John Paterno, a freelance producer, mixer, and engineer, has done a variety of audio production work for Robbie Williams, Roger Manning, Lustra, Faith Hill, Emma Hewitt, and many more. In this Producer’s Corner, he shows us how UAD Powered Plug-Ins were instrumental in his latest project with singer-songwriter Hillary Bergen.
I first met Hillary a little over a year ago. After our first get-together, it was apparent that we’d be spending some quality writing time with each other. She’s had some unique experiences for someone her age, and some very common experiences as well. I was struck with the way she found songwriting to deal with it all. The track I’d like you to check out, “Kiss Me Again,” is a nice example of what she does.
We worked hard on getting the song and arrangement right. I then set about creating and mixing the track. UAD Powered Plug-Ins are featured prominently in everything I mix these days. I use quite a few regularly — my favorites at the moment are the SSL E Series Channel Strip, Helios Type 69 EQ, Little Labs VOG Bass Resonance Tool, FATSO Jr./Sr. Tape Sim. and Compressor, the LA-3A Audio Leveler, and especially the Lexicon 224 Reverb and the ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder as of late. Honorable mention to the 1176 Classic Limiter Collection, which I know will be getting a workout very soon...
So, here’s the full mix of “Kiss Me Again.” It’s kind of a combo of a few different approaches, with a singer-songwriter vibe at the heart of it all:
For this particular track, I’d like to talk about a few of the main ingredients — namely the Lexicon 224 Reverb, the ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder, and the LA-3A /Helios EQ combo I used on the main electric guitar.
Reverb on the Vocals
In a sense I’ve ‘rediscovered’ the Lexicon 224 reverb after a long time away from one, thanks to UA. I really dig the tone and the presence of this reverb.
Here is an excerpt of the lead and background vocals without the Lexicon 224 Reverb:
And then with the Lexicon 224 Reverb:
Adding Presence to the Guitar
On the main electric guitar, I needed to control the dynamics a bit to get it to sit in the mix how I wanted, and I also felt it needed some presence. This is where the Teletronix® LA-3A Classic Audio Leveler Plug-In and the Helios Type 69 EQ Plug-In came into play.
Here’s the electric guitar with no plug-ins:
And with just the Helios EQ:
And with just the LA-3A:
And finally the electric guitar with both plug-ins:
Gluing Together the Final Mix
I’ve been using the ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder across my mixes ever since I got my hands on it! I did a custom alignment for myself — bias and all. It’s set up for 15 IPS and a 1/4” tape head, using the 900 tape formulation at a +6 calibration level. I’m really happy with what it does to the mix. The low end becomes a little bigger and rounder, but it doesn’t really change the relationship between the kick and the bass and it just melds the track together in a very musical way.
For some reason I increased the record gain for this song and another of Hillary’s track called “You’ll Never Leave Me.” The preset is normally set with a record level around ‘6.’
Here’s a sample of the final mix without ATR-102:
And with the ATR-102:
In conclusion, the UAD plugins helped me get to what I was imagining this song to be. Can you ask for anything more than that?