VOX POP: TCHAD BLAKE
Paul Tingen asks the world’s leading studio practitioners to elaborate on what has changed for them since 1998, homing in on the pieces of gear they consider to have been game changers, and the working methods they use today, which they didn’t in 1998.
Blake: “Many of my clients could no longer afford proper studio rates and I was losing work because of that. I now have an affordable mix room at home. It’s amazing. I’m 99.8% in-the-box, as opposed to mixing off tape through a vintage API console at The Sound Factory or the very large SSL at Real World Studios [in 1998]. The 0.2% represents instruments I add or pedal-style effects I use. Not that plug-ins aren’t good enough, I just like to change things up a little, alter the body language.
“First of all there’s ProTools HD. It was the first ProTools I liked the sound of. Tech 21 changed my life in the early ’90s with the SansAmp and did it all over again with the SansAmp PSA-1 plug-in. It’s in every mix I do. Finally, the Linn 328A speakers fit me like a glove. The Linns allow me to monitor at quiet to medium (45-75dB), almost conversational levels, without any low or sub frequency loss; and they reproduce subs without a dedicated subwoofer. They’re also the most low maintenance monitors I’ve ever encountered.
“As for new mixing techniques I’ve learned in the past 15 years, I usually keep levels low within the box and don’t overdrive plug-ins. One example would be my stereo bus comp/limit set up. Instead of using one ‘unit’ to smash I have four to five very different compressor/saturation-style plug-ins all doing a little bit. To my ear, when one unit is pushed hard to get the sound I’m looking for, it accentuates artifacts I find undesirable, like harsh, mid-range jagged waveforms. Using different plug-ins pushed in different amounts spreads the undesirables out frequency wise, so they’re not a problem for me. Th at’s my theory and I’m sticking to it. Plug-ins just don’t overdrive like analogue, but I can still get what I want with a bit of experimenting and mix ’n’ match. Finally, I love manual de-essing using DAW automation.”
GAME CHANGERS: PROTOOLS HD, TECH 21 SANSAMP, LINN 328A