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Audient’s Mix Competition Winner Takes It All

Audient’s Mix Competition Winner Takes It All

USA – Audient’s Hard-Fi Mix competition winner, Mark Downie was “elated” that his was chosen as the winning mix in this summer’s contest. The two Audient prizes, the much coveted eight-channel mic pre & ADC ASP880 and USB interface iD22 have now arrived at his Western Mastering studio, and he’s wasted no time in trying them out.

Audient asks him what he thinks. “Brilliant! There is a clarity I've heard in some high-end preamps I've had known for purity, that fell short on warmth. The ASP880 has the clarity and the warmth, without unfortunate loss of detail that intentionally coloured preamps have. It's the best of both worlds!” says Downie, who is an engineer and musician. “I've never seen as many useful features (adjustable low cut, impedance selector, etc) in an eight channel preamp and A/D converter. There are many out there, but none like this.”

A staggering number of entries were whittled down to 25 by the public throughout the summer, and the top three were chosen by a panel of judges including renowned music producer and mix engineer Cenzo Townshend and Hard-Fi themselves.

“I rarely get into these contests, but had some time for this,” says Downie. “I liked that it was a true protest song, and spoke of something much of the world has forgotten about.” His interpretation of the Hard-Fi song Move Over certainly impressed the judges. “I think very highly of Cenzo Townsend's work. To hear that he thought my mix captured what the band had intended meant a lot,” he adds.

So how did he approach the mix? “I've done a few electronic dance music style remixes, but heard potential in this to enhance what was there instead. It's ironic Cenzo pointed out what he did. I had in mind to try and capture the band’s intent: to give the singer an up-front sound, and make the last chorus seem like a protest.

“I tried to set it up as close as possible to the original, and work from there. I had a scientific approach, but also did a lot of it by feel,” continues Downie. “Most of the work I do now is mastering, and I kept that as a separate process until the mix was finished. It's tempting, but I never ‘mix into’ compression. Get the tracks as good as possible, then approach the mix bus.”

It wasn't all plain sailing, however; Downie cites the kick drum and vocals as the most challenging. “There were multiple mics, creating multiple kick tracks. I aligned the transients better, while retaining the natural feel, and maintaining proper phase. I enhanced the sub bass, and you'll need a subwoofer, large monitors, or bass-heavy headphones to fully appreciate how that worked out!

“For vocals, beyond de-essing, I automated turning down each 'ess' to a varying degree. The first half of the first verse sounded off-axis from the mic, the second half was spot on. There was some rather detailed work to address that, for a consistent and natural sound. Brilliant vocalist, and it's a very authentic rant,” he adds.

“I'm looking to work the iD22 into my studio,” he says, his plan to upgrade his recording space still a work in progress. “I have a few different playback options, currently. The ASP880 may end up in a remote recording setup, or possibly for use in FOH at one of my live sound gigs. Or both! It's very portable.”

Runners-up were Jokoo and Yagiz Kurt, each of whom wins a year’s subscription to Sound On Sound magazine and an Audient ‘Teaboy’ t-shirt. 

In picture: Hard-Fi mix competition winner Mark Downie with his Audient prizes: ASP880 and iD22.

23rd October 2014

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