Monday, January 30, 2012

January Recording Report, Part 4

We didn't record last night.  Instead I went over to Don's place and we mixed for 4 hours.  Mixing is a surprisingly visual process -- each mic and each take shows up on the screen as a separate track with its own waveform, and you can tell by looking at the shapes where the timing is off, where someone is playing ahead of the beat or behind.  (How many tracks on Be My Man? A HUNDRED TRACKS. OK, just for a few minutes while we were splitting up different sections into separate tracks and then combining them again. But still!)

Sitting in the copilot's seat watching the producer mix for 4 hours sounds very boring, but it isn't, it's hypnotic.  Don drags errant horn hits into alignment with the bass drum and replays the section and suddenly it's not muddy anymore.  And aside from cleanup detail and comping (which take sounds better where?) there are also decisions about how to make things sound, should the horns be funereal or bright, should the bass and snare break through the surface of the mix or sit within it, should the vocals sound gritty or polished?  We listened to a couple of Adele tunes to hear how her vocals are treated. Plate reverb, says Don, and a nice mic with good compression. We'll do that too.

That's where the magic happens, putting on EQ and compression and reverb, routing the raw tracks through different treatments and enhancements, blending in the room mics, technical decisions.  There are so many options, infinite options, that it's almost overwhelming.

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