MCTS Santa Barbara-Mix It Up

Mixing It Up
Alan mixes two sessions from previous MCTS events: one stereo, one in surround

ParSonics Studios
Date: July 26th, 2019
Country: USA
Venue: ParSonics Studios
Event: MCTS Level 3
Producer: Alan Parsons
Engineer: Noah Bruskin
Event Manager: Terry Shields
Event Producer: Julian Colbeck


This session was the second in our inaugural series of master classes at Alan's state-of-the-art studios in Santa Barbara. And even more special in that it was the first time we've offered a dedicated mix session.

Over the past seven years ASSR has conducted master classes at studios all over the world, from Abbey Road, to Maarweg 3 in Cologne, Germany, to Ocean Way in Nashville and The Village in Los Angeles. Typically, although a mix is always completed, the focus of these sessions has largely been on the recording.

Finally, though, Alan selected Fish On Friday's In The Key Of Silence, recorded at an earlier MCTS in Abbey Road, as the candidate for this mix session.

Fish on Friday


Fifteen attendees had been capacity but somehow we ended up with an extra body on this hot sunny summer’s day at ParSonics in Santa Barbara. Alan Parsons and engineer Noah Bruskin slaved over not only a hot Surround and stereo mix of Belgian prog rockers Fish On Friday’s In The Key Of Silence, a second new track recorded was also wheeled out, which really helped reinforce Alan’s mix philosophy and processes.

Mixing was a bit of a team sport back in the day, when band members would end up with their paws on the faders too - shockingly, the ones relating to their own instrument! No prizes for guessing in which direction they'd progressively creep as the session wore on. As Alan recounted with a sigh, “Chaos.”

This session had a similar 'bodies in the room,' real time feel to it. But, since none of the attendees had a dog in the fight, decisions were democratic and genuinely for the good of the track. Alan Leaving

The track in question is long and quite complex. The first surprise of the morning was that Alan decided to work on the Surround mix first. Whether it was hearing the Surround in action or just simply that fresh ears, fresh plug-ins (UAD Capitol Chambers were used extensively) and a fresh room, the track fair sprang to life once a balance got underway.

Tricks and tips were the order of the day, from Alan’s hi-hat level / placement to building the mix without drums to favored plug-ins and outboard gear.

Alan’s overriding trademark is attention to detail and even though he didn’t need to, the final mix was printed to the ProTools session so that last minute adjustments to a section could be dropped-in on if necessary.

Both mixes went so smoothly that a couple of hours opened up at the end of the day, which allowed Alan to pull out a track (The Neverending Show) that he was due to mix for artist Jordan Huffman the following week. Both a Surround and stereo mix were duly completed.

Mixing terminology and procedures are often compared to the culinary arts. A cooked-in-front-of-us Paella, with hand made empanadas appetizers from Colombian chef Daniel Pulido and wines from Sones Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains completed a day of ear candy and tasty treats all round.

Check out more pictures and videos on Instagram at AlanParsons.ASSR.

The Venue

ParSonics studio is situated on Alan Parsons' at his Tres Vientos Ranch in the hills above Santa Barbara. This state-of-the-art facility has a 32-channel Neve 5088 analog console, 5.1 monitoring through B&W 802 Diamond Loudspesakers and a selection of microphones collected by Alan over his 40+ year long career such as his Neumann U47 FET (Field-Effect Transistor) and British Coles 4038 ribbon mics as well as interesting newer items like the Neve RNR1 ribbon mic, personally given to Alan by Rupert Neve. Talk about bragging rights! The control room looks through to a generous sized tracking room with adjoining iso booths. The facility has its own luxurious green room and catering area; a spacious patio area overlooks the Pacific Ocean and can accommodate both dining and outside seminars. ParSonics was completed in 2018 and was used in the recording of Alan Parsons' most recent album The Secret, released on the Frontiers label May 2019.

The Artist/Mixer

Alan Parsons was trained at Abbey Road Studios in London, working under the direction of Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick and Beatles producer George Martin. After working with The Beatles on Let It Be and Abbey Road Alan started working as a full-fledged engineer with Paul McCartney, Wings, George Harrison, and countless other artists who came to Abbey Road studios.

In 1972 Alan became the sole engineer working with Pink Floyd on Dark Side Of The Moon, a record which would go on to sell more than 45m copies. (Alan's legendary 'Quad' mix of Dark Side Of The Moon was finally included on the Immersion Edition 6 CD Boxed Set.)

Alan went on to become one of the most successful producers of the 1970s and 1980s, producing a string of hits with artists such as Pilot, Al Stewart, Ambrosia, Cockney Rebel, John Miles and of course The Alan Parsons Project, a concept created by himself and Eric Woolfson.

Post 'Project' Alan Parsons has continued to work as an independent producer with such artists as Jake Shimabukuro, Steven Wilson and Yes. Alan runs a highly successful touring band (The Alan Parsons Live Project).

In 2019 Alan released his fifth solo album The Secret, much of which was recorded and all of which was mixed at ParSonics Studio.


Friday July 26th 2019

  • 09.30–10.00 Welcome, Registration. Coffee and pastries.
  • 10.00–10.45 Alan plays the rough mix of the session(s) and talks about the principal differences in approach between a stereo and Surround mix.
  • 10.45–1.00 Mix #1 clean up, automation, processing, creative mixing
  • 1.00–2.00 Lunch with Alan and the musicians.
  • 2.00–4.15 Alan will first discuss his approach to creating a Surround mix from the set up of a stereo mix project followed by automation, processing, mixing in Surround
  • 4.15–4.30 Tea Break.
  • 4.30–6.30 Mixing tips, Q&A.

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