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24 Oct 2017

Part 2: Interview with Josh Liebman about his favourite software and hardware

other/interviews Part 2: Interview with Josh Liebman about his favourite software and hardware

Read part 1 of the interview here.

Josh is an New York based music technologist, most known for his work as a producer, engineer and film composer.

Josh is trained as a multi-instrumentalist and in theory and composition. In 2013, he was accepted into the highly competitive Music Technology program at New York University, receiving an accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degree. Since relocating to NYC, Josh has studied in every facet of sound, audio, and music and learned from the industry's best.

In the spring of 2015, he refined his skills studying at IRCAM in Paris, France, the world-leading institute for acoustics and computer music. And in the past, has worked at some of the best studios the city has to offer, working with and learning from award-winning producers, engineers, and artists—including work at Studio G Brooklyn during their work on High Suspect's Mister Asylum, nominated for 2016 Best Rock Song and Album of the Year. Josh currently works primarily as a freelancer and as an engineer at Moon Recording in Brooklyn.

If you have any questions for Josh or help on a project, comment below.

What would you advise potential clients, what should they know before they outsource a mix and master?

Listening to the engineer's previous work and their references is very important, make sure you are happy with the quality. BUT, probably just as important as their skills is the person. Make sure you are happy working with the person, get on the phone with them to discuss the project if you need to. Make sure they make you feel confident and comfortable in your decision to work with them.

Always do your research and take your time—to most musicians and producers, their music is one of the most important things they have. Make sure you put your projects into the right hands (and there may be many right sets of hands, but there may be some wrong sets of hands too).

Do you test the results of a mix and master on different audio systems?

Of course! In the studio, I will utilize every monitor I have at my exposure. When I get home, I test it on laptop speakers, headphones, other speakers, whatever I can get my hands on.

What is the most common mistake on an amateur mix and master?

I would say the most common mixing mistake is trying to do too much. You don’t HAVE to do anything! Only do what the track needs, sometimes that may be very little. If I receive a project and one of the instruments in beautifully recorded, balanced, and sits well in the mix, I won’t process it just because I can and only do what is absolutely necessary. You should always mix thoughtfully!

A common mastering mistake is trying to get the loudest track possible. While having your track loud enough to compete and sound good with other tracks, that is all that is really necessary: loud ENOUGH. Your track doesn’t need to be the loudest, it just needs to sound good.

Name your three favourite hardware studio picks:

Spoiler Alert: they’re all dynamics processors!

Empirical Labs Distressor:

I love these! Great for electric guitars, drums, put it in the Opto setting and throw it on the vocals. You can create some awesome effects using one of these.

Tube-Tech CL1b:

These are really great compressors. You can push them really hard before hearing any artifacts from it. Really great on vocals and I like it a lot on electric bass as well.

Elysia Mpressor:

To be honest, I have had nearly enough hands-on experience with one of these, but back when I heard it at Studio G I fell in love, and I have it on my short list of gear to buy (I guess the plugin emulation will have to do for now).

Name your three favourite software studio picks:

Waves G Channel Compressor:

In my opinion, this is one of the best plugs that Waves makes. It is great for master bus and drum bus, among others. Really helps to “glue” things together in the mix.

Soundtoys Bundle:

Hard to pick just one from the bunch. These plugins are not always going to work, but they are fun to play with and can create some awesome effects. Radiator, EchoBoy and Cristalizer are among some of my favourites.

Lexicon PCM Bundle:

This is another bundle, but a great set of reverbs and really are my go-to for a lot of my projects. Comes with a number of different reverb styles and a load of presets.

Is there a plugin that you used from the start and still use on every track?

Pro Tools stock EQ—unless you're looking for a specific effect or character from another EQ, the PT stock EQ does the job and does it well. It remains my go-to until I need something more specialized.

Do you have any tips for engineers that were just starting out?

The technical side of music—recording, mixing, mastering—cannot be taught. A mastering professor I had once said that his goal was not to teach us to be mastering engineers but to teach us to “think like mastering engineers.” You should research and read and learn as much as you can. You can pick up techniques, and tricks and skills, but the real way to learn this craft is to practice and get as much hands-on experience as possible.

If you want more information regarding mixing and mastering – let us know. Josh will answer them if needed. Also, make sure your check-out his website and his SoundBetter.

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