The Remix Stage

Going Beyond Natural Sound Part 8

The Remix Stage

When I’m recording, the reverb chamber is one of my primary considerations. In tracking, even though usually I won’t print reverb on tape, it is important for foldback and control room listening. The EMT 140 plate used for tracking at Monterey Studios had a nice, bright sound to it. The reverb I wanted to use for the final mix, however, was at Sound City. Their EMT140 sounds just great, plus they have an AMS RMX16 digital reverb that would give me the sound tapestry I needed for the final mix, which was to half-inch at 30 i.p.s.


I wanted to recreate concert hall type echoes, bathing the listener in the sound; what I refer to as the “ear over a full stick.” While each tune needed a different approach, our basic concept was to use a slap pre-chamber delay for guitar sounds; drums and bass in short echo; and horns and synthesizer in long echoes. Time delay values to suit musical tempos were not worked out beforehand. (But I would refer the reader interested in calculating exact delay times to the article, “Creative use of Delay Rhythms,” by Roman Olearczuk; Re/p February 1982 issue, page 68.) My method was not hit or miss, but by how it sounded in the mix as the delay related to a song’s tempo. I would never mix a pop record this way, since the use of carefully worked out delay rhythms is critical in the production of such recordings.


In assembling the album, we used two techniques to sequence: a segue fade-out at the end of a tune, by leaving the echo in and fading the musical information by five dB; and the other was the well-known butt splice. Two other techniques that considered, but did not use, were the dead stop, reverse envelope and fading, using two tape machines to fade one tune into another.


We were trying to frame a jazz performance with the kind of clarity and definition that’s available with current technology, and I think we succeeded. The miking techniques we used were pretty common; there’s no magic involved, Mike placement has a lot to do with it, but getting a good performance from the musicians, to me, has everything to do with the final product. Also, once a musician feels confident that their work is going to be represented properly, they will give you that performance.

These and other ideas formed out concept for putting together the whole package. What we attempted to do was to capture something for the listener – you might call it “ear candy.” My intention was to frame the instrument in such a way that it is presented to the listener as though he or she was actually part of the recording process. I tried to achieve a sound texture that is at once a performance, but also sounds as if it had been performed in a large hall.


Understanding natural sounds will become more important in the years to come . Blending them with today’s synthesized sounds will form the corner stone for the production of great sounding records – the ability to go beyond natural sound.