Interview

Interview: Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson on Immersion box sets

**Update 13 November 2011**

Andy Jackson got in touch again recently, wanting to clarify the common use of the phrase ‘digitally remastered’ when it comes to the new Pink Floyd reissues.

Andy Jackson: On Amazon and I suspect everywhere, it says of the new mastering of the existing albums, “digitally remastered”. It was all distinctly analogue remastered, neither James [Guthrie] or myself would dream of doing it any other way.

Even quite simple stuff that most people would do in the digital domain, like sample rate conversion, we did analogue.

In general there are two different ways of going about mastering. Analogue domain or digital domain. Essentially the reason for mastering is a final stage of any EQing, compression & level matching that needs doing. There are excellent hardware both analogue & digital, to do this. It’s really a matter of personal preference which. Both James and I fall firmly in the analogue camp. Even for ‘simple’ things like sample rate conversion, both James and I will do it analogue, having listened to both.

A good example is the ‘concert screen films’. We needed to have that as a 48khz sample rate for DVD. James had given me 96khz masters, as per the blu-ray. Damon [Iddins assistant engineer]  and I made two versions, one was digitally sample rate converted in our Sadie workstation and the other was re-recorded analogue domain between two workstations (one playing the 96kHz original, the other recording it at 48kHz). We then took it in turns to listen to both, not knowing which was which. We both chose the analogue version, it was miles better

SDE: Are Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon sourced from a direct DSD transfer of the master tape or was it converted from hi-rez PCM ?

AJ: I don’t specifically know on these as it was James, but in general they are always taken from whatever was the mix master, in terms of the stereos of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here it would have been the original 1/4″ tapes. James surrounds were mixed to hi sample rate PCM, and then a analogue domain mastering pass was done to which ever format (DSD or PCM) was appropriate for the release format.

SDE: Are the Quad mixes of Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here sourced from DSD or were those tape-to-PCM as they never appeared on the SACDs?

AJ: The analogue tape masters were transferred to PCM by abbey road (who hold the tapes). I don’t know if James did a extra pass for EQing

SDE: Regarding Have A Cigar (Alternate Version):  There is virtually no information on the credits about this. Obviously Roger singing, but what other bits of performance are different? Is it a different take, a Beatles Anthology-style creation from mixing together take 5 of this and take 7 of that etc.

AJ: It is just an earlier rough mix of work in progress on the same version. It’s actually Roger and David singing in octaves. I got this as a stereo mix, so apart from what I can pick out I’m none the wiser as to what is different. Obviously a different guitar at the end.

SDE: Regarding Wish You Were Here (With Stéphane Grapelli) – Same question as above. Apart from the fiddle, what is different? Lots of the music sounds like a different take but David’s vocal sounds much like the master version…?

AJ: Same as above, it’s a stereo of work in progress, it’s substantially the same version, a few different mix things, but it would have been a quick run-off of where they were, rather than a full mix (which would be a day or two’s work)

Thanks to Andy for what is hopefully interesting information for all you audiophiles out there. Below is the original interview.

Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson talks about the challenges of mixing Pink Floyd live at Wembley 1974, Blu-ray vs SACD and The Wall 5.1

Andy Jackson, Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson is a Grammy-nominated recording engineer whose association with Pink Floyd goes back to the very early 1980s. He engineered Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of ReasonThe Division Bell and co-engineered The Final Cut with James Guthrie. He was also their concert sound engineer on the band’s 1994 Division Bell tour. In addition he has been closely involved with band members’ solo projects including engineering Roger Waters’ first full length solo album The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking and multiple projects with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, including engineering his 1984 solo album About Face and the On an Island album from 2006.

He has recently been responsible for the audio mixing and mastering of much of the bonus material on both The Dark Side of the Moon Immersion box set (out now) and the Wish You Were Here Immersion box set which is due out on Monday 7th November. These bonus tracks included 13 live tracks from Wembley in 1974. We caught up with Andy recently and asked him about the challenges involved in getting this material into shape.

superdeluxeedition: You have spoken about the ‘missing’ kick drum on the live Wembley recording of The Dark Side of the Moon. Apart from fixing that, what was the biggest challenge in terms of getting this audio recording into shape for inclusion on the Immersion box?

Andy Jackson: Spill was a major problem. There was a lot of everything on the vocals, but this is only to be expected with a gig recording. What was not expected was the amount of guitar on the drums, and most problematically, the bass and keyboard stacks were right next to each other and the spill between them was dreadful. On the final mix you can hear it on the bass, the imaging is rather vague. It should be in the middle, but gets pulled over to the right where I’d placed Rick’s keyboards. It actually wanders around a bit, the louder I had the keyboards, the more it drifts right.

SDE: Drums apart, were any bits of new performance ‘flown in’ to this live recording at any point to correct a mistake, for instance?

AJ: We used two different nights recording for the album. Essentially it splits as ‘side one’ and ‘side two’, we switch nights at Money. I did occasionally use bits & pieces from the other night for fixes, vocals mostly. If you accept that in order to make a compelling record, it needs to be free from things that will break the spell too much, and a sour note would do. With current technology we can re-pitch things, but the spill problem meant that if we did, you’d hear the re-pitched spill on the vocal, and that spill would be out of tune. Consequently, it was better to use the other night as an insert. The only addition was on the intro of Time where we added in the heartbeat. They hadn’t played it on the night, and it is so much part of the fundamental rhythm I thought it was a liberty that was justified. I mixed it quite a bit quieter than the balance on the original album, enough to do the job but not drawing attention to itself.

SDE: The concert in the box is actually from two nights – could you be more specific in terms of which songs were from which nights?

AJ: Side one was from the 16th [November 1974], side two the 15th.

SDE: The “early mix” on disc 6 of The Dark Side of the Moon Immersion box is a fascinating listen. Is this mix presented exactly as it was when the band took it home over Christmas 1972?  i.e. have any tweaks or enhancements been applied?

AJ: Only a pass for mastering. Played the original 1/4″ tapes into my workstation via my mastering equaliser, giving it a tweak on the way.  This is normal procedure for any record. Otherwise it’s exactly the same.

SDE: In your opinion is the hi-res Blu-ray stereo / 5.1 2011 remaster of The Dark Side of the Moon now the definitive audiophile version of the album? Is there any reason to hold on to the 2003 SACD?

AJ: Hi-def PCM & DSD sound different, you pays your money you takes your choice on that, I like DSD, very analogue sounding. I believe that the BD is not new mastering, it is derived from the same source as the SACD [this is the case].

SDE: What has been your favourite or most satisfying aspect of working on the audio for the Immersion Box release of The Dark Side of the Moon

AJ: Oddly I’m going to say it was the early versions of Sheep and Dogs that are on Wish You Were Here [Immersion and Experience editions], not The Dark Side of the Moon. I loved seeing the writing process of those revealed. The best single moment was finding the tape that gives us the Easter Egg of Roger the Hat [Pink Floyd roadie whose spoken voice is heard on On The Run]. I’d hoped that the tapes of the interviews would turn up, but it seems to be gone. Fortunately Nick had taken a copy of Roger the Hat’s one at the time, as it is so funny.

SDE: Do you know any more about The Wall Immersion Box and lack of 5.1 surround?

AJ: James [Guthrie] hasn’t done it is the simple answer. It is on a possible agenda, but it’d take a long time to do, and just wouldn’t fit in the schedule.  Shame really.  We did do a surround of it for the movie, but firstly that wouldn’t translate very well outside the cinema and it wasn’t all the songs, due to the differing versions in the film [Geldof’s versions etc].

The Dark Side of the Moon Immersion box set is out now.
Order this box: here [UK] here [US]

Wish You Were Here Immersion box set is out on Monday 7th November (8th in the US). Pre-order this box: from the UK from the US

Andy Jackson specializes in CD mastering as Tube Mastering (www.tubemastering.com).

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25 responses to Interview: Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson on Immersion box sets

  1. Julie Skaggs says:

    As sometimes these things are a case of knowing the right person to ask, I attended the WYWH SACD event in October and James Guthrie (who was in attendance on the 14th) commented to several people that he does desire to mix The Wall in 5.1, but as Andy points out, the schedule will not allow for its inclusion on the Immersion set. But all this supports the exchange you and I had in August regarding why it wasn’t going to be. The organization prefers DSD, and any 5.1 mix is going to be performed for that format first and foremost and it will take months to accomplish.

    Here’s my article about the event:
    http://www.pinkfloydz.com/wywhsacd.htm

    • Mark says:

      Julie, when you say “The organization prefers DSD” to whom are you referring to ? Is Pink Floyd, EMI, Acoustic Sounds,or James Guthrie-Andy Jackson?

      Thanks

      • Julie Skaggs says:

        By “organization” I mean PF, as specifically directed by their archival engineer, which is one of James’ primary responsibilities. James has officially endorsed DSD (his endorsement graces the cover of the Sonoma DSD Pure brochure, in fact) and every multichannel release he would be potentially involved with would originate with a mix for DSD. PCM would likely follow, given the market demand, as we have seen with the Immersion sets, but a release for SACD *is* in fact, a requirement.

        Politically, of course, I can see why Andy didn’t comment on what was “better,” only that his preference was for DSD.

        • Mark says:

          Julie, do you know if WYWH and DSOTM is sourced from a direct DSD transfer of the master tape or if it was converted from hi-rez PCM ? Also, why wouldn’t EMI want to publish the SACD instead of handing it to Analog Productions? Is this an indication that EMI wants nothing to do with SACD ?
          And, thank you to You and Paul for your in-depth and detailed answers.

          Thank You, again !
          Mark

          • Julie Skaggs says:

            Yes pretty much; Sony lost faith in the format due to regime change and this carried down the chain to the other Big Three who basically said: audiophile will not sell, or sell enough to justify any interest in it. There were a number of factors at work but that was the largest obstacle as I understand it.

            Your first question: are you asking about the 96/24 version on the Blu-ray? Those versions, I believe, were sourced from DSD.

  2. Mark says:

    I very much enjoyed this article. It was a nice surprise ! I have been going to this site and your Facebook page many times a day in anticipation of reading your review of “WYWH Immersion Box Set”. I loved the fact that you asked Andy ” In your opinion is the hi-res Blu-ray stereo / 5.1 2011 remaster of The Dark Side of the Moon now the definitive audiophile version of the album? Is there any reason to hold on to the 2003 SACD?”. His answer wasn’t as clear as I’d would have liked to have been. I get that they come from the same source but what one did he like better ? The sound of the Blu-Ray (Hi-Def PCM) or the SACD (DSD) ?
    I have two more questions. If you get the chance to talk to Andy again, I would like to know if they ever listen to old CD version of DSOTM ( Mobile Fidelity version) or the much coveted Japanese version of WYWH 35DP-4 and compare there work to other masters ?
    My last question pertains to an article I read on cnet.com called “Is it too loud?” In this they refer to Pink Floyd 2003 cd remaster. The quote “Atkinson also showed the waveform of Pink Floyd’s remastered “Money” from 2003, and how the remastered version crushed the original dynamics of the tune recorded 30 years earlier. You might ask why would the engineers do that, why make it sound worse? To make it loud all the time.”
    I would love to hear what James and Andy’s views are on the “loudness wars”.

    Thank You so much !

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Hi Mark thanks for your comments. The review of WYWH will hopefully be up before Monday 7th when it comes out in the UK!

      I think Andy was hinting that DSD (SACD) is his preferred format but as you say he wasn’t categorical.

      I did actually ask Andy about the so-called ‘loudness wars’ in the summer when I saw him at David Gilmour’s Astoria boat house and his answer was a plain and simple ‘we don’t do that’.

      I haven’t really heard the 2003 red book version of DSOTM, since I always play the SACD and we do of course have the Blu-ray also, now.

      cheers
      Paul

  3. Kurt says:

    Cool interview. Definitely primed for more Pink Floyd. Is there any word on when we will know if more experience or immersion editions are going to be made for other albums? Are they going to wait until after the wall immersion/experience sets start selling or should we know before then?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The later I think. If The Wall and the other two don’t meet sales expectations then I think we can clearly forget about any more immersions, but if they do well then we might.

      I wouldn’t rule out some format which is in between experience and immersion in the future. a 2CD+DVD etc.

  4. Adam says:

    Hello,
    Following on from Mark’s question to Julie, I was wondering also if the Quad mixes of Dark Side and WYWH are sourced from DSD or if those were tape to PCM as they never appeared on the SACDs?

  5. Roger Parker says:

    Personally I think the 24/96 4.0 PCM mix is the definitive version of DSOTM. It was previously the SACD for me because the “leaked” 4.1 version of the quad mix was clearly lacking on production and/or mastering, finally having it mastered to 24/96 properly is a revelation.

    I look forward to getting the SACD of Wish You Were Here, can’t afford the immersion set. I think it’s a big mistake to not have released a separate SKU of these sets containing JUST the Blu-ray disc for those that also wanted the quad mix but not everything else.

    I’ll believe that The Wall will see SACD release when it arrives. If it’s substantially behind the scheduled Wall Immersion set that I can’t see why there wouldn’t be a standalone Blu-ray release and that should negate the reasons for an SACD.

    In each case I would choose the SACD if it was analogue directly to DSD, but if there is any mastering or production done digitally in the PCM realm then the SACD is redundant imo.

  6. Paul Sinclair says:

    Mark / Julie / Adam > Andy got in touch out of the blue and I put some of your questions about PCM/ DSD to him plus a few others, and updated the post here accordingly. Hope this is of interest! Paul

  7. Phil Cohen says:

    Please ask Andy Jackson why the 48 second synthesizer coda which follows the laughter at the ending of “Welcome to The Machine” EXCLUSIVELY ON THE QUADRAPHONIC VERSION(as released in the 1970’s), is omitted when the quadraphonic version is presented on the “Wish You Were Here” Immersion box.

  8. Stephen says:

    Answering Phil… that’s easy. All mixes are synced on the disc for switching audio live. To include that would make them out of sync.
    S

  9. Stephen says:

    Having said that… I just reviewed the Q8 and SQ and there is no synthesizer coda. Care to provide a catalog number for that pressing?
    S

  10. Jeff Davies says:

    I simple have to echo Roger, “It’s a big mistake to not have released a separate SKU of these sets containing JUST the Blu-ray disc for those that also wanted the quad mix but not everything else.” Only the 1% can afford these gift sets, and I only want the blu-ray. The companies could sell a lot more of these titles if they were affordable. These aren’t handmade. Costs go down when you press more and sell more.

  11. Christopher Bush says:

    Obviously, sound “quality” can be measurable (if a standard for frequency, etc.) is determined to be standard, but there is always a subjective component. That said, I hear terms likePCD, DSD, “blue ray” and “surround sound” bandied about, with no concise description of what each truly has to offer and what combination of formats and mastering techniques have yielded the “best” or “definitive” versions. I’d love for someone to take the time to do this. Also, another issue I’d like settled is the MFSL versus the 2011 reissues, i.e., What is the consensus on which constitutes the better version? Hey, I’m just a dumb guy with a doctorate and this audio talk make me feel a bit dimwitted. ;-) Help me out.

  12. Christopher Bush says:

    Oh, another question or two.

    Sony 24 bit remaster of WYWH versus other version. Opinions?

  13. TED94 says:

    Can you please ask Andy Jackson, or anyone EMI and/or Pink Floyd related : why is there 3 loud clicks on the european bluray of the WYWH box ?
    Is it a mastering error ? I mean this is digital, how the factory could mess with the master ?

  14. Ryan Talbot says:

    Just an update:

    My petition page for the Wall in 5.1 surround on Facebook has now reached over 500 fans! Thanks to everyone who has liked the page so far and to Paul for posting about it on this site a few months ago!

    http://www.facebook.com/surroundthewall

  15. Dean says:

    Any plans to release any of these high-def editions for download on HDTracks.com?

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  17. Julian says:

    Andy Jackson is wrong – the versions of “Have a Cigar” and “Wish You Were Here” on Disc 2 are completely different takes. Especially WYWH which is longer than the album version. Just to clarify this.

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