High End User Profile: Andy Gray
No Gray Areas
Andy Gray is known for his collaborations with bands such as Korn and superstar DJ, Paul Oakenfold. He’s also got a finger firmly ensconced in the film industry pie, and has put together backing tracks for movies such as Matrix Reloaded, in which he evoked strong tension and eroticism in the club scene with his tough mix of Fluke’s, ‘Zion’. In addition, he played out the closing credits with his remix of Dave Matthews Band’s, ‘When the World Ends’, a Paul Oakenfold collaboration.
A lover of both big beats and sweeping orchestrations, Andy has worked on a diverse range of projects at the highest echelons of the media and has used an evolving stream of technology along the way. To synopsise, Andy Gray is a producer with his brain practically hardwired to his gear. It comes as no surprise, therefore, to discover that at the centre of his sonic world is a Pro Tools HD rig loaded with Sony Oxford plug-ins.
Says Andy: “Sony Oxford Dynamics was a plug-in that changed the DNA of my set up completely.”
“It was a strange switch from the Drawmer I had running on my master, over to Dynamics. Unlike the Drawmer, Dynamics utilises quite a slow attack with a long release time, and you have to play around with the threshold a bit, backing off or increasing it accordingly to offset any pumping. But I’ve found when used with in the right way the results are second to none.”
“Also, there’s a great ‘warmth’ control on it that I always run across my mixes at a 100 percent, which gives me that cosy, fat sound I look for. It’s also very consistent and it doesn’t take anything away from the bottom end. I’ve used it all over the Korn vocals, mainly in live recordings, and it sounds fantastic.”
“I’ve also used the limiter feature on the Dynamics a bit, generally when I want to get a slightly harder compression, and even that seems to have quite an open sound.”
No half measures with Inflator
Andy also finds that the Inflator is an invaluable tool in his box, one that delivers an impressive sonic stamp without being overly complicated. But he also believes it is a tool that isn’t open to compromise.
“The Inflator either works with a mix or it doesn’t,” he confirms. “When it does work it’s great, particularly when there’s a track that you’re trying to push energy into. When it doesn’t, then there’s no point trying to force it.”
“I find that the Inflator is quite nice and aggressive. It’s great for putting on a drum group or something that you’re struggling to get more out of, and where you want to increase the intensity of the track or tracks, but don’t want to keep on EQing.”
“With Korn,” he adds, “I used it on a great big rock kit because I needed to pump them up that extra level; Inflator was really good for delivering that traditional overdriven quality of sound without adding distortion.”
Loop lynching with Trans Modulator
Working on the soundtrack for new video game, Perfect Dark Zero, Andy inherited a break beat from the game’s predecessor that was congested with annoying transients and analogue grit. He urgently needed to remove the undesirable transients, and using the Trans Modulator finally achieved his aim, though not without a few headaches en route.
“It was an old-fashioned loop with annoying artefacts that I somehow needed to crowbar into the new mix,” says Andy. “Basically, the beat was sonically knackered.”
“I struggled for days and days to revive it and eventually realised I’d have to recreate the original rhythm from scratch using fresh sounds. In order to keep the vibe and overall feel of the original rhythm, I put the Trans Mod through its paces.”
“First of all,” he explains, “I took the attack and transients off of the old loop, still keeping the sound and feel intact. Then I superimposed my new drums onto what was left. It wasn’t simply a case of taping the two beats together though. I had to remove the unwanted ring and noise of the old beat first in order to create enough space to programme the new one. The remnants of the original beat then acted as a guiding template; the overall approach was an excellent solution to the problem I faced.”
And while labouring over disagreeable loops might have people thinking that Andy couldn’t possibly find the time to discover the delights of the most recent of Oxford plug-ins, the contrary is true.
“I’ve already used the Limiter, which only just came out,” he says. “It’s already replaced my pre-existing master limiter as the last plug-in in my chain, simply because it’s the best sounding master limiter I’ve heard!”
A whole lot of magic
“I also use Oxford Restoration Tools too. To my mind, it’s not just for restoring old masters either. You can also drive it into performing other strange tasks. I once used it to remove the snapping sound from some rim-shots I’d recorded and it did a great job. I also used it on a bass recording with an incredible amount of hum. The bass take was perfect but I had to get rid of that noise. With Restoration Tools it was simply a case of learn it, remove it and it was gone.”
“Often I’ll get tracks or sounds with clicks or pops in them, and Restoration Tools is excellent for getting rid of that kind of digital noise.”
“Basically, if you inherit noise on a single track, bass line, drum overhead, whatever, Restoration Tools is a quick and easy way to make the track useable again, and you don’t need to be a mastering engineer to use it correctly either. “
“That’s another great thing with the Oxford plug-ins, you feel very safe with all of them.”Interview and editorial provided by Matthew Pigott Public Relations. +44 (0)7903 723898
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