Once again, the Recording Academy put on a stellar Grammy Soundtable, their 26th in conjunction with AES. This time around, the topic was Mixing With Attitude, and P&E Wing exec director Maureen Droney matched up three very unique personalities, each at the top of their game, then brought in Nile Rodgers to moderate and keep them in line. Chris Lord-Alge started off by describing his setup, which hasn’t changed in years and has been moved to his new facility, Mix L.A. He’s at an SSL 4000 E Series with 48-track Sony digital tape machine. He’ll keep it up, he says, as long as he can find tape. Chuck Ainlay out of Backstage in Nashville sits at an SSL 9000J and uses Nuendo, sometimes working with Mark Knopfler in London on his Neve 88r or API, with an EMI Red 4 tube desk, which he jokingly called the “most ridiculous bass DI ever!” Then Tony Maserati said he has no real console in his setup, though he makes use of numerous summing sources, including a 16-channel Chandler, Dangerous 2-bus and a Neve sidecar.
But the fun began when they started to describe their styles and played bback some tracks. Chcuck picked LeeAnn Womack’s “Solitary Thinking,” a lonesome track with beautiful vocal and an open room sound that Chuck says comes from great playing in a relatively small, dead room at Soundstage. Chris picked Green Day’s “East Jesus Nowhere,” a slammin’ track that he confessed he mixed “balls to the wall” in the 45 minutes before the band came in. Tony cut in and said, “45 minutes! The track I’m playing took seven days!” Big laughs, but then he went on to explain that the Keri Hilson song featuring Akon came in at 175 tracks, and the producer kept sending more from L.A. over the Internet. His computer, he said, was “chugging and puffing.”
A couple commonalities emerged. All three try not to listen to a rough until they’ve already looked for the magic in a track. All three wanted to own their work, their contributions,Â and keep copies in their own vaults, for the inevitable call six months later when the label or artist can’t find what they’re looking for. And there was a quite funny moment at the end, when Bob Clearmountain got up to ask the first question: ” Do you guys like working with the treble best, the lows, or just hanging with the mids?” The panelists never really answered the question, instead applauding Clearmountain, whom they each said was oneÂ of their biggest influences. A great hour and a half all around.