Saturday January 27th at NAMM 2018 I covered the Pro Audio section and it brought me back to a time in my early 20's with noOoOo money, tinkering with the idea of becoming a “recording engineer.” For me, back in the early 2000's I played in several rock bands and fell in love with the prospect of "recording." Every decade has innovations and in that time-frame line-ins analog to digital for example, came in 8 channel firewire or SCSI PCI driven recording interfaces. PCI express, USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt did not exist. The early 2000’s was a big push from analog to digital recording but the communication outputs/inputs still needed innovation. Cubase, Pro Tools, Presonus, Roland and MOTU were among the brands I remembered pioneering digital interfaces. It was great to see some of these brands still innovating and pushing the quality of sound engineering from analog to digital at NAMM 2018.
The kids today and professionals now have their hands on a wide variety in the market to choose from. Pro Audio is streamlined and very easy to proclaim oneself a “recording artist” when a “musician” can be at home with an iPad and input-interface from lets say Rode, open up the software, input the XLR/1'4" instrument cable, and start recording right away!! Here is where I have my subjective opinion about what a musician is... there are some out there who are digital musicians meaning they never played in a marching band, guitar, bass guitar or drums. The modern day "digital musician," as I like to prescribe, get all their sounds from sampled software. The individual will purchase software with pre-recorded sounds, figure-out the software, then take one of those money gobbling recording engineering classes posted on buses or billboards. Now they are a "sound engineer!" The individual understands the Metronome and start to lay down tracks! It is all done in the software. Technology has advanced, streamlined and it is that simplified.
Any turd can be a self proclaimed recording artist whether it be PC or Apple products. Processors today have 4 to 10 cores paired with strong motherboards, Solid State Hard Drives and communication outputs like Thunderbolt (Apple), USB 3.0, or PCI Express. The bandwidth from analog to digital has been perfected because back in the early 2000‘s when I started, for example, a MOTU 8 input firewire technology was not efficient, you NEEDED a strong AMD or Intel chip otherwise you will get a lot of background noise in your recording and sometimes a ticking noise from the magnetic hard drive spinning parts at 7200 rpm. Now the glory of the solid-state hard drive is instantaneous data transfers communicating with Thunderbolt... it’s just amazing what the recording industry has become from analog to digital. The software out at NAMM 2018 is marketed to that intermediate person and with time the person can become a professional sound engineer. The consumer can get their hands on literally vintage sounds to modern digital sounds all within a packaged software. However, there is still a fine line between the "recording engineer" and a "producer," that actually understands mixing and mastering. Mixing and Mastering tracks is what distinguishes the "PRO"-ducer from the recording engineer.
I am glad to notice at NAMM 2018 huddled in small groups those old-school mixed in with the new school technology, sound professionals, that blended analog and digital. I personally enjoy the sound engineer/producer blending analog and digital utilizing mixer's, microphones and live-sound inputted into a digital interface. Pro audio is still costly and if you cannot afford the nice beautiful microphones and preamps, the market offers line-in interface devices and software that programs your guitar sound or piano, into digital and you can select over thousands of types of percussion, cabinet speakers, guitar amplifiers, and microphone presets or “samples.”
In the end, I enjoyed my time and invitation to NAMM 2018. There was just too much to see, review, and demonstrate in a few days. What I have noticed is how simplified the market has become. Anyone can be a recording artist with the right knack and whit, one can piece together music whether be R&B, Rap, DJ, Rock Bands, Metal, Country, and Classical, the music industry is indeed digital.