Patrick MacDougall


Thanks Patrick,  

John Bohlinger  
Music Director for NBC's Nashville Star, CMT Awards,  PBS, GAC,  etc.


      if you want a professional recording/mix then patrick macdougall is your guy. i've been recording in his former studio in los angeles (solo and with a band) since 2005 and i am eager to work with him again in syracuse. PMAC is the oz of protools and a master at engineering. he will arrange the studio in any fashion you desire (i like to sit on the floor with coffee and a candle) so that you feel perfectly comfortable and confident behind the mic. all you have to do is perform and he will take care of all the rest. he also mixes all my home recordings. so easy. i just send him the files via email and he sends back magic. also, i gotta say, PMAC is cool and has the best t-shirt collection ever! i'm grateful to know him and lucky to call him my friend. he will inspire your best.   - jaymay


      I have always had a great time working with Patrick. He is an expert engineer, and very fast and diliigent. His professional attitude and his manner with clients is about as good as any engineer I have ever worked with. He is personable, unobtrusive when he needs to be, sensitive at all times to the psychological balance of the session, and yet also full of good ideas when needed. He always goes the extra mile when schedules become unreasonable. He deals with complicated live set-ups with as much ease as he handles more electronic projects, and he gets great sounds. I couldn't recommend him highly enough.  -Marius de Vries

"Patrick MacDougall is one of the most gifted engineers I've ever worked with.   Not only does he get the best sounds,  but his production instincts have been the secret weapon that has turned many of our sessions from good to amazing."


CollegeBand InStudio Interview           

Producer and Engineer Patrick MacDougall discusses his experience working on CollegeBand projects in the first of a three part interview conducted September 8th,  2012 in Los Angeles, CA .


CB: Patrick! We’ve worked on many projects over the past few years but I don’t know that I’ve ever directly asked you about the beginnings of your career- how long have you been working in music and was music something you planned for as a career in College?
PM: My first studio job was in 1987, but before that I attended Onondaga Community College where I Graduated with honors with a Trumpet Performance Major/Piano Minor degree. I then went to The Grove School of Music and graduated from the Recording/Engineering Program.

CB: Why music?
My Great Grandmother used to play piano for me when I was very young. I remember sitting with her, watching and listening and loving it. Her daughter, my Grandmother also played piano. I took piano lessons when I was about 7 then started playing trumpet when I was 10. My Mother is also very musical. She used to sing melodies to me and I’d play them back to her on trumpet. I guess that was my first course in ear training.

CB: I know it’s a long list but would you mind telling us a few of the popular artists & projects that you’ve been associated with in your career?
Heart, Robbie Robertson, The Band, Dave Stewart, SuperHeavy, Jaymay, Dana Glover, Robben Ford, Tom Scott, Rey Fresco, Jon Anderson, Yes, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Renegade Creation, Sarah Brightman, Debi Nova, Warren Cucurrillo, Keedy, Jeannette Katt, Damn the Machine, Peter Kingsberry…


CB: Now, we know you’ve been digitizing lots of music lately but we want to focus in on mixing which is such a fun part of bringing these recordings to life. What kind of mixing board and software do you use when you are working?
The decision was made to digitize all the CollegeBand material from their original recordings at 96khz, maintaining maximum sonic integrity throughout the process. As a result, I used a combination of the SSL 9000J and mixing in the box using Digidesigns ProTools 9 software.

CB: What, if anything, do you typically know about the CollegeBand recordings that you’re working on?
I usually get a very good run down of where the music comes from, the years the bands were active, their history and a sort of ‘where are they now.’ It’s pretty cool to hear about the musicians and how their lives have progressed.

CB: Even with some background on each band and the tapes having obviously survived long enough to reach your mixing desk, there is still no record to speak of in regards to the technical aspects of each recording right? Is there a process you use to acquaint yourself with new music you are mixing?
 It may sound a bit boring but sometimes I just listen to the songs over and over without making any adjustments, just to get into them and understand the artist’s direction and vibe.

CB: Once you have a sense of the music you are working on how do you approach each mix? Is there anything you’ve found to be unique about mixing CollegeBand recordings?
 The mixing process is a combination of enhancing the audio, fixing any issues that need to be addressed and then digging into the mix. I focus on making each song as good as possible while maintaining the integrity of each performance. All of the enhancements I try on each track are made in order to bring more life to the track. Working on older recordings is a bit different to working on current day recordings. Today, people tend to keep adding and adding tracks for their productions because the DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstations) allow them to. In the past, artists had to record on tape based formats which forced them into making commitments, a concept lost by many today. Those commitments make mixing the CollegeBand recordings challenging as I do not always have the flexibility to process or edit individual elements of the songs. However, there is something to be said for having to work within these types of confines…

CB: Enhancing a single track recording seems pretty difficult- how do you describe that process?
 I really try to make just enough ‘enhancements’ to each track without taking the track too far from it’s natural roots. My intention is to make the track as good as possible while keeping it authentic and true to it’s origins. Once I become more familiar with the songs, the process is as follows; Noise reduction, equalization, compression/limiting then ambiences and delays. I experiment with stereo imaging and ambiences (like rooms or reverbs) and sometimes delays just to see what happens to the song. Oftentimes something I am experimenting with really makes the track come to life.

CB: It’s safe to say that most CollegeBand artists worked with what they had. What would you say is the single greatest home recording technology that was not available for artists recording before the turn of the century?
No doubt it was the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). The sound quality of 4 and 8 track recorders was not great and had limited track count, thus limiting the artists creativity. To get better quality recordings or greater track count, you had to have a large multitrack tape machine or a stack of Modular Recorders. Once we were free from having that much infrastructure just to to record, we were able to be creative nearly anywhere.


CB: Moving on to some specific projects..for the Fur Event ’86 (UC Berkeley). They recorded their music on TEAC Studio/52 audio cassettes. Technically speaking, how well were these tracks originally recorded, what state were they in when you got them and can you take us through the technical process of mixing these 4 tracks?
When I received the Fur Event ’86 tracks, CollegeBand had already digitized them at 24 bit 96khz and overall the original tracks were recorded well. As en engineer, working on the 4 track format forces your hand in many ways. For example, it’s hard to get good low end on a 4 track cassette so I worked a lot on the bass and trying to get the kick to speak. Also, the reverb was printed on the track along with the lead vocal which meant I was married to the reverb on the track. I believe they used an old spring reverb which is cool! I did go thru the lead vocal and pull down the tail of the reverb to shorten the decay. The cassette format has it’s own weaknesses like drop outs, wow and flutter and the obvious fidelity issues. I went thru the same process I have on most all of the CollegeBand sessions; noise reduction, eq and compression then ambiences. I messed around with trying to make the drums more stereo but that seemed to sound weird and unnatural so I bagged it.

CB: The Tiberio Nascimento ’76 (Columbia University) “Tiberio Live” album was culled from a 12″ vinyl acetate master of a live 1976 recording. Given the age of the recording , we understand there was a degree of deterioration, the guitar’s pitch was too high, perhaps other issues…What kind of work went into bringing the recordings back to life?
The “Tiberio Live” recordings presented several challenges, pitch being the first and probably biggest to overcome. I went to the performance and checked to see if the pitch was consistently off by the same amount and thankfully, it was. It was also too fast which told me the 2 issues were related. In order to maintain the highest level of sonic quality, I cut the song into pieces less than 1 minute in length then adjusted the pitch and time, then edited the pieces back together. By keeping the pieces of the song small I was able to eliminate the typical artifacts you get by pitching or stretching larger files. The next issue was to tackle the noise and ticks and pops from the acetate. Again, I tried several levels of noise reduction and processed the performance accordingly. The ticks and pops proved to be a very manual task. I removed over 700 ticks and pops by drawing them out of the waveform with the Pencil Tool in ProTools. Once I completed those tasks, I was able to focus on the sonics of the performance. A bit of eq, a touch of compression, a splash of ambience and voila the performance was back!

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