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THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE BUTTON CLICKER...

Have made progress, of a sort, with my new software-based recording system, though its more intimate mysteries remain profoundly mind boggling.


Managed to record a 5 minute instrumental track but I'm now struggling to understand quite how to apply various effects and compression to the individual parts of the piece. I obviously haven't grasped the quick overview that my pal John Spence gave me on these procedures when he was over here the other day. Just too much to take in, I'm afraid.


I've looked on line at various 'tutorials' but they skip over the fundamentals at such a speed that it's almost impossible to take in. Why can't these people slow down a bit and go over each step in a more patient and explanatory fashion? There's too much presumption that we beginners know far more than we actually do...


The screen is filled with little tiny symbols that select different functions which also, in turn, have several menu pages and options. The terminology is sometimes alien and doesn't appear to relate to the task in hand. It seems to emanate from a computer mind and not a musician's natural way of thinking.


My old Mackie mixing desk presented me with a much more logical, simple and intuitive way of working. I could select a track/channel and everything I needed to adjust or mix that channel was immediately there on the screen with no need to select various menu pages. EQ, Compression, gates, effects sends, etc, were displayed at once in a graphic manner on the track page, all at the same time. Making adjustments and changes was quick and easy...and ultimately helpful.


Now, the complexities of endless mouse clicks and menu pages seems to overcomplicate matters. It will take quite some time for this to become less problematic and I'm sure things will speed up and feel less convoluted in time, but right now I'm wishing that Mackie had kept the old D8B mixing desk up to date instead of relegating it to obsolescence.


Sound-wise, I perceive a slightly discernible difference, even though the old Mackie system was also digital. The Cubase software seems to impart a somewhat more artificial, or 'plasticy' feel to the sound. Hard to describe, but perhaps a little less three dimensional, a flatter quality.


This is all completely subjective of course and I'm sure that those musicians who grew up with digital recording would never notice anything amiss. For me, however, I remember those days when I recorded at Abbey Road and the entire recording process seemed more organic, natural and immediate. If today's technology could replicate the ease with which those old systems empowered the musician, I'd be much more enthusiastic about using them.


Oh, well, I'll struggle on in the hope that several pennies will drop and what seems needlessly complicated today may feel less so tomorrow...





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© Bill Nelson 2020

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