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gibsonfan159

Did Presence have a bad mix?

35 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Apart from Achilles and Nobody's Fault, which sound great, the other songs seemed to have a strange mix. Candy Store Rock for example, which I've ways assumed I hated until I listened again recently. It's not the song that bugs me, it's the weird mix. The bass and drums are Ok, but the delay and reverb on the guitar and vocals are just too much. The guitar is separated to far off to one side. I imagined this song having a "drier" mix like III or HOTH had, and realized it's a pretty catchy song with a mean guitar riff. 

Plant's vocals seem to have a deep hall reverb on them that almost sounds like wind blowing in places. Page's guitar fills that jump in and out on the sides of the balance also have a deep reverb that pushes the sound back in the mix. Very noticeable on Hots On For Nowhere.

Bonham does excellent drum work on Royal Orleans, but the drums sit low in the mix and don't have that dynamic sound he had on songs like In My Time, Night Flight, or The Ocean. I think overall this album simply lost that layered, dynamic tone they had previously. 

Edited by gibsonfan159
Misspelled wordage

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I always loved the mix on Presence and think the overall production is one of Page's finest moments.

It's all subjective, we like what we like. Then again, ITTOD did have a horrible mix upon initial release in 79'. If ITTOD sounded as good in 79' as it did on the new remaster, I believe the album would have more admirers. 

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7 hours ago, IpMan said:

I always loved the mix on Presence and think the overall production is one of Page's finest moments.

It's all subjective, we like what we like. Then again, ITTOD did have a horrible mix upon initial release in 79'. If ITTOD sounded as good in 79' as it did on the new remaster, I believe the album would have more admirers. 

I absolutely hate the sound of ITTOD, imo Polar studios was the wrong choice to record.

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8 hours ago, IpMan said:

I always loved the mix on Presence and think the overall production is one of Page's finest moments.

It's all subjective, we like what we like. Then again, ITTOD did have a horrible mix upon initial release in 79'. If ITTOD sounded as good in 79' as it did on the new remaster, I believe the album would have more admirers. 

But it's the same mix? So are you saying that rather than having a bad mix ITTOD was actually badly mastered in the first place?

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I think the slap back echo in Candy Store Rock was a nod to the early rock n roll recordings of the 50's which the song was trying to emulate 

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Posted (edited)

34 minutes ago, babysquid said:

But it's the same mix? So are you saying that rather than having a bad mix ITTOD was actually badly mastered in the first place?

Badly mixed and badly mastered in the first place.
Good mastering can iron out some of the problems of a bad mix, as we can hear in the latest remaster of ITTOD.  However, even thought the new remaster is a vast improvement, it doesn't hide the fact that some questionable choices were made in the original mix.

Back on topic... I think Presence sounds great.

Edited by woz70

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The only thing Presence lacks is low end.  

Its a fantastic sounding record with Bonzos drums captured super crisply and shimmering guitars everywhere 

 

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Presence is one that really stood out to me with the new remasters, where I thought the hi-res files were a bit dark, the CD a bit brittle, but the vinyl LP - perfect! On my system at least

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Forward thinking artists don't move from project to project creating new work to accommodate the short sighted. Presence and ITTOD  aren't supposed to sound like other Zep albums. That was by design. Daring to take chances experimenting with new ideas is what sets this band apart. The results on Presence and ITTOD are what the band intended and being unavailable to consider the unique beauty in these works with an open mind is a shortcoming on your part.

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Yeah, the albums( Presence, ITTOD) surely weren't haphazardly mixed or produced. Presence lacks low end, but not in a 

extreme way, and some famous guitarists have commented on the somewhat harsh yet unique EQ settings/ curves in

many of the songs. The solos in HOFNW and Achilles are very trebly and Achilles the solo has points where you can here

one note that is sustained, and quickly the note goes from upper midrange to piercing treble. Brilliant.

ITTOD has an almost Steely Dan hi-fi ness, and to this day I go back and forth thinking it's a good album or very good.

i understand fans who just don't like this album, but Zep was moving forward and you can't accuse the band of just repeating

the past. Although just like Page I was wondering where's the hard rock ?? As far as remasters, vinyl, blah, blah, yes

a certain mix could soften up the harsh Presence, but Jimmy intended it that way. He's said so many times.

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I really love Presence. I think it's underrated. 

ITTOD was badly mixed. Some of it isn't bad. I'm Gonna Crawl and South Band Saurez and Fool In The Rain sound ok. Carouselambra is one of my favourite Zep songs but Plants vocals are completely buried, I think, maybe because Page didn't like what Plant was inferring lyrically. Or maybe he was just smacked out that day. 

BTW, on Youtube there is audio of Bonham's isolated drums from the Polar sessions. They are remarkable. For all Bonzo's issues, his drumming was as immense as ever. 

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13 hours ago, Badgeholder Still said:

Forward thinking artists don't move from project to project creating new work to accommodate the short sighted. Presence and ITTOD  aren't supposed to sound like other Zep albums. That was by design. Daring to take chances experimenting with new ideas is what sets this band apart. The results on Presence and ITTOD are what the band intended and being unavailable to consider the unique beauty in these works with an open mind is a shortcoming on your part.

I totally understand what the producers intended and can appreciate what is, but intentions can differ from what is considered appeasing by the average listener. I suppose by "bad" mix I really meant "unpreferrable by a lot of listeners". No doubt they mixed it exactly how they wanted. I would cite subjective preference, but I honestly think a more clear mix would have made this album more popular.

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Posted (edited)

I loved the mixed on Presence. Crystal clear and you could hear the drums and guitars perfectly.

Only dubious production was on Tea for One which was a bit muddy, but they maybe intentionally wanted a kind of hazy feel to that song given it's downbeat, world-weary vibe.

I wished they had returned to the Presence studios in Germany for ITTOD, instead of being tight arses and going to Sweden to take up ABBA's offer of free use of their new studio.

I mean, they weren't short of a bob or two and it was like -20 in Sweden when they went there. And they didn't even check out the studio beforehand and Page admitted the sound was "dead" when they got there.

I don't think any of that helped the vibe of the ITTOD sessions.

 

Edited by Boleskinner

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Add me to the camp of people that like the mix/mastering of Presence.  Most Zeppelin albums have a darker more mysterious vibe, this one is the exception.  It's very detailed and has much less tape hiss than most of the other albums.  In many ways it is the most modern sounding of their albums.  The higher level of hiss on the other albums is probably a result of the technological limitations of the time or a limitation of the studios/facilities that they used.  For example, every overdub meant an additional layer of tape hiss.

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4 hours ago, mrlowry said:

 In many ways it is the most modern sounding of their albums.

i think this is what I was trying to say, but danced around. It's like they said "Make us sound like the other bands." I know there are those who like this, but I uess I'm not one. The reverb, the echo, it was just too overproduced in my opinion. Just give me the equivalent of a soundboard with a slight amount of room reverb, like Houses. I honestly tie Presence in with Page's Outrider album for some reason.

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As with every Zeppelin album, Presence has a mix perfectly suited to the material.  Every Zep album is very different in music and sound.  They are all superb.  Presence blew me away when it was released (I was 16 going on 17) and it still does.  So intense in every way.  I can still recall the first time I dropped the needle on Achilles and thinking "how are they going to play this live?  Will they ever play it live?"  The mix and sound of Achilles are very different from Hots On, Nobody's Fault, and For Your Life.  All absolute monsters.  And as noted above, Tea for One has a wonderful hazy sound.  It always reminds me of a hot, humid summer. 

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Posted (edited)

On 7/19/2017 at 0:29 PM, bluecongo said:

The only thing Presence lacks is low end.  

Its a fantastic sounding record with Bonzos drums captured super crisply and shimmering guitars everywhere 

 

No doubt due to JPJ's switch at the time to 4 and 8 string Alembics. There's low end, but a different clangy sound .. at least compared to his old Fender Jazz. 

For Your Life to me is an exception. There's a wall of low frequency, boomy Bass.  

Plus this was the guitar army album right.. 

John Bonham's Drums sound great.. But which kit was it? The long rumored, but no physical proof Ludwig Silver Sparkle, or one of his trusty Ludwig Green Sparkle kits.. ?  

Maybe we should ask Jim McCarty. 

Edited by the chase

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15 hours ago, Boleskinner said:

 

I wished they had returned to the Presence studios in Germany for ITTOD, instead of being tight arses and going to Sweden to take up ABBA's offer of free use of their new studio.

Do you know for certain that the studio was free? I know ABBA were very keen for them to record there but I've never heard that it was offered gratis.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, babysquid said:

I wished they had returned to the Presence studios in Germany for ITTOD, instead of being tight arses and going to Sweden to take up ABBA's offer of free use of their new studio.

Do you know for certain that the studio was free? I know ABBA were very keen for them to record there but I've never heard that it was offered gratis.

I'm 99 per cent sure I read the studio time was free in return for Zep using it and putting it on the map, so to speak, as they were a huge band and word of mouth would spread.

The studio was new and Sweden wasn't on the map as a recording mecca.

Can't remember where I read it, unfortunately.

Edited by Boleskinner

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2 hours ago, Boleskinner said:

I'm 99 per cent sure I read the studio time was free in return for Zep using it and putting it on the map, so to speak, as they were a huge band and word of mouth would spread.

The studio was new and Sweden wasn't on the map as a recording mecca.

Can't remember where I read it, unfortunately.

I remember reading that too.

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On July 19, 2017 at 9:51 PM, Mithril46 said:

. The solos in HOFNW and Achilles are very trebly and Achilles the solo has points where you can here

one note that is sustained, and quickly the note goes from upper midrange to piercing treble. Brilliant.

 

 

Yup...definitely

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This may sound ridiculous but I'm sure that even a smacked out Jimmy when he heard "free studio time" he suddenly jumped

out of his withdrawn shell to get all members aboard. Don't get me wrong, surely the studio had some reputation and was

state of the art. Yet later most Zep members complained bitterly against the near arctic cold, and in that situation I imagine

even drugs were not enough to justify the conditions. I do find it odd that a comment was made about Presence that Zep

wanted to "sound like new bands". Each to his own but I have never ever heard even one song on Presence that 

sounded even remotely  like anyone else. However, Presence was the first Zep album to end up in the cutout bins or

discount section. So apparently  it certainly was a misunderstood or harshtoned album.

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On 7/19/2017 at 4:05 AM, JTM said:

I absolutely hate the sound of ITTOD, imo Polar studios was the wrong choice to record.

Agreed! To me it will always be a Zeppelin record minus 80% of Jimmy Page.

 

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Well, supposedly Jimmy had the final mixdown authority on ITTOD, and when the band took the weekend breaks, Page would

work on the tapes at his home studio. So maybe in fact he didn't take on the final mix, all this seems strange. Remember too

some of JPJ's keyboard sounds, some cool, many not, were or sounded harsh and digital. Actually still can't believe someone

didn't tell Jonesy that's enough, leave it at home. Funny how many new wave bands, even classic rock bands embraced those

digital monstrosities( some sounds were cool, not all bad). But starting ? 10-15 yrs ago, there was a large move to ressurect

the analog keys of the 50's, 60's, and 70's, with many of the troublesome quirks fixed(Mellotron, great example). Anyway Polar

sudios was sterile, but I think anyplace the album was recorded not sure that would make the album much better. I mean the

first Firm album, IMO the songwriting is mostly uninspiring regardless of mix or recording venue.

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3 hours ago, Mithril46 said:

Well, supposedly Jimmy had the final mixdown authority on ITTOD, and when the band took the weekend breaks, Page would

work on the tapes at his home studio. So maybe in fact he didn't take on the final mix, all this seems strange. Remember too

some of JPJ's keyboard sounds, some cool, many not, were or sounded harsh and digital. Actually still can't believe someone

didn't tell Jonesy that's enough, leave it at home. Funny how many new wave bands, even classic rock bands embraced those

digital monstrosities( some sounds were cool, not all bad). But starting ? 10-15 yrs ago, there was a large move to ressurect

the analog keys of the 50's, 60's, and 70's, with many of the troublesome quirks fixed(Mellotron, great example). Anyway Polar

sudios was sterile, but I think anyplace the album was recorded not sure that would make the album much better. I mean the

first Firm album, IMO the songwriting is mostly uninspiring regardless of mix or recording venue.

The Yamaha GX-1 JPJ used was an analogue synth not digital.

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