Last year I toured with the singer and hit maker LP mixing front of house sound. This tour took me all over North America, Europe but this time somewhere new for me, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. We spent a month traveling all over the Russian federation, one show in Minsk, followed by a week in Ukraine immediately after the North America tour and a festival show in Mexico City without a break and flew straight to Vladivostok. This is the furthest eastern major city in the country and a stone's throw away from North Korea and the furthest reaches of northeastern China. We worked our way west through Siberia and hit all of the possible markets available along the way. The last of the shows we did in Russia prior to going to Belarus and then Ukraine was in the capital city of Moscow. The show was at the Crocus City Hall which is a beautiful large theater. It was an incredible experience being able to tour in so many new places after doing the usual circuits for so many years.
In the weeks leading up to this show, LP's management had asked if I could record the show for use later. We made arrangements to multi-track record the Moscow show. All of LP's shows were huge successes, as the people of Russia adore her and come out in droves to see her and hear her sing, but the Moscow show was really special. It was a wonderful conclusion to that leg of the tour before heading to Minsk Belarus the following morning.
Almost a year later, I was excited to get a call from LP's management asking me to mix the content from that show into a live record. They wanted to release a live album, and it was that particular show they wanted to mix.
This was going to be a straight ahead live rock record for all intents and purposes. The performances were great and so easy to work with. One of the fundamental issues with mixing live recordings is capturing and conveying the energy experienced in the room. From the audience cheering to the chemistry of the band and artist, you get so many variables to properly put into place. Mixing a live album feels natural to me since I've spent so much time on the road and I love bringing all of those variables together. In the case of LP Live in Moscow, I got a chance to relive the energy of that incredible tour, as I did my best to deliver a mix that sounded just like the listener was there at Crocus City Hall with us.
Listen to the full album on Spotify here.
Watch the Lost On You Video on YouTube.
Read my full mix strategy below.
Channel processing was in the box. Lots of UAD and Waves plug ins for individual channels. Smack Attack or Transient Designer goes on almost every drum. Especially with live content because there’s so much external bleed coming into this mics and it’s the only way to get anything that resembles isolation. EL8 Distressor, dbx 160's and 1176’s are the preferred channel compressors for drums. Then everything gets sent to two stereo busses that leave Pro Tools. One is a parallel bus that first goes through a Pultec EQP1A (ITB) then goes out of Protools then through an analog API 2500 and gets smashed. Then the other drum bus goes through a Black Box HG-2, Pultec EQP1A then leaves Pro Tools to get blended with the parallel bus.
Then the Bass DI signal I split into two in the box and run one through a UAD 1081 EQ then a UAD 1176 to get a lot of the top end of the bass and articulation. Occasionally the bass player kicks on some effects including a spring reverb that would otherwise get buried if there wasn’t an emphasis on the high mids and highs. The second Bass DI signal then goes through a UAD LA2A and Pultec EQP1A. This is a slower compressor and the Pultec enhances the low end in such a perfect way that it blends well with the other treble forward signal. Then a little bit of the mic signal blended all together through a bus but before it leaves protools use a Waves C1 compressor that is sidechained to the kick drum to let it breath with the kick and to create space for each other. Then it gets finished through an analog Distressor with little gain reduction but mostly to get that tone it imparts and then a Moog MKPE parametric EQ to just shape the bottom a little.
Electric guitars sing through API 550a EQ’s and the LA3A responds so well to that signal so used that signal chain in the guitars. Then sent to a stereo bus and ran them through a Soundtoys Microshift and UAD AKG BX20 reverb. Then squeeze it all together with an analog Urei 1178 compressor just lightly compressing the whole thing together. Those vintage FET compressors impart a great tone on guitars. Then finish it with an API 5500 EQ.
Acoustic guitars required a little more attention as guitar pickups while they allow for amplification on stage, often don’t sound as natural as listening to the guitar as if you’re standing directly in front of it. So some creative compressing, eq, and applying some effects like the Microshift for width and the AKG BX20 for depth, definitely puts the instrument on the same plane as the rest of the performance.
Keys and other playback tracks are pretty well placed by their very nature but there was some work balancing them with the other live elements. Compressed with a UAD Fairchild 670 the an analog Kush Clariphonic EQ.
For the vocals I simply bussed the signal out to three analog channels channels. One was processed through my 500 series rack that I used on tour to process LP’s vocal including and SSL 611EQ, Inward Connections Brute Limiter, Empirical Labs DerrEsser, Rupert Neve 535 compressor then finished it with a Maag EQ2 for it’s amazing Air Band set at 40kHz. The second signal was ran through an 1176, and the third a 160. All of those have different tones and different attack and release times so for a live vocal worked really well to level out everything from quiet singing to full throttle belting, high operatic wailing and everything in between.
Background vocals were compressed through a UAD Fairchild Compressor and the an analog Nightpro EQ3D.
Then simply reprinted it back into Protools and finalized it with a touch of the Manley Massive Passive Plug in, and a Black Box Design HG-2.