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Max Jaeger Finds Metric Halo’s Production Bundle Delivers Consistent Great Sound on Big Sean’s “DARK Sky Paradise”
USA – MAY 2015: Maximilian Jaeger is a producer, recording and mix engineer based out of Los Angeles who has worked with Kanye West, Jhené Aiko, Common, No I.D., Ariana Grande, NAS, and John Legend, among others. Most recently, he engineered Big Sean’s Dark Sky Paradise, which peaked at the #1 position on Billboard’s R&B Albums, The Billboard 200, Top Digital Albums, and Top Rap Albums. With more than its fair share of tight deadlines and all-night sessions, the project owes part of its success to Jaeger’s masterful use of Metric Halo Production Bundle plug-ins, which give him a fast workflow, consistent and great-sounding results, and an appealing visual interface that inspires the right decisions, even as the sun comes up on an all-nighter.
“Big Sean’s album freestyle, “Me, Myself & I”, dropped right before the album’s release, and I was given just one night to mix it,” Jaeger said. “Big Sean was in New York, and I was in L.A., so there wasn’t a lot of room to get multiple revisions. The production came in with some good sounds, but in order to get that punch, it needed some help. I pulled up Metric Halo’s TransientControl and got the kick and the rest of the drums to pop quickly. It usually doesn’t take much. Its transient modelling is very consistent and works great on kick drums that support 808’s. The ‘warm’ preset on Metric Halo’s ChannelStrip always helps to smooth out the vocals and in this case brought them to the front of the mix, without popping out too much. Metric Halo’s Character signal path modelling plug-in gave the backing pads the right flavour. I love the options on that plug-in. I usually don’t distort pads, so having the ability to dial in a decent amount of saturation, whether it’s tube, solid state, or tape distortion without destroying the original sound is definitely a great help.
I love being able to rely on Metric Halo plug-ins because they prevent things from getting out of sonic pocket when the night wears on and my ears get tired. Unlike most other plug-ins, I know mixes won’t disappoint when I wake up the next day and give my mix a fresh listen, since Metric Halo’s plugins are very consistent.”
Those three plug-ins form the cornerstone not just of Jaeger’s mixes, but also of his front-end production. “Hip-hop and dance artists these days aren’t interested in passive engineers,” he said. “They want an engineer who will take an active role in shaping the sound of a song from the start. So when I got files from Sean, he always asked, ‘will these sounds work?’ We don’t want to get further into the process only to be disappointed. So when I got new drum sounds, I always ran them through Metric Halo TransientControl. While other plug-ins of that type give me frustratingly inconsistent results – some hits jump out and others stick back – Metric Halo’s version always gives me a nice, round, and consistent knock. If a drum sound doesn’t knock right through TransientControl, I know we need to figure out something else long before we get to mixing.”
Metric Halo ChannelStrip and Character find their way onto most of Jaeger’s tracks. “ChannelStrip’s dynamics section is one of the best I’ve ever heard,” he said. “I tend to use the ‘warm’ setting a lot, or I’ll use the ‘fast’ setting on vocals in order to even them out without making the compression obvious. I use it on kicks and snares with a medium attack and a fast release, which gives me the right dynamics while still keeping the sound natural. Like all Metric Halo plug-ins, all of the settings give predictable, consistent results, which can’t be said of most other plug-ins. Character is an awesome plug-in, especially these days, when it’s all about degrading and distorting your tracks or mix. Beyond that, I turn to Character any time I have a track that isn’t quite as present as I’d like it to be. With the track in the mix, I flip through the different modeling types until the track sits right.”
Beyond those cornerstones, Jaeger is expanding his palette to include Metric Halo’s Thump, HaloVerb, and Dirty Delay plug-ins. Thump is absolutely free to anyone and generates percussive sub-harmonic content. Jaeger uses it to beef up beats created by artists who tend to use bass-heavy headphones for their creations, a practice which has the unfortunate side-effect of making those beats anemic. Thump injects musical low-end content that is (again) consistent. About HaloVerb and Dirty Delay, Jaeger said: “They both sound really, really good!” He also appreciates that Metric Halo separately built presets that are specifically designed for either instruments alone or aux sends. “Metric Halo presets get me in the ballpark right away,” he said. “It’s very easy to get great sounding results fast, which is critical in this business.”
29th May 2015
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