WE STAND CORRECTED
I would like the readers of Mix to know that I was surprised and disappointed when I saw my “Homeward Bound” article published in the June 2004 issue. This article was not sent to me for approval before publishing and there are edits to my work that have caused confusion for the readers. First let me address Fig. 3. The red traces in the top window shows coherence (s/n). The two blue traces in the top window are the frequency response of the left and right speakers overlaid for comparison. The two blue traces in the bottom window are the overlaid phase responses.
Second, the studio photograph that the editors inserted into my article does not reflect the ideas I considered important in the text; i.e., symmetrical speaker and furniture placement. While home studios can have limited or restricted spaces, I encourage readers to make audio the primary consideration in their studio setup.
[Eds.: Mea culpa, Bob. Readers, turn to page 46 for part two of acoustic troubleshooting.]
THE NEW MEANS OF OVER-PRODUCTION?
I want to congratulate everyone at Mix for an outstanding issue. The May 2004 issue, “The New Means of Production,” was a watershed of thought-provoking topics, so many that it has left me feeling a bit neurotic. From what I observed, it seems that more pro studios, producers and engineers are adopting more methods of the project studio (i.e., smaller facilities, more dependent on DAWs and plug-ins). It also seems to suggest indirectly that efficiency and convenience leads the trend more than the audio quality. While no one can argue with the ease-of-use and low cost of plug-ins, I have seen the downside of the virtual studio.
All computer-based systems are destined to become obsolete. It is the nature of technology to be constantly redeveloped and reinvented. While it may be difficult to repair some analog gear, it is easier to do than repairing an old computer with an out-of-date OS and non-current peripherals. When my OS upgrades, my outboard delay doesn't become useless like my plug-ins do. If I'm lucky, the developer will offer an upgrade; otherwise, I have a choice of being tied to an obsolete OS or losing the plug-in. After hours and hours of testing, I came to the conclusion that analog summing has more apparent depth and width and better overall dynamics than summing in the DAW. I found that, indeed, a 24-bit/96kHz recording has better dynamics, bass definition and an airy top end. I have also found that my clients like the flatter, slightly harsh sound of 16-bit/44.1kHz recordings mixed in the DAW.
Then there is the future as presented in Paul Lehrman's column (“Insider Audio”). The basic problem with digital audio is that it is finite in nature. It is hard to have a happy accident in the digital realm. I used to like the card catalog in the public library because I would discover things while searching for what I wanted. That's analog in a nutshell: less repeatable, more unpredictable. Digital is very repeatable, very predictable and in danger of making us all lazy.
In the ever-evolving world of audio production, we want to be able to re-create the sound of any recording at any time. We spend more time trying to dial in that sound than we do trying to come up with one of our own. The troubling part is that all of the equipment being developed is striving for [imitation]. In our world, time is money, and DAWs allow us to use time more effectively but I am not sure it's the best way. It seems like it's harder to just use your ears instead of your eyes when making mix decisions.
SINGERS NEED NOT APPLY
I've been using Vocaloid quite a bit, and I think the best way to use it is to not have it on your main DAW. I installed Vocaloid on a second machine, which allows for pretty easy auditioning while running the main sequencer on the first machine. If the machines are also networked, bouncing out the .WAV files from Vocaloid and bringing them into the sequencer is pretty easy.
My band, The Bots, was created wholly from speech synthesizers and 3-D graphics. I use Vocaloid among a variety of other speech synths to make it more into an ensemble. The Bots have released two CDs, a “record deal” with Magnatune and a second video in the works. It's been a long and painful ordeal, but I've finally gotten them to the point where they seem as real as any other band out there — except no live concerts.
A N.E.R.D. GETS ONE WRONG
In your May 2004 issue (“Tour Profile”), N.E.R.D. front-of-house engineer David Haines is quoted as saying, “…the problem is that the 88 is a ribbon mic so that it gets thrashed really quickly.” The famed Beyer M88TG is not a ribbon mic, but a dynamic.
NP Recording Studios
NOT ON MY MAC
Tom Kenny's “Technology Spotlight” on Windows Media 9 (May 2004 issue) was interesting but contains a contradiction. He first describes WM9 as “cross-platform,” and then states that it includes “extensive built-in digital-rights management.”
The fly in the ointment is that Microsoft's WM9 player for the Macintosh can't handle the rights-management features, making it useless for any Mac user who would like to work with protected files. The Mac player has been out for more than a year, but this critical limitation hasn't been addressed.
Surely, Microsoft isn't so deluded as to believe that this ploy is going to pry media producers away from their Macs. If they really want to play in this industry, then they need to acknowledge reality and provide full support for the computer from Cupertino.
G R Lewis
A PICTURE OR A THOUSAND WORDS
Thank you, thank you and (did I mention?) thank you for the last page in the May 2004 issue, for featuring Sinatra and reminding people that it's always the song (and maybe also the performance of that song) and not necessarily the gear. (Actually, it's never the gear.) It was genius.
Show me the plug-in that writes the hit song and I'll buy it.
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