Saturday, May 24, 2008

Comment on Beaker Street Comment

The Mighty Favog has left a new comment on your post "Beaker Street Comment":

CDs used to have an edge in sound -- at least over typical lightweight vinyl pressings of the late '70s and 1980s. LPs just got to the point where it was a totally hit-and-miss proposition whether you'd get a good pressing.

Since the mid- to late '90s, though, I'll take a well-pressed LP over a rock or pop CD anyday. The digital loudness wars have obliterated any advantage CDs might have had in distortion, frequency response and lack of surface noise.

Frankly, 7 out of 10 CDs sound like hell today, and that's just because of mastering insanity. Nothing like ripping a CD to your hard drive, opening up the WAV files in Adobe Audition and having them all look like bright green 2-by-4s.

Also, when you're putting a bunch of music on hard drive from various sources (and eras) -- including vinyl -- the over-the-top hard limiting and compression of contemporary digital material makes it a challenge to maintain a relatively consistent average loudness.

All your vinyl has to be hard limited to the upper edge of good sound (which makes click-and-pop removal critical), and most of your newer CDs have to be toned way down. What a pain.

Lately, I find I've been buying a lot more new vinyl than I have CDs. What goes around. . . .

As far as tube sound goes . . . I love me some vacuum-tube audio. It really is warmer -- which I understand has everything to do with how tubes distort when you get to the clipping threshold.

I have a couple of project studios here at home, and all of my mikes are run through those affordable little vacuum-tube preamps . . . with the output gain turned up somewhat shy of 11.

My main mike is a Studio Projects C-1, which is sort of a low-price Chinese knockoff of a Neumann U-87, and which sounds almost as good. With the tube preamp and some judicious basic EQ on the front end and on the audio-editor end, the results can be darned impressive.

Now, if someone would like to donate a vintage McIntosh tube amp to a worthy cause, the gift would be most appreciated. ;-) Right now, I use a Harman/Kardon 330c ($40 on eBay) and a pair of EV Sentry 100A speakers for monitoring.

Anyway, I've gone on long enough. But the beauty of inexpensive modern gear is that, now, you can put together a production studio just a versatile as any radio station's in a spare room at home . . . and you can do it for less than $3,000 if you know what to get second-hand.

And it's going to sound every bit as good as what comes out of most radio stations -- and better than many, if you know what you're doing.

If you'd like to hear what comes out of my humble back-room studio, you can go here:


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