Wired News’ article on the accessibility of sophisticated recording tools, The Incredible Shrinking Studio, gets the Slashdot treatment: The Incredible Shrinking Recording Studio
Working on the go has become standard operating procedure in the music industry. Times have changed: Twenty years ago, a studio was the only place where professional recordings could be made; even five years ago, desktop computers were just starting to get enough horsepower to make great records. Today, a laptop offers plenty of power to make a great-sounding track — and that portability is changing the way music is made.
For instance, guitar hero Steve Vai recorded his Alive in an Ultra World live album on location using an Apple PowerBook and Logic, a multitrack recording program. “Technology changes, and you really have to stay on top of it,” Vai said.
In another sign of the increased prominence of laptops in the recording process, as of this fall, new students at the Berklee College of Music have to buy a PowerBook, a MIDI keyboard controller and a copy of Reason, a popular software synthesis and sampling program.
[...] Bierylo, who also composes scores for movies and television, knows that familiarizing Berklee students with laptops is a crucial part of their education as the technological landscape of the industry changes.
A key point made in the article is done better in this Slashdot comment:
Re:Apples and Oranges (Score:5, Informative)
by dasmegabyte (267018) on Thursday October 02, @12:35PM (#7114589)
(http://www.dasmegabyte.org/ | Last Journal: Tuesday August 20, @12:23PM)
I’d like you to listen sometime to the difference between well mixed computer produced music and poorly mixed, poorly sequenced computer produced music. It is UNCANNY. The former is a seamless creation which allows each instrument to express itself without overpowering the others, while the latter can be quite horrible. Just ask my buddy, whose lack of skill in using Protools lead to the downfall of his studio venture after only three sessions. Not that I mind, I got his effects boxes when he liquidated ;).
It is a fallacy that using better tools eliminates the need for skilled labor. What you’re talking about is nothing more than an advanced form of recording, which artists have been doing since the advent of a four track. “Professional” recording, getting the music into an editor, is only the first step of making a “recording” of a song. The talents that make a great audio recording technician — the ability to turn recorded audio into something that is meaningful when played back by muting overpowering sounds, enhancing important sounds, and seamlessly combining multiple takes — do not appear merely because your soundboard is a digital. It is a skill that has a MASSIVE impact on the end product. Take a listen sometime to an unmixed digital demo and compare it to a studio version of the same song. They won’t sound anything NEAR the same, and the difference can be the killing point of an album. My favorite band, the Screaming Trees, released an album mixed by Chris Cornell that was mixed completely wrong. The songs were better written and performed than those on their commercial “success” Sweet Oblivion, but the grunge dynamics did not play well, and killed the sound for a mass market.
However, the simplicity of LEARNING the new digital tools means that a lot of people who would be very good at old style mixing are getting the chance to hone their skills without going to school for them. That’s the real promise of cheap, uniquitous audio: it allows the amateur to try his hand at musical skills that are otherwise reserved for $100/hour technicians. And perhaps new “bare bones” styles of production will be adopted, resulting in the end of overproduced albums (like last year’s Audioslave disc, check out the “Civillian” demos for some REAL rock & roll).