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    How do you approach a surround mix? Alan Meyerson: My approach is to mix and get the balance as fast as I can and then polish the mix with EQ, compression reverbs etc. I rely on getting the placement of the instruments right. My philosophy is “Don’t build mixes in the middle”. That is where the dialogues are going to reside. This means that I would be competing with that and in a situation like that, music is always lowered. I don’t want that to happen. I always make my space around it. I look to make two balances right – the Spectral Balance and Positional Balance. I care about the imaging for the person who is not sitting in the middle of the theater (the sweet spot) to have as much of a sonic experience too. So, I have my positionings done accordingly. I would definitely use the center if it is needed. For example, I would have elements with low frequency like the Bass or the Kick Drum all across the Left, Center and Right speaker, so that it has an equal strength. The way I pan is based on my listening and understanding of how a classical orchestra is placed on a stage. I try and maintain my pans for that. But there have been changes that I do for creative purposes that suit the movie, like when I was recording and mixing for a film some years back, I had the orchestra duplicated into two sections mirroring each other in a room. I then had the orchestration written so that when they were played, the parts and movements would be split between them so when you record, you get this amazing image of the music moving. That would be impossible to create if I were to pan things around. There would be a human factor in it with the orchestration. For me, its is always about the imaging. If the imaging isn’t right, it isn’t really possible to clear things up with EQ or Compression because you are trying to clear a crowd rather than spreading it. In that respect, it is important to understand to keep only what you need. So, if there are a lot of things fighting in the lower range, I remove stuff to see what makes it clean. Sometimes, masking would make you feel that there are other frequencies that are not being heard and you would be eqing the wrong instruments. For example, a gentle roll off on the highs of the tympani would give you a good space for the high hats if they play at that region. Sampled sounds almost always have a bump at 250 Hz and 2.5kHz that I take off. So I get the space for the frequencies to reside. I then balance the elements amongst them to get it right.
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    “My career hasn't been an overnight success - it's been a slow, slow climb. I've been here 19 years and seen lots of other people move here and have a huge hit and they're off and running with their career. It might not last very long, but I’ve seen a lot of people with that perceived success, and it often doesn’t have much to do with talent. At this point I'm OK with that, as I think there are so many intangible elements involved with something that becomes a hit record, movie or book, and it plugs into some sort of collective mythology where people can see themselves in the song or movie - and that's something you can't control. You just have to get lucky with that. There's plenty of producers whose work I really admire and am influenced by, who don’t approach it as I do and aren't even capable of approaching it as I do. I'm very hands-on. Some of the best records are made by guys who didn't play any instruments and don’t even know how to operate the equipment, they just use their objectivity and their ears. I'm a huge fan of Nellee Hooper - he just listens to stuff apparently. I’m a huge fan of Rick Rubin. Rubin can't play an A chord on a guitar, can't plug a mic in - he just knows if it's right or not. He approaches it completely differently to me. But at the end of the day, there's something really great going on. I realise that talent is a hard thing to quantify. What is talent - playing an instrument, writing a song? Some of the best musicians are horrible songwriters - some of the best songwriters are horrible musicians. It manifests completely differently. When things take off, there's so much luck involved. Haydn said the invention of a simple melody is a work of genius. I stand behind that. To do simple at a level of excellence is the hardest thing in the world to do. To nail simplicity and to have it believable - does that take a lot of talent? I don't know. “
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