Mick Guzauski - 30 Min. with a Mix Engineer Legend
30 Min with a Legend
(What I learned from legendary Audio Engineer Mick Guzauski, Details of the Pharrell “Gust of Wind” mix)
These notes were taken from an “Into the mix” segment at the 137th AES Convention in LA. Mick Guzauski & Fab Dupont were gracious enough to site down for a session. Mick Guzauski’s mix of Pharrell’s phenomenally heralded G I R L album was discussed and there was a particular focus on track #7 “Gust of Wind”. The video of the track is directly below and the notes are below that. I found the session incredibly interesting and the tips you’ll gain from his use of plugins in this mix will transform the way you look at mixing with plugins. This was an ALL PLUGIN MIX. “In the Box” can produce great results (ask Phil Tan), but I digress. Here are the Audio Engineer music mixing gems…enjoy.
MIX: Mixed in stems, the track was burned as a full track and in stems at once. Separate reverbs for stems are mixed with the plugins and sent to tape.
- EQP1A on kick – there’s a special tip with the Pultec, you can boost wide in the bottom and cut there as well with a boost at 5k. Here’s a general tip about analog EQ’s like EQP1A (and their emulations like this plugin). They are built for wide boosts and narrow cuts. Wide boosts in the lower frequencies and narrow cuts in the upper frequencies are a general rule of thumb.
- The SPL Transient Designer can increase first 3ms of a sound without compression. It was used to bring the kick to the front.
- Snare – It was Dry on the channel with an aux EQ & more SPL transient Designer.
- EQP1A – (Boost & Cut at the same frequency), you can do this with a Pultec because there’s a spot where if you boost and cut at the same frequency it leaves a notch and narrows the “Q”. You don’t normally have control over the bandwidth on an EQP1A and this is an off the ball way of establishing control of it.
- Clip gain was used to increase the amplitude of the waveform in the pre-chorus. I recently attended a mastering session where this was done to the kick drum waves in order to keep them from driving the compressor or the limiter.
**Mick noted that the synth ate up the vocal in this track, so he had to make some adjustments. **
- Daft Punk used 2 vocoder groups & a sub octave on certain words (it is an analog moog vocoder) – These guys (as you know) are masters of the vocoder and know how to make it “warble” when and where they want it to. They use many tracks and different takes on each song and use it as an instrument in itself. They’ve got some of the best vocoder work in music today…if not the best, but it’s meticulous.
- Bridge Choir – Kings Chamber – Altaverb7 with a flanger on the reverb to keep it moving around. (From my experience the flanger is really useful for EQ masking, and it’s kind of used in that way in this circumstance with Mick. I’ve been known to use a flanger on instruments that have nagging EQ areas that I wasn’t able to notch out and it works well.)
Related: Plugins We ❤ By The Function Series - A snapshot of some of the best plugins to have in your studio!
- 3dB compression with the Neve 33609. *Place the limiter in as you are getting done because the limiter will effect transients.* Mick put the limiter before the automation rides, then as you get balance add the limiter.
- The Manley Massive Passive was used to effect low end and add a high shelf at 27 KHz for air.
Sonnox EQ – A Shelf was added around 2 KHz and a HP filter at 20Hz so the subsonics didn’t affect the limiter.
**Need more info on this mix or have a question? We're answering them in the FORUM! Wanna know more about amazing engineers? Check out our series "Top 5 Engineers" in each genre (Hip Hop, Pop, Rock, Country, Post, Jazz/Classical).**
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