Ill bite on the original post…
Because of the way algorithms in reverbs have developed lately I don’t know if its possible to tell where exactly it came from. That cheap little Redline reverb and the Fabfilter can be tweaked to sound an awful lot like a high dollar lexicon, and sometimes be even better for the track.
I also don’t think I could tell some imaging plugins apart from each other. Take an Eventide H910 vs a Roland Dimension D, I can tell them apart on my own mixer, but if asked to identify from the other in a final mix, I doubt I could.
This is interesting thinking about it. I’m pretty sure I could tell an all PSP or all Fabfilter recording apart from an All Waves one because there’d be stuff missing from the first 2. Like…if those are you only 3 options, as soon as you hear an autotuner, you automatically know Waves, because PSP and FabFilter don’t even make one. As easy as that is hyptoethcially, its practically irrelevant in real life, because no one has a compelling reason to only mix with one set of plugs.
On unmastered amateur recordings, you can make deductions based on common mistakes. Sometimes its obvious what is a user limitation vs a purely technical one. Sometimes its not.
On real good recordings, you can usually deduce beater type, skins, stick gauge, material composition of the snare, size of the cymbals…if you know your gear really well, you can make a pretty educated guess on what size and type of ride cymbal is being used. Though you’d be guessing at brand. I think if I listen to a mix closely enough, I could tell you that if a cymbal is Zildjian, its probably an A, K, or Z with a fair amount of certainty, the problem is that it would have to be a Zildjian to deduce that. Something I could not do is tell you the brand of the shell. Keller makes a LOT of high end shells. I don’t know enough about drums to be able to do this, but since I can do something pretty similar with pianos, I wouldn’t doubt there are people that could do this with drums.
Hmmm. I don’t know that you could tell the type or model of a 2 bus compressor. As the way it acts and sounds is so highly dependent on the material going into it. And also, because of the purpose of the 2 bus compressor, you’re a lot less likely to hear it in the final, then experience problems with it getting TO the final.
I can tell amps apart in a final mix. I’ll never hit them exact, but you can tell them apart. Even if you didn’t know Brad Paisley is fiercely loyal to Dr Z, anyone who knows their gear would be silly to guess Peavey, Framus, or Hughes and Kettner. Now if you’re given a hint that a country artist is using a Mesa Boogie, you can get pretty damn close by eliminating amps that would be useless in that style of music. So you’d probably be left with a Lone Star, Maverick, Mark IV, or C+. And vice versa if its a metal band, and you know its a Mesa. A strat has a very specific sound. So does a tele. I doubt anyone could tell a Tom Anderson from a Fender Custom, in the same way you probably couldn’t tell a Collings from a Martin unless you were playing it.
Oh yeah, I can tell you the size of a grand piano. I can easily tell you 6, 7 or 9 ft. I might not be able to tell you brand, but I can most likely tell the region it came from. European, American, and Japanese pianos have distinct tonal characteristics that I believe are identifiable even on top of an orchestra.
Sadly enough, I’d be highly skeptical of anyone who claimed they could pick an assortment of 1073 preamps out of a final mix. And I’m fairly certain no one (without a deep prior knowledge of mix) is going to be able to tell you what in the mix was fed to a 1073 and what was fed to a decent 1073 clone. At most, you can lump pre’s into overall characteristics, like warm and dirty, or bright and clean, or gentle and transparent…etc. Even if you can hear the minute difference, it’d be very hard to make a judgement call, unless there was a distinct mismatch between singer, mic, and pre.
Regarding EQ, Api’s to me have a super distinct sound. Both the hardware and the UAD versions. There’s a gorgeous API vision console in Charleston Sound south of where I’m at and it’s absolutely wonderful to work on. Those EQ’s are just ridiculous, but you don’t realize it until you actually turn a knob. Since you don’t have that luxury in a master mix, I don’t really know how you’d identify an API eq. Yeah, I think trying to guess which EQ got used on the bass guitar is pretty impossible.
Speaking of mics, I wouldn’t be able to randomly guess what specific mic was used on the lead singer. But I would be able to tell you that if you came into my studio, and tracked with my Blue Bottle mics, exactly which capsule was used on the vocalist. I could pick that out because there are 9 capsules in the set, and some would be completely wrong for a vocalist all together. The ones that do work, have radically different sonic signatures.
I’m finding out as I’m rambling that prior knowledge has a lot to do with this. If I know there’s a Vintage Fairchild in the mixing room, and I hear a super open transparent smooth compression on the lead vocal, I’m going to make an educated guess.