Q&A With Pro Mixer Joe Carrell

2011 Feb 28, 2011

A while back, Nashville based mixing engineer Joe Carrell was kind enough to do an interview with me. He covered so many important topics related to mixing and offered real practical advice for a beginner mixer. Many of you after listening to the interview emailed Joe some questions for further clarification. Joe was kind enough to pass them on to me to post for everyone’s benefit. Enjoy!


Via Chris Potter Flickr

Signal Levels In My DAW?

Q: When I mix and place plug ins on each track, should I still try and keep my overall output signal below Odb?

Joe: Yes definitely, avoid clipping before and after the plug-in if possible. You’ll often turn down the input or output of an eq type plug to avoid clipping when using substantial frequency boost.  Vice-versa, you’ll often use make-up gain to restore ouput level when using heavy compression.

Q: What can I do when I get a session where each track is recorded pretty hot before any clipping?

Joe: Concerning sessions you receive with “Hot” recording levels, if they aren’t clipping the channels LED or clipping your plug-ins I would probably leave them as they are and just turn down the faders to make certain I wasn’t slamming the master output.  If you receive some that are clipping during playback, I would use the “Gain” audiosuite plug-in to bring it down a few db.  You could also use the “trim” plug as your first insert.  Unfortunately, any distortion that was printed as a result of the overloading will not go away, you’ll just clear some headroom for that channel’s playback and plug-ins.

High End Converters?

Q: Do you use apogee, lynx converter and which of two is better?

Joe: Both Lynx and Apogee are great products that I have used with success. I wouldn’t recommend either one over the other. In my personnel studio, I use the stock Digidesign HD converters.  Since my room is primarily a mix studio, they are used mostly to send and return to outboard effects units, etc.

Q: To get more width in a mix do the converters help?

Joe: I don’t know that I would say high end converters give me more “width”…there is just a difference in the air or reality of the instrument.  It’s hard to explain, but I compare it to looking at a photograph of a snare drum versus being in the room with that actual drum. If you have the budget..go for it.  But, don’t feel that you have to go out and get them right away to make a great record.  I’ve mixed top ten singles where every vocal part was cut into Digi 002 pres and converters.

Saturation Plugins?

Q: Distortion on the stereo bus, really?

Joe: Well…yes and no.  It is not commonly on my master, but i’ve most certainly used it a few times as I found it’s “flavor” very cool for that song.  Even then, it was very limited, as far as, the actual amount of the process I was using. It was 95% the sound of the plug with only a slight bit of distortion added.  In the interview, I was just listing the things I use.  All the others mentioned are there nearly always.


Check out Joe’s work and discography at www.mojoemix.com

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