Interesting Read: An Interview with Andy Wallace
I’m always looking for insight into the techniques of the top mix engineers, but some of them remain frustratingly elusive. One of these is Andy Wallace, who is one of the most successful rock engineers on the planet, yet based on a quick search, it appears he has only given one interview – to Michael Barbiero available via Mixonline.com. However, it’s worth reading carefully, because there’s a lot of very useful stuff in there.
One great technique Wallace talks about is triggering a snare sample from the live kit recording, but only using the sample to drive a reverb effect. This is a particularly useful technique for budget drum recordings, which rarely ever seem to have enough snare ambience in my experience. You have to remember that a snare-drum close mic usually just goes ‘donk’, because the mic only picks up a tiny fraction of the instrument at such close range. The only other mics which stand a fighting chance of catching an appealing snare tone are the overheads, but most small-studio engineers use cardioid mics pointed right at the cymbals, which reduces the snare to a woolly smudge. This is where the sample-triggering technique can really save the day, because you can EQ the snare dullness out of the overhead mics, and the reinstate something much more pleasing with the reverb effect.
The other thing to take from this interview is how much of Andy Wallace’s sound derives from the use of detailed fader rides, something that producer Jim Abbiss also stressed in a separate interview>. Bottom line, if you want to compete on that kind of level, then be prepared to put in the hours in this department.
Mike Senior is a professional engineer who has worked with Wet Wet Wet, The Charlatans, Reef, Therapy, and Nigel Kennedy. He has transformed dozens of amateur mixes for Sound On Sound magazine’s popular Mix Rescue column.
As part of Cambridge Music Technology he also provides in-depth training courses and workshops specializing in the documented techniques of the world’s top producers. His new book, is a down-to-earth Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio mixing primer which shows how to achieve commercial-grade sonics within real-world project/college setups.