Ted O'Reilly

What does "remix" mean...

10 posts in this topic

I'm currently listening to the recent Resonance Wes Montgomery In Paris on CD.  Nice, clean sound -- the best I've heard of this event.

In his notes the producer says "First, we went back to the original session reels and made a high-resolution transfer direct from the original tapes".  Okay, good so far.  Always go to the source.  It's not from a half-speed copy the assistant took home as a souvenir, or an over-the-air tape a fan made, or a cassette hidden in a coat at the concert.

"This offered us an opportunity to remix the original recording, providing a wider range of sound, and ultimately, a new, improved aural experience".  Here's where I have trouble, and it may only be the choice of the word  *remix*.  The originals were mono, the balance decided at the time by the original producer/engineer.  How do you *remix* a single source?

*Remix* means to me to take separate tracks (per instrument, or several tracks -- drum set, piano bass/treble) and producing a different result.  From a mono source isn't the only augmentation equalization -- with electronic means emphasize or reduce the various frequencies; or add reverb/echo.  (Don't know how you'd take them out).

Engineers do wonderful things with old recordings, such as clicks and pops from discs and tape hiss, ground-loop hum, and I thank them for that.  But am I misunderstanding the reference to *remix*?

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I'm assuming he meant remaster, not remix. You're understanding of the term is correct. 

Unless they recorded the concert on a four track machine and simply mastered it in mono, which I highly doubt. 

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Agreed, Scott.  But I wish people would say *remaster* and not *remix*...  (And if they recorded it 4/8/12 track, or whatever, those  tapes would be 'the original session reels'.)

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So, we don't know what the format of original tapes was then, correct? If it was radio that recorded it, it could easily have been in stereo? Has it been determined/stated that the original radio tapes were mono?

Even if it was mono, the digital editing tools available now allow for all kinds of manipulations. I'll agree that the word in it's older/traditional sense doesn't really make sense in terms of working with a mono master, without knowing exactly what they did, I can entertain the possibility of cutting them some slack. I mean, if you're able to isolate instruments, clean them up, and then put them back into a mono mix...that's maybe remastering, but ok, remixing is not totally wrong either. What was Frankenstein if not a remix of pre-existing monster parts? Maybe they're doing that to old tapes now.

Haven't heard the record in question, may or may not get to it eve, but I do know that the tools out there now allow for surgical tricks undreamt of by the human mind heretofore until now.

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Nope, never stated that there was a stereo mix on it, and as I was in the radio business then I can assure you mono was the standard.  A national broadcaster like ORTF might very well have done stereo or multi-track, but if they had, wouldn't those master tapes be the source of the Montgomery issue?

JSngry, no *slack* is needed, and I'm not complaining in any way about the product, nor about monaural recording.  At ALL.  I just am concerned about the way the language is used in the description:  it muddies the waters, given that a lot of folks really don't have a concept of  "everybody playing together at once and that's the record, no editing/fixing in the mix".

I was recently at a big band session with great musicians playing pretty hard charts almost faultlessly, certainly no one would know there was a 'mistake' by the third trombone at bar 120 but the producer.  It was painful seeing the other 19 guys sitting while the isolated horn was found to have perhaps cuffed a note, then took three cracks at it, being slightly humiliated by the 'need' to fix it.  The other trombonists offered to play the section together so the blend would be better, but nope, says producer, just him.  Okay, now the band is on edge, fearful they'll be called out next.  And of course, the soloist didn't play in real time at all, reserving his work for later so he could have three or six cracks at being inspired and creative.

I know that's how it's done now, and the sound is perfect and the playing's note perfect and the result I heard when the post-work was done was sterile and unswinging.  I played it once, then put the new Basie tracks from the Savory set on for about the ninth time.  Live, lovely and mono.  Heaven.

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14 hours ago, Ted O'Reilly said:

Agreed, Scott.  But I wish people would say *remaster* and not *remix*...  (And if they recorded it 4/8/12 track, or whatever, those  tapes would be 'the original session reels'.)

Couldn't the original session reels be multi-tracks? If it were recorded on a 4-track that doesn't necessarily mean it had to be released to the public in stereo. Sgt Peppers was originally released in mono. I'm strictly a consumer, not a producer, but I've always understood 'remix' to mean having more than one track to fiddle with. I suppose the obvious question is: if they had multitracks of  Wes Montgomery In Paris why didn't they release a new stereo mix?

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Sgt. Pepper was release in both formats. 

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1 hour ago, Scott Dolan said:

Sgt. Pepper was release in both formats. 

Oh, right. I was thinking the stereo versions were all done later, but now I remember reading that the band worked on the mono versions and the stereo versions were left to some studio hacks to slap together. 

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Exactly. 

Stereo systems were more prevalent in the U.S. than they were in Europe at the time, so their main focus was on the mono mix because that was how the bulk of their fans would be playing it back. 

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Resonance Records' Zev Feldman seems very open to talking about his work on these historic recordings. Has anyone ever thought of asking him why they decided to use "remix"? My feeling is that he would gladly talk about the process.

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