Mixing challenges

Hi Chris,

what you did on this soundtrack is really awe-inspiring.

The mix processings showed in your videos is really minimal, and that’s what I always have been looking for. Of course it relates to the stellar tracking process you detailed. But the sad reality is most of us most of the time cannot work with real orchestra nor real spaces… because of budget limitations by clients/projects. So I have few questions for you:

  • what do you think are the main challenges we should face working with midi libraries in order to get as close as possible the depth and vibe I hear in the videos you kindly shared over here?

  • what do you think are the critical areas (mixing wise) we should focus our efforts in order to get the depth and exciting expression you are getting with real orchestras setups?

  • Have you been in the position to struggle with midi libraries sounds and if yes, what has been the main issues and how did you solved them? (please go ahead if you need to quote specific plugins or processing chains).

  • What are your 3 “desert island” plugins you use in a recurrent way in your templates and how do you use them, that you consider elevates your final sonics results and helps you as a mixer?

Thank you so much!


Hi Pere,

Thanks for your kind words, and for your questions. It is indeed an embarrassment of riches to be able to not only work with live orchestras, but to also work in such great rooms. We’re truly very lucky. Having said that, there are so many times that samples either end up being the majority of an orchestral sound, or even all of it.

When working with stacks of sample libraries, one of the first things I do is drop a Pultec-style plugin (UA EQP1A in my case) and attenuate a little bit of high frequency hash on each track, usually starting at 10k, sometimes switching to 20k or 5k. Stacks of orchestral samples can get a little fizzy for what should be obvious reasons, so I find that just a little bit of this attenuation helps to make an accumulation of samples a bit more sonorous.

I then get them to imaging how I want. Many times, I’ll get stereo files of midi strings split into sections, but they are all evenly balanced between L/R. I’ll use the Goodhertz PanPot to place them where I’d envision them in a room. Finally, I’ll run all through a processing aux, usually with the UA Studer 800 (usually on 456 at 15ips), and either the Lindell Audio 80-series channel strip or the UA Pultec EQP1A and MEQ5 for a little reshaping. Reverb, often just for glue, is then applied to the processing aux off an aux send.

As for reverb - if the samples are dry or on the dry side, I might insert something like Altiverb on the processing aux, which then still may hit Cinematic Rooms or whatever reverb I’m feeling, off an aux send.

Desert Island plugins? Only three? Tough one, answered with a caveat that this may change twice between now and tomorrow! Right now, as I type this, I’d say:

  • Dynamics: Lindell 80 channel strip, because I can do so much with it, from shaping to radical EQ to saturation to hard or soft compression. It’s often on a huge sale. Runners up with be anything FabFilter (which is indispensable, but I tend to gravitate towards color first.

  • Reverbs: Cinematic Rooms and/or HD Cart, or if you’re on a budget, I still love and use Valhalla a ton (mainly Vintage Verb).

  • Delay: I come from the days when your delay choices were either a PrimeTime, a PCM42 or an SDE 3000 (pick two), but I still haven’t found anything that does for me what EchoBoy does. It doesn’t do a “perfect” EchoPlex or Space Echo (for that, I have a real EchoPlex, and I like AudioThing Outer Space if I need a 201 specifically). But EchoBoy is awfully close, and it can do so much more. That said, I’m beta-testing a new delay that so far I love. It may change this entry.

I hope that answered your questions!



Chris, thank you so much for your transparent and precise answer. Much appreciated. The goods news is I have licenses for all those plugins you mentioned and I’m already aligned to what you said. So I guess I could follow your suggestions… even if I won’t have your abiliities nor your ear nor your experience of course. Keep up the good work.
Kind regards from South of France,

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