“Fading In and Fading Out” Ringo Starr

5.1: The Surround Sound Collection is comprised of two albums’ worth of material — Ringorama and Choose Love — mixed for release on DVD-A.
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“Fading In and Fading Out” | Ringo Starr
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Single: “Fading In And Fading Out”

Album: 5.1: The Surround Sound Collection (Koch)

Dates: Recorded mid-2004 to early 2005 at Ringo Starr’s private studio in England; mixed 2007 at Bruce Sugar’s private studio in Hollywood, California

Producers: Ringo Starr and Mark Hudson

Engineer and mixer: Bruce Sugar

Mastering: Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood, California

Surround Encoding: Steve Clarke and Dan Bir

Other Projects: Sugar has worked with artists such as Ozzy Osbourne, Buckcherry, Barry Manilow, Dave Koz, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and many others.

Single Songwriters: Richard Starkey, Gary Burr, Mark Hudson

Mix Console/Worksurface: Digidesign Control|24

Recorder: Digidesign Pro Tools|HD

Mix Monitors: JBL LSR 4328P mains and LSR4312SP subwoofer (5.1 configuration)

Select Microphones: Sennheiser MD 421 (toms) and Neumann U87 pair (drum room)

Select Tracking Hardware: Neve 1073 preamps, UREI 1176 compressors, Drawmer DS201 gates, Empirical Labs Distressors

Select Software: WAVES surround plug-ins and Universal Audio UAD-1’s classic Neve emulations (mixing); Minnetonka AudioTools AWE, Minnetonka discWelder Chrome II, Minnetonka SurCode MLP, SurCode DTS (encoding)Engineer’s Diary

The existence of Ringo Starr’s latest release — 5.1: The Surround Sound Collection — could be literally credited to engineer Bruce Sugar’s fairly recent, and very significant, equipment upgrade. “I had just purchased a JBL LSR 5.1 system for my Pro Tools|HD studio,” he recalls. “I had previously recorded Ringo’s last three albums, and I tried to apply one of those songs as test material. It came out very well, so I sent it to the record label with my idea to mix it in 5.1, and they went for it.”

5.1: The Surround Sound Collection is comprised of two albums’ worth of material — Ringorama and Choose Love — mixed for release on DVD-A. Its first song, “Fading In And Fading Out,” was tracked by Sugar at Starr’s private studio. “Tracking was done sort of old fashioned: no click,” he recalls. “For basic tracks, he’s playing with a bass player and two guitar players live, so it’s not a piecemeal thing, though there are a lot of overdubs. For Ringo’s drums, we used a lot of old Neve 1073 preamps with the same drum kit that he used on Abbey Road and Let It Be, his walnut kit with the original calfskin heads on the toms. They sounded great.”

(click thumbnail)Bruce Sugar and Ringo StarrAccording to Sugar, a key component of the “Fading In And Fading Out” surround mix was the vintage Neumann U87 pair used for drum room mics. “They are from the studio he had with John (Lennon),” notes Sugar. “On the 5.1 mix, I stuck them right in the back, which really balanced the drum kit. When Ringo first heard it, I think he was a little taken aback; he said, ‘I’m not used to hearing the hi-hat in the back!’

In using his new JBL 5.1 monitoring system, Sugar treated each speaker democratically. “I’ve listened in a lot of home theaters, and a lot of material doesn’t treat the rear speakers as equals. I do. I figure that people have good surround systems to listen to the album with, and I had faith in my mastering engineer. I just went for it; I handed a mastered discrete 5.1 mix to the record label, who sent it off to Broadness, a New York-based DVD authoring company. This authoring technology is amazing; if more [record companies] offered packages like this, there might be less downloading.”