Despite paying a studio to record and mix their album, Tommy Allen’s band weren’t keen on the result. Could our engineer do any better?
When reader Tommy Allen first contacted me, his frustration was as understandable as it was unmistakable. Despite financing five days tracking and four days mixing in a local professional studio, he felt that the mixes of his blues-rock band’s fourth album left a lot to be desired. Listening to one of the songs, ‘My Father Never Loved Me’, and comparing it with favourite releases from Tommy’s record collection (names like Keb Mo, Anders Osborne, Cry Of Love, Jeff Healey, Scott Henderson and Stevie Ray Vaughan), I couldn’t help but agree. Despite excellent performances from all the musicians involved, the mix as a whole seemed rather boxy and narrow, with a sluggish kick, a rather characterless snare, overbearing cymbals, and a guitar texture that was quite stodgy and distant-sounding.
In response to this disappointment, Tommy had decided to invest serious effort into learning to mix for himself, so that he could personally remix the raw multitracks more to his own taste — but this was easier said than done. For a start, it turned out he’d overcooked the reverb on his amp during the tracking session, and had to rerecord the main rhythm parts to remedy this. However, even then, the ramifications of some of the original tracking engineer’s miking decisions proved tricky to deal with, and he was also unsure what kind of editing and phase-alignment measures might be necessary to handle spill between the different mics. So I suggested that he send me over the multitracks, to see whether I could get a more appropriate mixed result within my Cockos Reaper DAW system, and thereby provide him with something of a template for the remainder of his remixing efforts.
This month’s featured song is from the blues-rock band Trafficker, comprising Tommy Allen (guitar, vocals), Emil Engstrom (bass), and Damon Clarridge (drums). Founded in 2001, the band have toured extensively, and have already released several well-reviewed CDs of their own original material.
Although the raw tracks numbered more than 30, the arrangement was actually pretty straightforward: 10 channels of drum mics;...
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