There is a certain “sound” that I am going for when I am recording.
It is kind of a boxed-in, mid-rangy, squashed-compression sound.
It is not too slick and not too cheap.
There are a couple of example albums where you can hear it;
- Some of Ween‘s albums, especially “Chocolate and Cheese” and “The Mollusk”.
- Some of Primus‘ early albums, especially “Frizzle Fry” and “Sailing The Seas of Cheese”.
- Some of the Butthole Surfers‘ albums, such as “Rembrandt Pussyhorse”, Cream Corn From The Socket of Davis”, “”Locust Abortion Technician”, “Hairway To Steven”, and “Independent Worm Saloon”
I was able to ask Paul Leary (guitarist/producer for the Butthole Surfers) once about how he got that sound.
He said it was because they always used cheap tape recorders.
But, I also know that “Locust Abortion Techician” was recorded at home, when they only had one microphone.
I also know that Primus always recorded Les Claypool’s bass directly from the preamps.
So, I am betting that the Butthole Surfers probably did that a lot, too.
I know that the guitars on “Independent Worm Saloon” were recorded straight from their preamps.
Ween often had shitty microphones like I do.
So, I am betting that they did this as well.
As it turns out, this is used by some big-name producers when they want a tight, uncolored, signal.
Now, I also like Steve Albini’s drum sounds when producing Shellac, The Pixies, Nirvana, etc.
He always got a really good ambient “room sound” when recording drums.
This is ironic, because he began his career by recording a Roland drum machine directly to tape.
I enjoy lo-fi tape noise and distortion, too.
But, I want to have more control over it, having a different color to paint with.
Overall, because I mix different styles together, I would like to have a cohesive sound that somehow ties them all together.
It would be nice to play whatever music that I want and still be recognizable when someone hears my work, y’know?
One thought on “Hi-Fi + Lo-Fi = Mid-Fi?”
[…] I prefer recording electrical instruments directly, via preamps or emulators, and mic-ing up an ambient “room sound” for acoustic tracks. Analog tape is good for getting a saturated compression sound, well-suited to percussion instruments or creating tape noises. Digital is good at getting a cleaner sound. I record the bulk of my material at home. I record demos during the week on cheap re-used cassettes and begin multi-tracking by the weekend. My original plan was to lay basic tracks on tape, bounce them to digital, then either take the tracks to someone else for mixing & mastering (maybe at a higher quality studio with a good engineer) or figure out how to do it myself. […]