Friday 05/18/2018 by phishnet

FROM THE TAPERS' SECTION: PART 1 (4/2/98)

@wforwumbo applies machine learning to binaural hearing theory, and is putting the finishing touches on his doctorate in architectural acoustics this summer. His research focuses on the effects that a room has on performed music and how we perceive sound in space – he does so by building computational models that simulate and extend human hearing. He is also a classically-trained musician and an electrical engineer with a keen interest in digital audio signal processing; he designs and implements filters and transforms to manipulate audio, which he brings to his studio production and mixing engineering work. His obsession with audio doesn’t end there though, as he has recently ventured into the tapers’ section to record live music. Thankfully for us at Phish.net HQ, @wforwumbo is a huge fan of Phish and Phish.net, and has begun contributing to the site, both working to expand and improve the Jam Charts and helping to craft (and remix!) Mystery Jam Monday puzzles. Today, he will kick off a new regular blog series, “From the Tapers’ Section,” wherein he will draw from several different parts of his massive toolkit to not only bring Phish fans brand new mixes of audience recordings from classic Phish shows, but he’ll also share both his deep technical knowledge and discerning musical perspectives of the shows and the recordings thereof. - @ucpete


Drawing from my experience as both a live taper and a studio production engineer, I frequently manipulate my back catalog of live Phish tapes to my personal preference on reference listening systems. I have spent lots of time working with studio tools; it’s a labor of love, always trying to craft and sculpt sound - to let the tape get out of the way between me and the music. I do want to make one thing explicitly clear here: I am not the definitive voice. I am not touting that these are the “correct” way to listen to shows. I’m not even claiming that these will be preferable to your current tape of a show. Because at the end of the day, the sole rule of “good” audio is that only YOU can decide what sounds best. In fact, that’s the most important bit of advice I give to everyone when they ask me about audio: trust your ears. My tastes may not be the same as yours, and that’s okay - there’s plenty of room for all of us in the fan base.

Now with that being said, one intent of this taping series is to encourage the distribution and usage of audience-recorded tapes (“AUDs”). Tape trading has an incredibly rich and storied history, and is a large part of why many of us are into Phish. One of my favorite endeavors in digging through my catalog of tapes is comparing two different recordings and correlating their strengths and weaknesses to my personal preferences. This furthers my taping and production work by thinking about how to capture and manipulate sound, including the layouts, techniques, and gear that I use. To me, it’s lots of fun to think about and understand the intricacies of a given microphone and preamp, the recording location inside of a venue, or what experience I want from a tape (immersion? stereo image? frequency balance? more Mike? etc.). This blog series is in part an attempt to share my notes and thoughts on specific tapes to highlight different aspects of a show that you might not have heard before.

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