While over the weekend I had the pleasure of spending time in Music Room Two and the IRS auditioning some new Octave releases. The producer and audio engineer, Scott, had worked hard on one particular complex mix and it was sounding amazing.
Then it happened. Buried just beneath the other instruments rumbled in a low synth note. I cocked my head and listened again. There it was buried under the other notes.
“Was the synth an afterthought?” I asked.
“No,” said Scott, “it’s the foundation of the track called Caves. It’s showing the depths of the cave.”
“I can barely hear it.”
“I was holding back.”
For years Scott and other engineers have more often than not been holding back deep subterranean bass notes (no, not the higher frequency ones we hear rattling the cars next to us in modern synth music).
Turns out the reason recordists and mixers held back was the limitations of most playback systems the average track will be reproduced on.
When I told him to forget all that and let it rip, to bathe us all in the glory of the lowest frequencies washing over the room, his face lit up from ear to ear.
“We’re audiophiles!” I explained. “We spend thousands to reproduce all the notes from the lowest to the highest. Do not in any way hold back!”
It’s a real eye and ear opener being in the middle of a recording studio.