December 1, 2005

Will someone please stop this guy?

by Chris Randall

Okay, I'll readily admit that the easiest way to avoid the articles at would be to... well... avoid them. But it's like driving past a car wreck on the highway; you just have to slow down and look for blood, you know? Plus it's fun to see my tirades on Zicos right next to the latest piece of worthless drivel from David Mellor.

In his latest missive, the audio world's answer to Bill O'Reilly informs us that even though our gear sounds good, it probably isn't good, because we haven't thoroughly tested it. Apparently, the only good gear is transparent gear which introduces no distortion whatsoever. This would come as something of a surprise to the makers of the Neve 1081, the Fairchild 660, the EMT 140, the McIntosh amplifier, and the producers of pretty much every rock record ever.

Sorry, dude, but you're a fucking retard. The thing that separates a piece of good gear from a piece of bad or flat gear is the distortion it adds to the signal. You really need to stop writing and go back to Full Sail for some remedial classwork.



Page 1 of 2

Dec.01.2005 @ 6:40 PM
Ick. He sounds like an audiophile.

I like what Bruce Swedien writes in his book. You can measure two recording consoles and the specs are within a dB of each other, but you listen and they sound completely different. So specs are meaningless and you should use your ears. Bravo to that.


Dec.01.2005 @ 7:06 PM
Chris Randall
He's not an audiophile. Those people, while freakishly obsessive about the stupidest things, know that even-order distortion == good. Thus their fascination with all things t00b.

He's just stupid.



Dec.01.2005 @ 7:12 PM
No need to be rude. There are people who don't want distortion. Not everybody is a rawker, ya know. I'm sure the guy is doing the best he can and hey, he's enitltled to his opinion.



Dec.01.2005 @ 7:34 PM
Chris Randall
Oh, I'm a snob all right. But that's besides the point, which is this: this fellow regularly disseminates information that is patently untrue in the guise of helping people. That's what irks me.

And believe me, you do want distortion. There's a phrase for crystal clean recordings: Lite Jazz.



Dec.01.2005 @ 8:21 PM
There are other genres that shoot for less color. Not just lite jazz. A nice Ravi Shanker record I have comes to mind.

I've wanted to write to the guy before to politely offer a correction to an article I read at his site. He said Logic plugins don't use MIDI but that it was helpful to think of them as MIDI. I'm sure he didn't realize MIDI is more than just a hardware spec. Besides, he was paraphrasing some producer he talked to. I couldn't find the article by the time I looked for it so I blew it off.

I just think there is enough whack shit in the world to get bent out of shape by someone trying to help people but getting it wrong sometimes.



Dec.01.2005 @ 8:44 PM
Wade Alin
If the articles weren't of such a definitive nature, it'd be easier to just let it go. They have a real "this is the way it is" feel about them and I'm with Chris on just making fun of the guy. Seriously, we can tolerate misinformation in our politics. but don't fuck with the audio.



Dec.01.2005 @ 10:43 PM
It's his basic premise that's flawed: things should be designed for perfect spec rather than they way they sound. In the old days, people used to listen to their designs and make changes. These days, it's all autocad and cost per part. I'll bet the mic pre on a 002 Rack has better specs than an API, but which would you rather record with? For ANY application?

Dec.02.2005 @ 2:59 AM
He's creaming himself right now. Actual musicians reading his words and discussing them! He's practically a rock star!

Dec.02.2005 @ 3:14 AM
He says,

"Sound equipment of any kind has precisely three functions...

1. To handle sound transparently without adding anything or taking anything away."

I'm having difficulty imagining any piece of sound equipment that actually performs this function. What use would it be? This is not a subjective statement which applies only to rock music: The point of using a piece of gear is that it does something. Even the mythical ideal "straight wire with gain" preamplifier adds something significant--the gain. Every process affects sound in some way, by its nature, even if merely adding energy or converting it from one form to another.

Measuring these effects with machines has its uses but cannot possibly be as valuable to us as what we hear wtih our ears and brains. Why should numbers be more important than how a thing sounds?

I'm always suspicious of people who are so sure they've got it all figured out, and Mellor's got a way of being particularly smug about it all. And some of the things he says--particularly in his headlines--read like something from The Onion. More than once I've wondered, at first, if he was joking. But I don't think so.



Dec.02.2005 @ 3:34 AM
This isn't a political or religious issue but one of simple common sense. The audio chain should be as transparent as possible except where you judiciously choose to add colour. If you choose every piece of kit because it colours the sound in some way, the sum of the parts may not be harmonious. For many vintage pieces of kit that we now think have an interesting sound, I'm sure the designers' orginal intention was transparency. Today we deliberately strive to add those vintage colours to certain kinds of musicb but they aren't appropriate for all kinds. I hate 'Lite Jazz' as much as the next real music lover and wouldn't care if it was recorded on a vintage RadioShack 8-track but I sure wouldn't want to add 'warmth' to an orchestral recording of the Rites of Spring. That's got enough fire in the notes from the orchestra, thanks very much.

Page 1 of 2



Sorry, commenting is closed for this blog entry.