“Sights Set On Heaven” Mitch Easter

Mitch Easter, a noted aural architect of the American jangle-pop scene in the early 1980s, has finally released his first solo album.
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ENGINEER’S DIARY


(click thumbnail)“Sights Set On Heaven” | Mitch EasterSingle: “Sights Set On Heaven”

Album: Dynamico (Electric Devil)

Dates Recorded and Mixed: Summer 2004 and Summer 2006, respectively, at the Fidelitorium in Winston-Salem, NC

Single Producer, engineer, mixer: Mitch Easter

Pro Tools Op/Editing: Matt Boswell

Mastering: Brent Lambert at The Kitchen Mastering in Chapel Hill, NC

Other Projects: Easter has produced, recorded and mixed key projects for R.E.M., Don Dixon, Marshall Crenshaw, Suzanne Vega, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, Wilco and his own band, Let’s Active.

Single Songwriter: Mitch Easter

Console: Neve VR-60

Recorders: Studer A800 at 15 IPS with IEC equalization and Dolby SR onto Quantegy GP9 tape and Pro Tools|HD with Prism Sound ADA-XR AD/DA multichannel converters

Monitors: UREI 813 mains and Auratone closefields

Select Microphones: STC (Coles) 4038, Neumann KM184, Groove Tubes GT-1, AKG C451

Select Outboard Processing: Empirical Labs Distressor (vocal), Delta Labs DL-5 harmonizer (drums), Dolby 740 Spectral Processor (mix buss)Mitch Easter, a noted aural architect of the American jangle-pop scene in the early 1980s, has finally released his first solo album. Easter — whose first big gig was producing the breakthrough R.E.M. album Murmur and its hit single “Radio Free Europe” — bides his time in his hometown of Winston-Salem while producing, engineering and mixing in his personal analog heaven, the Fidelitorium.

Like the rest of the tracks on Easter’s 2007 Dynamico full-length release, “Sights Set on Heaven” was recorded to a Studer A800 analog multitrack alongside a bevy of interesting and decidedly retro outboard processors, instruments and amplifiers. For Easter, one of the song’s most interesting processors was the Delta Labs DL-5 harmonizer from the early ‘80s.

“The drums have loads and loads of it,” he explains. “The DL-5 was an early harmonizer with tons of artifacts. The first record I ever heard that on was David Bowie’s Low. On [“Heaven”] the snare sound disintegrates into this digital fizz that I just love. On the mix buss, I used a Dolby 740 Spectral Processor, a boost-only EQ that’s dynamic: as the volume goes down it does more, and as the volume goes up it does less. It really brings out details in a nice way.”


(click thumbnail)Mitch EasterAlthough Easter happily lives in an analog recording world, his Dynamico — largely consisting of basic tracks recorded over years’ past — was mixed from Pro Tools|HD for simplicity’s sake. “Because I had so many different tape formats [for the album], I didn’t want to constantly realign the tape machine; I had 16-track, 24-track, stuff with noise reduction and without, different speeds … all this junk. So, with all the songs in front of me on a screen, I could just go for it. I copied the audio over at 96 kHz with some very nice converters: Prism ADA-XR multichannel AD/DAs. I always really, really liked Prism’s two-channel converters that I would hear while mastering. To my ears, they have a superior sound. Although I figured that the new Digidesign ones were fine, I’m just contrary enough that I wanted something else.”