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 Alan Parsons on Sound

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Join date : 2009-09-18

PostSubject: Alan Parsons on Sound   Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:20 am

Hi Zonees

Have a look at this interview with Alan Parsons -- comments anyone?

Source: http://www.cepro.com/story/alanparsons.html

Extract: Beatles, Pink Floyd Engineer Alan Parsons Rips Audiophiles

From CEPro:

Do you have any advice for those that would like to develop their professional listening skills to hear things more like audio professionals such as yourself?

(Parsons) The art of listening is the key to any kind of career in this business. My training at EMI/Abbey Road was thorough in how to listen. I learned how to discern minute differences in pieces of equipment, and it helped me to appreciate what I was hearing. As you become experienced on a pro level you become fussier about how things sound and how certain pieces of equipment behave.

You’ve been on record as saying that surround sound offers listeners a much more immersive experience for music. Can you clarify/explain why you feel this way?

Yes, I think it’s surprising that it hasn’t taken off. Back in the 1970s, the science of producing four channels of music for vinyl was very inadequate. Now that we have the technology to do 5.1 surround, I wish there was more interest in using it for music as well as film. Not enough music people are interested in it. Surround is to stereo what stereo was to mono; it makes a huge difference.

What do you think about the market evolution that has seen the CD format losing sales while the vinyl and digital download categories increasing their respective sales?

I’m not sure vinyl is selling beyond audiophile purists, and I’m not really one of them. I’m reasonably happy with the quality of CDs, but I’d really like to see high-resolution downloads become more widely available.

It is encouraging to see people listening to high-resolution audio. Eventually it’s going to be an all-download world … computers dominate our lives these days. We are just going to have to be tolerant of the longer download times. It’s just the way it is.

What is the biggest thing that both electronics dealers and enthusiast consumers should do when setting up home theater/sound systems?

You get what you pay for. But having said that, there are some decent budget surround systems you can buy at Costco or Walmart that really aren’t bad. Everybody has their budget; the hi-fi world will tell you if money is no object you can get better results out of every component - even the surface the amplifier sits on. Pro sound people have different expectations; they are only concerned that a piece of gear works and allows them to do their job. Hi-fi people spend huge amounts of money for tiny improvements, and pro sound guys will say, “I can spend half as much and get the results I need.”

I’m simply not very familiar with the latest domestic hi-fi equipment. I don’t go to hi-fi trade shows and I don’t have sophisticated equipment in the family areas of my house for music, but there are things that make sense like good speakers and a decent amp. But I dare say there would only be a small improvement if I bought a $20,000 amp. I can live with what I have.

I do think in the domestic environment, the people that have sufficient equipment don’t pay enough attention to room acoustics. The pro audio guy will prioritize room acoustics and do the necessary treatments to make the room sound right. The hi-fi world attaches less importance to room acoustics, and prioritizes equipment; they are looking more at brand names and reputation.

You have a DVD box set called the Art & Science of Sound Recording. Why did you decide to make this box set, and does someone need to be an aspiring sound engineer to learn something from this set?

I think anybody who has had a curiosity about what goes on in a recording studio will enjoy it. Anyone that has a vague interest will enjoy it because it is entertaining. We made it more as an educational aid for people in training at colleges for recording technologies. We’ve had a lot of interest from those types of schools, and many are putting it into their curriculum. We can’t ask for more than that.

Some of my contemporaries have said they enjoyed it, and I learned from making it too. The program is based around interviews with other recording professionals and it provides a variety of perspectives.

What do you think is the most misunderstood part of the recording/mixing process that audiophiles don’t understand that you address with the box set?

I think what perhaps critics don’t appreciate is that there is a lot of luck in getting a good sound. It’s not all about the equipment, spectral response and compressing. It’s all about the quality of the musicianship, the songwriting and the sound reaching the microphone … that’s crucial. It’s often been said, “garbage in means garbage out,” so if that’s the case you won’t get a good sound.

Everybody strives to get perfect sound and we work hard to get the best sound we can. A certain artist or song or style of music will sound a certain way. It would be ridiculous for me to make a Jonas Brothers record using the techniques and procedures I normally use. The techniques used to make many modern pop records involve a lot of compression and that’s what those consumers want, according to the labels. A lot of the processing that audiophiles criticize is a style thing and part of the music itself.

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