New vs Old

It’s been a while since I wrote a studio blog. I quite like writing, but it’s not important to me and I doubt whatever I say is important to anyone else either – However, my wife Katie is always doing it (whether she has an audience or not!) and thinks I should get on and do another one – so, here it is…

In photos of big, expensive studios you always see a wall of metal panels with flashing lights (ooh) behind the engineer.

JJ Puig

Jack Joseph Puig – His own 670 is in the bottom right of the picture and there’s a couple of 1073’s just behind his head, to the left.

To most people I guess, these mean nothing to them, other than perhaps being there to make things sound better – and they’d be right.

A microphone needs a pre-amp to boost the sound before it gets recorded; big studios often use their mixing console for this, but also have dedicated units that do the job as good or better. Then the signal might need taming, to reduce the loud bits and bringing up the quiet bits, so there’ll be compressors for this and gates to reduce or remove noise during silence. Once recorded, you usually have reverb on instruments and vocals and sometimes delay or other funky effects. In the ‘good’ old days, this HAD to be done on individual units, often costing several thousand pounds, but today, it can all (except the pre-amp bit) be done ‘in the box’ so to speak – dropping in a plugin to effect a track in the computer’s digital audio workstation (DAW). Of course, this has been the case for a good 15 years now. Hang on, it sounds like I’m giving you a history of the recording studio, but I’m getting to the point…

Phase One Studios in Toronto

Software engineers can make really nice effects now. Easily better than those old, external, unreliable, single channel, non-recallable, non-automatable units of yore. But strangely, in the same way as vinyl LP’s are making a comeback, audiophiles do appear to want the sound of those units printed all over the tracks of their songs. So what are those clever geeks doing about it? They’re creating plugins that emulates the sound of said kit, right down to producing mains hum!

I’ll be honest, I’m not going to be rebuying all my old LP’s any time soon, but I do like the sound of these new plug-ins. Ironically, I’ve not been lucky enough to actually twiddle the knobs of an original Fairchild 670 or Neve 1073, but the software forms are pretty bloody amazing.

Fairchild-Comparison

A few years ago, I see1073-Comparisonmed to take ages making a vocal sit nicely in a mix – I’d get there, but it usually took several mixes to get it right. Now, I barely need to make any adjustments once I’ve inserted my favourite plugin compressor and eq (a Puigchild 670 after it’s inspiration Jack Joseph Puig and a Scheps 73 developed in association with Andrew Scheps). I have many, many other emulations that I call up for other instruments or to create different textures, but these are my ‘go to’ standards.

A Neve 1073 will set you back in the region of £2,000. A good Fairchild, if you can find one is £50,000!

And if I spun my chair around and found one in my much more modest racks of flashing lights, would I use one? Probably I guess, but only because I’d feel guilty after spending all that money not using it.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>