Riding level

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Riding level
In the latest edition of Copper Magazine, Grammy-winning recording engineers, Immersive Audio's Jim Anderson and Ulrike Schwarz offer a fascinating insight into the art of making natural sounding recordings. Ulrike suggests that when we watch a live performance we're visually attracted to a solo performer and our auditory attention naturally shifts to more closely focus on the lead performer. When we listen to the same performance on our stereo system, we no longer have that ability to focus our attention on the lead soloist. This then becomes the job of the mix engineer: highlight through the use of increased level on the solo instrument (even if only subtly) so that we might better focus our attention. What great insight into the recording arts. Jim goes on to suggest that he prefers riding the fader as opposed to adding a compressor. I couldn't agree more. "Riding the fader" is simply hand adjusting the volume level of a particular track. Say, for example, the lead singer.
"..you really have to ride the fader, stay with them, and keep the voice really above and all that kind of thing. It’s a very natural thing to let the voice trail off at the end of a phrase. But in a recording, you really have to counteract that; you have to kind of flatten it out. Now, you could do it with a compressor, people do it all the time – or with limiters. But we would much rather have it be a more natural occurrence, rather than “kind of” fix it technically."
We certainly are aligned in thinking. Compressors and automated level adjusters are the norm for engineers but in my opinion, they are overused and the "easy way out". With Octave Record's new Pyramix system using the phase perfect Zephiir conversion process, we're able to take full advantage of the control surface automation capabilities (a control surface is just a big fancy remote control where no signal passes through it) to ride the faders ever so slightly. It gives me great hope for the future of acquiring wonderful new recordings when true gems like Anderson and Schwartz are at the helm. Click here to read the article written by John Seetoo.
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Paul McGowan

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