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Nobody will ever dance to your latest house music production unless the drums are beefy, the low end is punchy, and those open hi-hats are bright and lively.
Long story short, house music’s danceability thrives on having a well-polished mixdown. And while it used to take seasoned engineers decades of practice to get this high-level professional result, nowadays you can get amazing results using just a few powerful plugins.
Nobody has been at this longer and knows this better than Paris’s Shiba San, which is why we sat down to chat about his favorite plugins he uses to get perfect mixdowns in every one of his house music tracks.
Stream Shiba San’s “Bam Da Bam” Below
The only way to know what an amazing house music mixdown is to hear a master at work. Shiba San’s latest single is a masterclass in how much a tight and powerful mixdown can add to your track.
The minimal arrangement of the release allows Shiba San to really get the maximum amount of volume and energy out of the few elements and layers included in the track. The vocal chops, lead synth line, and drums are able to work their magic in plain sight, without convoluted layers and backing atmospheres clouding the mix.
So listen to Shiba’s latest release below (a few times if you’re serious about your own production) to cement what an amazing house track sounds like in your head before dicing into the plugins Shiba used so well.
This one is an essential plug-in for me.
With this plug-in, you can clean up samples, Declip, Declick, denoise, etc. The best part is the rebalance tool which helps isolate stems.
If you only need the vocal or the instrumental from a song, you can isolate the parts you need and easily export them.
Izotope Insight 2
This is an audio metering plug-in that you can put at the end of the chain of your master channel, for mixdown or mastering. You get a great and quick view of the levels, frequency content, stereo spread, and dynamic range.
Nowadays, the most important thing to check is the LUFS. With this, it’s very clear and you have all the parameters for the different streaming platforms if needed.
Izotope Ozone 10 Maximizer
I don’t have much to say about this plug-in except it works so well!! It includes the True Peak limiting that I don’t see in many limiters.
It also includes an automatic match gain when you bypass the maximizer. This means you can hear at the same volume the signal with the maximizer and without. So you hear it if it keeps the sound clean and it doesn’t kill the transients when it’s on. This is the only plug-in I use that doesn’t cut part of the low ends.
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Mastering The Mix: Bassroom
An incredible plug-in!! This entire series is great but I will pick two of them.
Bassroom is a Match EQ specialized in low frequencies from 0 to 320 Hz. It’s separated in five parts: 0 to 20Hz, 22 to 40Hz, 40 to 80Hz, 80 to 180Hz, and 180 to 320 Hz. All you have to do is download a song (or several songs) as a target in the plug-in, then you play your song, mixdown, or mastering, and it shows you the difference between your song and the target song.
Then you can adjust as needed to sound like the target song.
Each frequency is represented as a rectangle that you can enlarge or make smaller to approach the target sound. It’s very visual, easy to use, and helps me a lot. It’s a necessary plug-in!
Mastering The Mix: Reference
This is the one I was waiting for! This plug-in lets you switch from your song to the target song in one click. You download one or several songs in the plug-in and put it on the master chain, for the mixdown or the master.
You choose the part of the song you want to target and it adjusts the volume of the target song to your mixdown or master and indicates the difference in DB. You can compare it to the target to see if you’re too loud or too quiet.
Then you can compare the sound of your mixdown or master with several target songs, all in one click.
Universal Audio Tube Tech MK2
This is a Tube Optical compressor. I had the hardware back in the day but the plug-in offers one valuable option which is the mix knob for parallel compression.
This compressor is great for vocals, bass and everything else since you have the attack and release adjustable. It warms and smooths the sound. As soon as you engage it, you hear more low-mid ends and it attenuates the high frequencies.
The constructor will say « it’s transparent » but I don’t think that since it really changes your original sound.
I don’t know if I can only pick one plug-in of the entire Roland Cloud series.
There are all the vintage analog and digital synths and Rhythm Maschine, like Juno 106, Juno 60, SH-2, SH 101. TR 808, 909 ,707, 606, Tb 303.
I think they have the principal plug-ins and features that made House Music from the beginning of its existence. It’s essential!