Monday, February 14, 2005

Mixing Mixing Mixing, and Title

I took some mixes to Steve McLinn at Ojas studio in Oklahoma City this weekend. Steve is the one who recorded the live shows for my upcoming CDs. He'll be mastering the CD and he's advising me on the mixes. It was great to get a second set of ears listening, especially a set as knowledgeable as Steve's. I just spent the past two hours implementing his advice on the "Horny Toad" mix - things like: a bit of reverb on the snare (just the initial reflections, no tail), gate the snare, small adjustments to the EQ on bass and kick, put a limiter on the kick, pan more toward the center, a touch of plate reverb on the vocal, more acoustic guitar, and presto! Did you catch all that? It sounds much better, trust me, - Thanks, Steve! - and it sounded pretty darn good to begin with if I say so myself!

That was an important meeting because it gave me confidence in the mixing settings and decisions I've made so far. Many of these will be the same for all the songs, so mostly what I need to worry about now is editing - selecting the best bits from all three shows, pulling them together, correcting yucky mistakes where possible and smoothing out the peaks and valleys, one song, one instrument at a time.

It's incredible what digital editing lets you do! In "Horny Toad" alone, get this - there was a computer glitch during the Stillwater show and one section of the song did not get recorded, but Stillwater was the best performance otherwise. So I filled in the missing part with the Bartlesville show, which was recorded a different in a different room, and even at a different tempo-!! You can't hear the switch! It's smooth as silk. I even flew in a single word from the City Arts show (in which a different vocal mic was used!) to correct a missed note in the vocal - Steve couldn't tell, and his ears are golden. I reconstructed a bass line from individual notes because it had been played wrong and clashed with the other guitar parts. These were just a few of the biggest challenges I've tackled. It can get tedious, but when I hear the results it's a lot of fun to look back and know what it took to make it sound so great.

Don't worry - I'm not perfecting it to death. The energy and "liveness" of the recording is still very much present. I'm walking that fine line carefully. I was tempted to use two different acoustic guitar parts simultaneously - one from each of two different shows - but that was just a bit too odd - suddenly there's a phantom guitar player on stage? I nixed that idea. I want to keep it real, but also take out the clunkers so that you'll love to hear these recordings over and over.

Well, I'd best get back to work. I know I've said it before, but I think I'm at the point now, for real, where I'll start cranking out mixes at a much faster pace. More soon.

Oh, and the title of the new CD will be (drum roll please)...

-- The Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD --

Leave a comment. Let me know what you think.

(My graphic designer will probably want to kill me when he tries to fit it on the spine!)

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