Thursday, September 13, 2007

And they wrote it all down as the Progress of Man*

Hi, I'm Angus and I am an audio luddite. I make my own amps upstairs in my "project room".
I own and use an old Tektronix
oscilloscope to help test out my designs. I build my own
speakers in the garage. My CD player uses vacuum tubes (FWIW, this is
all true).
But I can't realistically run my own recording studio and progress and philistines are

ruining my music. Everyone uses IPODs. Most everyone puts compressed MP3s
(or some other compressed format)
on them and listens through piece of crap earbuds.
This is so popular that recording engineers are
starting to optimize recordings for being
heard in this manner.


It's so. supposedly some recording artists want to hear the producers mixes of their tracks on an
ipod before
deciding if it sounds good enough.

Here are some quotes from industry pros "courtesy" of the ever gated WSJ:

"Right now, when you are done recording a track, the first thing the

band does is to load it onto an iPod and give it a listen," said Alan Douches, who has worked with Fleetwood Mac and others.

"Years ago, we might have checked the sound of a track on a Walkman, but no one believed that was the best it could sound. Today, young artists think MP3s are a high-quality medium and the iPod is state-of-the-art sound."

For example, says veteran Los Angeles studio owner Skip Saylor, high frequencies that might seem splendid on a CD might not sound as good as an MP3 file and so will get taken out of the mix. "The result might make you happy on an MP3, but it wouldn't make you happy on a CD," he says. "Am I glad I am doing this? No. But it's the real world and so you make adjustments."

As a result, contemporary pop music has a characteristic sound, says veteran L.A. engineer Jack Joseph Puig, whose credits include the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. "Ten years ago, music was warmer; it was rich and thick, with more tones and more 'real power.' But newer records are more brittle and bright. They have what I call 'implied power.' It's all done with delays and reverbs and compression to fool your brain."

I'm not totally crazy, I gotz an IPOD. But I download to it in apple's uncompressed (lossless) format.
Sure it holds fewer songs that way, but I still have a few hundred on there with room for more.

The difference in sound is astounding. Please don't make me have to build a recording studio
in the back yard.

Stand up for real music today!

* John Prine: Paradise


Josh Hall said...

Is this a technological, or pecuniary externality?

Shawn said...

damnit...I'm WAY late on this one, Angus...but I'd love for you to do a double blind ABX test on an original cd (i won't even force you to have apple lossless) and an mp3 encoded with LAME.

I promise I just gave you 100x more space on your ipod. :) If I win, you can put a good word in for me when I end up deciding to go to grad school for economics....

Now...if we're talking about the crappy 'default' 128k aac recordings that apple pushes you into with itunes, then yes, there's horrible sound quality issues...but a LAME mp3? nope, you can't tell...

I'm going to email this comment to you...