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Current mixing trends

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Roger Talkov:
Well, I had an inspirational moment last week and had a few minutes to reflect. Since Covid, I've attended quite a few live shows as an audience member and last weeks Rolling Stones show in Foxboro MA was the latest show I experienced (Rosanne Cash on this Friday and Bonnie Raitt in a couple weeks). I'll get right to it- hats off to Dave Natale for actually mixing music. Vocals right out in front so you could hear every word, solos and important musical parts and accents in your face (when necessary), band powerfully percolating behind... I admit it and having worked with most of them, when you have Keith, Ronnie, Mick, Steve, Chuck, Darryl etc, it helps for sure, but damn, Dave's mixing was just a breath of fresh air to a lot of other shows I have been too lately. DYNAMIC! and exciting, all on an old analog desk mixed by a self proclaimed old grumpy guy. Maybe he knows something most don't?  Lately, my general observation is that in our industry/art we are mixing ourselves into an overly compressed, fuzzed out with plug-ins ball of whatnot. I guess my plea to those who care-to care. Compliment your artist with a great mixing performance night after night. Use your instrument(s) like your artist that pays you uses their instrument.  Spend more time LISTENING. The industry has given us great tools to work with but I am afraid we as professionals are now falling behind.

Regards to the list,
Roger

Tim McCulloch:

--- Quote from: Roger Talkov on June 06, 2024, 11:37:30 AM ---Well, I had an inspirational moment last week and had a few minutes to reflect. Since Covid, I've attended quite a few live shows as an audience member and last weeks Rolling Stones show in Foxboro MA was the latest show I experienced (Rosanne Cash on this Friday and Bonnie Raitt in a couple weeks). I'll get right to it- hats off to Dave Natale for actually mixing music. Vocals right out in front so you could hear every word, solos and important musical parts and accents in your face (when necessary), band powerfully percolating behind... I admit it and having worked with most of them, when you have Keith, Ronnie, Mick, Steve, Chuck, Darryl etc, it helps for sure, but damn, Dave's mixing was just a breath of fresh air to a lot of other shows I have been too lately. DYNAMIC! and exciting, all on an old analog desk mixed by a self proclaimed old grumpy guy. Maybe he knows something most don't?  Lately, my general observation is that in our industry/art we are mixing ourselves into an overly compressed, fuzzed out with plug-ins ball of whatnot. I guess my plea to those who care-to care. Compliment your artist with a great mixing performance night after night. Use your instrument(s) like your artist that pays you uses their instrument.  Spend more time LISTENING. The industry has given us great tools to work with but I am afraid we as professionals are now falling behind.

Regards to the list,
Roger

--- End quote ---

Some things don't need "fixing" and Natale is wise and experienced in knowing what and when.

I had a brief conversation with him after the show on Bigger Bang.  I was a spot op on the show, the tower was behind his FOH tent so I stopped in when I was back on ground.  His personal PM4k, very little channel insert, couple of reverbs and delays.  The "B Stage" was on a little Allen-Heath rack mount mixer, IIRC.  The take away from our convo was "If it doesn't sound like The Rolling Stones, I'd get fired."  He knows what the band expects and they trust him to deliver that.

Some of what "the generic 'we'" are doing with live mix dynamics is adapting to the current music delivery & consumption system of earbuds and lossy codec streaming.  For those who learned the Spinal Tap lesson of making everything louder than everything else, this is a slam dunk.  For new mixerfolks who discover dynamics processing in the mostly consequence-free world of recording mixes, replicating that sonic experience and space -live- is a considerable challenge with everything else going on in acoustic environment and mix.  It's led to chains of plug ins that seem needed to correct some perceived shortcoming of the performance, and then correct the artifacts created by the initial correction(s).  The part of me that studied music, is formally trained, and almost became a performing arts educator says "bah, humbug."  "Before there was ProTools there were pro-fessionals."

I can only presume that artist-employed engineers spend a fair bit of time in rehearsals, with the music director and management providing direction and critique of the mix, and that what we hear in performance has been approved by some artistic representative of the artist, if not the artist themselves.  And I think today that's different than Mick and Ronny and Keith saying "make it sound like the Rolling Stones".  8)

Gordon Brinton:

--- Quote from: Roger Talkov on June 06, 2024, 11:37:30 AM ---Well, I had an inspirational moment last week and had a few minutes to reflect. Since Covid, I've attended quite a few live shows as an audience member and last weeks Rolling Stones show in Foxboro MA was the latest show I experienced (Rosanne Cash on this Friday and Bonnie Raitt in a couple weeks). I'll get right to it- hats off to Dave Natale for actually mixing music. Vocals right out in front so you could hear every word, solos and important musical parts and accents in your face (when necessary), band powerfully percolating behind... I admit it and having worked with most of them, when you have Keith, Ronnie, Mick, Steve, Chuck, Darryl etc, it helps for sure, but damn, Dave's mixing was just a breath of fresh air to a lot of other shows I have been too lately. DYNAMIC! and exciting, all on an old analog desk mixed by a self proclaimed old grumpy guy. Maybe he knows something most don't?  Lately, my general observation is that in our industry/art we are mixing ourselves into an overly compressed, fuzzed out with plug-ins ball of whatnot. I guess my plea to those who care-to care. Compliment your artist with a great mixing performance night after night. Use your instrument(s) like your artist that pays you uses their instrument.  Spend more time LISTENING. The industry has given us great tools to work with but I am afraid we as professionals are now falling behind.

Regards to the list,
Roger

--- End quote ---

Yeah, I met Dave Natale years ago in his recording studio when my band recorded there. I assume that he cut his teeth in the recording studio before he began touring. Which brings me to my point about mixing...

I firmly believe that once you (any engineer) learn to mix in a recording studio, it changes your approach to live mixing. For example, in a studio, you can actually hear what compression sounds like (I mean the nuances), you know when you need de-essing, you can tell when you've gone too far with effects, you get a better sense of managing levels and spacial separation of instruments, and so on. In other words, you tend to learn to actually "listen" to what you are doing. I know my live mixes have certainly improved after owning and working in a few studios. I suppose it makes you more aware of what it should sound like and gives you an end goal to work toward.

Martin Morris:

--- Quote from: Roger Talkov on June 06, 2024, 11:37:30 AM ---Well, I had an inspirational moment last week and had a few minutes to reflect. Since Covid, I've attended quite a few live shows as an audience member and last weeks Rolling Stones show in Foxboro MA was the latest show I experienced (Rosanne Cash on this Friday and Bonnie Raitt in a couple weeks). I'll get right to it- hats off to Dave Natale for actually mixing music. Vocals right out in front so you could hear every word, solos and important musical parts and accents in your face (when necessary), band powerfully percolating behind... I admit it and having worked with most of them, when you have Keith, Ronnie, Mick, Steve, Chuck, Darryl etc, it helps for sure, but damn, Dave's mixing was just a breath of fresh air to a lot of other shows I have been too lately. DYNAMIC! and exciting, all on an old analog desk mixed by a self proclaimed old grumpy guy. Maybe he knows something most don't?  Lately, my general observation is that in our industry/art we are mixing ourselves into an overly compressed, fuzzed out with plug-ins ball of whatnot. I guess my plea to those who care-to care. Compliment your artist with a great mixing performance night after night. Use your instrument(s) like your artist that pays you uses their instrument.  Spend more time LISTENING. The industry has given us great tools to work with but I am afraid we as professionals are now falling behind.

Regards to the list,
Roger

--- End quote ---

Attitude 101 .... This from a Dave Natale interview

I just want to say here for the record that these are all solely my opinions and I will be the first to admit that I’m a single-minded, block-headed, hair-triggered, bad-tempered, foul-mouthed, politically-incorrect and highly-intolerant jackass. Yes, that’s right – a jackass! Anyone that has spent any amount of time with me knows that. This is not a fashion show or a popularity contest.

I don’t jump on bandwagons nor do I pay any attention nor care about current audio “trends.” I defend the audio position of my clients vehemently, and just get the job done to the best of my ability, daily circumstances of the gig notwithstanding.

I’m an old school audio guy and as such I am not really interested in lighting, video, set, designs, choreography or any other production “elements” because when I started in this business, there was none. There was backline, sound and lights. To me the only thing that exists is the sound because as far as any band is concerned it all starts with a song that has a sound and its popularity that ultimately caused a band to be on tour. Not anything else.

People that hire me hopefully do so because they want good sound. I try my damnedest to deliver that with single-minded determination at every show that I mix.


Cheers
Martin

Martin Morris:

--- Quote from: Tim McCulloch on June 06, 2024, 01:23:50 PM ---Some things don't need "fixing" and Natale is wise and experienced in knowing what and when.

I had a brief conversation with him after the show on Bigger Bang.  I was a spot op on the show, the tower was behind his FOH tent so I stopped in when I was back on ground.  His personal PM4k, very little channel insert, couple of reverbs and delays.  The "B Stage" was on a little Allen-Heath rack mount mixer, IIRC.  The take away from our convo was "If it doesn't sound like The Rolling Stones, I'd get fired."  He knows what the band expects and they trust him to deliver that.

Some of what "the generic 'we'" are doing with live mix dynamics is adapting to the current music delivery & consumption system of earbuds and lossy codec streaming.  For those who learned the Spinal Tap lesson of making everything louder than everything else, this is a slam dunk.  For new mixerfolks who discover dynamics processing in the mostly consequence-free world of recording mixes, replicating that sonic experience and space -live- is a considerable challenge with everything else going on in acoustic environment and mix.  It's led to chains of plug ins that seem needed to correct some perceived shortcoming of the performance, and then correct the artifacts created by the initial correction(s).  The part of me that studied music, is formally trained, and almost became a performing arts educator says "bah, humbug."  "Before there was ProTools there were pro-fessionals."

I can only presume that artist-employed engineers spend a fair bit of time in rehearsals, with the music director and management providing direction and critique of the mix, and that what we hear in performance has been approved by some artistic representative of the artist, if not the artist themselves.  And I think today that's different than Mick and Ronny and Keith saying "make it sound like the Rolling Stones".  8)

--- End quote ---

In a recent podcast (covid times) Toby Francis talked about an inlightening  conversation he had while mixing Katy Perry. She said that "while there's 20k  for tonight's show and it needs to sound good, in a day or so 5 million fans will view it online via a cell phone recording and it needs to sound good too!"

I have no idea what went through his mind during this conversation? - maybe he just pushed her vocal and key melody parts a few dB.

We go home humming the melodies ... blar blar

It's a harlarious podcast with Pooch.

Cheers
Martin

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