By Cam Mott (Cam) on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 02:09 pm: Mr. Desper, Were you the first engineer yet when "Do It Again" was recorded? Thanks. By Stephenwdesper (Stephenwdesper) on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 03:56 pm: REPLY TO CAM MOTT's COMMENTS: You asked, "Were you the first engineer yet when "Do It Again" was recorded?" and first of all, I have never been a second engineer at any studio in my life. I recorded Do It Again and by creating the drum effect, sealed my union with the Beach Boys until I resigned, not wanting to travel to Holland. Good Listening, ~Stephen W. Desper By Cam Mott (Cam) on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 04:07 pm: So that was the first recording engineered by you for the Beach Boys after Jim Lockert left, which is what I was meaning to ask? Was that Dennis playing the drum for that fab effect? Thanks. By Stephenwdesper (Stephenwdesper) on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 09:09 pm: REPLY TO CAM MOTT's COMMENTS: Jimmy set up a makeshift studio in Brian's house for recording vocals on Friends and Smilie-Smile. I was asked to observe the sessions. I was mixing the shows then. Jimmy was getting sicker and sicker and concerned Carl and Brian. His constant coughing was getting in the way of tracking. More and more he was late or could not show because of sickness. Since I was already mixing for the Boys, I would cover for Jim when he couldn't make the date. Finally Jim excused himself and I took over, building the house studio. To answer your question, "[what was] the first recording engineered by you for the Beach Boys after Jim Lockert left?" it would be those vocal sessions on Friends, etc. The first album I ever worked on was Stack 'O Tracks. Dennis played the drums on Do It Again. The "fab effect" (thank you) was something I came up with during the mixdown. I had commissioned Phillips, in Holland, to build two tape delay units for use on the road (to double live vocals). I moved four of the Phillips PB heads very close together so that one drum strike was repeated four times about 10 milliseconds apart, and blended it with the original to give the effect you hear. Everyone liked the sound and credited me with adding to the commercial success of the single. Whether or not that was true, I don't know, but it put me in the engineering seat for many years. Good Listening, ~Stephen W. Desper By Markrudd (Markrudd) on Saturday, November 23, 2002 - 10:28 pm: So you could've engineered Holland! Evidently the Dutch have cute women so maybe you should've gone. Speaking of 20/20. I Can Hear Music sounds so much 'clearer' if you like than every other song on that album. Maybe it's the accoustic guitars perhaps. Such a great Carl vocal. I love it. By Cam Mott (Cam) on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 04:57 am: Did you then record the "Lei'd In Hawaii" concerts with Brian and the other Boys in the summer of 1967? If so, did you or Jim do the "sweetening" of those concert recordings? Thanks for the memories. By Stephenwdesper (Stephenwdesper) on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 10:40 am: REPLY TO CAM's COMMENTS: Jim did the sweetening for the most part. ~SWD REPLY TO MARKRUDD's COMMENTS: I did not go to Holland because Mike Love wanted a TM person in the mix. I have no problem with Transendental Meditation or people who use it, but I was not about to change my religious beliefs or customs to engineer in Holland. I resigned and went on tour with Zappa. Sail on Sail is , however, a leftover recording from the Surf's Up collection of masters that got put on "Holland," but I never got engineering credit for it. If you can get the LP 20/20 I think you will find the sound is better than subsequent CD masterings. Good Listening to all, ~Stephen W. Desper By Bicyclerider (Bicyclerider) on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 02:59 pm: Stephen - Why would the LP 20/20 sound better than recent CD remasterings from the master tapes? I realize many people prefer the warmer sound of analogue to digital, but is there something else you're referencing here? Was the LP mix different than the master used for CD? By Stephenwdesper (Stephenwdesper) on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 03:49 pm: REPLY TO BICYCLERIDER's COMMENTS: You asked, "Why would the LP 20/20 sound better than recent CD remasterings from the master tapes?" and there are several reasons. First, I mastered the LP sound and it was OKed by the Beach Boys as producers. CD's are mastered by engineers who are not as connected to the desired sound as those who created it. Second, the master tapes are analog and the CD is digital. All analog to digital converters have a "sound" about the algorithm used to make the conversion from energy (algorythm) to information (digital) forms of storage. So analog recordings always sound best as analog playbacks and digital always best as digital. The culprit isn't so much the medium as the conversion. Third, there are two sets of master tapes. One is the original master and the other is the LP master. The original master is as was delivered to the mastering house from the (in this case) Beach Boys' studio. Whereas the LP master is a tape copy made at the same time th! e LP matrix is cut and contains all the corrections for level differences and EQ changes needed to make the entire album sound cohearent. Many times the record company will use the LP master to cut the CD because all the changes are worked out. However, the EQ changes are for the LP medium (a mechanical medium) and do not transfer to digital without being re-corrected. Sometimes it is not possible to locate the original master because it is lost or mis-placed, in fact that is the case more times than not. The original recording and production was made with the idea in mind that the end product would be an LP. There is a big difference between how the sound is when played by a stylus in a grove and a beam of light reading dots and dashes. The only way to get back to what the original sound should really be is to go to the LP. The LP record and the LP master tape are the same. That is the end product. Making a CD from these old tapes is quite a challange and if the record is t! o just to fill inventory (as 20/20) and not expected to sell millions of copies, it's transfer is treated as if in an assembly line. The engineer is given ten or fifteen tapes in the morning and expected to transfer them by the end of the day. Not much time is devoted to each transfer -- not the kind of tender loving care we gave to the LP master. Good Listening off the record, ~Stephen W. Desper By Edroach2002 (Edroach2002) on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 05:48 am: Stephen, Thought these guys would be interested in hearing that our dear departed Mr. Zappa purchased the board from the Belagio Studio, and that's what you were mixing his live shows with. I am correct, no? By Textus (Textus) on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 10:22 am: Does that mean you mixed the 1973 tour that had Ponty, Duke, the Underwoods and the Fowlers in a prodominantly instrumental set? I saw that show 3/9/73 in Oklahoma City and was simply blown away by that band. None of the recordings the next couple of years (Overnite Sensation, Apostrophe, Roxy & Elsewhere) really captured that odd high- end blend of violin, vibes and reed for me. Your work? By Stephenwdesper (Stephenwdesper) on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 01:25 pm: REPLY TO TEXTUS's COMMENTS: What a fantastic tour ("Does that mean you mixed the 1973 tour?") that was to be the house mixer for all the US and Australian tours with the such outstanding ("Ponty, Duke, the Underwoods and the Fowlers") musicians. I still have all the show mixing notes and music for the shows indicating mixing cues and gain changes. There was never a moment to loose consentration -- an intence show to mix, but the music was very rewarding. It was ten times more demanding than anything the Beach Boys were doing on the road. We brought out 362 lines from the stage, each representing a sound source. Those went into preset sub-mixers before coming to the main mixer. Sound checks could easily take two hours. Zappa demanded nothing short of perfection from his band and from me. I learned how to hear in the present time while mixing (or setting up changes) in future time. Most of the time I was about ten beats ahead of the band, ready to execute the changes on the be! at. Eien and Ruth Underwood were dear friends, very kind and just terrific at their craft. George Duke was a star performer just waiting to evolve. He too, a real gentleman and such skill. Jon Luke Ponty and his blue violin could send you to another dimension, yet he also was such a pleasure to work with. Fellow, was he the trumpet player or drummer? Either way, those two were the routy ones of the bunch and kept us all laughing. Now Frank was serious and keen to every detail of his music and the band arrangements. Those arrangements were played to the note with jazz vamps at certain intervals to allow these gifted performers to express their individuality. Frank was disciplined and expected his musicians and technical staff to hold the line -- no fooling around. Of course his Guitar performances were out-of-this-world. I have yet to hear his equal. I have mixed Jimmy Hendrix at Monterey Pops Festival, and would have to say that he came very close. I only hope those two are now playing together in some sort of heavenly all-star show. Let me set the record stright here about Frank Zappa, in that while I was with him, I never saw him use or advocate the use of drugs. He was hooked on caffeine and drank coffee from morning to night. His public persona sometimes paints him as a druged up, long-hair, hip pothead -- but nothing could be further from the truth. To this day I can say I have never worked for a more honest, upright, gentelman. All the time I worked for him, I, along with the band, had the utmost respect and admiration for him as a person and his abilities as a writer/performer. I recorded every show on a pro-cassette recorder for my own record. Some kid stole all the tapes from my house years later, and by the time I retrieved them, he had used most of them to re-record disco music from the radio. I still have a few complete shows left. The sound is incredible. Good Listening, ~Stephen W Desper By Textus (Textus) on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 01:34 pm: There is some kind of weird cosmic joke implied in that last anecdote. I'm not a Zappa fan, but I have to say that this show made me think I would be one. Never saw him perform so well as that night, both as a guitarist and a bandleader. And although he was a little of his legendary testy with the audience that night ("...that song was recorded five years and three bands ago. None of these people can play it. If you want to hear oldies, stay home with your records"), he was a pretty amiable host as well. I think the drummer's name was something like Ralph Humphreys. No trumpet player in the date I saw, although I think I've read that Sal Marquez was on other dates. By Stephenwdesper (Stephenwdesper) on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 01:50 pm: REPLY TO TEXTUS's COMMENTS: I was not a Zappa fan either until he asked me to mix for him. In fact, I had not heard much of his stuff until then. But, believe me, it only took one rehearsal session to hook me. Totally on the other side of music from surfing sounds, but fantastic stuff, nevertheless. ~SWD By Textus (Textus) on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 02:06 pm: Any possibility that the experience of doing those wonderful voices made you more attuned to the higher-pitched instruments (violin, soprano sax, top half of the vibraphone) than another mixer might have been? That part of that show is one of the things that stood out for me, anyway -- the fact that I could hear and actually understand discrete instruments. Didn't even know the term until Zappa named his third custom label Discrete... By Stephenwdesper (Stephenwdesper) on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 02:46 pm: REPLY TO TEXTUS's COMMENTS: I would say the reason you could hear and actually understand discrete instruments would be attributed to the 362 individual mic and direct line sources we had on stage coming down to the mixing board. Such individual (discrete) signal sources add to the ability to hear details. ~SWD By Stephenwdesper (Stephenwdesper) on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 02:53 pm: REPLY TO TEXTUS's COMMENTS" Further, Ruth's vibraphone's metal bars each had a transducer on them so, were each individually "miked" with every note coming to a sub-mixer and then to the band mix in stereo. The other instruments you mentioned also had individual pick-ups on them all adding to the "up-front" sound of the band. ~SWD By Edroach2002 (Edroach2002) on Monday, November 25, 2002 - 08:44 pm: I WAS a major Zappa fan, and was fortunate enough to do some excellent photographic work with him. So glad to see this discussion. Now, here's another link: Sal Marquez can be seen doing the flute intro to "Forever" in the famous footage of The Boys performing the song live! Sal toured with The Boys before he was with Zappa! S.W.D.,Brian's board, Sal... there are other connections, too. -------------------------------- -------------------------------- By Edroach2002 (Edroach2002) on Monday, December 30, 2002 - 09:54 am: Please don't apologize - this is an OPEN forum, isn't it? And your information often clears quite a few memories for me! Now, it's back to the books for me... By Stephenwdesper (Stephenwdesper) on Monday, December 30, 2002 - 12:47 pm: REPLY TO EDROACH's & AGD's COMMENTS: It is standard proceedure in all recording studios (dating back to the 50's) to use small speakers as a mix check. At the House Studio we used Auratone speakers, a popular brand designed just for this purpose. I also installed a low-level FM transmitter in the Control Room so that we could listen over portable FM radios around the house or the FM radio in any car in the driveway. Also standard proceedure is to make "in-progress" copies of mixes as the production progresses. Back then such copies were made to cassette. (Today such copies are made to CDs.) Because there are hundreds of "mix-in-progress" copies lying around, many have found there way to the black market (bootlag) where fans confuse themselves thinking they have alternate mixes or such imaginings. Chuck or any good engineer would not allow Brian or an client to mix using just small speakers. Monitors are the mix reference. Small speakers are a mix check. Mix on monitors, check the mix (via playback) on small speakers or the car system. Technically this is call near-field versus far-field monitoring. The far-field or larger studio monitor system is designed to facilitate a good, even, balanced mix sound. The near-field, or smaller speaker has limitiations as to frequency and imaging. Such limitations should be addressed in a successful mix sound, and are best heard on near-field monitors or small speakers. In other words, you want the final mix to sound good over both a big Hi-Fi system or small boombox. The reason for checking in the car or on your home playback system is that it is in your car or at home that you listen to all other types of music. You know how all the other music sounds in your car, so listening to pending mixes in the same envionnment offers good sonic insight into how the two compare. You may wish to read more about this topic in my book "Recording The Beach Boys" at: http://community.webtv.net/askswd/bookorderinginfo Good Listening, ~Stephen W. Desper
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