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Jan 'Stan' Kybert
Mixing with the Left and right Brain
- Original article first appeared in Audio Media magazine
NUGEN Audio Tools Bridge Gap Between “Anything Goes” Music Recording
and Loudness-Regulated Postproduction
By Jan “Stan” Kybert
Over the course of his 20-year career in music mixing, Jan Kybert has worked with some of the greatest legends in the business – including Mark 'Spike' Stent. As Stent's Pro Tools operator, Kybert worked on classic records by Massive Attack, Björk and Oasis, including Oasis' Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants (2000). Although Kybert went freelance in 1999, he spent most of the next eight years as in-house engineer at Oasis's Wheeler End studio, where Noel Gallagher introduced him to Paul Weller. Kybert has collaborated with Weller on his best-known records including his latest, Sonik Kicks. In addition, Kybert has worked with New Order, the Prodigy, UNKLE, the Draytones, and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.
Working as a mix engineer since the early 2000s, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the music business and the audio technology landscape. With the decline of the traditional studio recording model, fewer records are being made, which has led many music professionals to explore broader career options. For me, moving more into audio postproduction has been a natural transition and one that offers the opportunity to work with some of the most cutting-edge tools and technologies available.
Although I’m just as likely to be creating audio for film or television projects these days, I still make records – and I rely heavily on a bundle of tools from NUGEN Audio that add a whole new element of creativity to the job of stereo enhancement for a music mix. Called Stereopack, the toolset consists of three plug-ins: Stereoplacer, Steroizer, and Monofilter. I use all three extensively when working on a music mix, and each plug-in gives me incredible automated capabilities for working with and manipulating the stereo image.
Stereoplacer is an advanced fine-tune frequency placement tool that lets me isolate a particular frequency and move it anywhere without affecting the rest of the sound stage. It’s great for adjusting percussion sounds on the fly; say, for instance, in the middle of an all-night recording session with a band. I also love Stereoizer, which gives me a full range of enhancement capabilities for the entire stereo image. I can use Stereoizer to make everything from gentle width adjustments to huge dynamic ambiences that transform the soundstage. And finally, Monofilter is a fantastic tool that lets me add clarity and focus to base lines.
In many ways, audio is audio – so the mixing expertise I’ve developed through my music career translates easily to the postproduction field. One area that I’ve had to learn about is audio loudness, especially with regard to the growth of loudness regulation around the world. Over the past two years, NUGEN Audio’s family of loudness monitoring and management tools have made the job of coming up to speed on loudness infinitely easier. At the core of NUGEN Audio’s loudness offering are three powerful plug-ins: VisLM, LM-Correct, and the ISL true-peak limiter.
VisLM is a metering plug-in that offers detailed and objective loudness measurement, history, and logging facilities in compliance with ITU, ATSC, and EBU standards. As a visual metering system based on dynamic range, VisLM is truly head and shoulders above any other measurement tool available today; I would even go so far as to say that anyone working without VisLM in the audio post world is at a real disadvantage. I really appreciate the highly visual and simple interface that tells me at a glance whether the levels are within acceptable limits. Also, VisLM’s built-in pre-sets make audio mixing to a specific country’s loudness standard as easy as dialing up the standard on the meter.
LM-Correct is another excellent plug-in from NUGEN Audio that I use every day in conjunction with VisLM. An instant loudness correction tool, LM-Correct is a big time-saver for rush projects. For instance, I might have a project that I mixed, using VisLM, to -24 LKFS using the ITU-R BS.1770-3 specifications. At the last minute, the client might decide to use the mix for a different region, or for streaming to the Internet (where, at least for now, there are no loudness standards). Without having to play out the content in real time, I can use LM-Correct to adjust the mix to a new level with true-peak correction – for the Internet, -18 is about right.
For mixing to dynamic range, ISL is another useful and time-saving tool that enables me to control and limit peak levels. ISL is not only critical for creating a great-sounding mix in my post business, but it’s incredibly useful in music mixing and mastering as well. For instance, I can create a reference mix for an artist to approve. Based on the artist’s feedback, I can use ISL’s presets to automatically adjust the true peaks to the preferred levels, from gentle limiting to hot.
The upshot: whether I’m in the studio working on a music recording or creating an audio mix for a television commercial, NUGEN Audio tools make the job faster, easier, and more fun. On the music side, where loudness isn’t subject to regulation and is strictly dependent on the artist and the genre, these plugins help me set my creativity free to make sounds that present the music as it was originally intended.
On the post side, the NUGEN Audio tools have become invaluable for producing compliant output while still affording me a measure of creativity when producing the mix. By letting the tools do the work of making sure the mix is within correct loudness parameters, I can mix to dynamic range – infinitely more satisfying than mixing to peak loudness. The NUGEN Audio tools have given me the confidence I needed to transition to a new field.
Mix & Mastering