Just Curious...

general questions, comments and ideas about recording, audio, music, etc.
User avatar
soundguy
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3182
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 12:50 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Just Curious...

Post by soundguy » Sat Feb 12, 2005 6:54 pm

For the guys here who play in bands, is there a point at which your record sounds too good? So long as the record still sounds like your band SOUNDS, how many folks here object to thier record not sounding shitty?

Take something like Foreigner "hot blooded". Yes, Im sure everyone hates foreigner, please try to get over yourself for a second. I think that tune is a great example of an "everything clear" recording, every single instrument in the song is right up in front and everything sounds clear. This is obviously a produciton style, just curious as to how many folks here in one version or another are striving towards a sound reminiscent of this or if folks are aspiring to a level of "good enough" or "right amount of shittiness".

Im going through a thing now where the artist Im working with is unhappy because in his words "you did too good of a job". Im not quite sure how to approach the situation but its brought up bigger questions about where people's aspirations are really at. If you guys are wearing your lo-fi ethic on your sleeve, are you afraid of a good sounding recording ruining your street cred? Good sounding meaning say, anything from the Led Zeppelin catalog good sounding, not nigel godrich or jj puig good sounding. Curious to see where everyone here weighs in.

thanks

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

User avatar
joeysimms
ears didn't survive the freeze
Posts: 3838
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2003 10:10 am

Re: Just Curious...

Post by joeysimms » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:15 pm

I want my stuff to sound as good as it can possibly be, but I personally know of a band, who, after having their record done by a very capable engineer, had the end result mixed through a 4 track because it sounded "too good".

There's a LOT of gray area in between, though. Whatever works for the song at hand.

"good sound", to me, is really a strong tune with a solid arrangement, and an exciting mix. That usually requires a certain level of effort, but, Captain Beefheart's "China Pig" is perfect, even though it's just a cassette recorder.
beware bee wear

Stephen
steve albini likes it
Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2003 2:30 pm
Location: Douglas
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by Stephen » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:17 pm

Your client is a moron (or possibly a shitty and insecure musician.) But I am certain you have already figured that out.
I have always hated that fake credibilty lo-fi thing almost as much as I hate the idea that being a shitty musician gives you punk credibility.
And Hot Blooded is a wretched song, but you are right... It is a great production.
Pax, Steve
Necessity is a mother....
http://instantdogma.net

dictaphone
pushin' record
Posts: 234
Joined: Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:37 am
Location: Austin, TX
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by dictaphone » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:20 pm

I think that no matter what the "quality" of the sound is, the most important thing is that it is interesting. I like things to sound good, but not too ordinary.

Judas Jetski
carpal tunnel
Posts: 1578
Joined: Sun Jan 16, 2005 7:30 pm
Location: The US North Coast
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by Judas Jetski » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:23 pm

I'm all about the lo-fi, but it's hard for me to imagine complaining because something sounded too good... I mean, if they wanted to sound bad, couldn't they have made it sound bad by themselves?

...

I'm remembering a recording project I played drums on. We did it in a home studio where the engineer was used to recording choral groups. It came out sounding a little over-produced (in an 80s kinda way), but excellent quality. Mostly it just took a little getting used to, but we all hated it at first. As I recall, the thing which "fixed" it was just pulling back the reverb & effects a little. What style of music are you dealing with?

User avatar
soundguy
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3182
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 12:50 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by soundguy » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:27 pm

Actually, without trying to be snooty, my client is completely not a moron. He's a dude with probably close to 20 ish records under his belt over the course of several bands with a world wide following. He's also a guy I respect terribly, Im a fan. All that adds up to exactly why I didnt just write it off as moronic reaction which has given me pause on this subject.

I know its all very subjective, what sounds good and what doesnt sound good. I go into a project and always attempt to do my best. I guess I am trying to understand the lo-fi ethic. Maybe my question is, do people go into make records with the full fledged intention of them not sounding as good as they can sound? I mean, look at blood sugar sex magic, a record recorded with mostly dynamic mics, mostly shure dynamic mics. That record still sounds pretty not shitty for average mics on nearly everything.

Is lo-fi something you get because all you could afford was not the most expensive gear so you went with it and like it, or is it something you go out of your way to achieve? Its looking like I need to go out of my way to achieve it by proxy of the gear Im working on, but I would like to see where others weigh in with this. Never in a million years did I ever expect criticism that put me in a corner because I did too good a job. WTF?

In regards to andy's post- client loves the production style, its not like I added reverb and he hates the verb. Everything is done the way he wanted it done but it just sounds too "big" for him. I think I scared him with the sound of my console. Be careful what you wish for...

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

User avatar
joeysimms
ears didn't survive the freeze
Posts: 3838
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2003 10:10 am

Re: Just Curious...

Post by joeysimms » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:38 pm

soundguy wrote: Is lo-fi something you get because all you could afford was not the most expensive gear so you went with it and like it, or is it something you go out of your way to achieve? Its looking like I need to go out of my way to achieve it by proxy of the gear Im working on, but I would like to see where others weigh in with this. Never in a million years did I ever expect criticism that put me in a corner because I did too good a job. WTF?
I think lo-fi is what you got after big studio madness reached it's height in the mid 80's, and bands who did not have a major label contract, and had no interest in trying to come up with enough $$$ to get pushed around by a cokehead ponytail with no clue where they were coming from, did it themselves. I don't think most are achieving bad sound. Most are realizing songs by any means necessary.

Maybe the client just thinks it's too clean, and wants more hair on it..Maybe the client thinks it's not the sound he was looking for. Maybe the client will wake up in 2 weeks and love it. Maybe not.
beware bee wear

Stephen
steve albini likes it
Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2003 2:30 pm
Location: Douglas
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by Stephen » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:39 pm

A recording is either good or it isn't. Sorry, but your client sounds like a dipshit, 20 recordings or not. And plenty of dipshits have 20 recordings. If someone said that to me I would lose all respect for him in that specific instant. Why? Because if he knew he wanted a shitty recording to begin with he should have asked for one. Expecting a pro engineer to make an intentionally shitty recording, without specific instruction is retarded. Finally, this is just one more example of why I find the music business really, really putrid. This sounds like an example of half0assed trend chasing. And Lo-fi is shit.
Pax, Steve
Rememeber folks, the average IQ is 100. So pick the three stupidest people you know and then figure most folks are dumber than that.
Necessity is a mother....
http://instantdogma.net

User avatar
joeysimms
ears didn't survive the freeze
Posts: 3838
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2003 10:10 am

Re: Just Curious...

Post by joeysimms » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:49 pm

Wow Steve, quick assessment.. Sometimes engineers are dipshits, too, ya know.. Even ones that have engineered 20 records.
beware bee wear

bmsander
ass engineer
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 12:34 pm
Location: champaign, IL
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by bmsander » Sat Feb 12, 2005 7:55 pm

Your client is absolutely not a moron or an insecure asshole. Sorry, but I think that statement is a little bit short-sighted.

Have any of you ever had a haircut that was "good", but that you just didn't like? Or, it just wasn't "you?" Well, the good news is that hair grows back. A record lasts forever, or at least as long as there are people searching it out and playing it.

Also - considering this guy has done over 20 records, is someone you respect, and is paying you to transfer his vision to tape, I think you should do whatever it takes to make him happy. Sounds like you're more than happy to do that, Dave.

Why would you shit on an artist who has a vision for what HIS sound should be, lo-fi or not, Steve? Not sure what that attitude's about. Do you think the Strokes records or Velvet Underground records, or Joy Division records would sound better if they all sounded like a Rush production?

Just sayin' . . . :wink:

brett

bap
takin' a dinner break
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2005 1:03 pm
Location: Bushland

Re: Just Curious...

Post by bap » Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:11 pm

I love many old lo-fi recordings dearly [I'm an old guy] and might enjoy hearing these same recordings in hi-fi or digital or whatever... or I might not. I usually enjoy the music. If bands or engineers or producers have a sound that they are going for, and if I like that sound - and the music, of course - then I'm fine with that.

Seeing dictaphone's post above reminded me of a tacky but sort of funny joke:

Secretary to her boss: Hey boss, can I use your dictaphone?

Boss: No, use your finger like everyone else.

ha! ha!.....sorry :oops:
'Oh... no... it wasn't the airplane...it was beauty that killed the beast.'

User avatar
soundguy
ghost haunting audio students
Posts: 3182
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 12:50 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Just Curious...

Post by soundguy » Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:22 pm

Stephen wrote:A recording is either good or it isn't. Sorry, but your client sounds like a dipshit.
I will bite my tongue in hopes of keeping this civil, but a paying customer trying to get what he paid for is not the one that sounds like a dipshit to me. After making records in big places with big engineers and big producers he knows exactly what he wants and this was discussed in preproduction. This dude is hardly chasing some trend, it would be funny to tell you who it is... All the guy wants is his vision as an artist to be realized. I made an awesome recording, its fucking GOOD, unfortunately, so far as the artist is concerned, its not the representation of his songs that he feels comfortable releasing to the public. Its a cop out for me to go tell him to go record it himself, he's perfectly capable of doing that, he hired me instead. Obviously the problem lies in the fact that he got too much of my sound and not enough of his own, so we are on a track to correct the problem.
I think lo-fi is what you got after big studio madness reached it's height in the mid 80's, and bands who did not have a major label contract, and had no interest in trying to come up with enough $$$ to get pushed around by a cokehead ponytail with no clue where they were coming from, did it themselves. I don't think most are achieving bad sound. Most are realizing songs by any means necessary.
I dont disagree with this. We now have a generation of folks who have grown up on these recordings and have come to love them, not for their shitty sound but for their content. I think the challenge I am facing right now is delivering a product that has the feel of a shitty sounding record without sounding like one. And this is ultimately my question (trying to avoid a discussion about who is a dipshit and who isnt), is this a realistic goal for someone who is after a "lo-fi" recording, or does the "lo-fi" set just want a shitty sounding recording? I know that my client does not want to sound like black flag yet feels like the "too good" quality of the reocording I provided has gotten in front of the message of his music. This is obviously a very fine line which is going to change from personality to personality, yet Im still interested to listen to people's lo-fi expectations.

I hope Im making sense.

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

User avatar
ShinyBox
steve albini likes it
Posts: 385
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2003 7:50 pm
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Just Curious...

Post by ShinyBox » Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:25 pm

As an artist, sometimes you hear things in your head in their entirety. It's like walkin around with a record in your head.

So you let the stuff out, and it gets recorded, and then someone hits the play button, and you compare what you hear to what's playin in your head.

Sometimes you get something that sounds amazing, but doesn't fit what's in your head.

I could see how you could get done with a record, and it sounds great, but it isn't what you want.

Unfortuantely, I've never had the luxury to be able to say that. Too often you are forced to go with what you got, due to external pressures, timelines, bill collectors, etc.

To be in a position where that shit isn't hangin over your head would be an amazing thing.

So if you are there. I say congratulations Dave, on making a great fucking record. But you've got to work with the artist to get it where he/she wants it, cuz at the end of the day, you get to move on to another project, whereas they are gonna have to live with supporting the record for the rest of their life.

And it's really hard to get your heart behind something you don't 100% believe in( which puts you in a messed up spot, because if he wants lo-fi shit, how can you do that, when you know better).

Maybe it's not a lo-fi thing, but a matter of gettin his head around hearin something it's not used to.

Have you asked him to listen to it for a week or so, to see if it grows on him? I've had that happen, where something came out different, and my immediate reaction was "It's different, kill it!", and after some time, I felt it was great, just the way it was.

But if it truly is a lo-fi thing, that's too bad

Anyway, my .02

Regards

ju

User avatar
joelpatterson
carpal tunnel
Posts: 1732
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2003 5:20 pm
Location: Albany, New York

Re: Just Curious...

Post by joelpatterson » Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:39 pm

Ah... stop making sense.

There's a little still voice insida me that says the final touches you put on a mix, the point at where you say "that's it!" leaves little (and big) sonic characteristics, little "cues" or something. To think about this, you need to ignore what the source sounds were and look at the "texture" or the "sheen" or this would be the "presentation" or some other word.

Like say an acoustic guitar can sound like it has glitter bouncing off of the strings or it can sound murky and thumping, the same track.

We can have a mantra that "clearer is better" because clearer is harder and the real challenge of the whole enterprise, but then you'll get someone who feels murkier is more emotive and sincere or whatever. So there's this over-arching moodiness that you create, one way or the other, and it sounds like Peter Frampton is just after a different mood that what you gave him.
Mountaintop Studios
~The Peak of Perfection~
Petersburgh NY 12138

mountaintop@taconic.net

Knights Who Say Neve
buyin' a studio
Posts: 985
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2004 6:27 pm
Location: The Mome Raths Outgrabe

Re: Just Curious...

Post by Knights Who Say Neve » Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:52 pm

Lo-fi is an aesthetic choice for some, a necessity for others. Mabye your client wants some of that aesthetic for his songs, or just doesn't want to sound "overproduced" (which is an arrangement issue as much as a recording issue). Either way it's a legitimate concern. There is a definate association in many minds between production sheen and sincerity (i.e. more production=less sincerity). Never fear though- it's much easier to take clarity out of a recording than to put it in. Strive for the clearest recording you can get, and than you can selectively decide if and when to use a crappier microphone, run it through the Nuke setting, etc. (e.g.- Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno, etc.) Sometimes a smeared brushstroke is better than a clean line...
"What you're saying is, unlike all the other writers, if it was really new, you'd know it was new when you heard it, and you'd love it. <b>That's a hell of an assumption</b>". -B. Marsalis

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests