Engineer and producer Richard Sales recently finished mixing his daughter Hayley Sales’ follow-up album for Universal using the Dangerous Music 2-Bus analog summing mixer and monitoring with the Dangerous Monitor ST along with the Dangerous DAC-ST D-to-A converter. The album, titled ‘When The Bird Became A Book,’ (Universal Music) is getting radio air-play and climbing the charts in Canada and Japan where the singer-songwriter has a strong following. Describing his new system, Sales says, “This whole experience for me was a giant ‘Ah hah!’ – an epiphany. I had been recording and mixing analog for many years. When I switched over to digital so many of the mysteries that had been plaguing me regarding why DAW mixing was not sounding right just blew apart when I got the Dangerous Music equipment.” Sales has produced and engineered a wide variety of artists, from John Fahey, Danny Gatton, and Bernice Reagon of Sweet Honey In The Rock, to Miles Davis (with engineer Jim Smith), Wavy Gravy and beat literati Ken Kesey.
Sales notes how his mixes have improved with the Dangerous Music gear, “Before I had the Dangerous 2-Bus, I really struggled with EQ and compression trying to get back to the fatness and warmth I was used to and it just wasn’t working. After using the 2-Bus the fatness came back. The clarity of different elements is amazing. Summing inside the DAW is not the way to go for high-end recordings. It gets sort of compacted sounding, a little smaller, a little narrower and any notion of a ‘3D sound’ is just not going to happen. In the competitive current world of music, all those ‘littles’ add up. All I can say is the mixes speak for themselves. Nothing I’ve ever done sounds anywhere near as fat, modern and clear as with the Dangerous gear.”
Similarly, with monitoring, Sales added a new analog component to his hybrid digital and analog mixing system with the Dangerous Monitor ST. He did not have a good solution for monitoring at all, he laments, “I was wandering in the desert without a map. The Dangerous Monitor ST brought me organization and honesty in sound. It brought me the ability to switch between sources like never before. I can compare the sound going in and out of the Masterlink to the original source, the CD to the Masterlink etc. All at the same volume! A lot of the ‘mysterioso’ kind of groping-in-the-dark nature of mixing was eliminated with the ST.”
On hearing the new Dangerous Music rig Hayley remembers, “With the new studio everything was clearer, warmer, and more real. I could hear every nuance in my voice and I loved that. When we were mixing, the different instruments and sounds all seemed to sonically have more presence. It continually surprised me how the music would fill the room, not just snuggle into the space in front of me like so many recordings do. We tried to keep the album as organic sounding as possible, and I don’t think any studio could have done a better job. Not only that, being able to walk outside between takes and look out over the blueberries and a couple more of fields and forests is amazingly inspiring.”
Having previously mixed Hayley’s last album through a digital console, Sales is getting raves, especially from the record label on the sound of the new album. “The head of A&R at Universal, Shawn Marino, was critical of the previous record saying it was ‘too dark and old-school sounding.’ Because of that at first he wanted someone else to do the record, but instead he has been super-effusive about the sound of Hayley’s new album. Words like ‘gorgeous’ and ‘beautiful’ and ‘it’s a full play album’ – as in: people will listen to the whole record because it’s so good. This was a major victory for me,” says producer-engineer Sales. “Marino is not a bullshitter or flatterer at all.”
Sales was floored when he first heard a mix through the Dangerous 2-Bus, “Well, not to be crude… but, to be honest? Holy S#%*T! I was checking out what other engineers were doing to round out and enrich the digital signal and kept running into the idea of summing boxes – and many of my favorite mix peeps were using the Dangerous 2-Bus. I like the way the 2-Bus deals with panning (no hardware pan pots so it recalls my Pro Tools mix instantly), the +6dB boost feature, and the great reputation Dangerous Music has. I bought it unheard and I’ve gotta’ say, it’s really incredible. So now I have the improved clarity, cleaner high-end BUT with the sweetening of the pristine analogue circuitry of the 2-Bus.”
Find out more about producer and Engineer Richard Sales at his studio website.