For our final production & recording class we met over at Mississippi Studios for some more in depth discussion on the differences between engineering and production.
The producer wears many hats and comes in many varieties. T-Bone Burnett was mentioned as having a very extreme style one way, versus someone, say Steve Albini. a producer is definitely trying to get the best performance from the musicians, whereas the engineer is just doing the technical stuff to get the music down. but a producer should ask questions well before ever hiring an engineer. what's the purpose of the album? should they even be doing it at this phase, etc.. after asking a lot of meta questions, he becomes a project manager, a psychologist, an HR person, etc...
after the discussion we drove over to Nick Moon's studio to do mastering on Jonathon's piece. Mastering is taking the stereo mixed songs for an album and preparing them for manufacture (or online distro). Will "normalize" the volume across an album and do last adjustments to get best sound. And possibly prepare a redbook CD that will be used to make a master.
Nick has a really nice place out in troutdale. the studio is small and intimate but is great-sounding and he has incredible gear. a few of the things that i learned here:
A/B'ing: comparing track A with B. this can be comparing current song with a favorite CD that has the sound you are going for, or is comparing before and after of current song. "A/B'ing" gets thrown out there a lot. Also found out the sidechaining has a few meanings and in that environment you could sidechain an EQ in front of a compressor so that you only compress certain frequencies.
Also, ISRC codes are used when creating audio files for download online so that the publishing companies can track them.
well, that's about it. a lot was learned. i think next i'm going to take a dedicated recording class if the professor will let me in. if not, i hope to take a music theory on keyboard class.