Category Archives: Audio Production — Record, Mix, and Master

Content for the technically focused, audio engineering geeks.

WARNING: Semi-Technical Audio Engineering Stuff

Rich Costey, Producer and Mixing Engineer

Rich Costey, Producer and Mixer

Originally published in 2008, but we felt the need to share due to the value.  Rich Costey discusses mixing “The Pretender” by the Foo Fighters, the mixer’s Hippocratic oath, the significance of the intro, and why he shapes a mix around the vocals.  Costey also discusses some of the processing tools used to fine tune the drums, bass, guitars, strings, and vocals in this raging Foo Fighters track.

In approaching the mix, Costey discusses how his goal is to enhance the original work rather than over cook the mix with excess processing:

“(The Foo Fighters) had already done a lot of prep cooking and things were in very good condition. So I had to preserve what they had done to a fairly large degree, and this meant that my work mainly consisted of balancing and rides to get the dynamics to happen. Obviously, a certain amount of processing was still necessary, but that was more to enhance what the band, Gil and engineer Adrian Bushby had already done. It’s sort of like the mixer’s Hippocratic oath — the first rule is Do Not Kill The Patient.”  – Rich Costey, Sound on Sound Interview; 2008

“The Pretender” contains several guitar overdubs (“the power of the bees” as Grohl calls them) and the huge, powerful drum tracks, which made for a challenge in balancing the mix.  Costey discusses his preference in fader rides over EQ cutting to get a proper balance.

“That’s not to say I’m shy on the EQ. I’m not sure where I developed this habit, but I don’t cut many frequencies when I mix…I know there are people who cut frequencies to try to layer a track, but look at it this way: if you are conducting an orchestra, can you filter the woodwinds so the oboe doesn’t stick out so much? What you do is have the oboist play a little bit more softly, so you can hear the rest of the reeds.” – Rich Costey, Sound on Sound Interview; 2008

Full article available here.

Costey holds production and mixing credits on some of the industry’s most successful records, working with artists such as Frank Turner, Nine Inch Nails, Muse, Fiona Apple, Interpol, Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, and Rage Against the Machine to name a few…

Pro Tools Arrange Concept

Finding the right field placement for your Pro Tools audio can be a challenge, especially to the beginner mixing engineer. We are curious to learn if there is a product out there that allows you to see the audio spectrum visually. The above sketch is a concept developed by Blue House Records, that allows the Pro Tools user to analyze audio placement via a visual interface. We have yet to see an application of this sort, but feel it would come in handy!! *hint hint Avid developers. 🙂

In theory, the functionality would go as follows:

1. User assigns “Pro Tools Arrange” as send for each desired audio track
2. User clicks “Window” -> “Pro Tools Arrange” to view Arrange window
3. Pro Tools routes selected audio tracks to Pro Tools Arrange, analyzes panning, decibal level, and frequency (hz) of each track, depicting a visual image of complete audio spectrum
4. User can make adjustments to EQ, panning, fader volume of each track to balance mix.

Keep it funky,

Engineer Phil Tan Talks Music Industry, Recording and Mixing Rihanna’s “Diamonds”

Great video featuring Full Sail graduate Phil Tan discussing working in the music industry, recording and mixing Rihanna’s hit single “Diamonds”, and letting the music designate your mixing technique and workflow.

Tracking Vocals – 3.11.13

We laid down some vocal takes today for Alexa’s song “Giving Up On You”.  Signal routing is as follows:

Blue Baby Bottle Condensor → Focusrite ISA One Preamp → dbx 160x compressor/limiter → Digidesign 003 rack → Pro Tools 10

Alexa tracking vocals on the Blue Baby Bottle

Alexa tracking vocals through the Blue Baby Bottle.

Alexa Tracking Vocals 2

Fun fact, that kick drum head in the background survived nearly 15 years of abuse by way of Travis Tatman and friends. Now it’s a wall ornament with fun stickers.

Signal is routed from Focusrite Preamp to dbx 160x to control dynamics, but we usually keep the ratio and attack settings low while tracking.

The signal is routed from a Focusrite Preamp to a 1970’s era dbx 160x to control dynamics, but we usually keep the ratio and attack settings low while tracking to avoid over compressing the signal.

Solid little setup.  The Presonus D8 Preamp sounds great on drums, and adds an extra 8 XLR inputs to your signal chain when connected via digital fiber optic cable.

Solid little setup. The Presonus D8 Preamp sounds great on drums, and adds an extra 8 XLR inputs to your signal chain when connected via digital fiber optic cable.

Working with Alexa has been a lot of fun.  She's got some great material and really has a handle on her music style.  Excited to post new music soon.

Working with Alexa has been a lot of fun. She’s got  great material and really has a handle on her musical style. Excited to post some crunchy new jams very soon!!!  Until then, keep it funky.  – TT

Tracking in Westwood, CA – 3.2.13

Currently working on an EP with a talented singer/songwriter out of LA.  The music style is a kind of pop rock mix with elements of R&B and even some Blues.  Will post music samples soon.  Until then, here are a couple pics from our session last Saturday.


The Blue Baby Bottle condensor microphone sounds great on the high end frequencies, which is perfect to throw over the hi hat and snare. Really able to capture those crisp hi hat notes and the snappy rim shots with this setup.


Still going with the Sennheiser e902 kick drum mic. All it takes is this guy to get a solid thump, and when absolutely needed, we add a bit of sample kick from the Steven Slate Drum pack to get a bit more high end punch.


Loving the current recording setup. DAW, Compressor and Preamp all in one case, a case for cables, a case for mics, and the laptop, and we’re off to the studio to make records. Nice!


There’s just way too much going on here. But man does that Gibson ES 137 sound great through that Marshall cab… mmmm hmmmm