Capturing a vibe

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Building a recording studio like we are with Octave Records is a very different discipline than PS Audio’s core mission of producing the equipment that reproduces those recordings.

With reproduction, we want to perfectly capture every nuance in the recording. With the recordings themselves, it’s more about capturing a vibe than maintaining purity.

My friend Mike Kirkham, who runs Magenta Audio in Australia and is himself an avid recordist, sparked this riff when he wrote:

“Unlike the audiophile perspective, youre not looking to maintain the integrity of the incoming signal – indeed you’re creating vibe.”

This is so correct and there’s a couple of interesting reasons why. First, microphones and their preamps are so colored as to be placed in categories by recording engineers in the same way we audiophiles might place speakers: natural, boomy, articulate, bright, etc. Even the highly regarded B and K measurement microphones have a “sound” to them that producers like or do not like.

It all comes down to capturing a vibe. If we’re recording a funky band then the microphones used should enhance or at least be synergistic with that sound. But, if we were lucky enough to get Yo Yo Ma and his cello in the room we’d want to honor that vibe instead.

In high-end audio, we want to honor and preserve what’s been captured by the recording engineer. Any attempt at enhancement or manipulation in one direction or another is verboten.

In the recording arts, we use whatever tools are available to capture a far more ethereal goal: the vibe itself.

I can only imagine the angst this notion of capturing emotions must engender in our friends that believe everything can be measured.

Maybe someday we’ll see a vibe meter.