Mixing Philosophy, Gear List and Business

Have questions? Email me!  If I can articulate an interesting response, I may add it to this page.
Scroll down–way down–to see my equipment list.  Or read all the geeky technical stuff first.  View gear photos here.

Philosophy and Workflow

What is your mixing philosophy?

Simple: remove the obstacles that interfere with emotional resonance.  My taste gravitates toward clarity because it allows me to hear unique details and nuances of a performance, but I also enjoy lo-fi and crunchy mixes when they serve the music. Most of all, I strive to support the artist’s vision.  Everything I do in the mix room is driven by the trust that the artist puts in me to make the listener feel something from the music.

What about your workflow?

Tech geek alert!:  My mix room has been described as “modern hybrid,” where classic analog and state of the art digital technologies coexist.  The path to this began in 2001, when I planned to purchase an SSL 9000 console (despite being a Neve guy at heart).  I ultimately chose a modular approach so I could mix and match various sonic “flavors” instead of being married to one predominant sound.  My unique console utilizes four Dangerous 2-Busses and a Chandler Mini Rack Mixer for analog summing.  This allows me to choose between pristine mastering quality tone and thick warm Neve-ish juiciness.

The console (technically a 72-space Sterling Modular Plan B mastering console plus 4 x 20-space producer racks in ATA flight cases) contains 24 channels of Tonelux EQs plus a few Dangerous Bax and Avalon 2055 EQs to give me 32 analog channel strips—-the dynamics processing is handled by 32+ channels of limiters and compressors from Manley Labs, Dangerous Music, Avalon Design, Universal Audio, Tonelux and Empirical Labs.

With 64 channels of analog I/O via four Lynx Aurora 16s, I can quickly change my signal flow configuration from 64 channels of analog summing to 32 channels of summing plus 32 channels of inserts.  The latter is typically my preferred configuration because I do a fair amount of digital submixing inside Pro Tools HDX, and I don’t mind converting something twice with the Auroras. Dangerous Music Convert-8s are dedicated to 32 channels of analog summing.

The result is a sonic signature that has the best of Neve and API tones, with minimal wire and very low noise.  Everything I need comes up on the patchbay for easy access.  I even spent a few thousand bucks on voltage regulation and isolated power.  There’s nothing glamorous or exciting about power conditioning, but it makes a significant sonic difference.  Believe it or not, clean power reveals more detail in the mix, so I’m able to use less EQ to fit everything into the soundscape.

Even with all the groovy analog outboard gear, I do not hesitate to deploy digital time-based effects and reverbs.  My go-to hardware effects are Eventide H8000FW and TC Electronic M3000 units.  For software, I lean heavily on SoundToys (!) and UAD-2 emulations of classic reverbs.  I write automation (lots of it!) in Pro Tools HDX with 8 or 16 touch sensitive moving faders.  A single UAD-2 Octo card provides enough DSP for my FX needs.

Circling back to my console, I developed a novel multi-buss submixing technique that is in some way similar to Michael Brauer’s thing.  While every mix requires a unique approach, I typically start with a signal flow template that works in most cases.  It begins with four stereo busses that feed the four 16 x 2 Dangerous 2-Bus mixers and the Chandler mixer. Bus A contains all my vocals and ancillary effects.  Bus B has all the harmonic instruments that get panned out to the sides, like guitars, keys, strings, horns, and their associated FX. Bus C is for the bass, drums, parallel drum compression (if used), and their effects. Busses A, B and C go to the transparent hi-fi Dangerous boxes, whose stereo outputs each have unique EQ and compression characteristics–they each have their own (sub)mix bus processing.  All of that gets summed inside a Dangerous 2-Bus+ mixer, which can either sweeten or cook the mix, depending on how I set the onboard coloration effects.  Bus D is for anything that doesn’t fit into the other three busses.

Finally, I have a Dangerous Liaison on the output of the 2-Bus+.  Liaison helps me instantly audition various combinations of dynamics processors on the mixer before the music hits the final Convert-AD+ analog-to-digital converter.  I don’t add any more EQ at this stage–it’s already done on the busses–but a pair of Manley Pultec EQs are patched into the Liaison, just in case.  The beauty of this approach is that an artist may love the balances of the mix, but want it brighter overall.  No problem…unless the vocal becomes thin or sibilant!  This won’t happen to me because I can brighten Busses B and C without touching Bus A, ensuring that the vocal remains warm and euphonic.

Mix Room Equipment List

Mixing Console

Sterling Modular Plan B 72 RU Mastering Console set up for mixing.
Dangerous Music 2-Bus 16×2 Summing Mixers. For separate Bus A, B, C submixes.  Mastering quality, pristine neutral coloration.
1  Dangerous Music 2-Bus+ 16×2 Summing Mixer. For summing of Bus A, B, C submixes. Wicked good crosstalk specs. Adjustable coloration.
Chandler Mini Rack Mixer. 16×2. For analog summing of misc. submixes. Classic Neve-esque tonal coloration.
Dangerous Liaison. Instant gratification when auditioning vocal and mix buss chains.  Six programmable inserts.  Tons of headroom and clarity.
Patchbay. Comprehensive.  150 Mogami TT patch cables.

Analog EQ

24 Tonelux EQ4P. These are so good that you need to hear them yourself.  Just do it! You can boost with impunity.
Avalon AD2055 EQ 2-channel. Excellent surgical EQ with a unique character. Powerful tone shaper.
Dangerous Music Bax EQ 2-ch. The filters alone are worth the investment. I use them on “bass & drums” and “guitar & keys” busses.
1  Manley Stereo “Pultec” EQ 2-ch. Enhanced audiophile version of the storied EQP-1A, with more bands. Secret weapon!
Phoenix Audio Ascent Two-EQ 2-channel mic pre plus EQ. Versatile tone shaper.
Massenburg GML 8200 2-channel EQ w/8355 power supply. The original, the classic.  I use the MDW plugin now, mostly for cuts.
Focusrite ISA 110 Limited Edition . George Martin and Rupert Neve collaborated on the 110.  Very useful filters; hard to recall.
DBX 215 2-channel graphic EQ. I have no idea how they actually sound.  I only use them to filter compressor sidechain inputs.

Analog Dynamics

Tonelux TXC Compressor. Versatile. Internal parallel routing and “Tilt” sidechain filter. Bass, drums, mix bus even at 20:1 if you dare…
Manley Labs Stereo Variable Mu Limiting Compressor. Mix bus monster! Mine has HP sidechain filter. I use it unlinked, dual mono, calibrated.
Manley Labs ELOP Levelling Amplifier 2-channel. Opto magic on vocals, bass, acoustic guitar…and even mix bus. Sidechain filter.
Manley Labs ELOP+ Levelling Amplifier 2-channel. Opto magic on vocals, bass, acoustic guitar…and even mix bus. Sidechain filter.
Dangerous Compressor 2-ch. Ultra low distortion.  Mastering quality. Can be transparent or grabby.  Mix bus and drums!
Dangerous Compressor 2-ch. Ultra low distortion.  Mastering quality. Can be transparent or grabby.  Mix bus and drums!
Chandler Limited Germanium Compressor. Very versatile and vibey, with mix blend for parallel compression.  Hip blue LED GR meters.
Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor. Swiss Army knife of compressors.  Great knobs make it super easy to recall. Parallel drum compression.
Purple Audio MC76 Limiter. Painstakingly modeled after 1176 E revision.
Universal Audio 1176LN Limiting Amplifier. A bit cleaner than vintage units.  Just as good, if not better.
Universal Audio LA-3A Audio Leveler. The curve more than makes up for the noise.  These are classics for good reason.
Avalon AD2044 2-ch Opto-Compressor. Great for drums, bass, vocals and mix buss…variable attack and release make it very versatile.
Empirical Labs EL-DS DerrEsser + EL500 powered chassis. My favorite de-esser ever! Very musical and surgical.
SPL 9842 4-ch Transient Designer. Paul Wolff was correct when he said it should have been called The Ass Saver.
SPL 9629 2-ch De-Esser. Works quite well on 9 of 10 voices; not so effective on the other 10%.

Mic Preamps and DIs

Avalon AD2022 2-ch. Punchy, clear, modern sound. Vocals, guitars and Fender basses come alive through it.  Variable impedance is useful.
Manley Labs TNT Mic Pre. 2-channel. One tube, the other, not. Both excellent.
Phoenix Audio Ascent Two-EQ 2-channel mic pre plus EQ. Versatile tone shaper.
Chandler Limited Germanium Preamp/DI. Old school thick Neve tone.  Rocks for guitars and bass.
Focusrite ISA 110 Limited Edition. Tough to go wrong with these.  The EQ is very useful.
Apogee Duet2 USB. For laptop field recording.  Sounds pretty good.
Radial JDI passive direct box. Excellent direct box.
Phoenix Audio Nimbus DI active direct box. Good saturator.
Radial X-Amp. Excellent reamp box.
Little Labs Redeye 3D Phantom. Idiot-proof DI & reamp device.  Sounds great!

Outboard and Pedal FX

Eventide H8000FW 8-channel Harmonizer. Can do anything you can imagine!  Used every day.
TC Electronic M3000. Natural sounds; can be used subtly to good effect.
TC Electronic Fireworx. Unnatural sounds; can be used totally over the top.
Lexicon PCM60. Crunchy old school reverb.  Rarely used in recent years.  Saves feeble snare drums.
Lexicon PCM80. With Dual FX and Pitch FX cards. Good FX, ready to go via factory presets. FYI Keith Wechsler and I wrote the Pitch FX card.
Lexicon 300. Standard reverb for film composers for decades.
Yamaha SPX90. Haven’t used it in years.
Yamaha D1500 Delay. Cool modulation FX. Almost never powered up, but once a year, it’s just the right thing.
MoogerFooger MF-101 Lowpass Filter. Not for the uninitiated–this is a serious tweaker’s pedal.
MoogerFooger MF-103 12-Stage Phaser. Wide range of sounds.  Excellent.
MoogerFooger MF-104 Analog Delay. Dark tone is nice for vocal slapback effects.
MoogerFooger MF-105 MuRF. Multiple Resonance Array Filter with sequencer.  Awesome!
MoogerFooger MF-107 FreqBox. Moog “synth” tracks guitar playing.
Fulltone Soul-Bender. Makes Strats ooze with character.
Fulltone Full-Drive 2. For slide playing. Adds sustain without masking the tone of the guitar and amp.
Fulltone Clyde Deluxe Wah. Sounds credible right out of the box.  No mods necessary.
Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. Love it on vocals. Sold it to a friend, but listing it to remind me to buy another one.
CAE Freddy Fuzz. Strats dig it.
CAE Black Cat Vibe. Coveted by many, possessed by few. Studio quality UniVibe.
CAE/Dunlop Wah. Works for me.
Chandler Limited Germanium Boost. Boutique boost for discerning tone fanatics.
Chandler Limited Little Devil Colored Boost. Boutique boost for discerning tone fanatics.
Chicago Iron Octavia. Hendrix-esque octave fuzz. Requires finesse to dial in the sweet spot for different guitars.
Demeter Compulator. Opto in a pedal.  Changes your tone for the better, even without gain reduction.
Demeter Tremulator. Cooder-esque tremolo.  Instant vibe.
JHS Panther Cub Analog Delay. Tap tempo and modulation. Love it.
Aguilar Octamizer. Analog octave pedal for bass. Tracks well if you learn how to play with precision.
Boss DD-5 Digital Delay. Has reverse mode.  Lives in a dedicated bypass loop box because it has to.
Boss FT-2 Dynamic Filter. Old-school envelope filter.
EBS Octabass. Octave below.  Tracks well enough for guitar.
Sho-Bud Volume Pedal. Vintage pedal steel volume.  Very sweet tone when it’s working.
Dunlop Volume (X) Volume Pedal. This is the one I use daily.
Ernie Ball Volume Pedal. Basic, bomb-proof.
Ernie Ball Jr. Volume Pedal. Basic, bomb-proof.
Maxon AD80 Analog Delay. Short maximum delay time, but warm and sweet.
Rocktron Banshee Talkbox. Won’t blow up your guitar amp!
Sonic Research Turbo Tuner. My favorite tuner. Tune to the attack…unless you’re playing a slow ballad with long tones.
Peterson Strobo-Flip. Handy strobe tuner with Buzz Feiten Tuning offsets.
Custom Audio Electronics Power Supplies. Very clean and reliable.

Speakers, Amps and Monitoring

PSI Audio A25M. Incredibly revealing and not fatiguing at all: my new favorite speakers.
PSI Audio A14M. Good for vocal rides in pop and rock mixes.
Focal CMS40. Good for vocal rides in pop and rock mixes.
Genelec 1031A. 15 years without a glitch.  Very reliable.  Don’t be afraid to use the EQ switches on the back panel.
Reproducer Epic-5. Nice alternative speakers set up at producer’s station for a different perspective.
Auratone 5C Mixcube. Single driver, no crossover, no phase cancellation.  Revealing of midrange detail and vocal levels.
Dangerous Music ST/SR 7.1.2. Analog Surround Monitor. The remote controller is a Star Trek Enterprise-worthy work of art. Sounds great.
Custom Made Ken Goerres Dual Speaker Stands. Goerres really knows how to get a control room sounding great.
Truckload of acoustic treatment. Small room now sounds good, courtesy of Ready Acoustics and Chris Pelonis products.


Neumann M149 + “Vintage” Power Supply #2. Low noise, good detail.  Every vocalist loves the sound.
Neumann KM184. Bright, useful condensers.  I like them on acoustic guitars.
1  Pearlman TM47. Inspired by Neumann U47. Handmade with TLC and attention to detail. Lovely vocal mic!
Royer R-121 ribbon mic. Changed the way I record electric guitar amps.  If your rig already sounds good, this mic is the ticket.
Shure SM7B. Love it on bass amps and hard rock vocals.
Shure Beta 52. Inexpensive mic that sounds good on kick drums.
AKG D12. Venerable kick drum mic that I loaned to Cynthia Catania, who uses it with good results on guitar cabinets.
Shure SM 57. Swiss Army mic, required for snare drums.
Audix D3. Has a 421-ish thing with guitar amps.
Sennheiser MD409U3. Love it on guitar and bass cabinets!
2  Sennheiser MD421. Lives on a 4×12 cabinet.
Stedman N90. Large diaphragm dynamic mic. 155 dB SPL. Good for electric guitar cabinets. Inherited from John Walker.

Analog Instruments and Amplifiers

Tom Anderson Hollow Atom. Les Paul meets Gretsch.
Tom Anderson Hollow T Classic Contoured. Stays in tune and play like a dream.  My favorite Tele by far.
Tom Anderson Hollow T Classic. Short “Gibson” scale neck. Fat tone. Not a Nashville Tele. My other favorite Tele by far.
Tom Anderson Classic Strat. Like a vintage Strat without the quirks.
Tom Anderson Cobra Special. This was the first TA LP Special/SG with P90 pickups and a pickguard.  Very groovy.
Gibson ES 335 w/ Tone Pros bridge mod. Instant early ’70s vibe.
Lakland Joe Osbourn Signature USA bass. USA made; best Jazz bass I ever played.  Lindy Fralin pickups.
Fender Fretless Jazz bass. Custom offset fretboard inlays.
Fender Precision bass with Jazz neck and pickup. Limited edition Magnificent 7.
Taylor 714ce Acoustic Guitar. Plays great, stays in tune, sounds balanced for recording.
Gretsch Historic Resonator “Dobro.” Cheap guitar with a pro aftermarket resonator that has The Sound for slide playing.  Instant vibe.
Yamaha Classical Guitar  Model G-170ca . Solid top. I bought it from a rock climber as a favor, and have composed many songs on it.
Wurlitzer 206A Electric Piano. Rebuilt by the master, Ken Rich.  It’s so good that I actually learned how to play it!
Rhodes Stage 73 Electric Piano. 1977 with pristine harp and excellent action…for a Rhodes. Maintained by Ken Rich.
Alessandro High-End English. 20W pure Class-A take on the ultimate AC30, custom built by George himself.
Top Hat 2 x 12 Speaker Cabinet. Burgundy/Gold, loaded with Celestion 15W Alnico Blue Dog reissues.
Mesa/Boogie Fillmore 25 head. Two identical 6V6 channels. The sound of my Shelter In Place album.
Mesa/Boogie Mark III head. Simul-Class. Blue stripe. Turn down the presence knob! Now it sounds great.
Mesa/Boogie Mark 1 Hardwood Combo Amp. Custom wired Class-A triode.  This amp sounds BIG.
Mesa Royal Atlantic RA-100. Inspired by Orange and Marshall amps. EL34 tubes. Wicked clean tone with good sustain for single-note soloing.
Mesa TransAtlantic TA-15. Lunchbox mini amp with Vox, Fender and Mesa tones.
Mesa/Boogie Mark V head w/ custom leather. It’s like a museum of Mark-series Boogies.  I grew up on Mark tones, so this amp works for me.
Mesa ElectraDyne 1×12 custom combo. Simul-Class power section adds a halo around the notes. Wishnefsky liberated this amp from me.
Mesa ElectraDyne 2×12 extension cabinet w/ Celestion Gold speakers. Sweeter than ceramics, but not as sweet as 15W Blue Dogs.
Mesa Lone Star 1×12 open back speaker cabinet. Mesa Celestion 90. Jack of all trades speaker in a great cabinet.  May change the speaker….
Mesa Traditional 4×12 slant cabinet. Custom tangelo croc embossed leather, tan grille.  Celestion V30 speakers. Killer!
Mesa Bass Prodigy Four:88. All tube power amp with intuitive tone stack and fantastic sound.
Mesa Big Block 750 head. Versatile. From Motown to hard rock and everything in between.
Mesa Subway TT-800 head. Juicy Boogie channel voiced like vintage Bass 400; articulate Subway channel is modern.
Mesa Powerhouse 1×12 speaker cabinet. Good articulate bass tone for recording studio.
Morgan MV45 Custom Shop: Script Logo. Boutique take on Plexi crunch tones. Limited edition of 10 made.
1  Lockard 187 head and 2×12 cabinet. All signal path components are NOS parts, handwired point to point. 8 Watts. Killer 6V6 tone.

Recorders, Computers and DAWs

1  Avid Pro Tools 2021.6 Ultimate HDX. 64×64 analog I/O.   MacMini 2018-2020 i7 multi-track mix source. 64GB RAM.
1  Avid Pro Tools 11 HD. 8×8 analog I/O.   MacBook Pro 8,2 used as mix destination when deliverable sample rate must differ from source.
Universal Audio UAD-2 Octo PCI-e card. For classic reverb emulations.  Adds ridiculous latency to Pro Tools HDX. Not an issue for mixing.
4  Dangerous Convert-8 DA converters for analog summing.
1  Dangerous Convert-2 DA converters for apples-to-apples analog monitoring of four discrete digital sources. Excellent digital level metering!
1  Dangerous Convert-AD+ AD converters for capturing the mix bus. Adjustable bypassable transformer coloration. Great wordclock master!
Lynx Aurora 16 I/O converters. 64 analog I/O and 64 digital I/O.
Lynx LT-HD-G Pro Tools Interface. Four of these can connect to one HDX card for 64 channels of I/O.
Apogee Rosetta 800 192k A/D/A Converter + Firewire Card. 8 more analog I/O for printing hi-res mixes to Logic.
Apogee Big Ben Word Clock. Rock solid. Slaves to and distributes Dangerous Convert clock in my room.
Apogee Duet2 USB interface for field recording.
Apple Mac Pro 5,1 Westmere. 32GB RAM. SSD. Once a Mac guy, always a Mac guy.  As expected, this thing works flawlessly.
Apple MacBook Pro 8,2. Intel Core i7. 2.2 GHz. 16 GB RAM. SSD. Mix destination. Replaced optical drive with additional SSD.
Apple MacMini. FTP server for files and mixes.
Glyph Thunderbolt 3 Docks with 2 TB NVMe storage.
Glyph Studio Raid 8 TB. Striped RAID 1 for mirrored recording to two disks simultaneously.
Glyph Studio Raid 4 TB. Striped RAID 1 for mirrored recording to two disks simultaneously.
Glyph Studio Mini 1 TB. Super portable.  Great for traveling! 7200 rpm, so you can actually work on it.
Glyph Dual SCSI Hot Swap Rack. SCSI rules, but this stays mostly in the closet.
Glyph Trip Quad SCSI Hot Swap Rack
10 Glyph GT050Q eSATA drives. eSATA works just as well as SCSI for me.
Vanguard RAID5 tower running BRU Server. For backups and archives.  Semi retired.
Tascam DA-30 DAT Recorder. It still works!
Panasonic SV3800 DAT Recorders. Last powered up around the millennium.  Want to buy one?
Sony ES Cassette Deck. I think I remember what a cassette tape sounds like…
Kriz Kraft ATA Flight Cases. Original cases built by Stinns Svensson. The best, by far.
Avid Artist Mix control surface. For moving fader automation.


Can I hire you to mix my record?

Yes, provided I’m a good fit for your music. Contact me or my manager, Jan Seedman, if you want to book an “attended” session.

What if I’m an unsigned indie artist?

If we both believe that we’re a match made in Heaven, we’ll work out a win-win deal.  If you’re constrained by an “indie budget” and are willing to book an unattended remote session, I can book you via IndieProMix and give you a great mix at a sliding scale price.

What is your mix fee per song?

I have three different fee tiers, per song:
1) Major label fee is $4000 US per song, plus one point, with terms of payment.
2) Indie label fee is $1500 per song plus one point, 50% deposit, 50% C.O.D.
3) IndieProMix fee is sliding scale, between $500-2500 per song, 100% deposit, unattended “remote” mix session.

That said, if there’s a compelling reason to make a different deal, contact me or my manager, Jan Seedman, to work out a deal that genuinely makes everybody happy.  I’ve been known to be supportive of good causes and good people.  Plus, I take credit cards to make your cash flow easier to manage.

What about IndieProMix? Why do you charge less money? Is the work cheaper quality?

IPM is a great resource for indie artists!   I charge less money because I do IPM mixes on my “one-off” dates that fall between other projects, dates that otherwise might be spent bicycling or bodysurfing.  Most IPM mixes typically land in the $750-1500 zone, based on the complexity of the song’s arrangement.  My work remains the same high quality–only the process differs.  The catch, if there is any, is that IPM mixes are unattended, revisions are limited to “same day” and payment is processed in advance.  If you are comfortable making decisions quickly, and you’re on a tight budget, this is the way to go.  Plus, I’m happy to tell you exactly how to prepare your audio files for the lowest price possible.

How long does it take?

I typically schedule one mix per day.  That said, I’ll mix two or more a day if the track count is low, the arrangement is sparse, and editing is minimal. We’ll discuss the time parameters when we schedule your mix dates.

Copyright © 2021 Michael James. All rights reserved. [email protected] | 818.554.6682