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by Johnny Martin
Nick Moon / Tone Proper Mastering
Let’s start with Steve Murray before we get to Nick. Steve is a highly engaging, truly knowledgeable lover of music and recording, and Studio Manager of Tone Proper Mastering.
He hosts the number one show on KMHD radio each Friday night from 6 til 9pm called River City Juke Joint. It’s a live feed program and a true example of Steve being a lover and supporter of local live music.
He feels that this city is lacking the critical support of a mastering facility designed to meet the highest possible standards of the industry, and that by locating 20 minutes from downtown, he and Nick were able to invest their capital on some of the finest outboard gear you’ll ever need to see. Names like Weiss, Fearn, Manley, GML, it’s all here and built to spec. You might consider mastering here, re-mastering here, and by all means mixing here on the Bowers and Wilkins monitors to really hear what’s on your tracks.
These monitors have extraordinary range, clarity, and accuracy. Particularly in the low-end, a very critical area. Steve invites you to contact Tone Proper and arrange a visit, and encourages other engineers to consider raising their game in this high-end, affordable facility. As Steve puts it: “We’re here to serve the community- this town deserves it!”
Now to Nick.
Young, confident, polite and experienced. His name is dropped quite often in recording circles these days. Check out the latest releases form Anne Weiss and Alan Jones and you’ll dig why. I got to hang with him last January…
So the name of your place is…?
Well there’s two companies really. There’s Nick Moon Productions, which is me as an engineer, cause I still go out to places like Big Red, which is Billy Oskay’s studio. I do a lot of analog 24 tracking there. So the basis of that is Nick Moon Productions. And then this studio, Tone Proper Mastering which is within that blanket.
So you work at various studios and you also work here at Tone Proper?
This is my home base. But we can do mixing, recording and all that. I’m billing it as mastering because there’s no mastering houses to speak of in the greater Oregon area.
That’s why most of the budget is for mastering, you’re talking $40-$50,000 for a pair of speakers with amplifier.
So you’ve really gone all out.
Yeah, because for mastering if you can’t hear what you’re doing , making those 1/2 db adjustments…you’re not doing so good.
You want to have that confidence in where you sit and what you sit with…
Exactly. And a lot of the gear, like the George Massenburg Mastering gear is all custom built and all stepped.
Same with the Manley?
The Manley is actually our mixer. It’s an all-tube, transformer-based mixer so it’s super hi-fi. A 16 track mixer, cause I do a lot of jazz, and that a great mixer for jazz cause it has good separation etc.
It looks like you got your power fully conditioned?
Yeah it’s voltage stabilized and fully balanced
We were looking at those Swedish overheads…
Yeas they’re Milabs, actually a rectangular diaphragm capsule.
So what pre would you normally use on mics like that?
One of our purchases here is the api lunchbox, and we have one of the very few LaChappell tube ultra-high-end pre. And next to those are the Shadow Hills we use for kick and snare.
Wow that really gets exotic doesn’t it?
You can tell from the design and ambience that the studio is designed to be exotic for singers and songwriters etc. We’re not doing large bands so we don’t need 80 channels or something. We just need like eight channels of super high-end, out-of-this-world stuff.
We have Doug Fearn, Millennia, Massenburg…
Every part of the chain was well thought out.
Yeah I spent a lot of time myself before I even got this place, talking with gear companies, because a lot of this had to be pre-ordered like the Lavry Gold. You have to talk to these people. You don’t just call Sweetwater and say “send me one.” There is usually a wait time, like the Millennia. I had different tubes and transformers in stepped increments put in there, it was a three month build time.
Now those are old 1176’s?
No these are the company Purple Audio. They’re essentially 1176 on steroids, and we have a pair of them. They’re just huge, 20db of massive compression.
Now where are you from?
I grew up in Indiana, South Bend. Notre Dame all the way. I grew up there then I went to Full Sail and learned how to be an engineer.
You’re a Full Sail grad?
Yes. Then I got hired in Chicago, at one of the big studios- Studio Chicago. Also CRC and Chicago Tracks, I was a second engineer at all those places. Smashing Pumpkins was there, and I learned a ton. Then I went to Texas and worked with Deep Blue Something, remember “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Then I got into jazz out there because University of North Texas. I was there for a week and ended up staying there for like a year and a half, doing one jazz session after another. That’s where I really got into engineering and miking. I mean you learn that stuff recording rock bands etc
Yes but people put more importance on the naturalness of a jazz recording.
Especially mixing. Every studio I ever worked at had an SSL, so I was really big into SSL’s and really understood them. So in Texas, since I was a staff guy there, I could really get my chops and really mix. Over there I’d stay up all night, learning how to mix
and study what other engineers were doing, looking how they were eq’ing and that was everything.
What do you like to mix-down to?
Well, half-inch is what I love, and if I could get twenty grand wrapped up I could get me a half-inch machine.
Couldn’t we all!
But right now, my main mixing signal path is thru the Manley, thru any buss and eq compression I want to do, and into the Lavry Gold with tape saturation. The Lavry Gold has, like “the real deal” saturation. It’s a $10,000 A/D converter so I mean, it’s awesome!
Is that a tube or a simulated saturation?
No tube. It’s a computer in there, and that’s all it does. It’s one of the only converters that you can slam it in the red all day and it just sounds like tape, it sounds very good.
So that’s your last stage?
Yeah that’s the A/D side then once it’s in the computer I use Sonic Solutions mastering program.
When you’re tracking you’re in Pro Tools?
Yes ProTools and DP. DP is very cool but not as stable and efficient in the audio world.
Do you have time to experiment ?
The room was really designed to be an all-in-one thing, but we’re promoting the mastering because people are sending their stuff off to people they don’t know and spending a ton of money. At least here they can have an espresso or a coke and hang out with me. That’s way more hip, cause I have the some stuff they’re using, Sonic Solutions etc. It’s cheaper and local and you’re getting it right. As far as mixing and recording goes, why not integrate. What better place to track a vocal than a mastering studio?
Tuned, quiet room…
Exactly, but the main thing is we have a conservatory grand piano, we have a great drum set, we have a vocal booth, great mics etc.
So is there a mastering rate that’s different than the tracking rate?
Yes they’re on the website. Basic mastering is going to run about $95 hr. Which I think is close to what other places in town are charging. And recording and mixing is about $65 hr.
What type of music have you yet to record?
I don’t know- that’s a tough one! I do everything from like, world music to all kinds of stuff. I think punk is the one thing I haven’t really got into yet. But when I was in Texas, besides doing jazz there was like a big metal scene there. And that was hard to do too with all the guitars and layering.
Do you have a current favorite preamp? Something you’re kinda knocked out with?
Well I’m really stoked about the LaChapell’s cause you just kinda set-it-and-forget-it. It’s pretty hip and the Shadow Hills too, but I’m real big Millennia fan because I do jazz.
A single channel Millennia like the Origin?
The Origins are great, we have a pair of those. I’m a big fan of True Systems. That stereo True P2 for the money is one of the greatest.
Fairly affordable, clean sounding?
$1300 - $1400 something like that and it’s got mid-side decoding in it and everything- it’s very hip. I always tend to lean towards really clean signal path, cause I know I can “screw it up” when I mix if I wanted to. So I don’t compress to tape much cause I just know myself. It might be cool today but it’s not gonna be cool in a week when I mix it.
So you’re more for the natural capture?
Yeah, that’s because I was in jazz.
That’s a great basis to have. So are you a guy that would use a roll-off on the mic or…
No I would do it later because even when you’re using multiple patterns, you’re going thru another set of electronics, the whole point is to minimize that stuff. That’s why my patchbay is fully balanced point-to-point XLR.
You’re just going for a short signal path
Yes , and staying balanced the whole way.
Well that’s good advice for young engineers, don’t use the switching it’s just more circuitry…
Well and especially if you’re doing it on a budget with not really good gear , that really adds up when you unbalance it. You’re opening up a can of worms. Fix it with the mic and placement.
What do you like for overheads?
We auditioned the original KM84i’s the nickel ones, and they’re great- just more top end and wide.
They’re quick though
Yeah they’re super quick, which is what I like. I understand that people don’t have the money to have four sets of stereo mics that they could just try. But you’d be amazed that with a pair of headphones on you can EQ the mic’s just by moving them an inch. If they’re out of phase just go out there and nudge them. I see a lot of engineers just put it up and walk away, well, did you listen to it? I’m constantly nudging and pushing and moving and all that stuff.
And you’re by yourself. Are you saying you have headphones on in the room?
Yeah, I’ll pop on the headphones, with my in-ears or something like that. Same thing with guitar amps, by moving a 57 like 2 centimeters you suddenly have top-end. Move it another 2 centimeters, now you have no top end. Don’t reach for EQ! Even a good eq will degrade the sound.
What do you monitor on?
For mastering it’s the Bowers and Wilkins. Kelvar midrange and dual Genelec subs. The amplifier for them pulls 50 amps!
Are you a guy that likes to get any microphone through a tube?
No, not at all. Because I think most people fail to realize, and I think a lot of techs will agree with me, tubes don’t make nearly the difference that transformers do. Transformers are where the sound is- not tubes. Tubes do affect when you get into the top +20db, then you start getting into the tube. But when you’re down here in the meat where you are most of the time, it ain’t doin’ anything! That’s why those Shadow Hills are killer, cause it’s all about the metal in it. Nickel, steel, iron. How it’s wound. Some of those great Neve’s sound good cause that have that perfect golden ratio of like 10% nickel, 14% iron, 20% steel, that kinda stuff. That’s what makes those Shadow Hills cool, you go between the steel transformer and the nickel transformer- you’ve got 2 different sounds- just by changing the transformer.
So it lives up to what it says?
Exactly. Like the Manley stuff is known for having transformers that have really great top end and really clear and clean. The reason why the Neve’s are cool is because they have big iron. When you pick up a mic pre and it weighs a pound? There’s no iron in it- don’t use it! Forget it. Not to sound like that, but it’s all about metal. That’s what’s making the sound, that big iron transformer.
So, I see Vintech over there. Do you think they pulled off that whole “Neve- thing” with the metal ratio?
We’re doing drums with Reinhardt (Melz). We’re doing snares and stuff like that, and the Shadow Hills won out, not by like two miles ya know. The Vintech’s were quite good- I think for the money they’re a pretty good mic pre. I think I’d still rather have an API or Shadow Hills…
For toms and snares and things like that?
Yeah for toms and guitars. You can really overload the input and lower the output and get a good sound like that. We have four of those Vintech’s and they’re kinda like a go-to workhorse everyday pre.
You have some killer mics.
I have a sound deluxe 49. I’m a huge fan of the 49. I just bought the Korby system.It’s killer, I bought the 251 and the Sony C800G. I just did vocals with Liv Warfield last night and we used that – it was just crushing!
Did you ever check out Wunder?
Yeah I actually had a pair of their 47GT’s on order and they told me it was going to be four months. I said like, “you know what? I don’t want them. Just send me something.” So they sent me, the Korbys with all the capsules, the 251, the C12, the 47, to demo.
I had only enough budget to buy two. So we put them all up and we put everything into them. We ended up picking the 251 which was awesome and the Sony C800G which is the R&B, pop vocal king.
Are there a few engineers you hold in esteem?
Yeah you know, Dave Friedlander is good friend of mine. We always joke about “settling it on the mountain” because I ski and he snowboards. I’ve mixed a lot of records that he’s done and vice-versa, eg. Echo Helstrom, Patrick Lamb, K4 etc.
What about the bigger Pond? Guys you’ve been knocked out with for years…
Well, the guy who did the Fiona Apple “When the Pawn” (Rich Costey), crushing, just crushing. And then Lord-Alge is the pinnacle of the LA, SSL sound. The guy who did the Paul Simon records.
Current or older?
Older stuff. . They were not doing what everyone else was doing. They were experimenting and putting mics in places…I mean listen to that on vinyl and it’s out of this world. Like Graceland, listen to Graceland.
So the engineer on Graceland? (Roy Halee)
Oh yeah- that stuff is good!
Name two pieces of gear that you have your eye on.
It looks like you have everything you need! (laughter)
I’ve got quite a bit. I guess one of the things I’d like to do is try the Doug Fearn mic pre, which I haven’t.
The vacuum tube?
Yeah they’re like all point-to-point, and their compressor is totally sick. I emailed the company about a little fan in there, and Doug wrote me a two page email back talking about wiring and that to “send it in, we’ll pay for it, we’ll take care of it” and you don’t get that from a lot of companies.
Can you recommend any websites for info and reviews for young engineers? Is there a place you go to double-check things?
I read Gearslutz all the time. One of the guys I like as far as engineers and can master is Bob Katz. You can send him a message right now.
Yeah he’s on there posting…
He’s on there all the time. I talked to Bob about buying the Weiss. That’s is the mother-load. And it has the Bob Katz “K-stereo” imaging option in it. He developed this thing called “K-stereo” and essentially, you know a lot of home recording stuff doesn’t have that depth and width that higher end recordings do, you just turn on K-stereo and “pboof” it’s KILLING! It’s like this very underground mastering thing and- it’s crushing! It’s one of those secret weapons that make you go “man it sounds like three dimensional” and I’m like “oh yeah great-it’s my eq.”
The Tape-Op message board is killer. I belong to the northwest studio owners group which is a yahoo group, mainly a lot of the Seattle studios.
What’s you’re oldest piece of gear?
I bought that Soundelux 49 when it first came out and I’ve never looked back.
I’ve had that mic for maybe 5 years or so.
And that’s your oldest piece too?
I honestly go through gear. I get tired of stuff and sell it. I just Ebay it, usually I’ll have a client say: “…if you ever get rid of that mic let me know…”
Is there a mic that you reach for quite often?
Yeah that Brauner is pretty killer. The Phantom non-tube version. I’d say the Brauner and the Soundelux 49 I use a lot. And the Korby 251 is really great.
So you tend to buy & then sell as opposed to borrow?
Yeah, but some of the stuff like the 49- I couldn’t imagine ever getting rid of that. Some of the stuff that’s classic like a Neumann…
Like a U67 or something?
That stuff you just never get rid of , though you could make good money on it.
How young were you when you started recording?
I played drums for a long time, and I was in bands all through grade school and high school. We started going into the studio I was always the youngest guy. All the rest of the guys were in college, and I was a senior in high school. I was actually having more fun hanging with the engineer than I was playing drums. Then I started getting into running sound for our shows, and recording our concerts. We played all the colleges like IU and Purdue. then as I was getting ready to graduate high school the rest of the guys were ready to tour and I said “I’m done” and went into Full Sail.
So that made you want to be an engineer?
I was huge into music and always had my headphones on listening to recordings and really dug it. My grade school & my high school had little midi labs set up and I would go in there and make beats and stuff and screwing around- I was really into it.
It’s easy to spend your whole life doing this…
As long as you can say ‘This is what I’m going to do my whole life’ and just accept it right?
Right. There has been many occasions when I said “why am I doing this? I’m broke and there’s no money in it…” Only in the last three or four years has it really been like “ ok I can kinda see how I could start making some money at it”, but when you drop this much money into it, it’s a big risk. So it may work it may not, but I figure it’s worth it for me trying it now.
Because you’re young…
Yeah, if Portland isn’t into it and it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t work out. But without even advertising yet I’m booked solid. People coming in from San Francisco and all these places to do mastering and mixing.
Do you have a basic drum miking set-up? Are you a minimalist?
I think the fewer mics the better. I did a session with just three mics and it was so huge! Really great overheads with really great compression on them and a kick, and you can just blow people’s doors off!
Did you do that with 1” diaphragm mics or small?
The Milab square diaphragm mics.
Do you have any favorite recordings?
I think the Fiona Apple “When the Pawn” is a really great recording. Nothing lately like the last U2 record is just awful. The only bands that have consistently awesome recordings I think are Radiohead, Coldplay, Chili peppers, and Counting Crows.
Those guys really do get it. They understand what it takes, cause you know what? Take a look at their CD sales, I don’t care what anyone says- I think people do hear a difference.
Well, their records SOUND good…
And people are buying them. And the whole home studio revolution is great and I think it’s good for the industry, but there can’t be a dying out completely of the big studios because it’s still proven that a good record is a good record.
It’ll be good twenty years from now…
Are there any CDs you use for comparative listening? To check your bass etc…
Yeah. One of the big ones is Ten Cent Wings (Jonatha Brooke) it’s a Bob Clearmountain- and anything Bob Clearmountain is what I use to check. Anyway Ten Cent Wings as a record I listen to a lot.
Yeah, because you’re listening to frequencies and balances. “Is my bass too flubby down there?” I just pop in the finished record and you can really hear the difference. On my Grace monitor section I can just go “A/B” and I can calibrate the ins and outs so that mine is the exact same level as there’s. I can just go “bang bang” and when you do that quick snapshot- it’s apparent. After a few seconds your brain forgets. I also use really great spectrum analyzers so you can see frequencies if you can’t hear them to get started.
That’s a big thing about monitors, and something I wanted to say: People need to spend their money on monitors. If your speakers don’t go down to 80hz and you’re eq’ing a bass drum…
You’re already in trouble…
That’s why when people go to their car stereos it sounds like crap.
With Clearmountain, he’s probably a master at masking, so things are very clear- no pun intended…
Yeah and that’s what I strive for as an engineer and I think that’s what I bring to the table, is not compressing everything. I’m huge into the x-axis. Getting out here is fairly straight forward, but getting this distance…
This guy five feet from you, this guy seven feet from you…
Exactly. And that’s where being a good engineer is important but a lot of it is gear. I remember Clearmountain saying 50% or more of it is gear. If you don’t have the right gear you can fight all you want, you can wrestle it to the ground, if you’re mixing on a Mackie it ain’t gonna’ sound right.
You’re saying mixing “it’s gear” but tracking is more mic placement etc
Yeah. If you have one good mic pre you can’t use it on everything. Then you get that same EQ curve that’s applied to that mic pre is applied to everything and after ten instruments…
Ha! You get this nice bump at 4k ahhhh!
You can’t mix it it’s impossible! So that’s where having a variety, a couple tube things, a couple big transformer things, solid-state things. Guys like Hamptone are making great mic pres very inexpensive.
He’s local right? I’ve never used his stuff have you?
Yeah. They’re very industrial looking. I think you build them as a kit.
What’s you’re current back-up system?
If you look in my machine room, I’m a LaCie dealer. I buy so many hard drives I said “what’s it take to become a dealer?” I just filled out the paperwork and faxed it in and next thing you know “hey! I’m getting them at cost.”
Good for you!
So I make it mandatory for any project that comes in here to buy a hard drive. I’m not making any money on it, I’m doing it because you gotta do it.
Well they walk away with it too right. Doesn’t that keep your housekeeping a lot nicer?
Yeah. I still have several terabytes of hard drives that have a lot of stuff on them.
What I do is when you buy a LaCie I buy two, Right? You almost have to right?
Sure. In my quad I have a couple internal serial ATA drives that are like record drives, and then record drives go to the back-up system. We’ve had good luck with these drives.
And LaCie’s in Hillsboro right?
Yes. They get here in like a day.
Is there a preferred EQ you use a lot or try not to use EQ?
No. I’m a big fan of it cause a lot of things do need it. After proper mic selection, placement and mic pre selection, you know, it depends on the situation. Like the Summit’s. I have 3 sets of Summit’s I love ‘em. The EQ200B’s. They’re Pultec style. I mean they’re super broad, they have like four frequencies to choose from, and you have boost and cut and that’s it. If you’re boosting 8k on it, it’s going down to 1k.
But sometimes you just need a broad stroke. So if I’m doing drums or something I wouldn’t use the Summit’s I’d use the Vintech Neve-style stuff, it’s usually a bit better. A bit more forward.
EQ right in the mic pre?
Yeah. Then for surgical stuff the Millennia can be surgical and the Prism is extremely surgical.
The Summit EQ200B, there’s a tube in there?
Yeah, like eight of them in there. It’s a Pultec style.
What’s your approach to compression on drums?
Things like kick and snare or overheads where you know there’s a chance even with a good drummer things can get out of hand fairly quick. So just apply a 2:1 over all slow attack and fast release kinda thing.
Would that be limiting where you’re just protecting your tracks?
Yeah, pretty much. I’m a huge fan of multi-stage compression on drums, like on the SSL. You have like eight mics for your drums you have your mix going, I apply that same mix to my sends. So essentially your main faders are going out with whatever compression you want and then I send those mics to a stereo bus and compress the snot out of it. Like a pair of 1176’s on crush, and that’s my verse. Cause when you’re bangin’ it’s unusable, so you’re using the bigger stuff for choruses etc. And for vocal I have one that’s 2:1 like the Fearn Compressor, and then like the GML dynamics processor which nothing gets by at like 70/30 or 60/40, or the Purple- I’ll just squash the crap out of it! I’ll just put that underneath and you’ll find that even the loudest section you’ll hear every breath and everything.
And you’ll find that on a computer speaker your cymbals are there…
Oh yeah. Though I’m not a fan of compression. Like the Turn-Me-Up Organization, I’ve submitted Tone Proper to Turn-Me-Up. They’re all about trying to bring dynamics back to music!
Oh cool- like the “Loudness Wars” and all that?
With their company you get a stamp that states this is a record that’s not super compressed, and has good dynamics, then you can go to turnmeup.org and look at a list of studios that are sanctioned by turn me up, and are not going to ruin your mixes.
So there is headroom on all their stuff ?
Yeah headroom is a great thing.
Do you do much ambient miking and if so what do you like for mics?
Man it’s not so much the mics, it’s what you put in front of the mics. I’m a big fan of- if you’re looking at the drum set, I’ll get a big wood door or a sheet of 4X8 birch and I’ll put the mics facing the piece of wood and that’s what gives you the slap. And that’s what gives you the sense of dimension. It’s all about pre-delay and early reflection, that’s where it’s at. I’ll do it with a pane of glass too. You’re like an inch away with the mic. It makes your room sound twice the size. I did it at Randy Porter’s in his drum room there.
Is it free standing?
Just prop it up against a wall. I’ve seen guys tape mics right to the floor. Regarding guitar amps, they don’t need to be THAT close-mic’d. I think that that’s why I think people dig ribbons without them really knowing it, because you’re getting a figure of eight with the ambient and negative space behind it, that you don’t get with a 57 up close. I’ll put a close mic right up on there and put a condenser 3ft back and blend them.
Regarding ambient, some rooms aren’t perfect- are you a corner of the room guy up high…?
Well look at the drums we have in here now, those Milabs are only about 22” above the cymbals.
They are pretty close, but my room is small. If I was to put the overheads where I would at Billy’s studio (bigredstudio.com) I’d have too much of this small room sound, even though I have those diffusers in there. This way I can run them thru like AltiVerb and make them sound bigger.
Those mics must handle a high SPL because you’re essentially close-miking cymbals, which takes some experience…
Most mics today can handle it, You’re still getting a lot of bouncing around and room sound. You’re getting toms, tons of snare, it doesn’t sound like you’re 22” off the cymbals.
They’re cardioid, what about omnis?
Oh man, spaced for drums is killer! A pair of omnis in a 3 meter spread, like the 414’s, facing the drums. Maybe 4ft on this side- four feet on that side. I do that at Supernatural in their big room. They have a pair of Soundelux 99’s and I put them thru the Neve’s and 1176’s, crush them to death…
Is that head high looking at the kit?
Exactly. With omni you need that space to get good stereo perspective because they’re picking up everything. You put the real kit in the middle and the omnis way off to the side. You need to get the overheads correct and understand X/Y and OTRF and other ways of doing good stereo.
Regarding mixing, how do you approach a mix? Are you a “build the drums” bottom-up guy?
Depends. If I’m a hired guy and they know what they’re looking for, I have them send me something they dig, then I get an idea. Once I have an idea then I start with rhythm section, building a drum sound, and essentially everything builds on that.
If it was a vocal record would you spend a lot of time first on the voice?
Well I think I would spend a lot of time on that anyway. I really think that drums are the one thing that people can’t record. Like piano- same thing. If the drums are rocking people feel it. When you hear a bad record, the first thing you think of, “crappy drums” so if you’ve got totally killing drums, then even if your vocals are mediocre… I guess it comes down to, if you can get a drum sound that good, vocals should be no problem.
Do you have any favorite plug-ins?
I’ve been against plug-ins for a long time, but the SoundToys stuff like Echoboy? Holy crap! and AltiVerb which is the room modeling system. But Echoboy on lead guitar- it’s got like studio tape delay, analog delay, all these and reverse and look forward delays. On vocals I’ve never had a better slap delay. I used run the vocal to a ½”, through a bunch of compression, and record it back into protocols and offset it like a 1/16 or something like that. It sounded great but it was a lot of work.
What signs tell you that you’ve been mixing too long?
Um, I start adding 16k to everything! (laughter)
I’m a morning person so I get up at 6am and go skiing, and I get about noon and by six o’clock I’m kinda rocked. I don’t do the late night mixing thing. Your ears are better in the morning.
How do you like to take your breaks?
I take a lot of breaks. I like to leave my phone on. When you get too into it you lose focus. Every few hours at least.
Any mixes you’d like to have back?
A lot of them. You could mix the same record once a year for ten years and it would be different every time. I went to Full Sail right out of high school and my mixes were more aggressive, everything close-mic’d and panned perfectly etc.
So you’re more analytical now?
I would say most of my clients would say that I’m pretty anal about stuff. I like to really get things right. There have been projects where I took mixing too seriously. You can get too attached to a record and it can get crazy. I work at music everyday. In the last 10 years I’ve been in the studio most days out of the week, and that’s where I got my practice. The one thing that makes a good studio a good studio, and a good engineer a good engineer is people skills.
Any advice for young engineers?
It really comes down to the type of person they are. If you’re not willing to put in hours and build your craft, you shouldn’t be charging for your services.