“History teaches us that men behave wisely . . . once they’ve exhausted all other alternatives. For most rock bands, the pursuit of wisdom’s a low priority compared to fame, fortune and fornication. Such a band was Strange Fruit.” (from the opening line of the movie)
still crazy 3

In 1998 “Still Crazy” by Brian Gibson brought the Rock´n´Roll back to movie theaters. In the 70ies the fictional band called “Strange Fruit”, consisting of guitarist Brian Lovell (Bruce Robinson), his brother and lead singer Keith, keyboard player Tony Costello (Stephen Rea), bassist Les Wickes (Jimmy Nail) and drummer Beano Baggot (Timothy Spall) lifed the lifestyle of a typical rockband. Ray Simms (Bill Nighy) took over the part of “Strange Fruits´” leadsinger Keith after his death due to a drug overdose. Accompanied by the roadie and the film´s narrator Hughie and die hard fan Friday Karen (Juliet Aubrey), “Strange Fruits´” fame found an end with their disastrous appearance at the open-air Wisbech (U.K.) Rock Festival, when lightning struck the stage during their opening number. Seeing that as a sign, the band disbanded for good, each one of the bandmembers heading off their own way to live a more or less regular life. Twenty years later, Tony Costello tries to bring the band back together with the help of Karen to once more catch the magic of their music and performance and to prove the world that they haven´t forgotten how to rock a stage after all.

“Still Crazy” is a homage to the music of the 70ies with extraordinary actors who put the twist of fate the characters in the movie suffer from in a nutshell until their final rise back to glory. Funny to hilarious dialoges and great music complement the actors´great performance bringing forth a movie that will not only grant one great movie night but many more to come. If you haven´t seen the movie, yet, just watch it!

Sincerely yours
The Mad Alchemist

The advantages and dangers of forums like Gearslutz…

First of all, Gearslutz & co are a priceless source of knowledge and information. You will find answers and help to almost any question that is associated with audio. Nonetheless it is fed by all sorts of people with different intentions, skills and purpose. If you are new to recording and mixing, it is easy to get lost. So many threads about wether compressor A or B is doing a finer job and so on. But if you are not an experienced pro (and this post is meant only for those with zero or little experience) it is easy to get attracted to the thought that the right choice of gear is going to make you a better musician, recording or mixing engineer. It simply won’t!!! Sad as it is I had to experience this on my own before I believed it, spending thousands of Euros on better EQ and compression only to find out that I don’t know how to use it to take advantage of its potential. I was frustrated that my expectation of making better mixes with better equipment didn´t turn out the way I figuered that it would. I didn’t even hear a difference between compressor A and B at the beginning and I am still learning. There definitely is a difference in sound and quality, but never lose sight of the fact that most people discussing and comparing different units in such threads are seasoned pros with years or centuries of experience.
Remember the time you got your first car (if you ever did)? I bet it wasn’t a Ferrari or Porsche either. It was a solid car to keep you save and you got better in driving solely by driving and gaining experience.

Conclusion is: getting better at recording and mixing (or any other thing actually) is a matter of learning by doing. There is no shortcut to becoming better, and most of all no kind of gear. If your bank account doesn´t mind spending thousands of Euros on top notch gear – buy it, if it is worth to you. But don´t fool yourself that this will make you better at recording or mixing!

Sincerely yours,
The Mad Alchemist

The three most important things for recording and mixing…

I have already covered the advantages and dangers of getting information on the internet. Having been through this myself, I wanna share my experience of what I consider the most promising way to get the best results possible when recording and mixing music at home (or anywhere else).

  1. I think most will agree that when it comes to recording, the performance and the songs are the most important part of all. If the performance of the musicians and the music doesn´t touch you at the recording stage, it most likely won´t when it comes to mixing or mastering.
  2. Room acoustics would be the next important aspect of recording and mixing for me. I have spend thousands of Euros for gear before I realised that even the best mics, compressors, EQ can´t help making a good record if you can´t hear exactly what is going on sonically. Ok, room treatment can be kind of expensive and never looks as good as a Fairchild compressor, nonetheless it is the most crucial investment you have to make if you want to gain experience, learn to listen to frequencies and the basis for taking the benefits of good equipment. If you do set up a recording/mixing studio and ignore room acoustics, you have already lost – in my humble opinion.Check out this video of US based audio dealer “ZenPro Audio” demonstrationg the acoustical difference in a room untreated and treated.
  3. Speakers are the spokesmen of the music you record and mix. Get yourself a decent pair of speakers suiting your room and your flavor. Don´t buy without hooking the speakers up in your room listening to music you are most familiar with. You will find a lot of discussions about speakers on Gearslutz and other forums, comparing speaker A to B and so on, and people asking for comments of experienced users on wether they should buy a certain speaker or not. Bottom line is that one and the same speaker will most likely sound differently in different rooms. Don´t be penny-pinching when it comes to speakers – they determine what you hear in your room.

Take this as a starting point for investments in your future as a recording or mixing engineer. If you want to invest a small fortune into some outboard equipment, go ahead and have fun, but never forget to cover the basics as well ;o)

Sincerely yours
The Mad Alchemist
PS: feel free to comment about your experience

the reason for this blog…

… is first and formost: I am an audio addict.

No matter if it is listening to audio, writing songs myself, recording or mixing audio, or purely collecting Vinyl.
Ever since I remember, music was a major part in my life. And for a long time I have been thinking about why I like what I like, about my attitude towards making music, recording and mixing. Thus I dived into the internet which is full of priceless information. I followed many different paths just to find out that not everything one reads is suitable for everyone. There were many (expensive) lessons to learn when it comes to audio gear, and I am still learning.

This site is intended for all you audio freaks out there, may you be a musician/engineer, an audiophil listener or – like my – just an addict.
Furthermore, if ever this site is going to make some money, all will be donated to non profit organisations. Having had a hard time familywise I experienced so much help and comfort from organisations like “Caritas”, that it is time to give back to all the helping hands in my life who are usually unseen by everyone as long as one is not in need of them!

Keep on rockin´& and never forget: main thing is it is fun!!!
Sincerely yours
The Mad Alchemist