Re: [Harp-L] Mixing and Mastering advice...

Hi Kurt, 

1. Thanks for your message, I guess any news on the new CD by a harmonica player - especially a Harp-L member - somehow makes the other harmonica players at least dream of recording their own CD. So, the more news we get the more motivated we are. And it's not a secret that dreams turn into reality sooner or later once the person is persistant enough. 

2. As for the mixing and mastering. I digged in this topic recently after I took a course on music production and after reeding hundreds of pages on this and related topics and having heard many premixed, mixed and then matered versions of the same recordings I must confirm that once you have a well recorded session and are satisfied with your mix, it's almost imperative that you master your project. 

And after that there's a dilemma whether to give your project for mastering to some studio around your place and then communicate with the engineer from time to time in person or to sign a contract with the remote studio - online services - communicating online or vie Skype. I've listened to many podcasts where top mastering engineers mentioned inconvenience of remote communication, etc., and confessed that once the performer doesn't care or to put it the right way -  if the performer doesn't have specific requirements for particular sections of each song (sometimes quite fancy effects are used and they need more attention of the mastering engineer as not to diminish the effect or sometimes even to emphasize when needed), so they can easily master the project using their own experience, and usually there's no problem. 

However, once you have some effects that add uniqness to the song or some section of the song should convey some intimate moment as it was intended from the beginning- you better know - then they need to know as many details as possible. You can have those details on paper for each song - with the range of timings for each section of the particular tune in seconds/milliseconds format (that is beginning and ending of the secion in question) - just put a short comment i.e., here this and this effect is used (whether processing effect - like reverb, delay or phase ,etc., or purely technical harmonica effect like bend on the 3rd draw with a portion of an intimate vibrato - or even simplier - to have harp solo in front and to your face, as they say - in most cases it's provided at the mixing stage, but it's good for mastering guys to know) and it should be emphasized enough to be noticed (louder, EQ'd, etc.). It's better to put timing ranges and comments in the culumn format. You can have initial requirements/comments for the secions you are concerned with specifically. After the mastered version is presented to you, you might want to do the same routine by commenting on secions you want some changes in. 

And such a bit exhausting work is needed to come up with the results you desire. As for the dilemma, there's nothing to worry about once the remote studio guys are careful enough to ask as many questions as they feel needed. The difference is that when communicating in person, they can read your mind much faster by just listening to you, watching your reaction to some suggestions and played samples from their liabrary of the past projects they've mastered. But remote studios might be effective as well, but it may take a little longer to read your mind. 

At first you may recourse to the first scenario and say that you don't have particular requirements, but I'd suggest that you still think of some in each song in terms of what you do not want to have in your mastered version. It may help. And once again, it's better to have a chance to comment and ask for changes before you get the final mastered version.  

Hope that helps, 



>>> kurt crandall <kurtcrandall@xxxxxxxxx> 14.01.2008 20:41:28 >>>
First off, I guess I should introduce myself... I was a semi-active member of this group years ago and have recently found my way back. I was quickly reminded what a great resource harp-l remains - great players with a breadth of experience and helpful advice. IIt is a real treat to have such an on-line community for the harmonica....
  I am a diatonic/chromatic blues player/singer/front-man who currently resides in Seattle (after stops in Kansas City, DC, Macon, Atlanta, Chicago). Like some of you I have a "day job" and try to mange to fit in my passion for music as time allows. I have been fortunate to have a fairly flexible schedule while in school and most recently as  a teacher - gigging was a little easier. The 9-5 job I have now presents a little more of a challenge for playing...
  Onto my question... I fly to Chicago this weekend to mix and master my second album (recorded live to 2 inch analog and dumped to PROTOOLS).. I have only 1 album under my belt and am still very "green" in the studio. I would welcome any and all suggestions concerning mix/mastering that you could offer (tips/tricks/concerns). Luckily I have a good studio engineer and my guitar player/friend who has "good ears".
  For any that are interested, here is a little about the album... The album was recorded in Chicago before I moved to the West Coast. I recruited some of Chicago's and Kansas City's finest players- my long time friend and musical partner Karl Angerer. Karl has held the guitar chair in Lee McBee's band since Lee parted ways with Mike Morgan. On keys -  Kansas City's premier piano man, Mike Sedovic. Two of Chicago's finest blues drummers were also part of the session - Mike Schlick (Dave Specter and the Bluebirds) and Kenny Smith (Mississippi Heat, Cash Box Kings, Pinetop Perkins, Lurrie Bell). Finally, on upright bass, the inimitable Jimmy Sutton (Mighty Blue Kings, Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms). A definite highlight of the album (at least for me) was getting to do a duet with Kansas City jazz legend - Myra Taylor. She is 91 years young and still gigging! Overall, the album will contain 14 songs - 2 chromatic instrumental, a few hardcore Chicago blues and the rest a mix of
 swing and jazzy/blues. As you can tell I am pretty excited to FINALLY be at this stage in the recording process...
  Sorry for the long winded message - I promise to be more succinct in the future... Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions of mixing and mastering...
  Kurt Crandall 

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