Life is a Symphony

– Look for the Magic

PS: The picture above is me (a bit younger) and good friend & analogue engineer, Lars Vester Petersen, MantraSound — both in Denmark at the time.

To my brothers and sisters who play music:

After 50 years of performing and sound-engineering I have just one thing to say about digital mixers for live sound: DON’T USE THEM.

Life is analogue and the beautiful sounds we make suffer in clarity and detail when we use digital mixers. The more complex the sound, the more instruments and voices that are in the mix, the more the digital treatment degrade the quality. Today, digital sound is everywhere and we can’t get around having to use it for recordings and web-casting, but when performing live, an analogue instrument & mixer is the superior way to go.

I can explain:

First off, we human beings are more sensitive than we think. While the range of frequencies we hear may go down over the years, the ability to destinguish details in the sound is a different matter. I’m not talking about pitch, but the texture of the sound. It is similar phenomenon when looking at a high and/or low resolution photograph — you may see the same basic colors and shape, but there is something is missing in lo-rez.

What you hear from analogue instruments, mixers and speakers is the actual sound of the instruments and voices. What you get from digital mixer is a description (by a computer using numbers) of the sound from the individual tracks, instantly processed via algorithms into an outgoing set of numbers that are then reassembled back into sound. Good digital mixers measure and calculate sound 48,000 times per second and spit it out the results within milliseconds — and that is impressive, but even if you measured sound a million times per second, there would still be details missing. An analogue mixing environment passes the sounds to you directly. A digital mixer processes the sound 3 times before returning it to you.

Most human beings may not be able point out the difference, but over time most of us simply “feel” better listening to analogue records and performances. Analoge has “soul”, Digital does not.

So this is my pitch to all my fellow singers, players and perfomers who go out and play for people. First: Thank you! Today, more than ever folks need what music has always provided in the world. But if you want to “touch” your listeners, give them the real deal. Use analogue mixers, mikes and instruments as much as possible. Sure, there is room for digital effects, samplers, even voccorders, but under the umbrella of an analogue system.

Analogue, live music heals people.

I invite your comments.