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Can an Engineer be a Producer? and vice versa
Old 16th November 2009
  #1
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Can an Engineer be a Producer? and vice versa

Here is something that always made me curious. I consider myself a producer/musician/songwriter who has basic engineering skills. Thanks to the great engineers on this forum, I feel I am improving everyday.
What I am curious to know is could (and are there) great Engineers who are great producers and vice versa. Is there a very fine middle-ground? Are there engineers who are wanna-be producers and vice versa?
Old 16th November 2009
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
What I am curious to know is could (and are there) great Engineers who are great producers and vice versa.
I sure hope so. Can't wait to see where this goes!

Did you buy a compressor?

- Chris
Old 16th November 2009
  #3
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Fred Pearson's Avatar
 

Nowadays, budgets are getting less and the producer and engineering role are getting blended into one to cut costs (unless you're on a BIG budget project).

So yes, there is a definitely a cross-over between producer and engineer.

Peace
Old 16th November 2009
  #4
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I think its really tough to do both really well. Something will ultimately suffer as both require full attention to really get it right. I have to do it all the time and usually the engineering suffers a tiny bit as I am usually focused on the singers performance. Some of the greats that come to my mind are Frank Filipetti, Andy Wallace, and Nigel Godrich. There are plenty more out there but a lot of times its more of a money thing. It's also the reason most of the vocals I receive are totally unlabeled with crudely flown vocals that were recorded with the mains blaring in the other room.
Old 16th November 2009
  #5
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Working in a small situation such as self producing, as I am currently doing on my project...yes... but working in a larger environment, dealing with a group of musicians on a larger scale recording...no... typically you need a good engineer to help or at least an assistant with ears. So my answer to this question is: It depends on the scope and nature of the project. (however IMO a good producer should have at least some competency as an engineer as well as capable mixer with knowledge of mastering as well)
Old 16th November 2009
  #6
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CJ1973's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by walla View Post

Did you buy a compressor?
Hi

Not yet but have ordered I will definitely post the results in the nxt couple of days. just have been so busy past few days.

Can someone name a few greats who have crossed over well? Would it be fair to say that a damn fine producer (meaning not someone who records rock music, but also has abilities in sequencing, playing instruments, beats, guitars etc) may have some decent engineering skills and a damn fine engineer (meaning someone who not just tracks but mixes so well) can be a really good producer (not sure how they would be in pop music though, where the variables change everyday in terms of sound and texture) generally......
Old 16th November 2009
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
Can someone name a few greats who have crossed over well? Would it be fair to say that a damn fine producer (meaning not someone who records rock music, but also has abilities in sequencing, playing instruments, beats, guitars etc) may have some decent engineering skills and a damn fine engineer (meaning someone who not just tracks but mixes so well) can be a really good producer (not sure how they would be in pop music though, where the variables change everyday in terms of sound and texture) generally......
A few of my fave producer/engineer/mixer combos...
Brendan O'Brien
Mark Trombino
Mike Mogis
Ben Grosse
Matt Goldman
Dave Sardy
Tchad Blake
David Bottrill
Rich Costey
Old 16th November 2009
  #8
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Uhm....Phil Ramone?
Old 16th November 2009
  #9
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erockrazor's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by walla View Post
I sure hope so. Can't wait to see where this goes!

- Chris

Well..

Chris Walla fits this description? thumbsup

Of course you can be an engineer and a producer at the same time. In fact most often one will have skills in the other matter as well. You can never know too much.

Learn to be a producer, engineer, and a plumber. Then you'll at least have one thing to offer your significant other..

Eric
Old 16th November 2009
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ1973 View Post
Here is something that always made me curious. I consider myself a producer/musician/songwriter who has basic engineering skills. Thanks to the great engineers on this forum, I feel I am improving everyday.
What I am curious to know is could (and are there) great Engineers who are great producers and vice versa. Is there a very fine middle-ground? Are there engineers who are wanna-be producers and vice versa?
Sure...

There are all kind of colors.


- Engineer

- Engineer/Producer

- Producer

- Songwriter/Producer

- Producer/Mixer

- Songwriter/Producer/Singer e.g. Mutt Lange

- Songwriter/Producer/Instrumentalist (Multi-Instrumentalist)


all sorts...
Old 16th November 2009
  #11
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A440's Avatar
I think there are 4 main routes that producers develop from from:

Musician/Producer

Engineer/Producer

Businessman/Producer

DJ/Producer

All valid in their own way, each with their own valuable skill sets. So yes, many producers can be engineers and vice versa.
Old 16th November 2009
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Igotsoul4u View Post
I think its really tough to do both really well. Something will ultimately suffer as both require full attention to really get it right. I have to do it all the time and usually the engineering suffers a tiny bit as I am usually focused on the singers performance. Some of the greats that come to my mind are Frank Filipetti, Andy Wallace, and Nigel Godrich. There are plenty more out there but a lot of times its more of a money thing. It's also the reason most of the vocals I receive are totally unlabeled with crudely flown vocals that were recorded with the mains blaring in the other room.
Sorry I don't buy it, once you get a level you can focus your attention onto the performance, assuming you have a good singer, it's not rocket science. If you have a problem singer then you come up with creative ways to make that work. As far as sloppy labeling and bad vocals, usually it's from someone with lousy engineering skills, or sometimes in the case of labeling, the client doesn't allow time for labeling.
You can absolutely do it all, if you can absolutely do it all, if you have really strong engineering chops, and are really musical and can stay really focused. The problem is those skills take time to develop
Old 16th November 2009
  #13
With bands coming up with their own funding-- which is the only world I've ever known-- the "producer" role is always splintered up between whoever "leads" the band and their goals for the project and me and my instincts of how "successful" the takes are.

I mean, look at it: you need a band to perform the songs. You need an engineer to run the equipment. The "producer" is just someone to make judgments about the quality of what just happened, and overall to encourage the band to do their best and make them as comfortable as possible.

Which is to say simply you don't need someone standing there doing nothing but cheerleading and being either satisfied or dissatisfied with the progress of things.

So, the scenario that always occurs: the leader describes the song and its instrumentation. We set up. The band plays. The leader and I exchange glances. There's a little mini-conference after each take. It's either done over or we move on to the next thing.

Seems to work.
Old 16th November 2009
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musiclab View Post
You can absolutely do it all, if you can absolutely do it all, if you have really strong engineering chops, and are really musical and can stay really focused. The problem is those skills take time to develop
I agree, it can be done. BUT I remember one time my building had some power failures right in the middle of a project I was engineering/producing

It was a TV soundtrack and deadline was looming, so I went to a friend's studio to finish up and when I got there, he offered me The Chair. I decided to Just Produce and let him engineer.

What a luxury! I am not talking about having an intern fly the board for me, I mean having an excellent engineer keeping everything rolling rolling rolling while I focus on listening. I can't say the product was any better, but it sure was more relaxing.
Old 16th November 2009
  #15
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I do both. I find it hard to sperate the two. Part of producing AND engineering is getting the sounds right. Good sounds start with a good performance. So in a way inspiring a good performance is the main part of engineering. This includes being opiniated when it comes to arrangement, timing, feel and instrument choise.
E.g when I have to record two guitar parts I tend to work with the artist into getting the right amp/guitar combi. I can't do my tracking properly if guitar parts interfer with one another. But that would be a producers task as well.
I think being able to engineer makes producing easier because you don't have to look inside the head of another person to know what you want to hear. If you want a roomy drum sound and you're able to get it to match what you hear in your mind it's easier than telling someone else what to do.
Having said that, If someone could take care of some engineering tasks for me (level matching, aligning and plugging in microphones at my request) that would make it somewhat easier. But I suppose that wouldn't be engineering, more like assisten engineering or something.
Anyway, the strict seperation between engineer/producer is more an American thing. Over here most do both. But American records are still king (at leat the old ones), so what do I know...
Old 16th November 2009
  #16
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
Peter's right! Phil Ramone is the quintessential Engineer/Producer.
But you could also add George Massenburg to that list.
Old 16th November 2009
  #17
Gear Nut
 

interesting question - i can certainly think of a handful of names that have done this very well, but on the flip side the "jack of all trades, master of none" phrase pops up.

i'm guessing that the majority of people fitting into this category (that do it well) are / were musicians themselves first, and learned to engineer out of necessity / curiosity after the fact. the best engineering in the world can't save a poorly arranged / produced tune. great arrangements and production decisions can however still resonate with listeners even through terrible engineering...
Old 16th November 2009
  #18
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forgot to ask, does jon brion engineer his own stuff? if so i'd throw his name into the ring...
Old 16th November 2009
  #19
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Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by A440 View Post
I think there are 4 main routes that producers develop from from:

Musician/Producer

Engineer/Producer

Businessman/Producer

DJ/Producer

All valid in their own way, each with their own valuable skill sets. So yes, many producers can be engineers and vice versa.
That sounds very well summed up to me

The first two are easier to engineer for than the last two heh
Old 16th November 2009
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Outlaw Hans View Post
I do both. I find it hard to sperate the two. Part of producing AND engineering is getting the sounds right. Good sounds start with a good performance. So in a way inspiring a good performance is the main part of engineering. This includes being opiniated when it comes to arrangement, timing, feel and instrument choise.
E.g when I have to record two guitar parts I tend to work with the artist into getting the right amp/guitar combi. I can't do my tracking properly if guitar parts interfer with one another. But that would be a producers task as well.
I think being able to engineer makes producing easier because you don't have to look inside the head of another person to know what you want to hear. If you want a roomy drum sound and you're able to get it to match what you hear in your mind it's easier than telling someone else what to do.
Having said that, If someone could take care of some engineering tasks for me (level matching, aligning and plugging in microphones at my request) that would make it somewhat easier. But I suppose that wouldn't be engineering, more like assisten engineering or something.
Anyway, the strict seperation between engineer/producer is more an American thing. Over here most do both. But American records are still king (at leat the old ones), so what do I know...
you have to be careful to not be the unwanted producer. So many times engineers stick their 2 cent's in when they aren't wanted. If I'm not asked to produce, I stay out of the way, I do enough production work that I don't feel the need to produce every project that comes in here. But if you want help I'm happy to give it
Old 16th November 2009
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkretz View Post
forgot to ask, does jon brion engineer his own stuff? if so i'd throw his name into the ring...
He uses Greg Koller often as his go to engineer.
Old 17th November 2009
  #22
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Igotsoul4u's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post
Peter's right! Phil Ramone is the quintessential Engineer/Producer.
But you could also add George Massenburg to that list.
phil ramone is a great producer engineer but i don't think he prefers doing both since he hasn't really engineered in about 30 years. I think this emphasizes the point that you can do it, but its definitely a fault in the process. Not one of you will convince me otherwise. One on one vocals might be the only exception IMO. Recording a band and producing them at the same time is a good way to not notice the the overhead mic let go and is now facing the wall. Its a good way to forget to turn on session file backup. Its a good way to not notice that little buzz from the vocal mic. I just can't understand why you are all downplaying the role of the engineer. Its a full time job. Having a dedicated producer and a dedicated engineer makes for a better record in all ways. If you can't understand this then you might want to turn the radio on to hear the sound of the engineer/producer!!!!
Old 17th November 2009
  #23
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[QUOTE=Igotsoul4u;4789923]I just can't understand why you are all downplaying the role of the engineer. Its a full time job. Having a dedicated producer and a dedicated engineer makes for a better record in all ways. QUOTE]
I would have to agree as I feel the same way. Zooming out, especially in pop music lets look at an MJ record even. Imagine Quincy being worried about frequencies and mic distances and missing out on instructing MJ on how to deliver and instructing Steve Lukather on what was needed for the record etc...that would have been disaster!!!
Where I get confused is when an Engineer calls himself a producer, when for the most part, he/she clearly is a damn fine engineer, but probably has not much of an idea as to how the feel of instruments should be, snare drum layering, discussing with A&Rs what is needed for the overall song/album etc. I think there is a huge gray area of 'jack of none' for people and I think perhaps boundaries based on skillsets?
Old 17th November 2009
  #24
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Tony Shepperd's Avatar
[QUOTE=CJ1973;4790103]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Igotsoul4u View Post
Where I get confused is when an Engineer calls himself a producer, when for the most part, he/she clearly is a damn fine engineer, but probably has not much of an idea as to how the feel of instruments should be, snare drum layering, discussing with A&Rs what is needed for the overall song/album etc. I think there is a huge gray area of 'jack of none' for people and I think perhaps boundaries based on skillsets?
Where I get confused is when Producers don't even show up for sessions and rely HEAVILY upon the engineers to pull off the session. Then never credit the engineer with any of the production.
Old 17th November 2009
  #25
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Hard to say. I believe it will change from artist to artist; band to band. In the case of some more prominent indie bands (Death Cab For Cutie, Thrice, etc.) Having an outside person would actually only detract/inhibit the writing/recording process. Again, Some engineers will be called upon to produce, other producers will be called upon to engineer.

Case by case.
Old 17th November 2009
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Shepperd View Post

Where I get confused is when Producers don't even show up for sessions and rely HEAVILY upon the engineers to pull off the session. Then never credit the engineer with any of the production.

isn't that just an everyday thing within the corporate world?
defining the producer as the 'boss' or the 'manager',
his job is to take all the credit and do as little actual
work as possible

sure it doesn't really happen all the time but in every job
I have ever worked it's happen 50% of the time whether
in audio engineering or in design engineering or even
when I worked at a grocery store when I was 16

1/2 the reason at least i n America everything is messed up.
Most companies are top heavy if you will
Old 17th November 2009
  #27
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CJ1973's Avatar
 

[QUOTE=Tony Shepperd;4790222][QUOTE=CJ1973;4790103]

Where I get confused is when Producers don't even show up for sessions and rely HEAVILY upon the engineers to pull off the session. QUOTE]
Agree. Being a smalltime producer myself, I never do that, but with my work, I know my engineers rock-up before we start session, while if there is a co-producer, they're usually running late as they put themselves a little more closer to the artist and sometimes even think they are one.
Whats interesting also are the producers who actually think they are engineers OR the artists who call a producer an engineer.....
Old 17th November 2009
  #28
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nbenford's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igotsoul4u View Post
Recording a band and producing them at the same time is a good way to not notice the the overhead mic let go and is now facing the wall. Its a good way to forget to turn on session file backup. Its a good way to not notice that little buzz from the vocal mic. I just can't understand why you are all downplaying the role of the engineer. Its a full time job.
I agree completely. I feel like every time I have to engineer and produce/direct simultaneously it's at least 15-20% too much mental workload. It usually happens due to scheduling problems and sometimes budgets. I can't completely concentrate on the performance or 100% focus on the technical aspects, so mental compromises are made. Not enough to affect the session to the point that the recordings are unusable, but it certainly increases the workload. If it's a fast-paced, demanding session, it's like being a pilot landing manually in a storm! The likelihood of error due to stress and other causes increases. It's better all around when there is a separation of duties in the control room, for the livelihood of the engineer and producer, and for the product being recorded.
Old 17th November 2009
  #29
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Paulie's Avatar
 

sure they can! look at dave groll, he started off playing drums, end up producing a record where he played guitar and sang. not to shabby.
Old 17th November 2009
  #30
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WiZKiD's Avatar
 

from Tom Dowd to John Alagia...that covers 50 years. Engineer/Producer roles have always been intertwined. Spend thirty years in a control room and and it's kind of inevitable.
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