[Dixielandjazz] RE: Analog not just "warm" scratches

James Kashishian kash@ran.es
Tue, 20 Aug 2002 19:24:59 +0200

Nancy wrote:

Till then, I don't mind the scratches. (A little higher and to the
Any "feedback" from sound engineers?

I won't answer in technical terms, Nancy, as that is not my scene
anyway.  I will only give you my preferences.  If you can stand the
scratches, that's fine.  I can't!  Nor, apparently can many others, if
the sales of digital gear is any clue.  Few people listen to music on
really good gear, or in a proper room, to give them all the frequencies
that are there, anyway.  I would even say, few people even "listen" to
music.  It is usually part of a background to other happenings.

I am the Spanish distributor for the leading large format mixing desks
for studios & broadcast.  Broadcast is going completely digital (he
licks his greedy lips!), and I haven't placed an analogue mixer in
broadcast for ages.  The company, AMS NEVE is famous for its Neve
analogue sound, and has recently brought out a new analogue mixer which
replaces the famous VR.  This new mixer costs about a third more than
the digital desks, mainly because there is more hardware involved.
Sales, worldwide, are to the more famous of the music mixing studios
only.  The rest of the professional industry is digital.  So, if you buy
a new recording on LP, it would seem to be a silly venture, as the whole
process before was probably all digital.

I was asked to speak at a technical meeting in the late 1980's as the
leading digital expert, which I thought was funny 'cause I'm really just
a trombonist......  Anyway, it is true that I was the first person in
Spain to work on music on hard disk, on the AMS NEVE AudioFile.  I had
to take a hard disk along so people would know what I was talking about!
It was something like 700 megas, and weighed a ton!!  That was when
having 40 megas in your computer was huge, and I had 1400 in my editor.
Anyway, the reason for bringing that up was to say that I made my one
famous remark during that meeting: "if you wish to manipulate audio,
then get it into the digital domain".    And, of course, that is what
has happened.

Very few recordings will be heard as they were originally recorded
today.  Most modern vocalists have had their voice track tuned & spliced
up by an editor.  Our next CD to come out soon, was recorded live
(digital at 24 bits) on 8 track.  I mixed the music, and although there
is nothing re-recorded (*), I did a bit of editing here and there to
clean it up.  This could be done on analogue before, but not to the
degree it is done today.  

(*)  Most recordings that say LIVE have very little live left in them.
Most of the tracks will have been repeated in the studio.  I know of
some where nothing but the audience and the drum track were from the
original gig!  Count on the voice track having been dubbed for sure.

So, digital is with us.  Really, I believe the scratches to be so
off-putting, that I can't be bothered with my old recordings.  I usually
listen to CD's on my computer (background music to work, for instance),
or in my studio.