Hi-Fi + Lo-Fi + No-Fi = Mid-Fi?

Record Needle Playing LP

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?

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