Because The Process Matters

These days people listen to music in a variety of ways and in a great many different formats. There are over compressed MP3s (probably the most popular),  then “decent quality” wave files, lossless High Definition Audio and even a resurgence of vinyl. To further complicate this, there are a wide range of players and speaker options… little earbuds, computer speakers, cell phones, pods, car stereos or audiophile amplifiers and monitors. I believe all of these ways of listening to music are valid, but I also believe that the poorer the quality of the listening experience, the greater lack of emotional impact the music can have. There are no hard and fast rules here…one person can have their entire life changed by hearing a piece of music on a tinny transistor radio or cell phone, where as another can listen to a High Definition Audio master recording, and only be thinking about what he wants to eat for dinner. When planning the recording of our debut album, we decided to start with the greatest possible audio quality we could access. That way if after the fact people want to make MP3s of it, they will be at least starting with the best possible source, and if they want to listen to our record on their phone, that’s cool too. But if on the contrary, people want to listen to a master quality recording, they will have that choice available as well. I sought out and hired Michael Philip Wojewoda to produce our record, because in addition to his multiple Juno wins as an awesome producer, we see things in the same way, and the process and journey matter as much to him as they do for us. Also, he likes the band a lot. We recorded our album using the best analogue Class A equipment available anywhere in the world. We tracked live off the floor in Studio One of Revolution Recording in Toronto, Canada (think Abbey Road Studios but without the airfare). We tracked using the best of the best Neumann, Telefunken, Beyer, AKG, Sony and Shure Microphones through an unbelievable Rupert Neve console. At this point, different signal paths  were treated to wonderful Fairchild, Universal Audio, Pultec, Urei, Airfield, and more of the most ridiculous outboard gear that has ever been made. From there, we went to 2″ Analogue Tape, hitting that beautifully hot at 370 nano webbers. Our 22 channels were encoded and decoded through DOLBY SR so we got “all the smack of tape with none of the noise”. All takes were then layed back to a Digital Workstation at 24bit 192KHz sampling or about 10 times better quality than CD. You know, with the exception of the uber digital at the end, it occurs to me now that the majority of the equipment we used was 40 or 50 years old. Beyond all this technical mumbo-jumbo, we felt that it was integral that the finished product sound like our band as we play, so we recorded all takes live off the floor including the lead vocals and guitar solos.  We gave ourselves only three days of tracking, because we wanted the songs to be performances. We have done only a handful of overdubs to flesh out harmonies and to feature a few special guests, and because I can’t play dobro or pedal steel or whatever at the same time as I’m playing guitar… but in every case we were starting with a take that had captured the spirit of the song. As I write this, the album is about 75% mixed and our mastering session is a little over a week away. I am very happy with this, our first record, and I really hope you enjoy listening to it, in which ever form you prefer. Matthew Davies December 27, 2013