Friday, August 27, 2010

24-bit 44.1kHz

When the Mouse was in the studio a decision had to be made. I told Eric* that we wanted to have an "old fashioned" sound. We wanted the drums to be like drums from the early 70's, but with more room reflections (see: Led Zeppelin) and, of course, louder than drums used to be mixed at.**

Eric (he and I are old friends and he has the bestest recording studio evah: Trax East) looked over at the unused analog tape decks in the corner of his control room. "If you want old-sounding..." There was sort of a wistful look in his eye as he considered the washing-machine-sized recorders ignominiously turned off and silent in the corner of the control room.

Yeah, I'd love to record onto 2" 16-track. Heck, we'd record at 15ips with Dolby noise reduction. But wait, you said tape was how much? OK, we're not doing that. We're recording directly to ProTools.

Which brings up the questions of bit depbth (I'm leaving the spelling that way because it amuses me) and sample rate. Eric suggested 44.1 as the sample rate (which is the same sample rate as CD's). Because, he said, many people thought the darker sounds with the more "broken up" top end worked well for an older sound. The thing we won't be doing is the noisiness of tape. He pointed at his Scully 2-track "What is that? 56, 57dB?"
So we're recording at the lowest "professional" sampling rate of 44.1kHz but with a more sophisticated bit depth of 24 bits. 
At 24 bit we'd have a lot of room to work with the files in the digital world.
Oddly, we won't be doing that much . My studio is competent for two microphones -- I have an AKG C12a (which is possibly the best mic for my voice) and I have a pair of Neve 1202 Brent Averill modified preamps going into an Apogee Mini-me A/D. So my signal path is just fine, thank you. And in Samplitude I can stay at 24 bit and even do 32-bit float for a party. This means that in my studio we may do some editing of some sections. We'll certainly do some vocal recording. And we can re-record guitars and keyboards until the cows come home.
But when we go to mix it'll be through a big analog console (Eric's).
And when the signal hits analog again it'll be at the mastering stage.
*Who am I that I make these decisions for T-Mouse? Uh. I don't know. I don't think that was a unilateral decision, at least not strategically.
**Why did drums used to be mixed so (relatively) quietly? Was it because the transients were so hard to record? Or was it that the stacks of guitar amplifiers typical by the late '60's had made it so that the unamplified drums really were that much quieter live so nobody thought to turn them up?

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