googled06bb313055e587a.html Rock N Roll Rehab for the Control Of Rock and Roll Starring Greg Piper and The Tooners: Record Mixing

Record Mixing

     I spent a lot of money in 24 track (analog) recording studios recording my band over the years and even though these studios boasted having produced gold and platinum records I always felt my tapes sounded like demos. In trying to learn what made a record sound like a record I attended a ten day seminar held at UCLA for record producing. Phil Ramone and David Foster were just two of the A list producers who talked to us. I asked each producer the same thing and none of them could, or would, tell me what I eventually learned. Of course people would say it was “the music”. No, it’s not “the music”. There were Punk Rock records where the music was awful but it still sounded like a professional record. Some said it’s the mastering. The mastering adds a lot to the finished mix but listening through a cheap transistor radio (a stone age iPod) even a terrible sounding record still sounded like a record, not a demo tape. Some said it was the mixing and of course they’re right, but what does that mean exactly?
    I took some very practical advice and listened to some records that I wanted to sound like and tried to figure out how they did it. Our band had the same basic instrumental line up of Led Zeppelin and I always loved the sound of Led Zeppelin 1 so I put on some headphones and listened intently. Here’s what I discovered (to decide if my mixing advice is worth anything listen to the tracks from Rocktasia by The Tooners on iTunes); it’s all a matter of thinking of your mix as three dimensional space and placing each instrument in its own space. You do this by using the pan control to move the placement of each track from side to side and the echo effect to place it closer or farther away from the listener. Reverb gives you the size of the room in which the band is playing. If you have a singer like Robert Plant and he’s screaming then you want to drop him back into the room by adding echo and making the room big enough by using the reverb. If he’s singing very softly you move him closer by keeping the vocal dry and making the room smaller for a more intimate vibe. You would also separate instruments of similar frequencies such as the kick drum and the bass guitar. For some reason recording engineers are taught to place the kick drum at center, the bass at center and the lead vocal at center. This is something you’d never do live. It’s like sitting your kick drum on top of your bass amp and having the PA on top of that. You’re going to get a lot of mud. You likewise wouldn’t put your tambourine player and your acoustic guitarist right next to the cymbals. If every element of your mix has its own space then there is little need to “ride the faders” (adjusting the volume) during the mix. One last word of advice; get a producer to mix your record don’t expect the recording engineer to do it.

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