Music Tech Magazine

JOHN BARRETT

For the third instalment of our Ask Abbey Road feature, we have John Barrett, one of the world-famous studio’s newly promoted and up-and-coming audio engineers. John has 14 years of experience under his belt at the iconic facility and has rapidly risen through the ranks, from tea boy to assistant engineer to score recordist and, just recently, to engineer.

The lion’s share of John work at the studio is orchestral recording and his recent credits include recordist for the climactic Avengers: Endgame score and score mixer for Jonny Greenwood’s Oscarnominated score for Phantom Thread along with recording the score for Steven Price’s Our Planet. John is equally comfortable working on pop records and has recently recorded live sessions with George Ezra, James Bay, Slaves, Krept & Konan, Mike Skinner and Flohio. Here, MT readers ask John their burning production questions…

Paul How do you approach in-the-box mixes? With my mixes, it feels like, early on, more subtle elements can disappear?

John Barrett I don’t think there’s any technical reason why that would happen. The main difference between in-the-box mixing and working on an analogue console is in the way you start and approach the mix. When you’re on faders, it seems far more tactile and you’re more likely to do things intuitively.

I remember when I started doing my mixes in-the-box, I was a lot more reluctant to be radical early on. You can start looking at EQ curves rather than just feeling it. I think that if you can approach an in-the-box mix as you would mixing on an analogue console, you’re going to get a decent balance straight away. The other thing about in-the-box mixing is that you can spend hours stuck thinking about which plug-ins to use. If you’re mixing on a console, you’d probably just put an EQ on and immediately start playing and making progress.

Once you’ve figured out headroom and static levels, the control from having an in-the-box mix means

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