I was happy to see a discussion of fixed-point vs. floating-point math in the February issue, but there seems to be an error in the sidebar on page 92. OMas says there that multiplying by 10 to the power of 1 is the same as multiplying by one. Actually, this is true of multiplying by 10 to the power of zero. As he later implies, multiplying by 10 to the power of 1 moves the decimal one place to the right, because 10 to the power of 1 equals 10. In his second example, 3.1415 should equal 3.1415EE0.
DEVIL'S IN THE DETAILS
I would first like to say thank you for the great article on the re-release of the early Stones' catalog on CD/SACD (December 2002). It was very informative and shed some very interesting light on mistakes made with the earlier releases of the catalog. I would like to clarify one thing: Teri Landi noticed that the version of Let It Bleed that came out on both vinyl and CD was slightly slower than it should be. This was re-affirmed by Jody Klein when he said, “I remembered that the recording of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ had been filmed for the Jean-Luc Godard movie Sympathy for the Devil, so we went back to the Nagra tapes, which had to be in sync because they matched the picture.”
This is a great way to ensure the proper speed. However, the song “Sympathy for the Devil” was not included on Let It Bleed to the best of my knowledge; it was on Beggars Banquet. Is it possible that the CD that was slow was not Let It Bleed, but indeed Beggars Banquet?
New York City
I can fully identify with Stephen St.Croix's affliction in the February issue's “The Fast Lane.” Having caught the Hi-Fi bug in the early '60s at the tender age of 9, I was a full-fledged audiophile by 14. Eventually, all of my income and energy were directed toward building and owning the “Ultimate Stereo.” My marriage and buying a house put me in remission for a few years, but I relapsed when it came time to put an addition on our living room. The foundation/crawlspace was designed as a massive subwoofer system that was to feed through vents into the new “living room,” solely designed to be an acoustical enhancement to my stereo-in-progress at the time. My lovely wife always pointed out to her friends that “My husband is an audiophile.” Well, those days are gone; I'm in AA (Audiophiles Anonymous), and my ex-wife is in Aud-Anon. She's got the house and the stereo, and I'm expecting to see her at my AA meetings soon. Like Stephen says, there's no escape. Once you hear good sound, you're hooked.
Gotta answer the door. Might be my new 18-inch powered subs.
Frank Cerny, owner
Precision Audio Devices Ltd.
IT'S MY GUITAR…
I felt compelled to respond to the January “The Fast Lane” column by Stephen St.Croix. St.Croix always manages to confuse, delight and inform me, but this month's installment was a real puzzler. On the one hand, I agree and appreciate that musicianship, craftsmanship and soul are all too rare. Technology has certainly made it easier for people to become lazy about honing their skills. Mix can share part of the blame for doing in-depth articles about producers and engineers who were involved with artists who are currently the rage, but totally lack substance.
So I am in complete agreement: Learn one instrument and learn it well. Except for the other hand. I run a tiny project studio. I use technology every day to help me make the best tracks I can for my clients. In part, it helps make up for the lack of time and money that separate industry projects from indie projects. In addition to engineering for clients, I am also a musician. I play several instruments, most of them poorly. (Okay, all of them poorly.) This stems in part from the needs of owning a project studio: “Do you have a bass I can use?” “We could use a piano part here; do you have any ideas?” In order to get the best recording of an instrument, you have to have some idea of how it works, don't you?
I don't have delusions about being a rock star. I know that I will always be one of the millions of obscure and mostly lousy musicians who pollute our musical landscape, but I do have a passion for the rotten songs that I write, and I give my crappy performances all I've got. I know that if I play guitar for the rest of my life, I will never rival Les Paul. It's not that I don't try; it's just not in me. It's not in most musicians; otherwise, Les Paul would not stand out.
Sir George Martin once said something similar in a Mix interview; in effect, that people like me shouldn't bother. In my heart I know he's right. I also know that he was lucky to be part of one of those rare occurrences when the right performers also happen to be the right songwriters, right musicians and work with the right producer. Most of us will never be that lucky. Does that mean we should quit? It would be hard on the entire industry if we did. People like me are the bread-and-butter of the equipment manufacturers, music publications and instrument retailers.
So now I don't have a clue if wasting my time is the right thing to do or not. St.Croix wrote a compelling column that both fills me with hope, because he acknowledges that something is missing in today's music, and despair, because I doubt my ability to improve the situation. At least he's got me thinking.
…AND I'LL PLAY IF I WANT TO
I have to call foul on St. Croix's column in Mix (“Lest We Forget,” January 2003). He spends the first 12 paragraphs of his article describing all of the incredible, intelligent, meaningful things he's done in his life. (Many of them were, of course, to make our miserable little existences a bit more enjoyable.) And then tells us that the point he's trying to make is that we should not play more than one instrument until we've mastered the first one. Does his ego have no limits? While he does say, “Do as I say, not as I do,” what he really means is that we're not bright enough or enlightened enough to handle it (as he obviously is). And he writes it in the same patronizing way as just about everything else he writes. I'll play as many instruments as I choose without a care in the world as to what St.Croix thinks.
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