Favorite Equalizer For Electronic Music

People often ask me what my favorite equalizer for electronic music is, and my answer is that it depends on what their goal is, as well as their skill level. However, the EQs that I like for electronic music generally fit a certain set of criteria. Not every equalizer in this article fits all of the criteria, but here is a not-so-exhaustive list of things that I like to see when I’m purchasing a new EQ.

Keep in mind that all EQ’s are at their core, just filters, but some go above and beyond this. Equalizer settings for electronic music vary based on the timbres and styles, but each one of these will work universally for electronic music.



  1. They have previews of the band that you can solo (you can press the button and hear the band on its own). This allows you to hear things more specifically.
  2. The plugin needs to be able to do oversampling.
  3. The plugin needs to be able solo the filter (EQ band).
  4. The EQ needs to have a mid and side mode, aka M/S mode.
  5. The EQ can switch from digital approach to analog. A digital EQ is very clean, and an analog is a little bit more organic and less precise.
  6. The EQ can be dynamic
  7. While all don’t have this feature, it’s nice if an EQ has a piano roll, so you can see how frequencies quantize to notes (this is a good way of seeing if a note will fit inside the track).


Fabfilter Pro-Q 3

A picture of one of the best equalizers for electronic music, in my opinion, the Fabfilter Pro Q 3

First on the list is the Fabfilter ProQ 3 – an affordable, easy-to-use EQ that hits most of the points I look for in an equalizer. It’s versatile, as in it can be used in both mastering and mixing. On top of state-of-the-art linear phase operation and the ability to get zero latency readouts on your EQ, you get natural phase modes, mid/side processing, and a bunch of other intuitive options.


A Neat Pro-Q 3 Trick

One of my favorite features is that if you have the ProQ 3 on multiple channels or busses, it can communicate with the ProQ 3’s on the other ones and let you know if there are conflicts in frequences.

Then, with the side processing (sidechain), you can easily duck precise frequencies, and you can even solo these frequencies to hear exactly how the sidechain is affecting the relationship between all the individual sounds. Or sometimes you don’t even need a sidechain, and you can just grab the curve and bring the conflicting frequency down.

Another neat trick with the Fabfilter ProQ 3 is that you can use it to split the stereo, and modify the same frequency at different amplitude levels on the stereo. So for instance, sometimes in a recording, you have a sound that mixes well on the right pan, and doesn’t quite mix perfectly on the left, but should be somewhat present on the left panning in order to fill out the stereo field.

With the ProQ 3, you can leave the level on the right channel as is, and on the left, alter the amplitude in order to fit the frequencies it’s conflicting with.

All of these reasons are why it’s a favorite equalizer for electronic music. It produces some of the best equalizer settings for bass, mids, and highs in all genres.


Wavefactory Trackspacer

A photo of Wavefactory's trackspacer, which allows you to have some of the best equalizer settings for electronic music without the hassle.

This one is not necessarily an EQ, but if you’re familiar with Wavefactory’s Trackspacer you can see why it would fit well within this list. Basically, it uses a mathematical formula in order to automatically figure out where conflicting frequencies are between two tracks and then it will apply precise side compression to the parts that are necessary to compress to get them to meld better.

You can even apply a low pass or a high pass filter to each end of the frequency spectrum to isolate what part of the sounds you want to compress. It’s ridiculously easy to use.


HornetVST Total EQ

a photo of HornetVST's Total EQ. It's one of my favorite equalizers for electronic music.

Not everyone has the money to invest in VSTs. However, HornetVST makes VSTs that are ridiculously cheap, and they often do sales, so you can get decent plugins for 5 bucks. 

The HornetVST Total EQ is similar to ProQ 3, sounds really good, and is easy to work with. Personally, I believe it’s better than Ableton stock EQ’s because you have a team working specifically on developing the best equalizer for electronic music (or all music at that matter).

While it doesn’t have all the gizmos and detail goodies that the ProQ 3 has, it’s still really good. For instance, it has 12 bands, a real-time spectrum analyzer, a whopping 17 different kinds of filters for each band, individual analog response and emulation for each band, band soloing (like in the ProQ 3), mono/stereo for each band, and a bunch more features.


Melda Productions – MAutoEQ

Image of one of my favorite equalizers for electronic music - the Melda Productions - MAuto EQ

The thing that makes this EQ special is the MeldaProduction Filter Adaption (MFA) technology which uses a formula to analyze your recording and make suggestions based on your recording, another recording, or even a spectrum that you can “draw” inside the interface. It’s kind of the Photoshop of EQs, in a way. It can also be used extensively for mixing and mastering.

MAutoEqualizer can place a track into a mix using the spectral separation feature, where you can, like in Photoshop, pencil your preferred frequency response. MAutoEqualizer’s technology will search for the best settings and alter the parametric equalizer bands to fit the best form.

With a normal equalizer, you are listening to the spectrum and then increasing or decreasing the amplitude of the band to fit what you believe is the correct level, which can be a chore. With MAutoEqualizer it gives your ears a little bit of a break by setting things to levels based on its algorithmic predeterminations. 

Also, if you are allergic to resonance in your sound then this EQ is for you. One of the things it does best is listen to the incoming signal, where it then finds resonances that it can apply filtering suggestions to. Then with the wet/dry knob, you can determine how much resonance you want in the areas it pointed out. It’s really simple, and a favorite equalizer for electronic music.

Brainworks’ BX3

A photo of the Brainworks’ BX3, which produces some of the best equalizer settings for electronic music.

A mastering and mixing EQ I recommend is BX3 by Brainworks. It’s an extremely powerful, surgical EQ that I use extensively. It can make space, clean, and can really polish things up. This EQ is not meant for adding color or character to mixes, but rather making sure that everything sounds as clear and crisp as possible. It’s a bit difficult to use if you’re not super familiar with mixing and mastering, but it’s extremely powerful, making it a favorite equalizer for electronic music.

This EQ’s Auto Listen feature automatically solos each band’s Gain and Q (resonance) controls based on their respective settings while doing the same with the channel’s Frequency controller. By setting Gain, Q, and Frequency on an individual channel (L or R), Auto Solo switches the monitoring to that channel.

Your tweaks are illustrated with separate frequency-response graphs for each channel. With this feature, you may notice that your adjustments will become more visible and audible than ever before since it allows for some of the best equalizer settings for electronic music.


Brainworks’ AMEK200

photo of one of my favorite analog emulated EQ's for music, the Brainworks’ AMEK200.

My favorite analog emulation EQ is AMEK200 by Brainworks. This is modeled after classic 70’s and 80’s mastering EQ’s, such as the GML 8200 and vintage SONTEC vintage EQs, but with some plugin specific upgrades, such as Auto-Listen features, variable high-pass and low-pass filters, and M/S processing.

All of these features result in a very transparent mix that does a really beautiful finishing. Note that the AMEK200 has no spectral readout, just knobs you twist, which is good for learning how to trust your ears.


So, which one is my favorite equalizer for electronic music?

There is no specific one. All of these plugins will allow for the best equalizer settings for music, whether that’s minimal house, techno, jazz, rock, hip-hop or k-pop. They all allow for the best equalizer settings for rolling bass, or entrancing mids, it just depends on your experience level, and your desire to learn and experiment.

This article contains affiliate links which I may make a commission off of.

Home studio essentials: Starter kits for electronic music production

Due to popular demand and because I receive questions about what to buy to start making electronic music almost daily, I decided to cover the topic based on various levels of investment. If you follow the plan I outline below, you won’t fail or be mislead into bad purchasing decisions. This list is based on years of discussions with people, consultation with clients, and testing a variety of this gear myself. As previously covered in a past article, we’ll start with the level where you are completely new to making electronic music and then build up from there. If you need guidance beyond first levels, scroll down to see tips for larger budgets and more advanced levels of producing. Just remember, the type of studio electronic gear that you choose to use will have a profound effect on your sound.

Level 1 kit: The beginner Studio Electronic Musician

Your level of knowledge:little-to-none; you’re contemplating making music.

Includes: Laptop, DAW and Headphones.

Music really doesn’t take much to get started with anymore. There’s a myth that many people believe, that the more equipment you have, the better the music you’ll make and thus it’s waste of time if you don’t have much money to invest in the early stages. This is false, I know some pretty amazing music that was done on the cheapest setups you can imagine. Remember, studio electronic music started as a DIY endeavour, in cultures that were not traditionally wealthy.

The only thing I’d strongly encourange you to do is get a demo version of Ableton, Reason, or Bitwig to see which one seems the best for you but my personal pick will always be Ableton, which I’ve been using since 2002.

For your laptop, if you can invest in one, I’d say try to get a PC or MAC with at least a i5 or i7 processor and an SSD hard drive; this will make a tremendous difference in how you’ll be able to manage the needed resources. Plugins and software are mostly dependent on a powerful CPU to process information, while the fast hard drive is to access how the samples are read. If your hard drive is slow, it can create bottlenecks if you’re reading large files. An external SSD is critical should you rely on something not internal. Also with regards to RAM, the higher the better. At the moment, I find that a minimum of 6gb will make a difference but if you can get more, that’s even better. High RAM is also a critical part of how smoothly your DAW will run.

Harddrives & Laptops For For Studio Electronic Music

You’ll need a good pair of headphones. If you don’t like making music, you’ll still have a good pair. I find that it can be misleading to not invest much in it so if you can, get the best you can get. I propose here pairs for different budgets.


Level 2 kit: Getting confident In Studio Electronic Music

Your level of knowledge: You’ve made some songs and you start to feel limited by the level 1 kit (headphones and a laptop).

Includes: extra software/plugins, Speakers, MIDI controller.

Ok, so now you know you want to do this as a hobby or more. I think it’s important to have better monitoring than just your headphones so getting speakers should be among your next priorities. There’s nothing more important than to go to your local shop and spend time testing a few pairs of monitors with music you know. So get your phone ready and go listen, then you can make a decision and buy. My personal favourites might not work for your style, but here are some of them, including some for different budgets.

Just make sure that the music you listen to is similar to the type you will be making, since your studio electronic music will be influenced by whatever you get. 

Speakers & Monitors FOr Studio Electronic mUsic

MIDI Controllers

A good investment is adding some controllers for your DAW so you feel a bit more physical about how you interact with your music. This can go from a pad based midi controller, to a keyboard or a midi mixer. It really depends of what you do with your music but any of these will be useful somehow.

If you’re serious about your music, you will want some original material and investing in good synths is important; you can then combine controllers with sounds. KOMPLETE by Native Instruments is a powerful investment that will pay off for years to come. Otherwise, Arturia is also quite amazing.

Level 3 kit: The Studio ELectronic hobbyist

Your level of knowledge: You’re able to make music and finish songs, you spend considerable time making music.

Includes: extra software/plugins, Gear upgrades.

At this point you can make music, finish songs, and perhaps getting some of your tracks signed to a label. This is the stage where most of my clients are at. In general, their needs are pretty much the same. Many haven’t invested in good monitoring, either a proper sound card or monitors. A quality sound card/interface will make a big difference in the quality of your sound; this sounds pretty obvious but many people I work with still need to be convinced…until they get one and come to me to say I was right! Sound cards aren’t like monitors, it’s not a question of personal tastes but a matter of understanding what you need. The very first question you should ask yourself is “how much gear do I need to record?”, because that will determine how many inputs you need in your interface. You could always get a little mixing board to get all the audio in then route it to two stereo inputs, but some people prefer multiple audio in. In other words, studio electronics matter.

Audio interfaces & Sound cards

Most basic audio interface: Focusrite

Focusrite Scarlett-Solo Gen2 USB Audio Interface

Picture of Focusrite Scarlett-Solo Gen2 USB Audio Interface

Medium budget: MOTU – who also make killer converters for recording.

MOTU MicroBook IIc USB Audio Interface

Picture of the MOTU MicroBook IIc USB Audio Interface. It's an excellent piece of studio electronic gear.

My personal suggestion is to go with UAD Apollo Twin, which also gives you access to all their plugins and outboard CPU power. This is a solid piece of studio electronic gear.

I find that at this point, investing in software to define your sound and to get out of your DAW’s internal sound is a great move. Some companies I love are U-He with their amazing synths such as Diva, Bazille or the Presswerk compressor. I am also on the Plugin Boutique mailing list to get daily discounts on software. Not only do I learn about what exists, but it then also becomes possible to get discounts for plugins I’ve had my eye on. Following KVRAudio is also an essential habit. They are masters of studio electronic gear.

Level 4 kit: The serious bundle FOr STudio Electronic Music

Your level of knowledge: You’re getting very serious at it and want to be semi-pro.

Includes: extra software/plugins, Gear & studio upgrades.

At this point, you have an organized your studio and all essentials are covered. Usually this is where you’ll feel ready to invest into more gear such as modular synths, synthesizers, external effects, and fine tuning what you already have. Before anything else, I’d suggest you make sure you have something to cover your low end. If you have neighbors and still want good relationships with them, I’d go for a Subpac:

Bass & Subwoofers

This thing has really been helpful at home and helped me get more precise mixes; there’s this more expensive wearable version, or a cheaper version for your back while sitting in a chair. It’s a piece of gear that gives you a physical impression of having a sub. If you can get a sub though, that’s even better. I can recommend many, but usually something like the Yamaha HS8s Studio Subwoofer will do for a home or small studio.

Nailing the low end is really an important part in solid sounding music, and you can only get there by being able to hear what’s going on down there. To adjust it, you won’t really need to hear it as much as feel it, which is what the Subpac also does.


In terms of synths, there are many great ones out there. If you can get to a shop to test some in person, I recommend you do so. I can explain in my own words the technicalities of sounds each synth can make, but test driving a synth is the best thing to do, to really know if it will fit what you do. I think my view on this is that when you get a synth, it will become an important part of your artistic identity. I’ll list some of my favorites, based on different branches and aesthetics: Roland, Korg, Moog, Elektron.

TIP: Always search for demos of the synths on Youtube to see how they sound!

Roland: aesthetic – classic sound

A staple player of the electronic music world, Roland basically shaped the beginnings with drum machines and the tb-303, source of the original acid tones or the Juno that shaped Trance/deep techno. After being silent for years, Roland has returned with force, deploying super solid products such as Roland Aira TR-8 Rhythm Performer for the 808, hugely recommended if you want classic kicks. The sound is very classic, clean, and efficient. I would recommend the Roland GAIA SH-01 Synthesizer which has made a big comeback in many genres in the last few years and is far from being out of date.

Korg: aesthetic – edgy, modern, clean, warm

Let’s cover the basics of Korg as I know some of them. The all favorite at the moment is definitely the Korg MS-20 Mini Semi-modular Analog Synthesizer which is a good cross of analog synths because of its patching options. It can sound very modern and experimental but it can also sound old school 50’s spooky sci-fi. There’s a bit of a learning curve but the investment is very rewarding once you dive in it. Very unpredictable at times, it can provide many outstanding ideas. These happy accidents define so much excellent studio electronic music, as well as live electronic music.

Another one is the Korg Minilogue 4-Voice Polyphonic Analog Synth which is a super slick synth that sounds very clean and modern. It is able to make tight basses and warm fuzzy pads. Excellent for techno.

There’s also the cheaper version as well too. Finally, super useful and fun is the Volca series. There’s a nice little FM synth in this series – a very powerful buddy that can provide really warm tones.

Moog: aesthetic – Fat, rounded, electroish sound, vintage and gritty)

Moog is a staple for its name and the legacy it’s left over the years in so many songs we have all heard. Fat and dirty basses are often from Moogs and bold melodies are pretty much a trademark. If you want to dip your toe in the modular world, the Mother is a great machine to get. Its sounds really, really warm and thick plus its patching board is well designed that you can get started intuitively. The Moog Sub Phatty is another favorite of many for the name it carries, and what you get in return. The Moog Mother is another beast that can make extremely powerful sounds, from basses to kick and leads. it’s also a good step in the semi-modular world if you’re looking to make some hard hitting studio electronic stuff.

Elektron: aesthetic – Berlin techno, modern/underground dance music

This company is the current leader for studio favourites. It’s defining a lot of the current techno tracks that are being released. The main bad boy here is the Elektron Digitakt. There are two things that define the success of this monster: it sounds right and the integration with Ableton/DAWs makes it an ideal desktop companion. If you have the budget, you could also get the Elektron Analog Four which is another beast. Crazy possibilities on this one and a resource to do pretty much anything you want.

SEE ALSO :   Equipment Needed to Make Music – Gear vs. Experience vs. Monitoring  

Good quality microphones for iPhone

One of my favorite things about making music is to combine recordings of random things I find or field recordings to include in my music – a great, simple way to do that is with an iPhone microphone. Since this is a topic I often cover in this blog, I thought I’d go over some iPhone microphones I’ve had the chance to use, test, or have seen friends use.

Why use an iPhone microphone?

iPhone microphones (or any phone microphones) are ideal for portability as well as for using them when you have quick moment of inspiration to seize a moment. I believe smartphone microphones are an essential any electronic musician should have. Not only can you record a weird conversation you’re hearing in a cafe, but you can also record a moment of a track that sounds amazing at an event (although the quality won’t be great…at least it’s a way to remember something you liked). The idea is to create material you can use as sample or references. Recording sounds in and out of the studio is always a great source of inspiration.

Here are some microphones for smartphones:

Zoom iQ7 iOS Lightning X/Y Microphone (Amazon)

Zoom has been a top choice for many for a long time. If you don’t have the handheld recorder you can get this microphone with lightning connector. It’s probably one of the best out there hands-down, not only because of the great quality of the audio but also for the app that comes with the microphone. The app makes it way easier than the handheld recorder as not only do you get quick access to different parts of the configuration, but you can even send it to your Dropbox.

I recommend this one as my first pick.

Movo PM10 Deluxe Lavalier

Lavalier microphones are usually used to pick up someone’s voice, so you’ll see it on people on TV or people on stage when they do conferences. They have pros and cons, but the one thing I like about them is they also have their own sound profile. The guy I work with for my jazz project uses one for his saxophone and while at first I was a bit skeptical, the end results were beyond what I was expecting. This Movo does something really cool if you wear it subtlety and record yourself or play some instruments. It’s a bit annoying to install but if you’re creative, it can be pretty fun to try unusual ways to pick up sounds.

Cs-10em Binaural Microphones and Earphones

This one is amazing but it doesn’t work with a smartphone because these pods are also microphones for binaural recording. This means that you get a stereo microphone at the level of your ears, recording the world around you. What this does is, if you pass the recording to a friend who wears headphones, he will hear it exactly how you did when you wore the pods. So lets say you recorded yourself in a coffee shop and some people were talking in the back, the listener will also hear it in the back. For positioning and field recordings, this toy is a dream. The only downside is you need something like a handheld microphone with an entry or pair it with the iQ6.

Rode IXYL Condenser

Rode makes amazing condensers and the quality of their products is always outstanding. The only reason I don’t suggest this one at first is the price. It won’t fit everyone’s budget and can be overwhelming if you use it only occasionally. But if you think you really want to get into field recording, go with this. I’ve tried this model but don’t own one because I can’t have them all …but it’s certainly in my wishlist!

IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio

This one is last on the list but could also be first. While the microphone is totally fine and you get something lovely for the price, what makes the iRig really cool is the number of things they offer, from other toys for picking up sounds to great apps that can help you make music on your iPad. They’ve been around for quite a while now and know what they’re doing.

SEE ALSO :   Home studio essentials: Starter kits for electronic music production 

What Izotope’s Ozone Series Doesn’t Consider

It was a great surprise to see the release of Izotope’s new Ozone and Neutron update last week. Since I use both products, often I immediately got started looking for whats new.

There will undoubtedly be a ton of new tutorial and youtube review videos posted of these tools, but I want to approach this post around how I use these plugins, and also mention a larger problem I find all too common within the production of software, and an issue I feel Izotope’s Ozone series doesn’t consider.

But firstly, let’s talk about where Izotope really succeeded.

The sound. I can’t put my finger exactly on it, but to my ears, there is a noticeable improvement of the sound quality in Ozone 8. Perhaps it’s an oversampling issue or something with the filters, but the sound is tighter, bright, and more precise over earlier versions.
The workflow – Ozone 8 comes with several new features that provide a faster way for me to achieve the sound I want. The maximizer now includes a loudness target and the reference addition to comparing the versions via the tonal balance control.

Tonal Balance. A fascinating tool that allows you to visualize the frequency levels of your track, and will enable you to match to eq targets from a specific genre of music. Having visual feedback of where your tonal balance per frequency is, and easy access to eq those levels is a great and fast way to achieve a professional sound. I did some testing earlier today and found the target system pretty accurate, but in the end, I found the target ranges slightly off for the lows and highs (see below in my low points).

Visual Mixer. This is the bomb within Neutron 2, and for that feature alone I’d buy the entire package. The visual mixer allows you to place and position your tracks visually across the spectrum, (volume, pan, and width). It’s a beautiful process, and the edit window looks super sci fi and modern. If you work with multiple channels and often have mono tracks this is simply a killer addition. One of the things that blew my mind was that you can actually automate the panning, which opens the doors to many exciting and beautiful options in sound design.

Improved Mix assistant. I really like the mix assistant by the way. I’ve heard many people mock the process, or are jaded to the idea  that it’s impossible for AI to do a man’s job but honestly if the assistant can pull up all the tools I need and set the table for me to tweak fast, you won’t hear me complain.

Communication between plugins. This feature is really cool. You may adjust EQ from one window on another incoming channel, which is reflected in other instances of the plugin. This is super useful when you want to tame the relation between kick and bass as you want to be EQing side by side, both channels. It works and looks seamlessly.

In the end, I’m really loving the update from Izotope and will be using many of the new and improved features. I also want to take a minute to point out a criticism I have with Izotope.

Generalization of customers – It’s unfortunate that I find many large, corporate companies narrow down potential customers into three simple types – pop, edm, and hiphop. I see how that makes marketing more manageable, but what about producers like me who are creating and working on underground and experimental music? I say this because many of the new tools shipped with Ozone and Neutron are built with presets as starting points to mix and master only three types of music. I my opinion, this is quite limiting, and the fact that you can only refer to 3 types of tonal shapes is, to me, a complete fail. It reminds me of LANDR giving only 3 types of loudness range. It’s disappointing because I feel like this software expects you to be either this or that, which is clear from the design of the genre-specific presets – as if there are no other types of musician in the world??

What Izotope’s Ozone series doesn’t consider is people like me, and many friends and colleagues of mine, who make our living from creating music, and don’t fit into the standard pop, edm, or hiphop category.

CPU hungry. I have a newish MacBook, fully geared up for performance, and while running several instances of Ozone my entire screen began flickering and making strange glitches. Izotope support claimed it was likely my CPU over-loading, however, I was only using 5 Neutron and 1 Ozone 8 instance, plus visual mixer. If my custom built computer is hit hard with CPU usage imagine how will the average Joe deal with such demands on the processor.

This goes along with the new mastering plugin by Eventide, Elevate that is so power hungry that it’s barely usable. Funny enough, a few days after Ozone 8 came on the market, Eventide droped the price of its plugin by 50%…

Still, in my opinion, the updated Ozone suite is a serious tool to consider having. It really delivers impressive quality sound. As always, I want to hear about what you think about these tools and feel free to leave a comment below and share your opinion.




PreSonus StudioLive 32.4.2AI Review

I’m hearing lot’s of friends and readers super excited to start using the new gear they’ve recently bought for their studios, I certainly know the feeling. The thing is, learning to be confident and comfortable with new gear takes time, and it can often be difficult to get everything in place when starting to write new material. The process of switching from only a computer only workflow to a digital/analog setup can take a bit of practice, and in this post, I’ll share a few tips you can use to make the process easier and share my thoughts after using the unit in my own studio.

For people into hardware, it will come a moment where you’ll need to never lose your flow and have all your channels on hand so you can have the control you want.

Today I’ll be featuring the PreSonus StudioLive 32.4.2AI I received from B&H. Truth be told, I’ve been digging this right out of the box. This post could also serve as a review of the mixer if you are in the market for that. PreSonus have plans to release an update to the 32.4.2AI mixer, so watch for a price drop on this model.

If you spend a lot of time at the mixdown stage, PreSonus has a fantastic workflow built into their Studio One 3 software.

With the integration of this mixer, the process of mixing with hardware becomes seamless and even more exciting. The super fast firewire connection allows secure and reliable hands-on tracking, mixing, and producing next-level enjoyable.

After using this unit for some time, I’ll share a few thoughts that have stayed with me.

  • Easy to navigate/and use: if you’re not familiar with a professional this beast immediately feels like a friend. It does look impressive on the desk but wherever your eyes go you never really feel lost. Bonus – if you are in the middle of the action you can quickly address any situation with a quick circular view. Everything is laid out so well and located within a natural place. The design is of the unit is also very slick.
  • Very little menu diving. Pretty self-explanatory here but this is something I’m allergic to because it always feels frustrating to dig deep within endless menus.
  • Easy to assign channels to subgroups. Since I’m often mixing, this task is an essential one for me. I’ll always use sub-groups for percussions, melodies, etc. There are 4 sub groups and while I often use 5-6, I could still be OK with that limitation.
  • Tons of Aux sends. As you grow your effects collection, you’ll become aware of how super important aux sends are for mixing. You’ll want to have access to your effects through the AUX and you never have enough. Most mixers have about 6 which means, 3 stereo effects which usually means more are needed.
  • A 32in/32out sound card makes tracking into your DAW easy and is perfect for studio work. As you know, this mixer becomes a sound interface, so you do the tracking and can focus on having everything on hand.
  • Assigning inputs from DAW is a piece of cake (buttons underneath phantom power).
  • Sound quality is really quite good. We did some comparing with our Prism audio interface of the UAD Apollo Twin, and we were quite impressed. It was great to hear how well the audio engine stood up against top names.
  • Line inputs on every channel for gear. Nothing but a wowzer.
  • Well built. It’s seriously heavy, robust, the knobs don’t feel cheap, faders have a nice smooth traction so it really does feel like you’re working with a tank. Perfect for live clubs.
  • Dynamics/EQ on every channel which is great for basic and clean signal control/correction, though not musical in any sense.

I love the mix of analog and digital and there are lot’s of great features here to be sure. To be fair, I need to address a few points I’m less a fan of.

  • Noisy Fan – this is minor, but the noise is noticeable.
  • No DAW control or motorized faders. Although in the next upcoming version, this is addressed.
  • Can only run at 48khz sample rate. Not a problem if you don’t need high resolutions, but I’m still a bit surprised by this limitation.
  • The unit we tested has a small glitch when viewing the input meters. Perhaps this might be fixed with an update, but we didn’t do any.
  • Only two stereo aux returns. hmmmm.

The PreSonus StudioLive 32.4.2AI is an excellent mixing solution if you have a modest budget and the price may drop slightly with the announcement of a newer version coming shortly. In my opinion, you’ll have a pretty good solution for your gear and great addition for your studio with the with the PreSonus StudioLive 32.4.2AI –

Special thanks to B&H on that!



2016: Studio Trends and My Clients

It’s been a crazy first year for the audio services I founded in November 2015. Things really got started with the website in January, and it fired up right away. I thought this would be a good time to look back at 2016, and to share some of the year’s highlights: of the plugins I used the most, the projects I worked on, and the producers I had the great pleasure to work with.

Where to start?

Let’s begin with some numbers. With online sales alone, I completed over 300 projects by early December, though the number for all sales combined is closer to 350 projects for the entire year. This includes sound design, mixing, mastering, and training services, both online and in person. This was indeed my biggest year since 2004.

Add to that my online coaching service that reached 450 people in 6 months. It’s been a bit overwhelming to be sure, but being able to help so many people fuels me as well.

Overall, the breakdown of services offered by my studio in 2016 looks like this:

Mastering: 43%

Mixdown: 24%

Arrangements: 15%

Coaching: 15%

Other: 3%

And in terms of musical styles, it broke down like this:

Tech house/house: 24%

Techno: 33%

Deep/dub techno: 14%

Hard techno: 4%

Experimental/Ambient/Chill out/IDM: 15%

Pop: 3%

Hip hop: 7%

The most frequent requests were:

  • Rounded lows.
  • Warm bass.
  • Punchy.

I’m really happy that people have generally stopped asking for the music to be “LOUD,” as this was a common request years back. In 10 years, I’ve seen that people’s tastes have slowly evolved, and that they’re more and more into the warmer sound that analog provides.


In terms of plugins, these are some of the ones I used the most this year. In general, I try to create a different chain of compressors and EQ depending on the label or client, to create a unique aesthetic. One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that the combination of various effects adds grain to the sound. It’s like combining ingredients when you cook: you can try 2 different brands of a same spice, and the results will differ subtly.

Universal Audio Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder Plug-In

This is certainly a very creative tool, as well as a nice mixing plugin. It adds saturation and will beef up flimsy parts. Anything that goes through it seems to come out in perfect shape.


Sonalksys CQ1

This is certainly the best multiband tool out there — and trust me, I’ve tried them all. You will need multiband for mixing, but you can get very interesting results if you use drastic measures for sound design. This one never fails.


Harrison 32C

This is definitely an underestimated player in the EQ world, as I rarely hear people talk about it. This year was when I started using it almost every day though. It has this little thing that makes lows so warm.



A simple compressor, but it works like a charm. Brainworx never fails to create quality products that use simple and intuitive controls. A huge help on percussions.


Space Strip

A fun little tool for sound design, it creates really cool spaces, as the name suggests. Throw it on the master and watch it craft lovely atmospheres out of so little.


Reason 9

The DAW of the year without a doubt. If you’re one of those people that has been overlooking Reason, run now to get yourself the trial and be ready to have your jaw drop in awe. Rewired with Ableton, it is the most powerful tool to get over any creative block. It also does crazy (I mean it) sound design.



This reverb didn’t get the attention it deserved. If you’re not familiar with Zynaptiq, they really make state-of-the-art products. These guys are machines. Adaptiverb is hard to explain, so I’ll leave the descriptions to them, but suffice to say that it is not your typical reverb. It’s certainly a nice add-on to your plugin collection, as it can form creamy textures out of simple pads.



One of the things that really got me motivated this year was having clients who were interested in pursuing a long-term association with me. They’d come to me for all of their mixing needs so that they could focus their energies on recording new ideas. Some wanted their studio sessions arranged around songs. It’s great to have multiple contracts with someone, because you start by working with a reference artist, until eventually that shifts and the producer starts referencing themself.

It would be impossible to list all the clients I had in 2016 whose work I loved, but here are a few of the highlights that come to mind:


From Argentina, Franco worked with my buddies at 31337 Records, producing a superb palette of ambient sounds, intricately organized into a beautiful microcosm.


Kike Mayor

Kike has been one of my most loyal clients this year, as we worked together to define his sound as something “fun and sexy,” as we both liked to call it. Kike’s style is hypnotic and catchy, and he always comes to me with projects I love.


Debbie Doe

Debbie had a breakthrough this year, as she managed to pull her very first project together and nail down a growing number of important gigs. This Lebanese-Montreal artist is not afraid of reaching into her Arabic influences to craft some exotic moods.



Another very serious producer from Italy/France who booked me regularly to handle mixes and mastering for his music. He’s a nerd collector with a massive modular set-up, and he prefers focusing on designing quirky house instead of spending time on his computer.


Andrey Djackonda

From Moldova, Djackonda was a nice discovery for me this year. The guy makes really organic techno with dub influences. It’s been a headnodder for my mastering sessions. You know you have some groovy music when you start spending time shaping the track into these groove monsters.





From Montreal, Stereo_IMG is a serious sound designer who builds weird devices to extract found sounds that are both beautiful and intriguing. Working with him in the studio turned some of his tunes into Audion-sounding gems.



A programmer and kind soul, Wiklow came to me for mentoring, and we spent the next 2 months discussing music philosophy and the mysteries of human behaviour. This fantastic trip of anything-but-music-related talks led him to create a beautiful EP that would make Jan Jelinek blush.



Ruslan runs a label in New York named Minim, and he has been one of the most supportive people for me this year. We worked together closely, talking almost daily, and it was wonderful to see him at MUTEK to dance to Barac’s set.


Dom Varela

A young producer from Laval who I’ve seen grow slowly, finally releasing his first track this year. It’s been a pleasure to coach him and work closely with him on his development.



This was my most demanding mixdown this year, but man did it turn out well. Bmind is an artist I adore. His free-jazz perspective makes his music feel like a spiritual journey through an LSD trip. Nothing easy, but never flaky.



Not to forget also 2 other clients who were super busy with me, Isaac and Luis.

These guys make albums in a matter of months, and each time, it’s spot on. Not only are they dedicated, but there’s a real depth to every song they make.

There are so many others I could mention, and I have to apologize if you’re disappointed that your name isn’t featured here. But the truth is that working with ALL of my clients has been amazing! 2016 has been an incredible year, and 2017 will be too, without a doubt.



Plugin Review: Circle 2 VSTi

Okay guys, this is a first. I’ve been thinking about writing reviews for a little while now, mainly because I get asked sometimes what I use to make my sounds. So I thought I’d share some feedback about the tools I appreciate most and why.

Here’s the important thing for me though: I usually hate reading reviews. So this is my chance to find a way to talk about my experience as a user without focusing necessarily on the overly technical aspects, which are all covered in the product description anyway.

First up: the Circle 2 VSTi plugin.


Opening Circle 2: First impressions

Circle 2 VSTi is a delight to play with fresh out of the boxI got a good feeling the minute I opened this plugin for the first time, which is a rare pleasure for me. With all my years of experience, I’ve grown pretty grumpy about the interface of synths. I often find them counter-intuitive and frustrating to learn, which frequently results in me never using them. With all the options available, it’s clear that you need your VST synth to be giving you what you want as quickly as possible.

Circle 2 delivers right away by getting you excited to play with it fresh out of the box.



The synth has 3 columns,  each with its own functionality. From left to right, you have the oscillators, then the effects/mixer, and finally the modulation. Personally, I’d swap the columns, since I figure that it’s the modulation that goes through effects and mixing on the way to affecting the oscillators, rather than it the other way around. But that’s just my own preference, and it was not in any way a problem to work with once I got into the logic of the synth.



Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 13.03.17Although I avoid using presets, I still give them a quick listen when I first get a new plugin. This allows me to get a scope of the sound potential and to learn how to use the knobs/gizmos by getting a feel for how they move. Circle 2’s presets are named Sounds, and the presentation is simply outstanding. By using Class/Type/Style, you can apply filters that will help you see all the options available. It reminds me a bit of Omnisphere’s classification, but way more slick. This will really be useful later when I save my own sounds.


The sound

Circle 2 VSti plugin is a wonderful sound design toolWhenever I test a new synth, I’ll immediately check how it manages bass and low-end sounds, as well as extremely high-pitched ones, mainly by using a sine oscillator. For Circle 2, I used a preset named “Deep Bass” and heard right away that the low end was very warm and heavy. My kind of sound! The slight modulation for a high pitched sound gave the impression of a modular rack that you paid tons of money for.

You see, the first 2 things that make Circle 2 stand out as a wonderful sound design tool are its wavetable oscillator design and its modular approach for shaping sounds. You’ll notice that the modulators have a little circle that you can drag to what you want to modulate. Think of Reason, but minus the graphical cables.

The sound is eloquent and beautiful. And one practical thing about the interface is that it lets you see the envelope and LFO being animated. It’s nothing too fancy, but just enough to orient you.

Circle 2's wavetable oscillator is mind-blowingThe wavetable oscillator is mind-blowing. You can select from a vast amount of shapes, combine it with another one, and then decide the amount of mutation between the two to produce something completely new. Very well done.



To finish off

You can control the amount of randomization applied, so this feature is a great way to take a chance on unexpected discoveries.Now that you’re getting excited about the sounds you can make, the last thing you’ll want to try is to play a bit with the randomization options. You’ll find these in the lower menu. You can control the amount applied too, so this is a great way to take a chance on unexpected discoveries. In a few clicks, I went from a nice bass to something abrasive, while still keeping it under control. You could use this feature as a way to create a sound that’s complementary to your previous one.


Overall appreciation

I’d say that this plugin is certain to remain a favourite in my production routine. I’ve been using it for 2 weeks now and have already become addicted to its powers of sound design. Its sounds are thick and solid.

The only downside I found was the lack of GUI control over the filters. I had to use knobs to control the frequency or resonance. That is an irritant to me because I like to make quick changes, and so I prefer to use my mouse. Oddly enough, the envelope can be controlled in this way, so I don’t know why the feature wasn’t included for the filters as well.

You can get your copy of the Circle 2 VSTi plugin here.