Gearslutz

Gearslutz (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/)
-   Q+A with Tchad Blake (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-a-with-tchad-blake/)
-   -   Tchad Blake - Q's re: Kiko/Latin Playboys (https://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-a-with-tchad-blake/111916-tchad-blake-qs-re-kiko-latin-playboys.html)

PlugHead 28th February 2007 02:16 PM

Tchad Blake - Q's re: Kiko/Latin Playboys
 
Hey Tchad,

Again, thx for kicking around, and answering some Q's.

I was wondering about these 2 albums mentioned above: they sound like the same sessions: they're very similar in tone/performances, tho the Playboys' album is a bit weirder, and goes to some very strange zones.

Was the Playboys' album more outtakes of Kiko, and was it more of an engineer/AE's decision to go "out there"? I could have a load of very specific Q's but am more wanting you to share a bit of your knowledge on how you got some of the sounds on these records,. esp. the debut Playboys.

thx,

recall 28th February 2007 03:21 PM

Big up to the LP's ....two of my favourite records.

tchadb 28th February 2007 05:16 PM

Latin Playboys
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by PlugHead (Post 1153654)
Hey Tchad,

Again, thx for kicking around, and answering some Q's.

I was wondering about these 2 albums mentioned above: they sound like the same sessions: they're very similar in tone/performances, tho the Playboys' album is a bit weirder, and goes to some very strange zones.

Was the Playboys' album more outtakes of Kiko, and was it more of an engineer/AE's decision to go "out there"? I could have a load of very specific Q's but am more wanting you to share a bit of your knowledge on how you got some of the sounds on these records,. esp. the debut Playboys.

thx,

Most of the LP album was recorded by Dave Hidalgo on four track cassette. After we finished the Kiko album David was fired up with ideas and started recording on a very badly out of alignment four track. He recorded late nights in his kitchen using utensils for percusion and in his attic. A few months later he gave Mitchell (Froom) a cassette of rough mixes. All instrumental. We listened at the studio (Sound Factory) and just about wept. Thought it was beautiful, had a talk with Dave and Louie and decided to make it an album.
The first job was to transfer the four track audio to 24 track but the original four track machine was broken and we couldn't re-align the new deck to the old tape. There was so much crosstalk of tracks, out of phase what-not and noise we clearly needed to camoflage.
Adding outdoor binaural ambience and re-recording stuff through pipes and adding distortion were all ways of covering up those serious problems but ultimately helped bring on the final sound.
First album 70% done on a four track.
'Dose' was a step up to 8 track casstte.

PlugHead 28th February 2007 05:35 PM

Now THIS is what I wanted to hear!!! hittt

Obviously it's not about the gear, and all about performance - sometimes we all need to hear that - quite often actually...

SO - as an engineer (and Froom as producer) you guys souped up the tracks according to what you thought you could get away with in 'masking' certain flaws in the recordings? Now, this is the mark of 'production chops' 'cos those albums have the 'vibe' so many others are lacking!

One Q re: the tube/digi micing: I've seen your blurbs about this before, but I wonder - are there not natural resonances that will affect the material from 'ringing'? With a fixed pipe length, there are surely overtones that 'ring' when their resonant freq. are hit?!?

Does this add to the 'vibe' factor, or do you choose the pipes according to the key of the song?

Lastly, and off topic: I think you and Mitchell did an album or 2 with Ron Sexsmith (who is a highly underrated songwriter) - I didn't get to ask Ron about the sessions, but wonder if you recall a couple of things - one being the mic/signal path for his voice, and the other the mic/path used for Bob Stewart's tuba?

thanks a bunch - so great to have you here!!! jkthtyrt

blackbox 28th February 2007 05:42 PM

Hi, Tchad,

First of all, let me state that I am an immense admirer of your work and have a great deal of professional respect for you. I'm pretty pumped you're on the forum here... don't really know where to start..

Let me ask you this: It seems like you really spend a lot of time deconstructing and "modifying" your individual sound sources through distortion and compression. From listening to your records, I'd guess that every track goes through "the treatment" in some way. So, with all that individual compression going on, how do you approach your 2buss compression? My guess is that it's a lighter touch than what's going on with the individual sources.

Thanks in advance.

PlugHead 1st March 2007 03:09 PM

bump for Tchad...

tchadb 1st March 2007 04:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by blackbox (Post 1153930)
Hi, Tchad,

First of all, let me state that I am an immense admirer of your work and have a great deal of professional respect for you. I'm pretty pumped you're on the forum here... don't really know where to start..

Let me ask you this: It seems like you really spend a lot of time deconstructing and "modifying" your individual sound sources through distortion and compression. From listening to your records, I'd guess that every track goes through "the treatment" in some way. So, with all that individual compression going on, how do you approach your 2buss compression? My guess is that it's a lighter touch than what's going on with the individual sources.

Thanks in advance.

THX.
Again, it depends on the song but there is one thing I always do. I'm always listening through a 2bus compressor. From tracking to final mix.
I fiddle a lot with individual channels and at the same time experiment with different 2bus settings and units. I want an idea of what's going to happen at mixdown. No pun intended, but it's a dynamic process where, in my studio, there are few rules.

tchadb 1st March 2007 05:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PlugHead (Post 1153912)
Now THIS is what I wanted to hear!!! hittt

Obviously it's not about the gear, and all about performance - sometimes we all need to hear that - quite often actually...

SO - as an engineer (and Froom as producer) you guys souped up the tracks according to what you thought you could get away with in 'masking' certain flaws in the recordings? Now, this is the mark of 'production chops' 'cos those albums have the 'vibe' so many others are lacking!

One Q re: the tube/digi micing: I've seen your blurbs about this before, but I wonder - are there not natural resonances that will affect the material from 'ringing'? With a fixed pipe length, there are surely overtones that 'ring' when their resonant freq. are hit?!?

Does this add to the 'vibe' factor, or do you choose the pipes according to the key of the song?

Lastly, and off topic: I think you and Mitchell did an album or 2 with Ron Sexsmith (who is a highly underrated songwriter) - I didn't get to ask Ron about the sessions, but wonder if you recall a couple of things - one being the mic/signal path for his voice, and the other the mic/path used for Bob Stewart's tuba?

thanks a bunch - so great to have you here!!! jkthtyrt

The tubes are often not tuned but I do have a set that are cut to notes which never got used much. A lot of LP,HP & BP filtering was used on these mechanical filters to fit them into the track, and some pretty heavy compression.
Ron's vocal...??...I'm seem to recall a Telefunken 251 with an early Little Labs mic pre to an ADL or Distressor compressor. The tuba is anyone's guess although I'm quite lazy and it's highly possible I just moved the vocal set up to accomodate the tuba.

PlugHead 1st March 2007 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tchad blake (Post 1155973)
The tubes are often not tuned but I do have a set that are cut to notes which never got used much. A lot of LP,HP & BP filtering was used on these mechanical filters to fit them into the track, and some pretty heavy compression.
Ron's vocal...??...I'm seem to recall a Telefunken 251 with an early Little Labs mic pre to an ADL or Distressor compressor. The tuba is anyone's guess although I'm quite lazy and it's highly possible I just moved the vocal set up to accomodate the tuba.

Thx for this - clears up a few things I've pondered over the years.

I like the thought of utilizing tubes for an 'altered' reality of sound. Must often be really drastic with EQ'ing to get something that adds as opposed to detracts from the event. Knowing what you want is more than half the battle!

regards,

blackbox 1st March 2007 08:56 PM

Awesome. and thanks.

Lemme ask you one more thing.....

How in the hell do you get so much low-end on your mixes?!?!!? I love the low-end on your records!

Are you running a hipass filter on the sidechain of your 2 buss comp?

Thanks,
KC

robot gigante 1st March 2007 10:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by blackbox (Post 1156465)
Awesome. and thanks.

Lemme ask you one more thing.....

How in the hell do you get so much low-end on your mixes?!?!!? I love the low-end on your records!

I'm also curious about this. I've loved the low end on your mixes since I was a kid in high school and I would crank up Soul Coughing's Ruby Vroom on my car stereo. I remember wondering why I couldn't get that sound when I was recording with the little cassette 4-track we had. freshflowe

blackbox 2nd March 2007 12:20 AM

Hey, it is the first day of a new month.....

Think there's a chance we can get Mr. Blake to Guest Moderate for March around here?

paterno 2nd March 2007 12:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by blackbox (Post 1156465)
How in the hell do you get so much low-end on your mixes?!?!!? I love the low-end on your records!

It's not just the amount of low end, it is the detail and separation along with the low end that have always got me with Tchad records.

JP

blackbox 2nd March 2007 01:49 AM

Yeah, your right about that, JP.

So, Tchad, are subwoofers a must-have for you?

robot gigante 2nd March 2007 02:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by paterno (Post 1156984)
It's not just the amount of low end, it is the detail and separation along with the low end that have always got me with Tchad records.

JP

Yes! And the fact that the low end translates so well from smaller to full range speakers.

Dave Derr 2nd March 2007 06:57 AM

TCHAD! HOW THE HEY ARE YA?
 
I was browsing around and saw you were GearSlutttttting. Damn I haven't heard nor seen you in years. We talk about you though... all very very BAD THINGS.
jkthtyrt

John Paterno has kept me up on you a bit, thank gosh. Are you still living in England? Workin at Real World a lot?

Doing much photography? I bet most folks don't know youre a crack photographer as well as a tenacious Tone Meister.

GREAT TO SEE YA HERE!

tchadb 3rd March 2007 03:05 PM

Hi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dave Derr (Post 1157566)
I was browsing around and saw you were GearSlutttttting. Damn I haven't heard nor seen you in years. We talk about you though... all very very BAD THINGS.
jkthtyrt

John Paterno has kept me up on you a bit, thank gosh. Are you still living in England? Workin at Real World a lot?

Doing much photography? I bet most folks don't know youre a crack photographer as well as a tenacious Tone Meister.

GREAT TO SEE YA HERE!

Hi Dave, glad your OK, nice to hear from you. I'm doing pretty well for an old dog. Just trying to learn some new 'tricks'. Still in blighty surrounded by cows and chickens and yes, still taking photos.
You working on plug-ins yet???

tchadb 3rd March 2007 03:19 PM

Low end
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by blackbox (Post 1156465)
Awesome. and thanks.

Lemme ask you one more thing.....

How in the hell do you get so much low-end on your mixes?!?!!? I love the low-end on your records!

Are you running a hipass filter on the sidechain of your 2 buss comp?

Thanks,
KC

That sounds a bit fancy for me in those days. One Al Smart C1 compressor on the 2bus with no side chain, no EQ. I do like low end and take my time carving room for it with panning and EQ. If the drums and bass are big, roll some of the lows off the guitars, etc...maybe the oppisite, back and forth until you get what you want.
On some of those records I used a DAK subsonic synth. $75.00 mailorder stereo sub box ment for home system use. Just a little 30-50Hz on the kick.
No sub-woofers in the studio, just NS10's for the older records, later I added a pair of Audix Nile V's (???) that Paterno turned me on to. Now it's the Linn 328A's which extend to 30Hz , audible at very moderate listening levels.

CrazyBeast 3rd March 2007 05:24 PM

on ns10's with a subharmonic synth thing... damn it all!!

funny to find you posting here - I had been talking with dave king about the experience working with you and then here you are explaining it in detail!

cheers

Dave Derr 3rd March 2007 08:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tchad blake (Post 1159866)
Hi Dave, glad your OK, nice to hear from you. I'm doing pretty well for an old dog. Just trying to learn some new 'tricks'. Still in blighty surrounded by cows and chickens and yes, still taking photos.
You working on plug-ins yet???

Great! Livin in the countryside surrounded by animals is good for your peace of mind. Im surrounded by animals too, but I try not to hold it against all these people in N NJ... nor our presidential administration.

We have thought about plugins since 1995, and kind of have a list of stuff that needs to be done, as well as having put together features and specs for the plugs. Of course, we have quite a few acquantances ready to start writing the DSP code. BUT, we are finishing up a couple analog products before we expand the company, and it's product line into software. Theres also still some issues on capturing in DSP, some of the extreme processing capable of some analog products. Some things that are soooooo basic in analog, are still very near impossible in digital. At least they are impossible to do "well". Im not a big fan of the "its pretty close" or "it sounds really good for a plug-in" type thinking. It's not a matter of bit resolution as much as running into nyquist related sampling problems. Anyway, there WILL be Empirical Labs plugins eventually.

Forgive me for asking but, what's your personal favorite recent project so I can go out and buy it and catch up on your new tricks? I'm Jonesin here...

tchadb 3rd March 2007 09:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CrazyBeast (Post 1160022)
on ns10's with a subharmonic synth thing... damn it all!!

funny to find you posting here - I had been talking with dave king about the experience working with you and then here you are explaining it in detail!

cheers

You don't hear it, you watch the NS10's for low end. That's why you have to take the screens off. Many engineers put tissue over the tweeters once the screens were off as a LP filter, that's how they were designed... to be used with those screens.

jarbar 3rd March 2007 09:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tchad blake (Post 1160365)
You don't hear it, you watch the NS10's for low end. That's why you have to take the screens off.

I assume this comes from experience as the overall volume will move the cones more.
I know of the "crank the bass instrument and adjust a HPF until the edges of the cones stop crinkling" trick, but find it hard to know What Volume + What HPF Frequency = Where I want it. That's why I switch to the big speakers! But at home (also NS10s) I don't have a second pair of monitors.

Thanks for the info Tchad. I'd love to see a discussion here on binaural recording. I've got a styrofoam head with ears from a costume shop. The mics are homemade jobs using little electret condencers and $30 in parts. It's amazing how good it sounds and I find I'm using it more and more.

tchadb 5th March 2007 01:51 PM

HPF
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jarbar (Post 1160403)
I assume this comes from experience as the overall volume will move the cones more.
I know of the "crank the bass instrument and adjust a HPF until the edges of the cones stop crinkling" trick, but find it hard to know What Volume + What HPF Frequency = Where I want it. That's why I switch to the big speakers! But at home (also NS10s) I don't have a second pair of monitors.

Thanks for the info Tchad. I'd love to see a discussion here on binaural recording. I've got a styrofoam head with ears from a costume shop. The mics are homemade jobs using little electret condencers and $30 in parts. It's amazing how good it sounds and I find I'm using it more and more.

Mixing is about relationships. Studios I've worked in never had very good bigs so I never felt I could check the lows that way. If the mids and hi's changed too much in relation, it would freak me out. My brain can't work like that.
Never did 'the trick' of putting a HPF on the mix or bass instrument, except for extreme rumble problems, and you don't need to crank up the NS10s to figure out your balance.
Set yourself a listening level of 80-85db (hard sometimes but worth the effort), the most accurate listening level on any speakers. (This is the level where the Fletcher-Munson curve is relatively flat. Newer 'Equal Loudness Contours' say different and my technical knowledge is minimal, so cut me some slack on this kind of stuff. This is just how I've dealt with it over the years.)
Play your favorite sounding records and watch the speakers react. Learn. On your mixes, don't use a HPF!!!! Try carving out those frequncies on individual tracks that choke the speakers (Kick/bass..????) . 150Hz-250Hz is a good starting point. Easy does it. -1-2 db at a time. Add Scotch, let set overnight.
Everyone has a different ear/brain voodoo.
What's worked for me, may not work the same for you, but different is often better.
Cool stuff on the binaural. Keep it alive.

jarbar 5th March 2007 03:05 PM

The HPF trick is apparently only for NS10s and not on the whole mix. It's basically to find out if there's too much sub energy on an individual track.

When you say "choke the speakers" do you refer to the woofers when they get jumpy but you're not hearing a whole lot of lows? I always thought this was caused by excess sub frequencies more than low mids.
When you recommend avoiding HPFs, is that for the choking speaker issue or is that an general rule for yourself? Sometimes I feel an acoustic guitar can sound fantastic - I certainly don't want to move the mic - but seems to have too much low information that can cloud up a mix. Perhaps more careful mic placement would be better.
I do like recordings that seem to have low end with no end! Not just volume, but when you can sense the resonance below the rest of the sound. Pianos, organs, guitars, voice - they can all have this effect. It's just often hard to get!

Thanks again,
jar

tchadb 6th March 2007 04:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jarbar (Post 1163026)
The HPF trick is apparently only for NS10s and not on the whole mix. It's basically to find out if there's too much sub energy on an individual track.

When you say "choke the speakers" do you refer to the woofers when they get jumpy but you're not hearing a whole lot of lows? I always thought this was caused by excess sub frequencies more than low mids.
When you recommend avoiding HPFs, is that for the choking speaker issue or is that an general rule for yourself? Sometimes I feel an acoustic guitar can sound fantastic - I certainly don't want to move the mic - but seems to have too much low information that can cloud up a mix. Perhaps more careful mic placement would be better.
I do like recordings that seem to have low end with no end! Not just volume, but when you can sense the resonance below the rest of the sound. Pianos, organs, guitars, voice - they can all have this effect. It's just often hard to get!

Thanks again,
jar

To me it means anything stressing the speaker to the point of a change in timbre. It's not only subs that will do it.
HPF's are very useful, I was only commenting on filtering the bass instrument or a whole mix. That sounds scary to me. Filter away if it clears out rumble where you don't want it.

jarbar 8th March 2007 03:40 PM

Thanks for answering Tchad. It's much appreciated.

I've always been a fan of bold panning as you seem to be. Other than "well this sounds good", do you also consider what group of instruments work well together when panned together, or perhaps which ones work together when they're opposite from each other?
Say you have drums and bass panned hard, do you tend to filter the low end more (or at least differently) then when panned centered?

Also, I know you're a big fan of compressors and other toys, but what about mics (I'm sure you've at least got a passing interest) Are you more a put-whatever-mic-near-a-good-source guy or are you quite particular about which mics (or which types) get used for certain sounds? You a fan of ribbons?

Thanks again!

tchadb 9th March 2007 05:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jarbar (Post 1168462)
Thanks for answering Tchad. It's much appreciated.

I've always been a fan of bold panning as you seem to be. Other than "well this sounds good", do you also consider what group of instruments work well together when panned together, or perhaps which ones work together when they're opposite from each other?
Say you have drums and bass panned hard, do you tend to filter the low end more (or at least differently) then when panned centered?

Also, I know you're a big fan of compressors and other toys, but what about mics (I'm sure you've at least got a passing interest) Are you more a put-whatever-mic-near-a-good-source guy or are you quite particular about which mics (or which types) get used for certain sounds? You a fan of ribbons?

Thanks again!

Definately shape the sound when panning (EQ / compression).
I don't think things out very much when I'm mixing. I'm not an engineer with great technical knowledge, so yes, I twiddle knobs until it sounds right.
And it's not just OB toys I collect and use but also instruments. Toy instruments, cheap guitars and amps and drums, anything for percussion. Trash cans to put little amps+mics in to get a resonant sound (mechanical filters). That way I'm not always relying on studio OB gear.
I know my mics reasonably well but I still just grab whatever is up and ready to go, unless there's a problem sound that requires something specific.
I like 'creating mistakes', not controlling a session or situation too much.
It seems to push me around a bit..... keeps me doing things differently.
All that said, I love ribbons (although my Coles died 6 years ago and I never had it repaired) but my favorite mic is an Elam 251 or the reissue Telefunken 251(sadly I don't own either...someday..), Sure 57's are my second fav.

jarbar 9th March 2007 11:21 PM

I find it interesting hearing how different engineers I admire will sometimes have polar opposite approaches so this has been very interesting. Thanks.

While mixing, do you monitor around 80-85dB most of the time? I know some who mostly mix at fairly low volumes with the theory that if you can make it sound full and exciting then, it'll sound even better at louder volumes.
Do you ever reference a mix in mono? Not so much for phase, but to get a different perspective on the balance.

Also, when setting up a mic, do you mainly eyeball it, then move it if it's not working for you when heard on the monitors, or do you get your ear in there maybe even fine tuning with headphones on? When I've tried using headphones to place a mic (for ex, acoustic guitar) I'm surprised with how much difference a couple of inches can make, even when you're a couple of feet away. It's like sweeping an EQ!

Thanks again

Jarrett

MHB850 21st April 2007 11:06 PM

hi Tchad,

You're in my opinion, the most creative engineer/mixer in the business. Every time I read something by you, it's so unique that i have to read it a few times before I get a visual of what the hell you're doing. You're rule when i hear your records is that there are no rules and you like to shake it all up every chance you get...god bless ya. Anyway, enough of the ass kissing. I own a shure level lock because of something you wrote about it. I have yet to make it sound good. is it broken or can you enlighten me on what you do with it that works so well for you and why I keep shaking my head when i try it? Keep up the great work and I'm very excited that you're here for the month...gonna be keeping my ear to the ground this month. As we say in my neck of the woods...you're the tits.

Michael Brauer

tchadb 22nd April 2007 10:07 PM

level loc
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MHB850 (Post 1243292)
hi Tchad,

You're in my opinion, the most creative engineer/mixer in the business. Every time I read something by you, it's so unique that i have to read it a few times before I get a visual of what the hell you're doing. You're rule when i hear your records is that there are no rules and you like to shake it all up every chance you get...god bless ya. Anyway, enough of the ass kissing. I own a shure level lock because of something you wrote about it. I have yet to make it sound good. is it broken or can you enlighten me on what you do with it that works so well for you and why I keep shaking my head when i try it? Keep up the great work and I'm very excited that you're here for the month...gonna be keeping my ear to the ground this month. As we say in my neck of the woods...you're the tits.

Michael Brauer

Hi Michael, I kiss your ass right back.
Level Locs are strange beasts. I own 5 and only one works now. Every now and then you find someone who knows the way of the Loc and can coax them back to life. When working they give you masses of slow, undulating, distorted compression.
They were made for low spl, i.e. talking humans, so when placed after a mic that's close to a drum kit they go wild.
Remember, it's a mic level unit and sends need to be padded way down when using at line level, which doesn't work as well in my opinion.
If it's been hooked up to a full line level signal, it's blown.

all the best Michael,