Project Studio: Ryan's Place

Mar 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Matt Gallagher


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The focus of Mix’s December issue is traditionally mastering, and the mastering engineers we interviewed for the December 2009 issue are still concerned about the loudness wars. That issue also addresses audio for Blu-ray in the article “Understanding the Blu-ray Format.”
I did see that! It was very in-depth. I think Blu-ray is a really good way to deliver stuff and I’m all for it. I think the more you can do to give people something better, the better chance you have of success. People need more than just an MP3 or a CD; they need a reason to go out there, especially if they’re going to go and get something that is re-mastered or something like that. It’s like The Beatles Re-Mastered [box set]: I bought the mono box set because it was completely different. The mono [version] CDs have full dynamic range.

In the March 2010 “Project Studio” story, you mention your preference for mixing in the box. How did that approach help benefit The Live Anthology?
When I mix something like The Live Anthology [which comprises tracks spanning] over 30 years, I’d have the song I was working on in a Pro Tools session, and then I’d put the stereo mixes of other songs I had already finished in the timeline, as well, and put them on a separate output, and I could quickly A/B between what I’m doing now and a whole bunch of other things that I had already done. So even as I was mixing I was always referencing everything else. It lets you get really close in terms of the overall EQ, and also really close in terms of relative levels between tracks, and I think so much of mastering is about getting the right levels between songs, so by the time we get done, it really doesn’t need a whole lot of tweaking in that regard. Of course, we did find other things to tweak in mastering, especially the transitions between songs.

When we mastered The Live Anthology, I actually took my CPU to Bernie Grundman Mastering. I mastered it with Chris Bellman. He was just listening to it, and we’d talk about it, and he’d say, “Well, I think there’s a little too much bass on that,” and I’d just turn the bass down in the mix. So I basically had the mix live when I was mastering. To me it’s a better way of working—even when it comes to mastering—because a lot of times what you’re trying to do is fix problems in mixes with EQ, when in mastering maybe what you really need to do is just lower the bass—and not necessarily lower the bass in terms of an overall frequency, but just lower that one element.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on or future plans you’d want to share?
I can’t say much about it, but we are working on a new album and it’s coming out great! [Laughs] We’re working on a new album with The Heartbreakers, and we’re doing it just like we did the Mudcrutch project. We’re recording it in The Clubhouse, and we redid the control room in The Clubhouse. The room I was using for the control room was kind of thrown together for Mudcrutch and we actually had some guys come in and do some acoustic treatment, and it’s real nice now.

So The Clubhouse doubles as a recording studio?
Yeah. The warehouse is a studio, and now I’ve got a nice place to listen to stuff. I’ll tell you: There’s something really magical that happens when you get a good band and they’re all playing live and they’re all going for it. That’s a great way to work and the results are really fun, and everyone’s having a really good time. So that’s what we’re doing these days.

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