Ross Hogarth cemented his rep as being one of the nicest guys in the music business with his 2015 GS Q&A, answering any and all questions about his incredibly varied discography. He has worked with such luminaries as Roger Waters, Bruce Hornsby, The Black Crowes, Shawn Colvin, John Mellencamp, R.E.M., Jewel, Motley Crue, Keb'Mo, Jimmy Eat World and tonnes more, and the questions from our members ran the entire panorama of his wide-ranging experiences in the studio. Enjoy our transcription of this most excellent Q&A with a most excellent guy!



[top]
Re: Bruce Hornsby - I'd be interested to hear any thoughts, impressions, stories, whatever on working with him...e.g. is he a perfectionist or more of a "let it fly" guy...or a mix of both? I'm betting he's more adept than most at the technical end of things, at least for a musician...true? - bill5


I've known Bruce since before the first record in 1984 when I was an asst eng. He's a lovely guy and yes a perfectionist and one unbelievable musician. I made 2 other really great friends off that record. His drummer John Molo from those early records is one of my best friends still today and his guitar player George Marinelli, who now plays with Bonnie Raitt, is also one of my dearest friends, those guys were great and they have a legacy of music behind them too.

We did part of the first record at Rumbo. Huey Lewis was around...it was a great time because we had no idea that the record would be best new artist then the next record, I assisted Neil Dorfsman and then the next record they did with my buddy Don Gehman, whom I worked with on Mellencamp and REM.

I have utmost respect for Bruce. I actually did live sound for them when they opened up for the Grateful Dead at Laguna Seca in 1988. The very first time that Bruce opened and played before the Dead that actually was when the Dead filmed the Touch of Grey video at the show at night. That one show, and opening for the Dead lead to him being a member of the band for a while/ Actually I think he was the best musician on the stage for the last few weeks of the dead reunion…he's been part of that with trey from Phish.

The only thing that drove Molo crazy was the drum machine on the first few records that was the 80's and everyone thought drum machines were cooler than real drummers. Finally when they made Hot House and Harbor Lights Bruce let Molo loose to be the amazing drummer he is on those 2 records, they made those in his home studio in Virginia and the comfort and looseness shows they are my fave Hornsby records. I actually think that there is a great record out in the future for Bruce...he's just too good a musician and vocalist to not figure out how to make his epic great record where it all comes together again once and for all thats my 2 cents


[top]Re: Bruce Hornsby drums: Could you elaborate on this? I've heard of the technique in the 80s, where the drummer would provide the hi-hat and cymbals, and the drum machine would do the rest. Is that how it was for Molo? - krock2009


yes for a Miami School of Music graduate with the groove and deep pocket and musicology of John Molo playing cymbals and hi hat or not playing at all was maddening and then taking it on the road and having the groove and feel, kill the record was also maddening this was the 80's when artists and producers were enamored with the newly arrived drum machine.

It was insane it would take 4 times as long, if you were lucky to get the thing programmed and playing back when you could have had someone play it in 5 minutes. All the drummers at the time were driven mad by this, Jeff Porcaro Jim Keltner everyone.

So here's Molo's deal....the band gets signed, all amazing musicians. He and Bruce, U of Miami grads...with amazing chemistry and they go to make a record and his Drum Beats become a drum machine. I just found this on wikipedia…so it's actually written in the history of the band…hehe…they try and make it sound like it was a positive but when you hear live recordings you get a whole different taste of that syncopation and improv (Hornsby and the Range's sound was distinctive for its consistent use of syncopation in his piano solos, a bright piano sound and an extensive use of synthesizers as background for Hornsby's solos, most notable on the tracks "The Show Goes On" and "The Road Not Taken". John Molo's drumbeats were often looped throughout the recorded versions of songs. They are a typical double-time beat, which allowed Hornsby and the rest of the band to do more with their solos.)


[top]I was wondering if you have a preferred sample rate when recording digitally & also if you have any preferences as far as converters (A-D & D-A) - captainj


Sample rates can't help a bad song or singer .. haha…neither can your clock or converter. Just sayin .. ok got that out of the way

sample rate is easy, I like 96k for most things but if you are one of those engineers/producers that likes to record 140000 tracks and takes go down to a manageable rate 48/24 plain and simple.
44.1 is just a little closed off for me but it's just fine in the end too. I don't get to caught up in it but for hi track counts 88.2/96 is a nightmare still.

Clocking and conversion - I have to get something off my chest, I hate the sound of the Big Ben there..i said it. It makes the rig sound awful. Voodoo if you ask me

My favorite clock/converter is the Black Lion and the Antelope Audio clock. I had an Antelope for years until recently. Also Lavry is just fine. The Cranesong Hedd 192 is awesome and has the extra added bonus for color. My rig in my studio is a brown Avid HD by Black Lion with an external Black Lion and a Cranesong Hedd 192. Also I'm now using the amazing internal Black Lion clock. I am no longer using external clock.


Crane Song HEDD-192


[top]I've seen you mention your Manley ELOP a few times. I'm enjoying mine. I was curious if you are using it during vocal tracking and if so, how hard are you hitting it? Also, do you find the high pass option useful? - Paul C Johnson


I love my ELOP and use it almost exclusively for tracking lead vocals. I have one of the OG ones that did not come with side chain hi pass. I find that I can slam that meter on certain peaks when needed. This is why i love it. It is a set it and forget compressor when tracking vocals. Once i get it set correctly I rarely need to alter anything. The only other 2 compressors that I use similarly and decide upon when getting ready to track are my LA 3's and my Inward TSL 3 but the ELOP is usually the winner because it has a nice middle ground between the LA 3 and the Inward.


Manley Labs ELOP



UAD API 500 Series Collection

[top]Are there any plug-ins that have been able to replace hardware because you found it to be just as good, if not better? - _Mark


Not that they have replaced completely but there are a few that are really good. UA borrowed my actual OG API 560 eq's to model and since these specific ones were really special when they got it right. The UA 560 and 550 A eq's are really good. Also the UA 140 Plate is very good as is the AMS RMX. The Slate Digital VTM tape machine has some very cool attributes ITB and sounds musical to me. Lots of the digital delays like Echoboy or Waves H Delay and J37 have replaced my hardware.

I rarely use outboard delay processing anymore, just some old funky ones that are 8 bit and sound crappy. Like some crappy old Korg one I have....these have a sound that is hard to replicate. There are lots of eq's that work well from Waves, like the V series, and I like the UA Helios for the most part since I am mixing hybrid ITB, almost all my eq is happening ITB but the thing that is still lacking for me that I am always first reaching for in the analog domain is compression it seems that on really important in your face elements in the mix, I am still relying on my analog compression. Even though there are a few LA3 models my LA 3's have a sound or my 1176's there are tons of those and many work well on certain things but when I am compressing my lead vocal I am reaching for my analog OG 1176's or my Purple MC77.


[top]What point (if there is one at all) do you think it almost becomes a necessity to start doing things out of the box and also at what point (if you do (not 100% sure)) did you start going out of the box and what is your preference and why? - flytai45


I know some incredible mixers that are totally in the box and some that are completely analog. It's your ears. I am a hybrid mixer…I love my gear…my signal chain but also my plugins and my DAW. I am not a Pro Tools hater, I actually really like Pro Tools. I don't dig the chase to constantly upgrade or change what's working. I don't dig Avids disregard for us as music makers but in general, I am fine working in the box but having a lot of analog chains going. I don't plan on changing that.

I have never found a plugin that sounds like tubes and transformers. An 1176 plugin does not sound like my favorite 1176 or my Retro Sta Level or my mastering Pultecs or my Dramastic Obsidian on my mix bus but once again it's what I like and what makes me happy because at the same time the Waves J37 Tape plugin is awesome for especially slap, Slates tape plugin sounds really good Slate Trigger saves my ass everyday. The UA bundle is off the chain on and on ...so once again find a workflow dig in. Understand your room, your speakers. Have an ergonomic that allows you to be comfortable and then go kik ass and make great music.

A piece of gear never made a lousy song better ...like I said, it's in the ears and the writing. It's always easier to make great records with great artists.


[top]Can you talk a bit about tracking Laurel Lane? Instruments, mics, processing and so on. It's a fantastic sounding record. - syra


thanks .. again a record that not enough people have heard. I love this record the song Claim To Fame is a mission statement. Another real labor of love. Damon is the real deal artist. We tracked the rhythm beds at the Sunset Sound Factory and then took the tracks back up to San Luis Obispo where Damon has his Laurel Lane studio/rehearsal room and recorded the rest of the record there. Except the vocals which we did in my studio.

There are a lot of ribbon mics on the record. Royers of course and Coles and my RCA. also vintage amps like my tweed Vibrolux and my Gibson GA 6 also my Tweed Twin and Magnatone.


Kristian the keyboard player has a great B3 and Leslie and we put the Wurli, Clave and Rhodes through amps, old style. I wanted a warm old school neo soul sound with the bottom end pumping the horns were done with all Ribbon mics too. I really like how this record ended up. I mixed it in my studio the way I've basically been working for 10 years in ever evolving hybrid style


[top]My question would be, do you have an EQ approach that can be put into words, or is it all just a matter of feeling? Do you have certain frequency regions you find yourself coming back to often, or is it completely different between projects? When puzzling together the instruments, do you feel that there is a certain way that often works out for you or is it rather balancing the EQ need of every individual instrument with its place in the whole? Is it really just "turn the knobs til it sounds good"? Or are there certain guidelines that you adhere to? - Gertius


More often than not I am doing reductive eq when mixing as starting point
when tracking its a mixture of both but when mixing I find that instead of making something brighter finding the place in the murk of the sound that opens it up means that I will add much less eq
the place in the murk is instrument dependent but is somewhere between 250 and 800
then I look at the honk which is around 1-2 k
this frequency when dipped can really smooth out a sound
I also do quite a bit of high pass filtering .. cleaning out the crud at the very bottom
after this all I will then add top or bottom to taste

I also like more often than not to eq before compression
this way I clean the sound up before it gets hammered back ..


[top]Can you tell us your recording process for drums and guitars on the Coal Chamber album please? There are pictures and audio on the Royer Labs website, but can you tell us more? - sigmundsuperstar


the drums were my regular drum setup at Rumbo Recorders at the time
finding the right snare for each song
all the snares were mainly deep 6 1/2 x 14 because of the lo tuned guitars
and changing the kick out for Rowboat because that's a huge sound .. a 28" kik drum
all the drums were cut in 4 days.

Royer Labs R-121
The guitars were the challenge
all the songs were dropped way down in the keys of A and B and even one in G
This makes the guitar like a bass
so I played around a lot with guitars and string gauges to be able to be detuned and stay in tune
also the speakers
I used T70 celestions instead of vintage 30's because they held up better to the lo end and distortion
the cabs were mainly Rivera and Bogner 4x12
I also used what's called a los lo bottom that you can't find because there are only a couple made
this is a subwoofer for guitar that helps move extra lo air
i used a wide selection of heads from my modded Marshalls, Rivera , Bogner and an original 5150
then we would use little combos for the weird little overdubs
i recorded all the guitars with a blend of a 57/421/ Royer 121 or 122
i blend all the mics to one track
I do not keep the mics separate
I make decisions and commit

I am very proud of my work with Coal Chamber
I think it still holds up today ...


[top]Were the guitars tracked to tape? - Retinal


the whole record tracked to Pro Tools ...
i mixed it to my 1" 2track ATR at 15ips CCIR


[top]Do you use your ears and meters to level multiple tracks pre-mix, or will you use a program like Sound Forge to normalize the RMS? Say I have two guitars panned hard left and right, and a few over dubs to double track sections of the same. The four tracks may be off a few db's from one another. - clintmartin


Never Normalize
Ears First
Meters second
but yes
I keep an eye on the meters


[top]What is your best work to date, in your opinion (if you are allowed/want to say!) - and what artists have you not worked with but would really love to, given the opportunity? - Whitecat


Some of the best work I think I have done was never asked about these past 2 weeks
Last year I was nominated for Best Engineered record for my Keb' Mo' "BluesAmericana" record
I am extremely proud of that nomination and the sound of that record
a record we talked about
Ziggy Marley "Dragonfly" and Jewel's "Spirit" I think are a couple of my cleanest records
also my first Keb Mo record "Slow Down" that won best Blues in 1998
also Damon Castillo "Laurel Lane" is a little Indie record that I think I nailed and am super proud of
For a sick as F$$K record
I am proud of Coal Chamber "Dark Days"
I am someone that keeps trying to better myself and my craft so I hope I keep learning and getting better and also get to work with amazing artists
the list is so long as far as great artists I want to work with
it's hard even to start to come up with ..
a few are
Van Halen without DLR .....
Foo Fighters
Stevie Wonder
Joni Mitchell
Pete Townsend
Derek Trucks
Allison Krause
London Philharmonic
D'Angelo
Bill Withers
Tom Petty
Zac Brown
Vince Gill
Full Pink Floyd
Eric Clapton

AND
OF COURSE
KANYE WEST and Kim K .....
ya know ??


[top]I have a couple of questions for you related to phase adjustment on drums.
Do you use Time adjuster delays on Pro Tools? or you just flip the phase polarity switch checking different elements against others (kick or snare to OH's for instance) until the whole thing works.
Do you delay your direct microphones using time adjuster until they are in the closest position to your OH? or you think that the delay between direct microphones and OH actually helps to a bigger sound?
In the first option the attack seems to be smeared but i know a couple of guys who defend that it's the best way.
It seems the traditional approach, without making that kind of things, worked like a charm for ages, without any kind of time adjuster plug... What do you think about it?
Any other consideration about the phase when you're recording drums? I think that a drum kit is one of the hardest things to record properly. - Jakelorenz


I am a get it right at the source and in the recording type of engineer
back when i started we never slid overheads or rooms
we placed mics correctly and got the phase right when we pushed record
understand a couple things
back when I started
often we only had one multitrack 24 or 16 track as our only number of track for the whole record
So, when I started making records my drum layout was Kik, Sn a stereo track of Overs/Hihat/Toms all on that stereo track and the Rooms on their own track 6 tracks total for the drums with the Toms /Hat and Overheads all blended or maybe the hi hat on its own track too the snare was a blend of whatever snare mic the kik a blend…so…YOU HAD TO GET IT RIGHT

Phase is not an exact science when it comes to drums just because you GUI says you lined it up how do you really know unless it sounds right and that amount of time from the source is what makes in that differing distance on drums something that creates dimension
learn how to hear phase relationships between microphones and learn how to flop phase on the way in or move a mic and GET IT RIGHT ON THE WAY IN I must be honest here I NEVER ADJUST TIME IN A DAW WHEN I RECORD EVER ...I get it right. I have seen drums so poorly recorded in the last few years because there are more and more DIY engineers that do not understand phaseand how a good phase relationship sounds compare to an out of phase relationshipI must saywhen you start to get it right it will build a much more solid foundation for the rest of your tracks out phase drums cause you to have to Eq way more and cause you many more problems down the road


[top]Could you touch on your preferred listening levels while mixing? I - Crash


I mix very moderately I am probably at me loudest when working on the bottom end but turn down to a nice moderate volume for the rest of the day
loud levels confuse and compress the ear
I just end up turning up loud to make sure nothing is hurting me or not feeling right at a loud level but this is usually only for a pass or 2 to vibe on


[top]Recently I was tracking a session bass player who came up from Nashville and he was shocked that I wanted him to bring his bass amp. According to him he usually just shows up to sessions and they jack him into a sans amp and thats it.
I prefer the sound of the cabinet miked in the room (D6 &/or Fet47).
Just curious what you do for bass these days?
Also do you compress bass and if so do you do it on the way in or during mixdown? - Paul Vnuk Jr.


Retro Instruments STA-Level
I totally agree
If I can record air on just about anything i like it better
so
I use a DI , usually one of three .. the EVil Twin i've had for 30 years , or the new Radial Firefly or my new most favorite , The Acme Audio Motown DI
I love this new DI
then a bass amp of choice, the B15 or B100R or SVT or even a guitar amp with FET 47 or a BLUE Mouse
sometimes I need to use a Little Labs IBP (in between phase) putting the amp in better phase with the di)
and I also add a third track, some kind of distortion .. because i like distortion on bass
I very rarely compress going in
when I mix my very favorite Bass Compressor is the Retro Sta Level
nothing compares
not even my modded Altecs
the Sta Level is THE BOMB for bass


[top]Do you have any favorite settings on the Sta-Level for bass? - xj32


STA LEVEL YES!!!!!!
you a smawt mahn ..
i actually use single mode and its either 1 or 2 cliks from fastest
and yes
the sta level can do loads of compression as far as the meter is concerned and you never really hear it or perceive it too much ...
and on bass
the extra lo end glue it gives is un matched


[top]I was wondering what you generally gravitate towards for a signal chain when recording a male vocal on a singer/songwriter/acoustic style song? I know every song is different, but are there certain pieces of gear or philosophies you tend to use? I was thinking about your work on the Brandon White EP or the Matt Morris record or something along those lines. - Ivan555


I take the hippocratic oath when engineering vocals in general , which is first .. do no harm ..
I like a mic pre and compressor that will embellish the recording and leave plenty of room later for any type of processing
open and clear mic pre's are first go to and then for the right thing I may choose a more colored mic pre, probably tube
for compression
I like a simple optical compressor like an LA3 or my original Manley ELOP or the Inward TSL3 because I can set it and forget it
These do just enough and leave plenty of room later for anything needed
the LA2A is a little slow but might be nice if a fast uncolored comp is used in front for the peaks that get knocked down

I am not afraid of using 2 compressors
one for the peaks and one for a little more compression
instead of asking one compressor to do all the work
2 sometimes each doing less sounds more musical


[top]I wanted to know what your take is on parallel compression and buss compression. I know you mentioned you compress tracks individually. Any tips or tricks on these methods? - edvdr76


I love parallel compression
I use it on many different instruments
especially drums, bass, vocals, guitars ...
I am a big fan of how it helps not hit the mix buss as hard and helps make more punchier immediate mixes
thusly
I do not hit my mix buss compressor heavily
I use a Dramastic Obsidian on my mix buss or a modified Api2500
and I do not go any deeper than 2-4 db
I find when the mix buss is slammed deeper than 2-4 db
it closes down all the detail and depth of field i am creating


Dramastic Audio Obsidian


[top]We heard you saying "music lives in the midrange" often and I fully
agree with you on that, but my question is:
When mixing, do you start from there? From the elements that have the most energy in the midrange? Then build the rest, top and bottom,
around it? - Retinal


No no . don't misunderstand me
I definitely start with drums/perc and bass
rhythm instruments
but from there I start getting the vocal into the mix early on
and making sure that the vocal has a home always and I'm not taking it for granted
my point about the midrange is that, that is where the song lives
thats where the information lives
so don't take it for granted and make sure you understand your midrange and the role it plays in a good mix


[top]I love the El Rayo X album. Any stories from that or tips on recording David Lindley. Any tips for getting the bass to sit like and have all the notes speak.
I noticed the same thing on the Ziggy Marley Dragonfly album. You really nail that vibey reggae bass thing. - Guavadude


I started as David Lindley's guitar tech and he gave me some of my earliest opportunities to engineer and be more than a tech
David Lindley and El Rayo X hold a very special and dear place in my heart
The band became more than a band to me, it was family.
The first record was produced by Jackson Browne as a favor to Lindley and mostly engineered by Greg Ladanyi ( a legend)
I was just a pup and a sponge but I knew what the sounds were supposed to sound like
My most important lesson from back then is if it sounds good in the room
it was the the engineers job to translate it
if it did not sound correct out in the room no amount of engineering can fix that
and if it does not sound great in the control room and great out in live room, somehow what you are doing is causing that translation NOT to happen
Lindley is a tone merchant and I learned a lot of ear training being around him and the guys that he was around
I learned a lot from him, Ry Cooder, Lowell George,Jackson, and that gang back then
it was a fundamental time of my life ...


[top]What is your usage of Lexicon (Hall and Plate algos) reverbs? What is their best weapon in you opinion? thanks - SuchyRNRStudio


whatever works !!
i don't own any Lexicon hardware anymore
but when I used it on the 480 I loved the brick wall and all the inverse ones ... , the wooden rooms, the vocal shimmer, jazz hall, the vocal plate
on the 224 I almost always just used Plate ... or Chamber
EXPERIMENT !!!!!!!!! USE YOUR EARS ... thats what the are there for ...



UA AMS RMX16

[top]What reverb plugins or hardware pieces do you find yourself using most frequently these days? Also how do you process your vocal reverbs to get a lush sound that sticks out in a mix? - OwensDrumming


I use 2 Bricasti's, my old AMS, a couple of old tube springs, a 2016, H Reverb, UA ..plate/224/250/RMX ... Altiverb, ReVibe, sheesh a bunch
whatever works that day really
I look over my list and get nutty when I am looking for reverb
i get bored easy with reverb
I'll open an Altiverb and find something I've never used and then Eq it to be what I want
H Reverb is great to mess with
the UA plate works every time I need a plate, the UA RMX is incredible ..
I don't know man .. maybe just turn it up if you want to hear more of it ??



Empirical Labs DerrEsser

[top]Hey Ross! This is Alex from Rustbelt Studios in MI. Learned a lot from you while assisting but have a question I'm hoping you can answer.
What is your go-to method for De-essing a vocal? Or, are there specific things you do while tracking to reduce sibilance?
Thanks, hope to see you again soon.
- Alex - Akayemusica


alex .. how goes buddy ? ..see you in October !!
these are all things I do ..
as few specifics might be
in the box my go to plugs are the old Eiosis de-esser and the Fabfilter de-esser that I just started using
the 500 series DerrEsser is great out of the box
and also doing clip gain helps smooth it out or even automated eq before the de-esser to help the de-esser not to have to work as hard
the thing to watch in recording is too fast an attack on your compressor and then over compression .. this will grab the ess and then over accentuate it ..
and of course the cheap chinese capsules on a lot of mics today are just too bright
I do use de-essers often for crushed room or overheads where the cymbals or hi hats are just terrible overbearing
I do not use de-essers ever in tracking
its just not my style or recording


[top]On Vocals alone, DO you Desss often? Every time? - NewOrleansSteve


I de-ess when needed when mixing regardless of who recorded
If its needed
I do it
my motto has always been
Whatever works
like said tho
NEVER ON TRACKING


[top]Re: Van Halen's Different Kind of Truth. I was interested in how you treated Alex's drums with varying levels of and different compressors in parallel. - lespaul1981


I tend to approach drum mixing similarly whether its Van Halen or any other record depending on how much information the drums need to compete with
some of my go to approaches are multing or duplicating the kik and snare so there is a duplicate kik and snare
then I process the duplicated kik and snare to taste with an possibly a gate then an api 560 eq into a Distressor
this allows me to have a gated compressed kik and snare to add to the dry kik and snare for punch and crack
I will often mult the O/H and compress and eq these for whatever ever I am looking for added to the dry cymbals
Rooms can make your kit sound huge if they are recorded correctly and then compressed heavily after the recording
If you squash your room to heavily in the recording you cant get it back later
but in a mix compressed room are great to make drums sound huge
The Chandler Emi, Distressors,Fatso,SSL, Neve 33609, Fairchilds and 1176's work great for this
then
I will usually have an overall drum buss mult and crush
this takes parts of the whole kit and I compress and eq this to taste to bring the whole kit into a glue factor or punch and glue
my faves for this are the Overstayer / Compex/SSL / Smart/
The Overstayer has become one of my very favorite crushing compressors
It's amazing so even tho the question was targeted to Van Halen I do this or pieces of this on every mix to taste and yes
the RMX 16 is my absolute fave reverb for drums along with the Eventide 2016 and now the Bricasti but I do not usually use anything but the RMX on drums because I dont like reverb on drums .. i like well crushed overheads and rooms ... reverb just tends to blur except for the RMX


Overstayer Stereo VCA Compressor


[top]Re: Van Halen's Different - A Different Kind of Truth: What was the vocal recording chain you used, mic/pre/etc on Blood and Fire ?
Was it the same for the whole album or did it change song by song? - smack


Actually one mic was used for all of Daves vocals
he is a creature of habit
and has a certain voodoo associated with what works
also
if you use one mic and one mic pre
no matter what day your working on something
if you want to change or alter something
anything
it always matches
and if it does not match
its the VOCAL / ARTIST or the distance from the mic
not the engineering
so
Neumann M 49
I use
one mic
one mic pre
and NO EQ
and NO COMPRESSION
weird right ? no compression
but with DLR he does not want to hear the wrong compression pushing back on him
so we set up basically the compression he likes in his phones
and that would not be the kind of compression I would want to print on his vocal
so
I use no compression and deal with that in the mix
and the compression he hears is strictly for him to vibe to and sing to for his dining and dancing pleasure

so
MIC = a great M49 ...
PRE = a nice NEVE 1084

done ....
pre set with plenty of headroom so no overs in Pro Tools on his screams


[top]Hi, how does your compression and EQ (if you are using) on mix buss forces you to make decisions in mix? - SuchyRNRStudio


pick the compression you are using early on
after you've probably started to get a drum and bass balance
then when you like what you have
its ON
thats it ON !
so if you did turn it off
it would affect your mix adversely
if when you turn it off you like your mix better
youve screwed the pooch
and eq
same
if youre gonna put a little eq on
put it on early because why would you be eqing your individual channels and then eq the mix to change that ?
sometimes a late in the game smiley curve is ok
but in general i get eq and compression working early on and set it and forget it basically


[top]Re: Jewel: Spirit - Would love to hear any details on this project - you've gone over drums in general, but guitars? Piano? Vocals? Mixing?. The sense of space is great. 30 ips? 15 ips? Etc etc. - Synonym Music


I'm super proud of that record
I really enjoyed making it and the whole gang I made it with
It was produced by Patrick Leonard, whom I have been working with now for 30 years
he also wrote the first single "Hands" and played all the keyboards
Brian Macleod was the drummer, Paul Bushnell played Bass
Jude Cole and James Harrah on guitars with a guest appearance by Flea on one song

Neve 8078
We tracked the whole record in the summer of '97 at Jackson Brown's studio in Santa Monica
on his amazing Neve 8078
All the rhythm beds were tracked to 16 track 2" at 15ips
then transferred to a Sony 3348 for Vocals and overdubs
BUT the original tape was then locked up to the Sony digital machine for the mixdown and used NOT the the transferred data .. the original analog locked back to the digital for all the original beds

The drums were recorded very simply with really nice tube mics
Telefunken 251's on overheads
KM 56's on toms
D19 on snare
AKG C28 on hat
Fet 47 on kik
C37A's on room
Coles on mono room
U47 as an additional mono far room

Bass was Paul Bushnells rig which was an Ampeg B15 and his pedal boards for effect

Electric Guitars were mainly very vintage amps with a 57 and royer on each
the earliest Royers ever because the company was barely started
sometimes compressed with a Fairchild for tone

Piano was usually a mono C12 compressed heavily "Beatles" style

Acoustic guitar almost always was my Schoeps CMC 5U into an old Neve Germanium pre into an old Altec or neve 2254

Jewels vocal was one of the capsules of a great C24 into a Grace preamp into a Manley ELOP barely tapping it
ON mixdown actually often the vocal was compressed with my newest fave toy at the time .. the Distressor ... it was just out and we all used it on everything
on a setting that to this day I rarely change on vocals
3/1 with a few of the buttons pushed in
i find it works great on female singers
also the tried and true 2254 on vocal

one thing i did do on the record was find ways to keep certain things bone dry and then be able to record other things with more room
minimal mics but taking the time to get it right
so the tones were there at mixdown and all we had to do was balance them

all in all one of the records that sonically I am very proud of because of how it fits together
whether you like the music or not ... I don't write the songs and I am not the artist
all I can do is try my best to embellish it all


[top]Given that budgets are still shrinking somewhat, (I am assuming you are finding this too?) all other things being equal, what would you consider to be the minimum useful duration for an album session?
I noticed you said you spent 7 weeks in with REM, do you think you could have made the same record in 4? - Whack Doofa


budgets are definitely shrinking
that's an understatement
and a lot of the old ways we made records are over
done
finito
so we have to get craftier because I still want to make great music and not crappy music because the money is not there
so
we have all become more and more aware of how long we spend on certain things and studio time and such
its a tough situation out there
and we have to make it work or else
so
its changed how I prepare to go in the studio and its changed prioritizing as far as songs that aren't as worthy to be recorded
it is a whole new frontier out there now ...


[top]Just wondering if you ever record drums in a small room and what's the best way to treat the room. Would you use diffusers, absorption, Bass Traps? What about the overheads? Would mic placement be any different? - mrmike186


small rooms are sometimes awesome but often times a bit boxy and uninspired
some things to make sure
one is figure 8 or omni is probably not gonna be great if your ceiling is low because you'll be recording that boxy stuff up at the top
use cardioid
also if your drummer can not smash his cymbals and hi hats
that will help your drum sound in a small space
you may try ORTF if just over the top of the kit sounds natural
this may give a more pleasing sound than a spaced pair
or a nice stereo mic may be the tip
I would also see if the sound in front of the drums is pleasing and less boxy
maybe you can get a nice sound with a mono mic in front
The boxy nature of a small space is usually the problem but a small space can also be very punchy and cool
I've also gotten great results finding one of the corners where the lo end buildup is rad and putting one mic up facing into the corner for just reflection
and then compressing that quite a bit

have at it ....


[top]Re: Steely Dan: I feel like these guys set a new precedent in sound quality. Was there pressure on you to meet it? - Swampstomper


Oscar Wilde said it best
Just be yourself ... everyone else is already taken ..

I can only do what I do
but let great records inspire us musically and sonically
and always will
so
insert name for Steely Dan
and we are always looking for inspiration and something great to lead us somewhere

like this month in rotation is
BB King
Kendrick Lamar
Frank Zappa
D'Angelo
Houses of the Holy (LEd Zep for you youngin's)
Pantera
Miles Davis
Flying Lotus
and Milk Carton Kids
musically I will always be all over the place ... getting my inspiration from everything


[top]Re REM What is their general approach to capturing their material? - LobCity


I engineered and mixed "Lifes Rich Pageant"
it was their 3rd record and the first gold/platinum record and they were very young still then
Bill Berry was still their drummer before he had to leave the band because of a brain aneurism that almost killed him
they were and are a real band but back then they were the band that was still a college audience band and not widely popular

Don Gehman was the producer (back then his fame was Mellencamps records)
and we made the record in Belmont Mall, John Mellencamps studio in Indiana
we had finished Scarecrow , and John was out on tour
and the studio I/we had built for John Mellecamp was empty so Don called me and said we were going back to do REM's next record
The songs were prepro'd in Athens,Ga where they live so by the time we reconvened in Bloomington (Belmont Mall)
they played live to our one 24 track and we made a record like you do
live takes off the floor
rarely an edit from take to take

then overdubs and vocals
the record took 7 weeks to record
we came back and mixed it in LA

Stipe of course is the lyricist and the deep dark brooding genius
but the secret weapon of the band is Mike Mills
He played organ and other key instruments
sang all the crazy off beat harmonies
and is a very colorful and rich character
Peter is still in my book one of the great rhythm guitar players in alternative music
and they make a sound together that is very identifiable

I love that record and the experience in that point in my life with those guys
I think musically it still holds up for me


[top]When you go into a mix, how do you balance the forest and the trees? Also, if you could address the mixer/producer relationship and your thoughts about that as well. It seems that as the business has contracted, most of us are forced to wear both of these hats, which complicates things even further! - Grandma


Firstly, If I am producing/engineering and mixing my own production I find it way easier to mix the record because I have been basically thinking about the finished product from the get go
If this is not easy for you and you find yourself lost in the process I have to ask, why don't you get someone to mix for you instead of you being frustrated or not happy ? One of my favorite sayings is "Anything you resist , will persist "
If you can't find the forest from the trees, I think you need to step back and recalibrate your needs ...
sometimes you just have to pull everything down to nothing and build it from scratch.
Sometimes simplifying will help but I'll just let you sit on that one .. because honestly i love mixing my own records.. i don't find it as challenging as getting a ton of tracks and having to make sense out of it
this is when I am contracted to mix and now I do need to find the forest from the trees
productions these days are getting so cumbersome and engineer producers aren't making decisions and leave it for the mixer
this drives me nuts
how am i supposed to know what was intended
you guys just spent weeks making this record and in 12 hours I am supposed to know all the answers
this is crazy
I think more people these days need to be making commitments and decisions
as far as the producer/mixer
i think communication and boundaries are really important
recently i was asked to mix a record and when i got started I realized that what I thought was cool was not what the artist thought was cool and what the producer thought was cool was not what the artist liked and here i was caught in the middle of all that
i made it clear to the producer that i wanted the artist happy but since he contracted me, he really needed to be happy, but since the artist was paying , if she was not happy, then i probably would have a hard time getting paid
and guess what
thats what happened, i ended up giving the record back because it was becoming a crazy nose bleed that i did not need
I tried everything to open the lines of communication but it was not going to work
so once again
everything you resist will persist
so, i stepped away
because really, i try to be really zen about this all
you can't be all things to everyone
now, this is a rare incident but real altogether
in looking back there are some things i learned from that incident
I try and learn from all things in my life
I find some of the best lessons come from breakdowns and negative situations' where things went south
as far the good side
if communication is good
things go smoothly
i like when an artist or producer says
you don't need the rough mix, there is nothing there to hear .. just do your own thing
thats when i need the rough mix and they are super attached to it and i better not change much
this is when we do whats called
mix/match and improve
that way you save yourself the indignity of hear that the demo or rough mix was better
because they've been living with it for weeks
so once again this business is still more about people and reading the situation then it is all about the technical ..
learn how to read situations and people
it will help in all areas of record making and production


[top]What is your attitude to tube Gear? - MindMemories


Inward Connections TSL-3
I am a total lover of certain tube and transformer based gear.
I have been using tubes and transformers my whole career and don't plan ever to stop
My Retro Instruments gear made by Phil Moore are some of my very favorite recent tube gear
He makes magical boxes
His Sta Level compressors, 176 compressor and 2A3 eq are in use every single day ...
Eveanna Manley's ELOP stereo LA2A has been a go to since the early 90's
My LA 2a and my LA2 are mainstays
my modded Altecs are crushing everyday
Steve Jackson now makes Pultecs that are perfect and awesome and I love them
Steve Firlotte and Inward Connections TSL3 is a goto vocal and acoustic guitar smasher
The 3D quality of a well capped , NOS tubed piece of gear is unbeatable and can't be truly modeled by a plugin I'm sorry to say
many plugs come close but no cigar
It's nice that you can buy a rather rare and expensive 6386 tube now from JJ easily so good tubes are not as hard to get as they were around 10 years ago
I think once you have played around with certain tube gear you will find its rather sweet tonal beauty with its wonderful harmonic distortion


[top]Do You use plugins? I have understood that You mix hybrid: analog and digital. What kind of plugins do You use and for what purpose? What are the plugins that do a job that hardware can't? - kite


this question is just too wide to answer simply
the list is long ... too long .. and I help beta test and write presets for my friends at Waves, UA, Slate,Eiosis ,MCDSP , URS , Kazrog and Sound Toys
I use plugins all over my mixes .. for eq, effects etc etc
the one thing I find is that my classic compression still beats plugs
the gear that has a lot of tubes and transformers
or gear that really has a tone i use for tone
but the plugins are great now too

Steven Slate Drums Trigger 2
Steven Slate Trigger is a game changer for hamburger helper for drums and his VTM is very cool , his mix buss comps and mix rack are cool for some stuff
I use a lot of Waves plugs .. they have so many great plugs .. V series, API, love the new ADT, love the J37 for certain things and tape slap, H Delay, H Reverb and I just did a series of videos for the new Butch Vig plugin
UA .. what can I say .. UA is killing it right now too .. love these guys .. almost everything works great ... so many here
MCDSP .. the green E6 is still my favorite eq for simple eq and hi and lo pass
Kazrog Recabinet is an amazing cabinet simulator for crappy guitar sounds
Eiosis Air EQ and De esser .. !!
SANS AMP !!!
LO Fi !!
simple Digi Delay
URS Saturation is still a go to plugin
Fabfilter .. love some of these plugs .. the GUI is cool on certain plugs
Massey makes some stuff !!
Kush UBK is nuts
SoundToys !!!! amazing effects .. Echoboy,Decapitater, Devil Loc Deluxe , the filters .. all the plugs they all work great
CRane Song Phoenix !! can't live without it ..
PSP makes a few cool ones
Altiverb .. can't forget that
Overloud Mark 2 for bass
Native Instruments for guitar
My PT10 rig still has Amp Farm and EchoFarm working .. they were killed off in 11
I could go on and on and on .....
you get the picture
I am not a purist
I spread the audio love around .. between analog and digital ..


[top]As a huge fan of Dio, can you tell us a little about your recording experiences on the making of Sacred Heart, and about the guitar amps and gear used to make that amazing sounding album. - Countrymetalguy


this was a lifetime ago so details are blurry ..
way back when we weren't thinking that 30 some odd years later some one would care what the heck we were doing .. haha
Viv Campbell was the guitarist and an incredible one at that
back in those days the only real game was Marshalls ... and the Marshall of choice for rock in the early 80's was a JCM 800
and maybe lower gain JCM's for stuff and the odd Vox AC30
I did have a great Hi Watt and Sound City that was used on stuff back in that period of time but details like i said are blurry
what I can share is that Ronnie was an incredible person and singer
and an amazing cook
he made a badass spaghetti gravy for us in a big pot (those of us from NY call spaghetti sauce ..gravy)
he cooked almost everyday for us and would occasionally be called into the vocal booth by Angelo Acuri his producer for a vocal and he would go in
all 5'4" of him in his cooking apron to sing something insanely badass ..still wearing his apron with sauce splatters on it
not very rock and roll for imagery but that was Ronnie James
He had no airs and was so down to earth
i loved that guy .. he was the real deal


[top]I was curious how hands on Roger Waters is in the studio. I imagine him to be very involved in the process; do you ever have issues with artists "micromanaging" in the studio? - Bstapper


Roger is brilliant and of course we know that ... and extremely competitive
His co producer Pat Leonard is also brilliant and extremely competitive in a different way
they play off each other to the greater good ... forcing me to up my game

when I am around people that are better or smarter than me it makes me better
I am a sponge for that
One of my mottos has always been, surround yourself with people better than you and let them help you make yourself a better version of yourself
so in this case
all good all the time no matter what

Now
in other cases
the artist that is insecure with himself and not experienced and micromanaging can be a problem
this is where people skills come into play if I am the one in the room with more experience and more knowledge
sometimes the micromanaging artist will micromanage all the life out of a mix or the project
so I need to keep this in check without telling the artist no or stop all the time
sometimes the wacky ideas are awesome
its my job to try things all the time and it always takes more time to stop and discuss sh** for an hour than it is to try something that is worth trying
music comes out of the speakers so proving by example is way better than hours of talk about why not ..
I have had artists want to move a drum kit into some weird space and tear down a drum kit and sound that took hours to do
so in this case I might take a kik and snare and a room mic into that space without destroying what we have so I can either prove by example
that the sound works or not
I've also changed whole mixes because of the artist not liking the panning
and if I respect that artist and he respects me we will end up with something great
if there is no mutual respect
you're fu**ed
so
once again it is a blend of people skills and communication


[top]I've heard you know something about the sound of the Overstayer MAS. Is this more of a tape sim type of sound or is it mainly a distortion/saturation type thing? - Rob Coates


Jeff Turzo of Overstayer is brilliant and MAD .. a mad scientist to come up with the gear he does he comes up with boxes that are unique and sound unique.
The MAS is a crazy voodoo box I really have no idea what it does except make what goes in come out sounding cool
It does smooth the edges and round the curves but
you can get it to be crunchy when you hit it hard or smooth when you dont hit as hard
I would invite Jeff on here to explain in his own words what it does
but my experience of it is that its subtler than his Saturator which can really be aggressive and nasty
I also love his FET compressor on drums .. OMG ..that is a great box ..
the Saturator is definitely more obvious than the MAS
but the MAS is has a really nice midrange bump on Wurli's and Clavs and spanky guitars
Its for sure a must try box for people that like hardware
and like I said
The FET compressor will spank your drums like no other ... go get em Overstayer !


[top]What are your tricks and tips for getting a great vocal performance out of a singer? Any tips? How about dealing with singers that are nervous, or having a bad day? - Telecasterrok


Tip and tricks for vocals ...
Headphone mix is everything to start with ... I like to give the singer my mix so I know exactly what they are hearing
try not to give them too much reverb because this affects pitch
make sure they have something good to pitch from like the bass .. plenty of bass in the phones is good
if they are out of tune
and pushing sharp its usually because they are sing too hard so make sure you arent over compressing or have some wack limiter on the mix buss
if they are flat its usually because they are not moving enough air and might hear too much of themselves
make sure things like extra overdubs arent crowding them
simplify the mix .. keep it simple for the singer so they can focus on whats important
again, dont over compress them, it will cause a strange vocal dynamic

for nerves, lighting is important, the whole feng shui of where they are singing
lava lamps
a table for tea and liquid
a nice table lamp if your lighting sucks
tapestry's ..
put your phone away
have all people in the room put their phones away
I use an open talk back on my sessions
I have a 57 wide open all the time so musicians out in the room can hear everything thats being said unless I dont want them to and turn it off
this way they are included in all conversations

if the chorus is really high or there is a part of the song thats really hard to sing I will warm the singer up to this
I might have the singer sing just one or 2 passes tops before focusing on section before I go back to the whole song
I dont want to burn the singer out and not get the whole song if the outro or the bridge is high and hard
sometimes it really helps the singer to focus on the meaning of the lyrics if they sing a few verses and move on to the next verse
before hitting the chorus' and then maybe a couple more full passes for continuity
If it is a song that the singer has written NO LYRIC SHEET
make the singer learn his or her song
I mean WTF ??!! are you telling me that they are in the studio about to give the performance of their life and they don't know the lyrics ?
that's insane to me

humor is really helpful with nerves
also make sure you give them just enough rest between takes if it is a tough song but don't let them lose momentum
make sure your singer is singing on an empty stomach if possible
they sing better that way
also
this business about singing with you head angled up is bogus
that actually puts a strain on your vocal cords
try it now, crane your neck upward ... it will strain you
now crook your neck slightly downward
its much more natural
one last tip
if they are still flat on certain notes
have them try raising their eyebrows on those notes
the eyebrow up body language actually raises pitch ..


[top]Could you tell me about Eddie Money's album "Can't Hold Back"? How did you mic the drums? - krock2009


I was an asst engineer on that record at Rumbo and Oasis
Richie Zito produced
Phil Kaffel did the tracking of the drums
Mike "Pooh" Baird was the drummer on the tracks with real drums
the only thing that comes to mind that Phil did that was unique was put a set of short gobos up close to the kit and put 87's down behind close to the floor for a dark compressed room
It's a trick I stole from him for a while
besides that it again, this is one of those that was 30 years ago questions that is hard to answer
when you were doing as much work on a daily basis as I was, a question about these sessions from way back I marvel at
because its like asking what I had for dinner that year .. haha .. kinda ..
but I can understand why the question is asked .. but some of the details are hard to answer ..


[top]During your time working with Giorgio Moroder, do you remember what console was being used? Did you work with him only on the Top Gun soundtrack, or were there any other projects that you worked with him on?
Did Giorgio have any favorite compressors, EQ or effects? Was there a specific reverb he preferred? - engtech


I was actually Giorgio's staff engineer for a while in the 80's at his studio Oasis, which had been called Davlen before he bought it
which is now Larabee North in No Ho

..my good friend the producer, Richie Zito brought me into his studio to be a part of everything that was going on .. even tho I was involved in a bunch of other things at the time

In Oasis we had 3 rooms.
We had an early ssl E in one room ..it was the first ssl in LA
and Soundcraft TS 24 consoles in the other 2
One room was a writing/overdub room with a 32 channel TS24 and in the bigger room was 56 input TS24

Giorgio was working on a lot of things ..Top Gun, Bev Hills Cops ..Metropolis, Days of Thunder, ..sheesh I can't remember it all .. and he was designing the world's greatest car with the world's finest car designers ..the Cizetta Moroder ..
Harold Faltermeyer was doing Bev Hills Cop 1 and 2 , Running Man, Fletch ..etc .. he had a Synclavier
Keith Forsey was doing Billy Idol
Richie was producing Heart, Cheap Trick, Gregg Rolie , Eric Martin
Gary Chang was around, Jim Wirt, Sylvester Levey was in doing Rambo movies
it was a fertile group and very fertile tim
I did everything from early midi programming and Linn programing and tracking everything to writing little cues for some of the movies
We had 4 of the very first Sony PCM 24 track ..3324 tape machines
so we could make clones of the tape and have all 3 rooms doing the same song at the same time .. like today with computers

Lexicon 224
we had a pretty light gear list
ams delay's in all room
LEXICON 200's in all rooms
Lexicon 224's in all rooms
4 Lexicon 42's in all rooms
and some DBX 160's
some 160x's
and maybe a couple other things but it was very stripped down
His favorite effects were the plate in the 224
inverse program 6 in the 200
ams harm 6 up 6 down
and a quarter/dotted eighth on the 2 Lexicon 42's
this way we could do basically the same same balance from room to room on the same song ..
like a Pro Tools rig today with the same plugs ...
it was a precursor to todays work flow ...in the mid/early 80's ..
nuts right ?




[top]Mötley Crüe - Girls, Girls, Girls has an almost unique voice and chorus treatment.
Same FX is even more pronounced in Dr. Feelgood, making Vince Neil's voice on that album easily recognizable... Question is about Vince Neil's Voice:
Which FXs were used ?? Lexicon reverbs ?? Some modulation tricks ?? - tribeofenki


Man .. it was the 80's and I am racking my brain to remember ...
In the recording we often tripled Vince to thicken .. sometimes he was helped by singers like Tommy Funderburk .. who could sing his ass off ..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Funderburk

Not to say of course Vince wasn't the singer but Tommy definitely was hamburger helper on a lot of records a that time
and sometimes it wasn't Vince only doubling himself ...

as effects ..it was the 80's ..
so for sure it had AMS 1580 harm ... and AMS RMX
and Lexicon 42's
but I am sorry to say that period of my life leaves a blur .... so forgive me on any other details


[top]What are in your opinion the most important qualities you look for when you choose a Mastering Engineer? - karibu


First off, I DO NOT master my own records
I find that would be like the surgeon operating on himself
I find that the great mastering engineers are like good makeup artists (not gain makeup only)
they make us look good but if we liked our original mixes I am not looking for the mastering engineer to remix my record with M/S, compression and eq this drives me nuts and too much limiting for the loudness war makes me crazy. I like a good solid level and just the right touch of eq or compression or whatever voodoo you guys do and then its ready for primetime.

I trust the handful of guys I work with and we communicate when something isn't just the way I want or expect and thats wonderful because the communication is fluid the list of the guys I love to work with is long but a few come to mind:
Gavin Lurssen
Greg Calbi
Bob Ludwig
Bernie Grundman
Howie Weinberg
Dave McNair
Richard Dodd
Joe Gastwirt
to name a few ...


[top]I always wondered if Eddie Van Halen only played a single guitar track on his recordings that is recorded with several speakers/gear to get it in stereo with a nice spread?
Could you please explain the process? - Rickard Bengtsso


:The story starts in 1977 when Ted Templeman and Donn Landee were making the first record ...
Ted asked Ed to not play the solos and just play rhythm because they would overdub the solos
Alex and the band had never played that way and when they were cutting the first track when it got to the solo, the take completely fell apart
No one knew what to play
After repeatedly falling apart, Donn and Ted realized that their plan was not never gonna work
so
They went back to Ed just playing the whole song down solo and all
Ed and the Van Halen sound his whole career has been a one take guy
Doubling himself rarely works because each take is a unique take with nuances and all
and EVH dislikes trying to go through and figure out all those natural nuanced inspirations and then try and double those
it sounds really weird when he does
if on the rare occasion a song is written with a doubled guitar in mind Ed with keep it really simple so he can double
but this is rare
If you really analyze most VH,its ONE take
so
each engineer along the way has worked with him to do what they do to create a guitar sound on the one take
Early on, its a dry guitar on one side and a delayed reverb on another
then they started to spread him with harmonizers and delays
but one thing he had never done until I suggested it was use 2 heads and 2 cabs
I suggested splitting his mono guitar signal into 2 heads
and then those 2 heads going to to 2 cabs
and then I use a 57 and a Royer 122V on each cab
this way you can pan the 2 cabs wide and they create a nice image but its still a mono spilt signal
natural stereo from a mono source
and the royer and 57 give a nice blend of lo end and fizz
then you can send to stereo delay and a Little Plate
Ed is really happy with this setup
it beats his fake derived stereo image from a harmonizer ...
by the way
now this has altered his live rig
His live rig is 3 heads/3Cabs
the center cab is effects only with the other 2 dry


[top]Could you share some miking success you had on drums? (even ones that surprised you) - KIDBILL


I am actually a multimic guy
the minimalist approach is great if you have other mics to use in the mix if its not working
I like my 3d way of recording drums
there is a video online on the Royer site where Kenny Aronoff and I went into Sweetwater Studio
at 7am one morning for a sales meeting for Royer and did session there .. not my greatest moment since I had a 104 fever but I do explain many of my multi mic tips
on that video and it would be easier to watch then have me type the whole thing here
this is the link.

Shure SM57
as far as an interesting story
I have a couple
first is way back when, 1985 or so, Kenny Aronoff and I
were getting drum sounds for a John Mellencamp record at Belmont Mall in Indiana
we dialed what I thought was a pretty slamming sound
One thing I had going that I did realize was 4 SM57s, pointing away from the kit for talkback mics for the band so I would not have to always try to hear them
through the drum mics
but what I failed recognize was that when we were recording or in input I had these on
but
then the band came in to listen and since Kenny wasn't playing live anymore
this killer room sound was gone
I kinda freaked out because where did my drum sound go ?
after realizing that the talkback 57's multed to a channel and a compressor were a huge part of my drum sound
I ended up having to find a way to buss them to tape and record them
it was wakeup call at the time to pay attention to things like that because in the end that was huge part of that drum sound
57's pointing away from the kit ....

Next story is another rad talkback mic mistake
Around 1995-6 I bought a SHERMAN Filterbank
The Sherman is a very aggressive box
so
we are in the studio with Brian Macleod recording a Rodger Waters track
and just prior to starting drums, Pat Leonard the producer was doing a key thing and I had the Sherman on a Prophet 5 giving it some jizzz
then
we finish that and I go back to patching up the drums
but I mistakenly patch the Sherman up in line with the talk back mic next to Brian
he starts sound checking and sherman is just crunching away every time I open up the talkback and it sounds incredible
we all are looking at each other in the control room like .. WTF is that
I realize what it is and from that point forward, I rarely record drums without the Sherman as a dedicated distortion track
I use an Altec 633 salt and pepper shaker mic behind the drummer as a feed to the Sherman


[top]I saw in an interview you mentioned using passive transformers inline on your mix buss. have you had much success with this? are they just 1:1? are you using attenuators before or after? - Jeremyglover


I love the sound of iron ..so a while back my buddy Devin Powers, who is a great friend and gear maniac
and i started playing around with passive 1:1 transformers separately together ..
for the way they smooth out the harsh corners of digital
its very interesting what they do
you can wire them so they blow up and distort but thats not really what I am looking for
i just like how they add grit and punch
sometimes they are just on my drum crush mult
i like the Overstayer FET Compressor as drum crusher but sometimes its a little brittle so with the transformers they add a girth to the crunch


[top]What is your way of stereo imaging?
Is there a trick to get a track very wide in the mixing process? - Nightshifter


I mainly subscribe to the L C R method
this is a tried and true method
then I pick my in between points very wisely
that way those things stand out
I also make sure that the so called stereo audio tracks aren't just glorified mono
also
my reverbs as I said in the reverb thread are not all stereo
this tends to make everything narrow and mono too
and
also make sure in your session setup window in Pro Tools that its set to -3 db pan depth
Pro Tools defaults to -2.5
most analog consoles are -3db pan depth

the spreader plugins tend to be phase nightmares in general
useful at times but weird bandaids more often

old recordings tend to hold up because of the recording and mixing methods and gear
its hard to compete with but we all try and persevere
start with L C R on the next mix and see how that goes for you


[top]Re: Ziggy Marley - Dragonfly: Can you explain the techniques used..what was the "vision" for this album (since you were also the producer)? Did the band play together in one room (most of it)?
Also the kick drum in "true to myself" is kind of a resonating "jazzy" tone.. yet controlled low end.. could you explain how you achieved this, please? (and btw, loving that snare drum as well) - cheu78


The vision was that this was more of a world music record and Ziggy's first record away from the melody makers
so anything goes ..
"I get out" and "True to Myself" are like mission statements

first
to get out of the box that he was in as Bob's son
to be free enough to not have to make a reggae record just because that what was expected
so
"I get out" is a mixture of textures
some heavier and more aggressive and punk and some just outside
including the David Lindley slide solo
That track was cut with bass / drums / Ziggy and James Harrah playing rhythm guitars

"true to myself" was the single and I knew it had to be great
the song wanted to maintain the hypnotic vibe but I wanted it to feel like a mixture between the classic soul of Motown/Memphis and the bottom end of HipHop
I also needed some sneaky guitar hooks
I actually came up with the guitar hooks in the verse and ch with help from David Lindley in the delivery of them
Then I added horns to help build the track as it goes but made them gritty and LO FI
The hardest part of that track was the kik drum
I did not want a sample, I wanted it played
but I wanted it to sound like an 808
so eventually Brian and I came up with something we had toyed around with on a prior record which was using an 18' Ludwig Fl tom on its side as the kik drum
we had to figure out how to mount it so he could play it
and finally when we did we had the perfect resonant kik drum
the snare is a crazy pie plate snare
like a 12 x 3
all in all again my vision was musical meets sonic
the end result being a feel good track that harkens back to soul music with a taste of modern and being in the end something that is timeless and never sounds dated
I hope I nailed that
I know its one of Ziggy's most popular tunes along with the next record "LOve is my Religion" that I also produced /eng/mixed


[top]I particularly admire the drums on Bronx II. I'm wondering if there is anything in particular you did during tracking that might have contributed to that vibe. - bgrotto


Neumann U 47 FET
The Bronx record was done in a very unique studio. My dear pal, Michael Beinhorn produced it. He was set up in a huge space in venice with very high ceilings.
and
we built a special riser for the drums to get them higher off the ground and in the air ...
I also used my 28" kik drum that Jorma the drummer had to get used to at those high tempos that they play at
the micing was very minimal but just right ...
we spent a lot of time moving mics around until we were really happy ..
there were 2 M50's above the and kind of behind the kit where they really catptured the drums
low and in the back was a Royer SF24
in front but not to close was a FET 47
on the sides were my KM 56's
down lo in front was a Coles and a old Neuman with a Hitler capsule
and on the snare it was a Telefunken/AKg D19
no 57 ...
the toms were C37'a after also trying some Audio Technica something something ..(dont remember exact model of those because we ultimately changed them)
so all the mics were made for leakage
so that all the leakage was very musical
and then to top it off
we recorded through Michael's special 2" 8 track machines to Sonoma DSD ...
pretty rad for a punk rock record .. haha


[top]I am curious about the extent of tape use these days. - ARIEL


This is a simple answer
if I want tape I use tape
some of my clients still like tape and like to record on tape
i love tape when i don't need to do a ton of edits or the workflow allows tape
tape is magical when the machine is aligned with fresh tape
read that again
aligned correctly
aligned correctly
did i say cleaned and aligned correctly
when you record to it and the tape gets stored for a few days and the particles marinate like good marinara
then you pull it out and it sounds better
USE TAPE
or
USE Pro Tools
and
if you use tape
let the tape sit for a few days before you transfer it to Pro Tools
it will sound better when you pull it out of the tape locker


[top]When/how did you know that you wanted to be more of a studio engineer as opposed to being a musician/(artist)? - WildOneTruss1


I realized in my teens that the music in my head was not coming out of my hands
and
I had great aspirations to work with the best in the business
so
I realized this was not going to happen as a player
I didn't love the spotlight
and didn't love the artist part of it
so
I morphed myself into a service role and and consumed myself with being the very best at what I could do
I became a kikass roadie/production manager/soundman everything guy
and this lead me into the studio
i found my calling and at the same time never stopped playing music for the fun and passion of it
i have my cake and eat it too ...


[top]Can you enlighten us on how you approach reverb in a typical mixing session? - Reverb


i tend to find spaces to enhance the sources
i am not a big "long" reverb guy
i dont tend to care for that
I have always liked things on the dryer side
so i tend to find little spaces that can place things in different stages of depth of field
I also try to make sure that my reverbs are not all stereo all the time
if a guitar is panned left
i may make the reverb mostly left
or
actually on the opposite side so the source stays dry but the space splays to the opposite side
I am a big fan of weird spring reverbs
i love taking a strange spring and possibly heavily eq'ing it after the reverb
I also use many differing pre delays so the reverb is not always right on top of the source in time but following by some amount or pre delay
then, on one possible source I may make that one thing live in a deeper space at the back of the mix
its all mix and song dependent
but
i tend to rarely if ever use long reverbs on drums
that was something we did in the 80s on the Power Ballads and I think its really cheesy
sometimes maybe on one lo tom or something for effect but the long reverb or heavily gated reverb is so passe'
i also quite often use a 1/4 note delay or 1/8 note delay in place of reverb
it seems to stay out of the way
i also will put reverb after a long delay to soften the hard edges of a delay
and
dont be afraid to eq sends and returns


[top]Has the fact that a lot of people listen to music on the built-in iphone/ipad speakers and laptop-speakers changed the way you process bass when mixing? - Gainreduction


I still try to make it all translate on every system. I don't really mix any different because of earbuds. That'd be like only wanting my mixes to sound good on the worst system. I have quite a few speaker sources, so when I am mixing I try to make sure it's translating on everything. If you only mix on really expensive speakers with tons of bottom I could see that being a problem, but I think the music lives in the midrange anyway, with a full frequency spectrum but plenty of midrange. So the long and short of it is that I don't really get too caught up with making sure it sounds good only on the worst, but good on all hopefully.


[top]Do you have any words of wisdom to upcoming engineers and producers about how one can get to your level? - _Mark


"Choose a job you love and you never work a day in your life."
"Most great opportunities are disguised as hard work."
"Just be yourself…everyone else is already taken."
"Surround yourself with people better than yourself, it will inspire you to be better than yourself."
"Admit your mistakes whenever possible. It will create the chance for you to learn instead of deceive."

See the Job, do the Job and stay out of the Misery...these are some of the mottos of my life. I have worked my ass off for every "lucky break", but I also have been fortunate to put myself in situations to create opportunities. People skills are as important if not more important than the technical at times, learn how to deal with all sorts of people in your life. All business is about people, not just business. The music business is not just about music or business, it's about people.


Learn how to be inspired when life looks like its serving you a **** sandwich. Learn that everything you do in life is going to be the sum of the parts so choose what you do wisely. Every record, every mix, every recording is your legacy so do the very best work you possibly can no matter what and hopefully someone eventually notices your commitment to excellence. Networking or having friends and allies is important, but not falsely wise people see through hidden agendas.

Be real, be of service, learn service, you are not entitled to jack****. Do not feel that because you bought a degree or your parents bought you a degree that the world owes you jack****. Earn it back and pay it back. People hiring or in positions of power like to know that people they are hiring understand service. This is just the tip of the huge iceberg of success, I could go on and on but I think you get the picture


[top]Can you talk about how you approach projects and how you are able to work on so many different types of music and stay true to each artist's vision? Also what types of workflow changes do you incorporate to accommodate a metal band vs a solo artist vs a pop record. - User


I love being diverse. I'd be bored otherwise. I find that whatever style of music I am working on it is all about the artist and the vision so communication is tantamount. If I can get a clear picture on what the artist wants, I can then add my own flavor to the project. I love all styles of music, so I find it fun and exciting to go between styles and artists. Then I need to make sure that sonically I am honoring the music and delivering the goods. For example in metal, the guitars are usually detuned somewhat or a lot in some cases, so I get into string gauges and pickups and the actual instrument decisions speaker cabinet and amp choices etc and like on drums to cut through that dense sonic the drums will need more bite than on a Ziggy Marley or Jewel record, so sonically I need to have my game on.

As far as flow, it really depends on whether a band can cut together or needs to just build tracks whatever works here, though with a solo artist I may actually start by having the artist just play to the drums and bass and build from there. I have also had great results by building simple groove loops like click but not plain old click and then having the artist finish their guitar/vocal or piano/vocal and then add whatever is needed after the fact. Pop for sure these days is a whole building block production and I think that's why many pop records are devoid of emotion. I get hired to track and mix a lot of music that I would not choose to produce when I produce Ziggy or the Doobie Brothers, I really like to have a room full of musicians playing together

To add to my response above, I come from an aesthetic that likes spontaneity, magic and the interplay with musicians. One of my complaints about a lot of music in all styles today is that because of unlimited takes and tracks in the digital domain. Many records in all styles of music do not have as much magic or interplay as would be if the musicians were playing off each other
they are more safe and expectable. We live in a time where most all photos are retouched or filtered, most all movies are made out of a zillion edits and records follow suit. I believe that when a record comes out that has something different about it these days it stands out because of certain aesthetics and unexpected moments, so one of the things I do not like to lose sight of are some of the points I bring up on this and helps in all styles of music production.