Ron’s Blog... Rants and raves...
Web site progress over 15 years....
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Music Technology...
I’ts 15 years since my original humble promotional site went live. So much has happened in that time. There have been so many changes to the music world , some amazing, some good, some OK and  some absolutely dire.

The old dial-up 56Kb/s speed internet that my site was originally aimed at  in 2002 has now, in most UK areas, thanks to fibre optics, given way to fast broadband making data downloading heavily-compressed audio convenient and popular. I rid my site of low data rate squelchy sounding sound clips some time ago. It’s great to have been able to offer high  rate MP3 and  particularly FLAC lossless files for sale for some time.
Music Industry: the good bad and the ugly...
Music technology itself has also changed a lot since 2002. I used to spend hours cutting a splicing tape and twiddling knobs on my synthesisers, always with a recorder ready to go in case I got something good  while it was ‘alive’ or before the synth drifted off  never to return to that exact sound. When digital came along instruments appeared with ready made preset sounds (perfectly repeatable), first by a few then by hundreds and then by thousands. So  the musician spent much time trawling trough  this huge list auditioning each one only to rarely find that sound that fitted the job in hand perfectly. You  invariably found that most sounds were useless for your purpose  at the time and the best  most versatile  sounds were used by everyone else!  Recent trends have extended that idea much further. Now you can select not just sounds for your master work but whole samples of grooves, riffs, solos, you name it all recorded by top session people in good studios. You can simply assemble them, layer them, and even pitch shift them to suit. This is really great for non-players and solo vocalists say putting a backing track together to sing over. The down side is of course, is it’s all played in someone else’s style  and can easily turn out clinical and shallowly slick. I have to say it’s not often I find  listing to a signer with backing track anywhere near as good as a live band even if the musicianship it not technically as good. Modern software recording also makes it very pretty easy to execute hundreds of edits from many performance takes. This can also produce a really slick often superhuman performance. The  downside is the humanity and emotional continuity can so easily be edited out too.
Recording  has been revolutionised. Much of the exotic bulky recording gear you’d  find in a well equipped studio now  can exist in software form  on a laptop or tablet. It’s often of good quality and maintenance free. The only thing missing might be the less obvious things like good mics &  technique, suitable room acoustics and, you never know,  maybe the skill to know how to use all this well. Back in the day a record deal was the only way most could afford to book a good engineer at a top class studio. You had to convince someone influential you were worth backing  either by live performance or a good basic demo tape. Not easy. It’s all different now. You can, if you wish, bypass this path and upload your songs straight from your laptop to an on-line store and you are in business. The  trouble is, because it’s so easy and convenient, ten million other people are doing exactly the same so you have to do something that will grab the attention and appeal to the masses, which is what big businesses are expert at and have the clout to do. If you have any integrity, you are certainly up against it. Uploading, however, certainly is a very good thing for the music web sites..
Within these years the music industry has been revolutionised by internet & technology progress.  Digital promised and delivered so much.: no more tape hiss, no more crackly records with sound quality greatly limited by the need to keep a needle in contact with the disk at all times and wide dynamic range. Digital downloads free of  media costs promised be cheaper  to buy. The memory in storage devices has risen steadily as it’s got smaller and smaller and smaller  and cheaper....So why is there a current  vogue for vinyl and cassette?  It doesn’t seem to make sense. Maybe some of the following  has some bearing on the situation.....


Music, just by itself ,has continued to wane further into the background  in favour of the modern produced “song”. Music without words or any human vocal presence is well... too often largely regarded  as background stuff. After all the most easily recognisable and understood sound has to be the human voice.
You do however oddly hear music massacred everywhere... stores, hotels, lifts, restaurants, film soundtracks, aeroplanes and even hospitals. Always at low level with any dynamic volume range compressed from it entirely. It’s just barely and often to many annoyingly there. The trouble for me is, I do actually remember  many many years ago when people would sit in front of a nice big pair of decent hi-fi speakers and just listen to music seriously, soaking it up and giving it their full attention. To hear jazz or classical or whatever as near to how you’d hear it in concert was the goal for most hi-fi buffs. Today does anyone still do this? Maybe a few  do but I fear they are getting old and dwindling in numbers. Today not only is there a constant highly annoying reference always to songs on computer applications, but music is dumbed down by big business; exemplified nicely by Apple’s truly horribly named “iTunes” store. Songs are listed by the million from sites like this. Downloaded data of constant volume maxxed out recordings are beamed at young punters to play through mostly cheap earpieces and micro-speakers, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Is this and the peddling of tunes all anybody wants these days? Why these songs were actually once recorded in a top flight recording studio using the state-of-the-art recording equipment costing millions of pounds is hard to understand unless you’re in the business. In production the original pristine recordings are nearly always distorted and stripped of any dynamic range, compressed out by a device called an “audio compressor”, which is now used to make it consistently loud and hopefully louder than the competition.....
This is called the “Loudness War”  click this link for a full revelation! This reading makes, as you can see, pretty gruesome stuff! And you think only new releases are affected? Think again and then after reading my loudness war rant, read this Wikipedia Article. I’m not alone. You can now see that today on anything that says “digitally re-mastered” beware!  Nothing is sacred anymore. The trouble is consistently loud grabs attention and makes money! Big businesses and accountants just love it. The problem is that for many extended listening of this widespread  extreme product is tiring to the ears. It can numb them at high volume levels quite quickly, even result in eventual deafness. I can also sound to many pretty claustrophobic as there is less (or no) breathing space in the music with everything consistently up front  shouting for attention. Yes it’s just the way it is now. It may not be an issue blasted out in a noisy club or music pub where the punters may have other things on their mind than appreciating well recorded music.  Many people don’t even know or care they’re being fed this essentially junk production music. Digital should be really good particularly 24bit as the dynamic range, in theory at least can be 144dB which is enormous. The distortion should also be minute, a far cry from the 3% top-class professional tape recorders used to be lined up to. Maybe these modern junk production techniques  have  something to do with the resurgence of vinyl and cassette which are often claimed to sound better. The dynamic range and frequency range on vinyl is limited by the mechanics of it (often around 50-60dB). It slowly gets worse as the needle speed slows down considerably towards the centre of the record. With  tiny slow speed cassette you are lucky to get this. They are no match for well recorded digital yet increasing numbers prefer these recordings.