Watch a Hip-Hop and R&B Mixing Masterclass
Get Grammy-winning tips from Young Guru and Anthony Cruz, and learn to dial-in your mixes using UAD plug‑ins.
In this episode of UA Live, legendary hip-hop engineers Young Guru (Jay-Z, Kanye West) and Anthony Cruz (DJ Khaled, Ne-Yo) are pitted against each other in a multi-round mixing battle of the track "Bless Up," from UA's Beat Maker Challenge.
From importing and fine-tuning mix stems to preparing your master bus for the finished product, learn how to make every step of your mix count with these two masters.
18:02 Set your Levels FirstLearn how Guru “clip-gains” all his stems, hunting down stray dynamics and bringing his faders to unity before he even thinks about applying EQ and compression.
28:30 Dialing in Kicks & SnaresWatch as Guru smalllays with EQ levels on the kick and snare drums, “going overboard” and then pulling back to find just the right combination of lows and highs.
50:22 Adjust Kick Drum AttackListen as Cruz pulls in the UAD 610-B, Precision Buss Compressor, and Helios Type 69 to fine-tune the attack of his kicks. “You’ll thank me later, okay?”
1:08:16 Monitor TipsGuru and Cruz discuss the importance of knowing the response of your near-field monitors, the ones you’ll spend the lion’s share of your mixing time on.
1:10:26 Let’s Get It OnCruz is challenged to exploit the virtues of the Vertigo V-SC2 Compressor plug-in, while Cruz is tasked with making optimal use of the Harrison 32C EQ.
1:39:50 Crush your DrumsLearn how Cruz and Guru crush drum groups with the API 2500 Compressor plug-in. Then watch as they blend the crushed sound back into the main drum group.
2:41:24 Add Shine & Shimmer to VocalsHere, Cruz explains how he uses ping-pong delays from the UAD Precision Delay to delight the vocals. Also, learn how he tames low mids with the UAD DreamVerb Room Modeler plug-in, avoiding muddiness, while keeping them wide and present.
3:09:54 Always Stay Mindful of Gain StagingCruz explains how important it is to be aware of your gain-staging throughout the mix process to avoid the impulse to over-compress or over-saturate late in the game.
— James Rotondi
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