There are five studios housed in the AIX Media Group building. Each has variety of analog and digital equipment that is used to produce audio projects. Interestingly, it the AIX Records studio that has the only analog decks but the Astound Studio has racks and racks of analog signal processors. I walked into their room today delivering the mail and got chatting with Greg, a very talented musician and engineer. He’s done a bunch of very high profile work with “Playing for Change” among others. He’s just been hired to engineer a new record for Young the Giant. That’s a big deal…but they won’t be doing the work here.
The production will start in July and occupy three months of so at a studio across town…equipped with a 1″ 8-track Ampex analog tape machine and a vintage analog UA recording console. He sold them on the idea of a completely analog record rather than using the ubiquitous Pro Tools DAW. He told me the band loves the idea of that “fat, warm, distorted analog sound”. The old Ampex machine was originally owned by Les Paul, the father of multitrack recording and inventor of the solid body guitar (not really…there were others that predated the Gibson “Les Paul” model but he gets the credit. The deck has eight channels of tube electronics stacked on top of each other above the transport. And according to Greg, it sound amazing.
There is a whole specialty world of engineers, studio owners, equipment rental houses that cater to musicians and producers seeking a “vintage” sound. T Bone Burnett, the very successful producer and guitar player, is also a major fan of analog tape. What’s old is new again.
Greg was competing for the Young the Giant gig with some other engineers some that have bigger names and more celebrity credits. How did he get the gig? Because he uses a combination of technologies…both analog and digital…and is very open to experimenting with new sounds and techniques. He certainly knows what I’m about and has heard my tracks in my room. I asked him if anyone in his world is aware of high-resolution audio and whether the norm is to record higher than 44.1|48 kHz. The answer is no. Artists and bands that are making hit records couldn’t care less about things that interest audiophiles. They want whatever the hippest, coolest thing of the moment is.
And according to Greg, analog is “dripping with cool” these days. I should take a survey among my engineer friends and ask how they record. I think the trend is to use analog tape or CLASP or some other system that leaves the “sonic dirt and grunge” on the tracks. You don’t really need 192 kHz/24-bits to capture the fidelity of most pop/rock records. Just saying.