1: Let’s talk gear. . . .
Chris Lord-Alge: Mixing on an SSL 4056 E console modified to G+ from a Sony 3348 as our 48 digital medium. Some people might wonder why I’m still using this; the reason is that it still sounds good to me. It’s all edited on Pro Tools HD and transferred mostly flat to the 48 digital medium, and then we mix back to 1/2-inch 96K, 2-bit two-track. Basically that’s what they are going to master from, with an Apogee front end on it. It’s a pretty simple chain if you think about it, but my chain has a pair of Pultecks EQing the whole bus with three compressors. Since there is some cross fading and some edits between songs, it’s staying completely digital on the two tracks. We did 11 songs in five and a half days.
2: I have heard six of the new tracks. The production is huge!
CLA: It’s big, brash, in-your-face chunk, but the playing is so tight you can get away with it. With the way their drummer plays, it was obvious to me that I could push the guitar and bass as much as I wanted. Then I just had to figure out a way to shoehorn the vocals in there.
3: What about mastering?
CLA: I don’t force feed him the information, the mastering guy needs to be able to have a part in the process.
4: What about secret weapons?
CLA: I have some custom, hand-made, tube inward connection limiters, which I use; they’re the meat and potatoes along with the old LA 3s (not the new ones!). It’s all just salt to taste after that. I think the bus being all tube really helps with the impact. Heavy midrange rock stuff doesn’t really translate that well if it’s all-straight digital — it just becomes sheets of pain.
5: So how do we get a more analog sound when we are all digital?
CLA: Nothing beats an old device to warm things up. A 3348 is old technology, but it’s a lot warmer than HD Pro Tools. If I had my choice and they had 48 tracks on one tape of two inch, I’d be mixing on that. If you really want to get nuts, you cut your rhythm section on 24-track analog and dump it into Pro Tools; it will still keep its analog sound that way.
6: What kind of bands do you like to mix?
CLA: The bands that say, “it’s about where I sit in the record,” not just, you know, ”make me louder.” At the end of day, it’s about who’s driving the bus, good engineers on any platform will make it sound good.
7: What you record is what you have to deal with though, right?
CLA: Yeah and you know what they say, if shit goes in then shit comes out!