My dad is an audio engineer who has worked with artists such as Michael Jackson, Will Smith, Nas, Jay-Z, 50 cent, Jennifer Lopez, The Black Eyed Peas. Ask him anything!
You can see a full list of his credits here
EDIT: That's all for tonight, but we will try to do a final look through tomorrow and answer a few more questions. :)
EDIT: Alright, did a final read through and about ready to call it a wrap. Thanks guys!
Any Rolling Stones Record, some of the first Black Sabbath records, the first Metallica record, and some of the earliest Eminem records.
Ether or takeover?
Do you think artists truly realize how much of a difference you guys make?
Maybe a few...
A bit more technical stuff: - Any tips on making the drums stand out in the mix? Where do your drum hits usually peak (in terms of frequencies)? Tips on making snare tails (reverb) be heard in electronic music? - Any tips on making a mix sound full without using too many tracks / sounding muddy? - Any tips on stereo placement? - What is one thing in engineering you wish you had known far earlier?
The right amount of compression is key to making drums stand out but it's important to make up the EQ after you compress it. Also, treat the sub-frequencies of the kick drum as a separate sound.
My kick drums typically peak at ~50Hz but also as far up as 1k
Linear reverb is very useful.
Unfortunately, the only way to really do that is with top-of-the-line equipment and good microphone technique.
Stereo placement is really dependent on the situation; tends to be a more case-by-case situation.
I wish I had known how to use compression better back when I first started. Knowing how to compress properly and intuitively is key.
Thanks a lot for your answer. Since you talk about the importance of compression, what are your thoughts on the loudness war?
Since I haven't done that much work lately but I can say I was surprised how loud "American Idiot" by Green Day was when it first came out and that was the first album that I really thought was unnecessarily loud. I guess the real question is... Why?
What were 50 and jay like in person? What kind of crazy things have you seen in the studio? Drugs? Women?
Not as much as you would think. Jay-Z and 50 were not womanizers, drinking, taking drugs, etc. I feel like the stories you here are pretty exaggerated for the most part.
As to what they were like. 50 cent was one of the funniest people to work with; even more so than Will Smith. Jay-Z was more down to business but not harsher per-se.
While working for Nas there was this whole Nas v. Jay-Z thing going on. They would be going back at each other whether it be albums, concerts, or press releases. I really got to know Jay once Nas and Jay were patching things up while recording some songs together.
Do you approve Auto-Tune?
Auto-Tune is essentially a tool that separates the pros from the amateurs. If you know how to sing you don't use it, if you don't, you do. It's more of a branding tool than anything.
Which artist truly amazed you with their voice? Were you ever disappointed? Do you ever work unsigned artists to help them break through?
Michael Jackson for sure. You know, on records you have so many chances on records to get things right, but I never truly appreciated his voice until I heard him in person.
I would prefer not to disclose specific names of people I was disappointed with but you would be surprised.
Any artist you worked with that were a real pain in the ass?
And any artist/group you wish you could have worked with but never got the chance?
Wu Tang Clan, I actually ended up getting into a fight with one of them and ended with the police getting involved. I don't even remember how it got started but at some point it became clear that the producer who was one of the members of Wu Tang Clan was upset at me for something, so the discussion started becoming more heated. I started to notice that one of them was blocking the door and another was blocking me from getting up out of my chair. Fortunately my assistant was outside and came inside and I managed to tell him to call the police. I ended up having to run through this guy to try and get away, and hid away in the office while we waited for the police. They were all gone by the time the police got there.
tl;dr got into confrontation with Wu Tang Clan member, called the police, Wu Tang Clan got lost
And I would have most definitely wanted to work with the Foo Fighters.
How powerful is Logic Pro? Is it, by itself, good enough to make radio quality songs?
Thanks in advance!
Which particular set of headphones does he prefer?
I've gotten used to the old AKG 141s and like those.
Can you name a few great artists that most people probably haven't heard of, but that deserve more credit?
There was this kid I worked with called Chris Norris. I doubt anyone would have heard of him but he was incredibly talented; would have been nice if something happened to him. I also think David Banner is underrated.
Who is your personal favorite artist to work with?
Mob Deep. I used to like their stuff a lot.
What was it like working on the Jimi Hendrix, Live at the Fillmore East? How did you deal with the source audio? Did you work with the original tapes/reels or get some sort of digital copy from the estate. Also, whats the difference working on a past recording vs an in studio artist?
Lots of great stuff on the credits page, was there ever something you worked on that was good but never saw the light because of record execs/artists?
Edit: funny video he should watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMCDwWZXd2w
It was a lot of fun and interesting to hear that kind of stuff. The audio either came to us transferred or came transferred we never really used the original tapes. It's a lot more straight-forward and seamless process to work on a past recording and makes for a much quieter day.
And absolutely. Many of the songs I worked on with MJ never saw the light of day and there is a lot of stuff by Nas that is tucked away that may or may not surface one day ;)
How did you get such a great opportunity to work with Michael? What year(s) did you work with him and on what song(s)? What was he like in person? Where were you when you found out he'd passed away, and what was your reaction? X
I had a relationship with The Hit Factory and they booked him and called me for it. I worked with him in '99 on about 12 songs that I can't really remember which songs made it on the album and which ones did not. He was a very soft-spoken and kind person. I was surprised when he passed away, but I didn't really know him that well and it's not like I had a personal relationship with him so his passing didn't phase me too much.
Did you ever stop Will Smith mid-song and say 'how about you just focus on the acting thing?'
Haha not a Will Smith fan? I didn't think he was that bad, but he was definitely different.
Hey, I assisted your dad on "Hip Hop is Dead" at NRG Studios in North Hollywood back in 2007. I realize I'm really late to the AMA, but please tell him that Josh from NRG says hi.
Hey what's up Josh! How are things?
What suggestions do you have for a young engineer trying to survive in NYC?
Find someone who knows what they are doing and while this sounds scary don't get comfortable or even be content with staying somewhere where you aren't going anywhere.
How has the proliferation of home studios and the ability for artists to make content of passable quality affected your craft? Also, where should one start if they're interested in learning how to properly mix tracks?
Edit: Also, any tips for getting internships at studios? Edit: spelling
Well, I'm not in the business anymore haha and the best way to get started is by finding someone who knows what they are doing--a mentor if you will.
Who was the easiest artist for you to work with? Who was your favorite?
Thanks for doing this AMA!
Nas for both. When I first got started, I worked with the producer Mark James, who brought in several artists that I really enjoyed working with despite everything being broken because we were working out of a b-rate studio at the time. (Same place Queen Latifah got her start)
What did you do to become a audio engineer?
I played with electronic toys my whole life essentially. I played with a lot of trains when I was younger as well.
So were you mainly recording and mix engineering for the people you work with? What sort of studio setup do you use? A preference of digital or analogue desk?
Thanks for doing this AMA.
*edit I also endorse the Jen Lopez's butt question.
I like working with a combination of both actually. Digital editing / recording as well as analogue mixing.
Thanks for answering, as a hopeful followup do you have a dream desk/brand preference?
These days I prefer to work on a SSL 9000J.
Who are your favorite albums to listen to?
I like the latest Foo Fighters album, the latest Bush record, and I of course still like listening to a good Pink Floyd album.
Just in general. I realize you use different mics for different instruments/voices but what's your favorite all purpose go-to mic?
Also, thanks for the AMA!
Either a U87 or a 414
What was it like working with Naz? I heard he was an intimidating kind of guy.
Not at all, he's fairly easygoing.
Are there any albums in history that you would consider great but the sound mixing ruined them?
Edit: grammar (it was poor)
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