IMHO, there is no one like Becker and Fagen. They have always been concerned with sound quality. Steely Dan rules!
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Neil Young. He's such a purist even to the point of fanatically focusing on what is in the signal chain for his guitar. He will not permit signal processors in the chain. The only concession to automation is a contraption that mounts on the top of his vintage 50's Fender Deluxe amp and mechanically adjusts the tone/volume/gain pots to predefined settings for the song he's playing.
His LPs/CDs reflect this attitude and are excellent in every regard.
It's realy not necessary to master recordings with Maggies.
There is a substantially large volume of the various studio monitors to master a sound even more superior than with Maggies even back 40 years ago. It's not even audiophile equipment has a large factor of the good recording quality. It's definitely something more and my example is...
Frank Zappa not only sounds great but the music and musicians can realy hide the recording imperfections. Seing the movie "Apostrofe" made by his son Dweezil makes me believe that his records are brushed with excellence of professional mixing of large bands independed of an audio equipment used.
Another example of recording art is album Nunsexmonkrock by Nina Hagen:
Nunsexmonkrock totally grinds. It makes fun of just about everything, from the church ('Antiworld') to drugs ('Smack Jack') to religious obsessions ('Taitschi Tarot') to pompous futuristic declarations ('Future Is Now') to alien life ('UFO'). But even if you cannot make out the actual lyrics - and I sure can't most of the time - the very sound of the music is enough to drive you wild. Nina gets even more production-concerned on this album, which usually means featuring tons and tons and tons of vocal overdubs; sometimes there's as much as four or five Ninas vocalizing at the same time, each one in a different key and a different voice, yet in some perverse manner these overdubs merge together real well. Oh gosh, I mean, it's just my friggin' opinion.
So recording is more an art than quality of the studio monitors and equipment.
I was at a festival in a big ampitheatre years ago and the sound was just crap all day so muddy in the bass and shrill in the highs you couldn't understand the lyrics. Tom petty and Neil young were the last to play. Somehow magically the whole PA system was fixed for both of their sets. They sounded great and the Neil young show in particular stands out as one of my favorite live shows I've seen.
I did a bit of recording in my time and I came to the realization that I would rather have a great monitoring system than front end gear. If you can't really make sense of what you are hearing how can you make the right choice on what to do with a mix?
Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is a huge vinyl guy. Back when the cool question to ask by interviewers was "what's on your iPod," Vedder stated he doesn't have an iPod or even a CD player; he only listens to vinyl. The album VS' CD release was delayed because Pearl Jam wanted it released on vinyl first. It drove the record company insane (I think it was Sony), but they had enough clout after Ten. The CD version was released two weeks after the vinyl, much to the displeasure of the label and radio stations. A couple of DJs loved it, but I'm sure the execs weren't thrilled. A lot of customers weren't happy waiting for the CD, as by this point most had abandoned their turntables.
Actually, it may have been Vitology, not VS. Either way, a great story IMO.
I have my original Royal Scam LP...I'll have to go check it out, although I have listened to it fairly recently. Interesting. I did notice my Gaucho (a fave) CD SUCKS compared to the vinyl version...I suppose I should look for a better version but really...the vinyl sounds way better. This won a Grammy for engineering. Maybe a Mobile Fidelity version will do...taking suggestions. My Aja CD and vinyl both sound fine.