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Studio Secrets

The Studio

Here at Deli we've had over 25 years studio experience making and producing music. During that time, through many successes and failures  we have accumulated a lot of experience and knowledge to get us to where we are today. As well as trying to answer as many questions as possible, we will be letting you know our techniques and tips that we use daily to achieve our sound. As is apparent with making music, there are many techniques that give each producer their sound. This is just an insight into how we do it.

Our Sound

Everyday is a school day! That's what we live by. Be it a stranger or a YouTube post, there is always something to learn. Generally the music making model is the same as it was back in the 70's when people like Dave Gibson were letting you know his tricks to getting the right mix. Quincy Jones & Rod Pemberton were making the hit records they are known for today. All this information still stands up in todays sound. New techniques have arisen, taking music into the 21st century and will continue on, though this can only come off the back of what has been - and what has been is a solid foundation.

Companies like SSL, Neve, API, Harrison etc. have manufactured equipment throughout the musical years, subconsciously shaping our ears as listeners, to a sound which becomes very familiar to what we hear in all types of music. When hit records have been - and continue to be - mixed on consoles of this nature, there's no getting away from hearing the Tone, Shape and Dynamics these companies provide us with.

With mixing plugins getting ever more like their hardware counterparts, we are now getting a sound from our computers that is hardly indistinguishable from what can be created with thousands of pounds worth of hardware. When people like Andrew Scheps, who as a mix engineer has worked on a console and hardware for most of his career, moves into the box to mix, it has to be said that we are there with software standing up to hardware. Now we know this is common knowledge throughout the industry, our point here is if you are wanting to stand up against the records you hear and aspire to, some kind of colour from SSL, Neve, Api, Harrison etc should really to be involved. Whatever mix and sound you aspire to, investigate as much as possible, what has gone into that process to create that sound. The pop mixes we hear today created by people such as Manny Marroquin and Jason Joshua are done on an SSL 9000k. So to get that sound in the box, we at Deli use the SSL's Duende Channel and Drumstrip. This gives us that familiar colour that helps our sound stand up. There is also the Softube emulation of the SSL 9000k available. Waves, UAD and Brainworx have SSL, Neve, Harrison and Api channel strips which are commonly used with top mix engineers. These strips have compressors, gates and expanders which emulate the desk channel from the actual console. Duende's compressor, gate and expander are exceptional in shaping the sound of most instruments, as they are on the console. Using a channel strip for a mix in our minds is the first port of call to put our music in a place with a subconscious familiar sound. 

Reverbs

Through many efforts at trying to get the right reverbs, we feel we have eventually found a working system where the reverbs sound natural/or not depending on what music we are working on. For our main ambience reverb we use either Valhalla Room or Phoenix by Exponential Audio. Both these plugin's give a really nice natural, upfront space. For that 'Just in front' sound. For Plates we are currently using Soundtoys Plate plugin. This is a gorgeous representation of a plate, very similar yo the EMT 140 by UAD. We sometimes go to UAD's EMT 250 also for the extra depth. For Room reverbs we use Valhalla Room. This really is a simple to use plugin with great sound and easy to manipulate into the space we need. 

Monitoring

It's been said by many others and we go by this rule also, listening to our finished productions through different monitors is the key to a nicely balanced mix for all systems. As we mix, depending on the day and our mood, we generally use either the Adams or NS 10's to get our mixes in generally the right place. NS 10's are a lovely monitor after years of use and are nice to work on for long periods of time. The Adam's are great too, although we do sometimes end up with ringing ears. A long time on these monitors with mixes that are not finished, pushes our ear drums too much. This often goes unnoticed as we work on a lot of electronic music with heavy subs. Which feel great, although after a few hours become really fatiguing. Especially if there is too much sub. So generally it's the NS 10's where most of the work is done. 

Once the mix is sitting nicely, we check the bottom on the Adam's and the overall balance on the Avantone. It's quite a thing to hear the mix through the Avantone as this really shows up the minor adjustments that are needed to complete the balanced mix. 

We then go onto a boom box, mobile phone and into the car to see if anything has slipped pass. generally though NS 10's, Adam's and Avantone do the job well. 

It's taken us a long time to understand each monitor sound and how to work the mix into the right place. Also we learnt the hard way that the room plays a massive role in what you hear. We found that moving rooms can be as big an issue as getting new monitors. If it's a nicely treated room, then generally its not too much of a problem, though we have moved into any different rooms in the past and they are not always treated as we would like. As many peoples rooms are. 

The Mirror on a wall trick, where someone sits in the listening position and someone holds a mirror up against the wall. Is a good method to show where Acoustic treatment should be. If the person in the listening position can see any speaker monitor in the mirror, as it is moved around all the walls in the room, then putting some kind of acoustic treatment in them places really helps with the top end reflections. We are no experts at room treatment, but have found this to help in each room we have been in.

Bass problems are the issue when working in untreated rooms. We have bass traps and also use IK Multimedia's Arc 2 to help with this. If we were to build full size bass traps in the room we are in, there would be no space to get anything else in. We find using Arc 2 helps us get a clear bottom end that really is tough to get otherwise.

Listening to finished, mastered, released tracks in our room, there is no problem with what we hear. The mixes 'Picture' is really clear, which shows us that when everything is right wth the mix, its sounds great. Using the Arc 2 is like having another set of monitors... well another 10 sets really as they have different models to listen through on playback. Personally I'm not 100% sold on working entirely through the Arc as at the end of the day, it's EQ curves. Though to help put us in the right place it is a great tool

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