Mixing A Live Recording
A Mixing Master Class Online

ParSonics Studios
Date: July 25th, 2020
Country: USA
Venue: ParSonics Studios
Event: MCTS Level 4
Producer: Alan Parsons
Engineer: Noah Bruskin
Event Manager: Terry Shields
Event Producer: Julian Colbeck


At the present time, live gigs are either consigned to memory or restricted to drive-in events. For our first fully online master class - courtesy of you-know-what-and-why - we decided to take a fond look back at recorded live shows and reveal some of special tools, techniques and the odd trick you'll need when it comes to mixing a live recording.

Alan Parsons is a high-end audio guy, who's built a multi-platinum, GRAMMY-winning career out of making everything 'sound better,' be it a twangy guitar part or a final Surround mix. Our first concern was to make sure attendees had best options when it comes to seeing and hearing what Alan was doing in the studio from the comfort of your living room. Accordingly, we offered the choice of attending this virtual event at one of two price and audio delivery levels: Standard and Premium (more details below).

The live performance chosen for the class was an Alan Parsons Live Project concert with a full symphony orchestra from Tel Aviv, recorded in 2019.

As are all MCTS events, this was a genuine mix session and not a cooking show. Attendees got to see the expression on Alan's face as he called up tracks and parts for the very first time to inspect the raw material. Alan, ever the perfectionist, spotted wrong parts or performances that could be improved (including, self-deprecatingly, his own) but to most ears, this was an astounding feat of both playing and recording and very impressive as an 'as it happened' session even without any current input.

MCTS Online

Alan inspected the show song by song (Noah Bruskin had the entire concert loaded into a single timeline on ProTools), first looking at the individual sections of the orchestra. In general, due simply to the laws of physics, an orchestra will be a little behind the beat as it's not feasible to give 80 people their own in-ear monitoring, so their timing is taken from the conductor, whereas the band has 'instant' connection either to themselves or even to a click, depending on the song. But Noah and ProTools quickly shifted the orchestra forward 100ms or so and everything snapped into place.

At the outset, two surprise guests made an appearance on the Zoom feed. Tyson Leonard, Alan's production manager and also an accomplished violinist, took us through the complete mic listing plus thoughts and feedback (actually there was only one spot of actual feedback on the entire show!) on his choices and the results. A fascinating component of the day. Thank you Tyson.

Then we were treated to another maestro in the shape of Tom Brooks, orchestral arranger, conductor, and Alan's MD and keyboardist, who gave us his blow by blow account of how to handle an orchestra on a rock concert. This has the makings of a master class all by itself. Thank you Tom!

As each song was called up, some repairs were made on the spot, EQ was applied, some artificial spacial effects added, and approximate balances made. This was an analog mix, conducted at Alan's Neve 5088 console, the output of which being then fed back into ProTools. The two platforms worked seamlessly: EQ and balance exclusively from the board, editing and plug-ins from ProTools. At one point Alan was asked why he was using DBX compressor plug-ins when he had a pair sitting in his outboard rack. As Noah pointed out, with this many tracks to cover, he can apply considerably more instances on ProTools than were available physically. When it comes to recording, outboard wins out every time. But mixing a session of this scale, virtual takes the day.

There were so many highlights. The song Time literally brought tears to the eyes of more than one of the backroom team in the studio and throughout the day pop quizzes were held with questions simple (correctly answered in 5 seconds, from an attendee in The Netherlands, sent via Zoom Chat window) to downright obscure.

During lunchbreak (virtual this may be but everyone gotta eat, it's still live!) attendees got to see footage from an Alan Parsons orchestral show in Colombia, and on the tea break (remember, this is run by ex-pat Limeys!) hitherto unseen footage of the recording of Sorcerer's Apprentice, a song that the band and orchestra played in this Tel Aviv show and simply an astounding feat, was fascinating.

The Master Class was recorded and Attendees get a copy included in the ticket price! At time of writing it has not been decided whether to release the footage commercially. For now, you really had to be 'there' to appreciate a spectacular original musical performance and a spectacular level of engineering and post production in the studio.

Questions came in thick and fast on Zoom all day, with Alan or Noah providing instant and insightful feedback. One European attendee even asked Alan if he could say goodnight to his son who had to go off to bed. Alan graciously obliged, sending the youngster off with a personal shout out and 'sleep well.' The lad was, as you can imagine, stoked beyond belief and probably spent the rest of the night texting his mates. Ah well.

symphony and bandsymphony and band
Photos by Trinity Houston/David Minasian/IM3 Global Entertainment

The Premium Platform

Source Connect

Attendees were given a custom landing page at industry leading remote recording and monitoring specialists Source Connect, where there could see and hear Alan mixing the session at 320 kbps stereo AAC-HE. In addition to the high quality music audio, the conversation between Alan and engineer Noah Bruskin was broadcast and camera angles capturing views of Alan at the studio's Neve 5088 console and in close-up, were switched live. Although the mix was predominantly conducted on the console, it was recorded and edited where necessary in ProTools so, whenever appropriate, the action cut to the ProTools screen.

The Source-Elements Live feed delivered brilliant live audio and attendees were quick to message us with reports of them listening in their own studios, essentially hearing studio-quality audio broadcast, in many instances, several thousand miles away. Of course their experience was several seconds later than ours, but so long as everything remained in sync, that was not a problem.

Source-Elements is currently offering a package for education and we strongly endorse their technology and recommend educators running audio engineering and music production classes to check out what they're offering. While we had to incorporate Zoom due to having multiple audio and camera feeds, switchers and additional interfaces (thank you Arturia, by the way. Audio Fuse worked like a champ.) schools running a more streamlined operation should be able to use Source-Elements as their sole communication for high quality audio, video, and chat.

About Source-Connect

Source Elements has provided the premier service for connecting professional musicians together in real time for production purposes. Starting in 2005, Source-Connect has been the standard tool for remote overdubbing and remote mix approvals. It also applies to many other applications that musicians need to continue making music remotely in these unique times. Says Source Elements' Robert Marshall: "Alan was on the cutting edge when he first released ASSR and featured Source-Connect. We were honored to work with him then and have continued to work with him throughout the years including for this event. Thank you very much for attending."

The Standard Platform

Attendees joined on Zoom, specifying 'Original Audio.' Camera angles included side view of Alan Parsons working at the Neve 5088 console, front-on to Alan, and a roving camera for close-ups, and the ProTools screen.

While the audio was obviously not the quality of Source-Elements, reports were that it was 'not bad at all,' and in some areas, notably screen-sharing, it offered an enhanced view. Premium ticket holders were able to have two windows open so they could switch to Zoom during extended periods of ProTools work.

Clearly Zoom can improve its music delivery options and this surely has to be something they are working on. But they are to be heartily congratulated on rising to the occasion in the manner they have during the pandemic. Frankly, one shudders to think how communication - between families and business-to-business could have survived 2020 without them. Well done Zoom!

Mixing With Alan Parsons

Mixing was a something 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 recounts with a sigh in the Art & Science Of Sound Recording video series: “Chaos.”

Although Alan does use an analog Neve 5088 over which several pairs of hands could certainly hover, this will be a fully integrated modern mix in ProTools using plug-ins and automation. That said, Alan always encourages attendees who are willing and interested to balance the track at various stages along the way. There's nothing quite like sitting at the controls of a Neve board mixing an Alan Parsons record with Alan offering words of encouragement and wisdom over your shoulder.

More pictures and videos from previous mixing sessions on our 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 amongst others 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.


July 25th, 2020

  • 09.30–10.00 Welcome, Registration. Coffee and pastries (bring your own).
  • 10.00–10.10 A virtual tour of ParSonics studio. No corner unvisited.
  • 10.10–10.20 Interview with Alan Parsons, who will outline the project
  • 10.20–10.30 Interview with ProTools engineer Noah Bruskin, who will talk about how the session is set-up.
  • 10.30–12.30 Mixing session in progress
  • 12.30-1.30 As the workers break for lunch an APLP live concert video will be broadcast.
  • 1.30-3.30 Mixing session in progress
  • 3.30-4.00 Unreleased footage from Alan's 2018 Orchestral Master Class will be broadcast
  • 4.00-6.00 Mixing Session in progress

All enquiries to or to KEYFAX NewMedia on 1-800-752-2780