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Old 17th August 2011
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Originally Posted by studio1225 View Post
Hi Eric,
thanks for taking time to answer questions.

Just a quick note I recorded at your studio back in 90' when you where in Palo Alto. I remember you guys where working on a Paris record. Mike Martin was our engineer, lots of good x's. Had allot of friends that tracked there as well. You have been and inspiration ever since.

I have a couple questions regarding your protool tranfers to tape.

1) do you transfer directly from the DA's to the tape machine input? or do you run signal though your console? or a mixture of the two?
This is a good question! There are some very specific things I like to do when transferring to tape. I use a -18 cal on my Pro Tools rig. At that level in the computer it is somewhat difficult for me to get the kind of level I like when hitting tape without clipping digitally in the computer. I also like to print conservative levels in the computer. i find that sounds start to collapse when they clip in the computer. I try to make sure the drums are peaking in the -6 range. That means i need quite a lot of extra level when transferring to tape. 192s have A and B cal settings. The A cal setting shows up as +4 (zero on my console) when -18 in the computer. The B cal setting is basically turned all the way up. I use that when i am printing drums to tape. for most things (OHs, room mics, toms) it will get me to the level I want for hitting tape. The kick and the snare sometimes need some extra level. I will either use the line trims in channels at the far end of the console to boost those few tracks up or use outboard gear boosting (1176s in bybass, Neve 1064s). I try to set levels on tape machines with my ears not the meters. This was something I learned from Roy Thomas Baker. He was potentially going to help T-Ride record a second album and came to our studio to work on stuff for a couple of days. We were getting some guitar sounds and the meters were literally just pinned to the right the whole time on everything. When I pointed it out to him he said "I never look at those things. I usually just put tape over them so I don't ever see em'. Its better to just listen." I don't put tape over my meters, but I do prescribe to the principle. I adjust the levels going to tape while the machine is in record listening to repro. I simply turn up the level until it sounds bad and then turn it down a little.

2)do you automate the tracks in protools, or do you leave it how it was printed to leave the dynamics of the performance?
I typically leave the levels the same. Occasionally if there is a section of the song that is really really quiet. I will turn up that section in a uniform way with pro tools automation. I can then turn those channels down in the mix for that section and reduce some noise in a quiet section of the song.

3)do you add eq or compression in the box or through outboard while transfering?
EQing before tape is very important. The main thing is to make sure things are bright enough. If I start boosting high end on playback the hiss gets out of control. I usually boost high end on tracks when I originally record them into the computer. I use Helios, Neve and Quad Eight mic pres that have nice EQs for boosting high end in them. For some reason I have not had much luck boosting high end with plugin EQs. Not sure what it is, but it just doesn't seem to open up the way hardware EQs do when boosting. I have no problem using Plugin EQs for subtractive EQ though. If I am going to EQ something in the computer with a plug in, it would only be to remove low end or low mids. I save all the boosting for hardware EQs on the console.

I almost never compress drums before tape. I prefer the sound of the compressor restoring attack on drum sounds after the tape machine has done its distortion/limiting thing. I am also constantly fine tuning the amount of compression on the drums throughout the mix as more things get added so it would be risky to commit to early in the process.