Tim Latham

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Mixing pro tools in the box

I’ve heard from many mix engineers of varying skill that “you can’t mix in the box or shouldn’t”. And my response it that I can “mix in the box” only because I’ve retrained myself to do so. It’s an ongoing debate with valid points made on both sides. Mixing in pro tools is certainly not the same as mixing on a big console. Having spent almost 2 decades in the analog world, I have a different point of view then those who’ve started their careers in the pro tools world. In the early versions of pro tools, doing anything in it sounded like crap. When digidesign got the HD together, I was sold. Not just on recording in it. It was a great digital recorder that replaced reel to reel machines forever. But it also was a great editor. It changed the way in which records were made forever.
But it was a few years before “mixing in the box” became an issue. Technically, you should be able to do a much better job mixing pro tools files through an SSL or a NEVE in a big name recording studio. And at fist that’s exactly what I did. And then the budgets started shrinking, fast. I saw the budget tsunami on the horizon and built my own HD mixing studio with a ton of plugins as well as my analog gear. I spent a lot of time tuning my room and it’s pretty damn flat. Then I had to re-learn how to mix. This was a challenge, but I had my analog experience to draw from. One of the first projects completed in my new room won Best New Artist on the MTV awards, The Gym Class Heroes. There have been many since, including a Grammy Award for the Broadway cast album for “In The Heights”. So yes, it can be done without compromising quality. I would never work in a manner that would give my clients anything but the best that I could possibly give them. And I have successfully made the change to mixing in the box. For those who tell you that it can’t be done, I say that it cannot be done by them.

Live from AES

Hello from the AES convention in NYC. I spent a few days gawking at new gear There was plenty of stuff I wanted for my mixing studio, but only some of it practical. I ran into some colleagues from Battery Studios and my friends from Electric Lady studios as well. It was encouraging to see that the recording studio business is still alive. There were plenty of veteran engineers attending as well as some future mixing stars. There were a few Digidesign pro tools plugins that piqued my interest. I’m going to download the demo versions to see how they sound in my mixing studio. This week I’ll be doing all of the file management that I’ve put off for too long. I’m looking forward to mixing a few new projects with Bill Sherman ( producer from In The Heights).