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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 2, 2010


Boston Globe, Medford MA - Tucked away in the basement of an unassuming house here is one of the world's few remaining all-analog commercial recording studios. The equipment in Alex Garcia-Rivera's studio is all vintage - from the late 1960s through mid-'70s, a period considered the golden age of recording.

In today's musical climate, where heavily produced pop songs dominate the charts and airwaves, the back-to-basics analog experience can be a welcomed change for musicians looking to capture a classic sound. Because Garcia-Rivera buys all of his equipment used and fixes it himself, he's been able to acquire a large amount of gear on the cheap, which allows him to charge lower hourly rates, something musicians can appreciate in a tough economy.

Unlike most modern studios, which rely heavily on computers, automated mixing consoles, and other high tech devices, Mystic Valley Studios runs exclusively on vintage equipment to replicate the sounds and feel of classic studios like Motown Records' Hitsville USA or Regent Sound Studio in London, which was frequented by both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

While running a studio powered by 40-year-old equipment requires more work and upkeep than a digital one, Garcia-Rivera says, the quality of analog recordings makes everything worth it.

"The main appeal of digital is it's quick and easy to edit, but recording on analog tape just sounds better than digital, and I don't think there's many engineers out there who would argue that,'' he said. "But for a lot of people the faster editing capabilities of digital tend to outweigh the fact that the recordings themselves lack the character of an analog session.''



Blogger m said...

Taste in audio reproduction is more than subjective.

There are those who maintain that the old wax cylinders provide the best of all possible recordings. I can not disagree with them that their pleasure is their pleasure. I can only state that it is not mine.

January 3, 2010 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Boffin said...

Music changed forever about five years ago when inexpensive computers became faster than the ear. Nowadays digital processing is superior in every objective way, such as noise, linearity, and lossless reproduction. Pace audiophiles!

The only remaining important piece of analog equipment is the microphone, due to near-field effects and complex feedback with the voice. And even that may disappear with the advent of semiconductor sensors which can pick up sound velocity at the same time as pressure.

I don't doubt there's a psychological effect of the equipment: the glowing tubes, mahogany cabinets, and so on. The best bet for this old-fashioned studio would be to build ultra-linear low-noise digital equipment into the old boxes, and generate the hum, distortion, and flutter in software. Of course, that may be what they did!

January 5, 2010 2:13 PM  
Anonymous wii Sensorleiste said...

All voices are completely synthesized using digital algorithms that model the operation of analog circuitry within a drum machine so they sound authentic and are easily tweaked using the controls.

January 7, 2010 1:58 AM  

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