Mix Regional, D.C. Metro: Smithsonian Folkways

Feb 1, 2013 9:00 AM, By Barbara Schultz



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Reiniger has developed a philosophy about miking unfamiliar instruments, like some of the folk pieces he encounters: “Never mike an instrument you haven’t first listened to acoustically. After that, it’s just physics as to microphone selection and placement.”

Reiniger brought the Pro Tools files back to D.C., where he works on a PC-based Cube-Tec AudioCube system fitted with Nuendo and WaveLab. “I’ve used Nuendo for years and prefer mixing in it,” he says. “But on the title track, we briefly exported the intro into Pro Tools because Quetzal wanted an old radio-type sound that he knew we could create with a plug-in in Pro Tools, then brought it back into Nuendo.”

Reiniger sends his mixes to Airshow. “They do a great job. I’ve been working with David Glasser and Charlie Pilzer for years,” he says.

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For in-house mastering projects like Woody at 100, Reiniger says, “The rig is the same, but I use WaveLab for editing. All the restoration plug-ins are from AudioCube.” Reiniger appreciates AudioCube’s Spectrapolator, which allows him to select and remove anomalies at specific frequencies. Restoration tools also include a Declicker, a Dehisser, a Debuzzer to take out AC hum, and a Repair Filter, among others. “Brickwall EQ is another mastering and restoration tool, but I use it sometimes in mixing, too, because if you have a lot of extremely low frequency and you want to get rid of everything below 30 Hz, say, you can get rid of it by selecting a highpass filter.”

Many of the tracks on Woody at 100 were previously remastered for Smithsonian Folkways’ releases and simply had to be sequenced and balanced. Some were cleaned up a bit more. About a third, however, were previously unreleased songs that had to be transferred, restored and mastered.

“Our philosophy on remastering and restoration goes back to reissuing the Anthology of American Folk Music, which we did in 1997,” Reiniger says. “There were people who wanted us to get rid of all the noise, but our attitude is, if it starts digging into the music, we will stop. If that leaves a little hiss, you live with the hiss. Sometimes we’ll find what we call a ‘once around,’ a swishing sound that you get from discs; that’s almost impossible to get rid of because it’s not a steady-state frequency. That would have to remain. I’m trying to make historical recordings more listenable to a contemporary ear—for people who may not even remember LPs let alone 78 rpm transcription discs. But I always approach with caution, because we don’t want to do any restoration work that will compromise the musical content.”

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