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Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Lesson 19 of 27

Mixing the Recording of the Band

Sylvia Massy

Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Sylvia Massy

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Lesson Info

19. Mixing the Recording of the Band

Lesson Info

Mixing the Recording of the Band

So why don't y'all let me do an edit, and then we'll listen to the whole thing and see what we got, okay? Cool. Great. Now when I'm doing the edit, I don't know if you wanna be in here for that, because it's kind of like, you don't wanna know how the sausage is made, right? (laughter) Should we go and-- Yeah, we can-- (overlapping chatter) Alright, good, alright. (laughter) Okay, okay. So, there was some problems with the kick drum on that last take. There was also some problems with some tom fills. I think overall, the structure on that last take was good, the tempo was good, but I'd like to see if we couldn't use a lot more of that, the second take. I'm gonna do some listening now I'm gonna do some detailed listening on all the tracks, to see that we've got what we want out of them before committing to these being the final takes. So let me start by just playing take two and we'll isolate the different tracks and see what we've got. Here's take two. (rock music with heavy b...

ass) (rhythmic drum beating) Okay, here's our sub. (subwoofer beat) (kick drum beat) Alright, kick drum sounds pretty tough. (snare drum beating) Pretty ugly snare. (snare drum beating) (drums and base line) Those are ugly. Hmm, alright. (drums beating and cymbals clashing softly) Nice. Alright, overhead sound good. That might be the end of the take. Is that the end of the take? Alright. (drums and vocals of rock song) Wow; those are the coals. (drums and cymbals playing rock song) Alright. (drums beating and cymbals crashing) Alright, that's the American mic, I like that. The phone. (distorted record scratching) Well that's pretty unusable. (laughs) But fun. (drums beating rock rhythm) Alright; that's the EV and that's pretty-- that's a pretty regular old room mic. Let's see our shotgun. (drums beating rock rhythm) Pretty good. The shotgun, you can really hear the sound of the room. And it's a small room, so it is a small sound. (muffled drumming) That's the hose. (muffled drumming) I love the hose. (muffled drumming) Okay, alright. (mixed muffled and unmuffled drumming) Okay, I have a decision to make here, because the rag tom has got some distortion on the top mic. So the question is, should we re-record because there is a little distortion on the top mic, or do we keep it and go with it because the whole thing's kind of gnarly and dirty to begin with? So, I have to make decisions about this. Well, my thought process is, where does this recording go from here? Is it only gonna be for me? If it's gonna remain in-house, maybe it doesn't matter, because I'm going to want to mix it a certain way that does not feature the individual tom mics, and it'll more feature the room. However, in this case, this recording might go to another mixer. It might go, you know-- it might live on in remixes for years, who knows? So for that reason, I think I'm going to have to re-record at least the beginning, just to make sure that we have good, clean tom recordings for whatever might happen to this recording later. Alright, decision been made. Let's get the band back in here. No problem. Thank you. Can you describe your settings and how hard you were slamming the overheads with the Manleys? Why did you make that decision? To compress so much? Yes, the overheads are being hit fairly hard with the Manleys and it's to give it more excitement. I want the whole track to kind of pump and to live and to jump and to be a little unpredictable. So yes, I'm using a lot of compression. However, I think that most of the compression that I'm using is in the room mics. So I can strip away the room mics and still have a pretty traditional-sounding drum kit, just by using the overheads with the straight, kick, snare, hat, and toms mics. But I am adding a little extra because I think it's appropriate for the song and for this band, to have a little more excitement and to go a little more aggressive with the compression. Okay. Okay you guys, was there another question? If you wanna take one. Okay, one more question. Yeah, we'll do one more. What's the tape echo being applied to right now? Is that being actually committed to the track or are you recording that as a separate track? It's being recorded as a separate track and I'm feeding drums, bass, and guitar into it, not vocals, just in case we re-record-- Well, we will be re-recording the vocals, so I don't want any ghost vocals from the scratch going into that. But everything live, all the drums, the bass, and the guitar, including the leads that Whitney's playing now, are going into the tape echos, and committed to a separate track so we can strip them down if we don't wanna use them.

Class Description

Over the last 30+ years, Sylvia Massy has built a career as one of the gutsiest and most innovative recording engineers and producers. She has worked with legends like Prince and Johnny Cash, and won awards for her work with bands like Tool, System of a Down and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will get a peek inside the recording process of one of rock’s legendary engineers. 

While she is a proficient master of vintage gear, Sylvia stresses that great records come not from having the right gear, but from capturing great performances. Join Sylvia as she records a song in the studio with Seattle alt-rock band Thunderpussy, and learn how to work with an artist to capture that magical take in your own work.

Pulling from her years of experience and sharing stories from her newly published book Recording UnHinged, Sylvia will show you:

  • How to get interesting and vibrant drum sounds, using the room and the drummer to your advantage
  • Capturing great sounding guitars at the source, without editing and reamping
  • Pushing vocalists to deliver their best vocal takes 
  • Mixing both in the box and through a console using outboard gear

Sylvia is also known as a prolific educator, speaking and teaching at some of the best recording schools around the world. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the industry’s most celebrated A-list producers. 

Ratings and Reviews

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Jimmy Foot

This Studio Pass episode with Sylvia Massey covers a lot of ground. From fundamentals like correct mic placement and phase to experimentation with amps, cell phone delay and a few extra parts, Sylvia makes it fun! I have been lucky enough in my career to work with a number of great engineers and producers. I haven't had the opportunity to work with her, but Sylvia is certainly in that category, and anyone who gets a chance to work with her would be a lucky person. This broadcast is the next best thing. Great job there at Avast Studio and fantastic camera work! And as for Thunderpussy; you guys rock!

Marc Felish

Wow, that was such a blast. Thanks so much Sylvia and everyone else for making this such a fun experience. I picked up so many new ideas that I can't wait to try out! Sylvia is such a creative producer, it was so much fun to be a fly on the wall watching everything. Loved it!!

Marcus Soares

Awesome! A great opportunity to pick into the creative mind of one of the greatest and get that kind of knowledge that you can't acquire otherwise. Highly recommended!