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Charles Dye Tells All

Grammy-winner reveals his Pro Tools secrets in new training DVD called ''Mix It Like a Record'' By Frank Moldstad

Charles Dye in the control room at Supersonic Studios
In this 180-minute Pro Tools-based training DVD, Charles Dye sheds light on the Dark Art of mixing. His organized approach to the subject breaks down each step in the process clearly, and the ideas he presents in Mix It Like a Record  (MSRP $149) should prove inspiring for intermediate and professional mixers alike.

A Grammy Award-winning engineer/mixer/producer based in Miami, Dye has been mixing almost exclusively in the box with Pro Tools for more than six years. The vast array of Pro Tools plugins provides his complete toolkit, without outboard hardware. This approach has served him well. The mix he did of Ricky Martins ?Livin La Vida Loca, is recognized as the first Number One record to be done completely inside a hard disk system. His work on Thalias ?Arrasando was honored with a Latin Grammy award for Best Engineered Album in 2001. Other artists hes worked with include Sammy Hagar, Julio Iglesias, Jon Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and Gloria Estefan.

Mixing is a tough topic to address coherently because every situation requires a different approach. In Mix It Like a Record, Dye wisely chooses to concentrate on one song, taking viewers from his initial preparation through the final touches. The song, called ?She Loves Me by Miami band eL, is an alternative rock anthem with multiple guitar overlays, stacked background vocals, drums, bass and keyboards. Dye had previously mixed the eL CD, and the band permitted session files with every track in the song to be included with this DVD.

The tracks are incorporated into 40 Pro Tools LE and TDM sessions that can be imported into a viewers system for hands-on experimentation right along with Charles Dye. This adds an invaluable interactive dimension to the training course.

Dye says the DVD title came from the fact that at some point in every mix someone says, "That sounds like a record!"
For those using less-powerful Pro Tools TDM and LE systems, some stem-mixed files are included, while TDM users with larger systems can open every track. For instance, choosing the stemmed version of the drum mixing session file opens all the individual drum tracks, with stems for the guitar, bass and vocal tracks. Its a good way of giving access to a large session that ordinarily wouldnt open on smaller Pro Tools systems.

The DVD production by Jon Kagi of Kagi Media in Seattle keeps things interesting with creative location shots around the US. One minute Dye is standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon to make a point about how low frequencies carry better than high ones, and the next hes standing on the Rockwalk Hall of Fame in front of Guitar Center Hollywood to talk about making somebody sound like a star.

But most of the technical nuts and bolts information comes where youd expect it: in the studio. Sitting in front of a Pro Tools HD rig in the control room of Miamis Supersonic Studios, Dye goes section-by-section through the song, first explaining what hes going to do in and then doing it as the screen displays his mouse moves.

Id suggest that first-time viewers simply watch and listen, firing up Pro Tools with the interactive sessions later. Otherwise, many pearls of wisdom might slip by, such as Dyes description of how he first approaches a song hes going to mix. ?When I listen to a track, I listen for three things: the rhythm of the track, the chord changes and the melody, he says. ?We respond to these elements emotionally, and I listen to these emotions. If the song is sad, I use sonic ideas that support this somehow. If the song is exciting or angry whatever I go for sounds that will support those ideas.

?But there is a place where you can look for specific direction in your mix, and thats the lyric of a song, he continues. ?Ive found it can often unlock a number of mysteries for me when Im mixing. The lyric is the songs organizing principle. And all other issues are subservient to it. Whenever Im at a crossroads in my mixing, I pick up the lyric sheet and start reading it. The answer will almost always rise to the top. 

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Related Keywords:Pro Tools, training, Charles Dye, Mix It Like a Record, mixing, plugins

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