MCTS Orange County

"Orchestral Maneuvers" in Orange County

Hybrid Studios
Date: March 24-25, 2018
Country: U.S.A.
Venue: Hybrid Studios
Event: MCTS Level 3
Artist: Alan Parsons
Engineer And Producer: Alan Parsons
Event Manager Charlie Steves
Event Producers: Julian Colbeck, Tom Brooks


A masterclass in orchestral recording.

Join the legendary producer and artist Alan Parsons, GRAMMY award-winning arranger and conductor Tom Brooks, a full complement of A-list LA session players (Vinnie Colaiuta and Nathan East have just been confirmed as the rhythm section) and a live symphony orchestra as Alan records a track for his forthcoming album over an action-packed weekend at the luxurious Hybrid Studios in Orange County.

This is training and an audio-visual treat in one.

Day 1 sees a live tracking session featuring rhythm section, keyboards and guitars plus an in-depth discussion with Q&A on the process of adding an orchestral arrangement including orchestra size, instrumentation, scoring, and the role of MIDI.

Day 2 will feature the orchestral recording. During set-up Alan and Tom will discuss the pros and cons of different miking techniques, putting together a stage plot, instrumentation choices, how to achieve balance, sync, tuning, the role of the room and much more.

This is a truly exceptional master class where you’ll not only be able to witness how orchestral sessions are run, you will also be part of the recording of the first new Alan Parsons album in over a decade. At the end of Day 2 there will be a Champagne Reception at Hybrid Studios where certificates of completion will be awarded to Attendees of this unique training opportunity.

The Venue

Hybrid Studios, 3021 S Shannon St, Santa Ana, CA 92704.
Phone: 1-714-850-1499

Hybrid Studios is a multimedia Orange County production facility that features analog and digital recording studios alongside a massive soundstage.

Event co-producer and arranger for the session, Tom Brooks, has recently supplied Hybrid with instruments, microphones, and outboard equipment, including a Yamaha C7 Conservatory Grand Piano, numerous vintage AKG, Neumann, and Wunder microphones, and a ton of new FX units. With the addition of Tom’s outboard gear, Studio A now includes six Empircal Labs Distressors, two DBX 165s, five 1176s, three LA2As, two LA3A, two LA4As, three Tube Tech EQs, a GML 8200, and a CL1B to name some notable pieces. The new additions have filled out Studio A’s four existing 20RU racks, along with two new 18RU racks.

Recommended Hotels: Courtyard by Marriott, Costa Mesa. (855) 239-9399. Ayers Hotel, Fountain Valley. (714) 861-5170. Avenue Of The Arts, Costa Mesa (888) 950-5062. Springhill Suites, Irvine (949) 757-0500

Travel Advisories: . Airport: Nearest is Orange County's John Wayne Airport. Amtrak: Nearest station is Santa Ana (7m).

The Artist

Alan Parsons is not only a multi-platinum engineer and producer he is also an artist in his own right. Between 1975-1990 The Alan Parsons Project's theme-based brand of progressive pop racked up multiple hit singles and albums including the classics Eye In The Sky, I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You, and Games People Play.

Post Project, Alan Parsons released several notable albums including Time Machine, On Air, Try Anything Once, and A Valid Path. Although Alan has released several singles since A Valid Path Orchestral Maneuvers is a landmark event, marking the birth of the first Alan Parsons album project since 2004.

A Life In The Day
What it’s like working in the studio with Alan Parsons

The key ingredient in any Master Class is hang time with the Master. Not hang time in terms of swapping jokes or sharing the peanuts but considered, observational hang time where you’re able to pick up on the vibe, the pacing, the approach to the day’s proceedings.

These days it can seem everyone has the same information available to them and to some extent we have. How to mic a snare (“use a 57”), how to record upright piano (“point a pair of AKG C12’s at the back from a foot and half away”) but exactly where to point the 57 on ‘this’ snare, how much stereo to shoot for on the upright are the details on which the devil bases almost all his levels of success.

The beauty of MCTS events is that there’s time and opportunity to ask and get answers, to live and learn. And also to contribute.

Validation is often quoted as one of the most valuable take-aways from an MCTS. “I was just going to suggest a little boost at 12k” said one Attendee. “And then Alan comes up and says ‘I think we need a little more at 12k’ and I was like YES!” Hearing can sometimes just be believing in yourself. At the other end of the spectrum are those “You’re right but I’d never have thought of that” moments like when Alan stunned a session in Buenos Aires by physically EQ-ing the left and right overheads and not simply ‘copying’ left and right settings and reminding them: “Recording is about how it sounds, not about how it looks.”

MCTS events are both hands-on and feet on the ground affairs. In fact knees on the ground as often as not. Alan is not averse to plonking himself down n the floor to nudge a mic a half an inch to the right so that it’ll escape the worst of the spill from a neighboring sound source.

There will be many moments in an AP session where the muse and the magic starts to flow. Often you’ve got to be quick and really pay attention to ‘what just happened’. Alan is not going to bang a gong (literally or figuratively) and either telegraph every move he’s making or make some big deal of it after. So much of what makes a great producer or engineer is taste and instinct that the observer needs to keep their wits about them in order to distill a particular moment into tangible lesson form.

Much of what Alan Parsons is all about he learned at Abbey Road, be it overarching concepts like ‘value for money’ or the particular such as miking a concert Grand piano. At all levels, benefiting from Alan‘s lifetime of experience in such a short space of time is an exhausting and exhilarating experience for everyone involved.

The Musicians

Session greats Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and Nathan East (bass) have just been announced as the rhythm section for the tracking session on Day 1. Vinnie Colaiuta's pedigree in rock and jazz drumming is staggering. From his early days with Frank Zappa to his work with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, to Sting, to Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, Barbara Streisand, and Paul McCartney, Colaiuta's discography is as powerful as it is multi-faceted.

Nathan East (a frequent recording collaborator with Colaiuta) has no less of a jaw-dropping track record. From his early work with masters of soul and funk like Barry White and The Love Unlimited Orchestra, East went on to wow aficionados of peerlessly tasteful bass playing with Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Nile Rogers, and Pharrell Williams, amongst a barrage of other top artists. Rounding out the tracking session will be prog rock guitar specialist Jeff Kollman (Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats, Asia, and Glen Hughes) who has also recently been appearing live with the Alan Parsons Live Project.


    Saturday March 24th 2018

  • 09.30–10.00 Welcome, Registration. Coffee and pastries will be served.
  • 10.00–10.30 Alan introduces the music to be recorded and sets goals for the tracking session.
  • 10.30-11.00 Alan explains the layout in the live room for the tracking session; with special attention to the choice and placement of drum mics.
  • 11.00–11.30 Vinnie Colaiuta, Nathan East and Jeff Kollman arrive and Alan will briefly talk to the musicians about current developments for recording bass, the guitar rig and keyboard set up.
  • 11.30–2.00 Tracking session: processing, recording.
  • 2.00–3.00 Lunch with Alan and the musicians at Hybrid Studios.
  • 3.00–4.30 Guitar doubling and overdubs.
  • 4.30–4.45 Tea Break.
  • 4.45–5.30 Hammond and any other keyboard overdubs.
  • 5.30–6.30 Presentation and dissemination of the MIDI orchestral arrangement with Alan Parsons and Tom Brooks.
  • 6.30–7.30 General Q&A with Alan Parsons.
  • Sunday March 25th 2018

  • 09.30–10.00 Coffee and pastries will be served.
  • 10.00–12.00 The orchestra: Stage plots, instrumentation, miking options, techniques, and challenges shown and discussed in the live room.
  • 12.00-1.00 Lunch with Alan and the musicians at Hybrid Studios.
  • 1.00–4.00 Orchestral recording session.
  • 4.00–4.15 Tea Break.
  • 4.15-6.30 Evaluation of the orchestral session and A/B with the MIDI arrangement followed by an initial mix.
  • 6.30-7.00 Technical analysis of the session.
  • 7.30 Champagne Reception, photo opportunities and presentation of Certificates.
  • All enquiries to or to KEYFAX NewMedia on 1-800-752-2780

    Sold Out.

    Please contact to get on the waiting list in case we have cancellations.

    Buy a ticket for March 24 only (Tracking Session Day) ($1195)
    Buy a ticket for March 25 only (Orchestra Day) ($1195)
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