Saturday, April 24, 2010

Studio Geekery part 1

Today I have some studio gear for you to look at. With the arrival of computer-based music recording and production, the old rack mount outboard audio gear has become somewhat of a luxury now. You can effect your audio in a thousand ways with software plug-ins. Software sounds good and gives you the potential to make great sounding recordings at a tiny fraction of the cost of a real studio. However real hardware audio still sounds better than software to me, you are adding gain and distortion and overtones that make everything sound punchy just like back in the golden days of real recording studios.

You are looking at four items in the photo:
The two silver ones with black knobs are Pultec equalizers. This is a pair of mono units and I use them to pass my stereo mixes through. The design is from the 1950's and they are pretty simple to use. Select a frequency, and then boost or cut it. If you are not an audio person, it's kind of like a fancy set of Bass/Treble controls. These Pultec's use tubes, audio people love the sound of tubes, but it's beyond me to describe how they work. They do get hot and if something goes wrong in the unit, you can usually just replace a tube and you're all fixed up.

Next is the Manley Variable-MU in black with the two big white meters. This is a stereo compressor, and I put my mixes through this in-line behind the Pultec's. A compressor's role it hard to describe, but it basically smooths out the rough audio edges. Proper use of compression can make amateur recordings sound much more professional.

The last unit on the right is the Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. This is actually a guitar effect I covered in my last post. This unit has a tube and makes echo effects using a tape loop. The basic design is based on the old Echo-plex units, and this one is improved in many ways, while still giving that sound that we grew up hearing on countless records.

Okay that's it for today, take care until next time.