Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recording Tip 8: Just because something is analog doesn’t mean its better. Bad analog products have been around for decades

I grew up in the analog age. When I began as an assistant at Bill Schnee’s Studio it was an analog world. But don’t think we loved it all. There were never ending debates about what console or tape machine was better than the other. Some differences were striking. The fact is that not all analog is good.

There’s a disturbing trend I’ve seen in the last few years. Some young engineers and producers will eagerly use any analog device, especially consoles and tape machines, without even listening critically to see if it’s better than their digital whatever. I understand it, and I admire their desire to make a better sounding album. But sometime the “cool factor” gets in the way of good judgment.

Recently someone called to ask my opinion of them wanting mix to a 15ips tape machine. It was a dreadful sounding semi-pro machine who’s true calling in life was to be a boat anchor. They were convinced it was a great idea because it was analog. My advice to him was to NOT use the wretched beast, but go with their digital output and get a good mastering engineer. The fact is that decent digital is sometimes much better than average analog.

All that to say, when considering an analog option LISTEN! As I said, bad analog has been around for decades. Don’t pick it JUST because it’s analog. Pick it because it’s better.

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