Answering Audio Questions in Real Time
By Rob Putnam
Pensado's Place is a weekly mix-themed web series hosted by Grammy-winning mix engineer Dave Pensado and his best friend and manager Herb Trawick. For the past three years—comprising more than 160 hour-long episodes—the pair has hosted engineering and mixing magicians such as Ross Hogarth (Van Halen, John Mellencamp, Jewel), Chris Lord-Alge (Green Day, Bad Religion, David Bowie) and Young Guru (Jay Z, Alicia Keys) among many others.
Through Pensado’s website—http://pensadosplace.tv—Pensado and Trawick’s slickly produced YouTube videos are consolidated nicely. Weekly episodes garner views ranging from 6,000 to 120,000. A segment addressing the top 10 mix mistakes uploaded in November 2012, for example, has been one of their more popular installments. With their guests, the pair offer technical tips and practical approaches to mix engineers, both rising and established.
“I wasn’t interested [in making the show] unless we were going to make this compelling TV—a serious endeavor,” Trawick explains about launching Pensado’s Place. “There was already a lot of information out there, most of it presented in pretty boring ways. I wasn’t interested in doing that. Dave jumped on board and there was the impetus.”
Although guests are typically at the master level, discussions are commonly steered to be of use to novice engineers. “We aim to speak on the level of the guy who’s just starting out so he doesn’t feel intimidated,” Trawick explains. “Our main focus is on building a community. We want [the site] to be a bigger thing that people can be a part of; in which they can be stakeholders.”
“We’ve created a vibe where the best of the best can feel comfortable talking about things without being labeled arrogant or egotistical,” Pensado adds.
Shows are taped Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. in a Hollywood studio and are streamed live, which allows for questions in real time. “We take anywhere from three to six questions per show,” Pensado says. “Where else are you going to get to ask Chris Lord-Alge or Leslie Ann Jones a direct question? To us, it’s one of the most important parts of the show because it provides access to people that otherwise might not have it.”
On the site’s “Into The Lair” section, shorter vids that typically clock in at five minutes address specific techniques that were raised during a show. How to widen guitars in the mix or how to mix vocals with multiple delays, for example. “They tend not to be entry-level techniques,” Pensado observes. “They’re more techniques you’d use to make a living. The show talks about why to do something. The ‘Into The Lair’ videos talk about how to do something.”
Pensado and Trawick have lofty goals for the show’s future. “We aim to end 2014 with strategic partnerships that allow us to scale up and to take the show into some broader areas like Foley, film and TV,” Trawick says. “And we're likely to identify two or three people who are notables and create content specific to them.”
“We don’t need to be top-notch mixer-centric,” Pensado chimes in. “There are other things that are just as rewarding and probably require more skill. I’d also love to feature [engineers like] Rick Rubin, Andy Wallace and Serban Ghenea.”
The Pensado Awards took place in Santa Monica on June 28. Categories included Mix of the Year - Pro designation for major label releases, Master of Mastering and even a nod for interns/runners. Pensado asserts that his awards show is set apart from others because it is done by and for people in the industry. “The one thing we can do better than any other [music] awards show is gather people who have a passion for audio,” he says. “The pros are there and they’re in the mood to talk to the enthusiasts.”
Together Pensado and Trawick will publish a book in the fall entitled The Pensado Papers, in which they share mixing insights and secrets to success in the business.