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Sound Advice

Recording with “Personality” by Daniel Lanois

“I find that the tape recorder, or the recording device, is almost the link of the chain with the least personality. It’s the link in the chain that gets talked about the most – like ‘Are we going to do it digital? Are we going to do it analog? Should we use dolby SR? Or do we go dolby A? Should we do it at 15, or should we do it at 30? Should we use an Alesis? Should we use Tascam? Should we use the radar system?’ You know, there’s 20 different really great recording devices out there, and they all sound good to me. I did some recording recently on a little 8-track digital TASCAM, and it sounds great. I record on my 24-track with dolby A, at 15 ips, and it sounds amazing.

“So that link in the chain is not nearly as important as all the other links. If you start at the front, the front would be the instrument or the voice – talking about acoustic recording — the instrument or the voice; microphones are next on the chain. If you were to put a Cole’s mic against an AKG 414, the sound difference would be astronomical. You’re going to hear like a 700 percent sound shift. Whereas if you were A-B, the difference between an 8-track digital TASCAM and a 24- rack Studer with dolby A at 15, you might hear a 2% personality shift.

“The kind of harmonica, or how you tune the drum, is real important. The kind of microphone you use and where you place it is real important. I use a Neve 1066 pre-amp. The early ’70s models are really great, with great EQs.

Daniel Lanois in an interview with Nick Krewen (Canadian Musician, July/August 1997)

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