Engineer/Producer Red Hot Chili Peppers (Grammy Winner), Blink-182, Bob Dylan
“Put a B1, a B2, and a ribbon mic in front of a guitar amp, and the midrange is so good it will make you cry.” – Ryan Hewitt
Recording/Mix Engineer & Producer Credits: Red Hot Chili Peppers (Grammy Winner), Blink-182, Bob Dylan…
Interview with Will Kahn from Burl Audio: Talk to me a little about some projects you have used the B2 on recently.
I bought it because I was working on a Dixie Chicks record. Before I got the B2 I printed mixes and sent them to Rick Ruben. “Yeah, it sounds good. Do this and this and this,” and I changed a few things about the mixes, fixed it up, and printed it with the Burl, and he was like, “Wow, what did you do? This sounds way better.”I was like, “A little of this, a little of that, and a new converter,” and he said, “OK, cool.” He was really excited, and the band loved the mixes.
That’s VERY cool!
Even recently when I did the Dixie Chicks Live record, I had to mix in the box because I got to then spread it out to surround, so it makes everything easier to replicate, even with stereo mixes…I go out 2 channels and into my analog stereo bus chain, so it goes through the Elysia Mpressor, the Tonelux Eqs and then it goes back through the Burl. I was doing a Meatbats live record, and I sent it to Dave Collins, who does a lot of my mastering work, and he said: “Wow!, where”d you mix this?” and i said, “You know, my house, in the box”, and he said “Really? It sounds really good, and glued together…” And I attribute a lot of that to the Burl, kicking those transformers, hitting them pretty hard. I’m kind of merciless with analog stuff, I really dig into it, just to get that color. For guys who do strictly tape, and then bring it across to digital, like Eddie Kramer, it’s their first go to converter for a tape transfer. But then also, for an in the box mix to give it some more warmth there… It’s got a bump in the bottom end like a tape machine does, I used to mix to tape a lot, when there was money to mix to tape. On the Chili Peppers album, I think I wound up using 200 reels of tape when I mixed it. When you go to that what the burl does to the low end, and I love it! It gives it this cohesion. There are a lot of people who say “I want the converter to give me exactly what I put in it,” and there are times for that too. Ideally, I ‘d have another converter one day, so I can have that super clean, super transparent sound, and I can go to the Burl when I want to rock, which is 90% of the time. So far, in the 4 or 5 projects I’ve done with the (B2 Bomber ADC), it’s never not been right. It’s always been “Wow, yeah, that sounds better,” It’s very cool. It’s a feeling, and that’s what people forget. A lot of people get hung up with numbers, and, what a friend of mine calls “digital abuse” where, you know, you go “Give me two tenths of a dB less of this.” Fuck two tenths of a dB! If you can hear two tenths of a dB on an EQ, you’re either crazy, or you have better ears than me. Because, that doesn’t register with me. I don’t care about that stuff.. does it sound good or does it not sound good? ‘don’t tell me something is over compressed, or over EQ”d. What does it make you feel? You know? And then let’s talk. I actually come from an electrical engineering standpoint, it’s what I went to school for. So, I understand the empirical scientific measurement part of this gig, but at the same time, I don’t really care about it. That takes a back seat to the song and the feeling you get when you listen to music.
You used to do lots of mixing to tape. How do you use the B2 ADC in place of a tape machine?
Mixing to tape is the final stage in the mix, where it puts some glue on it. You’re mixing all day and listening to what’s coming off the console… And you’re feeling good about it, and then you print that to tape and you listen to what the tape’s done to it, maybe you need to hit the tape less hard, or harder, or I’ve tried different formats of tape, 1/2″ vs.1/4″…15 IPS vs. 30 IPS, noise reduction vs. no noise reduction, and it all affects your mix differently. So there are a lot of variables. Mixing in the box, at home with my summing system of analog gear, it sounds really good. I’ve gotten used to it, I’ve figured out how to get a lot out of it. And I’m learning more every time I mix, new tricks to get more of the performance and feel out of a box, rather than a big hunk of iron, that is a Neve console that I love to mix on. Mixing the way I do, at home, the Burl just gives it a little bit more, glue or togetherness. Initially I couldn’t figure out how to get everything to combine in a musical way. Everything was coming out of the speakers, but it wasn’t feeling cohesive. The Burl sounds better. It gives it that warmth. When I send mixes to Dave (Collins) on tape, he says “Yeah, it sounds like a record!” right off the bat. And going through the Burl, I’ve gotten that same reaction from him. When he plays something off tape, it’s got that vibe. It’s got a little compression, it’s got a little gush, a little gish, and the Burl is in that direction which is a comforting sound to me.
There’s the guys who still do tape, and then the guys who don’t ever want to look at a tape machine, ever again. And they both seem to love the Burl converters.
The thing that’s cool about the Burl, is that it’s un-ashamedly colored. The B2 has a sound, and it’s proud of that sound. Whereas a lot of people try to be neutral, or not have a sound, but it’s like, what is a non sound? You know, seriously, what is a non sound? “This is perfectly clean and perfectly clear, it is what you put in it, and blah blah blah.” Says who? How can anyone really claim that it’s completely transparent? And furthermore, who fucking cares? Does it sound good or not? At the end of the day, for me, if it sounds good, if it makes me feel good about what I’m doing, It’s good., and that’s really all that matters.