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Sound Advice

Focus On The Mix by Tony Crea

June 18th, 2002

“For good microphone techniques, understanding the frequency ranges of all the instruments involved and learning how to use processing equipment creatively and sparingly will help you achieve a good, full-sounding mix – but you must always have a forcus to make it all gel.

The vocal or melody line is always the most important part of the music and should never be lost or buried in the mix. The other instruments, whether they be rich sounding keyboards, searing horns or a driving rhythm section are there to support the melody, but should not be lost or buried in the mix either. Remember, each instrument has its own space and place in the mix.”

Tony Crea – live sound engineer, Lee Aaron, Sheree, The Spoons.

Keeping Values in Check by Aubrey Winfield

June 18th, 2002

“It is important not to impose your own values on what an artist is trying to achieve, but rather creatively enhance their unique qualities. All artists and their songs deserve the same attention. How we treat an artist is not based on their past accomplishments. At Winfield Sound our success is based on ensuring that an artist’s musical vision is not only realized but surpassed.”

Aubrey Winfield – Winfield Sound Recording Studios.

Miking Guitars by Noel Golden

June 18th, 2002

“When looking at the cone of a speaker cabinet (guitar amps) I place the microphone facing the outer edge of the inner cone about 1/2″ from the cabinet grill. If you’re using two mics on the same cabinet, place the second mic in the exact position on the adjacent cone. My present choice for a guitar mic is the Shure SM57. I find this technique gives me the closest reproduction of what I hear directly from the cabinet.”

Noel Golden – engineer, Triumph, Gowan, Rita Coolidge, Paradox (co-producer/engineer).

Television Reverb by Rob Rettberg

May 18th, 2002

“When mixing for television I check all the reverb returns individually for phase. Some reverbs can go as far as 180 degrees out of phase. When a mix is then heard in mono through a television or through some stations’ stereo simulators, instruments can sound almost totally dry because of phase cancellation. Minor alterations of some basic reverb parameters such as delay time, decay or room size can change the phase and bring it closer to 90 degrees or less, which is the safest window for phase in television mixes. (Note: if you do not have a phase meter, always check in mono to see if the effect vanishes.”

Rob Rettberg – producer/composer (CTV, Global, CBS).

Sacrificing Quality for Performance by Robert DiGioia

May 18th, 2002

“When working with singers who are new to the studio, headphones will seem quite foreign to them. With a recent project I experimented with headphones and speakers to try and make the vocalist more comfortable. After some success with speakers, I knew we had not yet reached the full potential of the vocalist. Having done a live show with the band I knew he was capable of more. We took the speaker set-up one step further and set-up the band’s rehearsal P.A. system (two S4 cabinets). The entire mix was fed through the P.A. as it would be in rehearsal or in a club. I gave the vocalist his own hand-held microphone, so he was free to move around.

In a short afternoon we nailed down three vocals that we had spent weeks working on. By using a tight cardioid pattern microphone (such as an SM58), leakage was minimal.

You may sacrifice a bit of quality, but the performance will more than make up for it.”

Robert DiGioia – producer/engineer, Maestro Fresh-Wes, Chocolate Bunnies From Hell, The Box, Kim Mitchell.

Mixing Live by Andi Charal (Stavros)

May 18th, 2002

“Unlike in a recording studio, live sound has a much greater dynamic range compared to a standard recording. A record is processed during mastering so nothing overloads those delicate grooves. Then radio station limiters clamp down on the dynamics via a four-or five-way frequency band limiter. A dynamic range horror story.

Live sound is less processed. This is one of the main advantages of seeing a band live. When done properly, live sound is much more dynamic because you’re hearing all the peaks that are taken away in the record and radio process. That is the one aspect of live sound that has always kept it artistcally creative for me – using dynamics in a way to create a pleasing flow from one section of a song to another, like bringing down certain parts of the rhythm section in the first verse so nothing crowds that precious lead vocal when it is first heard. Then bring the rhythm section back up for the chorus. As well, your standard solos or tags are always featured with a boost in volume. Save something special for the bridge and the out chorus (like a special effect or vocal space).

Your ears get fatigued of hearing the same balances all night. Most engineers get a balance and leave it all night. Little strategic dynamic changes in parts of the mix can be interesting during a live concert for a band like Saga, as well as great big volume changes for David Lee Roth.

This is the area where you can get creative with dynamics during a show. Don’t let your board stagnate.”

Andi Charal (Stavros) – live sound engineer, Saga (1980-1984), David Lee Roth (1986-1987).

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