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Thursday, March 20, 2008


There have been two semi-recent developments in the way we work at Smoke and Mirrors. One is new, the other is not.

Let's begin with what's new.

GarageBand. Now, GarageBand isn't all that new. I remember when it came out. It was touted as revolutionary, but since I already had a recording studio that employed a digital platform, I figured GarageBand was for those who didn't have what I already had. I still don't have GarageBand and am not looking to get it, but I have been using a lot of tracks that were recorded by clients at home via GarageBand, and I gotta say, in the right hands, it's a great thing.

Get Help, House of Blondes, and Himalaya have all brought in tracks that they worked up in GarageBand which we import and add to the project. It's a great way to work. The artist can take his or her time in the comfort of their home to work out a part, record it, put on effects, bounce it and put it on a disc or drive, and then bring it to us.

Sometimes they bring whole projects, demos, developed in GarageBand, and we sort through it, replacing some things (drums), keeping others (that weird guitar part that was an accident and nobody can figure out how it was played but everybody loves it).

I've really opened up to digital media. I fought a lot of it for a long time, Sisyphus like. Hell, I didn't join the digital recording world until 1999. I've tossed out that frame of mind. You gotta roll with change. You ride the wave that your given; no sense in fighting it.

You don't, however, have to throw away the past. That brings us to the second semi-recent development: Tape.

We've added a two-track reel machine to our arsenal. Digital audio is great for editing and mixing; tracking is easier too, but in the end, digital audio has an edge, a slight harshness. What we're doing is running our mixes out to the tape machine to give it that analog benefit. The smoothing of the edges, the rounding of the sound, and the natural tape compression are added to the mix. It's amazing how much better things sound after dumping them to tape.

Of course we're forced to dump the tape back into the computer to create the final files, but at least we've made every attempt to bring back warm. I like warm. Warm is good.

i love this post, the juxtaposition of the old and new.

in fact i ganked one paragraph for my tumblog at fredwilson.vc

It's like looking at that wave and saying, "Hey, bud, let's party!"
Look forward to hearing the results. Mix Harlan to tape for me will you?

Love the graphic for your post!
You're like the Mozart of underground studios. Or at least the Mahatma Ghandi!
I like your style Cowboy. Back in the dark ages of Staccato Sounds, we used to go high-speed analog for that fatty goodness. Then toss the whole mess to DAT to edit. Now the plug-ins make it all sound like whatever you can conjure up anyway. Whatever gets ya to the prom.
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