Archive for December, 2009

5 Worst Audio Trends of the Noughties

Here are my picks for the Top Worst Audio Trends since 2000. Feel free to add your own comments and picks.

  1.  The End of Hi-Fidelity – Digital distribution of music has lowered the fidelity bar to new levels offering consumers less quality than ever. George Massenburg recently spoke out on the effects of compression formats that introduce distortion, destroy stereo image and generally sound awful giving us something to think about and the knowledge to fight back.
  2. Illegal Downloading – The popularity of illegal peer-to-peer music “sharing” eroded the power of copyright and greatly affected the bottom line of our industry. The Supreme Court came down on the side of copyright holders but not before the damage was done and an entire generation grew to feel they were entitled to free music.
  3. Pitch Correction Abuse – Pitch correction software is nothing short of amazing, but in many cases it created a music culture where talent is optional and production is driven by “fix it later” instead of “get it right.”
  4. The Death of Dynamics – While audio pros continue to fight the misconception that louder is better, it keeps rearing its ugly head, even in mainstream media where Metallica fans cried foul when they realized that Guitar Hero: Metallica game mixes sounded better than the record because the songs had more dynamic range.
  5. Staying Inside The Box – There’s no question that digital audio workstations, modeling software and plugins are here to stay and have changed our industry. But completely eschewing analog processing and recording in favor of staying “inside the box” denies adding a flavor and color to music that can never be modeled. Case in point, The Dead Weather’s Horehound which was recorded on 2″, 8-track analog tape and is a feast for the ears.

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DIY Ribbon Mic Kit

The Austin DIY Ribbon Microphone is the brain child of Rick Wilkinson. The kit starts at $149 and comes with all the parts and instructions including photos and videos. You can also upgrade the chassis and transformer for more $$$.

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Top 20 Gear Hits of the Noughties

The years between 2000 and 2009 saw a mind boggling expansion of audio technology. Releases included impressive new gear and upgrades of existing products for recording, processing, editing and mixing audio. Here are my top 20 picks with links to reviews and videos. Feel free to write in your own picks in the comments section and add to the list.

  1. Pro Tools HD – Digidesign’s 2002 hardware upgrade brought high resolution audio to the industry’s top DAW
  2. Neumann Solution-D Digital Microphones – Neumann’s legacy of quality was advanced with the release of these amazing sounding transducers with onboard converters
  3. Apple Logic Pro – After the purchase of Emagic, Apple puts its stamp on this popular music production tool making it a contender for top affordable native DAW
  4. Celemony Melodyne – Auto Tune was first in the 90s, but Melodyne brought a fresh new way to correct pitch in the noughties
  5. Blue Bottle Microphone – This retro mic set the quality and design standard for Blue which later released the innovative Mouse, Dragonfly and Blue Ball.
  6. Focal CMS 65 monitors – Focal’s affordable CMS line benefits from the technology used in the company’s audiophile speakers which can go for well over $100k a pair
  7. SSL Duality – SSL got a new owner and steered through troubled waters with this large format console at the helm
  8. JBL LSR6328P monitors  – Once the studio monitoring champ, JBL made a solid bid for the title again with these great sounding speakers
  9.  Digico SD7  – Used recently on tour with U2, the SD7 debuted in 2007 with state-of-the-art FPGA technology making it a top contender for live sound applications
  10. Royer SF24 – Royer provided an easy way to record with ribbon mics in stereo without having the gain and impedance issues of a passive ribbon
  11. Genelec 8050A Series Monitors – Genelec replaced their 1029/30/31As with the 80 series, improving on the pioneering brand that set the pace for self-powered monitors
  12. Roland V-Mixer – RSS was an unlikely entrant into the live sound market when they launced their forward looking, affordable and feature packed small format console with a digital snake
  13. Plugins – Many companies defined this category in the noughties including Waves, Sonnox, Focusrite, McDSP, Bomb Factory, TL Audio, SoundToys, PSP, URS, IK Multimedia, brainworx, Universal Audio, iZotope and more
  14. Digidesign VENUE and ICON – Digidesign went from 0 to 60 in record time with their live sound and studio consoles
  15. Converters – Companies that brought their best to the noughties include: Mytek, Lynx, Prism, Apogee, Weiss, db Technologies (now Lavry Engineering), Benchmark, Millennia Media, dCS and DAD
  16. Radial Workhorse 5000 – Radial’s penchant for building sturdy, versatile and affordable products was carried on with this innovative take on the simple 500-series rack
  17. ADAM A5 Monitors – In the quality vs. price race ($800 a pair), no one came closer to winning the “bang-for-the-buck” trophy
  18. DPA 3532-T Mic Kit – DPA dominated the high-voltage mic niche with this all-in-one toolkit
  19. Upstate Audio Sonic Lens Preamp – This preamp set the bar high for the competition with its pristine, audiophile signal path between mic and recorder.
  20. Fairlight Xynergi – Fairlight’s slick video-keyed controller for their Crystal Core engine offered fantastic value, user experience and the best feature set in its price range

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