Bob's been answering questions over the internet for many years. Here's some excerpts, some current, some not new but still relevant:
Q: Do I really need one of those automated mixing consoles? They're kind of expensive...
Bob: You know the odd thing is that the only reason automation ever got a toehold in the first place was that automated first-generation pop music mixes sounded a lot better than second-generation copies of non-automated, spliced-up mixes. Digital audio actually made console automation obsolete!
We've also heard a lot about automation being necessary for film mixing recently. I had to laugh because my clients in the film biz tell me that only the latest generation of Neve flying-faders can even keep up with the moves in a dense feature film mix. Oh yes, you won't hear most people go on the record with that one, it's real hard to explain to the suits why they needed to shell out another hundred grand for something that doesn't work...
Q: Do I need a 96 kHz-capable console -- are there any that I can afford?
Bob: I'm not aware of ANY at all yet! Imagine this: analog is the wave of the future!
Q: I've bought all the same equipment, why do I need you?
Bob: I recorded some music for a piano record recently. (I insist on still calling them "records...") My client had her own studio and had gone through a lot of changes before. I simply plugged two U-67s into my Apogee AD-1000 and went straight to a DAT. When she came in to edit, we compared the recordings on my new/old Duntechs. My flat, dry recording of the same piano sounded so much better that it put her jaw on the floor. Her last project had taken months. Ours was recorded in an afternoon and edited in a day.
There is a clear analogy in photography. Nobody has ever suggested that the "point and shoot" camera would make the professional photographer obsolete. Amateur photography is probably the most popular hobby in America and has had a mutually supportive relationship with professional photography for 50 years. The camera and film companies have fostered mutual respect by promoting quality as a desirable goal and have always seen to it that the finest professional and amateur photographs get ongoing public attention and recognition.
Q: I've got the latest in digital equipment from the same companies I've read everyone's using. Why can't I get my work to sound good enough?
Bob: Glossy ads from an upstart company like Mackie have been redefining industry concepts like "studio-grade mike preamps," "high-headroom" and "solo in place" to fit the peculiarities of very reasonably priced but not exactly Earth-shattering products. The trade magazines, who usually aren't professional musicians or engineers themselves, read the press releases, get the free samples pre-release, and fall in march-step without pointing out the serious shortcomings of the product, such as low-gain, nearly uncontrollable mike preamps, insufficient line-level headroom, and nearly useless stereo-solo tracking or endless highly expensive upgrades necessitated by poor programming following common regular system software changes.
Q: But can't I trust these new computer-generation businesses more than a mammoth like Sony? The mainstream pro-audio electronics industry isn't on our side.
Bob: Sony... well, a surprising percentage of really good sounding contemporary recordings have been coming out on Sony Records too; I've really been watching my Sony-bashing lately no matter how tempting it can be at times.
Sony replaced the PCM-7030/50 DAT machines with a new PCM-7040 that offers more than the 7050 feature-set at the old 7030 price. As a courtesy to their 7030/50 installed-base, they have developed a new ROM (v.5.1) for the discontinued machines that adds several features from the new machine along with fixing some bugs. Somebody at Sony seems to really care that I spent serious money to get a 7030, I'm impressed!
Got a question for Bob?
If you want a professional solution to your audio problem, or if you have a question worth worrying over, you can Email Bob Olhsson with your questions. Bob's pretty busy these days but if we think others would be interested as well, we'll make every effort to eventually provide an accurate answer or honest opinion on these pages. Unfortunately, Bob cannot privately answer every message, but we'll share any information that we can.
Write Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a working professional and you would like to consult Bob about an audio problem, Email us and we will get back to you with rate and scheduling information.
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Q: Talk about mikes generally, answer some specific questions, i.e., how to mic drums,
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