Experiences in mixing and mastering Black Metal and Death Metal and basically any genre.
To be honest, starting out with recording, mixing and mastering as a self proclaimed audio engineer is not easy, and it comes with a lot of assumptions, which we all know is the mother of all fuck ups.
For example we tend to believe that a huge, awesome looking studio filled with an enormous mixing console and a lot of outboard gear and expensive mics will make the best mixes and masterings ever possible… then we learn that while this is not at all bad, it is not the whole truth. It comes down to preferences and actual knowledge about the genre, combined with technical skills, listening situations (listening room treatment, speaker/room calibration, headphone calibration) and of course also quality of equipment over quantity.
Dark Prod Studios had all that through the years too, big studios, big consoles and big costs… making the clients pay for it.
What have happened lately here at Dark Prod is almost entirely dropping actual tracking and recording of bands. A few exceptions to that rule. We have been specializing instead on distance work within reamping, mixing and mastering. All genres are welcome but Dark Prod specializes more and more in Black Metal and Death Metal, and also Doom/Stoner/Sludge.
So, what does this mean practically?
Dark Prod is now streamlined and consists of different ”huge studios” that we can rent when needed, but the core studio is small, and focused on the hybrid mixing/mastering between modern high quality analog gear such as a analog SSL BIG SIX console and digital gear such in the latest VST plugin from the biggest brands. Analog SSL EQ and analog tube EQ; Hammer HM2 for adding frequencies. Digital EQ for surgical removing bad freq. Analog SSL mono and stereo compressors and maybe most importantly; analog (SSL) summing.
When it comes to listening the big investment are made. With Focal SM9 monitors and Audeze LCD X (2021) headphones, together with speaker and headphone calibration from Sonarworks Sound ID. We started to trust the sound and with that really being transparent with sound and translating sound to every speaker in a true and honest manner.
Studio A is powered by an analog SSL BIG SIX console with 4 analog stereo SSL EQ, 4 analog mono SSL EQ, 4 analog mono SSL compressors and 1 analog stereo G-bus master compressor. This is the 6th analog console that Dark Prod have owned and by far the most suiting for the purposes. (Former Dark Prod consoles include MIDAS VENICE F24, Calrec, TL Audio, Otari Status inline and Behringer)
Analog outboards (group/main mix inserts and tube mastering EQ)
SSL FUSION – This has been on the wish list for a long time and in mid 2023 it was time to buy it. It sounds great on mixes/masters and besides the commonly stated functions it also has the stereo version of the SSL LMC compressor.
A – Design (California) Stereo tube EQ; ”HM2 EQ HAMMER”
The usage of the SPL Vitalizer has dramatically decreased because of SSL Fusion so it is for sale. It has similar functionality but the user interface for SSL Fusion is easier in my opinion.
Another very useful stereo compressor we have is RNC1773
Other cool outboards:
Fostex Spring Reverb, Alesis old midiverbs and FX, and a lot more.
TUBE AMP GEAR AVAILABLE FOR RE- AMPING:
Tube Amp Heads: ENGL Thunder 50W, Marshall JCM800 50W head and Marshall JCM800 50W combo, Sunn 300T. 1976 SUNN MODEL T 150W RED KNOB.
Speaker Cabinettes: 2x SUNN 412L, Malmberg with PREROLA vintage greenbacks 4×12″, Laney 4×12″, Marshall 1960AX 4×12″, AMPEG 8×10″, two Sunn 4×10″ cabs. Hagström 2×15″ vintage bass cab.
Analog load box and cab sim: Rivera Mini RockRec
VST software worth of mentioning
Sonible Audio- Smart: Compressor 2 & Smart: Limiter 2
Soundworks ID Reference
Soundtoys- complete bundle
Baby Audio- complete bundle
Abbey Road Studios- complete bundle
Neural DSP- Fortin Nameless and Parallax