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Re: better test

6/7/2000 7:06 PM
Mark Hammer
Re: better test
For many years, you could usually find a pair of Auratone monitors in many studios.  
The Auratones used a single 4-1/2" full-range driver in a little box. I think the driver was the same as used in Bose 901's, and was available through Olson in Ohio. It was intended to reflect the "generic" modestly-priced suspension speaker in a home system, as well as your average car speaker.  
The use of a pair of 5x7's or 6x9" is also pretty common from what I understand. Many great singles from the 60's sound awe-inspiring when listened to on a radio or car radio, but sound smewhat less inspiring on a better system. My guess is that they were also mixed down for the lowest common denominator.
6/10/2000 12:57 PM

"For many years, you could usually find a pair of Auratone monitors in many studios."
That's pretty much all they had then and when the Yamaha NS10's came out everyone replaced the Auratones. The NS10's did sound better when compared however they were very harsh in the topend so many people put tissue paper over the tweeters to help cut down on "ear burn" (high frequencies tire out the ears pretty quickly).  
Many engineers have grown so used to NS10's that you they can't use any other moniter, mostly because they know how the NS10's "sound." That's why there are so many NS10's still in studios now.  
6/13/2000 3:17 AM

When I was in school for engineering we had Auratones as well as near field & big high end monitors.. and the head engineer always advised us take a cassette mix out to the car and crank it.. or put it on a boom box. If the mix sounds great both on your "perfect" studio system as well as in the car/etc then you've got it. Sounds so simple, yet can be so hard. :-)  
I spent a good bit of time (as a client) at Watermusic (Hoboken) where we mixed on NS-10's most of the time, and sho'nuff - the tweeters had about 3 layers of tissue on them. Not only to reduce ear fatigue, but according to the engineer we worked with (John Siket; Freedy Johnson, Phish, etc), they liked to send masters out a bit hot on the high end bc the mastering lab would always take some off and they found through trial and error a good balance which would have the mastered tapes coming back "right". Seems silly, but I guess it worked. :-)  
When my friends go to buy home speakers, I always advise them to buy NS-10's since all their favorite albums are mixed on them (and they started life as home speakers anyhow!)
6/7/2000 7:10 PM
Reid Kneeland

"get the "real world" take on the mix."
This is exactly why so much early '60s pop music (like Motown) sounds the way it does. Most of the people listening to it were doing so with cheap lo-fi equipment, and the engineers EQ'd it accordingly. This was a time when good car stereos (or ANY car stereos) hadn't come along yet, "radio" meant AM, and the few "hi fi buffs" who had good gear were more likely to listen to classical or jazz than Martha and the Vandellas.  
6/7/2000 7:56 PM
Mark Hammer

All excellent points.  
These are also reasons why what seems to count as acceptable sound for rock and roll hasn't really changed much, despite all the changes in the technology and what is technically possible. I would still maintain the reason why JoeMeek compressors and all those tube mic pre-amps (intended to "warm up" the sound) exist is because our mental template of what rock is supposed to sound like was imprinted during that era. Indeed, we think rock is SUPPOSED to sound compressed simply because all the formative radio years were AM-based and AM studios are drenched in limiters and compressors. Tape saturation is also as basic to rock as drums, bass and guitar are.  
Ten years from now, if rap is still around, I suspect the timbre won't have changed much from now either, for the same reasons: how people think it is supposed to sound depends on what they heard when it started.
6/12/2000 2:57 PM

Good points, Mark. I think that prejudice has a lot to do with what people consider 'good' sound.  
Also, engineers had decades to learn how to coax the best possible sound from analogue gear. Then along comes digital, and a different approach was called for. Result - clinical sound, not because there's anything intrinsically wrong with digital, but because the analogue techniques and tweaks were no longer appropriate, but were still being used out of habit.
6/12/2000 3:59 PM
Mark Hammer

Yup. Len Feldman (or Julian Hirsch, I always got them confused) made that very same observation when digitally mastered vinyl discs first started coming out in the early 80's.

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