Letters to Mix

WHEN MUSIC HAD SOUL I feel compelled to add my voice to your editorial in the June 2005 issue of Mix. I'm a budding engineer and am devouring your magazine
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WHEN MUSIC HAD SOUL
I feel compelled to add my voice to your editorial in the June 2005 issue of Mix. I'm a budding engineer and am devouring your magazine as much as I used to devour guitar magazines. [Stephen] St.Croix is perfectly right in calling for real content (and soul) within today's modern music [“The Fast Lane,” “That Special Loving Feeling…”]. With the exception of the classical and jazz realms, popular music is hideously permeated with karaoke wannabes and horribly untalented purveyors of “bling,” and our addiction to modern recording technology has helped these non-talents [become] media stars. For example, my band's first CD was Acid-ized and Pro Tools-ed into existence. Vocals and guitars were moved, cut, pasted and otherwise abused with effects. Drums were simulated and sampled. It was never meant to see duplication, but the results of that digital manipulation sounded too good to be true.

As the band has gone from home studio project to full, the CD no longer even resembles how the band performs those songs. And, as our writing progresses, it's no longer representative of our sound. Mistakes and all, our new material has more soul than all of the Billboard Top 40 combined. We are now an organic, growing organism with a purpose, [using] technology as a tool, not a crutch. That is my mantra. I remember when there was no karaoke, rappers had talent, guitarists could play with soul and people told lousy bands to quit stinking up the stage. Time to start that archaic practice again.
R. Fowler
FlightPath Studios (Des Moines, Wash.)

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINES
An outstanding article written by Paul Lehrman in the April 2005 issue of Mix [“Insider Audio,” “An Open Letter to the Head Apple”] points out many of the shortcomings and short-sightedness of the head of Apple, and his article was published just before the announcement from Steve Jobs that Apple was switching to the Intel family of processors.

Now, we find out that after years of criticism by Jobs and the Mac fanatics of the “Wintel” community, Jobs has decided to switch Apple to the “MacTel” platform. This proves a couple of things that I've been preaching for years: Never believe what the head of a corporation and publicity clones communicate, and never put your proverbial “eggs” in a single corporate basket and expose your business to the motives of corporate strategies.

I feel sorry for the Mac fanatics who have invested thousands of dollars in hardware and software applications, and a wealth of knowledge that will have to be rewritten to work on the new MacTels. I almost invested a substantial amount of money on a Mac-based Pro Tools system, complete with a control surface and all of the applicable Digidesign interfaces, but I caught Lehrman's open letter to Jobs, [which] led me to dig further into other concerns and other options available from other companies.
Frank A.
Santa Clarita, Calif.

THE AES 42-2001 STANDARD INTERFACE BLUES
I don't understand how to interface the AES 42-2001 standard used in the Neumann Solution-D 28-bit microphone. What type of computer motherboard would be most appropriate other than speed needed for hard disk 28-bit multichannel recording? If the motherboard has the S/PDIF standard, is that the same thing?

The new Pentium 4 extreme chip — combined with the new ASUS pn5 Series motherboards and four SATA hard drives operating together in Striped mode — can produce a throughput of around 3 gigabytes of data per second.

I keep seeing computer motherboards with built-in 16-bit, 8-channel recording capabilities. Should I wait until a motherboard comes out that has the built-in AES 42-2001 standard and will record in 28 bits (though the chances of that happening are about as likely as little green men on Mars)? Do I need a special and expensive multichannel computer card? If so, who makes a 28-bit version?

Is the “big advantage” of the AES 42-2001 standard that it's only raw data and all I need is a relatively simple software program to be a mixer, etc., and I'd be able record the data directly on my hard drive with multiple drive letters using partitions?
Charles K. Ross

Charles,
The AES 42-2001 connection is used to connect the mic to its DMI-2 interface module, which outputs the signal as a standard 24-bit AES/EBU data stream on a male XLR connector. I know of no motherboard that has a built-in AES 42-2001 or even AES/EBU port. However, there are numerous pro recorders, consoles, workstations and computer audio interfaces that support the AES/EBU standard
.

Right now, it's probably best to think of AES 42-2001 interfacing as a means of future-proofing the Solution-D. When these ports show up on consoles, recorders and the like, you'll be ready for it. Meanwhile, the DMI-2 lets you use the mic with lots of currently available gear.
George Petersen

TALKING TRENDS
This is in reference to the August 2004 “Editor's Note,” “How About a Little Promotion, Mr. Promoter?” As an audio pro, I analyze the business in terms of trends after the fact. It's very hard to make a real conclusion when a trend is in motion. We are now in October of 2005, and I have a possible answer to the declining ticket sales of last year, which continues today.

Sony was caught in the illegal trade of paying for spins, as was Epic. Sony's engagement in this practice was particularly blatant: The company had to pay the New York AG's office $10 million in fines. What this tells me is that the artists who are being sold as a “big hit” aren't as big as they would seem. As in advertising and marketing, the tail can wag the dog. If you think it's a hit, then it is a hit. This didn't transfer to ticket sales. It's one thing to buy a $15 CD at Walmart [and another] to buy a $40 to $60 ticket for a concert.

I think fans are not into these artists enough to follow through with that process. Simply put, these new artists are propped up by a false sense of popularity. In the '80s, when there was very little promotion for bands such as Bon Jovi and Aerosmith, they'd sell out. If the artists were strong in the first place, then they would sell tickets based on their strength as an artist and their video rotation and airplay.
Larry Shaw
Eclipse Group/MAS Recording

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