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TECHNOLOGY ⸜ digital recorders

Or about computer sound recording systems

˻ Part 2 ˺ MUSIC

It all started in January 1971 with the world's first LP with digitally recorded material. In a long chain of successive recorders - among DENON Digital, SOUNDSTREAM, 3M, ProDigi, DASH, ADAT, RADAR - DAW, or DIGITAL AUDIO WORKSTATION, is the latest development. And this is its story.



images press materials | “High Fidelity”

No 224

January 1, 2023

DIGITAL SOUND RECORDING – a method of preserving sound in which audio signals are transformed into a series of pulses that correspond to patterns of binary digits (i.e., 0’s and 1’s) and are recorded as such on the surface of a magnetic tape or optical disc.

„ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA”, →; accessed: 12.10.2020.

ECORDING TECHNOLOGY IS EXACTLY one hundred and sixty-five years old. For a long time, Thomas Alva Edison was considered the "father" of sound recording, until a recording was found that was twenty years older than his achievement. The French inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville patented his phonautograph as early as 1857, and the oldest known record of sound dates back to 1860. It was incredibly primitive. Soot was applied on paper or glass, on which a stylus moved, vibrating through a membrane to which the inventor connected a trumpet tube (more → HERE).

The phonautograph was a laboratory device designed to study acoustics. No wonder that no complementary reading device has been constructed. It was only in 2008 that it was possible to convert the image stored in soot into digital data and convert it to sound. Anyway - the first attempt to record a sound signal came from the academic environment.

⸜ MACIEJ GOŁYŹNIAK in his studio in front of DAW-a Pro Tools screens • photo Radek Zawadzki

The fact that the recorded music could be played and enjoyed by ordinary people can be credited to the aforementioned Edison. In his case the invention was part of a business idea - this patent was to make money for its holder. In this way, sound recording moved from scientific circles to a field that we can generally call "entertainment". Thanks to the money earned in this way, in a relatively short time Edison improved the quality of the sound recorded on rollers, and the same power later gave Emil Berliner an impulse to create a turntable.

The development of recording technology has since then been, on the one hand, focused on efforts to multiply income, and on the other hand, the desire to improve the sound quality. It is often difficult to distinguish them from each other. Once set in motion, the new technology wouldn't be stopped.


DAW STATIONS OFFER HUGE POSSIBILITIES to manipulate the sound signal. What's more, most producers and sound engineers reach for techniques from the past, including them in the pool of their work tools. To help you get an idea of the possibilities of the latest recording technique, I have selected ten albums, showing various types of its use.

In the first part, we will look at four albums that were recorded using analog and digital techniques, creating a kind of "hybrid" productions. I chose two classical recordings of Western music and two Polish albums for it. All of them are excellent musically and extremely interesting in terms of production. In the second part, we will focus on discs recorded only with the use of DAW stations.

˻ 1999 ˼

⸜ RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS Californication

Warner Bros. Records 9362 47386 2
Released: 8th June 1999 | COMPACT DISC

RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS that formed in Los Angeles in 1983 became one of the highest-grossing rock groups of its time only with the Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991) . They had to wait eight years for another such opportunity, but it paid off. Released on June 8th 1999, the seventh album in their catalog, Californication surpassed the success of Blood Sugar... and also brought a change in style. The predatory, sharp sound was softened on it, and the whole thing became more melodic.

⸜ Red Hot Chili Peppers during Pinkpop Festival 2006 • photo xPassenger, CC BY-SA 2.0

This success was possible largely due to two people: guitarist from the original line-up, John Frusciante, and producer, RICK RUBIN. It was the first album on which Frusciante played after a long break. Years earlier, overwhelmed by the success of Blood Sugar..., he left the band and became seduced by drugs. While in rehab during the recording, the musician returned with new teeth, several new tattoos, and the band played with the original line-up with Anthony Kiedis on vocals, Flea on bass and Chad Smith on drums. Also for Rubin, then 47, Californication was a return to collaboration with RHCP, for whom he had previously produced two records, including their previous hit.

The album sold more than fifteen million copies, and the title track became the group's biggest commercial hit. Released in 2000 as a single, it is performed at all band’s live performances.


▬ ANALOG (2 x 24-track Ampex 124) → DIGITAL (multi-track Pro Tools) → ANALOG (Neve 8038 mixer) → ? (Digital/Analog?)

The key person in giving the album character was its producer, FREDERICK JAY "RICK" RUBIN, known as Rick Rubin. We wrote about him earlier, on the occasion of the ADAT format (see → HERE) He is a producer known for working with such celebrities as Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, The Cult, Danzig, Mick Jagger, AC/DC, Metallica, etc. It is to him that we owe Johnny's return in the second half of the 1990s In his long career, Rubin has won eight Grammy Awards and has been nominated for a further fourteen.

This producer was known for striving to simplify production, but was also criticized for contributing to the so-called. "loudness war". Californication and Metallica's Death Magnetic albums, he produced, are cited as examples of what excessive use of compression leads to. However, when necessary, he can be extremely gentle. For the recordings with Cash, he changed the way he thought about production and recorded the singer really great.

The case of the album in question this time is completely different. The recording itself, which took place at Cello Recording Studios (Los Angeles), took less than three weeks. For a rock band of this caliber, that's less than the blink of an eye. However, it was in line with Rubin's philosophy of trying to capture a given band in an moment, playing together. It was possible because, as JIM SCOTT, the recording engineer, told the "Sound on Sound" magazine, rehearsals began in the summer of 1998 in the bassist's garage. So the musicians entered the studio prepared.

In fact, the recordings started with a completely different sound engineer. However, the results of the initial work were far from satisfactory. At the same time, Scott was recording at the nearby Cello Recording studios (formerly Western Recorders), so Rubin asked him for help. The Red Hots went into the studio and, Scott recalls, recorded about thirty songs in less than a week:

We recorded all four of them at the same time, which is basically the basis of the sound of the album. John did overdubs on guitar, maybe two or three, on some tracks only, but in the world of multi-track recording, that's not much. For example, the slide guitar in Scar Tissue is overdubbed. I don't think John ever went back and replaced an entire guitar track, while Flea could only replace a few small sections. We also added some AC/DC style piano chords during the mix, but it's not like there are layers and layers of overlays on the record. The sound of the album corresponds to what happened during the first week of recording. These "live" drums, bass and guitar appear in every song.

⸜ PAUL TINGEN, JIM SCOTT: Recording Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californications,

This material was a hybrid recording. The “hybridization” I am talking about means a special role of the Pro Tools system. Cello Recording studios had a beautiful Neve 8038 analog mixing console from the 1970s, which was used for recording and mixing. The tracks were also recorded in analog, on two analog, 24-track Ampex ATR-124 tape recorders. After recording them, however, they were copied to a computer using a DAW station with the aforementioned program. Minimal edits were made during the remix, few overdubs were made. A special feature was the mixing of the material in almost monophonic form.

A lot of attention was paid to choosing the right mastering tape recorder. While this could be done back in Pro Tools, Scott and Rubin tested a few different options. These were DAT tape recorders from Ampex and Sony, as well as the Tascam DA-88, working with a sampling frequency of 96 kHz. In the end, however, a stereophonic analog tape was chosen, recorded without Dolby, at 30 ips. However, you need to know that the material had to be sent to the pressing plant in digital form anyway - unfortunately, it is not known what medium they used, whether U-matic or DAT tape.

» RELEASES The album in question has never been remastered, only reissued. So we can only talk about choices concerning the format and release. So the first release on CD, from the USA or Japan, should be the basic one. For lovers of cassette tapes, the Canadian version recorded with Dolby HX Pro will be the best choice. In turn, vinyl fans should pay attention to the American double-disc release from 2012.


Right from the start, from the first sound of Around the World Rubin’s recordings show their character. The presentation is basically monophonic and incredibly highly compressed. The whole thing sounds as if it was recorded in a garage using rather primitive electronics. But that's mostly appearances. The bass played by Flea sounds interesting, for example. There is no low extension, but it is clear and selective. On the other hand, the kick drum is quite large and has the so-called "punch". However, the cymbals are withdrawn and not very clear.

It's not very selective sound at all, almost devoid of dynamics. Everything happens here on one emotional level. In my opinion, the choice of a monophonic sound didn't quite work out, but somehow it all "works". Perhaps that was what it was all about. This is how punk and rock bands often sound at the beginning of their carriers. It gives a strong message, full of passion, which is missing from bands that are already successful. And this is the paradox of this album. It is incredibly energetic, but this energy comes not from the dynamics, but from the playing accumulated on the listening axis.

The thing that we would not expect from this type of recording is the sparing use of the treble. Californication is a midrange-focused album. The treble is withdrawn, as is the upper midrange. That is why the vocals are muffled and timbre withdrawn. Nevertheless, it is still at the center of the recordings, and the text can be followed very easily. The piano, recorded during the mix in The Village studio, sounds stronger. It emphasizes the attack and sonority, making heavy use of the EQ and the Urea 1176 compressor.

This Velvet Glove and Road Trippin feature acoustic guitar. Jim Scott, the recording director, mentions that he did it using two microphones - the high-end Neumann U87 and the not that good AKG C452. This "good mic/bad mic" arrangement, with separate tracks, gave him the ability to balance the whole thing during the mix. This guitar sounds really good and it is the brighter element of the sound of these tracks.

I tried to find noise in the sound. After all, the material was recorded and mastered in analog domain. Scott said, "We like the noise. Noise is our friend. Listen to The Who records - there's a lot of noise there." In fact, it's only heard during quiet passages, like the one with the bells in the second minute of Savior. In the remaining fragments it was masked by high compression. So perhaps Scott was not really interested in the final result, but in the musicians themselves, who worked with "analogue" material in nature, even though it was later digitally edited in Pro Tools.

What is written about this album is true: compression is ubiquitous on it and it gives the whole its tone. There is no such thing as "high quality" sound. On the other hand, the choices made by Rick Rubin are clear and work in favor of the music. Therefore, although the rating given below is low, the artistic rating must be very high. It's worth remembering.

→ Sound quality: 5-6/10

˻ 2000 ˼


Capitol Records CDP 7243 5 27753 2 3
Released: 3rd October 2000 | COMPACT DISC

THE MUSIC OF THE BRITISH BAND RADIOHEAD is most often described as alternative rock, followed by the word "experimental". The thing is that it's hard to classify and only the word "rock" out of the many terms used to describe it comes up every time. The versatility of the musicians creating this band, founded in the English Abingdon in 1985, is evidenced by the collaborations of Johny Greenwood, the guitarist and its only musically educated member. Krzysztof Penderecki And John Greenwood, released in 2012, recorded by musicians in Alvernia Studios near Krakow can be used as an evidence.

Released in May 1995, OK Computer was Radiohead's first UK No. 1, and the band received their first Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album for it. What's more, it was also nominated for another one, in the most prestigious category, Album of the Year. After the hype around the group at that time, they released another album only in 2000.

⸜ Radiohead at Coachella Music Festival 2004 • photo g_leon_h, CC BY-SA 2.0

Released in May 1995, OK Computer was Radiohead's first UK No. 1, and the band received their first Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album for it. What's more, it was also nominated for another one, in the most prestigious category, Album of the Year. After the hype around the group at that time, they released another album only in 2000. Kid A brought a radical change of style. The band's music became simple, almost minimalistic. It uses vintage electronic instruments, such as Ondes Martenot, programmed electronic beats, strings and wind instruments. The material was so shocking that Time magazine described it as "the craziest million-selling album of all time. Kid A achieved success comparable to OK Computer, and also gave the band another Grammy and another nomination.


▬ ANALOG (24-track Otari) → DIGITAL (multi-track Pro Tools) → ANALOG (MTA 980 + Soundcraft Spirit 24 mixers) → ? (Digital/Analog?)

Work on the band's second album Bend began at Abbey Road studios under the supervision of John Leckie. Disagreements over the direction the production was going led to the enlistment of Godrich, then Leckie's sound engineer. The cooperation went so well that he became the producer of all subsequent Radiohead albums and is often called - by reference to George Martin and The Beatles - the "sixth member" of the band.

⸜ One of the strengths of Radiohead's releases is the design of their releases - in the first version of the album, a comic book was hidden under the plastic element of the box.

Work on Kid A began on January 4th 1999 and continued into mid-2000. The band was building their own studio at the time, but it wasn't ready in time. So the first recordings took place in Paris' Guillaume Tell, then moved to Copenhagen, to the Medley studio, and were completed in Oxfordshire, in the aforementioned "home" studio of the band. The materials say that "50 rolls of tape" were recorded in Medley.

The in an article Deep Cuts: The Making of OK Computer states that the material was ultimately recorded on the Otari MTR-90II analog 24-track tape recorder. The same one on which the previous album of the group was created. However, in order to have more freedom in manipulating the sound from the tape, the tracks were copied to the computer using the Pro Tools program. The DAW was mainly used to manipulate Thom Yorke's voice. It was recorded, by the way, with two tube microphones: Neumann Valve 47 and Rode Valve.

In an interview for Mix magazine, Godrich gave more importance to DAW editing, saying that the album was created using two programs: Pro Tools and Cubase. The former was used for recording, editing and mastering, while the latter was used to control MIDI keyboard instruments:

“One concession to digital technology was made in the form of a Pro Tools system, which was used for tidying up little mistakes. “It’s been really handy”, he admitted. “But again it’s something that you have to learn not to use. Because when we first got it, I was trying to do this and that with it, and ended up sitting in front of the thing for two days. And everybody gets pissed off, and you lose the feeling that you’re excited about something. The trick is to do something fast enough and then keep going so you can’t get bored with the thing you’ve just done. You just go and go and you don’t stop, and when you go back later and look at what you’ve done, you can say this one doesn’t work but that one is great. The best times have all been really fast, with everyone that I’ve worked with.”

⸜ →, accessed: 06.12.2022.

Pro Tools also served as another instrument, reaching for the Autotune plugin. In an interview with The Wire magazine, Thom Yorke, the band's lead singer, said they used it twice, on the songs Packt Like Sardines and Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors. As he recalls, in the former he used this effect to get a "nasal depersonalized voice", and in the latter they received random, although correlated with the music, fragments of singing. The material was mixed in analog domain in two places - AIR and Mayfair. Mastering was done at Abbey Road Studios. It is not clear, however, what was used as the mastering recorder - Pro Tools or the Studer A80 tape recorder.

⸜ In the foreground Amnesiac in a very cool version – the album reminds me a book from a public library with stamps inside, and so on.

Recordings ended in April 2000. At that time, the band recorded almost 30 songs, half of which were finished. So the idea was to release TWO albums at the same time. Finally, it was decided the second part of the material to be published a year later - it is entitled Amnesiac.

» RELEASES Kid A was released in two formats at the same time: on Compact Disc and double LP, but with a diameter of 10". The sale also included a Mini Disc and a cassette tape. In the following years, new reissues were made from time to time - including a Chinese one, marked with the HDCD logo - but the album was never remastered. It wasn't until 2016 that a new LP master was made, and in 2021 both discs from this session were included on the three-disc album Kid A Mnesia together with bonuses.


Kid A is one of the best recorded rock albums I know. It's low, it's dark, it's incredibly spacious. The album opening Everything in it's Right Place surrounds us with sounds coming from the sides and even from behind our heads. At the same time, the plans are arranged so perfectly that we have the impression of a beautiful consonance of each of the listening axes.

Thom Yorke's vocals was presented as quite dark and placed far in the listening axis, except for fragments where processed and manipulated elements speak from one side or the other. The vocalist's voice has stronger sibilants, but their upper midrange has been subdued. There is something left around 3-4kHz that is not a hiss, but more of a hum. Yorke is shown both on-axis, sideways, and out of phase, as in The Naitional Anthem.

The guitar was similarly equalized. In the mentioned The Naitional... it was placed on the axis, monophonically, along with the percussion. It resembles the Frusciante guitar from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers Californication album. Also here it is not about selectivity, but about pure "power", about "groove". This guitar pulls the track, accelerates it and keeps it moving. So again, not very audiophile approach produced the effect that - I assume - was intended.

The acoustic guitar is similar in How to Disappear Completely. It is located in the left and right channels, with a small out-of-phase element that makes it unreal. In this track, the drums sound quite soft and far away in the mix. It was necessary to show the orchestra in the background, just behind the dark, warm vocals.

Anyway, the most important instruments on this album are the keyboards. Synthesizer sounds, loops, dense harmonies - all this creates the atmosphere of the album and is also its "backbone". And it's the electronics that make this album sound so great. Because the guitars and drums are highly compressed and equalized, and the vocals are warm and dark. But it is the electronics that opens this album towards the richness of colors - just listen to Treefingers. Even if the track is raw, like Optimistic, played in the background, as if futuristic, the sounds give it a special character.

As I said, it's one of the best recorded rock albums. Raw, rock in its core, it has been encased in electronics and arranged in layers. It resulted in a presentation of extraordinary expressive power. It is worth noting that the material from the same session, released on the Amnesiac sounds even better, it is more resolving, there is less compression, and the bass goes incredibly low.

→ Sound quality: 8-9/10

˻ 2016 ˼

⸜ T.LOVE T.Love

Pomaton 01902 9 59073 7 2
Released: 4th. November 2016 | 2 x COMPACT DISC

T.Love (written without a pause after the full stop) is a phenomenon on the Polish music scene. This band, founded in 1982 in Częstochowa, initially playing punk rock, and later also rock with elements of reggae, rock and roll, glam rock and even pop, is still one of the most popular performers in our country . After suspending activity in 2017, five years later they return with the album Hau! Hau! and recently received a Platinum Record for the single Pochodnia. I saw the ceremony in the "Dzień Dobry TVN" program and I couldn't help but notice the emotion on Muniek's face.

⸜ Maciek Majchrzak (on the left), Muniek Staszczyk and (in the front) Jacek Gawłowski in his studio during mastering process of T.Love

Initially known as Teenage Love Alternative, T.Love Alternative for short, in 1986 the band changed its name to T.Love. In 1989, their debut album entitled Wychowanie as released. The song Warszawa from the next release Pocisk Miłości (1990) became a hit and opened many doors for the band. The stylistic change was brought by the album Al Capone from 1996, with its sequel Chłopaki nie płaczą (1997). The songs Stokrotka and Jest super were played on the radio all the time. And it so rolled year after year, hit after hit.

⸜ T.Love members who recorded T.Love album • photo press release Pomaton

In 2012, after six years, the group releases the premiere material, which was included on Old is Gold. The album brought blues rock and was a change in the approach to recording, or rather a return to the 1950s. The material was recorded by Leszek Kamiński in the S3 and S4 studios of the Polish Radio and in Rogalów Analogowy on two synchronized Studer analog tape recorders, receiving a total of 48 tracks. The material was digitally transcribed to DAW Pro Tools for editing, and was mixed and mastered by Grammy winner JACEK GAWŁOWSKI at his JG Mastering Lab studio. A year later, the album received the Fryderyk Award, and the sales numbers earned it the Platinum Record status.


▬ ANALOG (24-track Studer) → DIGITAL (multi-track Pro Tools) → ANALOG (SSL AWS 900+ mixing) → DIGITAL (stereo, Pro Tools)

Released in 2016, T.LOVE repeated the same recipe. This time the material was recorded in the Custom 34 studio, used also by Adam Czerwiński. Let us remind you that "High Fidelity" is the patron of the albums released by his label AC Records. This studio has a Studer A827 24-track analog tape recorder, a Neve Custom Series 75 analog mixer, and a battery of analog compressors, equalizers, and other peripherals. This place was recommended to musicians by Jacek Gawłowski.

⸜ Maciek Majchrzak (on the left), Muniek Staszczyk and (in the front) Jacek Gawłowski in his studio during mastering process of T.Love

The material was then ripped to Pro Tools in a resolution of 24 bits and 88.2 kHz and went to Maciek Majchrzak, the guitarist and producer of the album. After processing, it was brought on an HDD to the Gawłowski studio. Tracks from Pro Tools were sent to the SSL AWS 900+ analog console. It's a 24-channel mixing console, and because there were more tracks, some had to be grouped together. As Jacek told me during my meeting with the T.Love group in his studio, the album was created practically without the use of computer plugins (more → HERE). Also cleaning and tuning was minimal.

The mix was therefore analog, and the master was a hybrid process - Jacek had both digital and analog devices in his studio at that time. EQ, for example, was set in the Manley Massive Passive, there were also tube compressors from this company, as well as dbx compressors used in the signal’s path. In turn, the digital section consists of Weiss Eq1 Mk II de-essers and equalizers, DS1 Mk II compressors of the same company and Bricasti M7 Reverb. For digital to analog and back to digital conversion he used Apogee Symphony AD/DA converters and worked with resolution of 24/88.4. The signal was digitally recorded back in Pro Tools in 24/88.2 stereo format and delivered by Jacek to the label on a CD-R.

His contribution to this album was quite significant - large enough so that he became its co-producer and played acoustic guitar on one track. In 2016, just before the release of T.LOVE, when asked by me about "his" sound, he said:

I like natural sound. That's what I've been trying to do with my speakers. With the selection of the right amplifier and the right cables - and I am still looking - it is possible to get something close to "live" sound in this system. So, once we have all the "high-end" attributes, and put the musician between the loudspeakers, and then play the recording, I would like to get something similar. When constructing the loudspeakers, I wanted to use the simplest solutions possible. Balance the phase physically, not in the crossover, as John Dunlavy used to do. But it's difficult, because you have to spend a lot of time listening to everything to tune it properly.

⸜ WOJCIECH PACUŁA, A kingdom for a horse, i.e. mastering according to Jacek Gawłowski, “High Fidelity” No. 145.

» RELEASES T.LOVE was first released on Compact Disc, and then, in the same year, on LP, with the main release being the CD. Hirek Wrona tried to convince audience at the Audio Video Show 2016 that the sound of the LP is better, but I did not have the heart to tell him that the sound of the Compact Disc is the right one. In addition to the single CD version, a Special Edition version was also released, with an additional, very nice disc. During the recording session, 30 tracks were created, and the regular version included 18, so it's worth having a complete set. One more - the cover was prepared by Rosław Szaybo, the author of classic graphics known from the albums of Komeda, Judas Priest and The Clash.


I'm pretty sure that one of the inspirations for the musicians and producers of T.Love was the Red Hot Chilli Peppers sound from Californication. It begins with Muniek's processed, "megaphone" vocals and the rhythm played on the bass - the drums also have a cut off range. Both of these elements are soon developed with a panorama, with guitar in the right channel and drums in the left channel. It's a departure from the monophonic idea of Rick Rubin, but still in the spirit of that album.

What it has in common with T.Love is the economical use of treble and soft sound. The material for both of these titles was recorded in multi-track on analog, but it is here that it can be heard as an advantage for which this method of recording is used today. We have a soft sound, a natural saturation of the tape, without the "square", exaggerated contours of the instruments, you can also hear the hum of the tape. It was clear already in the opening track Pielgrzym, where the keys also fit in perfectly.

The great bass also distinguishes this production. Listen to the end of the song and you'll see what it's all about. Jacek Gawłowski, who mixed and mastered it, used powerful, self-designed Bauta speakers. I heard this mix at his studio, I know he used this material to the max. The vocals were also very nice in it. It is open, there is no lack of clarity, and yet it "fits" incredibly well in this soft climate of this album.

The thing to pay attention to is space. It has been used here to create the volume. The layers go quite deep in stage’s depth, but the most important thing is what is happening on the sides. Because the panorama is very wide, and the reverberations give the music a carrying capacity. This is studio recording, without a lot of natural decay. It's clear. And yet, by properly dosing the Lexicon reverbs and other effects, we get something with a lot of breath and excellent, subjective, dynamics.

→ Sound quality: 10/10

˻ 2022 ˼


New Beat Records NBR Vol. 1
Released: 16th September 2022 | COMPACT DISC

MACIEJ GOŁYŹNIAK TRIO consists of: ŁUKASZ DAMRYCH, playing electric piano, synthesizers and piano, Robert Szydło on double bass and electric bass, and the leader, MACIEJ GOŁYŹNIAK on drums. The trio made a very strong debut. The album Orchid was released in the "Polish Jazz" series (Vol. 85, 2020). It's hard to beat something like that, especially since musicians have a problem with the so-called "curse" of the second album. The album was released by New Beat Records on September 16th 2022, and a vinyl edition was planned for November.

⸜ Łukasz Damrych, Maciej Gołyźniak, Robert Szydło (sits down) - the first mixing session, Robert Szydło studio • photo Radek Zawadzki

Perhaps that's why the trio approached the new album a bit differently. It has two inspiration vectors. One is personal - it was dedicated to the leader's grandmother, Marianna, who appears almost tangibly in the album's closing ballad I Miss You Grandma. The other is space. Gołyźniak himself talks about it, and the title Solaris confirms it. Piotr Metz, the author of the essay on the cover of the album, followed this lead. Let's add that the trio was joined by ZBIGNIEW NAMYSŁOWSKI on saxophone in the first track, and ŁUKASZ KORYBALSKI supported them on trumpet and flugelhorn in the remaining tracks.


▬ DIGITAL (multi-track Pro Tools) → DIGITAL (mix: Pro Tools) → ANALOG (stereo, Studer) → DIGITAL (stereo, Pro Tools)

The album was recorded in an unusual way, because by the musicians themselves. All members of the trio signed under "sound production", "mix and mastering" was prepared by Robert Szydło, and "music production" by the leader. As Maciej Gołyźniak wrote in an e-mail to me, they treated the mix creatively:

The songs are conceptually different, so we didn't use one method. Rather, we were looking for the one that would be the best for the composition. The final fusion is the result of various techniques. I'd be lying if I said I remember those choices exactly. The sound of the album is a conglomerate of the sound of analog devices and digital technology, always with attention to the final effect.

Seeing in the photos, included in a very nicely prepared booklet, analog tape recorder and analog peripherals, including tube ones, I asked the leader of the trio for a mini-interview to explain the production process.

| Recording session

WOJCIECH PACUŁA Where did you record the album?
MACIEJ GOŁYŹNIAK Mostly in my studio in Warsaw. There I recorded both drum instrumental sessions and all wind instruments. Łukasz Korybalski's trumpet and flugelhorn, as well as the session with Zbigniew Namysłowski were held at my place and I recorded them. In addition, we also worked in Wroclaw in the studio of the pianist, Łukasz Damrych, and when mixing only in the Robert Szydło studio. All within our trio.

WP How was it recorded - I mean DAW?
MG All tracks were recorded in DAW’s ProTools. For purely logistic reasons I also worked in Reaper.

⸜ Zbigniew Namysłowski, Maciej Gołyźniak – recording of saxophone tracks, Maciej Gołyźniak studio • photo Radek Zawadzki

WP How did you mix the material?
MG The album was excellently mixed by Robert Szydło. That's first. We've been working together for a long time and this characteristic kind of sound is the result of both our fascinations and long conversations. He is not only an outstanding musician, but also a mixing engineer. I would very much like to emphasize it. My instructions were rather limited to encouraging certain moves and taking responsibility for them. Sound is extremely important to me, while Robert's competences are so high that I limit myself to suggestions and producing the album without interfering with these competences. I trust and respect him.

We mixed the material in Pro Tools ("in-the-box" - ed.), although the chain of devices was largely built of analog devices. Robert is an aesthete and sound expert and a conscious owner of unique tools. Suffice it to say that the analog signal was "captured" by the extremely rare Lavry Gold converter. After all, his studio is a well-equipped place for creative work with the mix. I really like working there.

WP So what was the material mixed on – in the booklet one can see a photo of an analog Studer :)
MG Indeed, in the final process, we sent the mixes to tape. All because this type of saturation is in line with our preferences and the vinyl medium, which is always the "model" for me. As for the streaming version and high-res files, all the moves were made in the DAW environment, of course also using the analog tools I mentioned.

⸜ Robert Szydło studio • photo Robert Szydło

WP Zbigniew Namysłowski was in your studio, can you tell us more about this session?
MG I recorded Zbigniew Namysłowski adding him to the finished recording in my studio. It was a quick two-hour session. To ensure the comfort of Robert's work and to make the most of these circumstances, I recorded the session with three sources: a ribbon microphone, a large-diaphragm stereo microphone and a dynamic microphone.

Recording a saxophone is an extremely demanding process. It is exposed to phase problems, and blows from the instrument’s flaps are extremely important for the sound. Robert chose the final shot. I, on the other hand, refreshed my contacts with excellent colleagues, reaching out about recording sessions with the master.

WP The instrument in the recording is a piano or a grand piano?
MG The piano you can see on a photo was never used in the session. We only discussed formal matters with Łukasz next to it.

WP Let me ask about drums – I can hear it often as if it was recorded using only ambient microphones. Was it so?
MG I always insist on recording as many different takes as possible. I really like organic thinking about the sound of instruments and creative use of these takes. Such a system of work gives me peace of mind, and gives the engineer a multitude of options and solutions. We worked a lot with ambient and room. Robert uses e.g. unique and my favorite Bricasti reverb. I love using it, ambient tracks get a unique space thanks to it.

Marianna is therefore an album that was created entirely in the Pro Tools environment, "in-the-box" - from recording to final mix and mastering. The material was saved and processed in PCM 24/192 files. From them, versions for the needs of CD and streaming were created, but after going through the tape.

» RELEASES As the leader said, the album was created with vinyl in mind, but the CD was released first. Knowing life, pressing plant availability was a problem, which would have postponed the release of the album. This is confirmed by the correction of the release date of the LP - initially it was supposed to be out in November, and today the final date is still unknown. I would like to point out a very well-made digipack and a nice cover, reminiscent (by adding a monochrome filter) of the classic Blue Note covers. Jacek Pawlicki, Wiktor Franko and Radek Zawadzki worked on the graphics.


Marianna by Maciej Gołyźniak Trio is another album from the group in question, in which analog tape was used to create the sound. As with T.Love, it was about making the sound soft and warm. However, this procedure was performed differently. Since from recording to mastering work was done "in-the-box", i.e. inside the DAV station, to soften its "digital character", the final mix was recorded on an analog ¼" tape on a small Studer tape recorder. It worked out great. The album sounds just as intended - warm and soft.

Again, like on T.Love and Red Hot Chilli Peppers albums, drums have a withdrawn treble. A stronger range of 4-6 kHz was left, without pulling the cymbals or the snare forward. The most important thing here is the piano laid out on the sides, as well as wind instruments. A long reverberation was applied to the trumpet, similarly to the piano. This gave a breath and space that we can hear perfectly in a high-end system.

The bass, which is sometimes processed and sounds electronically generated, extends low and is clean. In the second track on the album Stand Still Dear it has a changed timbre, with the upper bass and midrange emphasized, thanks to which the phase shift effect could be used. So it comes to us from both sides of the stage, very spacious. This is a rarity, because usually the bass is placed straight ahead or slightly to the side. At other times, as in Where Art Thou?, the bass guitar is clean and sounds like straight from the amp.

It's an album with a very low timbre setting. Although the piano, as in Solaris, opens it up, the bass and kick drums are very, very low. They are soft in nature, so they are not unpleasant. Rather, they surround us, almost envelop us. The very large space in Mints Her Favorite works similarly. The piano, given on a very long reverb - which sounds a bit like a piano here - has percussion in the background. The latter is in the left channel, behind the piano, but still legible.

And it is the combination of softness with readability, darkness with selectivity that make it one of the best recorded jazz albums from Poland in recent years. The producers have very nicely chosen the contrasts between what is close and what is far away. Likewise with tonality. And that bass - it's really great. Let's not expect only a pointy strikes, because that's probably not what the creators wanted. Marianna is a musically excellent and very well recorded and produced album that you simply should have.

→ Sound quality: 9/10


THERE IS CONSENSUS THAT the 1990s, with DAW systems increasingly penetrating the market, were an extremely complex time for musicians, producers and sound engineers alike. Complex, or challenging. For some, these were obstacles, and for others, an opportunity to experiment. As Samantha Bennett points out, in times of increasing dominance of digital devices, the reverse trend has also become apparent. Musicians and producers reached for anachronistic electronic instruments, which then became, as she writes, "an important distinguishing feature, especially in rock music":

Around the turn of the millennium, recordings using instruments more familiar from the 1960s became more prominent: Soundgarden's use of Leslie speakers in Black Hole Sun (Superunknown, 1994 ), the significant presence of Ondes Martenot in The National Anthem (Kid A, 2001) or the organizing of Eels composition Souljacker Part 2 (Souljacker, 2001) around the Mellotron are three examples of contemporary recordings that use musical technologies belonging to another era in popular music (p. 89).

The researcher talks about hybridization in this context and places the cited fragment in the subchapter entitled Anachronisms. It is interesting that many producers and sound engineers organized their work in a very similar way. The technological hybridization taking place at the level of material registration is visible. In addition to the most modern technologies, such as DAW stations, analog mixers and analog tape recorders - both multi-track and stereophonic - remained a popular choice.

As in the case of musicians and instruments, it was about "humanizing", so to speak, the increasingly digital world of music. All four albums referred to this time use analog tape for exactly the same purpose, without however renouncing the benefits of the Pro Tools system (interestingly, all four recordings were made using this DAW). The digital side was a handy tool that allowed musicians and producers to significantly speed up the recording process and gave musicians artistic freedom. On the other hand, the analog side was supposed to bring back something that could be called "the human face of sound".

⸜ Robert Szydło studio with Studer mastering tape recorders in the foreground • photo Robert Szydło

Needless to say, both approaches stemmed from a highly ideologized approach to recording technology. Time has shown that many of the problems with which digital technology was associated were solved with the increasingly better use of DAWs, and the disadvantages attributed to them often resulted from incompetent use. On the other hand, the "analog supremacy" proclaimed by many professionals and music consumers, both then and today, was largely exaggerated and had no basis in reality. Life is much more complicated than we would like to admit.

So let me invite you to the second part of report on my listening session and the presentation of representatives of recordings made with the Digital Audio Workstation. These will be discs recorded exclusively with digital DAWs - from Steinberg's Cubase systems to Apple's Logic Pro.


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