The current recording gear scene is wrought with misconceptions and lies in the form of marketing hype. Since the final product of their recording session is a digital CD, musicians with little recording experience are under the mistaken impression that recording and mixing in digital is not only appropriate, but required for a professional, clean, or [insert your buzzword here] sounding product. Other musicians, often the same ones who hear an obvious deficiency in the quality of the current CD format, are convinced that the signal must remain analog as long as possible. They are not satisfied unless they see tape rolling during tracking, mixdown, and mastering - everywhere but the CD mastering. Both ideas are extreme and not really based in reality - a good recording can be made with almost any combination of analog and digital technologies. The wise engineer uses the strengths of both in tandem - a practice that has become quite standard in the big leagues of recording, as we will examine in next month's installment. Yes, there are strictly digital studios (though rarely strictly analog studios anymore) in the big leagues. These digital studios may be fine for film, classical, jazz, or country - but I would never choose to record a rock album there, for reasons we shall see. Analog is not necessarily noisy or outdated, and modern digital is not necessarily cold or sterile. Both are tools in the engineer's arsenal capable of rendering different tones, not unlike the different colors in the painter's palette.
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