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Andrew Sheps Interview OB vs ITB

Discussion in 'Recording' started by DonnyThompson, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Here is an SOS interview with Andre Sheps, engineer for Adel, RHCP, Black Sabbath, Johnny Cash, and others.

    Sheps is an interesting guy. Soft spoken, intelligent.

    I found his comments regarding OB vs ITB very interesting, and echoing what several members here (audiokid) have mentioned.

    "As soon as you get a handle on the tonal part of the DAW, you start to reap the benefits - like instant recall, the flexibility, the fact that I can work on several projects at one time. I actually spend less time in total, but I feel like every song has gotten more attention because you're able to do so much more in far less time..."

    a few more:

    "Most people who are nostalgic for analog tape have never worked on analog tape. It's a nightmare. I do love tape because it forces you to work with limits, and you don't have endless choices, and it forces you to make decisions quickly. Although, there are very few bands today capable of working on tape and doing it well, very few who can work under those confines..."

    " I never saw much point with tracking to tape if you're going to end up in Pro Tools.
    Unless you are looking for that sonic character - which is fine - other than that I don't see the point of working to tape and then transferring it into Pro Tools, if that's where you are going to end up anyway..

    around 3:00 into the vid is where he talks about OB vs ITB.
    He also has a very interesting work flow regarding gain reduction, which starts around 6:00.

    Enjoy. ;)

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUuNScJXYGU
    kmetal, bigtree and pcrecord like this.
  2. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    I think that's a keeper right there. I know, personally, the more choices I have given myself, the less I have gotten done. However, the creative (dominant) side of me, says, well.... I like choices. Bad bad bad DAWs :).
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    You're not alone, Tony.

    Many times I have caught myself spending far more time A/B'ing processors, or previewing synth patches, or even spending too much time focusing in on the smallest minutia of vocal tracks - like breaths, sibilance, etc. - than I have spent actually mixing.

    I have to watch myself, because I too can be so easily distracted by all the audio processing, the virtually endless amounts of samples, and the ability to edit out one syllable or even one "S". The result is that you can find yourself getting burnt out on a mix because you are spending so much time with all the bells and whistles that are now available to us, as opposed to getting a mix in 10 passes - or even less. Instead, we now hear the song 200 times before we get to mixing, because we become distracted by all the tools we now have at our disposal.

    Don't get me wrong, I like having more processing choices than I used to, but - we need to be very conscious of how much we focus on each individual track vs how much we actually mix the song on the whole.

    There was something to be said for that old workflow, where there weren't 1000 tracks available, or forensic EQ capabilities that now allow us to crawl up an ant's ass with a magnifying glass to see what it ate for lunch... LOL. That old workflow had an upside that I feel is missing these days - Kurt has mentioned it more than once and I agree with him - decisions had to be made, because our choices were finite, and the studio clock was ticking.

    And there are times I really miss that part of it - working within those limitations, making decisions - and often making them quickly - committing that decision to tape, and moving on.

  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Obviously, he's still tracking through the Neve, and I can certainly see why - but his mixing workflow, unless requested otherwise ( and very often it is requested) is primarily ITB.

    He makes no secret to the fact that he is a Pro Tools fan. It's what he learned on, it's what has helped him to achieve the level of success that he's had, so why change?

    I'm certainly not one to argue, as I don't have the broad range of successful albums that he does. If I had a Neve, I'm sure I would use it for tracking as well, but, I'm pretty sure I'd still stay in the box for mixing - unless I wanted to use the Neve as a giant half-million dollar summing device - LOL.

    I don't know for sure; I can't honestly say. II've worked on Neve desks several times in the past, at studios that hired me in to engineer, and actually, the Neve 8108 was one of the very first consoles I learned on, but, that was years ago - when everything was still going to tape.

    In terms of deciding which workflow to use in this day and age of digital? I've never had the luxury of being able to make that particular choice. ;)

  5. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    I have mentioned before, I started (like a lot of us) on a Tascam 244. As the years rolled on, Roland VS's came along. In between however I did have cakewalk when it was a twelve tone product (a DOS version, I think). I also had the small time with a guy running a 2 inch 24 track Teac. The one constant through out the years, once I went DAW, was missing the hands on approach of even the Tascam. A mouse on it's own is a sad substitute at mix time.

    I am already loving having the 3 Mackies now MCU Pro, MCU Pro XT and the C4 Pro. Not that I have more than a few hours so far on them. The immediate control of them takes you back to those days of actually mixing all at once. There are newer controllers coming out, Avid S6, Behringer X control etc. Roland of course dropped the VS's and went the cakewalk controller setup.

    Everything I have been reading on here, from most of your posts, points to backgrounds vaster in hands on use than mine. I do see a common thread though. I would suggest to anyone coming in to the modern era that a great rig would have to include the good pres, mics, the great AD/DA and monitor setup. And in addition, if you really want to keep that tactile itch happy, a great controller of some sort.

    My .02 for what it's worth?.

  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Nice one, Donny. What a cool guy, sounds like he would fit right in with us here. Or vice versa.

    "Most people who are nostalgic for analog tape have never worked on analog tape. It's a nightmare. I do love tape because it forces you to work with limits, and you don't have endless choices, and it forces you to make decisions quickly. Although, there are very few bands today capable of working on tape and doing it well, very few who can work under those confines..."
    What a great statement !

    I'm with Tony on the 4 main parts indeed.
    The Dangerous Monitor ST system has been the most influential piece of the puzzle for me.
    Someday I will solve the tactile void and get myself a control surface.

  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Does anyone use tape for any other reason than the sonics? As far as tracking on.y goes, tape and a daw aren't hugely different, besides the obvious waiting for rewind, limited feet of tape, and the organized take management of a daw. But if your just letting a rythym section rip, and dumping in pt, the workflows aren't that different, assuming the band knows about the stops for demagnettizeingnand what not. Obviously maintenance cost and all that, but, for pure tracking once in a while for a tape sound, tape has never been prohibitive to me. That said 99% of what I do is tracked to daw, even with the availability of tape.

    Another observation, is that if you interviewed a thousand people, who were on Andy S's income level, few of them if any, would have a sincere smile, exuberance, and actual life left in the look in their eyes. Many many musicians and engineers I know struggle financially, socially, or otherwise, but there just seems to be a general satisfaction to their being, that doesn't seem to exist in other more "numbers based" carrers. A typical banker of his income level would look stressed, old, dead inside, and probably work so often that there is no time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Nothing against bankers or anything, it's more a social comment on people in the music industry even the high pressure, big budget guys, seem to be generally more satisfied w there positions, or at least 'less miserable"'.

    I wish you could kick dicks out of sessions even if they are experienced and that's what got them there. Take a pill man, it's only music.

    My boss actually on a recent mix, switched things up, instead of the usual clean up, alignment, HPF, ect, in the beginning, he forced the producer, (a long time pro w a Grammy) to listen, they made notes only on creative things (not a quarter db at 5.73k), and spent the first few hours, making creative mix things, phase hear, verb swell there, to the rough balance.

    By the time they finished, most of the technical clinical things, never got fixed cuz they didn't matter, when the mix had all the special effects ect. Belive me when I say this wasn't easy to prove as this producer is quite stuck in his ways, and has routinely made me line up every kick and bass note for a whole ep, as well as edit, one by one, stacks of dozens of backups.

    I've found that editing should be left to either fixing clams only, or completely gone thru. Anything in the middle usually, is some mixture that is worse than the original. As things that were comfortably t of time or grooving, quickly seem like mistakes, if the previous few bars are spot on.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    imho, That would be one big phase infested garble of muck but some like it and i suppose feel its adding some special tape saturation.
  9. pan60

    pan60 Active Member

    Nice watch! Thanks donny.
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think they do; as Andrew mentioned, most people who are nostalgic for it have never actually worked on it before (not including the Neil Youngs and the Dave Grohls of the world) - maybe they are attracted to it because they like the idea of being "old school" - similar to why many people still buy vinyl. There are those who feel that vinyl or tape does sound better, but there are many who just want to be different than their friends, and so they choose an alternate medium, off the beaten path.

    Of course, there are many who feel that tape and vinyl do sound different; that it's warmer, less sterile, smoother, richer than digital. But from an engineering approach, for those of us who did come up in that day and age, tape is really pretty much a pain in the ass. Alignment and biasing, cleaning and degaussing, mechanical parts that wear out, heads that need re-lapped, meter calibration, no on the spot editing - at least not without a grease pencil and a razor blade (I edited that way for years... I much prefer a mouse click and an "undo" button LOL) and, of course, noise, which involved its own kind of treatment process ( Dolby, DBX) that also required calibration, limited tape length - that allows only around 34 min of recording time ( at 15ips), the cost - the last time I checked, around $200 for a reel of 499 - which, for a standard length album, you'll need two reels - and that's if you keep alternate takes to a bare minimum.

    That being said, I did many albums on tape, both as an engineer and as a performer, some I'm still very proud of... and if a client approached me today and really wanted to record that way, I know a few rooms who still have MCI 2" decks, and I'd be happy to oblige....but it certainly isn't as easy or convenient as a DAW.

    And, I'm all for the resurgence of vinyl. Just please don't bring back the 8-Track. ;)

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