dimanche 10 février 2008

Buddy Holly et l'enregistrement studio: Avancez en arrière!

... ou la suite de notre observation fascinée portant sur les progrès technologiques et la dégradation de la qualité des disques qui l'accompagne (du moins à certaines oreilles)... les citations qui suivent sont des digressions de l'ingénieur Steve Hoffman, répondant à un poster médusé par la qualité sonore exceptionnelle de la compilation de Buddy Holly: From The Original Master Tapes

I've spoken of the Golden Age Of Recording hundreds of times here; all vacuum tubes, small number of microphones, hardly any overdubbing, live groups playing in the same space with no headphones or baffles on to pristine Scotch 111 tape. Heck, some of here bitch about what happened to this sound all the time! Grumps, yes, but when you hear this sound you scratch your head in wonderment that any engineer would want to change it. But, change it they did the minute they could; more microphones, more wires, no tubes, giant compression, etc. Such is life.

You know that in the 1960's it started changing to Solid Stage gear, more channels, more isolation, more signal processing. So it goes. Blame the Beatles, heh.

You want to make a recording of your band that has the quality of a Buddy Holly song?

Get 4 Neumann microphones, feed through a small tube mixer like my Ampex MX-35 below onto an Ampex 350-2, live. Play it back. There you have it.

L'overdubbing aussi a eu un effet radical sur l'enregistrement sonore... On comprend son commentaire mi-sérieur: Blame the Beatles. À partir de Sgt Pepper's, il n'y avait plus de retour en arrière possible. Les artistes allaient pousser l'enveloppe sonore aussi loin que possible... avec pour résultats...

Forgot one thing. As soon as the artists got a taste of the new "overdubbing" approach to recording there was no going back. None at all.

So, many more channels, the need to keep the numerous mic preamps quiet (use compression), the need to keep the 24 hissy tracks quiet (use the Dolby System), isolated musicians to keep each instrument on its own track, the need for headphones to hear everyone, solid state recording to keep it cool in the studio and have less breakdowns, outboard devices to make the sound "exciting", zealous engineers and producers who wanted total control over the band's dynamics in post production and you have: The 70's! Turn it to digital and you have: The 80's and beyond!

No one wanted to go back to the old way of grouping the musicians around four microphones and recording everything live in one take, in a natural space. It took the Audiophile Recording Style in the 1990s to figure out how to do that again. And by that time Buddy was gone..

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