Like the sleek & speedy car sharing his surname, Grammy®-award winning Tony Maserati is an engineering legend. Primarily a mixer, Tony has spanned hip-hop, R&B, pop and alternative music with equal levels of success, and his work with Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas, Jason Mraz, Puff Daddy, Robin Thicke, Busta Rhymes, Mary J. Blige, The Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, and Queen Latifah - amongst many others - has put him in the upper pantheon of A-list mix engineers. Gearspace was very lucky to have him onboard for a Q&A in 2009 where he answered anything and everything about his workflow, tools & extensive discography. Here is that session condensed into an easy-to-read 'interview' format for your perusal!

[top]I suppose you're using the Procontrol for your automation and ridings, right ? Have you considered a D-Control or D-Command ? - stevegalante

I'd love a D-Command. I really don't need more than 8 faders though. I'm quite fast at banking to what I need. I also use the Cranesong Avocet for my monitor box and love the thing. Lots of inputs and sounds amazing! I think the larger boards may be useful for film and tv stuff, but not necessary for music.

[top]1. Can you describe your personal way of mixing pop lead vocals? What are your absolutely favourite tools, how do you set the vocals up...I know you like using the LA3A but...

2. Can you describe the process of how you decide what an element needs? How do you decide what to do, where to pan, what effects to add? - ssl_ambition

The thing is, vocals can be the hardest thing to fit into the mix (depending on the song, production and arrangement and the style of track)...

The vocal is the main element that makes the song compelling. All the other stuff is meant to support it. So, when the guitar player or drummer is complaining about the level of 'his' instrument, look at him quietly and say "I'll get to it after the vocal feels right".

I use several different techniques to make the vocal 'work' in a song. On the Liz Wright "Orchard" record, produced by Craig Street, I did very little; UAD 1176 (hardware), compressing at no more than -5db of gain reduction with a Vintage Neve EQ in front of it. Great sounding vocalist and perfectly captured performance by Hector Castillo. The Jason Mraz record was pretty much the same.

When it comes to pop music the game changes dramatically!! Anything goes! I usually start out the same; I do subtractive eq on the tones I don't like or make it harder to fit in the mix. Usually, anywhere from 180hz-600hz. Now, remember, that doesn't mean, all of those freqs, that's the area that can make a singer full sounding too, so it depends greatly on the gender and tempo and tone of the singer... Notch out the things that bother you and work from there.

GML 8200 Equalizer
Then I send it through an outboard sweetening box... hehehe, like an LA3A or Chandler TG1. All the while, I'm playing the song and mixing other elements in. At that point I may add a Neve eq or a GML8200 to 'fine tune' my placement 'tonaly' of the vocal. All this before I've done any significant rides on the vocal. ...but I've been leveling the track around her/him.

If the vocal performance is 'separated' into different energies i.e. soft verse, hard shrill chorus; I'll split the track into pieces so I can eq and compress them differently (as I've mentioned here and on the video).

On a pop song, the perceived level of the vocals must be a constant 'in yer face' thing. Lately, I've been messing with Waves L3 MultiMAX on the end of my chain for a lead vocal. Sometimes jus on the verse, but really it depends on the song and audience I'm after.
hum.. I use the Distressors quite a lot as well. Hell, like I said, anything goes! Make it compelling and you've won!

[top]Do you find in general that singers have better pitch when they don't have to track with Headphones? - Mike Caffrey

I've never felt that way, but I have had lots of arguments with singers who listen to themselves bathed in reverb while tracking. They always sound sharp when they insist on doing that. For the most part, I try to get them to remove one ear and listen to their voices in the room.

[top]How do you typically pan your vocals for rock records? How many main vocal tracks do you usually have and how do you usually find yourself panning the harmonies and BGV? - knifetheglitter

It really depends on the kind of track your working on. You must be familiar with Mutt Lang. Listen to his vocals on Def Lepard and AC/DC if you're looking for a huge production kinda sound. Obviously, for that you're gonna do lots and lots of tracks of only three notes, panning them in various ways with very stereo reverbs and pitch/chorus' all mushed together to create a giant wall of vocals.

If you're looking for something more realistic, then just listen to Led Zep baby! Have them sound less sweet and more manly!

You should also play with mic'ing them in different places in the room with different mics. If you've got the time. Don't just use one mic in one place because the phasing you'll get doing that will add issues to the whole process.

[top]What are your favorite effects used on a daily basis on R&B/Pop lead vocals? - ssl_ambition

Chandler TG1 Limiter
If it's someone like Mary J Blige, I'm not gonna wanna mess with it too much. I'll usually do as I've mentioned several times in this section; Neve or GML eq, to Chandler TG1 or 1176 compressor. Internally, I'll do some subtractive eq in the area's I'm not happy with the mic. With someone like Mary, I'd split hear vocal prob three times; because she'll have a 'normal range' verse section, a heavy/hard hook section, and a extra heavy outro chorus section; each requiring it's own eq and compression because she's placing the tone on different areas of the throat and nasal cavity.

Yes, this is how deep it gets if you really do this on a daily basis. When I meet someone, I immediately listen to their voice and notice whether it's 'throaty', 'nasally', 'resonant', 'sibilant' etc.. I can determine from listening to them talk what microphone would best suit their voice.... Okay enough about my level of geekness...

So after I'd found the two or three correct chains and I'd done my subtractive eq in all of them. I'd add my effects, usually some quarter note delay that then is sent to a small room. I'd add a bit of small room direct from the lead as well as possibly some nonLin reverb... really depends on the song. On the louder parts I'd prob 'ride' in some plate reverb and more delay depending if we wanted it to sound 'fancy' or intimate.

[top]Can you delve a little bit into different sounds and how to achieve them?
1. For instance when you get a dry unprocessed vocal sent to you what's the first thing you do.
2. Do you do anything special for nasally singers?
3. Have you ever successfully repaired a vocal track that had noticeable early room reflections? - TBarrnes

Okay, as far as what I do, when I get a dry uncompressed vocal, I've listed that in several places here (below) already, please refer to that.

Different compression with different attack and release settings will 'bring out' different elements of the vocal such as 'mouth noises', breathing and breaths etc... Fast attack on a crushing compressor with high output and quick release will give the vocal some extra energy.

If you're a song writer and don't want to spend too much time getting a 'mixed' vocal sound, that's exactly what I created the Maserati plug-ins for. So the answer is no, do what you think the song/performance requires of you to do.

For nasally singers, I usually split the vocal into different freq ranges and compression packages... This allows me to push and pull that squeakiness out when and where I need to.

You CANNOT remove room noise from a vocal track...

[top]As a student of Berklee's MP&E program, I'm curious how you (as both an engineer and a Berklee grad) take to Berklee grads out in the industry. Does a degree in audio engineering (and more specifically, from Berklee) affect your decisions? - pastor

Humm... let me start from the bottom; I have come to Berklee to speak and do demonstrations and am in fact speaking with Carl Beatty now about another trip.

Yes, a prospective intern/assistant who has been through a production/engineering prog (Berklee, Full Sail or other) will always be given extra attention. That being said, I will also expect more from them. I've been let down almost as much as I've been impressed, so study hard! I did.

I think you'll be taken for the person or prospective industry professional you are. Don't worry too much about where you went to school, but how much you learned, and if it made sense to you.

[top]When using reverb, do you tend to use different decay times and/or types of verb for different instruments to put them in there 'own room'? I know it all depends on the mood of the song and how busy the mix is so maybe the best way to answer this question would be to use an example from a previous project you worked on (R&B if possible). - Joelv

Waves RVerb
I use lots of different types of verbs. I still use Lexicon (outboard) stuff when I can get it. I've got a couple PCM 70's as well. I've got an old Yamaha REV 1 that my assistant just plugged back in for me. ...and I go through the usual suspects internally.

I use the Waves IR, Altiverb, Rverb, ReVibe. One of my faves is the Eventide Reverb from the Anthology pack. I can really do a lot with that one. Get it to sound like a real room or an old plate.

[top]I've got a question about the hat you wear and how it influences the way you mix, surely it must have an impact on the early reflections and what about comb filtering? Is the hat in fact your secret weapon and the reason your mixes sound so..fat? - orjankarlsson

Humm, Hats work well as diffusers and not to mention, you can pull some of them over your ears if the client is playing the music too loud…
...Good question!

[top]I was wondering what your thoughts were about tracking in the control room. Do you get a lot of songs where someone used dynamics or even condensers in the CR? Is Mic bleed annoying? - jkung

I love tracking vocals in the control room. It's so much more intimate and easier to communicate and hear the subtleties of what the singer is doing. I like recording everything that way, if I can.

There is more and more material handed to me these days, recorded in less than perfect sonic environment. As long as I'm able to eq and compress without changing the timbre of the vocalist. When I compress, I don't want to hear too much of the room from the mic.

Really, it's about the performance enhancement when the vocalist records in the control room or better yet, there isn't a control room.

[top]I was wondering about distortion and stereo widening. - Sven Johansson

Good question. Distortion on one instrument/track can flatten the whole mix, if not used well. I pay very close attention to the overall phase relationships of the 'dry' program to 'effected'. Everytime you use a plug in on an insert it creates a different phase relationship for that instrument to the rest of the track. Pay close attention to how that's working. If the delay is too long, I'll print the effect and set it back in time. If the phase suggests it should be farther away from the dry(orig) sound, I'll delay it more. Point being; don't accept the phase relationship given to you by your DAW, manipulate it till it sounds best to you, in the track.

To create stereo width, I will use lots of different effects. Chorusing, Delays, NonLin Verbs, and various combinations of those with filters. Again paying very close attention to the cumulative phase relationship to the track.

Listening in Mono is imperative when working with stereo width processing. The last thing you want is for your BGV's to get canceled out on TV. Listening in Mono will help you get a better sound overall, not just in Headphones.

[top]When you were demonstrating your plugins I noticed that the volume was fairly low. Certainly not in the range of 83 db or whatever standard is used. Was that a special situation for this demonstration or is this a typical volume?
Thank you - Hannes

I listen at a variety of levels actually. Depending on the music and genre I'm working in. If it's something where the audience will be listening loud in their car or a club, I definitely have to listen loud to make sure everything will be heard. If it's a rock/indie thing, I have to make sure the track is energetic at all listening levels etc...

I do try to listen at a low volume for most of my work day, so my ears don't get fatigued quickly. I have to admit, when I need to get hyped, I'll turn it up.

[top]Your story about The Notorious Big's "One More Chance" record was amazing. You stated you spent 2 weeks mixing the record, before Biggie laid down his vocals (unless I misread). Can you describe the challenges of mixing the Instrumental, and then how much time was spent mixing the record after the vocals were laid. Finally, when you mixed 1 Thing (which I think was a Meters Loop... might be wrong, could've been Crazy In Love), What was your approach to processing the Drums… - babyface_finsta

The "One More Chance" record was actually a complete remix/redo from the album version. Most of those two weeks went into the production of the remix. All new vocals and a completely new track were created by Puffy and Biggie. So during that period, there'd be times when Big would ask me to play and replay the track. But when he was ready to hit the mic, it was on.

"1 Thing" drums; as with any song with a sample of drums in it. The additional overlay drums need to sound like they belong in the loop. So, essentially the loop prevails as the dominant sonic character. The rest of my drums and in the case of "Crazy in Love" have to match that vibe. Including sometimes the vocals.

[top]1. I've been told 'If you eq tracks, do it never in solo mode'. What do you think about that? How do you work?
2. Do you try to use as less eq as possible or is that no issue for you?
3. Any tips to improve my eq skills? - blue

Okay.. eq'ing while in solo has always been considered a big no no. But it's like a guitar player trying to tune when everyone on stage is playing; when he knows what note he's going for he can do it, but it's a heck of a lot easier if everyone would shut up... So know what yer going for, and check it in the mix throughout the process of eq'ing and you'll be fine. That being said, you should remember I have relative 'frequency' pitch. If you're still working on yer chops, eq mostly without soloing and you'll be safer....

I'll say it again; Subtractive EQ'ing will save you. A deep reduction at 500hz is equal to a huge gain 2k and above... It will also allow you to boost at 80hz without 'muddying' up the mix!! ... and you'll get an added benefit of NOT overloading your signal path!!! GAIN STRUCTURE agin!!!

Start slowly, Push or reduce small amounts and see what that does to your mix. Listen and repeat.

[top]Modern records are bright, sparkling - how do you get that sound. - Adroit

Apparent level of brightness is usually a component of the 'GENRE' of music I'm working on. Pop music requires the most. Indie requiring the least. That being said, Most of the material I get is NOT pre-eq'd, but over the past six months I've been noticing more and more, BGV's and some instruments are coming in with massive amounts of eq already on them. This actually inhibits my work and the mastering engineers. I like to give the mastering engineer something to work with. That way when he raises 14k by five or six db, it's across all the instruments. But if the vocals are already eq'd way too bright, he/she won't be able to do his job without creating a piercing or sibilant vocal.

I try to tell recordists to bounce the tracks twice one with and one without their eq. That way, I can decide for myself what's good and what's not.

[top]I would like to know how you use low pass hi pass and shelf.. - elan

Just wanted to add to what I've already said here about eq'ing and respond to your query about band pass and shelving eq's.

I use a hi pass filter on vocals with the cut off starting at somewhere around 50-60hz depending on the vocalist. This keeps any foot noice, pops and bangin on the mic stand from transmitting to the mix. For me, lo pass filters are used primarily when I want to focus the energy of the signal into the midrange, or when I've split (mult'ed) a track and want this individual to be focused on the bottom end (where the other will have been hi passed to focus on the top end...

Shelving eq's are everything in between. The term usually suggests a static 'q', (such as an API) but doesn't have to be, the q can vary either in small degree's as in Neve mid eq's or fine adjustments like the GML 8200.

Use the finer q's for sculpting out the things you don't like and the broader q's for boosting...
hope that helps!

[top]What Outboard or and Plugin would you consider "MUST HAVE" for you when you are mixing vocals? any favorite eq, comp etc.. on Lead, background? anything that you almost always use on vox? thanks! - mdjice

Universal Audio 1176LN
Ya, I've mentioned the Chandler TG1 Limiter a couple times here, the GML8200 EQ, Universal Audio 1176 and my Neve eq's. It really depends on the vocalist and what I'm going after...

[top]Aside from a great performer/performance, what techniques do you apply to get such smooth and well thought out background vocals? BEP's "Where is the love" and Marc Anthony's "I need to know" come to mind. - Phrygian

Thanks for the props. I do lots of things depending on how the BGVs are working with the track. In the case of BEP; Justin had he's bv's on two tracks already blended for me. (and they sounded great). We added Fergie and there were a few tracks of Will as well. That mix was mostly about finding the best levels between everyone. I wanted only hints of Fergie and Will. Justin was really made to be the 'collaborator' in that track, so he needed to be heard.

Mark Anthony is such a great vocalist he laid down lots of tracks (full vocals in Spanish as well) I did in that case find the best and used them to support him. Lowering the others so it wouldn't sound like a gang...

[top]For Rap, R & B, Pop etc. What are your go to vocal chains? - chrisinumerable

It really does vary depending on the outcome I'm trying to have. TG1 is probably gonna be part of it. Maybe the 1176 too. I'd probably start with a Neve eq or perhaps an SSL. Just never know for sure.

[top]I'd like to know your thoughts on how you perceive your work as a mixing engineer relates to the rest of your life. What boundaries do you find necessary to draw between your work and your life to maintain a healthy balance? - jacktrade

I'm sorry to say, I haven't been able to get a handle on 'regular' life. I don't know anyone who has got it together, cept maybe Andy Wallace. I hear he's got a good schedule worked out. (though I've been so busy, I haven't had time to ask him personally what he's doing)....

It's really a sore subject with me, cuz I'd love to have a more balanced life. Soon as ya try tho, a gig comes in you can't really turn down, or a bill comes in you've gotta pay off...

It ain't easy man, buy lots of flowers and find a partner who likes to read...

sorry folks

[top]How often are you getting tracks recorded at home or elsewhere (outside a pro-studio environment) AND do you see issues with these tracks? Pitfalls to avoid? - redrue

Ya, that's happening much more so than ever before. In some ways it's great; if the artistic direction allows it. i.e. a guitar vocal track by a singer songwriter, or groovy hipster band, going for 'lofi' in their rehearsal room.

It becomes a problem when producer/writers start recording vocals and instruments in acoustically challenged environments and then expect it to sound like a giant pop song. When they want it to compete on that level, they've got to pay attention to those details.

Now that being said, I just completed a few mixes on the Reni Lane new release and my friend Dave Patillo recorded most of the tracks in his personal studio. He did a great job at knowing when to spend a little dough and rent a mic and good pre. As well as, head out to a 'proper' room and record a drum kit. This shows that the idea of 'Multi Room' recording can work great if done with the care and consideration it deserves..

[top]I´d like know when you are mixing do you ever find yourself "watching/looking" the material (waveforms & levels on the computer monitor etc) you're working on rather than just using ears? - jaakkol

Humm, I'll be honest, it does happen. In some ways it's a positive thing to be able to know when my cue's are. But I do try and close my eyes for the meaningful bits. Guilty as charged!

[top]What new important trends and opportunities you're seeing in the industry - in terms of revenue streams for techies, as well as artists and producers? - Sqye

Well... I think there's lots of trends but none have materialized to show they're going to monetize the business the previous way. TV and film placement have become major players in the promotion and launch of artists; making the breaking of acts broader but somewhat convoluted to maneuver. The music supervisors for those outlets have become the filters for placement, adding another layer to the already difficult release process.

Social networks are still developing, but could turn out to be the 'radio stations' of this millennium. Branding themselves as 'pop' or 'youth' oriented. When we start seeing genre specific networks then maybe a door will open.

It is clear that the old way of radio formatting and pre-programmed 'canned' playlists are giving way to the users choice and viral phenomena of say YouTube. Giving us hope that listeners will again be the ultimate filter for music and artists acceptance.

[top]When you approach a mix do you use reverb on rap lead vocals or do you keep it dry and whats a good starting settings to use on the reverb when you wanna keep your lead vocals upfront but at the same time having that 3d dimension sound to it? - tWoKp

I usually don't use verb on rap vocals, but I do sometimes use short nonlin verbs with a pre-delay. In fact, pre-delay will keep your vocal sounding in yer face but allow the verb to be heard.

When creating reverb sounds, you should be able to see the walls of the room in your mind... chew on that for a minute and try to understand it.

[top]Rumor has it that you rely heavily on that small, built-in speaker the Studer 2-tracks have for setting vocal levels. Any truth to this ? - gainreduction

This is very true! Unfortunately, I don't print to the Studer anymore and don't own one myself. So, now I rely on my computer speakers. I wish I could get someone to build a pair of those Studer speakers for me!!!

[top]How does mastering influence your finished product? When you send out a finished mix, are you leaving room for the mastering engineer to EQ and limit, or do the mixes leave your studio 'loud and proud'? - audiomichael

I come from the school of 'leaving room' for the mastering guy to do his/her job. I also don't believe our current 'level wars' will be the last word in audio. That being said, 10, 20, 40 years from now, when the owners of my mechanicals are doing a re-issue, they'll be ready to master with tomorrow's standard of gain and level. As a professional audio engineer, I feel this is my obligation to music, not my clients at the time, but the audience.

When I was a young engineer, there was a lot of archiving of sixties recordings to the 'new' digital formats. I was on a session where we were copying some James Brown masters over to Mitsubishi digital. When we put the faders at zero, coming from the 8 track one inch masters, the songs were done! Mixed. Perfect!!! They sounded like the JB songs I had grown up with and loved. Even though the Drums and Bass were blended together on tracks 1/2 and Mr Brown was scuffling about while he sang, the recordings were perfectly mic'd to capture the best performance and sonic integrity of the artist.

The engineering on those records was apparent and impeccable! I applaud the guys who made that history and feel it's my job to continue their legacy by 'training' the next generation of engineers to have the same concern for what they're doing.

[top]There is a lot of discussion at on mixing with compression on the master 2-bus, and I was wondering what kind of goals you have in regard to this. - Swaff

Pendulum ES-8 Limiter
I use the Pendulum ES8 Limiter on my mixes. After the Chandler summer mixer, before the Lavry 4496 converters. I compress very minimally; usually .5 - 1.5 db of reduction. I never maximize 'to tape' but do send a maximized 'pre-mastered' mix for my clients to listen to and make comments on. I find if I don't do this, they're confused and can't put it in context with all the 'dynamically challenged' material they're listening to on a daily basis.

[top]I have grouped all these low end related questions into one big "bass sandwich" for ya Tony! - Jules

Hey Jules,
Thanks for grouping these together...

LOW END! Well, I had lots of problems/difficulties early on as well... I have to direct you to the Waves site and the video we created for the promotion of the Maserati plugins. You can get there from my site as well... Because there, I explain exactly how and what I do (and what I did within the plug-ins) to get more control of that low end.

Whether it's on bass, kick or the richness of a vocal. They all add to the low end 'energy' and must be controlled and worked on to get the mix clear and energetic across the frequency spectrum.

I'll try to illuminate with a bit more detail, but it really does take quite a lot of trial and error and every mix is different. This is custom work fella's. I have tricks, but they're only 'starting points'; it's up to you to work through each piece of music you get, same as me. The plug-ins were created to give users that starting point!

I'll leave you with this. Work with compression in frequency groups... Study the effects of slamming a compressor on just certain frequencies of an individual track, then with a group of tracks... You will come to your own conclusions and then you'll have your own bag of 'starting points'! Good luck, T

[top]Can you describe the mixing of Beyoncés "Baby Boy"/"Naughty Girl"* and "Crazy in love". What plugins, gear have been used for what reason? - ssl_ambition

I'm sorry, I couldn't tell you exactly what plugins I used on those mixes since they were over five years ago. I can tell you that they were done on an SSL 9k at Hit Factory studio 3. They took over one week because various parts were changed and re-done as I mixed. I used similar outboard (analog) gear to what I've listed here for vocals and drums. The automation system would have been completely SSL at the time. Plug-ins would have been; EQ's used to subtract freq's I didn't like or want. Some FX like TC Chorus and Delays. At that time, I didn't do much boosting of internal (digital) eq's. I also hadn't started using internal reverbs or compressors very much.

As I've mentioned here previously, making the change to my current hybrid system of mixing took about three years. I did it alongside my previous method so I could compare and better integrate my 'new' ideas.

I will admit to being the slowest engineer on the planet to make changes in my methodology. When a manufacturer sends me a set of speakers or plug-ins to 'try out', I tell them frankly, it will be several months before I get back to them. It takes time to determine if the new equipment will work into my method in a positive way.

[top]I'm interested in how you got into engineering? - farjedi

I went to Berklee College of Music and graduated in the first class of Music Production and Engineering. Prior to that, I had been doing live sound and recording as much as I could of my own bands, and others.

Very early on it was clear to me and my friends that I was a much better engineer than I was a guitar player or song writer. I began focusing all my energy on becoming the best I could at the craft of engineering.

While at Sigma Sounds in NYC as an 'teaboy' I was given some great opportunities by terrific engineers like Glenn Rosenstein, Jim 'Doc' Dougherty, Lincoln Clapp and John 'JC' Convertino, to show my stuff. They started to depend on my abilities, to make them look good and were instrumental in convincing management and clients that I could do lower level engineering gigs with confidence.

I chose mixing because I was enamored of guys like Bob Clearmountain, Bruce Sweden and Roger Nichols, and their ability to create an 'emotional environment' within the songs they mixed. They were also the guys making the most money in the biz at the time (hello). Most of the guys who were aspiring engineers at the time, wanted to work on the rock stuff. Conversely, I sought out the R&B and early Hip Hop acts because I dug their energy and drive.

To most in the business at the time, because we weren't recording live drums and used MIDI and synthesizers widely, we were thought of as hacks and quasi engineers. My nature told me these 'hairband' engineers would eat their words.

I was right and the R&B/HipHop community embraced my professional outlook and directness. I embraced their spirit of rock and roll and entrepreneurship.

[top]All the pro mixers seem to emphasize riding group and individual track levels throughout an entire song to maximize every element as much as possible; dynamics, emotion, etc...Can you offer any advice on where to get started on riding levels in a mix. What elements do you start with? How many dbs are you moving things around? - brownj24

I often 'train' my assistants by saying; "work without automation for as long as possible. Only start riding when you're ready to make the song 'breath'." Work in small steps and general ideas first. If you get an idea that will require more than ten minutes to refine, write it down to be done later. Keep your focus on the vocal and make the instrumentation support the vocal and lyric idea as best you can.

When you've got a 'mix' that has 'general levels' and 'rough sculpted' eq's. Start working through the song, section by section. Again keeping your work focused on the vocal and 'energy' you're trying to create. Don't spend too much time on any one idea. If you're working with live drums, they're levels should be pretty self-sustaining, you may only want to ride your cymbals here and there, right before you're ready to print; just to add that extra excitement. After you've worked through the whole song, section by section, take a break; listen to other material to cleanse your pallet.

When you're ready to get back to the song, just listen. Paying close attention to how it affects you emotionally. It should be compelling and hold your attention throughout. If there are sections or bars that don't, devise ways (in your head, or on paper) to rectify the problem. Then listen some more. Basically building an outline of what your plan of action is going to be.

It goes without saying; if you're feeling like a particular element or vocal isn't being 'felt' as it should, there's a good chance it's because something else is 'masking' it. Start your riding by lowering or using subtractive eq on opposing tracks, to make a hole for the element that needs focus. This method will allow you to stay within the construct of your outline.

Like any outline, rules are made to be broken, but breaking them will be easy and at your fingertips, if you progress in this method.
good luck,

[top]I read an interesting interview in Mix magazine where you mentioned your technique of splitting the signal of instruments/vocals and treating the separate elements of the split signal with different EQ/compression. Could you elaborate on this a little? - bassman

I do EQ the side chain if I happen to be using a sidechain. But as that article and certainly the video will suggest, I'm referring to actually 'separating' the signal into different tracks, then EQing them differently in the same way a crossover separates signals. Once they're on seperate tracks (and chosen freq splits) I eq and compress depending on what I need...

There was a Ricki Martin track I mixed a while back that had a bass I couldn't get to 'speak'. The prob was the bottom freqs were too floppy and uncontrolled but the mids were fine. I split the signal in two. One track I filter to be all bottom, then gated it with the other track where I had filtered it to be all mid and top. Since none of that floppy stuff was in the second track the gate opened and closed nicely getting rid of the 'floppiness' from that low end

It also allowed me to compress the bottom to compliment the mids and highs. The overall effect was a tight bass with plenty of bottom end!!

Don't try this without serious knowledge and respect given to PHASE!!!!!!!

Jules (Editor) note: "Split the signal" means work with two separate, exact copies, then processing them separately. ('duplicate track' in a DAW will give you a 2nd copy, or if you have a patch bay with 'parallels' or 'mults' you can get more copies that way)

There were several questions following Tony's tip above asking if multi band compression (plug in or hardware) would do the same job. The answer is - No, it wont do the same job - that would only do a multi band compressor job. Yes multiband compressors can be very useful to tame difficult to work with sounds but the set up Tony is referring to is a far more advanced and custom designed technique that gives better control (like the ability to fade up one of the processed signals in a verse or down in choruses etc....) It's worth spending time experimenting with yourself - This is a good example of advanced mixing tricks that mixers develop..They very often work with duplicate tracks - process them very differently and the final sound is a blend of those separately processed tracks. As Tony says phase is essential - so go study up on it.

Hey Jules,
Thanks for that clarification. I reiterate, my techniques are specific to how I look at and creatively manage sound. Each engineer would best serve themselves to come up with techniques that work for them. My technique was developed to satisfy the low-end requirements of the music I mix. If you're working on material whose parameters are different, create techniques that help you accomplish the goals set out by that genre.

[top]What is your Monitor system and how is the setup ? Do you listen during mixing through any specialized stereo converter? - AMIEL

ProAc Studio 100 Monitors
I use Bryston 4B powering my ProAc Studio 100 and Tannoy System 1200's. The Cranesong Avocet is my monitor switcher. I also listen to my small computer speakers and I have a pair of audiophile speakers called Snell that I power with an old Perreaux.

I can play digitally from Pro Tools through the Avocet into one of the three digital inputs. I use a Big Ben clock and the Lavry 4496 to convert my mix from the digital domain.

[top]What small computer speakers are you using? - izzi

Sorry, Don't know the exact brand. Just a simple system with 6v power wart on the wall. No sub or anything. In fact I've never used subs...

I wanted something that would be similar to what my audience might be using... In fact that's something I pay quite a lot of attention to. Finding monitoring systems to play my mixes on that mimic what my audience is using.

[top]Do you have 2 Chandler Mixers for 32 channels? And what is the Dangerous then? If I have understood everything correctly, You feel that there is almost no difference between analog and digital summing and You're preferring analog because of your analog background only? - AP Productions

I have 1 Chandler mixer (16ins x 2outs), 1 Dangerous 2BUS (16ins x 2outs) 1 Neve Melbourne console (10ins x 2outs, as well as individual inserts on channels) The Dangerous and Neve are plugged into the Chandler 15/16 and 25/26 respectively...

Regarding the summing question, I've found that the differences are negligible; at the top level (by that I mean, a top engineer, mixing in analog and one mixing in digital with identical tracks, will display only their personal creative difference, not those of their equipment) I believe this because I am competing daily with top engineers working in all varieties of formats and configurations. Clients/audiences are choosing based on what moves them. Audiences, pre-autotune, would rarely have been able to identify an artist with inaccurate pitch. Now it's used incessantly. As professionals, we want to believe our audience hear and understand the details, but really IT'S ABOUT EMOTION AND ENERGY! (of course there are exceptions to this rule, but those are the specific parameters of individual genre's)


[top]I have heard the Waves Maserati plugins and was very pleased with the results. They appear to give a track a great result rather quickly. Can you give a little more info about the plugins. Are they an EQ and compressor combined on certain settings, or something very different? How did you come up with these settings....were they certain hardware or software combinations you created that Waves they emulated? - Glenn Bucci

Basically, I asked Waves to help me create a plugin from a few of my preset patches that I'd been working with for a number of years. So we basically dissected the 'patches' I'd been using; part analog, part plug-in, including any side chains and filters. I went through my patches for drums, vocals etc.. and tried to recreate them directly via Waves' Q Clone or perceived sonic character.

I wanted the set to be usable by Producers and Writers as well as young Engineers. Differing from the usual 'big name' plug-in release focused on the already established professional. Although, I do think this set will be useful to all. I tried to come up with real world usefulness folks can enjoy without getting overly tweaky

I'm planning on a pre-set sharing page on my site sometime in the next month. I'd love to get some of your touches up there!

[top]It seems you are mixing in a "hybrid" way - doing some mixing in ProTools and then summing analog. A couple of questions:
- do you insert analog compressors just before the analog summing? And if so, how do you deal with automation. E.g. if you put a Distressor on the vocal and still want to automate, how do you do that?
- how many AD/DA cycles could there be on a typical track? Is there only one DA and then the summing or (as an answer to the question above) do you go DA/AD for processing and then again DA for the summing? - DirkB

Let's start with summing analog and where it goes from there...
1. I take 'blended' outputs from Pro Tools into the Chandler.
  • outputs 1/2 Drums
  • output 3 Kik
  • output 4 Snr
  • output 5/6 Piano/rhodes/wurli
  • outputs 7/8 Guitars
  • output 9 Bass
  • ouput 11 LeadVox
  • output 12 Lead Adlib
  • outputs 13/14 BGVs
  • outputs 17/18 MoreBGVs
  • outputs 19/20 Synths or more Keys
  • outputs 21/22 Strings,
  • outputs 23/24 Extra
  • outputs 29/30 Internal FX

I have a bunch of channels of Hardware Inserts which are patched permanently, so I can select an outboard comp or eq and it'll show up as a Pre-Fader in Pro Tools. So there is an extra step of D/A-A/D happening only on Pro Tools tracks I choose to put a plug-in on.
On my Neve console (outputs 41-48 from Pro Tools) I have inserts (including the board eq) patched permanently. This way I can choose the summing based on the sonic quality of the outboard insert.
Everything from the Neve and Dangerous 2Bus gets brought into the Chandler inputs 15/16.
The Chandler output goes straight to my Pendulum ES8 for mild compression and then into the Lavry 4496 and digitally back into Pro Tools.
Everything is locked to the Big Ben clock.

[top]Do you believe that there is a problem with digital summing? - h4nc0

I don't actually feel there's a problem with digital summing. My set-up is hybrid because it works for me and where I'm from historically and creatively. My ears like and allow me to do my job better when I use analog summing. So I do. I haven't spent a bunch of time doing all digital summing, but when I've got a ton of tracks my mind can organize it based on the analog summing concepts I've learned. In the digital domain, I have less experience. And because time isn't something I have a lot of, I chose to teach myself the hybrid method because it coalesced easily with my previous big analog board method of mixing.

All that being said, I did a bunch of a/b tests with different summing boxes as well as an SSL J9k. We included in the test a straight internal bounce of the same mix. What we found was; if you pay attention to gain structure, the best mixers all perform great and do what they were designed to do. The ones that sucked aren't worth dealing with. But among the best, Chandler, Dangerous, Neve, SSL, AND internal bounce, all sounded similar (only subtle differences based on electronic designs ect... But the key seemed to be paying close attention to internal gain structure as well as outboard (analog) gain structure. This allowed the equipment (digital or analog) to work at it's best, giving the mix fullness, depth and width.

Regarding the floating point versus 64bit double precision... hum.. prob the same differences I heard when I plugged in my Apogee converters. Yep, there's a difference, can you make it work to your benefit and is it worth the price of hardware, or of learning a new way of working... that's up to the individual.

[top]I was wondering whether someone like you mixes indie records? - suprpmp

Interesting question and often asked. In fact, a close friend and client Craig Street said; I need to shift my perceived specialties in the business. I suggested a cooking show to help broaden my profile.

But seriously, I do lots of different things. Unfortunately, they're profile is low enough you don't really hear about them as much as the larger profile things I do.

I was very proud to work with Craig on Lizz Wright "The Orchard" record for Verve. I also completed mixing a 'self release' by artist Brandi Shearer. I co-produced and mentored a young artist named Christian Arena to complete his first solo release.

Essentially, I have very stringent 'rates' that I must adhere to for everyone to keep things fair. Those rates only change when market conditions force them to; but all compensation is calculated by 1. up front fee, 2. back-end royalties offered, 3. time it will take to complete, 4. inspiration factor!

My manager fields inquiries from around the world, for a variety of genres and budgets. She's great at getting to the bottom line of things. I always encourage prospective clients and artists to reach out to me with their material or emailing her with their business outlook/history. All of which are factored into decisions about what projects we work on.

[top]Do you get updated on how recordings are going? - or do you only hear from clients when it's all ready to mix? Do clients miss deadline targets to be ready for your mix?

Are you ever left twiddling your thumbs for a few days because they are late? If so, can you juggle projects and slot something else in?

I suppose I am wondering how the premix communication goes and how the timing all works.
- Jules

I'll start with how communication begins with clients;

It really depends on the artist and producer. In the case of Jason Mraz and in particular Martin Terefe. He reached out to me while he was recording just to talk about the record and how great he thought it was going. He let me know, based on the direction they were going with the recording, he was feeling I would be perfect for the job of mixing the record.

From there, he ran the idea by the artist and label before sending me a few things to listen to. After I had a chance to listen we talked a bit about direction and general references. So by the time we moved forward to the mixing, I was well studied up on the options for my direction in the mix.

That, my friends, is a rarity! Usually, the best of circumstances would be, getting a phone call from the label; checking my schedule and letting me know some basics creative direction and who's producing. I've been lucky enough to work with some of the top producers in the game, so hopefully, I will have worked with or at least met the producer somewhere on another project.

Most times, My manager Duffy gets a phone call from the producers coordinator and the process gets scheduled with only a quick discussion about time frame and budgets. I'm also lucky because, whether a new client or old, they have an idea of what I can bring to their record. That helps tremendously... It allows me to work with artist from around the world and gain access to some of the best talent out there.

Clients always miss deadlines, but then, it's hard to get the truth about what the deadline is from the label. So often they'll tell us a date, knowing we're gonna be late. ... that sort of thing, so I'm always shooting at a moving target... makes it fun I guess.

My setup allows me to bounce between projects pretty easily, so no, I'm not left twiddling my thumbs. In fact, if I'm mixing a whole record, I'll just work through a bunch of songs and let people hear in progress mixes as I'm going. They comment on em, and I save the notes to go back and tweak when I'm 'in the mood' for that song again. I find it to be a more creative way of working. It also allows me to listen to the material progressively, while I'm living life too. I'll take a CD for the car or listen in my home stereo and get my friends to give me feedback on my overall direction. Can be very helpful.

[top]Give us one example of an unforgettable moment in the studio, please! - markus enochson

This is totally off the top of my head, because projects tend to run up against each other…
... being a second, second engineer while Whitney Houston sang in studio D at Sigma Sound Studios (tiny little room) with Michael Masser producing. He never erased anything so we'd spend all morning making as many 'slave' tapes as possible to be ready for the many many tracks he'd ask her to record. She'd sing one after the other, with so much power you could hear the walls of that tiny room shivering when I walked in with her tea or water! Awesome. I think she loaded up 45 slaves (for all you youngins, that's 22tracks times 45 tapes) 990 takes!!!! Try that and still perform yer ass off!!

When working on the mix "One More Chance" for Notorious BIG at Hit Factory studio A (no longer in existence), I worked on the mix for almost two weeks. After about five days the track was printed and most of Faith Evans' vocals. Big was in and out during this time and sometimes would sit next to me and just listen. For two days, he would just say, play it one more time. I tried to keep myself busy by tweaking this or that, and he'd just keep saying play it one more time... after sitting next to me for several days he finally said, "aiight, put up a mic". He went in (no paper, no pens) and knocked out his vocal and adlibs. Killed it. I don't think there were more than two punches on the whole vocal track!
i got that good love girl, you didn't know.

[top]Do you work exclusively on the vocal in the beginning and then start adding other instruments around the vocal? - Lagerfeldt

Humm... I start by listening to the song and coming up with a direction in my head. I also try to do some balances while listening to everything and without doing any eq'ing or effects at all.
When I've got some rough balances and the plan worked out in my head, I'll start with drums (usually) and work down from there; always going back to listen with everything in periodically to make sure I'm not creating any adverse issues.

I'll also change directions in different sections of the song and that may lead me to change a previous idea as well. I try to keep the song building, and find myself cutting instruments if I feel they're giving too much away too fast.

[top]Could you give us a run down of the gear you use please? Also your key "can't live without them" plug-ins.
You seem to work in a hybrid way with hardware inserts etc. How many inserts from Pro Tools do you have coming up to patch (and from what converters)? Do you further insert across the Neve Melbourn?

On your main website picture, photos section, what is the digital controller console just in front of the screen? (In one of the polaroids, with WILL I AM, this seems like it is extended - or is this another place?)

Do you miss working on a large format console or do you think that with your current set up you have the best of both worlds now?

Many thanks in advance. - D.F.

My gear: Distressors, Alan Smart C2, Neve 33609/c, Chandler TG1, Pendulum Audio ES8, GML 8200, XLogic Rack with 4eq's 4 comps, UA 1176, Teletronics LA3A, 12chan Neve Melbourne with 33114 eq's, Chandler Summing mixer, Dangerous 2bus, DBX 160X, MXR Flanger\/Doubler, Lexicon PCM 70, Thermionic Culture Vulture, SPL TRANSIENT DESIGNER, Empirical Labs Fatso, Digidesign Pro-Control, Apogee D/A 16x, Digidesign 192, Bryston 4B, ProAc Studio 100, Tannoy System 1200, Monster Power, Lavry 4496, Crane Song Avocet, Yamaha REV1, Ursa Major Space Sta, Waves MaxxBCL, Wurlitzer Pno, Vox AC50, John Hardy mic Pre's, Rolls ProMatch, RhythmAce

Aiight, let's talk plug-ins:
shiite man, there's lots to list here... Let's start with Waves cuz there my peeps now: SSL, API, RenEQ, C4, L3, L1, L2. McDSP: FilterBank E6, Analog Channel, ML4000. Eventide: Anthology II plugs are all used daily here! Here's one you may not know about, TC Electronics: VSS, Digital Vintage Reverb and NonLin Reverb.

I don't miss working on the large format consoles at all. My setup gets similar results because I'm summing analog, but I can work on several things in a day without taking all that time to 'reset' the room’. Don't get me wrong, I dig workin on an SSL, and I love the sound of em, but I can automate more and tend to my clients faster the hybrid way...

[top]What tricks do you employ to get a lead vocal to jump out the speakers in a mix? - Beastie

I use quite a number of 'tricks' for vocals. Depending on the genre of music I'm working with. If it's a Jason Mraz kind of song, my main goal is to enhance and showcase his performance, I tend to stick with a pretty normal analog sounding thing; Neve eq, to a Chandler TG1, with maybe some slight de-essing.

As far as effects, his stuff would either be bone dry or with a slight room. For that I'd use either a convolution verb such as Waves IR or Altiverb or one of my 'old' digital verbs like PCM 70 or Yamaha REV1. I've also been using the ReVibe plug in on a 'Spring' reverb setting and closing in the stereo image a bit.

If it's a full on pop vocal. Level is all important. Lately I've been using some of the outboard analog things with a Waves L3MultiMax on it. That keeps the energy up throughout the song. For these types of songs, I'll use lots of different things depending on the section and overall direction of the section. i.e. the verse may be dry and the b-section may need some delays going to a verb so I'll 'ride' those in 'to taste'.
In fact I do a lot of riding of effect sends to keep the vocal in yer face as much as possible.
....and don't forget to sculpt out a 'hole' for the vocals in the track...

[top]I still listen to the Rapture album that you mixed. It sounds fantastic. Tight, punchy, heavy but really pretty and airy on the top end. I know that's what you're famous for!

I wondered if you could share some of the techniques you used to get that sound on that record. Specifically, the drums sound so tight and crunchy, but also really nice in the top end. Are the snare drums replaced or was that the original snare? Was that record mixed on a desk or in the box? Lastly, do you typically subgroup your drums and then compress them as a group in addition to buss compression? - benhallen

The Rapture record is a fantastic example of how things work in this business. The producer Paul Epworth was on his honeymoon while I was mixing the record, so he sent his second engineer to give me some basis of where they were when recording the record. Vito the drummer is one of the best drummers I've ever worked with (seriously), and they did a great job at capturing his energy and he's very in-tune with how he'd like to sound. So Vito and I worked together to get that punch, tight drum sound. There were some additional bits that either Paul or I placed in for support, but not much.

The part about the airy top is slightly funny, cuz the record was mastered by George Marino. Great mastering engineer who I'd used many years ago, but was re-introduced to him by my friend Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, Ron Sexsmith, KT Tungstil). George's first run at the album was too bright for me because I wanted the record to have a bit less 'fancy' vibe to it than my usual stuff. It actually took two tries before George got this done and I still thought it was too bright. So hearing you say you dig the sound, makes me have tons of respect for George!!!

The record was mixed on a J9K at Sony Studio D (when it was open).... I did some automation in the box, but mostly the console was our thing. Lots of Pultec's, Manley and LA3A's on there as well.

I do some subgrouping of drums (leaving the Kick and Snare) on its own output. I use hardware inserts to put analog compression on individual drums and usually send (via Aux) to a parallel compressor (Alan Smart C2)... The drum out to the summing mixer usually doesn't get compressed but the Kick and Snare do individually on their own outputs.

Refer to my Waves video for more on compression techniques I use Waves Signature Series | The Tony Maserati Collection

[top]Does it seem like the trend nowadays is leaning toward studios that are outfitted with vintage/tube/analog gear or are clients looking for the best "new" technology to work with? I constantly hear how nothing sounds as good as the old stuff and how nothing is as routable/recallable/versatile as the new technology is becoming. Which is more important to the high end clients? - Pred80r

I think the trend in commercial studios outfitted with 'Vintage' gear is right in line with market needs. If we wanted to, we can all mix a record in our bedroom on our laptops within our DAW. ...but, if we like the sound of, or feel it's appropriate for the music, analog compression, eq and headroom via summing.

I work in a hybrid way because my ears are still 'in tuned' to that sound. Interestingly, what I'm finding is that my clients (the younger ones) and the younger audiences are becoming more and more 'tuned' to a less 'analog' sound. Crunchy mixes with little if any dynamics are becoming the norm on popular radio and charts everywhere. I'm not complaining but I'll continue to make music that works, in some way, for my ears and theirs!

[top]My question is regarding your technique, or, your procedure for making room in a mix. Especially when arrangements get big and thick.

How do you make room without emasculating the dawg gone thing ? - d-dmusic

I had a teacher back at Berklee; Robyn Cox Yeldham, who was adamant about us learning subtractive eq'ing. It took me many years to grasp the concept, but it works on so many levels... especially in our finite-headroom-digital world.

Now I spend more time removing the things I don't want or that are 'clouding' up my mix than I do adding frequencies. I do a lot of notching at lower mid frequencies (240-580hz) this keeps an open hole for the vocal. Many times, I find I've gone too far and have to add some back. That's okay. There's a lot of massaging that goes into a final mix.

Also; the cumulative effect of tracks has to be looked at very closely. Start by listening to the track with selected instruments in. Then boost the frequencies you think could be the problem from a particular instrument. Then maybe, go into solo to refine it, listen again with the track.

Don't forget the phase! Listen in mono as much as you can. Mix in mono, esp for background vocals and 'wide' tracks.

[top]I'm getting sessions that have 100 or more tracks. and it seems people still expect you to complete a mix in the same time for less money but with double the amount of tracks....
...So it got me thinking one day, would it be fair to scale the mix rate according to the amount of tracks? how many revisions do you do for "free"? where do you draw the line?

BTW, I still mix OTB and still use tape (2" and 1/2") for about 85% of my work.
all the best - Russell Elevado

Hey Russ, Wow! Still using analog tape and mixing to 1/2 inch! Whoa! I can't imagine doing that.

My assistant and I tag team on the bigger sessions to get the 'prep time' done as fast as we can. Luckily it's not that often. (I just had one that was over 250 tho. I had to spend hours bouncing vocals into stems just to get the thing to fit into 192 voices!!!!) We tried the setup guidelines for clients and that just didn't work... Although, I do know a particular mixer who can do that...

Regarding the issue of track count/dollar; lots of my colleagues are doing different things. If they have a studio they may charge for all the additional studio time to make changes, or rental fees for the esoteric equipment... That being said, I'd love to think there's an equitable situation to be worked out, but there never is. Our business is about tallying it all up at the end of the year (or end of a career) and hope it comes out on the plus side. ... and even if/when i try to do that, the details are so mushed up in me brain, I'd rather take the day off, I've given myself, and get a beer with friends.

I say it over and over, make the best deal you can at the time, hopefully you've charged the 'problem' client a bit extra for your time. In the end you still deliver top professional quality and creativity you can... If you dig going into work more than 65-75% of the time, yer way ahead.

[top]Do you need to apply a lot of Autotune on the artists you mix or are the tracks well recorded from the start? - chrislago

Antares Auto-Tune
It depends what the intention is; creatively. Meaning if the producer is interested in using Autotune (or melodyne) as a trick effect or hooky sound for the song, that's a choice he's made; i.e. Lil Wayne, Kanye. In those cases the producer most likely adds it him/herself. And I mix the track they send.

If I'm sent a vocal that is mostly well performed and has a couple spots that need attention, I'll do that myself. I have been sent vocals that were so bad they were in a different key, those I send back to the producer to hire someone to tune for a couple days or the vocalist to re-sing.

I don't think we need to make comments about the aesthetics, regarding the use of Autotune. As far as I'm concerned if it's used as a trick or hook, it's no different than a choice of instrument. If it's used to make a bad singer sound better; that's just our business fella's, get used to it. There's smoke and mirrors happening all over the charts in every category!

[top]Could you tell us the route you took to getting where you are today? - rhythmtech

I started doing live sound in the Boston area while attending Northeastern University and later Berklee College of Music. From there moved to New York City (after being fired from a local band because I said they sucked)

After moving to NYC and getting a job at Sigma Sound, my start was typical of many guys back in the mid eighties early nineties... we were 'runners', 'teaboys', 'general assistants' etc... at major facilities and worked our way up the ranks from there to 'house engineers'.

I made a point of getting my name out to all the local studio managers and told them to hire me if they ever needed an engineer. I also embraced the new technology of the day (in those days MIDI and electronic synthisis), where not many of my contemporaries did. That gave me an edge and made me different than the 'purest' recordists around me.

Clients came to me because I knew how to use drum machines, the latest consoles, MIDI implementation, and could also record. Basically, I made myself indispensable.
Hope that helps,

[top]How much of your work is done out of your own Una Volta studio ? Do you still work out of commercial rooms as well ? Do your clients have an opinion about where and how you mix ?
And anything you can tell us about Una Volta (the gear, the gear ) is of course of interest. - gainreduction

I do 85% of my work outta Una Volta now. For the clients who insist on being with me, I'll even 'start' the mix here and find an appropriate room in 'their city' to bring it back up if necessary. The challenge is really finding a DAW as big as the one I'm using, but usually the rental companies can supply me with the extra's I need. I'll bring my iLok with me and usually only takes me an afternoon to get up and running.

I use Chandler, Neve and Dangerous summing. ProAc and Tannoy speakers. Bryston amplification. SSL XLogic Rack EQ and Compression, as well as Chandler TG1, Empirical Labs Distressor, Alan Smart C2 compression, Thermionic Culture gear. Apogee and Lavry converters. I also use Monster Power, Power Conditioners and Balance Power boxes. Plus a few older pieces that I've gotten used to having around.

[top]How much of what is tracked does not get used in a mix? - redvelvetstudios

Some only send exactly what they want in the mix. Basically asking me to put my sound on it with a little fairy dust. Then there are some producers who like and want me to 'weed through' their ideas to come up with something appropriate to the market we're targeting. Some producers hear what I do and get inspired to add more as I'm mixing as well.