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Shelby Lynne on Vinyl vs. iPod


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This is pretty cool.

 

" A Studer 2-inch tape machine is a huge cumbersome beast that takes up a lot of space and might need pampering and attention when you make records. It requires that you use big, heavy rolls of 2-inch tape that need changing when you record two or three songs on them. And hardly anyone produces or manufactures vinyl records anymore. And nobody has a turntable. But it's making a trendy comeback.

 

Just because something is easier doesn't make it better. It certainly doesn't make it sound better. I had a digital recording rig in my home studio for a month or two and got so depressed. I quit writing songs, my guitar collected dust and I thought my creative life had ended. So I jerked it all out of the wall and threw it in the garage and that's where it will stay.

 

My new album, "Just A Little Lovin'" was made on a 2-inch tape machine. I demanded it. I like working with engineers and producers who love and appreciate tape. I love the sound, smell, and feel of tape. That's why I enlisted legendary record producer, Phil Ramone, and the brilliant recording engineer, Al Schmitt."

 

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Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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..... sounds familiar. heheheheh. I don't know that I totally agree with her on all of it, but mag tape and vinyl will always be a part of me. They just have so much CHARACTER. ... Speaking of character, I wonder what digital recording rig she was trying to use? And where's her garage? I mean... she's not USING IT... lol

 

markr

 

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....see anything go to WASTE, Chris. I don't really need a digital recording rig. I'm doing OK in that department. .... but If anyone knows of a neglected 2" Studer tape machine just sitting around, I'd be happy to adopt it! NO CHARGE!

 

markr

 

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If there's a sound Shelby is going for that she gets from the Studer, I'm all for it. Studio recordings are manipulation by definition; the recordings themselves become a part of the art, rather than just a record of a performance, and analog tape is a perfectly legitimate tool or musical instrument in the process of creating the recording.

 

But I confess I'm a bit baffled by the desire so many seem to have to play those recordings back on equipment with a deliberate tone signature that was not intended by the artist. With that said, as far as playback is concerned, I don't really want "character." Not in source components, not in amplification, and definitely not in the media. You can't really avoid coloration in transducers and in room acoustics; it's the nature of the beast. But in the digital age, everything up to the speakers and the air can be pretty neutral for pretty affordable prices. That seems like the obvious choice to me.

 

MHO. YMMV.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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Yeah, the variation in preferences that are out there, re: the way that sound 'sounds' is kind of confusing isn't it? If is sounds good, it IS good (period). But things won't always sound the same to me as they do to you.

 

From my point of view - a recording hobbyist - I want everything in sound available to me, colored sounding or clean, to create the music with. Electric guitarists are _all about_ "their" sound I've found (even if *I* think that their sound sux...). Guitarists LOVE Studers, and I like getting them the sound that they want.

 

I've also found that some program material just *sounds* better when played back on what would today be defined as colored-sounding equipment. That program material is usually (but not always) recordings that were done decades, if not a half-century ago. There is a huge library of that stuff out there..

 

This is just another part about being an audiophile that keeps us from being purely scientific and leans us more towards being artistic IMO. FUN. Besides if I didn't try to purchase all of the options available to me, how else could I stay broke? *wink*

 

markr

 

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I pretty much agree with everything you just said. I was a working musician for more than 20 years - semi-pro, mind you, but pretty active. And as a guitarist, I wouldn't have anything that isn't heavily colored by low power, low gain, high current tube amps running pretty near their capacity. I'm a devotee of the vintage black face Deluxe Reverb which, in a small club, can ride right on the edge of heavy clipping, where you can go from clean to crunch just by how hard you attack the strings, where you can cross that line into liquid overdrive, without increasing the volume that much, just by cranking the guitar's volume control.

 

An amp like that is not a device that amplifies a musical instrument, it is a part of the musical instrument, a dynamic, organic instrument that becomes an extension of the experienced player's hands.

 

But when it comes to studio equipment and playback equipment, I tend to go for as much neutrality as I can afford. I'm not saying any other choice is wrong, but that's mine. Give me sources and amps that add as little as possible to the original material. If I want additional warmth, I have a pair of Senn HD580s. They are absolutely great cans, but not really neutral. Someday I hope to cop a pair of AKG 701s for my more analytical moods :). In the meantime, I have some Etymotics which serve that purpose pretty well.

 

The downside to this approach is that source material that is harsh, thin or flat simply stays that way. A bad mix or master will almost always sound better on equipment that warm, even better on speakers that exaggerate dynamics a bit. The upside is a really good recording is right there in all its glory. I'm listening to Van Morrison's "Back On Top" right now, warmed and pushed ever so slightly forward by the Senns. It's pretty fabulous. The harmonicas on this album breathe inside your head, the pianos go from subtle to larger than life, always wrapped in warmth and a presence that tempts me to set the dining room furniture out on the lawn and take delivery on a Steinway.

 

Fortunately, I have my wife here to keep me from doing anything rash.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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Hi Tim - I'm not a musician in any way although I wish I could play a little guitar. So, maybe my line of thinking is a little different here.

 

You said you like to record as neutral as possible and play live with some great sounding "color." Thus, people who want color can use the appropriate equipment to "introduce" color into the sound. This seems very opposite to what I call normal. Shouldn't you record the sound exactly how you like it, which I am guessing is "colored", then rely on the listener to use neutral gear which reproduces the sound exactly how you intended it to sound?

 

Doing it your way insures nobody will hear it exactly how you want it to sound.

 

I'm not being critical at all, I'm just looking for some insight on this whole thing. Creating music is something I know very little about and have always been interested in. Hopefully you'll straighten me out on this!

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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..but I want to respond now, so: I've LOVED Fender Guitar amplification equipment ever since my early days drumming with the neighborhood bands in the 1960s. To me there has never been anything as good. Nowadays, I suppose that the Mesa stuff is pretty good though.... I'm no guitar-sound expert however.

 

My most 'FUN' period was during a 3-4 year period working in a studio in a nearby hill country town southwest of Austin: Wimberly. This studio was a MESS. We collected all the (then) best digital and analog instruments and recording equipment we could beg borrow or steal (not really STEAL) to make 'our sound' which eventually got us offers for recording contracts at SXSW in 1994 - I think it was - . We would spend all of our off-work time in that studio. There were only three of us in the "band" but we managed to sound like an ensemble much of the time, Marc did guitars that were also MIDI'd to rack mount synths, and I did drum and keyboards and programming. The lyric/singing/percussion chores went to Marc's brother Steven. Spacious Sky was truly "spacious" sounding.

 

What we found was that when you combined the clean and flat digital sound of the synths and drums with the warmth of the guitar/bass/acoustic percussion/vocals, you ended up with a hybrid that was quite pleasing to the ear. Fostex 16 track reel to reel along with an early 16/44.1 Atari DAW synced to the Fostex via SMPTE was our recording equipment, and we mixed to TASCAM DAT. It certainly wasn't perfect, but it taught me that 'fixing it in the mix' wasn't the answer. It was all about capturing the individual parts correctly.

 

markr

unfortunatelly, none of the best master material from that period survived.....

 

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Sorry Mark, I must have been unclear...

 

"You said you like to record as neutral as possible and play live with some great sounding "color." Thus, people who want color can use the appropriate equipment to "introduce" color into the sound. This seems very opposite to what I call normal. Shouldn't you record the sound exactly how you like it, which I am guessing is "colored", then rely on the listener to use neutral gear which reproduces the sound exactly how you intended it to sound?"

 

Yes, I want recordings to capture all the color of the instruments. I don't even mind if the recording equipment adds color -- old analog mixing desks, tube-powered mics, etc, if that creates a sound the artist is trying to get. When I play it at home I want it neutral, more or less, because I want to hear what they heard on what I hope was a pretty neutral monitoring system. Again, I'm not a fanatic about it. I love my Senns, and they're on the "warm" side. I guess I accept it more readily in transducers because know it's almost unavoidable there anyway.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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... but I cannot exactly find that quote of mine that you mention. Is it a composite of a couple of posts on CA?

 

The only kind of sound I like is the same thing that I tell people when they ask me about what kind of music I like: "good" is always the answer. I realize that is about as broad an answer as could be given to those questions and folks don't seem to like that, but it is nevertheless true in my case.

 

My tastes have broadened so much over time that I drive most people near me to distraction with the diversity of what I listen to, and I HAVE to listen, or I suffer for the lack of music. The state of my spirit seems to dictate what I can enjoy at any given point in time however. My spirit swings wildly at times too. ..... I checked though, and I'm not bipolar... or anything else. I'm "OK" - just a normal neurotic like most folks.

 

Monitoring systems for mixing audio certainly should be neutral. Everything else though is left wide open as far as I am concerned. I like it like that (Dave Clark Five).

 

markr

 

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The quote comes from your post titled "Tim I'm not a musician..."

 

We're very much on the same page. Everything is wide open. My first stereo system, other than one of those horid tt/cassette/receiver combos, was a entry-level Thorens with a Stanton, a Kenwood integrated amp and a pair of Altec Valencias (I was 19, working at the stereo store, got a great deal), so I've been on the relatively neutral till you get to transducers path for a long, long time. And here's the deal, to use that system as an example -- I loved those Valencias. They had warmth, they had dynamic range, they had VOLUME!! But while they made some things sound great, they were a bit loose and flabby around the edges. That led me to big acoustic suspension speakers that sounded good enough when cranked, but at moderate volume, they just sounded small. That led me, well, down the path. If I had my druthers, I'd still have every component I've ever owned (and every one you've ever owned, for that matter), with systems all through the house! I could get my vintage mojo working on a Dynaco and a pair of Altecs, then walk to the next room in search of resolution.

 

Today, I'm happy to have become a headphone junkie. And now I've got my cd collection on hard drive where, for the level I'm interested in operating on, transport is a non-issue. I just need to get myself a good dac and a good, neutral can amp. Then I can head toward the retirement home buying cans -- Senns for warmth and presentation, AKGs for analytical detail, Etys to block out the squeaking of the rocking chairs out on the veranda....

 

It's pretty cool when a whole new sound can be had for

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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Hey Chris,

 

I became a can geek on the cheap when I had a six-month project out of town -- iRiver portable>Headroom Airhead>Senn HD580s. That was my travel system, which became my bedroom system and served me well for several years. Now that I've moved to computer-based listening, it's time to upgrade. The Apogee Duet has great appeal, because, well, it's Apogee, it's their latest DAC in a super slick and compact package, and it's almost a sure thing that it sounds better (this being a very subjective term) than anything under a grand and lots of things over. The question that remains is will I need another amp? There are Duet owners over on head-fi who swear that the Duet sounds better than their dedicated home headphone amps. There are others who swear that you can't drive big Senns properly with anything short of the voltage that comes from good AC power. I guess I'll find out. I'm going to get the Duet as soon as I have cash flow again (I'm a consultant, and between projects...a very polite way of saying I'm temporarily out of work.) . Then I'm going to shop around for a good head amp, nothing terribly esoteric, definitely solid state (remember that neutrality thing). Right now I'm thinking in the neighborhood of a Graham Slee Solo, Heed Canamp, Headroom Ultra Micro or Corda Cantate. I'll probably buy used, because if I don't hear much of an improvement over the Duet's built-in headphone amp, I'll turn it over. And I hate losing money. And there's a good chance I won't hear it; too many years in rock n roll bands. One thing I probably will hear is added weight and definition in the bass. We'll see...

 

Tim

 

PS - I almost forgot: Yes, my little Airhead has Headroom's crossfeed circuit, and I've heard similar circuits in bigger amps. I don't care for them personally. They don't, to my ears, really simulate speakers or get the music out of your head and "out front." They do, however, muddy things up a bit.

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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This is so subjective. I listen to good vinyl and good digital every day. There are things I like about both and on any given day, depending on my mood and brain chemistry, I can't imagine how I like one or the other. The fact is, at least in my mind, they both do some things well and some not so well. Some people are bothered by some things more than others so they choose according to their sensitivities. All things being equal, I thing vinyl is more effortless and natural sounding than digital. Having said that, I don't care for surface noise, inner groove distortion, etc. I am fortunate enough to have regular access to an Audio Research CD7. For me, it is the closest thing I have encountered to, if not the best of both worlds, at least a healthy helping of both worlds. Thus far it remains my goal in terms of what I am trying to accomplish here. At one point I owned a Mark Levinson 31.5 transport and 30.6 DAC. The ARC is far better for one third the price, at least to my ears.

 

Keith Richards was interviewed recently and along with calling Mick a power freak and dismissing Led Zeppelin, he said that he though CD's sound "tinny". Who could argue with an intellectual like Keith....

 

A reviewer years ago liked to use the term, "it touched my monkey bone". I'm not quite sure what that means but I understand the feeling. To me, good vinyl, and really good digital, moves the monkey bone.

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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It's funny that you mention the Mesa, Mark. I have a 66 Deluxe Reverb that is all original which I love, but I just recently picked up a Mesa Express 5/50. I've never been a big Mesa fan but this reminds me of an old 6L6 based Fender sound. Great fun. Now, if I could only play better.

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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A couple of really good guitarists I know here moved to Mesa's not too long back. I always thought they would remain die-hard Marshall shredders but, nope. Not any more. One of them did keep their old, beat up looking - awesome sounding - JCM-800 though. I do like the newer Mesa sound(s) overall though.

 

Well, I'm re-heading my ancient acoustic drum set fairly soon (Rogers & Ludwig combination). It won't be pretty looking, but it should sound pretty. I've got LOT's of Zildjian brass too. I've got plenty of keyboards to play and program too. Come on over an practice here!

 

markr

SXSW starts next week!

 

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I agree about 150%. Especially with the part about both formats having their strengths and weaknesses. The greatest weakness of the digital medium, to my mind (ears) is bad cd mastering -- bright, harsh, loud -- there is a lot of that out there. Then there are some cds that aren't brick walled, they seem to just be dull in specific frequencies, usually the mids. Others are full of presence and life. I don't remember hearing these kinds of differences on vinyl. Of course that could be photogenic memory; I often remember things as much more attractive than they actually were. Or maybe that's just another, less obvious mastering flaw. I'm not informed enough to be sure.

 

But when you have a well-recorded, well-mastered source, digital sounds great to me. I like it's strengths. The dead-quiet background is a wonderful canvas for revealing dynamic range, and that, and the clarity of the medium seems to really create a great sense of space and air around the instruments on the right recordings. A couple of my favorites in this regard are Van Morrison's "It's Too Late To Stop Now" and Bill Evans "Sunday At The Village Vanguard." They both sound wonderful on cd. Of course they both sounded pretty wonderful on vinyl too :).

 

Chris -- I've always been under the impression that until you got to the very high end, tubes added color and subtracted detail. Of course, as you can see from my discussion of my equipment history, I've always been much better at listening than I was at spending big bucks on audio, too. You recommend used X-Can. Would you consider that a pretty detailed, neutral amp?

 

Tim

 

I confess. I\'m an audiophool.

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