boards have a "No Platform Wars!" rule...perhaps we should have a "no format wars" zone here. It IS religion and no one will ever win the argument.
It's NOT a religion. It's a tool. I don't care what field you work in, the mark of a professional is knowing how to select the right tool for the job - and a BIG part of that is understanding WHY you make that selection. IOW, I can kill you with a hammer and drive a nail with the butt of a gun, but I'd have much better results the other way 'round, yes? When recording live instruments, IME, the right tool is analog tape. When editing those same live instruments, the right tool is a razor blade. :lol: OK, seriously the right tool is a non-linear digital platform. What I'm bummed about is that half my tools may now be gone forever.

CC
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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by Professor » Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:21 am

chocolatechickenpunkpie wrote:
Professor wrote:
dwlb wrote: Thanks for posting that, Jeremy. You're absolutely correct.

I'm getting kinda used to the periodic smitings from the fundamentalists, though.

-dwlb (heathen)
It's frightening, isn't it? Like some kinda screwed up radical religion. That's also why I never discuss Mac vs. PC with someone who owns a Mac.

-J :worthy: :devil:
C'mon guys it was a joke! Sheesh. I actually OWN a ProTools rig and use it when it is judged necessary - tho this does generally not include cutting tracks, it certainly has and likely will now increase. But anyone who can not hear the difference between 2" tape and a hard drive is simply deaf, all things being equal. :lol:
True enough Sissy, but then I wouldn't lump you among the zealots - you work in both realms, prefer each for the benefit they deliver to your work, and don't ridicule folks who are less concerned with format that productivity. IME that would make you the consummate flexible engineer.

-J

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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by Professor » Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:38 am

salad49 wrote:
Professor wrote: If one works in digital, they usually hold some respect for tape and probably would even like to own a machine, yet they are denegrated by the holy warriors that bow to the analog god and vow to mock and berate all who do not swear their souls and first born children to be sacrificed to the dying format.
So if you like analog, you're an idol worshipper? And a child sacrificer? That is a vicious attack. Show me the similar attack on people who use digital.
No, if you like analog then you like analog. If you swear by it and ridicule anyone who doesn't then you're a zealot. Claiming that no recording can be accomplished without tape and that one's children might starve before converting to digital (read pg.13-15) is a little over-zealoused as well, don't you think?
salad49 wrote:
Professor wrote: You also wrote this:
When all these old-timers who refuse to switch to digital run out of tape and decide that they'd rather retire than record to hard disk - well at least there will finally be some decent job openings in this industry.
You call that "respect"?
I hope I never meet you in person, let alone have to work with you...
Damn right I said that. I have every respect for analog and was (and still am) hoping to drop about $10k this year to pickup a vintage 1" 8-track with 4-track heads to use as a front-end & mix down deck for some projects. If it still seems like a reasonable investment in 6 months time I will do it.
In the mean time, if the unavailability of tape means that some engineers will leave the profession, then good-bye and good luck to you all. There are hundreds of kids coming out of recording schools every year that are working at coffee shops and recording on Behringer gear in their basements for want of a job in the industry. They don't care what format they use, so long as they get to record.

You'd like me in person, I'm cute. And as for working with me, don't worry about that because I'll be working as a recording engineer even after the tape supply has run dry.

-Jeremy

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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by JohnDavisNYC » Sat Jan 08, 2005 10:49 am

i'm going out in a big way... oooo, it will be sooo spectacular. since there is no longer any reason to live, i'm going to take myself out in a grotesque display of autoasphixiatory erotic suicide. i will fill every orifice of my body with my last reel of 2"499, then i ill hang myself off of the williamsburgh bridge with Gp9. my girlfriend will videotape it all, so don't worry about getting copies, it'll be online soon. gawd, i can't wait to be a martyr for tape!!!!

oh, and the reel of 499 WILL be available on ebay once i'm done with it.

john
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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by ladewd » Sat Jan 08, 2005 11:23 am

Well, although I mainly use a DAW for recording, I still have a mixdown deck which I like to use occasionally. I love tape machines since being a young kid, but I can accept the fact that the world has to move on and that I have become somewhat of a dinosaur.

I visited my local Sam Ash, since the last time I was there, I saw a huge stack of tape there. When I got there it was all gone, but I asked one of the guys there, if they still had some. The guy replied to me that they don't get much of a call for tape anymore, but checked in the back and sure enough they still had some. All they had left in 1/4" were 2 reels of 456, 2 GP9 and 1 499. I bought them all. I'd love to find a source of 1/4" pancakes. Hey Sissy, does RMS in Burbank have any tape left? I don't see pancakes on their price list. I have more empty reels than I can ever use.

CA

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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by JGriffin » Sat Jan 08, 2005 11:31 am

Lance Roma?ce wrote:Well, if no one cares about sound quality, then what are we all doing here??? Everyone can record themselves on their cell phones. Hell, its only the song that matters.

I tend to fall on the Steve Albini side of the coin, and see all this as relevant to this thread. This has been quite a frustrating blow, and until we hear some actual good news, where better to vent a little than on a message board where people actually know what we're talking about???

I feel bad for the people that have lost their jobs, and for all the terrible shit in the world, and talk about it regularly in off topic. But this is very relevant to me personally and what I do, and something that I love. I don't think format wars have been a huge problem for tape-op, and there is no need to censor them. Its very relevant when one format, regardless of which one, is possibly disappearing. A lot of people have very strong feelings about this, it may be why they are in this business in the first place. We can't even be sure that we aren't writing its obituary. So let us celebrate our beloved format. There's no better time to ridicule the enemy than now, when we need the support to get through this. Amen.
I don't have any problem with venting about the problems analog users are experiencing due to the current tape stock crisis. Part of Professor's point is that the digital side of the discussion doesn't consider analog "the enemy." It's die-hard analog guys who always seem to be on the offensive. There's absolutely no reason "mourning the possible loss of analog" needed to degenerate into "bash digital."
chocolatechickenpunkpie wrote:It's NOT a religion. It's a tool. I don't care what field you work in, the mark of a professional is knowing how to select the right tool for the job - and a BIG part of that is understanding WHY you make that selection. IOW, I can kill you with a hammer and drive a nail with the butt of a gun, but I'd have much better results the other way 'round, yes? When recording live instruments, IME, the right tool is analog tape. When editing those same live instruments, the right tool is a razor blade. OK, seriously the right tool is a non-linear digital platform. What I'm bummed about is that half my tools may now be gone forever.
Like the Prof, I don't put you in the "zealot" class. Let me rephrase: it's LIKE a religion. And the bits where it gets like that are not "what tool is right for this job?" The folks who operate that way are fine. It's the guys who equate tools with quality of craftsmanship and say ridiculous stuff like "music sucks now...because of digital recording technology." That's utter nonsense. But it's the same kind of unscientific claptrap that contributes to other religious battles, like Catholic v. Protestant, Cubs v. White Sox, Mac v. PC. Fans of one over the other often have strong emotional responses to their favorite or the one they don't like ("I hate the White Sox," my best friend says. Dude, you HATE a baseball team?). Same thing happens here. I have never said analog sucks, I have never said anyone shouldn't use analog if they feel it's the right tool. On the other hand, I and every other digital user have been universally blamed for the decline--no, death--of quality entertainment and good sound in the world--see Lance's sarcastic opener in the quote above.
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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by soundguy » Sat Jan 08, 2005 11:36 am

whenever I bring this subject up, its very easy to boil it down to a digital vs. analog discussion and while its tiring to type out, its definitely missing the point *entirely*. Digital recording platforms may not sound "like tape" but they certainly dont "sound bad" sonically either. A good engineer is going to make something good on whatever platform they work on. My point of contention has very little if *anything* to do with the sound that each format makes. Please try to understand that. If you know anything about transformer implementation, you can take a sterile sounding digital system and if you are mixing out of the box, make a rightous sound with it, its not like finding the ark of the covenant to learn how to do this.

Of course my obnoxious opinion factors into this, but I do not think I am alone in the thought that the quality of records being put out in the last 5 years has gone into the toilet. WHY is this? I find it a wierd coincidence that records really started to suck more and more as people began to use computers more and more. Im not referring to the sound of the damn computer. Its the work ethic that comes with the resolution at which you can tweak on non linear platforms. Its amazing for some work, but from my chair, Ive seen it destroy rock and roll.

I have worked with friends in bands that are used to recording on computers and when they come to my place, which is all linear, the shit really hits the fan. It took having to bear through those sessions to really understand how much of an ethic effect computers have had on things. And that is my comment. This is not a "sound of tape vs. sound of disc" retarded debate. There's a much bigger picutre out there, try to see it. Bands are not willing to work as hard to perform when it is so easy to nudge a track in time, or fix the wierd thing you did in that one part. Producers are not willing to push so hard when its so easy to nudge a track in time or fix the wierd thing that happpened in that one part. Vocalists have absolutely no pressure what so ever to do anything right when you can comp 30 takes with less effort than it would take for you to punch in fixes on a tape machine. Hell, you dont even need to be a good engineer anymore, you can set the auto punch in and out points in some programs and NEVER worry about erasing the wrong part. The cumulative effect of this type of production just sits on the top of everything, its sits in front of the band's performance and for me, it really ruins things when I notice it, sorta like when you see the pan and scan in a movie.

If computers are so great for rock, why isnt anyone doing anything that is just so amazingly great with them. 20 years from now, what are going to be the classic records from last year or the year before, records where kids our age now are gonna look at us when we are older and say "wow, you were in the biz when XXXX was made, thats soooo awesome". What are the records that are just so good to deserve respect? They all sound the same to me... There are very few records I have heard recently where I have felt any kind of achievement by either the band or the engineer, everything just seems so put through the formula, there is no sense of struggle on recordings I hear, there is no thrill of victory and definitely no agony of defeat, big budget records and small indie stuff now all have this same mediocore stalemate happening with them and for that I like to blame the consequences of working with nonlinear systems (not the sound of nonlinear systems). Please feel free to disagree but for me it just seems hard to appreciate anyone's talent anymore behind the ease of a computer, its too easy for the untalented to sound talented and the talented to sound irrelevannt.

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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by JGriffin » Sat Jan 08, 2005 12:03 pm

As usual you make excellent points. It is true that we spend much more time tweaking now that we can tweak so precisely. I will put this out for discussion though. you said:
Vocalists have absolutely no pressure what so ever to do anything right when you can comp 30 takes with less effort than it would take for you to punch in fixes on a tape machine.
I could take that back a step and suggest that pressure on vocalists --or any performer, for that matter-- lightened up considerably when machines that could punch in reliably were developed. Prior to that a singer had to be able to deliver his/her best within a single take. If there had been messageboards back then, would a bunch of people be claiming that punch-ins were killing quality music? Many of the advances in recording technology over the last 50 years have been made in order to make the process easier and quicker, and all could arguably make the people involved lazier due to the increase in ease of use. Steve Albini once said that using compression was cheating, and that he preferred "dynamic manipulation" (moving the fader with your finger). Does this mean that devices designed to control level make it too easy to make records? I hope I'm not getting too reductio ad absurdum here.

As far as lazy artists/producers--those are the guys who would have put out crappy records fifteen years ago, but they would have been crappy records with timing issues and off-pitch vocals. They'd still be crappy records. Crappy records happen in all decades. If we want to get into the pop music speed-to-market mill, and overhyping and glomming on subgenres and all that stuff, once again I'll say that digital technologies might make that stuff easier, but punk was a response to crappy corporate rock back in 1975; what has changed except the speed at which corporations can foist crap upon the public?

No good rock records the last 5 years? Maybe there are no good artists. Rock is 50 years old. It's very possible that there will be longer and longer stretches between new ideas in this format, or that the format is played out.
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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by the brill bedroom » Sat Jan 08, 2005 12:16 pm

soundguy wrote:

If computers are so great for rock, why isnt anyone doing anything that is just so amazingly great with them. 20 years from now, what are going to be the classic records from last year or the year before, records where kids our age now are gonna look at us when we are older and say "wow, you were in the biz when XXXX was made, thats soooo awesome". What are the records that are just so good to deserve respect? .

dave
Just off the top of my head, Wilco, The Flaming lips and Super Furry Animals have used the potential of digital to take things forward in the last few years. I'd imagine that we'll be looking back at those in the future as at least interesting examples of the period where analog and digital worked really well together.

Mind you, I'm regressing to total caveman recording as I go along. I completely hear what you're saying in the paragraph above the one I quoted, but I think (hope) that it makes the rare artistic triumph shine even brighter. Not that I'm talented enough to do it, but I think what you wrote about vocal comping makes the singers who can actually sing all the way through a song stand out even more. It also makes me seek out material that isn't perfect. I find myself even more drawn towards singers like Tom Waits, Keith Richards, Shane McGowen. I don't know if that's good or bad, but...

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Re: Quantegy closes its doors

Post by soundguy » Sat Jan 08, 2005 12:50 pm

dwlb wrote:would a bunch of people be claiming that punch-ins were killing quality music?
Yes, many did. The old, old timers seemed to have a similar reaction to Sel-Sync that I am currently having towards non-linear recording. Perhaps I just ultimately summed up the entire thing right there, and Im happy to walk away from all this at that. There are some old guys out there that thought anything that wasnt recorded live was cheating and those dudes are the most hard core big band heads out there. And good for them, Im certainly not about to argue neither with them nor their position. I grew up with sel-sync and my whole world is about overdubbing and fitting things in, Im not intending to make a proper live recording when I enter the studio, so the two worlds arent really comparable. And I guess, trying to be an adult about this, we should be putting nonlinear systems into a similar perspective, the next generation that comes up recording will come up in a model where editing is a proactive thing that goes on during the overdubbing process and in many places replaces performance. As it took some time for sel-sync to settle into the mindest for the old guys, its taking time for editing in its current incarnation to settle in now.

I'll say this, when you listen to big band stuff from the 40's and then you listen to say, miles davis from the late 60's, the difference in the FEEL of the recordings (not the sound) is night and day and if I had to pick one over the other, Im going with the sel-sync recordings just because its what Im used to. Same thing now, having grown up with sel-sync, the feel of most nonlinear stuff I hear (NOT THE SOUND) is just really not interesting to me at all, it doesnt stink of challenge in any way, very similarly to the way sel-sync must have not stunk of challenege to guys that were around before it. And as sel-sync grew to a style worthy of veneration, there is little doubt that as it becomes more and more standard, there will be people who master non-linear style but rest assured, the way sel-sync changed jazz, you can bet your ass that non-linear is changing rock. If you want to hear big band, you dont have lots of options, sel-sync changed the style. The same is happening for rock and its a bummer.

Im going to start calling myself a sel-syncer now, hopefully thats specific enough to avoid debates about Avs.D.

The death of tape (now or in the future) is not about the loss of a recording medium or what it sounds like. The simple addition of a monitoring circuit on a three head tape machine was enough to completely change GENRES of music (the machines ran the same sounding tape...) and we are seeing the same thing again, right now with computers. I said before I was here to run a machine not record bands, maybe now what I meant by that is a little clearer to understand. I dont know so much if its resisting the future or if its preserving the past. The way I see it, Im just working a style that yields a result that creatively, because of its limitations, is pleasing in a specific way which I like, thats all.

dave
http://www.glideonfade.com
one hundred percent discrete transistor recording with style and care.

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