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Topic ClosedBest sound quality of a 70s prog album?

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 07:30

Karnevil9 wrote:

The great thing about early recording is what the boys used as effects,like what you mentioned Cluster with the cash till effect...All this type of stuff that Floyd were masters at by the way,put no signature on the sound quality at all.Later productions were dosed with effects units & being multi tracked to death,resulting in a very norrow sound stage compared to early recordings..Who gives a stuff about crystal clear CD type sound production...We want natural full width analogue sound as it was intended in those days & sound far superior to me

 

You listern carefully to say ELP's first album on vinyl..you'll notice more space around instruments,drums are more forward,you can heare every nuance in Gregs voice,it's a big sound...Compare this to 'Brain salad surgery' the recording is no where near as good vastly compressed beyond belief...That advancement in recording & multi tracking for you..

Not!

& that was only '73...after all it was a very advanced album for the time.


70's Sound wrote:



I hate to start flame wars, so dont take this offensively but I sort of disagree with what you say. You are absolutely correct, the less width per track results in less space per track and more noise floor per track. On the other hand, plus 4db is +4, aint no way around it. Sure brain salad surgery might sound thinner for the individual tracks, but that's the price you pay for having so many overdubs. I'll take the overdubs because, its still +four and each instrument still has its own space compared to what they are doing now. I usually prefer late 70's efforts, because the snare usually sounds a lot weirder, and the bass tones by the late 70's seemed almost "modern" due to natural technical progression, but still very primitive sounding , so that I like.

Relayer is the same exact way.My mother bought me the re-released one, that has an original 1974 studio run through. You will instantly notice that the drums are louder, and the bass is clearer and guitar is easier to hear compared to the actual mastered version. My mom said the same thing, that she preferred the "run through" version because things sound more "full and garage-like" in her own words, and true it does, but there are less instruments in the mix. The stereo buss wouldn't allow Yes to keep that same volume on drums with all those reverb sends and synth overdubs, along with mellotrons/orchestrons and all sorts of other crazy stuff going on. So when you hear the mastered version, the drums are lower and so is the bass, but this is how it has to be. Its absolutely worth it.

these days they are cutting CD's so much louder than vinyl, so much more that the lathe probably wouldnt even cut the record/vinyl and if it did, the record would probably start to catch fire or melt because 0 db fullscale is just absolutely silly. With these new advantages you'd think that things would sound better, but they don't. Its all about the tubes man.

EVERYTHING was build better in the 60s and 70s. They couldnt help it. It doesnt matter how sophisticated your medium is, running your bass directly into a console is going to yield marginal results. These days, for some reason, even if people do use 1176 tube compressors and all those exotic pre- amps, it still comes across as "bland" sounding. Not everything in the signal chain is 70s these days, which is a BIG problem for me. Unfortunately, I never got to see the 70s (and I really do mean that crying face)

If you buy a fener jazz bass from 1975, it will sound better than a fender jazz bass from 2005. There is a very real reason why, and it has to do with the wood being of higher quality, and that was before all the good 1000+ year old trees were taken (ever notice that maple on those 70s basses is much more yellow than now??). Everything was just flat out higher in quality, and people wanted to move on for whatever silly ass reason. Digital is STILL an immature technology in my eyes, and just recently learning about the only Tape manufacturer Quantegy being shut down made me want to kill someone. Im not a violent person, but I will smash a computer loaded with "PRO" tools if I have to. Recordings these days just flat out suck, and its so sad to know that new yes albums sound worse than OLD yes albums. Whats going on here folks? nobody cares anymore.

                                     

so that's were my twin ended up in the U.S!

I ain't gonna make no enemy from you...Your so right.

I started building a 70's analogue studio some time back but never got finished,most of my gears boxed up after a recent move...Trying to fully kit out a studio '70's styli did as you point out get a bit complicated buying good outboard analogue outboard gear.

I also have a problem with Japanese products too but that's another story..

I totally detest anything digital.It sucks & always will.It's a medium of convenience both for the user & production team..

Completely destroys old & new music out right.

 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 07:53
"I totally detest anything digital.It sucks & always will.It's a medium of convenience both for the user & production team.."

"Completely destroys old & new music out right."

i totally agree with you
that's why i put my cd on k7 to soften the numeric's harshness

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 08:27

Great thread 70s!

I'm fascinated by recording techniques etc (the musician in me) but after 20 years of playing (but never enough time in studios) i'm still in the dark about a lot of things.

However, Id nominated a few records

I think Eddie Offord did amazing things with Yes - check out the quality of the 12 string acoustic guitar at the beginning of And You & I - it has a wonderful bright but natural tone and when Wakeman's mini-moog (I think) drops in it has a fantastic 'liquid' bounce as it pans across the soundstage. The care and attention lavished on something like the mid-section of 'Heart of the Sunrise' is also remarkable, the effects are beautifully presented and the pianos have a great ethereal 'other worldlyness' that just gets me every time. In fact, I think the production on the Yes Album, Fragile and Close to the Edge are about as good as prog production gets - natural, fluid, bouncy, lively and involving with great clarity to all the instruments.

Dark Side is an obvious choice - just listen to roto-toms on 'Time' or how controlled the piano is on 'Us and Them'

But I'd also like to put a spoke in for 'Animals' - which has a very definite, very considered overall 'sound ethic' - it's spectacularly brittle, the synths are harsh and unrelenting, Gilmour's tones are tough and mixed very 'front of house' and the vocals are beautifully recorded, doesn't appear to be huge amounts of reverb - everything seems to be eq'd simply to be sharp and full yet the whole thing has a wonderful sparseness, the separations are great.

Also I've been listening to 'Permanent Waves' a lot the last couple of days - stunning production - Alex's guitar tone on 'Different Strings' is amazing and superbly recorded. Likewise the drums throughout the album have a fantastic dry quality to them. I adore this kind of 70s drum sound. Not too much reverb, but incredibly punchy and controlled. Is it down to the compressors?

'Natural Science' too has some amazing moments. Listen to those first electric guitar parts - this sound, compressed, with a little chorus I think, maybe even DI'd sounds amazing and is a key sound for that period (79-81). You hear it on a lot of records - I'm particularly thinking of a rather obscure single 'Echo Beach' by Martha and the Muffins - great tone.

Geddy's vocal is really well recorded here too. I think it's double tracked with a little phase or something similar attached to the second track, sounds great, with a very gentle reverb, beautifully placed in the mix. Top notch.

As for the bad - I have to go with some of Genesis' early stuff - just sounds awful, dead basses, lost in the mix, drums like box-tops, cymbals like hubcaps, the keyboards messy and ill-defined in a lot of places, the vocals dipping in and out of the mix with alarming swoops. Just awful

We've had a thread on their awfulness somewhere else, with a lot of stuff about the mastering etc. interesting.

Keep going....

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 09:33
Originally posted by arcer arcer wrote:


I think Eddie Offord did amazing things with Yes - check out the quality of the 12 string acoustic guitar at the beginning of And You & I - it has a wonderful bright but natural tone and when Wakeman's mini-moog (I think) drops in it has a fantastic 'liquid' bounce as it pans across the soundstage.

Dark Side is an obvious choice - just listen to roto-toms on 'Time' or how controlled the piano is on 'Us and Them'


I agree with everything stated,

Originally posted by arcer arcer wrote:

But I'd also like to put a spoke in for 'Animals' - which has a very definite, very considered overall 'sound ethic' - it's spectacularly brittle, the synths are harsh and unrelenting, Gilmour's tones are tough and mixed very 'front of house' and the vocals are beautifully recorded, doesn't appear to be huge amounts of reverb - everything seems to be eq'd simply to be sharp and full yet the whole thing has a wonderful sparseness, the separations are great.

They can get away with having everything so dry, because everything is initially tracked soooo frickin well! Good old discrete recording consoles........they dont make em liek they used to.

Originally posted by arcer arcer wrote:

Also I've been listening to 'Permanent Waves' a lot the last couple of days - stunning production - Alex's guitar tone on 'Different Strings' is amazing and superbly recorded. Likewise the drums throughout the album have a fantastic dry quality to them. I adore this kind of 70s drum sound. Not too much reverb, but incredibly punchy and controlled. Is it down to the compressors?

First, it could be a lot of things, a lot of important desicions made by the engineers, or neil just bitching and moaning till he gets his way! What happened here is a natural phenomena called tape compression, I believe.

I'll take those aweful genesis recordings over a great new one. But thats just preference




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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 09:36
by the way, you want to talk about awful analog recordings?

Okay, heres one I made 1 year ago when I was 17. I play everything, but my friend Jack plays bass. I wrote it. I recorded it on an 80-8, and mixed it down to a Pioneer HR-100 8-track cart, which was moded by yours truly to record at 10 IPS! Very simple mod, but the sound quality leaves much to be desired, as does the song ! Id like to say my more recent efforts are more, resolute.
http://webzoom.freewebs.com/octavecat/NotToday.mp3

Have fun!

best
John
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 12:27
I like the sound and production on Relayer the best. Especially the drumming on Sound Chaser--the sound of the tom-toms and the jungle noises. Very real and eerie.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 12:50
Originally posted by 70sSoundquality 70sSoundquality wrote:

by the way, you want to talk about awful analog recordings?

Okay, heres one I made 1 year ago when I was 17. I play everything, but
my friend Jack plays bass. I wrote it. I recorded it on an 80-8, and
mixed it down to a Pioneer HR-100 8-track cart, which was moded by
yours truly to record at 10 IPS! Very simple mod, but the sound quality
leaves much to be desired, as does the song ! Id like to say my more
recent efforts are more, resolute.
<font face="Tahoma, Verdana, Arial">http://webzoom.freewebs.com/octavecat/NotToday.mp3

Have fun!

best
John



not bad
it sounds 70's like!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 13:32

 

 

As far as Dark Side and BSS I am not positively sure but were they not recorded to mixed down to 4 channel "quad" before they became stereo mixes?  I remember hearing the quad versions of these first and after I had a hard time accepting the stereo mix as two thin and muddy at the same time.

 On some tracks I agree about anti digital but having just heard the first two Kansas album remixes i have to say the digital re mix did a wonderful job on both.  The first Kansas album was produced by Wally Gold a late 60's hit producer. Not the guy I am sure the band would have chosen.  He didn't let them, for instance, use their Marshall heads in the recording and forced them to use small fender studio amps which really put a damper on the guitar sound.  Until the remix the bass and drums just got lost in each other.  Now you can hear Dave Hopes great bass lines clearly for the first time.  You really have to hand it to the producer of the remix, Jeff Glixman, because the original master tape was wiped clean by Kirshner for reuse on another group.  How hea was able to clean it up as well as he did was amazing.  Song For America using the master tapes was even more stunning.  I thinkl a another great exapmple of digital cleanup was some demo tapes Kerry Livgren kept of the second Kansas lineup (There were three).  Mostly live recordings of the band for the most part but when he remastered them for a CD release through Cuniform records (Early Recordings From Kansas) he did an amazing job. No they don't sound studio produced but the clean up for the ones that were orginally posted is stunning.

 

 

 



"What are you going to do when that damn thing rusts?"
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 13:39

happy the man - crafty hands and the first one!

camel - i can see your house from here

a special mention to Gentle Giant - Interview!

 

 

the all-time best recorded prog album:

Saga - Heads or tales

Honorable mentions:

1 Rush - Power windows

2 Marillion - Fugazi

3 Yes - 90125

[HEADPINS - LINE OF FIRE: THE RECORD HAVING THE MOST POWERFUL GUITAR SOUND IN THE WHOLE HISTORY OF MUSIC!>
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2005 at 23:59

My picks are from the Italian prog arena:

Metamorfosi's Inferno is about the most poorly-recorded 70s album I've ever heard. Everything is distorted and compressed to hell, and poorly mixed on top of that. I do love listening to it, though...the rich nasty bassy mess really kicks you nicely in the balls sometimes.

On the other hand, PFM's "Per Un Amico" may be the best-sounding 70s album I've heard. Plenty of warmth, detail, clarity and punch; not as satisfyingly groin-smashing in the saturation department, but that's not what PFM was about, anyway.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 26 2005 at 00:25

Not the only one but the sound of Tales of Mystery and Imagination is absolutely perfect. The mixture of sound effects with Orchestra in The fall of the House of Usher is absolutely beyond their time and the technical advances available in the mid 70's.

I listened a lot of sound effects that interfere with the music creating a chaotic effect, but Parsons graduates the volume so carefully that helps to enhance the atmosphere and blends with the orchestra arrangements by Andrew Powell.

Iván

            
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 26 2005 at 11:58

Pulsar - "Halloween" -- great 3D sound

 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 26 2005 at 12:06
Originally posted by 70sSoundquality 70sSoundquality wrote:

Originally posted by Karnevil9 Karnevil9 wrote:

The great thing about early recording is what the boys used as effects,like what you mentioned Cluster with the cash till effect...All this type of stuff that Floyd were masters at by the way,put no signature on the sound quality at all.Later productions were dosed with effects units & being multi tracked to death,resulting in a very norrow sound stage compared to early recordings..Who gives a stuff about crystal clear CD type sound production...We want natural full width analogue sound as it was intended in those days & sound far superior to me

 

You listern carefully to say ELP's first album on vinyl..you'll notice more space around instruments,drums are more forward,you can heare every nuance in Gregs voice,it's a big sound...Compare this to 'Brain salad surgery' the recording is no where near as good vastly compressed beyond belief...That advancement in recording & multi tracking for you..

Not!

& that was only '73...after all it was a very advanced album for the time.




I hate to start flame wars, so dont take this offensively but I sort of disagree with what you say. You are absolutely correct, the less width per track results in less space per track and more noise floor per track. On the other hand, plus 4db is +4, aint no way around it. Sure brain salad surgery might sound thinner for the individual tracks, but that's the price you pay for having so many overdubs. I'll take the overdubs because, its still +four and each instrument still has its own space compared to what they are doing now. I usually prefer late 70's efforts, because the snare usually sounds a lot weirder, and the bass tones by the late 70's seemed almost "modern" due to natural technical progression, but still very primitive sounding , so that I like.

Relayer is the same exact way.My mother bought me the re-released one, that has an original 1974 studio run through. You will instantly notice that the drums are louder, and the bass is clearer and guitar is easier to hear compared to the actual mastered version. My mom said the same thing, that she preferred the "run through" version because things sound more "full and garage-like" in her own words, and true it does, but there are less instruments in the mix. The stereo buss wouldn't allow Yes to keep that same volume on drums with all those reverb sends and synth overdubs, along with mellotrons/orchestrons and all sorts of other crazy stuff going on. So when you hear the mastered version, the drums are lower and so is the bass, but this is how it has to be. Its absolutely worth it.

these days they are cutting CD's so much louder than vinyl, so much more that the lathe probably wouldnt even cut the record/vinyl and if it did, the record would probably start to catch fire or melt because 0 db fullscale is just absolutely silly. With these new advantages you'd think that things would sound better, but they don't. Its all about the tubes man.

EVERYTHING was build better in the 60s and 70s. They couldnt help it. It doesnt matter how sophisticated your medium is, running your bass directly into a console is going to yield marginal results. These days, for some reason, even if people do use 1176 tube compressors and all those exotic pre- amps, it still comes across as "bland" sounding. Not everything in the signal chain is 70s these days, which is a BIG problem for me. Unfortunately, I never got to see the 70s (and I really do mean that crying face)

If you buy a fener jazz bass from 1975, it will sound better than a fender jazz bass from 2005. There is a very real reason why, and it has to do with the wood being of higher quality, and that was before all the good 1000+ year old trees were taken (ever notice that maple on those 70s basses is much more yellow than now??). Everything was just flat out higher in quality, and people wanted to move on for whatever silly ass reason. Digital is STILL an immature technology in my eyes, and just recently learning about the only Tape manufacturer Quantegy being shut down made me want to kill someone. Im not a violent person, but I will smash a computer loaded with "PRO" tools if I have to. Recordings these days just flat out suck, and its so sad to know that new yes albums sound worse than OLD yes albums. Whats going on here folks? nobody cares anymore.

 

I agree with one thing not. The Fenders and Gibson guitars in 70s were in the worse era and have overall worst reputation. Both brands were owned by big corporations (CBS and Norlin) and the quality went downhill from late 60s. The best Fender and Gibson guitars are from 50s and 60s and now from Custom Shop. I had some 70s Fenders, and overall some were really far worse than nowadays reissues. (they were heavy, dead sounding with thick finishes, bad neck pockets etc.) Their only advantages are the price: for example 1977 Stratocaster is available for 1200$. 1967 Strat in good condition for 5000$, 1957 for 25000$. With Gibsons it is the same.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 26 2005 at 13:07
I was never that bothered in the production etc.

What I liked was the witty things scratched into the lead-out space.

I always looked for them.


Edited by plodder
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 26 2005 at 13:24
Best sound quality to me is  'In a glass house' By  Gentle Giant.

Followed by Hemispheres

Thing is it's hard for me to decide because I can't listen to most modern music as the production is sickening. As someone previously mentioned, The thinness/Sparsness of the recordings add alot, It allows the music to breath.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 26 2005 at 13:26
Listening to GG's The Power And The Glory right now for the first time and it seems like an excellent sound for 1974, especially the drums. That's usually the biggest thing that drags down the production quality of old albums---when you can barely hear the snare & cymbals, not to mention the bass drum giving a feeble thump. Just imagine how much better some old GG & Genesis albums would sound with clear, dynamic drum sounds (not the 80's gated snare sound; blech I hate that!). Larks' Tongues and Red have remarkable drum sounds for their time too;  listen to "One More Red Nightmare" at full volume and bask in air-drum heaven.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 26 2005 at 14:48
Originally posted by richardh richardh wrote:

BEST

Pink Floyd - Animals


Isn't that one of the worst Pink Floyd recordings since it was produced at their newly built Britannia Row Studios? I know it doesn't compare to their Abbey Road recordings.

Anyway, Dark Side was the recording used to measure production value on many other recordings until the digital revolution. The Wall is also a perfect recording. I've enjoyed Selling England By The Pound as well.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 26 2005 at 16:32

UK - 1978

Alan Parsons Project - Tales Of Mystery And Imagination - 1976 (these first two sound like they came from the 80's instead of the 70's. Way ahead of their times!)

Rush - A Farewell To Kings - 1977

ELP - Brain Salad Surgery - 1973

King Crimson - Larks' Tongues In Aspic - 1973

Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon - 1973

Pink Floyd - Animals - 1977

 

"Rock is the medium of our generation." - Yes - "Release, Release"
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 28 2005 at 04:56
I agree with one thing not. The Fenders and Gibson guitars in 70s were in the worse era and have overall worst reputation. Both brands were owned by big corporations (CBS and Norlin) and the quality went downhill from late 60s. The best Fender and Gibson guitars are from 50s and 60s and now from Custom Shop. I had some 70s Fenders, and overall some were really far worse than nowadays reissues. (they were heavy, dead sounding with thick finishes, bad neck pockets etc.) Their only advantages are the price: for example 1977 Stratocaster is available for 1200$. 1967 Strat in good condition for 5000$, 1957 for 25000$. With Gibsons it is the same.


Ive heard this argument before, and one thing you cant do is believe reputation. It comes from many people who have closed minds usually and, typically, people who associate themselves with modern music arent necesarrily vouching for the older instruments. The argument that the quality went down after the late 60s is a complete lie, not to call you a liar, but the fact is the worse strats were actually built right after CBS purchased the company (1965).

Speaking from experience much like yourself, I can attest that the older ones are far better for me.
First of all, I've played a 1972 (? not sure on RI date) reissue Jazz bass, from the custom shop. I have an actual 1978  jazz bass along with a 1974 jazz bass fitted with a 1972  p bass neck. Comparing my original 70's basses to that re-issue was pretty much a joke. The thud, the balls, and guts were clearly missing.

I also keep a 1972 Gibson Les paul deluxe along with a 1973 EB-3 gibson bass, and comparing them to the new ones is just wrong.

to each its own!

best,
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 28 2005 at 05:03
Originally posted by Yams Yams wrote:

Originally posted by richardh richardh wrote:

BEST

Pink Floyd - Animals


Isn't that one of the worst Pink Floyd recordings since it was produced at their newly built Britannia Row Studios? I know it doesn't compare to their Abbey Road recordings.

Anyway, Dark Side was the recording used to measure production value on many other recordings until the digital revolution. The Wall is also a perfect recording. I've enjoyed Selling England By The Pound as well.


Let yer ears decide!

Saying it could be the worst "since it was produced at their newly built Britannia Row studios" is like saying Relayer is the worst Yes album, since it was only recorded in Chris Squire's garage. The gear is good, regardless of how immature the studio is. They had money for the best equipment, and the best engineers. Animals is clearly a winner...maybe note as spacey as dark side, but FAR superior in fidelity and noise floor.

Listen to the quiet parts in Sheep...let your ears decide....but really listen. Those are real instruments, sometimes sounding like the equivalent of a cartoon drawing to a photograph. Absolutely mind blowing stuff
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