Compression: Don’t Quit and Grow Asparagus

Bob Katz Leave a Comment

Don’t grow asparagus, Bob, please! (Some great audio encouragement, in response to a facetious threat I made on a day that I was depressed with the state of the industry, and that I would do better quitting the audio business and grow asparagus)

Date: Wed, 16 Sep 1998 14:41:58 +1000

From: Jodie Sharp

Subject: Don’t grow asparagus!!

Hi Bob,

Greg Simmons here, who STILL hasn’t sent you copies of AudioTechnology Issue #2 with the Chesky story in it. I’m really really sorry about that, we’re finding it very tough financially at the moment here in Australia, and every cent counts, but I will get some copies off to you ASAP. Not very professional of me, I suppose, but that’s how it goes if I want to keep the quality up. Talking of keeping the quality up, this brings me to your ‘depression’.

Bob, I listen to lots of recordings by lots of engineers, pick them apart and so on. I’ve got some really good monitors (a pair of ATC active SCM20s with Super Linear technology). They’re kind of portable, I often use them to demonstrate good recording and sound quality to my sound recording students when I lecture. Guess what recordings I play more than any others in these demonstrations? Older Chesky Recordings which you have engineered and mastered. And they always produce jaw drops from the students (especially when I tell them they’re probably listening to a recording done with a single stereo microphone and perhaps one or two spot mics, no compression, no EQ, nothing). This stuff INSPIRES students. You’re a bit of a legend in my classes! In a nutshell, Bob, you have become my reference for good engineering and mastering. FWIW, I reckon you’re one of the best around.

This compression thing will go it’s own way and find it’s own place, for better or worse. Perhaps you could install a ‘radio station simulator’ in your studio, something that emulates the type of compression broadcasters use, so you can say “THIS is how it will sound when played on the radio”.

But whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep fighting the good fight, and keep publishing your insightful and educational ‘papers’ on your website and in magazines. Oh, and please cheer up.

– Greg Simmons

Editor, AudioTechnology magazine

BTW, if you DO decide to grow asparagus, put me on the mailing list. I’m sure they’ll be the best asparagus I’ve ever tasted. But you’ll be wasting an awful lot of audio talent in the process, and that would be a shame.

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