Monday, November 25, 2013

New Trainwrecks

Did you know that new Trainwreck amps are being produced?
Trainwrecks sound great. But so do a lot of other boutique amps. Heck, there are some non-boutique amps that sound great too.

I love my Celtic Edana. Together with my Lil Dawg Mutt going through Celestion Alnico Blue 12" speakers they sound as good as the best amp I've ever played, the Blankenship Fatboy Supreme with Sour Cream.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

It Means "Horse" in Italian

My buddy Mike Kessell (who designed and built much of Millennium Crisis) plays drums for Cavallo.
They rock.
No, I mean they freakin' rock.
The above link is to their Bandcamp page. And the recordings sound great (I even own their vinyl!) But live?
Live they rock.
I mean they freakin' ROK.
This is the kind of band that's so dynamic that really it's all about hearing them live.
And they're an instrumental band. There need to be more instrumental bands.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Losing My Religion

For the last 20 years or so I've been inclined toward high-end (preferably Neve) microphone preamps. This is in part because I felt I was suddenly able to make things which sounded like real songs once I started using real preamps.
It seemed and seems that mixing is much easier when everything's been tracked through some API's or Neves. That may be in part due to what Alan Douches calls the "accumulation of subtleties" which is what goes into making a good mix.
But then again, it may not.
With some exceptions it can be very difficult to hear the difference between a high-end preamp and some cheapo $10 preamp built into an interface or cheap audio console. I mean while just listening to it alone. And without having the ability to A/B the cheapo preamp against the Neve 1272 you have sitting there in your rack you won't be able to listen to a track and just straight-up say "Oh, that's the preamp built into this Souncraft mixer on this snare drum track".
But presumably we can hear the "buildup" of tracks all recorded through (say) a Trident A-range versus the same tracks recorded with a Mackie mixer which has been sitting underneath your dirty laundry since you quit that job mixing that web-series in 2005.
I say "presumably" because you absolutely cannot get the same performance out of a whole bunch of instruments to do a true A/B test.***
Is it too late for me to become a Hammond organ player?

So let's pretend that there's an accumulation of subtleties in recording, that is: the mix is better because of all the very slight increases in quality brought about by high-end microphone preamps.****
Those increases in quality are nothing, nothing at all, compared to having better instruments to record and, you know, actually practicing more.

Yeah. Practicing more. Now there's a subtlety that'll definitely accumulate.*****

So basically, the guiding religious principal of recording that I've been operating has developed a schism. Although I can't help but feel that preamps somehow magically make the music sound better, I can't prove it. And the fact is we're using four channels of Neve 1272 preamperage and another two of Lindells (which are vastly less expensive but still theoretically better than the built-in Tascam preamps in the A/D converter).
So, you know, we should be ahead of the game as far as the sound is concerned.
The drums are typically being replaced in Drumagog so it's basically irrelevant what the preamps are (or what the microphones are).******
That leaves us with just a bass or a guitar not recorded with a high or higher-end preamp.
Having recorded the bass in Diatomaceous Earth a number of ways I have to admit I don't really get bent out of shape when we use the Tascam's built-in preamps for it.
I've non-blind A/B'ed between the Tascam and the Neves for bass guitar and although I should be prejudiced toward the Neves I'm just not feelin' it. I can feel the difference between basses and have my preference there, but not with the preamps.

Which, in a way, is almost too bad because there's a world of loveliness out there in the world of preamps nowadays. Seventh Circle Audio makes some cool kits (non 500-series based.) There's a whole DIY culture too

But I've lost it. I don't have the faith that those things would make nearly the difference that would... well... make a difference.

I'll stay with the preamps I have. I mean, I'm not going to curse the gods when my sacrifices have already been made. But there's no need to sacrifice more. That I know of.


***That's almost true. But if you were recording entirely electronic instruments which you pushed through the high-impedance inputs of preamps you could do an A/B test. Hasn't anybody done this?
****And yeah, that's preamps. Not "microphones". So many great sounding records have infamously (or famously) been recorded using Shure SM57's that it's impossible to count. But in my experience, it's the preamps that make the biggest quality difference in the mix.
***** As a guitar player I'm... pretty terrible. I have exactly one trick: I can make the guitar sound good. I can't play fast, nor accurately. But I can get a decent guitar sound. Enough that if I play slowly and simply it seems like a choice rather than a necessity.
(I just need to practice more. Specifically I need to practice playing rhythm. I do not have a funky bone in my body. It has been strongly... er... requested that I become better at this. So I'm... gonna work on that. Oddly this particular point is not relevant to my thesis here as the one thing I can do is sound -- recording-wise -- good.)
******Note that the overheads -- which is where we get all of the cymbals -- are recorded using nice microphones with a pair of Neves.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Harrowing of the North

So I was checking out the Bandcamp blog and there's this dude who reviews metal and he has a blog with this post about a band called Wiht. I think they only made one album. Which, in their case, means they only released two songs.
This band is/was amazing. Think an instrumental Tool but with more delicateness and subtlety. They're definitely a "heavy" act but there's a world of dynamics and Floyd built in. I think they're no longer together.
Devouter Records.

Set List

As per Ethan's suggestion, a set list with a link to the latest version of each "song" indicated.
Now, to start with, we haven't really decided on the first song. This is just my suggestion.
1. Eyes of the World (soundcheck, trade fours)

So. This is what I've got right now. One day things will be different. Today is not that day.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Blue Weasel

Above (click through to the post if you don't see a music player in this post)is a song we did with just Greg, Lily, Lou, and Drew. Lily was playing the fretless through (oddly) a Roland Jazz Chorus (a small one) which was replacing the Fender Twin. Lily goes back and forth between using a direct feed through an Alembic preamp and going through an amp. Personally I like the amp sound the best for her. She tends to prefer the direct sound.
Anyway, Blue Weasel. We were looking for ways to sound more "open" and jazz-ish. In doing so I had to leave the snare sound natural (not replaced).
There's also a bit of Electro Harmonix HOG2 on my guitar but in a couple weeks we're going to try that on the melody side of the Chapman Stick.
We also learned that I need a good 6 bars notice before we make a change. I'm just slow.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Golden Age

We live in a golden age of audio.
The fact is that there was a golden age of audio in the 1950's. The recording chain of professional audio was pretty well perfected at the time. They had the finest microphones and many studios had the best consoles and preamps ever (or at least they did by sometime in the 1960's.)
But what we have is the ability for boutique makers of things like microphones to be able to make simply awesome microphones -- at absurdly low (and, from a business perspective, quite frankly unsustainable) prices.
Dig if you will Mesanovic Microphones. The sweet little Model 1 is only $700. For a ribbon microphone. Hand made right here in the Good Ol' USA. That sounds pretty sweet in the demos.
A stereo pair is $1350. I mean come on! I'd be interested in how they sound with a little more distance on 'em.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Just Some Notes

We've been discussing directions and suchlike with Diatomatious Earth. So here are some randomly collected notes.
Here's the City Samanas doing their "Blue Shadow". (D9 to A9)

And then. Grateful Dead with their 7-7-89 version of Fire on the Mountain: (B and A) "Don't Let Go (Part 1)" by the Jerry Garcia Band ("Mostly A but some D's thrown in.") Grateful Dead "Althea". ("This is B#m A E A and B#m A E".)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Here are some notes. 
1.Eiko Eiko (soundcheck, trade fours)
2. Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (Gentle Giant-esque Ethan song in 3/4)
3.Goth waltz (from, 10.30.13--- Lou, you are a mad man! esp. from 12:20 onwards)
4.Porcupine's Dream
5.Spacy thing
6.Imaginary Opera
7.E drone/funk thing

Monday, November 4, 2013


A couple weeks ago Lou came into rehearsal having met this dude on the street. Rubytone are mostly guitars with amps built into them, but there's other things too.

This is Max. He's a 6-string bass guitar.

Moving the Blags

I'm re-consolodating my blogs.  I know, you wanted them separate. But my little mind just doesn't work that way. All my blogging -- ...