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hile researching a feature for an upcoming issue it struck me just how much cultural weight we give to

things that are essentially, well, old. History gives weight to most things that

surround us on a daily basis. For some reason we believe that just because some ‘thing’ has stood the test of time that it is validated in the present. Think of the connotations of the ways in

which we describe things like films, albums, games, and gear: showing off your ‘vintage’ or ‘classic’ gear sounds a lot nicer than talking about your old 1176 or that used SSL now doesn’t it? The vintage vs. new debate is nothing new

(no pun intended), and in the pro-audio world especially it will never disappear as long as we spend hours on forums and websites debating the merits of this or that and championing our favourite piece of vintage esoteric gear (or, heaven forbid, spouting off about the ‘game changing’ features of the latest technology). This is a dividing conversation and one

that is just about impossible to answer without grossly offending at least one person. For me, this debate has a long and storied history. I started my life in audio as a touring and session guitar player who complemented his measly income from royalties and live shows like many others by working in a music store. My day-to- day was this debate: old vs. new; vintage/classic vs. modern; or even analogue vs. digital. I found myself buying into the cult of

vintage, buying gear from the 70s for its ‘vibe’ and selling my soul (along with other bodily fluids) just to get my hands on that 60s Les Paul I had on layaway at my shop. A trip to my tech and a diagnosis of a wonky truss rod later and I was back, switching my set-up for kit that was modern, straight-from-the-factory, and cold, hard digital. But the sound wasn’t ‘there’. Plus, when a few key pedals decided to randomly die on stage during a set they ended up meeting a messy end when I ‘accidentally’ threw them against the venue wall. In my personal experience there is no

black and white with this debate – there is no definitive statement of which way is better. While there is that ‘something’ that only vintage gear can bring to the table, the convenience that modern technology allows is a creative tool in itself, and one that anyone who stops being so damned stubborn can see in a second (just ask mixing legend Gareth Jones who I interviewed this month on page 46). The only practical way is to find a happy

medium. Keep your vintage vibe and your esoteric kit that lets you tweak and create one- off sounds, but find a way to work it into your modern workflow. We’re lucky enough to live in a time where

you can have the best of both worlds and we need to take advantage of that. 

Jory MacKay, Editor

“While there is that ‘something’ that only vintage gear can bring to the table, the convenience that modern technology allows is a creative tool in itself.”

June 2014 03

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