Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - 01:35 pm:

OK guys....straghten out those pocket protectors. Lets here some good Tech Stuff.

Top of pageBottom of page   By kim culhan ( on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - 03:59 pm:

Look out.. tech stuff here..

One night at the DAF (Davison Avenue Facility) Ken Sands was engineering the vocal overdubs on Eddie Kendricks' Keep On Truckin' and invited me in to watch.

The monitors were Altec 604E's ..wonder what the monitor amps were? Mike?

What cabinets were they mounted in?

With the playback directly from the 16-track master, those tracks really sounded excellent.

Not much extra circuitry in that rough monitor mix path -just the tape output through the monitor mix to the monitor amps and the 604's ..Wow what a sound!


Top of pageBottom of page   By Jay ( on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - 05:19 pm:


Were you busting me for spelling?
Or were you doing a self-depricating kinda thang?
OK I found one error "likelyhood" should have been "likelihood"...oh well...
I was sooo close. hmm...

604s seemed to be used everywhere.
They even had some alternate uses. :-)
Hey I actually saw Bruce Miller use them for a conductor's riser at the old Heider/RCA studios on Sunset. Diverging a bit...Ah... (The beginning of the overnight Digital revolution!)
In 1976 (I believe)they recorded Diahann Caroll direct-to-disk and direct-to-Soundstream-digital!.. with Bruce standing on a 604. Beautiful!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Blondie ( on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - 05:22 pm:

I don't understand a lot of this tech stuff, but I am learning and I love learning it..
I listen differently now to all these recordings.


Top of pageBottom of page   By STUBASS ( on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - 06:02 pm:


Top of pageBottom of page   By kim culhan ( on Wednesday, November 27, 2002 - 09:57 am:

So does anyone have any experiences using 604's for the original design purpose?

Maybe at Motown?


Top of pageBottom of page   By Livonia Ken ( on Wednesday, November 27, 2002 - 03:00 pm:

Since we were having fun with waveforms, here are the URLs for some mini web pages I made looking at various CD releases of Motown tracks. The first one includes some direct A/B comparisons along with some general comments. The second one looks at various masterings of the song "Mercy Mercy Me", none of which look too bad. The third one looks at some digital overs/flatlines in the recent remix of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "You Really Got a Hold on Me". The digital overs are of such short duration, that I'm not sure I could detect them by ear. Compared to some of the other quirks charted here and above, it does't bother me too much.

They are all on a "geocities" site, so I apologize in advance for the pop-ups.

I am not the most sophisticated fella when it comes to music production, mixing and mastering, so feel free to straighten me out on any of my comments on those pages that are off-base. I'm learning a lot from this discussion, too.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Wednesday, November 27, 2002 - 05:09 pm:

Hello Ken and Gang,

The original monitors at GW (pre-Motown) were 604E's in Altec enclosures driven with Dynaco 60 watt amps. They did not sound bad in the GW control room but lacked real solid low end. They were unequalized at that time.

With the efficency of the 604E's these could get VERY LOUD. Although I never liked to crank them up, other than to check for hum and noise problems, Al Kent and even George Clinton used to monitor at outright deafining levels.

When Bernie Mendelson use to work over at GW, I got to the point I would walk out of the control room until he turned it down.

Later, at United (with 604Cs), when we worked with him both Danny and I used to put in ear plugs. I'd like to see a curve of his HF loss now.

For mixing at United I used to use a semi near field approach with AR4's, at low level, set up on the console. This was sort of a take off on Mike's AR3 solution at the Blvd. studio. I did not have to deal with fried drivers as I could control the levels, unlike at Motown with the Holland Brothers. That was discussed in another thread.

Mike may have gone to a different power amp at GW/then Motown Studio B (see I said it.) He had a real love for Macintosh, probably because of their reliablility and ruggedness.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Wednesday, November 27, 2002 - 07:11 pm:

REPLY to Mike's comment on the HELP 3 thread:

Hello Mike,

We feel the same why about the film. It is a WONDERFUL FILM and a thrilling experience. It's a shame we were not there together. Problem is that we would be disruptive in the theatre.

The sound was great on the film in my opinion. Jamie's dialog work was great too as he had to work in numerous bad acoustic locations.

I know just how you feel about quality audio. We were cut from the same mold that way, Mike. Our passion is quality. I have you, Bob DeOleans, Jimmy and Joe Siracuse to thank for instilling that in me. Bob did it to Russ too.

The problem is that today that quality ethic is gone. It appears the only place you find fine audio quality is on classic and jazz CDs and earlier released Pop CD from the major's. The small independant labels appear to have some respect for dynamic integrity, based on the work I have done for them and what I hear.

I can't tell you where the processing game started other than to say that it was about 4 years ago that CD level's started to creep up. The look ahead compressor is partially to blame. It was there, so the knob jockeys used it. With availablily of Pro-Tools, (particulary this program because of the artifacts it leaves behind), and other audio work stations throughout the industry, with the lack of both in depth technical and listening knowledge, present all over the industry today, bad audio became the norm, not the exception. It takes less time, I guess.

This is one of the reasons I have tried to direct my skills to jazz and classical recording with small labels. I have some control, just as you did at Motown. It's less frustrating. The little guys are trying to attract the market segment that can appreciate quality audio.

Russ, Clay, Artie and the rest of us "Audio Nuts" who have worked in the audio industry for some years have cried "foul" since these problems started and it has fallen on deaf ears. (Pun intended.) Russ can tell you some really scary stories about today's mixers. In a phrase: The equipment runs them, they don't run it... Us old FARTS learned it right. Thank God.

I was hoping that the CD sounded as good or better than the film and the trailer. This was what I expected, so I dished up the eighteen bucks. This was big a let down for Clay and me.

We were both there at the shoot and I know the care that Kooster, Paul and the crew and I took to do it right. There was a minor ground loop from the stage interface on the first day and we all worked well into the night to solve it. We had a MAJOR FLOOD in the theatre on the first Sunday of the shoot after a BIG SNOW STORM. That caused more serious technical problems for the sound reinforcement and recording crew guys, but we all stuck together and worked around it. You would never know there were serious problems at all from the film.

Your question on whether or not the DVD will be a quality experience was address better by Jay, who has first hand experience in the west coast film prodution side. All I do is auto show stuff in DVD format.

I called Jay Monday and this was one of the topics of discussion with us the other day on the phone. I saw his post on the thread and he did a far better job than having me echo his thoughts.

Both he and you hit the nail on the head: sadly,in today's commercially driven audio world we are just old, worn out "technical whores." It just doesn't matter any more!!!

Ed Wolfrum

Top of pageBottom of page   By M.McLeanTech ( on Wednesday, November 27, 2002 - 08:03 pm:

Dear Ed,

As far as feeling that the great elegant times are gone forever, it could be a lot worse. One if my personal favorite composers is Richard Strauss (1864-1949). For you non-classical folks, he wrote the music that was used for the opening of the movie "2001."

Here is a cronological capsule biography of his life:

The two world wars took the elegant world in which he grew up and ripped it to ashs.

If one listens to his 1909 opera "Der Rosenkavalier," and then contemplates the scene in Germany in 1948, when he wrote "Four Last Songs," it becomes clear that perhaps the audio scene today is not quite so bad, after all, as far as a sense of loss is concerned.

These problems didn't bother me in 1948 at all.

Happy Thanksgiving to All,

Mike McLean

Top of pageBottom of page   By Jay ( on Thursday, November 28, 2002 - 12:50 am:

Some Thoughts:

My gig is as a stage engineer, sound editorial engineer, some speaker design and usually trying to keep all the old equipment working in harmony with the new equipment.

The thrust away from analog recording really started about 1997. I had the opportunity to write an article for Mix magazine. It was called the Year of the Digital Dubbers.

The technology had been threatening for 20ish years or so. So now it finally looked like you could have a recorder that would possess the motion and interface properties of a magnetic film or tape machine and random access capability. It would also have a direct (or so we hoped) compatible audio file format with which to be able to get in and out of the most popular workstations of the day.

Well it worked and all those mag dubbers are being sold, junked or just left sitting around.

Today the power of Digital Audio Workstations is just too great for anyone to ignore. Even if your heart says one thing, the practicality and power of these systems sucks you in.

Case In Point:
Steely Dan wanted to use a 16 track 2" like the old days to try and "capture" that old feeling and quality minus the major digital disasters they had become intimately familiar with.

However, when push came to shove, the first time they needed to overlap selected tracks on an edit, the first time they needed a pencil tool to draw-out a snarf, the first time they needed easily cut and paste individual tracks and on and on..... They found that they had been completely assimilated and THEY were now deep into the DAW experience.

But with all their new found power, with all their technical perfection something happened.
In their latest Grammy Award winning album, Two Against Nature, the drums sound like a drum machine emulating a cardboard box. the guitars have no life. The bass has zero punch and the vocals (God Bless Donald Fagen) are way back in the mix. and on and on.

Undoubtedly the worst sound of any of the SD albums from the 70s and 80s on. Beautiful well done guys.

Their 70s mixes with LAs finest musicians and the Village Recorder's Neves and Studers did it right.
Low Tech and all.

I remember way back when some esoteric stereo magazine ragged on the Motown sound as being too bass heavy as they perceived it to be muddy.
Perception is everything.

I do not believe our problem is ProTools , Nuendo, Sadie, Radar, MX-2424. but the application of these new power tools is at times an extreme abuse of the technology.

But this technology will twist your brain. You will be thinking of so much more ancillary crap that SOUND of all things will and does take a back seat!

That said, I am currently having a whale of a time with a Nuendo Dig Audio Workstation running on my Win 2K laptop computer.
At home this weekend I had to pre-record some backing tracks for my daughter.

Because I only had a Tascam US-428 to use as I/O, I was limited to 4 tracks (sound familiar!)

Record Mix, Plugins, edit, copy, paste etc... yes I must confess I used it all and loved it!
And then burn the CD in the same laptop.
This shit will make you power hungry.

Ed, maybe your doctoral thesis should have been on getting hi fi sound out of a DAW?

For another day:
The All-Digital-Signal-Path...Why Post has embraced it and the top-flight Music studios have gone back to analog consoles.

Top of pageBottom of page   By larry ( on Thursday, November 28, 2002 - 01:56 am:

I'm a bit all over the map here, but, here goes...

I own a DAW: Roland VS-1680, 24-bit recorder. It's low-end gear but powerful. My problem was getting so caught up in all the digital effects. I got so sick of my mixes I had to step back and wait for inspiration to replace my frustration.

What I learned from all you guys [and] listening to the productions of the old Motown hits (w/headphones) was the power of band interplay, great writing, arranging and performances. To think anyone can just go in and try to "get that vibe" is ludicrous. You can't make magic, magic just happens and hopefully (if you're lucky) you capture it. Funks LIVE is pretty magical.

In my own recording pursuits I learned the novel concept of getting the sound right before you hit the preamps. My G-d how much time I've spent messing with 16-bit EFX to get a vibe. Rookie mistake. Yet another problem with the powerful DAW. Now? My shit's gotta cook DRY or else it aint happenin'.

One important thing noone's mentioned about the accelerated move to Digital (if indeed that was a topic on this thread) was the need for Automation. In the early 80's an SSL was what $ 200k? Today, automation is a standard feature. Course it better be when bands are using 96 tracks for their 5 piece band.

My 3 cents.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Clay ( on Thursday, November 28, 2002 - 08:48 am:

Hey Guys,
As long as I can buy 499 and G9 2inch tape I'll continue to do my initial recording analog. For real R&B and Rock music to me,it still beats the crap out of the digital sound when and if it's recorded properly. I don't see any thing wrong with going digital for editing the final MIX and MASTERINg but,my motto is if it ain't broke don't fix it. And this is just my personal opinion based on quite a few comparison recordings and mixes.

If we start throwing all the good old stuff away from the past,the future is gonna STINK!!!!!!!peace

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ralph ( on Thursday, November 28, 2002 - 10:44 am:

I have a theory. If you can't get it in 24 tracks you don't belong in the studio.
My studio is 24 track ( Adat ) with a Mackie 32-8 board which is analog. I mix to DAT. It seems to work for me.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Thursday, November 28, 2002 - 01:04 pm:


What we have all said is the same thing.

What we use, are just TOOLS. Be it magnetic tape, which I cut my teeth on, or digital recorders or workstations. However, I'm a big fan of digital. Used right, which Jay and the rest of us know is rare.

The job is to record and reproduce MUSIC. The trick is using the tools properly to do the job.

We all have our own tecniques. That's what make us...well us. But, we learned the old school way, to do it right and preserve and enhance, not manipulate the music.

We must keep the integrity of what we do and pass it to others who can appreciate it. The word is vocation. God gave us each special skills and has allowed us to use them. Let's thank him and pray that he allows us to give those talents back to his world.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson ( on Thursday, November 28, 2002 - 01:06 pm:

"If we start throwing all the good old stuff away from the past,the future is gonna STINK!!!!!!!peace "


Somebody had turned US on to the good old stuff and we BUILT everything we did on it. In the '60s there was also lots of great live music in a variety of different genres that records had to compete with. It was almost a given that live music was better than any recording and artists even believed they were cheating their fans if they weren't as good as their records were.

In addition to fixing the recordings we make, I think we need to fix live music and music education so that kids have the experience of what music can be BEYOND just a brand name. A huge percentage justify copying music rather than buying it with the idea that music is nothing but a bunch of hype. In too many cases they are absolutely right.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Thursday, November 28, 2002 - 06:48 pm:

The problem is the industry makes more money, short term, making music(?) on the cheap, as is done today.

The industry A & R people today do not know any better, and most have never experienced the excitment of a GOOD live band in a good room.

How do we change that?

Once we do that we will have made the first step to education and change.


Top of pageBottom of page   By kim culhan ( on Friday, November 29, 2002 - 07:41 pm:


You sound like you're a lot hotter on Nuendo than I am. The manuals are a little thin on some subjects it seems..

I really need to spend some time working on the basic functions to be able to do the standard 'analog tape' things.

Its installed on a standard PC, 1.7 GHz P-4 and a single display. The screen gets pretty crowded with several windows open as you would like 'em.

Also have a UREI UAD-1 DSP card which attempts to duplicate LA-2A's and 1176's among other things, have you had any experience with these?

The input is an Aardvark Q-10; mic preamps sound great and its built right over in Ann Arbor.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Jay ( on Friday, November 29, 2002 - 09:47 pm:

Yeah the screen gets crowded and I have yet to figure out how to keep the same position on the timeline while zooming in and out.
I am by no means proficient on this platform but I am learning all the time.
I am also learning how I would like to see a real control surface that was efficient, had lots of real (not virtual) functional knobs as such.

Nuendo is a relatively new code base that potentially offers some competitive options to PT.
* punching in and out of any track without having to hit master record
* Cutting and pasting from multiple open projects (In PT you can only have one project open at one time.
* Real Time fades (V 2.0) You will not have to write fades to disk as this will greatly optimize disk performance compared to PT.

PT wipes Nu out with the sheer volume of plugins and available control surfaces. They rule for now, but I do not think it can last forever.

At the recent AES convention in LA, Steinberg showed a collaborative effort in association with Euphonix where the Series 5 Digital console surface was controlling as they said, every command on Nuendo 2.0. We'll see what gives.

We also use LOTS of Aardvark Aard-Syncs at work here.

I did a home recording for my daughter last night.
On Thanksgiving it was great. My dad wrote and played a 3 violin arrangement addition to our recording of "A House Is Not a Home" by Burt Bacharach.
All recorded by me on Nuendo. No crashing! It was rock-stable. A touch of reverb, a little subtle panning, and walla!


Top of pageBottom of page   By Eli ( on Friday, November 29, 2002 - 11:00 pm:

First of all, let me just say this.
You can have every plug in that is offered and have the most loaded computer and all of the tech stuff but you will NEVER achieve the analogue
"warmth" What a load of crap.
First of all it is the way the source music and any recorded info hits the TAPE and the resulting TAPE compression that we are talking about.
The actual hardware versions of the plug ins you speak of are what contributed to the "warmth"
(What an over used term)

Next, the thing which is almost non-existant in music today is spontanaity and interaction between musicians and"capturing the moment"
Too many people are depending on the "latest and greatest" tools of the moment and try so hard to achieve "perfection" while losing the very soul of it all, if there was one to start with.

It is not the equipment, it is the song!!!!!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Jay ( on Saturday, November 30, 2002 - 03:47 am:

You are not wrong.

Somewhere here Mike McLean said that the equipment was not the means to an end.
and yes...spontaneity and interaction are totally gone. And a lot of the folks that even know what we're talking about are gone.

An aside:
When I fist came to LA we would do Pablo Jazz recording dates. As a technical engineer, I had to pinch myself to think that I was getting paid to babysit these wonderful dates with Oscar Peterson , Ella, Joe Pass, Ray Brown, Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy , Basie, and on. This was the true American art form performed by the inventors of the genre. We recorded to 2 track and did a 24 track backup. 95% of the time we never used the backup! This was back in the 80s and now unfortunately, ancient history.

In fact it is the music, the song, the arrangement and the performance.
Today you have Rap (dress it it up call it what you want) Today we have "Smooth Jazz" a virtual epidemic of the same song playlist country wide.
Do you wonder why Paul McCartney continues to sell out major arenas?

I believe that people really need good music but the pop music machine could not give a rats ass. All they want is instant bottom line results.

Look how hard Slutsky had to work to get the movie out.
And he had the real deal, the real musicians!

We used to record to a Studer full well knowing that the tape would not sound like what went into the machine. And many times the net effect is that the tape seemed to "glue" the sound, instruments and the elements together seemingly making a much more cohesive end result. So the tape itself was somewhat of an effect.

Today you can record with whatever you want and all the old and new technology is at your disposal. One of the Steinberg "producers group" says that after mixing in Nuendo he always runs his mix through an analog 2 inch 8 track before mastering. Hmmm!

Top of pageBottom of page   By SteveS ( on Saturday, November 30, 2002 - 05:56 am:

Thanks for letting us all listen in on a fascinating discussion. Jay, I loved your story about the Pablo sessions. Interesting thing is that you were recording musicians playing "real" instruments, which happens relatively infrequently in pop music these days.

I have to laugh when I hear younger "audiophiles" talking about the quality of their systems, and how "life-like" everything sounds on them. They don't seem to realize that most of the instruments on the contemporary music they listen to are digitally synthesized, as are the guitar effects and the reverb and ambience. Consequently, they are talking about natural reproduction of unnatural sounds.

Here's a modest proposal you could almost make with a straight face - next generation "direct to disk" recording in which the digital signal from each instrument or effect would be transferred directly to the recording PC, without the intermediate steps of D-A conversion, sound to voltage conversion by a microphone, and A-D conversion at the PC. These pesky steps cause no end of problems, and the operators of the instruments (formerly known as musicians) are always fiddling with the settings anyhow. What we're talking about here is the 21st century analog (an ironic word to use here) to Mike McLean's Motown guitar amp.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson ( on Saturday, November 30, 2002 - 09:26 am:

It would be one thing if record sales were holding their own but the fact is that they haven't been for some time. There is a very real piracy problem however it is being used to excuse years of hidden red ink. The average sales per new major label release have been in a nosedive for ten years. BEFORE the 20% overall drop that began two years ago the average sales were running around EIGHT HUNDRED copies of each release. Virtually everything that has sold a lot of units has also had an absolutely unprecedented amount of money spent on marketing and promotion.

Now I won't say the biggest problem is sound quality but it doesn't take rocket science to conclude that people simply don't consider most major label releases worth owning despite the lowest prices for prerecorded music in history. The electronics and computer industries claim music should be even cheaper. To me, it's a no-brainer that recordings simply ought to be a lot better BOTH musically and technically.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Lynn Bruce ( on Saturday, November 30, 2002 - 10:45 am:

When one teen-ager in a group of friends can buy a c.d. and burn a copy for everyone in his/her whole school, (plus they're not really that interested in the audio quality that the true experts point out,that usually comes later in life) makes me wonder if making a profit on any kind of recording will be possible in the years ahead.

Except for independantly wealthy producers not a single person will see any profit in recording if they don't think they'll at least break even.

Top of pageBottom of page   By LTLFTC ( on Saturday, November 30, 2002 - 11:05 am:

And it's not just a matter of buying a cd and copying it for others. My son subscribes to a service called , I believe , "emusic". In this situation , the subscriber pays $15.00 a month and is allowed to download as many albums as they want. This company claims to pay the artists all due mechanical royalties. I'm not making accusations or casting aspersions , but I certainly wonder if the artists are getting a dime. From what I've seen many of the albums they offer are out of print, but many aren't and we all know that with major and larger indie labels the artist doesn't have much say about what happens to their product once the recording takes place. I just don't see where the profit is for the company offering this service if someone paying 15.00 a month downloads 40 cd's in that time and all due royalties are being paid.

Steve K.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ed Wolfrum ( on Sunday, December 01, 2002 - 08:30 pm:

Today's digital technology for recording is BETTER than at any time in the history of the recording and reproduction of sound. When used PROPERLY it is transparent. And that is the beauty of it. If you need an effect, be it tape compression or whatever you can create it with CONTROL and lack of audio artifacts. No more worry about alignment problems, tape oxide instability, machine to machine to machine alignment problems, head bumps and the rest tof the problems. You just have to know HOW to use the tools.

The problem today, as I have stated before, is the the engineers (?), or rather knob jockies, do not know HOW to use the tools they have been given. And that is the case of the "NEW BREED" of musicians too.

You don't know how many times I have seen one of this "NEW BREED" reach for the eq. before they have heard 2 bars and the entire group together.

Additionally, because of the transparancy of digital, all of the time alignment artifacts of the once buried eq., or any procession operation are now audible. You can't do a digital session with analog techniques.

It's a case of GREAT TOOLS, NO SKILLS!!!

And then it goes to people like Bob and me who have to make "chicken salad" from "chicken s--t."

Ed Wolfrum

Top of pageBottom of page   By Livonia Ken ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 11:11 am:

Mr. Eli

When I mentioned analogue "warmth" I was talking in the context of records versus CDs. My point was that a well mastered CD can sound very "analog" when compared to an LP from the same source, but that a lot of people working on reissues are purposely making them sound anything but, and then the digital medium is getting blamed for how they sound.

When you start talking about what method you are using for the original production, I agree that that's a whole 'nother ball of wax. I suppose spending hours trying to make a digital recording sound like it has analog tape compression is analogous to when engineers would furiously tweak their solid state gear trying to make it sound like the tube gear they had just taken off line.


Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 11:54 am:

In many cases today there literally is no engineer.

Songwriters and musicians all have a "home studio" which consists of a computer and maybe a few electronic keyboards. A lot of this stuff has major pitch and timing issues which has created a land-office business in "correction" software. It also has no dynamic range so the average level is considerably louder than music recorded with a microphone which has created another land-office business in compressors. One of the guys who founded Microsoft has even opened a museum to music technology. Bet'cha didn't you know that our history moved directly from Caruso to Les Paul to the Beatles to Nirvana? How about the fact that songwriting is the second biggest hobby after photography? The guys who started the bat factories are all telling kids they don't need to be a Babe Ruth in order to become a star if they purchase the right bat.

In the long run, I doubt that microwave ovens will ever replace great chefs but things are a real mess at the moment.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Jay ( on Monday, December 02, 2002 - 01:25 pm:

Paul Allen of Microsoft has the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

Originally I was told it was to be the Jimi Hendrix Music Experience but problems with the family and his estate conspired to kill that name.

We had the opportunity to mix the sound for a James Brown segment in 30 frame 70 millimeter picture format for that Museum. It was called the "Artist's Journey"

"Artist's Journey will be the home of "Funk Blast," a 20-minute experience of music, words and effects designed to illuminate people on what "The Funk" is."

I do not know the status of that facility now. See links:

One of the lines from the site:
"She's a cute little heartbreaker with a thing for rock musicians and a 6 gigabyte hard drive"
Enough said.

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