story is a translation of one of my german stories, describing
strange events in the fields of audio technology. Read it
carefully and you will learn how to mix classical vocals,
especially soprano voices (and how to sell professional studio
upon a time, a well known company for studio equipment invented a
great new recording device, which was capable of manipulating and
enhancing the sound of the attached microphones in many
ways. The device consisted of various sections, which could
be adjusted by several knobs and faders. Apart from the
highly linear preamplifier, each channel had a 5-bands
autoadaptive compressor for optimizing the dynamics of the
signal, a 4-bands parametric equalizer to adjust the
fundamental frequency curve and a three-stage softlimiter, to
ommit any distorsion while increasing the loudness.
Furthermore, a versatile dynamic distorter/enhancer could be
plugged into the signal path, acting as an exciter and causing
signals to appear more present and punching. Finally, the device
had an controlled tube stage, for compressing the signal and
adding harmonics simultaneously, in order to create more ambience
and warmth. Doing that, the most current high linear,
non-distorting and chrystal clean condenser microphones, do again
sound similar to non-linear and distorted tube known from early
50tees. With that technique, it was possible to relevate the
"good analog sound" from the old times. All
sections could be switched on seperately - or (to be more precise)
they could be shunned, if one did not need a certain function for
the current mix.
one day a blonde woman, beeing educated in classical soprano,
entered the music store and asked for equipment to record
classical vocals with. The half time sales person, a long haired
guy in old jeans, who mainly does mixes for metal rock bands,
pointed her to the newest large diaphragm microphone and said:
"A great voice does require a big microphone".
Additionally he advised the obove mentioned studio device to her:
"Using that device, you can record and mix nearly everything
possible. it is much more versatile and creates a much more
interesting sound, than the known clean preamplifiers, which are
all boring and sound cold". The blonde singer was satisfied
and went home to explore her new recording equipment.
endless hours of testing, she was a bit unsure how to adjust the
device in particular, since there were so many knobs and
functions. She deciced to call the music store and ask for
help. In describing her needs, she emphasized, that her main
interest was the maintainance of her true vocal sound.
Especially the so called "formants", which are the most
important characteristics and criteria of a good voice, should be
represented as most natural as possible. After some seconds
of thining , the long haired sales guy recommended to make use of
a certain sound maintaince function at all the sections which
might do manipulation to the sound. The function was
implemented to achieve the desired natural vocal sound by the so
called "original formant forcing"
-technique, shorly named "OFF". The blonde,
pressed all the recommended knobs and obtained the most clean and
purest sound ever heard. She was highly confident, did a big
shout on the technical knowledge of the sales guy and the superb
quality of that wonderful studio device.
way, everybody was satisfied up to the end of their days: The long
haired guy continued to earn thousands of dollars by recommending
and selling very expensive studio devices, and went on mixing
"dark death black metal music" , whereby insiders
considered it more likely to be "black dark metal death
music" instead, and that he simply might did not know the
difference. The audio company produced many microcontroller based
studio devices, beeing able to produce Luciano Pararotti's sound
from out of every uneducated hobby singer and also performing a
triple blinking, whenever sounds of a dedicated super hit had been
detected at the input. The blonde herself turned her hair to black
and had an incredible career as an opera singer and whenever one
of her concerts had been recorded, she went down the stage,
searched for the mixing console and recording devices and pressed
all available knobs named "off", to optimize the sound.
to ashes, and clay to clay, if you don't waste your money, your
music dealer may.