Music: Downward Spiral – NIN
Adam asks what HD is. HD stands for High Definition. My ProTools rig is HD and can record up to 24bit/192,000Hz. However, regular CDs are only 16bit/44,100Hz.
I recorded every album starting with christmas + santa fe and ending with The Santa Fe Sessions at 24bit/48,000Hz and then dithered and converted the music down to CD quality. I always found it very depressing to convert stuff down for the CD… I also found that I preferred to hear exactly what the music would sound like on the final product, i.e. at 16bit/44,100Hz. Therefore I recorded La Semana and the upcoming 1001 Christmas Nights (2005) at 16/44.1KHz.
My philosophie is that I should compose and record for the medium that is sold to the public. In other words, I won’t turn a color movie into a black & white movie or vice versa. Of course the downside of this is that I won’t be able to sell the same product again via a better medium – how many re-issues of Pink Floyd does everyone have now? The original vinyl, the first CDs, then a re-mastered CD, then SACD etc. etc.
Anyway, the sound has a huge influence on how I work. You play better on a guitar that sounds great, enjoying every note you play, right? Same thing. If they find a great medium that is widely used, I will enjoy writing music for that medium. I find that converting music to Surround Sound, like we did for the Wide-eyed + Dreaming DVD is OK, but I would rather compose especially for 5.1 Surround Sound – much more fun.
Another issue for me is the amount of data. At 24/48KHz you are using more data than recording at 16/44.1KHz and at 24/192KHz you are using four times more data than at 24/48KHz! All that data needs to get managed. To record at 24/192KHz you have to use a seperate drive for every 8 tracks, which means if you use 32 tracks for your song, you are running 4 drives with 8 tracks a piece. No big deal, right? Drives are cheap, etc…. Yeah, but all of that has to be backed up, the drives have to be defragmented – if you believe in that, and you have to run diagnostic software from time to time. And all of that takes time! In a big studio that is no problem. You have a guy who comes in and does nothing but back up drives on tape or DVD, service the drives, and generally makes sure everything is in good shape.
The whole reason I am enjoying digital recording is because I can do it by myself. The technology frees me. If I were to record HD, I would become a slave to managing data, rather than concentrating on the music – and for what, to get really, really depressed when I convert the beautiful sound of 24/192KHz to the nasty CD sound? No way, I’d rather stick with 16/44.1KHz for now.
PS: Here is an interesting article on bits versus frequency and the author concludes that the sampling rate is more important than the bit rate. However, a higher bit-rate is important to get more head-room, i.e. for music that has more dynamic range. Jazz for example. Jon records everything at the 24 bit-rate.