When I was approached to mix Collie Buddz "Light It Up", Salaam told me he wanted to keep the "vibe" of the rough mix but to give it a more organic, punchy yet "Pop" sound. I immediately thought of using the UAD Ampex ATR-102 plugin from Universal Audio.
The above pic is the actual setting I used on the mix buss of the Protools session.
Ampex ATR 102 Features:
- Ampex®-authenticated plug-in emulation of the ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder — the most popular professional 2-track machine ever made
- Provides rich, cohesive tape sound, without the hassles of calibration, maintenance, tape degradation, etc.
- Models entire ATR-102 electronic path, including transformers, amplifiers, Repro, Sync, and Input paths
- Features multiple tape formulas, head configurations, and calibration levels
- Adjustable Wow, Flutter, Hiss, Hum, Crosstalk, and (L/R) Tape Delay
- Requires a UAD-2 DSP Accelerator Card or Apollo Interface available from authorized dealers worldwide
- Independent L/R Input Gain (Record) and Output (Reproduce) Level
- IPS Speed/Emphasis Curve chooses between 3.75 NAB, 7.5 NAB, 7.5 CCIR, 15 NAB, 15 CCIR, 30 AES
- Independent L/R record Bias, Record EQ, and Playback EQs, with Auto and Manual Cal capabilities
Instead of mixing the record and then placing the UAD ATR-102 on the mix buss after I was done, I did the opposite.
I first made some adjustments to the song so it started sounding more like what they requested and what I felt I need to hear from the song. Then I placed the ATR-102 on the master buss and tweaked the settings so that the song had a certain sonic footprint. After a short break I began the final mix.
Whenever I use any processing on the master I find I get better results if I do it at the beginning of the mix instead of at the end. I'm not saying this is the correct or only way to do it I just find this method works best for me.
In the past when I worked completely analog I would monitor through the 2 track master whether it was the actual Ampex ATR-102,
a Studer A820
or Panasonic SV3700 DAT machine (remember those?!).
Now I usually record the mix back into Protools and monitor the output of the Protools interface. While mixing I A/B the console output and PT interface at regular intervals to make sure that there are no major differences in sound between the two. When printing the final mix I always monitor the PT interface and pay close attention to any digital glitches, dropouts, distortion etc.
Take a look at this "Tips and Tricks" article from UA for further insight into using the ATR-102.