Interview With Engineer Ryan Ulyate's Master 5.1 Plan
Why did you push for doing Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ The Live Anthology in 5.1 on Blu-ray?
I don’t like the way 5.1 sounds on DVD — crappy compression. On Blu-ray, it’s lossless, and it’s exactly what we were listening to as we mixed it. This is the first time I can say to the consumer that you’re going to hear the same thing Tom, Mike [Campbell], and I heard as we mixed this. And that’s really exciting. My thing is, I want to be the champion of Blu-ray. I want this format to take off.
Basically, we were able to make up our own rules with these mixes. It’s kinda like the good ol’ days, when it was more about how good the music is going to sound and not how loud we should make it. No! The way we did it here is the solution to the loudness wars: no sample-rate conversion, no slamming it to try and make it loud — none of that. We backed things off. In the early days of the CD, when you hit that red line, it was too loud. The way to think of it is: CD is the 45, your radio mix, and Blu-ray is the LP, the thing that really sounds good.
Sometimes I felt like I was either right in front of the band or onstage with them as I was listening to the Blu-ray mix.
That’s great to hear. That’s kinda what we wanted — for you to be really close and have you in the first couple of rows. A lot of thought went into how “live” it should be. Live shows, after all, have dynamics and punch.
Will you push for revisiting older material in surround, like Damn the Torpedoes?
Let’s put it this way — and I’m just speaking for myself here, not the band, the management, or the label — I would love to do that. What we should do with Damn the Torpedoes first is the original stereo mix — which has its own vibe — beautifully transferred to Blu-ray. Then we do the “new” stereo mix that feels more like today, and finally, we do a surround mix.
Have you had much discussion with Tom and Mike about doing the band’s next studio project in surround?
Yeah, I’m pushing for it. I just told them, “I want to do it.” And they looked at me like, “Okay, Ryan, whatever. . . .” I want to put everything we do from now on out on Blu-ray, both in a stereo mix and in a surround mix. And I’d like the surround mix to be whatever they want it to be. See, I’ve got these ATC monitors in my studio. And I just bought three more, so I need something to do with them. [chuckles]
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