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strange situation

Hi all,
I am having a strange situation in my studio.
I am finishing a 10 songs project for a client and his producer ( a very bad one, by the way). I am sure the mixes sound awful.
Lots of high frequencies and none of lows or mids. Everything sounds as it is being mixed on a portastudio, thin and tiny.
Whenever I make a suggestion (using different reverbs, panning guitars,change eq, etc) the producer says things like: "It is not neccesary. A guitar is a guitar and it should be in the center" or "the drummer is a very bad musician, it is a waste of time to look for a better sound" or " a reverb is a reverb it is not necessary
to look for different styles or make strange experiments". I have recorded the guitars with 3 mics in differnet positions to get different combinations of sounds (as I always do with very good results) but again the producer says: "Use only the mic close to the amp please"
To my surprise they are very happy with the sound.
What can I do? Obviously the producer is the responsible of the sound, but everybody will hear the mixes and the name of my studio will be on the CD, and this may be a very bad advertising for me.

What should I do? Did anybody have a situation like this any time? Any suggestion?


Alex Natan :confused:


Profile picture for user anonymous

anonymous Mon, 09/10/2001 - 07:09

Originally posted by Cram:
Don't put your name on it, take the money and run.

Exactly what I was going to suggest, if they are happy just dont put your name on it and move on.

With the CASH!!! :D

MadMoose Mon, 09/10/2001 - 19:15

Can you sneak things past the producer? Would he really notice if you use the distant mic on the guitar amp or picked a different reverb?

If you really don't like the way things are going ask for your name to be left off the final product. If they ask why be honest. They may not like the answer and they'll either leave or let you experiment more. Otherwise, take the money and don't complain.

Profile picture for user anonymous

anonymous Tue, 09/11/2001 - 04:20

You guys are 90% right on this one...the last 10% comes to us courtesy of the film industry. I'd like to introduce y'all to my friend 'Alan Smithee'.

Over the years Alan has directed many a piss poor motion picture. He has never won an Oscar(tm), never even been nominated, nor seen the acclaim he is due for the volume and scope of his work.

See, Alan Smithee isn't just one guy. Al [actually, we're kinda friends, so I can call him 'Al'] is the guy that gets the credit for a film when the actual director walks off the picture saying "don't you dare put my name on this piece of shit", usually because the films' "Producer" sticks his nose where it doesn't belong one too many times.

If you don't want your name on the record, then let Al have the 'Engineering Credit'. I know Al has taken credit for some shit [and I do mean shit!! :roll: :mad: ] projects with which I've been involved over the years.

There isn't a whole lot you can do about the 'studio' credit, but at least 'Al' will take the heat for stuff you don't like. FWIW, I can see the "Producers" point on alot of this stuff with the exception of: "the drummer is a very bad musician", once you hear that one, then it's time to give old 'Al' a call.

Just tell the band it's your "engineering persona", sorta like a 'stage name' know, like "Sting" or "Slash" or "Charro"...

Alex Natan Tue, 09/11/2001 - 04:53

Thanks Jay,
I think is too late to change things with the producer.Obviously he wants to finish the porject as soon as possible.
Every time I take 3 minutes to hear something "unusual" for him (look for best reverb´s setings or listen other recorded mic ) he says : Hey man! what are you doing? I only want you to add reverb to the guitar! That´s all! It´s very simple!
This week we will mix the last 2 songs. Then I will tell the cliente (not the producer) that I am not happy with the sound and will explain him my reasons. I will make him hear good mixes done in my studio and let him compare them.
I am sure he will decide to change things without the producer´s help.

Thanks a lot,

Alex Natan

Alex Natan Tue, 09/11/2001 - 05:36

Hey Fletcher!
Very good idea! May be I must make a phone call to your friend Al....


Alex Natan

Profile picture for user Bob Olhsson

Bob Olhsson Thu, 09/13/2001 - 06:49

I wouldn't worry about it.

If it's really that bad, nobody'll ever hear it.

If it's a hit, you'll wind up with people standing in line wanting you to provide this highly original, creative "sound" for THEM! Records I have always been utterly embarrassed by the sound of are being held up as examples of "outstanding engineering" today, thirty-five years later.

If anybody ever asks, you can certainly say that you gave your clients EXACTLY what they asked for. That's always an honorable thing.

Juergen Sun, 09/16/2001 - 11:00

I had something similar happen. Our studio is new, a guy who's kind of well known here in Paraguay had a VERY limited budget, wanted to record a great sounding album ("not like x or y, but something good")...from the get-go an impossible task.

Some musicians were doing him a favor and charged really low rates, the song arrangements and parts were all over the place, and he wanted me to mix each song taking about 2-4 hours each (24+ tracks of messy arrangements)...

During mixdown, he wanted me to turn the sampled string parts up ALL THE WAY, because he likes the realism of the samples so much...they take up most of the space in the mix...he loves it..."it has nothing to do with quality, I just like it differently than you" can I argue with that?

The first song to mix took a bit longer than the subsequent ones...he came in the afternoon to check everything, saw that 2 songs were halfway mixed, said "What is going on? I leave and come back and NOTHING at all has been done, you guys have been wasting time?"

The style was romantic slow ballad stuff, this is his first record with real drums, but he wanted them REAL low, along with all the guitars that we spent recording in 3-4 days (should've taken 1)...

2 weeks ago, he kinda disappeared. I still got the master, and he hasn't paid me for engineering the musicians, nor the producer/arranger. I hate the mixes.

But if he is happy with them, should I spoil my image for him by telling him that I don't want my name on the cd? I am not going to try to convince him to better the mixes, because I'd have to offer him more studio time, and he hasn't paid anyone a single cent. It's a small artist community here so I don't want my name to get hurt by things he makes up about us...

The funniest thing that he said was "imagine the great promotion this album is going to be for you guys and your studio..." The conversation before that was about wanting to record and mix the whole album in 1 week ($!&@).

Finally, I have thought along the same lines as Bob mentioned. Who knows, my better work might just shine in comparison with his production.

People liking the mixes would come to be THE crown of all irony. Never having to justify or explain anything to skeptic clients...


Profile picture for user Bob Olhsson

Bob Olhsson Sun, 09/16/2001 - 15:04

"The funniest thing that he said was 'imagine the great promotion this album is going to be for you guys and your studio'..."

Hearing that line around here would make most of us expect him to disappear without paying. You'll probably discover that he's already sold the album to somebody for a substantial sum. It's a pretty classic hustle.

Alex Natan Mon, 09/17/2001 - 11:02

Just to tell you the end of the story:
I asked the client (who in fact is the one that is paying me) if he really like the mixes. He told me that in general everything is ok, but that he hear a lot of highs and that he didn´t like the sound of the hihat. Then I make the same question to the producer and he said: "well, in general I am happy". So, I make him the following question: "Don´t you think that the mixes are a bit "thin" and without "body"?
"Yes, of course, but that should be a job for Mastering." he says. For one second the following situation came to my mind: the client going to other mastering studio, and the engineer asking him: "Where did you record this shit?" Perhaps I was making this thing bigger than it was, but there was my name in the middle of this.
End of the story: I told the client my opinion about the sound and he gave me the ok to change whatever I consider a bad thing. Now everything sounds better, and he will make the mastering in my studio next week.
Happy end for me.


Alex Natan