Alan Parsons on 5.1 Music Mixing, Live and Studio

In our previous installment, S&V traveled to Washington, DC, to sit in on the recording of Alan Parsons' groundbreaking installment of Artist Confidential in 5.1 for XM Satellite Radio back in March. Alan was clearly stoked after the performance, eager to get back to his lab, er, home studio on the West Coast to complete the 5.1 mix for broadcast in May. Upon the mix's completion, Alan and I spoke again about the 5.1 experience - as well as his feelings about the recent reissue of his 2004 studio effort, A Valid Path, in surround sound.

So how did the surround mix for your Artist Confidential session go? It went great. It was the first time I'd done a live mix in surround. We were fairly adventurous with it. We didn't just make it a "stereo plus" kind of thing. It's got some discrete stuff in the back channels.

Such as...? We ended up putting most of the keyboards in the back. Drums and bass were toward the front of the room, the guitar was front left, and we spread around the backing vocals as well. It sounds good. I'm quite pleased with it.

Did you experiment and find certain elements worked better in surround than others? [laughs] That is the process, isn't it? It's hard to say, really; you make decisions in the moment. But I did make a conscious decision to not just do a "regular" live-performance surround mix, because that would have been uninteresting.