All about producing and mastering audio for disc, the web and beyond

Monday, March 22, 2010

Warming all round


Pardon me for jumping outside the technical realm for a moment but honestly, I am shaken. Trite as it may sound, we live in trying times. The typical modern person is overburdened and as busy as angry bees. Our country is engaged in an intractable political and military conflict which will burden us for decades. We live with incredible uncertainty in the world of professional music (explain how you can justify year and years of practice on an instrument and a production budget of more than a few thousand dollars in the face of the current electronic-downloading-non-paying marketplace?)....and last....and most we have this little problem known as global warming.

It has always been difficult to justify careers and travails in the arts, in some eras more than others. There’s always been a portion of our culture that deems it indulgent, or irrelevant…not an ‘essential’ part of human life. Some think of art as the land of the bourgeoisie. I find those arguments are easily countered with assertions about the things that make life worth is right on top of my list. But it is challenging to hold onto the importance of works of art given the ever increasing gravity of issues such as global warming. Recording technology and practice is related to our environmental crisis. It requires technology and not only that but it requires almost constant consumption of the newest technology in order for us to remain current in our studios.

So we need computers, cables, electricity and, yup, fossil fuels to do our work. Slowly the question formed in my mind, if one wanted to do production work in the most environmentally conscious way(s), what would you, COULD you do? Then here’s the beginning of my list, in no particular order or priority, efficiency, or importance: (these are musings, not imperatives, directives, orders, judgments....intended as food for thought)

1. Get involved in music with a conscience, about issues that are engaged in trying to effect some kind of social change....offer a discount to those recording ‘green’ music, whatever that might be. Acoustic music? Environmentally-topical?
2. Don’t use analog gear....especially not analog tape. That’s right, no tape, it’s backing is made of petroleum in part (guess the ‘warmth’ of analog isn’t as simple as it seems!?). Use digital amplifiers to power your speakers. When they play music amps use more current than anything else in your studio. Digital amps are vastly more efficient.
3. Use LCD screens. They are energy efficient to run.
4. Use the newest CPUS you can afford. They run cooler and generally consume less power.
5. Use flash/solid state memory and hard disks to move files around....using CDR’s and DVDR’s is ultimately going to add to the landfill problems...anyone know how long a CDR takes to bio-degrade? Anyway the plastic coating requires more petroleum.6. Here’s an easy one for most musicians….record at night or on weekends, that is, NOT during peak hours for enegery use. (“yeah babe, got stay out late….I am being green !@@#(*&#$.....I love it”)7. ________________________Fill in the blank.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what else we might do.And why do any of this? I don’t have any illusion that by using one fewer CDR I am going to make a dent in the climate change problem. But apart from the obvious answer that every little bit helps I think we have a larger responsibility. As artists and those that work with artists we are responsible, in part, for the imagination of our culture. Art is sometimes it’s conscience, and sometimes it’s art that inspire the cultures dreamers….and sometimes it’s the culture’s mirror. So if artists are not going to make some noise about these issues….if artists will not take a stand, who will?

I really don’t mean to be heavy handed in this, but I do take it seriously, and I struggle with the meaning of our collective work. Ultimately, hopefully, it’s toward something better for ourselves and those that come after us. Maybe ‘warming up’ your tracks won’t mean the same thing it does now…..

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"We have the loudest record in our collection..."

This comment was music to our ears, from Emmono Grizo, Greek rock band extraordinaire after we worked on their record. How is it the loudest? Cause they can turn it ALL the way up and it still sounds great. No distortion, no hyperlimiting....just ROCK!