Miami, FL (October 10, 2005)–A few years ago engineer, mixer and producer Charles Dye (Lauryn Hill, Jon Bon Jovi, Sammy Hagar, and Julio Iglesias) earned the accolade of being the first mixer to put a number one hit together without leaving the box, using only plug-ins for the mix. The track was Ricky Martin’s Latin stomper, “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and Charles’ achievement demonstrated that digital mixing was no longer a transient fad but an indubitable fact.
Since then Charles’ dedication to hard disk recording and DAW mixing shows no signs of abating. For him to complete a mix without passing through several plug-ins would be simply unthinkable. “I’ve used practically every plug-in there is,” said Charles, “and I can say, sincerely, that Sony Oxford has set a very high standard when it comes to signal processing inside the box.
“Firstly, I love their EQ. There are a lot of different EQ plug-ins and they all have their own characteristic sound, but what I like about the Oxford EQ is how clean and pristine it is; so when I’m looking for an open, airy EQ the Oxford is always my first choice. I also love the GML option because I’m a huge fan of George Massenburg’s EQ. I’ll often run that at the end of my mix-buss. It gives me real control, enabling transparent changes in the mix’s frequency spectrum without colouring it.”
Apart from using the EQ at the tail end of production, Charles also implements it on individual tracks during the mixing process. “Because of the clarity of the Oxford EQ, I usually use it on instruments like high-hats and cymbals, keys or lead and backing vocals–basically anywhere I’m trying to get that super clean and crisp sound that is Oxford EQ’s signature.”
Verb’s the word
In addition to his extensive use of the EQ, Charles is also a huge fan of the Sony Oxford Reverb, and not simply because he believes it is a sweet-sounding tool.
“Even before I get around to talking about the sonic capabilities of the Reverb, which are superb, I’d just like to say I find it incredible that the guys at Sony have made it LE compatible,” said Dye. “This incredible $10,000-sounding plug is available to anyone with an Mbox and a few hundred dollars, which is awesome. The reverb has a gorgeous sound plus a beautiful EQ built in to help shape and color that sound. It’s got tons of flexibility when it comes to the different room shapes and sizes, giving great control over early reflections. And the routing options are extremely powerful.
“Hyperbole aside, it’s a reverb that gives me exactly what I look for when mixing. It’s smooth, open, wide, deep–all those silly words people like to apply to reverbs–you get to use them freely here.
“In every project I’ve produced and mixed this year I’ve used Reverb. I’ve used it on an excellent new alternative rock band called eL who, while being American, are often likened to a Brit-pop band. I also used Reverb on a talented new modern rock band called Maria, falling somewhere between Audioslave and Velvet Revolver. They sing in English, but they also sing their songs in Spanish. They’re the first Latin rock band I’ve heard with such an aggressive modern rock sound. The Reverb also shone on the sparse production of singer/songwriter John Ralston’s Needle Bed, an album which I love.”
Keeping up with inflation
Ever keen to squeeze liquid gold from his mixes, to this end Dye has put the Sony Oxford Inflator through its paces and has been duly impressed with the results.
“The reason I’m so committed to DAW mixing, is because of plug-ins like Inflator,” he noted. “This plug-in gives me a level of control over the saturation and distortion in my mix that really isn’t possible with analogue mixing. And that’s because with analogue you can always get dirtier, but you can never get cleaner.
“Analog tape and consoles put the same sonic signature across every track of your mix, and I find that limiting, no pun intended. But what I love about the Inflator is you can choose your saturation and distortion like colors on a palette, gritty, warm, harsh or round; you can apply it in any amount and quality, and on any channel–or the stereo buss. And of course, on the tracks where you want to keep that original transparent sound, you simply don’t use the plug. But with analog this simply isn’t an option, and that’s the great thing about Inflator–it gives me this newfound control. The only thing that approximates this sound is one of the settings on the Oxford Dynamics.”
And what are his thoughts on that particular plug-in?
“Let me tell you, the Dynamics plug-in is awesome! It has tons of capabilities, a great gate, a limiter and some very cool algorithms for the different types of compression. And I love the warmth setting, which is great for getting those fuller, fatter sounds.
“And did I mention the presets? I love the presets on all of the plug-ins, especially Reverb. Seriously… I’m a preset whore! Now, it’s not like I’m trying to save time, ’cause I’m actually a perfectionist and will work as long as it takes to get a huge sounding mix. But I love listening to the presets whenever I work with a new plug.
“Clearly, someone has spent untold hours programming them with the intention of showing the plug at it’s best. So it just makes sense to listen to what they’ve done, and then while I’m mixing, I’ll tweak it from there to whatever works best for the song.”
The final plug
For those that wish to tap into a little of Dye’s natural enthusiasm (not to mention his deep understanding of hard disk recording and DAW mixing), the multi-platinum, Grammy-award winning engineer, mixer and producer has put together a comprehensive DVD and Pro Tools, session-based mixing course entitled Mix It Like A Record.
MILAR, as it’s otherwise known, demonstrates track by track, plug-in by plug-in and move by move exactly how to get the most out of your plug-ins, and how to finally get your mixes sounding as good as the records released by the major labels.
Dye also goes in-depth to explain the theories behind mixing, discussing the concepts and “feel” of what makes a great-sounding mix. Included on the DVD’s ROM layer are 1.7 GB’s of 40 Pro Tools sessions showing each step, and allowing users to get hands-on with the mix. Additionally, to see how Charles would use Sony Oxford plug-ins on all instruments in the mix, he has included eight sessions featuring the EQ, Dynamics, Inflator, and Reverb plug-ins in every possible instance. Essentially making this mix the equivalent of Charles mixing the song on the revered Sony Oxford OXF-R3 digital mixing console.
To get more information about Mix It Like A Record please visit www.harddisklife.com. Or if you’d like to check out some of Charles’ recent productions including Maria, eL, John Ralston, and Crease visit www.charlesdye.com.
Interview and editorial provided by Matthew Pigott Public Relations.