Feb 112021

Lets stay a bit into the recording ‘tech’.
Below a comment from David Briggs (February 29, 1944 – November 26, 1995). David Briggs is mainly known as producer of many Neil Young records. Young’s records sound extremely good, especially very dynamic, but not ‘clean’. You hear musicians making playing mistakes, singing out of tune, putting down a (beer?) bottle, hitting a mic, a.s.o….. Listening to Neil Young recordings, all these extra sounds never bothered me. Clearly the tracks are recorded live in the studio, all playing at the same time. I assume thats the secret of the dynamic sound. Neil Young is a very popular recording artist for many generations, until today. It doesn’t seem to be the absolute perfect clean recording that makes a record sell….. I often try to explain to younger technicians taking tracks through digital cleaning procedures, meanwhile killing dynamics.

David Briggs, How to Make Records:

I can teach you everything I know in an hour. Everything. That’s how simple it is to make records. Nowadays, buddy, the technician is in control of the medium. They try to make out like it’s black magic, or flyin’ a spaceship. I can teach anybody on this planet how to fly the spaceship. If you look at the modern console, there’ll be thirty knobs – high frequency, low frequency, midfrequency, all notched in little tiny, tiny, teeny tiny degrees – and it’s all bullshit. All this stuff doesn’t matter, and you can’t be intimidated. You just ignore it – all of it. I walk into studios with the biggest console known to mankind, and I ask for the schematic and say, “Can you patch from here to here and eliminate the ENTIRE board?” I just run it right into the tape machines. All the modern consoles, they’re all made by hacks, they’re not worth a shit, they sound terrible. None of it touches the old tube stuff – like the green board from Heider’s. It has two tone controls – high end, low end and a pan knob – and that’s it. I had great good fortune when I was a kid and started makin’ records. I made ‘em at Wally Heider’s, Gold Star, so all the people that taught me were Frank Dimidio, Dave Gold, Stan Ross, Dean Jensen – these guys were the geniuses of the music business, still are. They taught me more about sound and how sound is made and the principles of doing it, and it’s unshakably correct what they said to me: You get a great sound at the source. Put the correct mike in front of the source, get it to the tape the shortest possible route – that’s how you get a great sound. That’s how you do it. All other ways are work. The biggest moment of my life – the one I haven’t been able to get past every, really – is 1961, when I first got to L.A. I got invited to Radio Recorders to see Ray Charles, and I walk into the studio, and Ray’s playin’ all the piano parts with his left hand, reading a braille score with his right hand, singing the vocal live while a full orchestra played behind him. So I sat there and I watched. And I went, “This is how records are made. Put everybody in the fuckin’ room and off we go.” In those days everybody knew they had to go in, get their dick hard at the same time and deliver. And three hours later they walked out the fuckin’ door with a record in their pocket, man. Of course, in those days they didn’t have eight- , sixteen- , twenty-four- , forty-eight- , sixty-four-track, ad nauseum, to fuck people up, and that is what fucked up the recording business and the musicians of today, by the way – fucked ‘em all up to where they’ll never be the same, in my opinion. People realized they could do their part…later. Play their part and fix it later. And with rock and roll, the more you think, the more you stink.

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