Originally Posted by tuc70021
Try as I might, I've consistently sucked at understanding sound reinforcement. Can someone explain at a 5th grade level why a song would sound "muddy" if some person mixes it, but then nice and clean if someone else remixes it?
I totally agree that the pre-Zdar mixes sound muddy, but.... why? The band plays the music, it goes onto a tape (or onto a hard drive these days), and then they can mix it. Why can't they just follow some standard operating guide for making music not sound like it's played through a gym sock? It is just they don't have the ear for it, but when they hear it done well they're like "Oh shit, that does sound a lot better."?
They are artists, not audio engineers. I think they know a lot about mixing, and they are capable of doing it themselves. But I think what happened is they mixed it, and then they were comparing it to other albums that were coming out at the time, and they felt that the mix just didn't stand up next to the mixes of these other albums. I don't know what they used for their original mixes for Hot Sauce, but they seem to always be going for a very warm, analog, 70's kind of mix sound, with the tubes and the tape and old effects units and pedals. Maybe it was just too much of that and it came out a little muddy. You need to be careful with the build up of noise/hiss/distortion as you are layering one warm, fat, funky analog track on top of the other. You can make an album sound like a Funkadelic album from 1971 if you want to. But in 2011, when you compare it to what else is coming out, it would definitely sound muddy in comparison.
There is a Sound On Sound interview with Zdar about that album, where he mentions that MCA was listening to the Cassius album (Zdar's group) and he loved how it sounded. So they brought him in to help them get the sound they wanted. Mixing is not something that is so easy to do, if you are very particular and critical about how your final mix and master should sound. It is a lot of technical work. It is a creative art form, certainly, but requires a great deal of understanding of all the gear, and carving out space for each sound with eq, and always using all this old gear they like to use. You really have to know what you are doing to keep it under control. That's why there are certain people that get a lot of work from top artists. Because there are only so many people that can really do it at that highest level.