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Messages - Paul Vnuk (Ma Ja Le)

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Everything and Nothing / Re: List of words it is not OK to ever say
« on: March 14, 2009, 02:28:24 PM »
Ooohhh lets not get started on politically correct workplace terminology.


In analog terms and in many cases the original vinyl sounds better and most often truer to your memory and the original intent of the release.

However since the advent of digital, the quality of the tools keeps getting better and better.

I will make the blanket statement (based on my own listening tests) that 75% of the CDs pressed between the mid 80's to the mid 90's...SUCK!


Well the answer is two fold, number one in many well documented cases, in order to jump on the bandwagon of digital reissues in new market, substandard safety copies of classic albums were used instead of going back to the original masters for digital release. Second, the digital conversion process back in that time frame was abysmal compared to what we have now, as well as our understanding how to master for it.

However, having said that there is a danger in some of the re-masters which we have now where record companies have taken and re-mastered an album to what passes for taste and expectation of now. Meaning many classic albums have been smashed into a brick wall limiter and mastered for the louder, brighter, bass heavy market which is the current trend.

So it does become a case by case scenario where some remasters rock and some suck.

The Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd Remasters are awesome as they are true to the original releases dynamic volume, while some catalogs like Hendrix, The Police and AC/DC have been squashed, brightened and destroyed. Then this gets fixed and you get a set of remasters often only a few years after the other batch.

IE the middle period AC/DC remasters are superior to the current round.

Back on track here, I have the ENO remasters from a few years ago which had the plastic slip case on them and they are far superior to the initial EG eno releases from a decade ago. I would be very curios to hear if these Japan releases are even better.

In general, many re-issues now are getting pretty good as many artists and engineers alike with enough clout are able to control their catalog and resist the louder is better philosphy.

The current Genesis, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead and CCR reissues are the best that those albums have ever sounded.


Everything and Nothing / Re: Childless couples
« on: March 12, 2009, 01:14:05 PM »
Ok...well my wife and I are in the opposite boat. We have two and found out today number three will be boy number 3 in august and we wouldn't change it for the world!

We are probably not the norm however and many of our friends with children find us a bit odd, only in that we do not necessarily subscribe to the average family paradigm as my wife is an artist and self employed, I am a musician/artist with 3 jobs and we are always on the go, and the kids just adapt to that.

We still go on trips, I do shows out of state and the kids have never been a road block or issue.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: March 11, 2009, 06:24:34 AM »
I have heard that T-Racks 3 has been getting some good reviews.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: March 06, 2009, 10:55:54 AM »
Cool some real heavy weights of mastering such as Bob Ohlson and Bob Katts have weighed in on the discussion on Grearslutz.

Remember gang, "Home Mastering is like home brain surgery and do it your self chiropractic".  ;D Ok not really, but its something to consider.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: March 05, 2009, 11:14:46 AM »
Here is an interesting thread started on this very topic on Gear Slutz FYI


Everything and Nothing / Re: List of words it is not OK to ever say
« on: February 27, 2009, 10:36:13 PM »

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: February 10, 2009, 08:51:29 PM »
you are right, re-mixing is a whole different subject. Mastering is just that, say you have 5 finished mixes for your cd, all mastering does is apply judicious amounts of EQ, Compression and limiting to ensure that each track hangs together as part of a greater whole.

I also agree that when ever possible a person should attend the mastering session because it is their project after all.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: February 06, 2009, 10:49:48 PM »
Actually that is the misconception, a mastering engineer should not have a sound, they should not change the composition of your music. They EQ & Compress, that should in no way alter or harm the integrity of your tracks, it should really just improve fidelity, thats all.

I agree you need to pick a mastering engineer who understands this kind of music. Most of the best sounding albums in our genre were mastered by people other than the composer.

Bob Ohlson is a great example.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: Ambient music and Mastering
« on: February 06, 2009, 07:33:04 PM »
I gotta say in many ways this is a very bizarre discussion. Its like mastering is some right or wrong voodoo. APK hit the nail on the head, Mastering is essentially massaging a collection of tracks into a final release ready product.

It really is that simple...and yet it isn't.

Mastering engineers use specific equipment specialized to this task. The best advice I received from a professional mastering engineer was:

One EQ, One Compressor and one Limiter in that order. You use them all in tandem to achieve the desired sound, some more than others and maybe very little of each. Usually good final mix maybe only a boost or cut of 1.5 to 2 db of a frequency is all that is needed, and most of the time you may be just "tickling" the compressor to control the dynamics a touch.

Mastering should not be used to rescue and save a mix. If its that bad, fix the mix first.

My best advice and one which I am sure will be met with much disagreement, is use an outside mastering engineer whenever you can. A second, specific and specialized set of ears is invaluable to the final presentation of music, even ambient.


I have a late 70's Rhodes MKI and a 1973 Rhodes keybass, both see quite a bit of use in my studio. I will probably be using the keybass live this fall. Korg Wavedrum I guess could also be considered "vintage".


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: R.I.P. - Klaus Wiese
« on: January 28, 2009, 04:48:09 PM »
I knew little of him, other than the his music which Gigi shared with me. It is sad whenever we loose one of our kindred.

My prayers are with his family and friends.


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: AKG C 3000 B
« on: December 28, 2008, 02:03:06 PM »
Just did a search and it looks like they sell for around $300 each, now this is only an opinion, but you can do a lot better in that price range.

Quite frankly any AKGs other than older 414's and the C-535 I would avoid. (Well ok C-12's rock).

In the $300 range, from personal experience I would recommend the Shure KSM-27 (very, very nice mic for the price), the Blue "Blue Bird" which is about as natural and open sounding as you can get in this range. The MXL V-6 is a very under-rated mic with a natural/vintage vibe to it.

There are also other choices from sE, MXL, Audio Technica and ADK (the Hamburg & Vienna) which are all better choices than the AKG C 3000 b


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Where are they now? another edition
« on: December 24, 2008, 08:36:22 PM »
Hey guys...

...yes Ma Ja Le still record together...well at lest we hang out a lot. We have been working on a cd for years now, in fact I can no longer make fun of Mike about Fabrications  ;D

The struggle to finish music is 3 fold for me:

About 5 years ago I decided to make my studio a commercial facility, and while I am about a year behind on my 5 year plan (next year I hope t add a second room to said facility) it has been going well and exceeding my expectations. This is of course a blessing and a curse as between my day job, doing sound design for a major software company and recording bands...I work an average 65 hour work week, which of course leaves little time for doing my own music...I also write monthly articles, interviews and gear reviews for Recording Magazine.

Two: I have a family with 2 children and a 3rd on the way

Three: Chris is in a similar, work and such.

Actually 3 weeks ago a good friend of our got us to pull our rigs out and perform live as a duo for the 1st time in years and it was awesome.

The album we are working on is about 70% done, but the problem is (and James Johnson and Vir Unis will attest), we are kind of like Steely Dan in the studio...perfectionists to a fault. We finish one overdub and suddenly want to re-do that last 3 because now the new one has pushed the sound into a whole new it is hard to ever call anything done  ???

Of course this is when we can find time to be in the same place at the same time.

Also as musicians I play percussion and jazz kit in various Jazz and worship bands and Chris plays guitar in a lot of funk and gospel groups so musically we are always playing.

As as JKN mentioned I am planning on putting together an album of my performance from City Skies last year (my 1st solo gig ever) for Atmoworks soon, or at least hopefully before my performance at City Skies this coming spring... :D

I have also been working with Atmoworks tracking a new band with MJ Dawn for release next year that all involved are pretty excited about (not ambient though).

So, probably more than you guys needed to know, but there it is!

I love and miss doing this kind music, so we will see what the future holds.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Favorite ambient cover art?
« on: December 02, 2008, 10:20:10 PM »
Ok, as to great cover this day Well of Souls may very well be one of my all time favorite covers, which truly compliments and conveys the music.

I also loved the original package for Spirals of Time by Oophoi.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Favorite ambient cover art?
« on: December 02, 2008, 10:17:02 PM »
Ohhh and as to bad cover art. I know that John, Chris and myself were never very happy with the now very dated cover for "Imaginarium", but the label gave us no choice in the matter...

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Favorite ambient cover art?
« on: December 02, 2008, 10:14:37 PM »
Better a few hurt feelings than indefinite mediocrity being allowed to go unchallenged.

Just saw this, great quote Mark!


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: The Black Hole Reverb
« on: November 27, 2008, 09:20:56 AM »
I think that sums it up perfectly Campus!


Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: The Black Hole Reverb
« on: November 26, 2008, 01:45:24 PM »
Well like I mentioned, I am very interrested in the new PCM 96, I have heard great things about it.

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / Re: The Black Hole Reverb
« on: November 26, 2008, 08:52:36 AM »
Ohhh one more I forgot, in the Lexicon MPX series, the original MPX-1 was probably the nicest and most flexible of the bunch. Its verbs still are not PCM quality, but as a multi-fx processor it rocks. Plus they can be had for cheaper than the MPX100's, 500's and so on on e-bay and they are way nicer.


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