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Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

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Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 20, 2020 2:31 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoC-SwqHxbw

THIS is my reference track for drums. I love the toms. They seem to float in 3D right in front of me. I try to get this tom sound.

Lots of musicians, but you can hear it all.

I love to listen to this before mixing and hear how it is possible to have all those musical elements but still hear them all.

This album won the engineering Grammy in 1998.

To my ear this James Taylor album is the most clear and enjoyable. They are all good but this one sticks way out in to me in presenting his music.

I wonder what you guys hear? What did the Grammy committee hear?


One thing I notice about using this as a reference. If you try to copy this sound with similar pieces I find that you have to really brighten up all of the tracks. It is surprising how much 'extra brightness' you have to add to get close to this.

It's like when you brighten everything WAY up like this, it opens up new room to separate the pieces that wasn't there before.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby Arpangel » Sat Jun 20, 2020 7:25 am

This is indeed a great record, and deserves that Grammy, but he cares, about quality, his records are always technically brilliant. It’s the sound of driving around LA in your convertible, top down, arm on the window sill, shades on, the whole vibe, it’s all that wrapped up in a seductive sonic ball gown.
He also has loads of money, and he surrounds himself with top draw people from every field, producers, mastering engineers etc.
He also writes great songs... :D
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby awjoe » Sat Jun 20, 2020 8:16 am

What's it got? Drums, bass, harmonica, keys, vocal, bvs, conga (and something else maybe - a guitar part?)
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:33 am

Yes, a guitar part tucked away in there just poking it's head out at strategic moments. Lovely the whole thing.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby James Lawford » Sat Jun 20, 2020 12:22 pm

One of my favourite albums. Main bulk of recording done on Tascam DA-88 at 16 bit through a Yamaha 02R.

Check out Behind The Glass (and the 2nd book as well in fact!) for loads of great producer/engineer stories.

From the book, section on Frank Filipetti: "..all the tracking - drums, guitars, James's vocals - were done on the 02R and the three DA-88s." "When I plugged James's microphone into the 02R preamp and heard it on my Genelec speakers, it was the sound I wanted to hear."

"You know, if the song is there are your artist is great, 90 percent of your battle is won."

So with that in mind, get a decent drum kit with the right heads for the style of music, tune it really well and mic it up with decent mics in the right place with a great part and player.

DC-Choppah wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoC-SwqHxbw

THIS is my reference track for drums. I love the toms. They seem to float in 3D right in front of me. I try to get this tom sound.

Lots of musicians, but you can hear it all.

I love to listen to this before mixing and hear how it is possible to have all those musical elements but still hear them all.

This album won the engineering Grammy in 1998.

To my ear this James Taylor album is the most clear and enjoyable. They are all good but this one sticks way out in to me in presenting his music.

I wonder what you guys hear? What did the Grammy committee hear?


One thing I notice about using this as a reference. If you try to copy this sound with similar pieces I find that you have to really brighten up all of the tracks. It is surprising how much 'extra brightness' you have to add to get close to this.

It's like when you brighten everything WAY up like this, it opens up new room to separate the pieces that wasn't there before.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby Tim Gillett » Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:03 pm

I love the whole album and the followup October Road. To me the engineering is good because it doesn't draw attention to itself and we're immersed only in the music. Jimmy Johnson plays some really low
bass notes which may have been helped by the digital recording with no analog tape head bump issues. But as to why it won the engineering Grammy ideally it'd be great to find out from the committee members who made the decision. On any given year it can depend on the competition. Coming second one year against an excellent winner might be of more value than winning on a year of less stellar finalists.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby tea for two » Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:50 pm

DC-Choppah wrote:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoC-SwqHxbw


Grammys are similar to oscars : just dont know who the selectors are their tastes : maybe they mostly like country and dont like heavy metal.

First listen
This song's hihats way too prominent way too harsh.
It's not youtube compression mp3 messing.

Either as an arrangement decision drummer leaves out hihats as it's unnecessary also clutters the song
Or place it in the background in the mix.

Thinness of rides sounds weird as if engineer tried to match thinness of harmonica with thin ride eq.

Overall engineer artist decided to match thinness of his voice with a thin mix.

As a reggae ska possibly the police influenced groove on this song
sparseness works better for me than this songs full arrangement towards the latter part.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby desmond » Sat Jun 20, 2020 2:12 pm

tea for two wrote:This song's hihats way too prominent way too harsh.
It's not youtube compression mp3 messing.

Either as an arrangement decision drummer leaves out hihats as it's unnecessary also clutters the song
Or place it in the background in the mix.

What are you listening on, out of interest?
Listening on AKG K702's and the hihats are not harsh or overly prominent, here...

They are quite central though, and carry a fair amount of the rhythmic interest. I certainly don't think wouldn't have mixed them quieter in the context of that track..
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby tea for two » Sat Jun 20, 2020 2:20 pm

desmond wrote:
tea for two wrote:This song's hihats way too prominent way too harsh.
It's not youtube compression mp3 messing.

Either as an arrangement decision drummer leaves out hihats as it's unnecessary also clutters the song
Or place it in the background in the mix.

What are you listening on, out of interest?
Listening on AKG K702's and the hihats are not harsh or overly prominent, here...

They are quite central though, and carry a fair amount of the rhythmic interest. I certainly don't think wouldn't have mixed them quieter in the context of that track..

K701 maybe that's why. Also my ears : things hurt my ears nowadays.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:03 pm

Check out Behind The Glass (and the 2nd book as well in fact!) for loads of great producer/engineer stories.

One of my favourites too. The interview referred to is fascinating. The album was very much recorded on what many people would consider budget, low quality gear at Taylor's house. They knocked up a quick drum booth, used different rooms for a bit of separation and even DI'd Taylor's acoustic on some tracks etc etc. They were just meant to making demos until they realised they were on to something a bit special. But the feel and playing is amazing, And Fillipetti really knew what he was doing to be sure.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby James Lawford » Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:56 pm

As a drummer these kind of hi-hat parts make me smile. Also the hats on Line ‘em Up are a masterclass in providing energy and forward momentum when the kick and snare/rim click are so simple rhythmically.
Switching to ride cymbal and it’s the same story.

desmond wrote:
tea for two wrote:This song's hihats way too prominent way too harsh.
It's not youtube compression mp3 messing.

Either as an arrangement decision drummer leaves out hihats as it's unnecessary also clutters the song
Or place it in the background in the mix.

What are you listening on, out of interest?
Listening on AKG K702's and the hihats are not harsh or overly prominent, here...

They are quite central though, and carry a fair amount of the rhythmic interest. I certainly don't think wouldn't have mixed them quieter in the context of that track..
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:15 pm

awjoe wrote:What's it got? Drums, bass, harmonica, keys, vocal, bvs, conga (and something else maybe - a guitar part?)

4 backup singers
Lead vocal (single track)
2 guitars (acoustic + electric)
drum set
percussionist - Full latin percussion set
harmonica (Stevie Wonder) soloing on top of the vocalists all the time
keyboard

You can hear the voice of each backup singer individually, you can hear each guitar part, I could tell you the chord voicings of the keyboard, every percussion piece he chooses can be heard, harmonica does not step on vocals but is just as up front as vocals, drum set is very clear and each of the drums in the kit has its on 3D place in the mix, each tom each cymbal has a place in front of me as I listen.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:26 pm

James Lawford wrote:So with that in mind, get a decent drum kit with the right heads for the style of music, tune it really well and mic it up with decent mics in the right place with a great part and player.

I agree that drum heads and tuning have been key for me trying to get this sound. Keeping the tension equal all the way around on the head matters too. The Sennheiser e604 mics and MD-421 sound like this. The mics matter. I tried a lot of mics that didn't sound like this at all. You get that deep musical ring from those mics. The even tension heads make the ring pleasant.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:33 pm

James Lawford wrote:As a drummer these kind of hi-hat parts make me smile. Also the hats on Line ‘em Up are a masterclass in providing energy and forward momentum when the kick and snare/rim click are so simple rhythmically.
Switching to ride cymbal and it’s the same story.


Trying to get this Hi-Hat sound is all up to the drummer I think. So many million ways to hit a Hi-Hat. The Hi-Hat is the first thing that attracts me to a drummer like this. Great observation.

I know they have 'recording hi-hats'. I always wonder if anyone is actually using those in some of these tracks I like? Or if a good drummer can coax any sound out of the regular Hi-Hats.
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Re: Why did this mix receive a Grammy for engineering?

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:35 pm

Arpangel wrote:It’s the sound of driving around LA in your convertible, top down, arm on the window sill, shades on, the whole vibe, it’s all that wrapped up in a seductive sonic ball gown.

8-) 8-) :smirk: :D
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