is vintage all we have?

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Looking back to a recent music gear trade show this was exactly my question after reading some tons of disappointing press releases and reports. Replica here, emulation there. Innovation where?

“vintage is getting the motors running” – googlism.com

So, whats still so attractive to just perform another plain copy or is it just the financial crisis to urge a whole industrie to play safe? That would probably imply that vintage gear (emulations) is still the broadest demand by the user. Is that really the case?

Whats on your shopping and wish list 2010, audio gear wise, and why?

Comments

  1. I wrote about this in my Love shout blog already, and I’m here to say, Yes- Vintage is all we have, and all we will ever have.

    It’s the technical limitations and imperfections of old school studios and gear set the standard of the quality of the recorded sounds that we expect to hear on our home-based recordings. For some (myself included) a digital recording, with new/perfect cold and harsh sounding digital plug-ins can’t compare to one completed in an analog studio. Why? Because you simply cannot naturally overdrive and saturate a digital recording without plug-ins specifically made to emulate those sonic qualities.

    That’s right, I’m talking about GRUNGE, and Analog gear makes the audio sound more interesting because it distorts the audio in a pleasing (grungy) way.

    Now I’m not talking about creating plain copies or old gear, but plug-ins written specifically to replicate that warm distorted sound. As a developer if you want to put your own sonic spin on it (as you have successfully done Bootsy) then more power to you!

    So what’s on my 2010 shopping list? Hmmm… something Vintage.😉

    • It’s what we love cause that’s what we’re used to. Teens actually prefer the sound of an mp3 than the sound of a Wav file (and there was actually a poll done on that subject). Why? Because that’s what they grew up listening to. If music had been recorded digitally since the invention of recording, and we’d switch to analog today, every company would be releasing “vintage digitizers”. Our brains were conditioned to accept analog as “reality”. And as with anything else, there’s always strong resistance when something new comes along.
      F**k the vintage stuff! I want new sounds!
      F**k the Voxs and Fenders. F**k the MiniMoogs and B3s. F**k the 909s and 808s. Gimme new!!!!!
      Now if you excuse me, I have to go hunting wild boar with a spear.

      • There’s a reason certain gear is sought after, and it’s not about nostalgia, although it may be for those just following whatever’s the trend.

        Anyone serious about the sound they’re after will naturally choose what sounds best to them, be it digital, analog, or organic for all I care.

        Also apart from physical reasons, its no surprise. that on average gear can sound better than software. It usually takes a -lot- more investment of time and money to build audio equipment, than to pull the same old 1990 public domain dsp algorythims and quickly slap together a synth with a nice gui on a pc and sell it few a few $$$… as evidenced by market filled with 1000’s of plugins that sound the same, in many cases, one as bad as the other.

        Thankfully in the past few years there has been an increase in high quality audio synth and effect plugins that can very well stand their own ground, and dont need to be compared to hardware, or vice versa.

        I’m all for inovation, but at least lets get the -basics- right. As for inovative plugins, there’s a wide selection readibly available.

        An with the tools we already have at our dispositon, ‘vintage’ or ‘new’, we have the potential to create an almost infinant ocean of new and different sounds.

        It’s like some people expect some ‘innovative’ miricle synth/effect/device, that will magically be and sound cooler than anything ‘old’. Oh yeah, and of course it’s the only thing keepong them from making a number one smash hit.

  2. repost/Edit (Website corrected)

    I wrote about this in my Love shout blog already, and I’m here to say, Yes- Vintage is all we have, and all we will ever have.

    It’s the technical limitations and imperfections of old school studios and gear set the standard of the quality of the recorded sounds that we expect to hear on our home-based recordings. For some (myself included) a digital recording, with new/perfect cold and harsh sounding digital plug-ins can’t compare to one completed in an analog studio. Why? Because you simply cannot naturally overdrive and saturate a digital recording without plug-ins specifically made to emulate those sonic qualities.

    That’s right, I’m talking about GRUNGE, and Analog gear makes the audio sound more interesting because it distorts the audio in a pleasing (grungy) way.

    Now I’m not talking about creating plain copies or old gear, but plug-ins written specifically to replicate that warm distorted sound. As a developer if you want to put your own sonic spin on it (as you have successfully done Bootsy) then more power to you!

    So what’s on my 2010 shopping list? Hmmm… something Vintage.😉

  3. People want new/vintage gear emulations in software for the following reasons. A. The original is no longer made or cheaply accessible. B. People have some belief that it will instantly make their job easier, sound quality better and more similar to the feeling and sound of mixing though hardware. While there are vast differences between ITB and OTB mixing, neither will make a person better at what they do.

    I get that and all, but I agree with you, more innovation is needed. But for innovation to take off you need some currently famous, or up and coming producer has to make a hit with it. 🙂

    Sarcastically,

    Matthew Presley

  4. Vintage? What does that mean to me? Coolness, wow-factor, simplicity and effectiveness.
    To list only my good associations with vintage.
    If I take that into the presence and future: I want exactly that. But not in the form of a few replicas. I want that in new stuff that has all that. Sometimes I want a three (or five) knob plugin that just makes things wow, that looks cool, is easy to use (after having learned the tool!) and is effective. And then I don’t give a cent to “vintage”.

  5. Vintage is a way for folks to have a “unique” and “professional” sound without having to learn intense sound-design techniques. Perhaps folks could get more out of of a Spektral Delay than let’s say a Space Echo emulation… but to get something better out of a Spektral Delay that’s not a preset you have to learn quite a bit more than just playing with a couple of knobs. Musicians love simplicity, and vintage gear (as well as their emulations) offer simplicity while at the same time not sounding “common” or “stock”. Its market forces at work. Much like remakes in movies and covers in music, rehashing the past is good business.

  6. I think we have all been “conditioned” into believing that “vintage” is the only way forward. It’s another hype quest i recon. If that was the case, why then do records like the squashed to death “La Vida Loca” and others, that continue to make number 1’s because of their new style & direction? I have never understood why ppl want the old vintage gear and than abuse it to death trying to create a new style of recording, using new techniques and pushing things to the extreme. Doesn’t this kinda defeat the object of “warm, open, big, clean, pure” and all the other vintage-associated attributes that go along with getting “that” sound.

    Dunno but i think along with the over hyped, vintage, i welcome new modern sound design plugs that give a different slant and direction to sound sculpting. I say, out with the old and in with the new!

  7. Until something “New” is invented that adds and excels all the beloved and proven characteristic the OTB gear and mixing provides I’m afraid (not really) vintage will be is the standard. Actually not really vintage so to speak but analog. Without skills (and tools) mixing ITB trying to achieve OTB sound ain’t happening. We have been conditioned to relate to a certain sound (at least on a PRO level). Indies and MP3s has the potential to push us beyond vintage hunger but is going to take creative and talented musicians, producers, engineers and programmers.

  8. There is hope, Bootsy, for the future. For instant, Imageline are releasing some excellent, innovative softsynth plugins.

    http://www.image-line.com/documents/harmless.html

    Subtractive synth based on additive synthesis (meaning extra features you wouldn’t find on a boring ‘vintage’ emulation). It’s proud to be digital.

    http://www.image-line.com/documents/ogun.html

    Basically you can shape white noise into metallic and tonal sounds!

    Sad thing is, both those are PC only. Here are some cross-platform guys.

    http://www.image-line.com/documents/morphine.html

    The most advanced additive synth on the market.

    http://www.image-line.com/documents/drumatrix.html

    Soon and upcoming drum plugin that makes EDM drums based on physical modelling. NO samples (nor 100 gigabyte multisamples), NO static drum sounds unless you want it to be so (each hit is a slight variant from the last), built-in step sequencer. When this goes on sale, I think JMC is going to do an introductory “pay what you think it’s worth” deal (minimum €9/$9).

    Unlike all the other copy-cat companies out there, Imageline is doing something a bit different thank goodness (though they themselves tried one VA synth based on an old synth – Sawer).

    I hope that in the future, physical modelling will become the norm in synthesizers created and sold, that it will become more advanced and realistic and not just used for boring vintage emulations! In Electronic Dance Music, the sounds are starting to evolve away from this Neo*80s funk we’ve been stuck in since about the middle of last decade or so. It was a fun run, but now it’s time to move on.

  9. I think we all want vintage imperfections and organic sound with modern ideas and possibilities, just like you have been doing Bootsy.

    On synths and creative effect processors this could be very arguable though.

    I take the oportunity to ask for a Q knob on the new channel strip, if its still possible. Sometimes when using NastyCS (which i use more often than BootEQ cause of HPF and LPF can be dialed on any freq) i just have to put another plugin behind cause i cant get results with its fixed Q. Sorry for the request of the day…

  10. If you really want to innovate, then come up with audio processing that is not just claiming to be intelligent, but actually appears to have intelligent control (even if the implementation is “stupid”) of the audio using “non-conventional” controls that have never been done before…

    Like a knob for how balanced the momentary crest should be across the spectrum… which is one of the big keys to unlocking good sounding audio.

    Or more exotic controls (at surface value) over things like average “sibilance” (there are algorithms to figure this out), or “stickiness” a sticky several-band compressor that just gels within a certain range of “stickiness” before it allows the audio to get softer(medium)/louder(from fast to look-ahead instant, aka “butter”).

    Not just naming things as exotic, but making them function with MINIMAL controls, based on the input program material, in a way that mostly/always sounds & does what YOU think it should be doing (personally i almost blindly trust your ears and opinions at this point, cos i’ve HEARD your work. daily.)

    It’s this seemingly intelligent program dependency that just plain works right… with very simple meta-controls over the brains… that is one area that needs massive innovation, and very very few are getting it right. Many many more aren’t even trying.

    Something to consider that hasn’t tickled your brain in quite the same angle before, I hope.

    -J

    ( p.s. hopefully you can’t tell i’ve been coding dsp myself for the last 10 years😛 but i’ll admit now to being a processing geek, just in case. )

  11. Interesting readings here …

  12. Shopping list 2010 – mostly vintage / pseudo vintage (i.e. boutique) guitar gear afaics, maybe a really good mic pre and a few mics later in the year.
    What I value about vintage gear and emulations :
    – the simplicity, often resulting in better audio quality than modern do-it-all gizmos
    – believe it or not, the limitation to a small but well chosen feature set channels your creativity a certain way which I enjoy – think MiniMoog.
    Back then the designers actually had to take a stand, choose a limited feature set and make it sound the best they could instead of the current widespread mentality of “we gave you everything and then some, tweak a few hours more and you might find a good sound in there” – give me a Pultec over a monster complex hitech EQ studio any day, except for some surgical jobs maybe.
    – There is a 3rd way however, like Bootsie does so well, and to me that’s the alternative to vintage emus and maybe the best way forward :
    Take the abovementioned nice things about vintage gear, adapt them, combine them in new creative ways and throw in a few modern concepts where they are beneficial – never forgetting the “vintage philosophy” of actually going for a certain meticulously chosen character instead of offering another do-it-all-but-nothing-great device.

    Only my personal subjective 5 ct, ymmv.
    susiwong

    • Well said.

      Simplicity is the key. I spend a lot of time putting my energy into writing, arranging and recording a good performance. When it comes to mixing, I simply do not want to have to spend 6 hours pulling a halfway usable sound out of a modern day Kitchen Sink digital EQ plug..

      Developers need to take note: There needs to be a clarity of purpose, and an understanding that you won’t be able to give everybody what they want. Just find your niche, and do it better than anybody else.

      Like Bootsy.
      😉

  13. funksploitation says:

    Gee I dunno – why do YOU code stuff that seems intended to add a ‘vintage’ vibe to digital recordings, e.g. Ferric?😉

    No school like the old school, that’s why. Because ‘innovation’ is largely a myth, and in most attempts only results in crap, whether with hardware, software, or the music itself.

    • Ferric is a good example of not trying to be vintage at all. It just mimics the dynamic treatments as found in a high quality tape/recorder. There is nothing modelled after some old gear or so …

      • What is your definition of vintage then? To me tape recorder is old gear.
        And the hardware manufacturers are too just mimic dynamic or other treatment of some peace of old gear.

  14. It’s the same with the music I am making. Most new tracks are just remixes or heavaly sampled. Only a few original artists are making original tracks. The reason ofcourse is that it is a lot harder to come up with a new idea then to copy a good old idea.

    I do find the time is exciting cause of the fact anybody with a pc and a good pair of ears can start making music, or start programming dsp app. The revolution has already begun. Ppl like you are showing the way

  15. No its not (all we have). We see the sameness everywhere too bootsy, lack of imagination, Complacency. But we see you mate. And the few innovative developers like you. Dont dispair

    I want instant results. I might slap an ssl comp on the master bus and tweak the threshhold and be done with it.

    Or I might want something specific. Something original. Ill fiddle with Density I or II for a while and usually be rewarded.

    I will save my settings and normally use them again.

    The buyers want those pleasing characteristics associated with “vintage”. Familiarity is the attraction. The sellers want a hook with which to make a sale, I guess.

    We want whatever you come up with. We might not use it but it will be tasty.

    I need new monitors.
    Steve

  16. Corey Scott says:

    I don’t believe that people love analog because it’s what we are used to. I believe it’s because the imperfections in life is what makes it interesting. Like models with a beauty mark. Nirvana’s Man Who Sold the World with the feedback in the second verse. Imperfections is what makes life unexpected and interesting. If you want innovation, then invent a new imperfection. Digital is too predictable and boring.

  17. Why does it matter?
    Why do we believe we need to have constantly new toys?

    One can make music with a very small set of sound sources, old, new, vintage, or “next-generation” (whatever that means). Or one can do broke chasing the horizon of “progress” in the musical equipment.

    Don’t believe the marketing hype. Just make some beautiful music with the instruments you have.

  18. Give me a way to dial in the right amount of Low frequency, so that I can be creative with the sound instead of having to manage the technicalities.

    When I look at the “next generation”, I see tools that allow people to manage these technicalities with greater precision, but with simpler controls.

    If I was a plugin developer.. I’d be looking for ways to give people more GOOD possibilities, as opposed to just possibilities in general. Have a very narrow view of what is quality, and attain it for your users.

    Look at this thread, confusion reigns.

    Get people where they NEED to go, impart your knowledge and experience into the plugins. I think you do this already.. but what new types of problems are people having?

    If digital tools are going to be what you are building, solve the problems inherent with digital WITHOUT imitating analog.

  19. Eytan Mich says:

    Vintage has NOTHING to do to technicalities, innovation or whatever.

    Vintage is just another term for “something that I KNOW of, that HAS BEEN USED and TO A GREAT SUCCESS”

    There were some vintage gears who were pile of $hit (so
    I’ve been told by “vintage” technician).

    In audio – for the broad audience – “Vintage” is another term for : Familiar, reference point, security.

    In audio – for the broad audience – Innovation is another term for : Not familiar, dangerous, could not be referenced – as it is unknown.

    Plain psychology… (read chapter 1 in Dan Ariely’s book “Predictably Irrational”)

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