Ideas and Methods for the Studio

One thing sssssstimulating occurred after we pressed play on a brand new tune referred to as “Simplicity” – the monitor popped out of our audio system and clear throughout the room.

A percolating hip hop + reggae mix, flowing with Africa overtones, it’s a tune off the brand new album Nzuuno by Ugandan artist Man Son Bulubembe. Give it a hear, and also you’ll shortly conclude about easy methods to combine hip hop: Whoever blended this has a aptitude for retaining it crisp. There’s air, punch, and depth, deftly mixed to make sure “Simplicity” stands out in a playlist.

“Simplicity” is one in every of many standout tracks on Man Son Bulubembe’s album “Nzuuno.”

That mixer is Rob Seifert Gage, who was first to SonicScoop readers by way of his rolling studio Audio Proof Cell. An skilled studio maven whose credit embrace Porno for Pyros, eels, Skinny Pet, and Mike Watt, he’s additionally a heavy-duty FOH mixer presently on tour with longtime shopper Wyclef Jean.

For Gage, “Simplicity” stands as a dynamic addition to his discography. Understanding of his mega sound van deep within the woods of Northern California’s Humboldt County, Gage crafted a combination designed to maintain listeners excited, whereas retaining the tune’s lyrics and beat up entrance.

Flying his hybrid ITB/analog setup, Gage expertly blended plugins with analog tube and stable state gear. On this action-packed Combine Evaluation, he reveals methods for creating house, intelligent methods to make intros and outros land with impression, and easy methods to construct an expansive mixdown ITB. He additionally unveils his particular blueprint for establishing an excellent-sounding analog stereo bus. AND catch his easy however typically missed approach for giving devices added snap.

Do you typically must grasp it your self? Gage reveals the way in which for that as effectively. Compelled to maneuver ahead after the too-soon passing of his skilled mastering engineer, Gage employed a easy however efficient technique involving one inventory limiter plugin.

All this when time was at a premium. With just one week to combine the complete album earlier than embarking on a European, he devised a swift workflow to do it on deadline.

SonicScoop sez: Go now with Gage – your subsequent combine shall be all the fad.

Combine (and Mastering!) Evaluation: “Simplicity” by Man Son Bulubember

The Mixer: Rob Seifert Gage

The Combine Facility: Audio Proof Cell, Redway, California

Artist and Music: Man Son Bulubembe, “Simplicity”, from the album Nzuuno (“Right here I Come’), Greenhit Data, 2022

Hear Right here:

A Combine Match: I’ve a pal named Neil Raphael a.ok.a. Blinded Beats from my small city who began a file label in Uganda referred to as Greenhit Data. Neil additionally does beatmaking and manufacturing – he requested me to combine a couple of different artists singles after which requested for this full file to be blended.

Having a love of Neil and African music and HipHop, I used to be completely into this undertaking and Man Son’s voice and tales saved me .

I used to be leaving for a tour in Italy and had solely every week to combine the complete album. Each morning I might combine a monitor for a couple of hours, ship it to Neil, after which within the afternoon begin one other which I might end the following morning. I left for my journey feeling the file was completed and dope.

Audio Proof Cell is on the transfer with shweet sounds.

Studio of Alternative: 100% of my work is completed in my totally transformed former Proof Van of Humboldt County, CA. I’ve chosen all of the analog gear to present me all the colours I would like to totally combine down songs in an out-of-the-box hybrid style.

For displays, I take advantage of Yamaha NS10s with a sub. That mixture provides a very nice midrange to put the vocals, which I needed to be the deal with this file.

I principally use solely plugins from Plugin Alliance nowadays. With the TMT emulations they offer me the realism that I’m going for. Presonus has some nice inventory plugins that I take advantage of additionally, together with the ProEq, Limiter, Twin Pan, and extra. The little little bit of saturation I did use on the bass got here from Melda Manufacturing’s MSaturatorMB.

Development Supplies: Blinded Beats despatched me the drums damaged down into separate  Kicks and Snares however gave stems of what I requested for: the excessive finish stuff — hats and crashes — to be collectively, and any percussion collectively. If I wanted to intensify something within the mix I might cut up the file and degree it or course of with EQ and many others…

Rob Sierfert Gage on sonic responsibility within the van.

The bass and the 808 weren’t blended which allowed me full management of the low finish.  Keys have been blended and if I felt a lick wanted to be in focus I raised the extent on these bits after splitting the waveform.

Vocals have been despatched each with results and clear and I selected which labored the most effective — each collectively gave the impression to be the most effective mix. I take advantage of a Lexicon Prime Time from the ‘70’s so as to add width to the vocals, with time delays round 67ms on the left and 97ms on the suitable.

The de-esser I really like proper now’s the emulation of the dbx 902 from Plugin Alliance.

The tracks have been laid out effectively and I take advantage of a combination template with A number of Grasp Busses after which select the suitable output to the analog chains . As soon as I found out the tones I acquired artistic.

Preliminary Go: I assumed that the vibe of the tune wanted to be full of life and really character-driven by Man Son’s phrases.  As with all Hip Hop I are likely to drop out kicks and snares right here and there to create air, and with this tune I positively did that because the beat was fixed from the beginning.

Additionally I wish to create the intros and outros if there’s a want. On this monitor I took the lyrics and flew them into the final bars with a fade to maintain the story in folks’s minds. For the intro I dropped the beat and added some delay with the Presonus Analog Delay plugin to the vocals, to maintain a rhythm so when the beat does drop it makes an impression. The phone vocal hook was accomplished by Blinded Beats so I left that intact.

Once I depart the field I discover that the sounds actually come collectively effectively via electronics, tubes and stable state.

Mixing It! I normally begin with the kick and the vocals and get them to work properly collectively. Then I need to’ve put within the melody keys and lastly the bass, which I like to take action I don’t skinny out the devices by having the bass in from the beginning.

I break off specific phrases and put them on one other monitor so as to add delays, or steroize stuff with Ozone Imager.

I wish to make a console throughout all my grasp busses, so for this tune I selected the Plugin Alliance Lindel API. It has a pleasant punchy sound and a quick compressor. So all busses have that on the high of the inserts, generally adopted by a FabFilter EQ for surgical stuff to chop any frequencies that don’t make the tune nice, or add frequencies again into that monitor.

These busses are then put via the most effective sounding analog stereo bus, which was a Focusrite ISA Two — it has that “tight quick” transient response. Additionally on some tracks I move it parallel to a Daking Compressor, Joe Meek, or Aphex Dominator (stereo multiband brick wall peak limiter) after which all of it sums again into an SPL MixDream (16-channel summing mixer), and at last to an older Harmful D-Field.

The sum out then goes into an Avalon VT-747sp compressor/EQ the place the magic occurs: Very gentle facet chain frequency compression round 250 Hz and a couple of.5k,  and the EQ has a low increase with the 32 kHz Excessive boosted a bit of. After the Avalon I’m going again into the pc via a Common Audio 4-710d 4-channel mic preamp/compressor straight into the ADAT outs to my Presonus 1820 interface.

Siefert: “On this instance the kick’s waveform goes up and the bass goes down. I might flip the section on the bass monitor.”

Additional Crispy:  To be sincere, it’s a easy however typically missed strategy of getting the section and polarity of all of the instrument to push the speaker, not suck.

I’m going via every monitor and ensure all waveforms are going up. On this monitor, the kicks and bass have been taking place, which I can now hear instantly earlier than I look.  Every part will get a zoomed look and that positively helps with punch and readability. It’s superb what number of samples and loops have waveforms taking place!

To perform this, I discover the beginnings of a kick drum monitor, for instance. Once I zoom in, it’s very obvious if the waveform goes up or down. Then I both put a plugin like MixTool and push the “polarity” button, or I render it into the monitor. In Professional Instruments that is referred to as “Invert” in AudioSuite.

Mixdown: I combine fairly fast. and on this tune it was a vibe and got here collectively shortly, so I used to be very pleased to not mess an excessive amount of with any added results.

I take advantage of Presonus Studio One since v.1, and the Venture web page is very easy to grasp songs. I additionally like to make use of a Plugin Alliance Millennia NSEQ-2 in M/S, including a bit of highs to the perimeters and boosting lows and mids within the heart. On this tune the settings have been light, perhaps +2 dB on all. It provides a width to the monitor and the tone of that plugin is magical. I don’t return via the analog chains, only a digital launch bounce to 24-bit WAV and 320 kbps MP3.

A take a look at Gage’s ITB mixdown sign move, with Plugin Alliance’s Millennia NSEQ-2 inside Presonus Studio One.

Restricted Limiter Grasp: Lately my mastering engineer of 10-plus years, Mike Wells, handed away. He had a expertise for all the time warming up my digital mixes by working the monitor via an Ampex ATR 102 1” two-track machine with Arias electronics, in addition to his slew of Harmful Music gear which he beneficial to me for my D-Field.

He additionally would take the low finish and frequency-divide it right into a Manley EQ and I consider a Variable Mu stereo compressor limiter, which I assumed was cool. I realized a lot from Mike and to say I miss him is an understatement.

So with him gone, one other Mike impressed me, and that’s Mike Tucci who I befriended via Instagram.  I requested him to hear, and the one remark was that I can get extra acquire if I set a limiter with Comfortable Clip – a inventory Presonus limiter gave me a couple of additional dB and that’s what you hear. So between two Mike’s I really feel assured in my mastering rig.

It All Provides Up: When working with an artist from Africa I instantly am put Ready of gratitude to have the belief of individuals I by no means met from a spot very completely different from the States.

When Man Son heard the mixes he wrote me a DM saying how superb {and professional} the sound was, and he expressed his gratitude. On which I replied thanking him for his phrases that basically hit me on this tune, “Cease that bully in class/cease that teasing in ghetto!“

I’m happy with how this combine is thrilling from begin to end, retaining the deal with the lyric and the beat. It helped me on our subsequent undertaking for Greenhit, which I blended a couple of weeks later for an Artist named King Missy.

Rob Gage, as interviewed by David Weiss. David is an Editor for, and has been overlaying professional audio developments for over 20 years. He’s additionally the co-author of the music trade’s main textbook on synch licensing, “Music Supervision, 2nd Version: The Full Information to Choosing Music for Motion pictures, TV, Video games & New Media.” Electronic mail: [email protected]

A traditional:: the Lexicon Prime Time delay.


The Audio Proof Avalon VT-747sp and Common Audio 4-710d mic pre/compressor.

Mission management!


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