Sunday, December 10, 2017

Bye Fidelity

I sometimes listen to 1260 AM out here in L.A. For years it played classical music, a rarity among commercial stations.  Recently, it switched to rock oldies from the 50s and 60s (also getting rarer).

Maybe it's just my imagination, or maybe it's nostalgia, but I think oldies sound better on AM.  The basic sound works.  Songs were mixed then--in an age before FM took over--to come across on top 40 stations. Allegedly, Barry Gordy at Motown would listen to singles on a car radio before he'd release them.

So, if you're cruising and want an old-fashioned sonic experience, check out AM.  Keep turning till you get past all the talk and find some music.  Then you'll see. Or hear.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Phil Spector preferred mono. John Lennon claimed that the mono version of "Revolution" was brilliant, but the stereo version was crap.

I think there's a certain value to this, but for the most part I disagree. I'm not only interested in the final mix of a song -- I am also interested in what the bass guitar is playing, and what the drummer is doing, and so on. That's why I feel cheated when musicians double-track. "Achilles' Last Stand" is a great piece, but in the guitar "solo" Jimmy Page overlays a total of seventeen guitar tracks. That's not rock and roll to me. It's the difference between early ELO (a seven-member prog-rock band with a violin and two cellos) and later ELO (Jeff Lynne creating a mix of arbitrary numbers of musicians and a backing orchestra, with himself singing backing vocals to his own lead).

That being said, I do agree that the mix levels have to be calibrated for a specific target, and if that target is a little car radio, it won't sound right on a giant hi-fi stereo. Vinyl mixes lost a lot of the highs, dampening the cymbals, so cymbals were mixed loud from the 1960s to the 1980s. When CDs came in, they reproduced the master tape, and suddenly all the cymbals jumped in volume and became very annoying. This was not what the sound engineer intended!

4:36 PM, December 10, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

You may enjoy things besides the final mix of the song, but the effect of the final mix is what the artist is working for. Everything else is your own choice.

9:50 PM, December 10, 2017  

Post a Comment

<< Home

web page hit counter