Mastering Hotel California

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Aaron, Feb 8, 2015.

  1. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    With the Grammy Awards tonight, it got me thinking about music in general, which led me to listening to arguably the greatest pop rock song of all time, Hotel California ("It's got everything." I once heard someone say.) , and found this great live version. I'd like to know what people think of the quality of the recording along with any mixing/mastering processing and equipment you think or know was used in creating the final result. I'm just starting to learn about this, so am wondering. To my ears it sounds like a nice balance with the highs, like the cymbals, and at the same time it seems like it's pushing the limit of being to hot, yet still contained.
    Enjoy the sounds.
  2. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    Back in those days, I suspect that the equipment wasn't a key feature at all, simply being what the mobile that recorded it used on a day to day basis - so a choice of not a huge amount of kit. Nice mics, but mainly down to the band and their instruments. Then it's back to the studio for the inevitable overdubs and polishing.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Bill Szymczyk or David Bianco are responsible for most of the Eagles stuff. i'm betting at least 16 tracks for remotes was the norm. i think i remember reading Sound City's remote team did a lot of the shows for all the big acts at that time.
  4. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    16 tracks really wouldn't be enough for them, would it? Too many band members who all sing and play multiple instruments? Two slaved up??

    Digging out the credits for the live album, 16 tracks wouldn't have done at all.
    Artist Credit
    Don Felder Composer, Guitar, Organ, Vocals
    Glenn Frey Composer, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
    Albhy Galuten Synthesizer
    Don Henley Composer, Drums, Vocals
    Jage Jackson Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm), Percussion
    Phil Kenzie Saxophone
    Bernie Leadon Banjo, Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Steel), Vocals
    Randy Meisner Composer, Guitar (Bass), Vocals
    Vince Melamed Keyboards, Piano (Electric)
    Jim Ed Norman Composer, Conductor, Piano, String Arrangements
    David Sanborn Sax (Alto)
    Timothy B. Schmit Bass, Composer, Vocals
    J.D. Souther Composer, Guest Artist, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
    Joe Vitale Drums, Keyboards, Organ, Percussion, Piano
    Joe Walsh Composer, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals

    That's 36 - but as some of those names come from part of the CD that's older (4 or 5 songs I think), maybe it's a few less - but 16? and that's only considering a drum kit or percussion is one mic, so a major recording problem back then, I'd suggest. I did find that at the time many people actually hated the recording - finding all sorts of errors and glitches. There were also many complaints that the tapes had been worked on quite a bit - this comment seems to sum up the feeling.
  5. AndyB

    AndyB Staff Staff

    Recorded July 29th 1980, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

    I think the audio quality is average.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    24 at least.More like 48 in the remote truck but who knows, if only we had Remy on one of her good days for this one.

    Listen to the compression on the bottom end. This sounds like it was remastered for this or , in the truck. That isn't the sound of a compressor on a simple setup.

    Some current info

    mentions a Neve curled up and then this.
  7. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    What effect does compression have on sound and when is it necessary? Is it used more for an effect unable to be achieved in the recording/mixing process with good gear, or is it a 'fix' to the recording? Can similar effects be made using a combination of EQ and DAW?
  8. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I'm very wary of compression as an 'effect' - which seems to be what many people use it for. Indeed when I was teaching music technology in the 90s, I found that not everyone could actually hear what it did. Many of these people would manually patch it in as routine, and set up their favourite setting - 2:1 with a bit of gain, or whatever they did as a standard.

    I rarely used it at all unless I couldn't make an instrument or voice cut through. Nowadays when I can have as many dynamics processors as I want, I haven't changed much - my bass often doesn't quite make it and a little bit of compression just nudges it in. The horriblest (is that even a word?) mixes are where everything is compressed and the dynamics just vanish. It's kind of the last thing I tend to do, and only when it needs it.

    I always find it really odd that now we have huge amounts of dynamic range, that we insist on shoving everything up right at the top.
    Chris likes this.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    That's a big topic to try and answer here - I can try but I'm sure I will leave things out, because I don't have the time to write a book on it - which could easily be done, considering ow much info there is on the subject. The short answer is that gain reduction is meant to keep loud parts reigned in, while bringing up softer parts. But there are other functions, too. Sometimes, by just adding a bit of compression on the 2-bus, you can give a mix a kind of "glue"... a melding that brings everything together nicely. When used sparingly, you can keep the dynamic range intact and still have the befits of GR. When overused, it can create an audible "pumping" or "breathing", and as Paul mentioned, can destroy the dynamics of the performances.

    Compression can also be used to de-ess sibilant vocals, by side chaining it with an EQ that has the offending frequencies targeted... ( usually 5k - 8k).

    It sounds as if I probably use more compression than Paul does...but which type you use and how you use it is totally dependent on the style of music you are working on at the time. It also makes a huge difference to know how to use GR.

    I can add a specific compressor to a kick or snare track - say an 1176 - and make them stand out nicely in the mix without killing the dynamic range at the same time. I have a few favorite compressor models, that each compress in their own ways, and depending on what I want to do, will determine which I use, as well as how I use them. I'm a big fan of the Focusrite Red Opto compressor on backing vocals and acoustic guitars - it also functions nicely a a bus or master compressor as well. It' a very smooth compression, and creates a very pleasant sounding control over tracks such as these.

    The 1176 is great for drums, because it's a "fast" compressor; it's an FET model, so it reacts differently than say, an LA2, which also uses an opto circuit, but is tube driven, so you can pick up nice harmonic distortion with it as well. It creates a nice "edge" to certain tracks, like vocals and electric guitars. It's also great on lead vocals, especially if you use a dual-stage compression and feed an LA2 with the 1176. The 76 captures the fast transients, while the LA2 smooths out the entire performance... once again, that "glue" that I mentioned above.

    Here's the thing about compression - no matter what kind you use - Solid State, FET, Opto, or Tube - you have to know what compression is, what it does, how it reacts under different circumstances, where and when to use it and to what degree as well.

    You'd be best served by researching it on your own, learning as much as you can about it, and then applying that which you've learned so that you can actually put them to the test under your own tracks.

    The worst use of a compressor is to use one when you don't know what it does. This is probably the number one mix-killer I hear with people new to the craft - they think that in order for the compressor to be working, that you have to hear it working, so they compensate by over-compressing... leaving mixes squashed and lifeless. I'm not saying that you don't want to ever hear what a compressor does, in terms of noticeable results, but, to over-use it because you don't believe it's doing anything is worse than not using any GR at all.

    IMHO, of course.
  10. Space

    Space Well-Known Member

    "Although Eagles Live includes four tracks recorded in the fall of 1976 (thus allowing for the inclusion of departed singer Randy Meisner on "Take It to the Limit"), the bulk of the album comes from the end of the Eagles' 1980 tour, just before they broke up, and it reflects their late concert repertoire, largely drawn from Hotel California and The Long Run."

    The indented persons did not play at the same time, Randy Meisner OR Tim Schmidt, J.D Souther did not sing on the album, Joe Vitale and Don Henley did not play drums at the same time.

    Also Bernie Leadon, while an original member, did not join back into the group until after Don Felder showed his ass again for the second time and was fired for the second time, they did not play at the same time...or even in the same BAND at the same time.

    You can have your own opinion but you cannot have your own facts.
  11. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    God - welcome back space to the have a pop at me department. Your intent on facts leaves me gobsmacked. OK then, fountain of all things factual. Give me an explanation of how the Eagles can have a 16 channel track count, if you're so knowledgeable and pedantic on total accuracy. Frankly - you're just being an insufferable know it all (and using your mod status to get away with it). I'm so sick of your constant belittling that it makes me wonder why you behave like this. I'm going to assume you have a social disability, because you delight in saying people are wrong, but NEVER EVER come up with the goods. Just cause others of being wrong, inferring you are always right, but never having the courage to put the facts where your mouth is.

    Sorry folks - but he really needs to behave like an adult and not a petulant teenager with a mega chip on his shoulder.

    I guess he will delete this and ban me or something, but I'm just so fed up with the continual bullying from this guy, who really is NOT typical of the nice people on the forum.

    Space likes this.

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