TOURING / WORKING ON THE GO: true referencing technique that helps!
Because I do tour a lot, my workflow needs to be flexible enough to allow me to work mobile while still making the same critical listening decisions I would make at a world-class recording studio.
My name is Nelson Braxton. I've been a Producer/Engineer and Bassist for 30 years. Songs I have produced and/or engineered have scored #1 on Soul Charts and Jazz Charts, appeared in movies, games such as tHe SiMs, won audiophile magazine recording awards and been used for demos by Bose. As a bassist I've played with everyone from Julian Lennon, Seal, John Mayer, the BBC Orchestra, my own group The Braxton Brothers, and my tour gig for the last 13 years...American pop star Michael Bolton. I am also married with 5 kids.
I have a home studio that I love, and also rent larger studios when I need, but because I do tour a lot, my workflow needs to be flexible enough to allow me to work mobile while still making the same critical listening decisions I would make at a world-class recording studio.
THIS is where Ollo Audio comes in…….
MY TYPICAL WORKFLOW AND USE OF HEADPHONES
My typical workflow in the day involves first listening to some finished material that I know very well, at a moderate to low level in my Ollo S4 headphones, while I’m booting up my DAW, going over emails, checking worksheets, etc. This is critical for me to get my ears climatized for the day's work ahead. This process I do at home, and also when I’m on the road. The great thing is that since the Ollo’s are with me everywhere, this allows me to do this critical piece of my workflow everywhere.
Because the Ollo’s are so brutally honest about what things sound like, it becomes easier than ever for me to hear serious (and subtle) areas that need work in my mixes. No other headphone I’ve tried has been this ‘honest’ in my opinion. I can hear inconsistencies and problems in frequency ranges (critical ones) that I was not able to hear and correct before. When I am on the road, I can trust, that if they sound good on my S4’s than the mix will translate well across any other type of system. This is another advantage of these headphones…..since you can hear EVERYTHING, you can balance…everything!! So even when someone else is listening on a lesser system, whatever frequency ranges their headphones, or speakers have or don’t have….will still have balance. I can’t really see anyone working mobile, not needing a pair of these.
TECHNIQUE TIP: TRUE REFERENCING ON THE GO
Because I’ve had to do professional work using whatever gear I had available for years now, I’ve developed a particular way to use reference material to compare what’s going on with my mix, versus another mix. This can really help someone on a mobile system get past not being in a proper studio environment, and the Ollo S4 really excels at this particular process.
When I use reference material, it's critical that it travels down the exact same path from file to my headphones (software, and hardware) as my mix is. Without this, referencing doesn’t really work. What I do is set up a channel in my DAW, that is basically hardwired to its output…..it bypasses all master bus processing, everything. This will allow me to hear the finished mix with absolutely no processing, but it's still coming out of the same digital path, etc to my headphones. I mute this fader and set the DAW so that the Solo button works even if the track is muted. At that point now, I can press one button at any time, and flip between the ref mix, and my mix.
Another thing you will want to do is pull back the volume on the ref so that it matches the volume of your current mix (don’t try to make your mix ‘loud’ while you’re working on it,..save that for the mastering process).
With the Ollo headphones, you will immediately hear frequency balance differences, instrument differences, the tonal quality of vocals, etc….it’ll be like someone gave you the answers to a test at school LOL.
ADDING BSE PILLOW /PLAY2ME TO THE MIX
The Play2Me System is a hugely important piece of gear that allows me to achieve results when I work that I could only do in a very well acoustically designed recording studio. I was skeptical a little at first but decided to give it a try. Trying to describe the ‘sound’ or ‘feel’ of using the Play2Me system with BSE Pillow is very difficult in words….but it is almost like someone giving you another ‘sense’ in addition to your ears hearing. And this new ‘sense’ gives you a lot of information about what is going on in the very low end of your music. What I was most surprised about was that not only does it let you know what is going on level-wise….the HUGE thing is that it lets you know what is happening ‘time’ wise with your low-end signals.In other words, it gives you so much detail in how long or short the sounds are in addition to how loud they are. I have found that I lot of times, the problem that needed to be fixed was more of a time-length issue than a level issue with things like basses and kick drums. The BSE Pillow really helps sort these things out, and very very quickly. To replicate this with speakers, would take a very very well designed and tuned room. And…I can take the Play2Me system with me EVERYWHERE…which I do LOL.
A note about using it: I’d suggest listening to just your headphones for a while, then gently turning up the volume of the BSE pillow slightly. You want to basically not know its there, but really miss it when you turn it off. Once you find that balance, I don’t touch the pillow volume at all, any volume adjustment I do to the signal that feeds both the headphones and the pillow, to keep the ratio between them the same.
Production with Play2Me: In one word….FUN….This was a huge surprise, as I only thought I’d use it when mixing. I had to track some bass guitar and do some drum programming one night and had left the pillow on…..what I difference! So much more inspiring to be able the ‘feel’ the music when you’re working on it. I go ahead and crank the pillow in these situations as I’m trying to capture and respond to inspiration when I'm producing. Again,….you can take this experience with you anywhere with the Play2Me System.
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