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Thread: The sound of vintage recordings

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    The sound of vintage recordings

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    I wasn’t sure where to put this, but I chose not to put it in the Analog forum because I felt as though I would probably get a slanted response. Since the question deals with the aesthetics of music today vs. years ago, I figured this was as good of a place as any.

    I’ve read a lot of posts where, when people have maybe asked how they thought a tone had been achieved on a vintage record, someone has said something along the lines of, “But, would anybody really want to get that sound nowadays? I mean, they did they best they could back then, but we’ve come a long way since then!”

    This got me thinking that maybe I’m in the minority because, when I hear that question (“Would you want that sound today?”), my response is unabashedly hell yes! One of the biggest reasons I love those old Motown records and such is simply because I love the sound of all the instruments. I certainly enjoy---and many times dig the shit out of---the music as well, but the sound is just as much of the appeal to me. Jazz is a perfect example in this regard. I like some jazz---not all---but I almost always love the sounds---the drums, the horns, etc.---on an old jazz record.

    It’s funny because I hear a lot of drummers talking about how they don’t like the sound of drums on vintage records because you can’t hear everything, etc. But the drum sounds on those are one of my favorite things about them!

    So I was just wondering how others felt about this. Do you view those old recordings as “the best they could do at the time” or do you view them as sounding killer, regardless of when they were made. I realize this is a huge generalization, because in the late 60s, for example, a Motown record had a very different sound than a Beatles record. But to give you an idea of the sound I’m talking about, here’s a tune that I feel captures it well. It’s a song where everything comes together for me: the sound, the song, and the performances.



    Keep in mind I’m not saying that I don’t like the sounds of any modern recordings. I do. But my point is that I do not at all view the sounds of those vintage records as “ok for the time.” The sound of them is one of the primary reasons I enjoy them!
    famous beagle

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    We all relate to the stuff we've come up on, there's that. But in addition, as a recordist and musician, I flat out revel in delving into the why and how the songs and production going into them differ, what makes them work' so well!
    I'll add one thing- they didn't 'get there w/o great; band, material, you can go way back and the record qualities are a) just great thank you very much, and/or b) realize 'pristine / perfect record qualities -for most music, is NOT what made for a 'great track'.
    You can go back to some mono, youtube', and hear things that come through fantastic, with simple phat tones, arrangements etc.. I take from it 'this' what have you- How can I apply this (these..) perspectives to make my tracks work so well.
    Last edited by mixsit; 12-09-2016 at 08:37.
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    My band have this problem, but from the other side - we recreate (the adverts shout loudly) the authentic sound of the original band, but the authentic sound is often muddy and indistinct - the bass, especially. Often played with the thumb - it's a pretty drum like mostly - as in du, duh, duh - and even working out what note it is is sometimes tricky. Drums are often light and snare heavy, with top end metalwork prominent. It gives us a problem - be authentic and produce that sound, or add in the missing bits for a more contemporary, and perhaps acceptable sound. We sometimes decide the song would be better, and then we disagree about how much. The original recordings wouldn't stretch a medium priced hifi in dynamics and frequency response. Should we tinker because we can? Is hopefully a better sounding recording the aim, when the original people spent so much effort getting it to how we remember it? Would they have gone further if the equipment had allowed it? Difficult one!

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    The song, the performance, the nostalgia and sometimes the sound, but not the recordings. I'll listen to some old stuff and the LCR panning schemes make it difficult to enjoy. I like a nice full sound where I'm engulfed by a brass section, or the bass is in my face. Reverb comes at me from all sides and the guitar and piano are battling it out on either side. I listen to Herb Alpert pretty often and think how much better it would sound if recorded today (and not squashed to death in the mastering process!!)

    Not sure if that is exactly what you're talking about, but it's my two cents.... lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili View Post
    The song, the performance, the nostalgia and sometimes the sound, but not the recordings. I'll listen to some old stuff and the LCR panning schemes make it difficult to enjoy. I like a nice full sound where I'm engulfed by a brass section, or the bass is in my face. Reverb comes at me from all sides and the guitar and piano are battling it out on either side. I listen to Herb Alpert pretty often and think how much better it would sound if recorded today (and not squashed to death in the mastering process!!)

    Not sure if that is exactly what you're talking about, but it's my two cents.... lol.
    Excuse me? Answer me this. Just WHO exactally the hell 'squashed to death' 'Herb Alpert!?



    'They' didn't. That.. is somebody else's finger prints my friend
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixsit View Post
    Excuse me? Answer me this. Just WHO exactally the hell 'squashed to death' 'Herb Alpert!?



    'They' didn't. That.. is somebody else's finger prints my friend
    No no no, you misread what I was saying.... or I didn't say it clearly enough. I would enjoy Herb Alpert's music more IF they recorded with contemporary methods minus the "squash it to death" mentality. Yeah, that reads a little better.

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    I have a deep interest in creating older sounding recordings, but little understanding or patience to make it work right. In the last year, I've added a nice preamp to my chain where if I crank it, I can hear some of that old timey gain...but I find myself defaulting to a more modern sounding signal and mix.

    I started a thread a while back titled something like "When to Break the Rules"... I didn't get a whole lot of responses, but I was kinda looking for an open discussion on when people here decidedly make something sound less hi-fi than they could. I'm currently recording a demo for my new band in the punk/garage vein, and I'm finding ways to grit things up such as reamping vocal tracks through tube amps w/ overdrive. However, that's more of an attempt to make it dirty rather than vintage sounding. I'm curious to see how this thread plays out!
    "Easy, guys.. I put my pants on just like the rest of you - one leg at a time. Except, once my pants are on, I make gold records." - The Bruce Dickinson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili View Post
    No no no, you misread what I was saying.... or I didn't say it clearly enough. I would enjoy Herb Alpert's music more IF they recorded with contemporary methods minus the "squash it to death" mentality. Yeah, that reads a little better.
    Got 'cha! Yeah that's a whole dif animal'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dudernut View Post
    I have a deep interest in creating older sounding recordings, but little understanding or patience to make it work right. In the last year, I've added a nice preamp to my chain where if I crank it, I can hear some of that old timey gain...but I find myself defaulting to a more modern sounding signal and mix.

    I started a thread a while back titled something like "When to Break the Rules"... I didn't get a whole lot of responses, but I was kinda looking for an open discussion on when people here decidedly make something sound less hi-fi than they could. I'm currently recording a demo for my new band in the punk/garage vein, and I'm finding ways to grit things up such as reamping vocal tracks through tube amps w/ overdrive. However, that's more of an attempt to make it dirty rather than vintage sounding. I'm curious to see how this thread plays out!
    Yes this turn out very interesting indeed. Can't now, but to say I think a lot has to do with some of the very direct and 'focused recording, and mixes. That's to say way more than the notion of 'warm 'cozy tones' of old.
    Placebo stomps 96k ....... Recent projects
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    Quote Originally Posted by famous beagle View Post
    I’ve read a lot of posts where, when people have maybe asked how they thought a tone had been achieved on a vintage record, someone has said something along the lines of, “But, would anybody really want to get that sound nowadays? I mean, they did they best they could back then, but we’ve come a long way since then!”

    This got me thinking that maybe I’m in the minority because, when I hear that question (“Would you want that sound today?”), my response is unabashedly hell yes! One of the biggest reasons I love those old Motown records and such is simply because I love the sound of all the instruments. I certainly enjoy---and many times dig the shit out of---the music as well, but the sound is just as much of the appeal to me. Jazz is a perfect example in this regard. I like some jazz---not all---but I almost always love the sounds---the drums, the horns, etc.---on an old jazz record.

    It’s funny because I hear a lot of drummers talking about how they don’t like the sound of drums on vintage records because you can’t hear everything, etc. But the drum sounds on those are one of my favorite things about them!

    So I was just wondering how others felt about this.
    I'm the exact same way, and I do think nostalgia plays a big part.
    History has a way of deleting anachronisms. -PKD

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