Producer Paul Moak on Mixing Lovedrug's "Dinosaur"
Producer, engineer, mixer, and songwriter Paul Moak has spent the last decade in the heart of the Nashville creative community, working on a breadth of musical projects, including platinum records, major-motion pictures, and songs featured in hit TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Friday Night Lights. His background as a touring artist and in-demand session player eventually led him to the other side of glass, where he now produces, engineers, and mixes at his 3,000 square foot private studio, The Smoakstack.
In this Producer’s Corner, Paul shows us how UAD Powered Plug-Ins played an instrumental role in his work on “Dinosaur”, the latest single by the indie-rock group Lovedrug.
As a self-described analog junkie, I have always been hesitant about plug-in emulations — that is, until I got into a UAD-2 Quad DSP Package. The first thing I noticed was how right-on the RE-201 Space Echo and SSL E Series Channel Strip plug-ins are. As I started to integrate the plug-ins into my workflow, I immediately "got it" — UA has done their homework and these plug-ins sound like the real deal. The ability to spread these plug-ins out over a mix in multiple instances is the icing on the cake. For example, with the Lexicon 224 Digital Reverb Plug-In, it sounds like my hardware unit, but I don't have to choose just one setting. I can automate it or apply several instances. This is truly magical and boosts creativity.
For the Lovedrug song, “Dinosaur,” all the tracks were cut to a 16-track 2-inch MCI tape machine at 15ips. Once we pulled the tracks into Pro Tools, UAD plug-ins were used to really bring the mix together and breathe new life into the tracks. The most used of these were definitely the Fairchild 670 Compressor Plug-In, the EMT 250 Classic Electronic Reverb Plug-In, and the Pultec Pro EQ Plug-In. These are now my go-to processing tools.
Take a listen to the final mix:
Treating the Room Mics
The room mics were processed using the Fairchild 670 to help make the tracks pump in time and really bring out the kick and snare. By adjusting the input gain, threshold, and time constant, I was able to get the groove of the compression to match the tempo of the drums.
You can hear the unprocessed room mics and then with the Fairchild:
Mixing the Upright Piano
On the upright piano that enters during the second verse, I used the Helios Type 69 EQ to bring out a little mid-range from the instrument, and then squashed it with the 1176LN Classic Limiting Amplifier Plug-In to really bring out the decay and pull the room around the upright.
Beefing Up the Electric Guitars
There is an electric guitar parallel bus that really shines with UAD plug-ins. I tend to use this parallel bus in most of my mixes. With this song there were two guitar parts, panned left and right. The parallel bus consists of the Pultec Pro EQ to bring out the top end of both guitars (around 5kHz - 10kHz), and then both the Cooper Time Cube Mk II Delay and the Roland Dimension D to widen the guitars and provide ambience. By delaying each side of the stereo image differently and adding a slight chorus, it really adds body to the sound. At the end of the chain, the EMT 250 adds a nice tail. This way even though the guitars are panned, the sound is still very full and three-dimensional.
You can hear how the solo really beefs up and pops out using this bus:
Treating the Vocals
On the gang vocals, I added the Fairchild again to warm up the sound and make it big. I also added the EMT 250 to give a nice, bright tail that hangs after each word.
For more info on Paul Moak and The Smoakstack, visit www.paulmoakmusic.com.
Hear more music by Lovedrug at www.lovedrugmusic.com.