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Author Topic: The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself  (Read 12498 times)

bblackwood

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The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself
« on: February 01, 2005, 11:16:34 am »

Tell us everything about working on Led Zeppelin III!
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Brad Blackwood
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j.hall

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2005, 11:18:27 am »

agreed!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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lucey

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2005, 03:54:52 pm »


Mics and preamps and the rooms please ...
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Brian Lucey
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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2005, 04:58:09 pm »

ahh, the almost all acoustic one! not my favorite but very cool and moody. bet there was some serious pot smoking goin gon there!!! Very Happy
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Brendan Thompson

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2005, 02:10:04 am »

Better yet... why don't you post the multitracks Laughing
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compasspnt

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2005, 04:17:01 am »

Now where did I put those multitracks....??

Thanks, guys.  I will get into LZ stuff tomorrow...already after 4 am.

Best,

TM
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Collins

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2005, 10:19:44 am »

Terry,

In another thread about the ZEP Remasters you mentioned
doing the lead out Scribes....

Among all the other questions, i was
checking my copy of the LP, and im curious about
how "So Mote Be it" and "Do What Thou Wilt" came
about....Page and his Aleister Crowley interests
at the time?

Thank you Sir,

Paul

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drumsound

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2005, 11:03:26 pm »

I can't wait for these stories!
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Curve Dominant

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2005, 11:23:32 pm »

Led Zep III was a favorite record of mine when a child, I bought the sheet music and learned all the songs on my moms acoustic guitar, so I'm looking forward to hearing about the sessions.

It's particularly interesting because last year I produced a southern rock singer/songwriter guitarist who wanted a sort of HipHop "bounce" to her production, and LZ III was one of the recordings I turned to for inspiration (Bron Yr Aur Stomp is SOOO FLY).

bblackwood

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2005, 11:07:48 am »

compasspnt wrote on Wed, 02 February 2005 03:17

Now where did I put those multitracks....??

Thanks, guys.  I will get into LZ stuff tomorrow...already after 4 am.

Ahem...

(sniff, shuffles feet, coughs, wait patiently...)
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Brad Blackwood
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j.hall

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2005, 11:13:47 am »

*purple in the face from holding breathe*

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compasspnt

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2005, 10:07:11 pm »

OK, where to start on Zeppelin?  (Couldn't find the multitracks; they must have been thrown away from our tape vault when we did a major clean out!)

I'll try to do the story, but keep it as short as possible.

I met Jimmy Page while playing in a regional band based in Memphis.  The Yardbirds (which then included Page) were playing on this Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tour.  They were one of the stars; we weren't.  Dick would pick up locally or regionally known groups (cheap) to fill out the tour with some opening acts.  I was a HUGE Yardbirds fan, so I made sure to seek out JP.  Beck was playing lead, and I think Jimmy was actually on bass at the time, and also doing occasional rhythm guitar.  Clapton had already left.  The next tour the 'Birds did, I made sure to go and hook back up with them, although we weren't playing on that one.  I went to several shows, but one in particular I remember was at Murray State University in Kentucky.  Jeff Beck had just quit the group, so Jimmy was taking over lead guitar duties.  This was his first night as leader...we all wondered:  "Could he handle it?"  Don't worry though, he could.  After the show, JP rode back with me through the night to Memphis, and we arrived at Ardent Studios very early in the morning.  I showed him around the studio, we played guitar a bit, and he really wanted my '52 Telecaster which I had brought out.  He offered to trade even for Beck's Esquire, which had been left behind.  I've always wondered if I should have made that trade...but it didn't seem quite right to take Jeff's guitar, when he wasn't there to defend himself.  We decided to keep in close touch, and Jimmy asked if I might be interested in either joining, or recording, his new band that he wanted to put together someday.  Sounded interesting to me.  I said OK.  He was going to call it The New Yardbirds.

This "new" group did come about, slowly.  I decided not to leave the recording situation I was in, as things were going great at  Stax, but I said I might be around if needed for any engineering work.  The New Yardbirds played around a bit, with not huge success, but a couple of their songs would resurface on the first Zeppelin album, I think "Dazed and Confused" and "How Many More Times,"  but it's been many years since I heard those by the 'Birds.  Jimmy wanted to change the group name to something original,  and find a couple of new members.  He decided on a singer who was also a friend of mine, Terry Reid (I had taken the album cover photo, and done the layout, for TR's second album).  Terry was a great guy and a great singer, and he wanted to do it, but his manager/producer, Mickey Most, wouldn't let him out of a contractual obligation, so Terry suggested the singer from Robert Plant and The Band of Joy.  That singer was Robert Plant.  The drummer, I think, for that same group was John Bonham.  Jimmy knew John Baldwin, aka John Paul Jones, from the session musician scene around London, and the four of them got together to try things out.  Jimmy told me that about two songs into the first rehearsal, in the middle of a great sounding piece, everybody just started looking around at each other and laughing.  It was obvious right from the start that they had "IT."

Of course, they recorded the first album, and the rest is history, as they say.  JP sent me a cassette of the first one well before release...wish I knew where that was right now!  Then the second one took things to a higher level yet.  Jimmy called me to ask if I would move to London and set up their own private studio for them.  I  actually did start immigrations paperwork to do this, and had made long equipment lists, contacts with suppliers, etc., but again, there was so much else going on, I decided not to go.  Jimmy understood, but asked if I would be available if they got into a jam with any new recordings.  I  said OK.

Well, it turned out that they did get into time trouble.  There was a big tour totally scheduled, and it was to coincide with the release of the third album.  But they got way behind getting ready for the recording, and the start was delayed so much, that by the time they got some of it recorded (at Olympic in South London, with Andy Johns, brother of Glyn), it was time to leave for the tour, with the album only partly done.  This could be a marketing disaster.  JP called me and asked if he could come in to record in Memphis in short spurts, that is, in between shows.  I said OK.  So they would play a show or two, and on the days off, JP and whomever (always Peter Grant, as well) would fly in.  I would pick up at airport, and drive directly to the old Ardent studio at 1457 National Street.  We overdubbed things, tracked some things, and edited and mixed everything.  I had just taken delivery of a new 3M 16 track 2", which was good, as that's what the previous tracks were recorded on.  But Dolby's were required, which we didn't have, so I had to scramble with Ray to get the units needed there quickly (A's, the big grey 2 chan ones).  I recorded with Jimmy at Olympic in London already for some bits, so I was familiar with most things already.

Mics which were used were just the standard mics I always used.  67's, 87's, 47's, EV (RE15?) or Shure (I think 545?).  We didn't have or use any Sennheiser's yet.  They hadn't really made it to the US in any big way at that time.  Neumann was the king, except you had to deal with Gotham Audio in NY, which I must admit was not much fun.  So I found a dealer in Germany, and would get mics sent in directly from there, which infuriated Gotham.  On drums, John wanted as few mics as possible.  He would say the HE would control the levels and dynamics, not the engineer.  And he could.  I believe there were sometimes 3 mics, two on the kit (only because stereo was getting popular) and a bass drum mic.  But on some songs there was only one kit mic and a bass drum one.  I distinctly remember panning from centre for the normal kit, to left for the beginning of a tom roll, then on through to the centre and then right for the rest of the roll, then quickly back to centre for the normal beat again.  Pretty high tech!  Had to be fast, though.  Jimmy also helped with occasional fader moves or pans when there was too much for me to do alone (no automation, of course, and I still don't really like automation).

For guitars, I think there were Neumann "pencil" mics on acoustics, either 84's or their predecessors, or perhaps 86's, if they were around by then.  Electrics would vary from 47 or 67 on softer sounds to EV or Shure on louder ones.  A great story from Jimmy was that he did the amazing solo on "Since I've Been Loving You" as an overdub in one take, through some strange amp that had been left in the studio by another group, with no real "messing around with the sound."  Just plug in and go...there was a second take attempt, but it couldn't be bettered.  Now I think this is one of the best rock guitar  solos ever...such feeling.  Another story was that Jimmy said A. Johns had some secret technique to get doubling effects, or delays, that he (JP) didn't remember, but he wanted to use it.  So I called Andy to find it out.  He really didn't want to divulge this, but Jimmy insisted; so Andy finally told me that he'd turn the tape around backwards and "pre delay" a sound (with a tape delay), then turn the tape back right and "undelay" it with varispeed tape delay to get the right timing.  Worked like a charm.

As for mic pre's...no one ever heard of, or thought of, any outboard mic pre's then...that's what the console was for.  It was full of mic pre's...so we used them.  As nostalgic, vintage, or mythological as it may seem to people now to have worked in these (supposedly) golden days with all that vintage gear, it just wasn't thought of in that way at that time.  We just used what we had, and did the best we could.  That's the same thing I'm doing today, only it's not with Jimmy Page, and some (but not all) of the gear is newer.  Again, the console at Ardent was a SpectraSonics.  This one was not one of the ones built by Dilly in Utah, but by Welton Jetton in Memphis, under license from Dilly, and using Dilly's spec'd parts.  It was simple, and sounded great.  But not a lot of  the "features" known today.  We did also have some SpectraSonics limiters, which I always thought were OK, a bit "hard," but not as good as my 176's.  I think the console at Olympic was a Helios, so those would have been the pre's there.

Anyway, we mixed to 1/4" tape.  There were some extra mixes, which I still have today on the original 1/4", that we thought were WAY too radical to use...no one would have accepted them, we thought.  I hear them now and wonder what the differences really were! I then took the masters to Auditronics (also owned by Mr. Jetton) for mastering.  I made all the decisions on EQ, compression, etc., approved by Jimmy, who was also there.  Peter Grant was present as well.  I remember that the first time I got "that feeling" that this was something special (I never think much about this sort of thing while in the recording or mixing process, because there's just too much to do) was when I went to the bathroom down the hall while "Loving You" was playing out of the mastering room door.  It sounded pretty good, and I realized that Plant's vocal was awfully distinctive on this one.

We cut several sets of parts, and I inscribed the sayings into the lead out groove spaces (very carefully).  Jimmy was a huge fan of Aleister Crowley, the "first hippy," and Crowley's philosphies.  He had given me the books, which I read, and was interested in, but I found it a little too free and unrestricted, that one could do anything one wanted.  I remember asking Jimmy at mastering if it was OK to kill someone if you "felt like it."  He wasn't amused.  But I wrote "Do what Thou Wilt" on one side of one set, and "Shall Be The Whole of The Law" on the other side of the same set.  I remember writing "So mote it Be" on one side of another set, but I've forgotten the rest.  We joked that with different things written on different lacquers, real fans would have to buy 2 or more records to complete the set!  This was absurdly funny to us, as we couldn't imagine anything like that might really happen.

Then I took the masters, carefully boxed in grouped sets, and put them in the trunk (boot) of John Fry's Mercedes 600 SEL 6.3 (which I  had bought back from Germany for him), and drove them to Nashville, where LZ were playing their next show.  There I gave them to Peter Grant, who had them delivered by hand to the various pressing plants.  Atlantic never saw them, nor had anything to do with them, at Peter's insistence.

Everyone asks "Wow, what was it like to work with Zeppelin," and I can only answer that it was just like today, only the people and songs were different.  Usually it is only with hindsight that things seem historical, or become mythologized.  One great thing Jimmy did I will never forget.  When the LZ3 album covers came back from the printing plant, to be joined with the vinyl pressings, Jimmy looked at them for approval, and found that they had left off the credit for me that he had written to be there.  So he had them all destroyed, and completely re-printed to include my credit!  What a guy!  And these were pretty expensive and involved covers, with the spinning photo wheel and all!

Well, that's a lot for now.  Maybe I'll think of some other stories later...got to get back to more vocal comping.

Best to all,

Terry
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bblackwood

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2005, 10:58:07 pm »

Thanks, Terry.

Def worth the wait...
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Brad Blackwood
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jfrigo

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2005, 12:46:42 am »

A great read. Thanks, Terry!

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ted nightshade

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2005, 12:58:17 pm »

Oh yeah! So what do we have to do to hear those "outre" mixes to 1/4"?!!!
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Andi Gisler

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Led Zeppelin 3
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2005, 07:45:26 am »

Hi Terry,

although I knew about a lot of the great records you did, I didn't know about your work on the third Zep one. I always though that 'III' has a certain 'air' to it that is quite different from the other Zep albums. Did you work on the sessions from the beginning or did you come in at a later point? Any stories, the famous squeaking kick pedal on 'Since I've been loving you'  for example? (Surely one of my 10 desert island songs!)
And lastly, does it bother you not to be credited on the record ,was it a legal thing?

Thanks

Andi

mcsnare

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2005, 09:47:05 am »

Terry,
  Thanks for taking the time to enlighten us on Zep 3. I had no idea that you worked on it!
  One thing that really caught my eye was the Andy/Glyn Johns backwards slap thing. I have never seen or heard anyone mention this effect until now, although after hearing it on old records done by the Johns', I have attempted to reproduce this effect myself (and did just that a few weeks ago during mixing the new Fab T-Birds record). I usually just turn the multi over and feed the signal to a tape slap and print that back to the multi, but I'm interested in what you mention as part 2 of the process using varispeed. I didn't quite understand that part, care to elaborate?
Mucho thanks,
Dave McNair

compasspnt

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Re: Led Zeppelin 3
« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2005, 10:11:43 am »

Andi Gisler wrote on Sun, 06 February 2005 07:45

Did you work on the sessions from the beginning or did you come in at a later point?

And lastly, does it bother you not to be credited on the record ,was it a legal thing?

Thanks

Andi


Hi Andi,

As mentioned in the original post (although maybe I didn't word it well enough), a lot was already recorded before the record came to me; I just finished it.

I'll try to find some time to think of any more "recording stories."

As for the credit, I did receive full credit on the original 12" album release.  I have been told that my credit was left off of some reissues, CD releases, etc., but was included on others.  I imagine that this was just an oversight on the part of some art department person somewhere, and not intended.

I do know that all of the compilation people at the labels, as well as the current crop of executives, never forget to put THEIR names prominently on classic product:

......THE BEST OF THE BEATLES, SINATRA, AND ELVIS....

... ...COMPILATION PRODUCED by CALVIN CORPORATE... ...

 ...  ...SONG CHOICES BY LARRY LABEL...  ...


   (original music produced by someone else)
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electrical

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2005, 02:32:52 pm »

compasspnt wrote on Fri, 04 February 2005 22:07

Then I took the masters, carefully boxed in grouped sets, and put them in the trunk of John Fry's Mercedes, and drove them to Nashville where LZ was playing their next show.  There I gave them to Peter Grant, who had them delivered by hand to the various pressing plants.  Atlantic never saw them, nor had anything to do with them, at Peter's insistence.

Some things never change.

I worked on a Jimmy Page & Robert Plant record a few years ago, and the label was conspicuously absent the whole time. When the record was finished (the afternoon after we sequenced the masters and booked the mastering session), there was a discussion about whether or not an advance copy should be sent to the label. Jimmy and Robert decided they could hear it when they went to the store and bought one.

The copper masters were cut, that was that. I never saw, spoke to or corresponded with anyone at the label throughout the whole five month process.

That's how to let them know who's boss.
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drumsound

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2005, 01:32:02 am »

Thanks for the great synopsis Terry!
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compasspnt

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2005, 09:37:00 pm »

mcsnare wrote on Sun, 06 February 2005 09:47

Terry,
  Thanks for taking the time to enlighten us on Zep 3. I had no idea that you worked on it!
  One thing that really caught my eye was the Andy/Glyn Johns backwards slap thing. I have never seen or heard anyone mention this effect until now, although after hearing it on old records done by the Johns', I have attempted to reproduce this effect myself (and did just that a few weeks ago during mixing the new Fab T-Birds record). I usually just turn the multi over and feed the signal to a tape slap and print that back to the multi, but I'm interested in what you mention as part 2 of the process using varispeed. I didn't quite understand that part, care to elaborate?
Mucho thanks,
Dave McNair


Hi Dave,

The way I am referring to is one that gives you total control, in the analogue world, of your pre-sound-'delay ,' doubling, or post-sound-delay time.

I will say all of the process, most of which, of course, I realize you already know, so that anyone out there who has never done any of this will understand the whole messy thing.

To start at the top, of course you have a sound at point "X"  on a track of the multi-track.  You turn the tape around backwards, and delay that sound with an in-through-out from another analogue tape machine, and record it onto a second track.  The delay is of course determined by the distance between the record and play heads, and the speed of the tape movement.   When the tape is turned back 'frontwards,' this makes the newly recorded sound in question appear before the original sound itself, by the amount of delay.  Then you take that second, new sound, and delay it again back towards it's original "X" location, through an analogue tape machine in-through-out, and vary the speed of that delay.  This allows you to control whether the new sound appears just before, right with, or just behind the original sound.  Or, rather than fixed varispeed, you can 'grab the flanges,' manually varying the delay (primitive modulation), and get a real flange sound.

This is actually why they made digital delay devices and Protools.

Terry
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mcsnare

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2005, 09:50:38 pm »

Got it! Thanks so much for the clarification.
Dave McNair

Radd 47

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Re: The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2005, 10:51:08 pm »

Holy mackerel! Recording AND jamming with the guy.
Jeez, you were almost in Led Zeplin!
Very cool story. Thanks!

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Re: The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself
« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2005, 01:14:32 am »

Wow,

Terry, you just made my month! It reaffirms that dedication, and building with the tools you have gets results. Also seems artist and production crew often called the shots, not always suits in the office. Very cool  Cool

Many thanks, I really look forward to browsing thru this month - a big welcome!
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Re: The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2005, 08:33:22 am »

WOW!!!  Thanks for all the tape delay info on Zep.
I always figured it was "print through" as it appeared before the direct signal.  I'll have to pull it back out and study it a bit.

Do you recall where that Led Zep concert was held in Nashville???
I moved here in 1996 and have heard a lot of stories, but none of Led Zeppelin.


Russ
http://home.bellsouth.net/p/PWP-russragsdale
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neve1073

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2005, 03:44:11 am »

I'm a latecomer to your forum Terry, but what a great treat to have you here answering questions.

The Led Zeppelin III story is really great.

A legendary engineer who can write well too...I'm looking forward to reading through all the posts!
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Re: The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself
« Reply #26 on: February 12, 2005, 09:55:58 am »

What a wonderful thread, many thanks for your time Terry!

You are credited on both the vinyl copies of LZ III I have btw.

Justin
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Re: The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself
« Reply #27 on: February 17, 2005, 11:44:59 pm »

Terry, one last question. I was driving along here in LA today and this thread popped in my head. I was listening to Zep 3 on the radio and noticed how well the kick and drums come through on small speakers. Songs from the same era and even most today don't pop up as nicely. In some cases a lot of the same era music reveals the vocal and maybe guitars as well as snare but the kick on the Zep 3 album just punches right in perfectly on small speakers.

What monitors did you use while mixing if I may ask? Just wondered if you did a lot of comparison mixes on different sized speakers or if something like the Westlakes or other large systems offered up good translation in those days.
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Nathan Eldred

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Re: The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself
« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2005, 01:24:17 am »

I think Zep III was the most influencial album to my engineering 'style'.  LOVE the verbs...plates, chambers, rooms, combination?
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compasspnt

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Re: The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself
« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2005, 07:42:26 pm »

Middleman wrote on Thu, 17 February 2005 23:44

Terry...I was listening to Zep 3 on the radio and noticed how well the kick and drums come through on small speakers. Songs from the same era and even most today don't pop up as nicely. In some cases a lot of the same era music reveals the vocal and maybe guitars as well as snare but the kick on the Zep 3 album just punches right in perfectly on small speakers.

What monitors did you use while mixing if I may ask? Just wondered if you did a lot of comparison mixes on different sized speakers or if something like the Westlakes or other large systems offered up good translation in those days.


At that time, I was using some JBL monitors, I think the model was 4320.  These were JBL's upgrade on their D50 (the speaker designed by Bill Thomas, under supervision of Harvey Gerst [sound familiar?]), which was the competition for Altec's 604/605 series.  (The 604 was an industry standard, but the 605, when introduced as an "upgrade" was not accepted, as it was really just a cheaper-to build-speaker, which didn't sound as good...so JBL got a foothold at that time, especially with Capitol Studios).

I would on occasion listen through a small, TV-like speaker in mono to hear translation, but I don't remember if I did that on this session.  I've grown weary of that exercise however, and really have almost always used just use one set of speakers which I trust.  I do not like to mix loudly, however, as (because of the effects of Fletcher-Munson curve, amongst other reasons) I don't think you get a true picture of tonal balance.  This often disappoints the client, but they are usually grateful later.  Of course, at the end, it's always fun to turn it up a bit, especially with rock music.


Nathan Eldred wrote on Fri, 18 February 2005 01:24

I think Zep III was the most influencial album to my engineering 'style'.  LOVE the verbs...plates, chambers, rooms, combination?



I only had EMT plates and a spring available to me during mix, but we also did use tape delay, tape "pre-delay" (as outlined in another post), tape flanging, and other such effects.  However, many spatial effects in those days were committed to tape during tracking, so there were already some reverbs printed to tape.  Some of these would have come from Olympic...I don't remember what they had.  There was also, as you mention, some 'room' on certain things, resultant from mic technique.

Considering the paucity of effect, this era sometimes required a bit of audio legerdemain.

Thanks for the questions!

Terry
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