(Professor George Huang posing in his recording studio)
Q: So what do you do with the mixing?
A: Mixing has changed significantly from the days when tracks were recorded onto analog or digital multi-track tape, and serious mixing happened at the end. Today, with the evolution of powerful automation, digital processing, and plug-ins, mixing begins the moment when the first tracks is recorded. The software we use is a very powerful one and a leading software - Avid Pro Tool (www.avid.com/US/)
With this software, it allows us to examine each track of the multi-track, and "manipulate" with the sound effect. This is the example of a band; we have two vocal, two guitar players, a bass player, a keyboard and a drummer. This is how the female singer sounds like alone, she's very talented. And this is how it sounds with guitar. And this is how it sounds with the complete band. And we can do some simple mixing, giving them the concert effect of a bigger band. Immediately, they sound more powerful than ever. Here, we can give them a bigger bass, so that it sounds heavier.
Q: Wow. That's really cool. It sounded completely different. Why can't we (audiophiles) use this (multi-track) on our system? I want to be able to hear the vocal only.
A: The biggest challenge would be the storage space. In the old days, multi-track used to be recorded onto a 2 inch tape. In the last decade, multi-tracking hardware and software for computers was of sufficient quality to be widely used for high-end audio recording. However, multi-track takes a lot of space. The multi-track is mostly distributed within the industries, ie. producers, recording engineer, etc. It would make more sense for the end users just to hear the end result. However, one popular application of multi-track would be "karaoke"; it shares similar concept.
Q: How long does it take to learn this software?
A: There is a whole series of courses and trainings for this software. I am the first one to bring this into Taiwan, and the only certified instructor in Taiwan. If you like to enroll in my course next semester, I can teach you all the basics. :)
Q: I see two bass guitars here. Do you play bass?
A: Yes, I was a bass player in a rock band in my college years. I still play sometimes.
Q: Does it help with your recordings?
A: It does. I think in order to be a good recording engineer, you need a good understanding and appreciation of music. There are often differences between the artists (singer / band) and the record company. For example, I've created these two samples of this track. The first one is original, and second one is preferred by the band, and third one is preferred by the record company. The original sounded a little bit weak. The second one has more rock feeling, and the third one has better full body. The record company finally picked the third one because they think it's more acceptable by the audience.
Q: Thanks very much, Prof. Huang. It was a true pleasure and great experience.
A: You are very welcome.