48 Volt

The blog for audio enthusiasts. 

Meet the geniuses, the unbeatable mixing contest winners.

What gear did the mixing contest winners use, and what are their workflows? Learn about the backgrounds of the five winners and get inspired.

Mar 24, 2020 12 min read

LEWITT Content Team
Enthusiasts at work

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Our last mixing contest was a huge thing. It took a lot of effort, but getting the great feedback and seeing the great togetherness and mutual support you guys had for each other made every one of our working days sweeter. Here are more details of the mixing contest.

Like many of you, we also wanted to get to know the winners better, so we contacted them, and they were kind enough to share some of their experiences with us. 

Let's find out who the winners are and what they did to win!

Grzegorz K.

Meet Grzegorz K.

[LEWITT] Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Grzegorz Kobus. I live in Poland in the city called Lodz. I am 26 years old and I work in the video streaming industry as my daily job.

After hours and during the time I am supposed to be sleeping, I mix and record music. It's basically a fortunate combination of my hobby and side income.

Most of my audio work is related to live music. This is also how I got into audio. During my college years, I was obsessed with the idea of how records are made.

At that time I used to work as a stagehand at local companies and I have been volunteering at local radio/studio stations like my beloved Studenckie Radio Żak Politechniki Łódzkiej (student radio) where I build my chops and had the chance to meet many great people that are doing audio professionally.

Recently, together with my two friends, we started a YouTube channel called pohuk (in Polish word "pohuk" means something loud and mysterious). We basically record live music shows that we like and believe in. Our main mission is to promote alternative, independent music and capture all emotions that are associated with live performances through audio and video.

[LEWITT] What were your first impressions when you listened to the multitracks?

I am used to the sound of live recordings so I wasn't surprised by the amount of bleed which wasn't terrible by any means. The tracks were recorded well and already had some pleasant processing on them. The band gave a great performance, which is the most important for me. I was pleasantly surprised by the punch and clarity of the Kick in track as well as the overheads. Later in the mix, I decided to set them to figure 8 by using the polarizer plugin. 

[LEWITT] What was the biggest challenge with the mix?

The biggest challenge for me was to maintain the live feeling of the song while making it more punchy and aggressive but still listenable. It's very easy to overcook a rock mix and go quickly beyond the concept of "larger than life" especially with live recordings. I used room tracks a lot and build my mix around them. Hi-hat bleed was the biggest issue to overcome, but it's something I have to deal with on a daily basis.

[LEWITT] What was your workflow like when doing the mix? Drums first? Etc.

Always at the early stage of the mix my workflow is very organized and planned, I applied the same process this time.

Firstly, I did a mix prep so I imported my mixing template with all busses and routing. Then I edited all tracks, starting with drums. I manually gated Snare bottom track as well as Toms tracks and applied fades where necessary. Also, I gated Vocal tracks where bleed from Overheads was a bit too much.

Then I spent some time checking polarity and phase, especially on drums. This is a crucial part for me, which is even more important with live recordings where there are multiple microphones sharing sounds. I made sure that kick and snare are in phase and then I time aligned them.

All tracks were summed into the stereo aux track called MixBuss. There were some plugins that I mixed into from the get-go. Usually, it's a buss compressor, broad EQ for high end like Puigtec, tape emulation, and RBass.

You can call it top down mixing approach, but basically I think about it as the sound of my "virtual console". It slightly changes depending on the song. If I am content with the raw balance and nothing sticks out too much I will move to the actual mixing part.

Here I started with drums, did some work on single tracks and quickly introduced my parallel compression which played an important role in the mix. I side-chained Bass with the Kick track to create space for both of them.

From there the process usually gets very messy. I always try different ideas and approaches to create a sonic space for each instrument. I really liked the drums so I decided to put them forward and let them drive the song. During the mix I was referencing the studio version of the song, just to keep panning and vibe similar

[LEWITT] Which software did you use, which DAW?

I am using Pro Tools Native 2019

[LEWITT] Do you have any go-to EQs?

I tend to choose SSL style EQs. One of my favorites is bx_console SSL 4000 E and Waves SSL E channel. I also use stock Pro Tools EQ3 for surgical cuts and Soothe to tame harsh mid and top frequencies on cymbals and vocals.

[LEWITT] Do you have any go-to compressors?

Usually, I grab an SSL compressor that is built into a channel strip or I use Waves CLA 1176. I tend to prefer slow attack and fast release times.

[LEWITT] Did you use outboard gear?

I didn't use any outboard gear. I would love to try it one day but with my current setup and workflow, it would be inconvenient.

[LEWITT] What is your listening situation like? Do you have a treated room?

I have a couple of broadband absorbers hanging in my room but since my amp for Yamaha NS-10 is no longer working I use headphones exclusively. With my current mixing setup room acoustics is not an issue.

[LEWITT] What monitors or headphones did you use?

I used Beyerdynamic 990DT pro (250 ohms) headphones. These headphones are my main and only reference for a couple of months now. At the end-stage I checked the mix in a car and I was really happy with it.

[LEWITT] Any tips for aspiring contestants and audio engineers?

Practice is everything. Take every project as a new opportunity to learn and improve. Develop a habit of watching online mixing classes instead of spending time on Netflix.

Do small things but keep them as a daily routine. Basically do anything that keeps you involved with the current music trends and music community.

Also, reference your work with commercial mixes and remember to level match it. Don't forget to level match your plugins so you aren't fooled by a volume change.

Check your phase and polarity! Have fun doing it even when it's not that fun all the time.


Svein Erik

Meet Svein Erik Å.

[LEWITT] Where are you from?

I’m from the west coast of Norway. A small town called Ørsta right outside Ålesund.

[LEWITT] How old are you?

I’m 49 years young.

[LEWITT] How did you get into Audio?

I started out playing keyboards in bands and got more interested in what was going on on the other side of the glass.

[LEWITT] Are you doing Audio as your job?

Yes! Been doing this full time since around 2005. Before that, I had to work part-time at a steel factory.

[LEWITT] What were your first impressions when you listened to the multitracks?

I think some of the tracks sounded really good like the overheads. Thanks to the great microphones you guys make.

[LEWITT] What was the biggest challenge with the mix?

The bass-guitar was recorded with some sort of distortion pedal. It had no bottom end and sounded more like an angry wasp. Then all the spill of course.

[LEWITT] What was your workflow like when doing the mix? Drums first? Etc.

I always start cleaning out spill where I can take it out first. Some spill is good to have there for the energy. Editing toms rather than gate them. Then I bring up the tracks and check for phase issues. I start with the drums when starting mixing then bass etc.

[LEWITT] Which DAW did you use?

I use Pro Tools Ultimate for recording/editing/mixing and Ableton Live for producing, midi, samples, etc.

[LEWITT] Do you have any goto EQs?

I’m a fan of Fabfilter so it has to be Pro-Q3. For character I like the bx_SSL4000E from Brainworx.

[LEWITT] Do you have any goto compressors?

I really like the UAD 1176 and LA2A collections.

[LEWITT] Did you use outboard gear?

I work 100% ITB these days.

[LEWITT] Do you have a treated room?

I rebuilt my control room in 2010 and put in a lot of trapping. It’s fairly good I think. Not perfect.

[LEWITT] What monitors or headphones did you use?

I have been on Amphions Two18 and Amphions subs since 2015. I never mix on Headsets. Only check the editing for clicks etc.

[LEWITT] Any tips for aspiring contestants and audio engineers?

Don’t mix with your eyes. If something needs cranking the high shelf, just do it. Don’t get lost with hundreds of plugins in these subscription times. Take a day and find the plugins you like and uninstall the rest. Too many choices are bad. Prioritize room and monitoring. Don’t invest in expensive outboard gear if your room sucks. Get some bass-traps instead.


Simon G

Meet Simon G.

Disclaimer: Simon answered in German. We translated the answers to English for this blog.

[LEWITT] Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m from Switzerland and I’m 38 years old

[LEWITT] How did you get into Audio?

In my early youth, I started experimenting with samples in Fruityloops 3, producing many HipHop beats and trying out other styles of music. Then one thing led to another, recording rappers and mixing. Little by little the whole thing got more serious and many bands and artists knocked on my door.

[LEWITT] Are you doing Audio as your job?

Yes, for about 5 years I have been working as a freelance sound engineer/music producer, mainly in the field of video postproduction and mixing for various artists. Also occasionally during smaller film shoots, I do the location sound recordings.

[LEWITT] What were your first impressions when you listened to the multitracks?

Awesome! I can play with some brutal saturation. And hopefully, I can get the bleed in check ;)

[LEWITT] What was the biggest challenge with the mix?

To get the vocals to be punchy, because of the bleed and compression.

[LEWITT] What was your workflow like when doing the mix? Drums first? Etc.

Top-down: i.e. from the big-picture bit by bit into the details. This works best for me with live recordings, where you have to keep an eye on the bleed and phases. I think I even used an EQ on the master first. Then on to the busses and then one by one to the individual tracks.

Simon G

[LEWITT] Which software did you use, which DAW?

Cubase 10 pro.

[LEWITT] Do you have any goto EQs?

Fabfilter Q3, Acustica Audio GOLD & CORAL, Cubase-Channel-EQ

[LEWITT] Do you have any goto compressors?

NI vc2a, NI vc76, PSP oldtimer. Instead of compression I often use tape saturation, e.g. U-HE Satin.

[LEWITT] Did you use outboard gear?

The mix was done ITB. I ran the master channel thruogh the following: 2x IGS Vanad - Elysia xpressor 500 - Elysia xfilter 500 - Tegeler audio creme.

[LEWITT] What is your listening situation like? Do you have a treated room?

More or less optimized, but not optimal. But I know its weaknesses.

[LEWITT] What monitors or headphones did you use?

Klein & Hummel O300

[LEWITT] Any tips for aspiring contestants and audio engineers?

First, paint a picture in your head, what do you want to achieve? What kind of feeling should the song convey? Never start with any details. Only do time-consuming, creative effects games when the overall picture of the mix is right.


Chanyoung

Meet Chanyoung P.

[LEWITT] Introduce yourself to our audience

I'm from Korea and I’m 25 years old.

I have many different jobs such as live sound engineer, recording-mixing-mastering engineer in the studio and keyboards & electric guitar player on stage.

I’ve also performed at one of the biggest music festival in Korea, Let’s Rock Festival 2019 as part of the pop-rock-synth band, TWEED.

[LEWITT] How did you get into Audio?

I’ve always was searching for a master who would have been able to understand my band's genre and work on our mix. I’ve outsourced our mix, but it didn't live up to expectations. That’s why I begin getting into Audio. No one knows my music better than me.

[LEWITT] Are you doing Audio as your job?

Yes. I run my own studio: ’Studio TARS’.

[LEWITT] What was the biggest challenge with the mix?

Intense, Clean and Full sound.

[LEWITT] What was your workflow like when doing the mix? Drums first? Etc.

Drums - Bass - Vocal - Electric Guitar.

[LEWITT] Which software did you use?

I used DAW's basic plug-in and Waves plug-in.

[LEWITT] Which DAW did you use?

Logic Pro X.

[LEWITT] What is your listening situation like?

I use monitor speakers when I mix, and I use AirPods Pro when I monitor.

[LEWITT] Do you have a treated room?

Yes. 4 bass trap, 2 cloud panel, 4 diffusers.

[LEWITT] What monitors or headphones did you use?

'Eve Audio' SC207, 'Sennheiser' HD650.

[LEWITT] Any tips for aspiring contestants and audio engineers?

There's no answer to music but I think engineers should listen to music a lot and be able to catch the characteristics of the genre.

Chanyoung


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