Michael Brauer Mixes Paul McCartney

Sep 24, 2003 12:00 PM, Editors


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Slated for broadcast on the A&E cable network, Paul McCartney In Red Square highlights the ex-Beatle’s visit to (and first-ever concert in) the Russian capital in May. McCartney played for a crowd of almost 100,000 and made a side trip to St. Petersburg, where he received an honorary doctorate from the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

The show employed a staff of industry veterans, including video producer/director Mark Haefeli, music producer David Kahne and mix engineer Michael Brauer (pictured), who mixed the footage in stereo and 5.1 for broadcast and a future DVD release at Henson Studios (the former A&M facility) during the week of July 14.

“I actually got involved in the project through David [Kahne],” said Brauer. “He called me to mix Paul’s last live release, Back In the U.S. Live 2002. I did the 5.1 and stereo mixes for those, so David contacted me again to do the Red Square show. Henson is a great facility, and it also happens to be one of David’s favorites, as he has his own studio within the building for his production work.

“The original recording was a direct board recording to two Tascam 2424 hard disk systems, done by Pablo Boothroyd, the live sound engineer, and the original material was excellent, very clean," Brauer continued. "The only additional channels were near and far-audience mics.” Brauer and Kahne worked in Henson’s Studio A, using an SSL SL9080 J, Nuendo and Pro Tools recording media. “I chose the MSP10 Studios after some serious evaluation. The sound was clear and didn’t break up at higher volumes. The room I was mixing in had high ceilings, so I had to crank it up a bit more, but they filled up the room nicely. The range was also good—I didn’t need to take out any bottom end or do a 75dB cut; we kept everything very flat. We also used the Yamaha SW10 sublow, due to the fact that so many home-theater systems that are equipped for 5.1 employ a sub cabinet. When David listened back to the project in mastering, the things we intended on doing came out exactly as planned.

“I’m not into 5.1 tricks,” he added. “My approach to 5.1—especially for a live show—is to present the performance as though you were about 15 rows back from the stage, as opposed to way back. That way, the perception is not really about hearing what’s going on behind you. Instead, it’s about feeling a lot more dimension in front of you. For instance, when the audience comes up, that audience should surround the listener both panoramically and realistically.”

Brauer’s outboard gear included an Avalon VT-747ST for the stereo processing. “For the front L-C-R, I used a Neve 33609 compressor along with a couple of Pultecs," Brauer said. "For the rear, we added a Pendulum compressor. As for the instruments, the drums got EL8 Distressors; the bass, Avalon 737s; and the guitars, a combination of EAR 660s and some Fairchild compressors. The vocals got my favorite compressors: the VacRac on the main, or maybe the Federal. I also used some old Motown EQs on the drums and Neve EQs on the toms.”

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