NEW YORK, NEW YORK: With a deep pool of talent, a wealth of high-stakes experience, and the kind of personality that lifts others up, Michael Moritz Jr. is a much sought-after music director and music supervisor in the New York theater scene. Moritz entered the music industry as a child prodigy pianist before transitioning to his current roles, which have earned him Emmy and Tony Awards. Before Covid-19, Moritz spent half of his time on music direction and supervision and half his time recording and mixing cast albums for big-name Broadway productions. Given the challenging quarantine source material he has been asked to make shine in his temporary transition to full-time production and engineering, Moritz recently dove into Metric Halo’s Multiband Dynamics, Multiband Expander, and ChannelStrip plugins. The experience inspired him to check out Metric Halo’s acclaimed hardware interfaces, and his new Metric Halo ULN-2 has him excited to add more Metric Halo channels when Covid-19 relents.
“I had kind of known about Metric Halo as I have a few friends with studios that use their hardware interfaces,” Moritz said. “I was looking into the hardware thing when I realized Metric Halo had a Production Bundle. I read some reviews and figured it would be a good way to get to know the company. Right now, I’ve been doing a whole lot of quarantined-type work. A lot of work came in that was essentially, ‘so-and-so needs to do this but they don’t have any mics whatsoever – they’re gonna sing into their phone.’ It was just a lot of wild work! In the last five months I’ve been doing a lot of that with a lot of different people. In the last month I’ve worked with John Legend, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Jordin Sparks, and Barry Manilow. It’s the most eclectic and epic list of talent. There’s been a lot of meetings over Zoom and FaceTime, and then it’s a lot of trust. I have become the guy who is putting together a lot of this stuff that goes to video but then also lives as an audio release.”
Moritz dove into the tools he used regularly to assess Metric Halo’s take: Multiband Dynamics, Multiband Expander, and ChannelStrip. “A lot of the format work that I end up doing is vocal heavy. It’s a lot of vocals because Broadway is just a vocal format. Multiband Dynamics are a constant go-to in my workflow, daily. You just have to find a way to tame frequency build. I went to the Multiband Expander because I’m getting a lot of material where we need to synthesize dynamic range, especially when I’m dealing with very, very less-than-ideal material that comes in off of phones. You know, people singing into their iPhones. We did a single with Jordin Sparks for UNICEF, and I mailed her a USB microphone and she sang in her closet. But then we had this gospel choir of eighty different people, and they played the track into their earbuds, filmed themselves singing in their rooms. So, it was like scrubbing the reverb from their room and trying to actually use iPhone audio. It’s kind of my ‘undo’ button for whatever the client has done on their end. I reach for the ChannelStrip a whole lot, too.”
Moritz summarized his thoughts about the Metric Halo plugins: “I quite like the GUI of the plugs. There’s something about them that looks really good. And as silly as that sounds, it has to look good if you’re going to work with it constantly. I can take off a lot with Multiband Dynamics and not hear it. It’s also pretty intuitive, and I got really good transparent results quickly.”
Moritz cut his teeth back in the days of two-inch analog tape and ADAT machines. “I can’t believe how much has changed,” he remarked. “I get incredible material from kids on laptops, and I’m like, ‘you have no idea how this was not even remotely possible.’ It’s amazing. In pre-Covid times, I have done a lot of high-format, really really large channel count type stuff. I have conducted arena shows with a full orchestra and a choir and twenty different vocalists. I knew that Metric Halo was known for its converters. I knew that the pres were pretty special. What really sold me was [Metric Halo’s new] 3d option where I could get copper MADI. I haven’t found anything [except Metric Halo] that integrates it into an interface, and I refuse to spend a thousand dollars on a USB dongle.” Metric Halo’s optional 4x copper MADI EdgeCard provides users with 256 inputs and 256 outputs.
“I thought, this might be a perfect opportunity to upgrade my mix room’s main interface,” he said. “It’s terrific. It’s a noticeable difference from what I was coming off of. The card is amazing and it’s gonna be perfect for me. I can essentially pair that with my Mac Mini mobile rig. When I do live recording stuff, our benchmark is triple redundancy and it all has to come off a copper snake.”
Until that day comes, Moritz’s new Metric Halo ULN-2 sits front and center at the interface between his DAW and his monitors. “The knobs feel great. The buttons feel great. The pres sound terrific! They feel like boutique-grade pres. [The ULN-2 is] my main new workhorse. It’s kind of the new centerpiece of my studio. It’s so transparent; I don’t hear any air. Not only is the [ULN-2] audio better, you can hear that the converters are better. It’s immediately discernible too. It’s not like I had to learn that this thing was better. The minute I plugged this thing in: wow, this is significantly better.”
Moritz looks forward to the day when he can pair the Metric Halo ULN-2 with his Mac Mini mobile rig for big productions. The two main systems will continue to capture the primary recording and the primary backup, but the ULN-2’s copper MADI edge card will take the second backup. Moritz is also looking forward to using the ULN-2’s zero-latency performance when tracking smaller ensembles synched to guide tracks and stems. “I’m just kind of dipping my toe in now, but Metric Halo has converted me,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to expanding into some of their I/O boxes. The ULN-8 looks really interesting. I’m looking forward to building out my real [non-pandemic] room with this system.”
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