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Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Jason Goldstein
In this article:
You Still Need A Studio
Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Jason Goldstein
Beyoncé's 'Déjà Vu' and 'Irreplaceable'
Technique : Recording/Mixing
Published in SOS April 2007 Print article : Close window
Beyoncé's second solo album, B'Day, has yielded two of the biggest singles of the year. Jason Goldstein shows us how he put together hit mixes for 'Déjà Vu' and 'Irreplaceable'.
Jason Goldstein is one of the rising stars of the American R&B/hip-hop mix scene. Since the beginning of his recording and mixing career in the early '90s, the 36-year old has worked with Jennifer Lopez, LL Cool J, Rihanna, Mary J Blige, the Roots, Jay-Z, B Rich, Toni Braxton and, most famously, Beyoncé Knowles. "B'Day is my biggest record to date," he says proudly, and big it is. Beyoncé's second solo album has racked up 3.5 million sales worldwide, and was nominated for a Best Contemporary R&B Album Grammy award. Goldstein mixed 10 of the album's 11 songs, including the worldwide smash hits 'Déjà Vu' (Grammy nominations for Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration), 'Ring The Alarm' (Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance), and 'Irreplaceable', which spent 10 weeks at the top of the US Billb oard charts. A Washington DC native, Goldstein moved to Los Angeles in the early '90s. The then teenager responded to a job advert from the legendary Ocean Way, where he honed his recording skills "old school and hands-on". Back in New York, he hooked up with R&B/hip-hop production duo the Track Masters, who gave him his break into mixing. Today Goldstein works mainly from Sony Music Studios in New York. B'Day was the last record, says Goldstein, that he did "as a hybrid of in and out of the box. Everything after that has been 100 percent in the box." Goldstein calls himself a "fairly minimalist mixer", whose immediate instinct is to respect the sounds used by the producer, and not to reach for 'trickery' as a first resort. He prefers not to go overboard with outboard, and the rack of specialist gear that he has assembled over the years is relatively modest. By the time the B'Day songs arrived on his desk, his rack included a Pendulum Audio 6386 compressor/limiter, Avalon 2055 EQ, TC Electronic M3000 multi-effects, 1210 delay and Finalizer mastering processor, two Empirical Labs Distressor compressors, an Alan Smart C2 compressor, an SPL Transient Designer and a Manley Massive Passive EQ. His main monitors are JBL LSR6328Ps. "I think you should work with what you are given, and make that the best it can sound," explains Goldstein. "When I receive a mix, I look at the [Pro Tools] Edit window first, and see how well the song is recorded,
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w hich is my new drum sub compressor. and then I start to have fun with it. As you can see on the screen shots. so if you move too far in one direction. But over the last couple of years manufacturers have come up w ith new plug-ins that mean that I'm totally cool w ith the w ay everything sounds. . The URS EQs are brilliant for general tone shaping." But if Goldstein is paying lots of money for one of the w orld's leading studio facilities w ith a top-flight SSL included.000. I now use the SSL 9000 at Sony just as a big monitoring board. After this I call up the drums and get those to sound really good by themselves. but I get the vocals in quite early on. because you can set the Q so narrow that you get phase shifting. I'm also using the Cranesong Phoenix plug-in a lot. other rhythmic elements. I honestly did not think that I could get the same quality out of the box. so I need big speakers. Clients like to be in rooms like at Sony w ith $60. Any instruments that play only occasionally go all the way to the right. Because of the kind of music that I do. You have to make room for things. in some respects plug-ins now sound better. but it sounds great anyw ay.Audio Engineering Books/…/Secrets Of The Mix Engineers Jason Goldstein. with the drums to the left. You get into a lot of trouble if you use parametrics on a lot of stuff: broader tone shaping is just more musical. it was difficult to fit them into the mix. Is it laid out on a tempo grid? If not. it's still only an algorithm. because I used to have this habit of mixing incredible-sounding instrumentals. and let the song play and listen to what it feels like.7/5/12 Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Jason Goldstein arranged and labelled. Only during the last year have the plugin manufacturers finally come up w ith good-quality in-the-box reverbs. and w here there's a lounge w ith a flat-panel TV. I also like the new Waves SSL compressor.htm 2/7 Jason Goldstein's mix for 'Déjà Vu' used both hardware and software processors. In fact. Out of habit I always put the vocals on 23 and 24 on the console. "When everything is where and how I want it. and when I brought the vocals up. So instead everything is up and I will try to EQ things within the context of the whole mix. and the background vocals start to the right of the centre section. he still makes use of top studios. I don't do a lot of soloing. I may have to put things into Beat Detective and create my own tempo map. I'm not a big fan of plug-in parametric EQ. With Pro Tools you have the luxury of printing mixes every hour. But you can add your ow n distortion. There's also the vibe factor. and get the same effect. "There is no substitute for a good-sounding and w ell-designed space. Digidesign's Impact is pretty good. and computers today have enough capacity to run anything. The Lexicon 960 is $10. "Over the last year I've found replacements for all my outboard gear. but clients don't care w hether I use it or not — they just w ant to be in a big studio. If everything is not exactly what it says. this is where I start. the URS Fulltec EQ added weight to the kick drum. while Sony's Oxford Transient Modulator was used to shape the attack of the kick drum and finger-snap sound. for w hich I used to use the Alan Smart in the past. like Sony Music Studios in New York. So it's all about finding space. Plus Pro Tools rigs w ill sometimes crash. This w as not so much to do w ith digital summing or resolution issues as that I couldn't get the same quality of effects from plugins as from outboard gear. I couldn't figure out w hy this w as. using levels and EQ. If your reverb is not of good F:/Music . in case I have to do edits later. and then anything that plays for the majority for the record. I arrange things in the Mix window the same way as I would on a console. because it doesn't have the transistorised distortion in it." he explains. Other things come in gradually. With the proliferation of home recording. unless I'm hearing a nagging frequency that's bothering me and I want to find out what it is. especially for vocals. URS also have excellent API/Neve emulation. It's the best tape emulator I've heard so far. Of the latter. I can usually get a record to sound pretty good in the first few hours. I listen to every track individually and label it myself. I like [Sony] Oxford plug-ins a lot. because most reverbs are digital. "You still need the acoustics of a studio." You Still Need A Studio Despite the fact that Jason Goldstein now mixes entirely 'in the box'. so w hy couldn't they just put the same algorithms in a plug-in? Then you realise that a hardw are box can be $3000 and a plug-in just $600. you can always get back to an earlier mix and build on that. too. w hich I don't think sounds like API or Neve. w hy not use it? "There are tw o primary reasons. then the bass. Their compressor/limiter is great. and as great as it sounds." replies Goldstein. You have to w ork a little harder. the 'w ow ' factor is important. and it's nice to have the client service available at a major studio. "The main problem I had for a long time w as that I w as unable to get the same quality from in-the-box reverb. "Until recently. I push all the faders to zero.000 Augsperger speakers. using Amp Farm.
which is great. and there is a lot of frequency information that can cause a loss of dynamics and clarity. I like clarity. I'm not a fan of cloudy. you would have seen more plug-ins on it. mid-range reverb. "The problem for me was to make that pattern fit with the bass and the 808. nor of the big w ash reverbs of the 1980s. Delisha Thomas. and one that's more like a click. on a tiled room setting. The horns are also live. Rodney programs things like a drummer. So I EQ'd the 808 to leave only the very low end. which was a blast for me. so it would have some more presence. and you may not realise it until it is too late. It's such a great bass line that I actually EQ'd the bass a little higher than I normally would on an R&B record. The potential problem with a record like this is that the drum and bass patterns are very busy. . giving it a different feel. so I had to treat it like a live drummer. "If this record had been mixed totally in the box.htm 3/7 Bass processing included another Fulltec EQ. Rodney may program one all the way down. adding some high end and playing around w ith the delay. w hich is a very small room. so that it only hits when the kick hits. Keli Nicole Price. but it's a hi-hat pattern that I put through some distortion to make it lo-fi and give it more movement. and voiced this to Rodney and Beyoncé. A little bit of PCM70 used to go on about everything I did. and then trigger other ones to get the feel he's after. But there'll be slight variations as some of them drop out in places. all the low end would come up as well and you would lose all the bounce. so the record is not lacking in low end. But you can now throw tons of TC VSS3 plug-in reverbs on things. which is what they went with. This cleaned up the low end and also made space for the bass to move. Smart C2 compressor "There's something that sounds like a loop.Audio Engineering Books/…/Secrets Of The Mix Engineers Jason Goldstein. it muddies the w hole record up. and they were long 808 hits — they carried over a couple of beats. I don't w ant to actually hear reverbs. Rodney Jerkins "Basically. this song is a take on what Quincy Jones did with pre-Thriller Michael Jackson. I felt that a lot of plug-in reverbs sound like an effect. It is really moving the song. and then put a gate on it that I triggered from one of the kicks that played the whole time. Shawn Carter Producers: Beyoncé Knowles. I used to use the PCM70 a lot. by shortening the release on the gate. a clean kick. Beyoncé really wanted it to have a street feel to it.7/5/12 Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Jason Goldstein enough quality. so at any time there may be extra fills or patterns that change slightly. I have a dirty kick. Then. I shortened the length of each 808 kick." Drums: URS Fulltec EQ. while Sony's Oxford Dynamics was used to compress the live bass and Waves' Renaissance Compressor was used to duck it every time the kick drum hit. I have now found an emulation for that too. which is the great thing about this record." 'Déjà Vu' Writers: Beyoncé Knowles. as he never hits things exactly the same every time. Rodney Jerkins. it changes things for just one beat and makes it sound more like a live drummer. I was very concerned. but F:/Music . This was the real challenge for me. and it w ill just feel bigger. that when the mastering engineer slapped his limiter on the mix to bring up the volume. Sony Oxford Transient Modulator. On the screenshot you can see that there are five kick drums. w hich sounds dirty and ties things together. Makeba. I tw eaked a TC Electronic M3000 program called 'Tight & Natural'. Obviously I had enough low end in the kick drums. On top of the kick pattern there's an 808 and a really busy live bass. If one drops out. So I ended up printing a couple of versions with the 808 pulled back.
So every time the kick hits.20 ratio setting adds attack to the kick drum. the bass ducks 2dB or so just for a moment." F:/Music . The challenge was to get dynamics to happen with all these different elements going on in the low end. once with a bell and once with a shelf. typically boosting at 30 or 60 cycles. something will sound louder. During the mix I played the uncompressed drums side-by-side with the compressed drums. which is why I think many guys still like to mix on the SSL 4000 — those consoles are always just shy of distorting.. I'm a big fan of using distortion. one take was lightly de-essed with the Waves DeEsser. "The Sony Oxford Transient Modulator now replaces the Transient Designer in my rack. I often do this when the kick drum is being stepped on by the bass. while the other was matched to it tonally using Sony's Oxford EQ. so all the transients get through. I can slide that back a bit and take some of the attack off. The plug-in tailors the envelope of the sound — the 0. It's also to do with the issue of apparent loudness. Waves Renaissance Compressor "In addition to the live bass there's also a sub-bass. you can't do too much. I'm boosting twice at 5k. that's an example of me just turning knobs until it sounds good! It's what gives the kick its snap. so that the dynamics of the drums are changed. [The track lab elled] 'Bass 4. whereas transistors and Class-A stuff is more aggressive. "I also used my Alan Smart C2 compressor on the drums. It changes the envelope. It has something called Crush mode. So what I did on 'Déjà Vu' was feed all the drums into the Alan Smart. Sony Oxford Dynamics. like a Moogerfooger kind of thing. in small amounts. The [Waves] Renaissance Compressor is triggered by the kick drum. I use the same effect on the finger snap. You can see how I use the URS EQ and the Oxford compressor/limiter on it. I didn't use a lot of it. shift either.htm Beyoncé's vocals were treated with hardware compression and EQ." Bass: URS Fulltec EQ. which adds field-effect transistor distortion. Line 6's Echo Farm was used as a ducking delay behind the lead vocal. and you don't get a build-up of EQ or phase give the mono piano track some width. In cases where they're just playing rhythm and they are too 'plucky'.7/5/12 Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Jason Goldstein here's a sampling of what I do. If you make the attack harder. It adds to the overall aggression of the mix. Tubes distort more harmonically. I pressed the 'Warmth' button on the Oxford to generate some harmonics and create presence and make the bass cut through. without using compression. It will cut through the mix without having to add additional Waves' PS22 stereo spreader helped to volume.Audio Engineering Books/…/Secrets Of The Mix Engineers Jason Goldstein. I do that a lot. and finally press the Crush button to add some aggression. They are acting like you would expect them to. and I rode the compressed drums in and out depending on the section of the song. When you have a bass that's as prominent as on this record. but set the release time very short. You can lift your chorus by giving it a different dynamic feel. 4/7 .02' is the live bass — the numbers probably refer to it being a fourth take. I'm cutting at 300 to create space for the bass guitar. set the attack very slow.. I also use this plug-in a lot on acoustic guitars. I normally use the URS EQ on kick drums. as it was just too much with the kick drum and the 808.
The VxFx is the Echo Farm delay you hear on her lead vocal. because their settings are exact replications of the hardware M3000 boxes that I used on those mixes. so the mastering engineer has room to do his job. and one take goes to audio 17. Stargate. Track 23 is the ad-lib track. But these two plug-ins preserve the dynamics. it would be plenty loud. I'm using these TC reverbs." Vocals: Waves De-Esser. It's in mono and I put it through the Waves PS22 spreader to widen its stereo image. With most pop records you have so much information going on. Mikkel Eriksen. and there was lots of room for all the F:/Music . to throw in at the end of words or between sections. coming up only at the tail end of words and phrases." Mix Buss: Sony Oxford EQ & Inflator "Aux 1 is my stereo buss. I also used the Avalon 2055 EQ and my Pendulum Audio compressor on Beyoncé's vocals. It's a feeling thing that's not necessarily audible. on which I have the de-esser. Lind Producers: Beyoncé Knowles. because by the time it got to mastering. I almost never use a straight delay. I like reverbs that are shorter. which has just a bit of de-essing on it. unless it's as an obvious effect. . and then the board. Beyoncé Knowles. because they will 'duck' out of the way. but I added them. I use the dynamic stereo delay to add a bit of depth and character and spread to the vocal. I've had complaints that my mixes aren't loud enough. I could never figure out why that mattered. but with this track. which goes out to the Avalon 2055.htm 5/7 Jason Goldstein used Sony's Oxford Dynamics in dual-mono mode. Pendulum 6386 compressor "'BLD1C001'. Since I've moved into the box. Amund Bjørklund. The Oxford Inflator is one of those voodoo boxes that uses a little bit of compression and harmonic generation to allow you to play with the dynamics. and where I needed a longer reverb to fill in spaces. bass and the jangly piano. as busy as it is." Reverb: TC M3000/VSS3 "The two TC VSS3 reverb plug-ins weren't actually on the record. because she can sometimes sound a little too strident Jason Goldstein's preferred reverb is TC and aggressive.7/5/12 Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Jason Goldstein Piano: Waves PS22 "There's a jangly piano going through the whole song. This is what makes my mixes sound louder. I used the 'Ambient Plate'. only the drums. Line 6 Echo Farm.Audio Engineering Books/…/Secrets Of The Mix Engineers Jason Goldstein. it's actually pretty empty. things out a little bit and takes off some of the edge in those sections. where I use the Oxford EQ to compensate for the differences. Tor Erik Hermansen. 'Irreplaceable' Writers: Ne-Yo. track 24. or emulate tape compression. and the tube compressor smooths Electronic's VSS3. Beyoncé must have done vocal takes on two different days. Ne-Yo "This song was really simple to mix. By widening the image of the piano I was also able to make more room for the lead vocal in the middle. which hits my Pendulum compressor. The Oxford three-band EQ adds whatever kind of EQ I felt the track needed — usually just a little bit of low and high end. E. is the lead vocal. There's not much playing all the time. It was produced by Stargate and the sounds are really good and they all made sense. Sony Oxford EQ. Ne-Yo. Avalon 2055 EQ. Like many mixers." For compressing the stereo backing vocals. so the 'Stairway Plate' is my main reverb that went on a lot of stuff. Dynamic delays are often called ducked delays.
F:/Music . I'll have the Oxford compressor set to double mono. was to put an eighthnote slap echo on her vocal. From the aux track it goes directly to Pro Tools. but in a completely different setting. and from there I make 24-bit CD masters that go to the mastering guy. The Oxford compressor/limiter is great. If one side gets significantly louder the compressor will grab it and pull it down a little. using the Echo Farm plug-in. it comes up a little. just like the Oxford compressor/limiter. at 341ms. In the Classic setting. because there was already enough presence in the bass. The Warmth button adds harmonics and gives it presence. were treated with the analogue flanger of the TC 1210. and I'm using the Oxford EQ and Inflator. with the link off. Line 6's Echo Farm was used to generate eighth-note ducking delays on the 'Irreplaceable' lead vocal. it gets out of the way. I rode it so that when she sings louder. to sweeten the sound and give them a little bit more spread.htm 6/7 . "The other Echo Farm with the 682ms delay works on the background vocal master. so the left and right side get compressed independently from each other.7/5/12 Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Jason Goldstein instruments. So what I did. and then sub each of these different notes to an aux and compress and EQ them. you would think it was a pop or a rock song. The drums mostly receive stock treatments with some board EQ. I felt the song was a bit old-school. "Just like on 'Déjà Vu'. It's a very heavily compressed sound and it really brings up presence — you can hear all the notes. The linear mode acts more like an 1176." Published in SOS April 2007 Oxford Dynamics was used again for the bass. There's nothing else doing eighth notes in the song.1kHz/24-bit. I didn't use the Warmth setting on this record. and quarternote delays on the backing vocals. but when she sings softer. where I will print it at 44. if Beyoncé wasn't singing this. If it's played and recorded well you don't have to worry about that bringing out the negative artifacts as well. aux 1 is my stereo buss. which drive the whole song. The eighth-note delay gives the song a little bit of a push. "I use the Oxford also on the bass. but not taking away the natural feel.Audio Engineering Books/…/Secrets Of The Mix Engineers Jason Goldstein. and I use that a lot. The acoustic guitars. the whole song through. which I don't normally do. half the controls are turned off and it emulates the LA2A. I usually combine the vocal takes of each background note. but you can see that the attack is turned all the way up and the release is basically as quick as it can go.
Email: sos@soundonsound. Great care has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this article but neither Sound On Sound Limited nor the publishers can be held responsible for its contents. Sound On Sound Ltd is registered in England and Wales. is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers.Audio Engineering Books/…/Secrets Of The Mix Engineers Jason Goldstein. Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates | SOS | Relative Media F:/Music . United Kingdom. Trafalgar Way. Company number: 3015516. Registered office: Media House. Cambridge. CB23 8SQ.com | Telephone: +44 (0)1954 789888 | Fax: +44 (0)1954 789895 All contents copyright © SOS Publications Group and/or its licensors. whether mechanical or electronic.htm 7/7 . The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers. 1985-2007. Bar Hill..7/5/12 Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Jason Goldstein The 'Déjà Vu' mix passed through Sony's Oxford EQ and Inflator plug-ins. The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part. All rights reserved.
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