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Thread: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

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    Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    Hey everyone, I guess this is a question for those who know a bit about studio production and mixing tracks and stuff. I've been watching the bonus DVD's of behind the scenes stuff with Eddie mixing and isolating different tracks and it made me wonder, how is it possible to isolate the tracks through the mixing console? Do you need to have individual tapes of each instrument or is it extracted from the final tape (I'm guessing this is called the master tape)?

    In the background I could see just one tape on the tape machine and I was thinking, how can he just get the vocals and guitar etc coming through by itself?

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    Multitrack recording

    For example, 16 track recording on a 1 inch wide mastertape
    Each track is 1/16th of the width of the tape
    You can listen to any combination of these 16 tracks directly from the mastertape
    Guys in the studio take the 16 track tape and play it back in such a way that the mix of these 16 tracks is what the artist had in mind. That mix is recorded (used to be on 2 track Stereo, 1 tape with 2 tracks, Left and Right.)

    Hope that helps!

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    Quote Originally Posted by dizgizmo View Post
    In the background I could see just one tape on the tape machine and I was thinking, how can he just get the vocals and guitar etc coming through by itself?
    Because the tape itself is 4/8 or 16 separate tracks.

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    What they say.

    One tape, multiple tracks per tape.
    Each track is an individual recording of an instrument / vocal or even something else. Though when the limit of the tape was 4 track(s), the engineers got clever and bounced down two or more tracks to one track to free up two or three tracks for further recording.

    These tracks are then played back individually but in sequence. Each individual track can be [level] "adjusted" to suit the final mix which was back then a final mixed master tape. This is then used as the master tape.
    "That's the best news I ever heard" Bob Dylan

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    The final mix was/is recorded onto another stereo tape, which is the pre-mastering master. Once you have all the finished mixes mixed down like that, all the songs are mastered, i.e. processed so that all songs have comparable amounts of bass, treble, and are at the same volume, and put down on the final master stereo tape, from which the records are cut.

    Of course, this has all become a digital process now.

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    And to elaborate on the playback of isolated tracks: Each track on the multitrack master tape is assigned to a channel on the mixing console. Each of these console channels has a volume control fader, as well as a "solo" button, which "solos" that particular track, i.e. silencing all the others. Thus, you can hear what's on just one (or several) tracks, without turning the channel faders up and down.

    Edit: Of course, you can also just turn down all the faders, save for the one you want to hear, but the solo button is useful, if you already have specific levels set for the various tracks.

    I seem to remember having seen Eddie do both, in those little featurettes...

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    ah! thanks for all the helpful replies. makes a lot of sense! I remember an interview in which Jimi said that when it came down to actually cutting a record, he was really dissatisfied with the final sound as it lost a lot of depth and so forth. I can only imagine what it would have sounded like when they were in the control room doing the mixing before it was put on a record...

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    Quote Originally Posted by dizgizmo View Post
    ah! thanks for all the helpful replies. makes a lot of sense! I remember an interview in which Jimi said that when it came down to actually cutting a record, he was really dissatisfied with the final sound as it lost a lot of depth and so forth. I can only imagine what it would have sounded like when they were in the control room doing the mixing before it was put on a record...
    Indeed. He has unhappy with the mastering of his records.

    He sought out a mastering engineer who he wanted to cut his records [so it goes]. That engineer was Robert Ludwig.

    RL as he is know from his dead wax detail, cut some of the records including BoG Capitol. Others too after Jimi's death.

    The recent reissues of AYE, ABAL and ELL from 2010 [including the repressings of these] have less roll off and sound more open and detailed. I'm sure Jimi would have been impressed if these had been done like this back at issue time.
    "That's the best news I ever heard" Bob Dylan

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    I was going to put in a picture of a 16 track tape machine, but the image tag doesn't work. Here's a link:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multit...am-16Track.jpg

    Note the 16 separate level VU meters to monitor the level being recorded/played back from each track.

    On multitrack tape machines like this, you can separately 'arm' each track to record or play back. So, for example, if you were recording a live basic track of a three piece band, you might use say four tracks for drums (kick, snare, a stereo overhead pair of mics), another track for bass, another for guitar and perhaps a 'guide' vocal.

    All these tracks are recorded live, but can be separately balanced, panned and sent to effects such as reverb. Then, you disarm those original tracks so that they are in playback mode, and arm others to do your overdubs onto some of the empty tracks, often one at a time (but you could overdub several people playing different things simultaneously on several spare tracks), usually listening to your previously recorded tracks in headphones. Maybe some lead guitar, a final vocal (let's assume the guide vocal wasn't up to scratch for the finished record), some percussion, some backing vocals, piano etc, etc.

    There are some great tricks you can do with tape. For example, what happens if you speed the tape up a bit when you record your overdubs? You hear the music playing a bit fast, but what you play comes out at normal speed. But what happens when you play it back at normal speed? Everything slows back down again, so you hear the original tracks at normal speed, but your overdub sounds slowed down. The Beatles did loads of this vari-speed recording on Sgt Pepper (listen to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - a lot of those vocals were recorded with the tape slowed down so that they played back at a higher pitch when played at normal speed).

    Also, what happens if you turn the tape over so it plays backwards when you do your a guitar overdub? You hear the whole backing track backwards starting at the beginning and playing through to the end, but your overdub is obviously recording/playing normally. Turn the tape over again, and suddenly you have the magic of a backwards guitar overdub playing over the backing track. Jimi did loads of this, e.g. loads of backwards stuff recorded on Are You Experienced. Very difficult to do, because you hear the backing track playing backwards as you record.

    I used to have a 1 inch 8 track machine like this. Digital recording is great, but I do regret selling it.

    https://goo.gl/images/25yZfy

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenders Fingers View Post

    The recent reissues of AYE, ABAL and ELL from 2010 [including the repressings of these] have less roll off and sound more open and detailed. I'm sure Jimi would have been impressed if these had been done like this back at issue time.
    I'm glad that I have the 2010 reissues then! Although unfortunately I don't have the core albums on vinyl records or even earlier CD's to compare. I bet he would be blown away by today's DAWs like logic; being able to record several overdubs and add effects and do mixing on the go. He would have had a blast doing the Night Bird Flying guitars

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    Great info, thank you!

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    Quote Originally Posted by dizgizmo View Post
    I'm glad that I have the 2010 reissues then!
    I'm afraid he was referring to the vinyl issues of the core LPs from 2010 only. The CDs from 2010 are not good; way to compressed in my opinion.

    http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/89678

    This is why I, and many others, are anxiously awaiting this summer's hybrid SACD/CD reissues of Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love from Bernie Grundman. Fingers crossed that these will be the definitive digital editions of these albums.

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffhmason View Post
    I'm afraid he was referring to the vinyl issues of the core LPs from 2010 only. The CDs from 2010 are not good; way to compressed in my opinion.

    http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/89678

    This is why I, and many others, are anxiously awaiting this summer's hybrid SACD/CD reissues of Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love from Bernie Grundman. Fingers crossed that these will be the definitive digital editions of these albums.
    Too much compression can alter the sound in a bad way, indeed. However, the DR numbers do not paint the whole picture in my opinion and I'd rather evaluate audio without resorting to meters. Replacing a dogma with another is not the solution. Furthermore, vinyl has inherent limitations not present on digital mediums.

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    Re: Behind The Scenes Eddie Kramer Mixing/Isolated Tracks

    Quote Originally Posted by kurher View Post
    Too much compression can alter the sound in a bad way, indeed. However, the DR numbers do not paint the whole picture in my opinion and I'd rather evaluate audio without resorting to meters. Replacing a dogma with another is not the solution. Furthermore, vinyl has inherent limitations not present on digital mediums.
    I don't disagree. How about I state it this way: I've listened to both sources and my ears agree that a needle drop of the 2010 vinyl sounds better than the 2010 CDs. Besides, the 2010s are digitally identical to the previous editions; they just repackaged them with some bonus DVDs. Because I'm "chasing the perfect digital versions" of this material, and I do not own physical mono copies of AYE or Axis, I decided to pre-order the upcoming SACDs in hopes that Bernie Grundman hits these out of the parks.

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