THE CHECK HAS CLEARED
EQ already has a record of presenting ground-breaking perspectives but it surpassed itself with the interview with Montreal-based Howard Bilerman [June 2005] on the nature of the creative process and the increasingly troublesome possibility that quality music is not exactly correlating easily with technology. Frankly, I was stunned by the clarity and common sense of Bilerman’s critique. His observations about imperfections-as-character, and the unexamined pitfalls of the search for imagined “perfection,” were more than refreshing — they were unambiguously accurate.
It’s become so easy to do anything with technology that the actual aspect of artistic creativity has become almost an adjunct to Pro Tools proficiency. And the results are a far, far cry from what George Martin and the Beatles accomplished with a four-track. We all know this, and yet we risk spending more time hungering for the latest software offering than simply honing chops.
Something has gone amiss when we reach an era where the gear is arguably better and the music is arguably worse. EQ and Bilerman have made a genuine contribution to an unavoidable and necessary dialogue.
David Flitner, New Hampshire
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT’S OVERRATED
Do you know what’s overrated? Every interview with any engineer that says they use NEVE (enter any number here) preamps, SM57, U47, Royer, 421, D112, and similar usual suspects going through . . . you know it . . . a UREI 1176 or LA2A.
Seriously, either these engineers should be required to report only on the UNUSUAL stuff they use or just say in one sentence that they used tried-and-true techniques. It’s really tiresome to go through every interview and the engineer is explaining for a page or so that he ended up with the same techniques we all use. In the end, it’s just not interesting and I’ve been seeing this trend for the last 10 years or so.
Oh, and I don’t have any problems with standard techniques. They are standard for a reason and sound beautiful most of the time. But who wants to read about that?
In the spirit of you putting your mojo where your mouth is please: show us the money.
OK. You’re not allowed to mention any of the following in more than a sentence, if at all, UNLESS it is used for something different and then by all means, go ahead.
THE BLACK LIST
KM84 (hats/ guitar)
Royer 121 (guitar)
Neve preamps of all numbers (clones too)
Distressors (tough call there)
Now describe a session without those pieces. I dare you.
EXAMPLE. . . .
After giving you the dare, this is what I came up with via a couple of pieces that are different from the black list.
1. SPL Transient Designer: For mixing and tracking, sounds great on toms and to give a little bit more smack for all kinds of drums. Also great for lifting up drums in a two-track mix. Can be used as a specialized gate as well. Very useful.
2. Prism Sound OverKillers: Great passive brickwall limiters that are totally transparent. Great for vocal tracking.
3. Shure KSM 32: Just used them on a session with Shawn Pelton on drums. We used them on toms and I really liked them for their warm yet clear sound. Shawn made a note on what they were, that was a first.
And of course, I used a M147-Brent Averill-Neve Clone-LA2A Combo for vocals recently. See? One sentence.
As a mastering engineer and writer of articles about Mac and audio applications, I receive a lot of free magazines. I only have two paid subscriptions: MacWorld and . . . EQ.
I really loved your article about the hemispheres [Keeping the Art in State of the Art, December 2004]. It was an eye opener for me.
It really will help me to get more out of my own mastering and production sessions.
Sander van der Heide