James feels a consistent instinct to share, which is why we’re following up with Part II: an in-depth breakdown of the gear in his room, where classics and new blood alike — germanium compressors to MoogerFoogers — are inside. James details not just what he’s got, but often why it’s there – inspiring insights on how a smart studio setup can hone your mixes.
And if you want mucho mas mixing tutorials from this platinum mixer, head straight to his blog at MichaelJamesProducer.
Mix Room Equipment List
1 Sterling Modular Plan B 72 RU Mastering Console set up for mixing.
3 Dangerous Music 2-Bus 16×2 Analog Summing Mixers. For Bus A, B, C submixes. Mastering quality, pristine neutral coloration.
1 Dangerous Music 2-Bus+ Next-generation 16×2 Analog Summing Mixer with added assignable Harmonics, ParaLimit and X-former tonal effects. Amazing crosstalk specs!
1 Chandler Mini Rack Mixer. 16×2. For analog summing of Busses A, B, C. Classic Neve-esque tonal coloration. Technically, EMI is a more accurate descriptor, but its vintage British either way.
1 Dangerous Liaison. Instant gratification when auditioning vocal and mix buss chains. Six programmable inserts. Tons of headroom and clarity.
1 Patchbay. Comprehensive. 150 Mogami TT patch cables.
24 Tonelux EQ4P. These are so good that you need to hear them yourself. Just do it! You can boost with impunity.
1 Avalon AD2055 EQ 2-channel. Excellent surgical EQ with a unique character. Powerful tone shaper. Typically used on my vocal buss.
2 Dangerous Music Bax EQ 2-ch. The filters alone are worth the investment. I use them on “bass & drums” and “guitar & keys” busses.
1 Massenburg GML 8200 2-channel EQ w/8355 power supply. The original, the classic. I use the MDW plugin now, mostly for cuts.
2 Focusrite ISA 110 Limited Edition . George Martin and Rupert Neve collaborated on the 110. Very useful filters; hard to recall.
2 DBX 215 2-channel graphic EQ. I have no idea how they actually sound. I only use them to filter compressor sidechain inputs.
5 Tonelux TXC Compressor. Versatile. Internal parallel routing and “Tilt” sidechain filter. Bass, drums, mix buss–even at 20:1 if you dare…
1 Manley Labs Stereo Variable Mu Limiting Compressor. Mix bus monster! Mine has HP sidechain filter. I use it unlinked, dual mono, calibrated.
1 Manley Labs ELOP Levelling Amplifier 2-channel. Opto magic on vocals, bass, acoustic guitar…and even mix buss when a 3D effect is desired. Sidechain filter version makes it versatile.
1 Dangerous Compressor 2-ch. Ultra low distortion. Mastering quality. Can be transparent or grabby. Mix bus and drums!
2 Chandler Limited Germanium Compressor. Very versatile and vibey, with mix blend for parallel compression. Hip blue LED GR meters.
4 Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor. Swiss Army knife of compressors. Great knobs make it super easy to recall. Parallel drum compression.
2 Purple Audio MC76 Limiter. Painstakingly modeled after 1176 E revision. Lots of character. LED meter light upgrade is a godsend.
2 Universal Audio 1176LN Limiting Amplifier. A bit cleaner than vintage units. Just as good, if not better.
2 Universal Audio LA-3A Audio Leveler. The curve more than makes up for the noise. These are classics for good reason.
2 Avalon AD2044 2-ch Opto-Compressor. Great for drums, bass, vocals and mix buss…variable attack and release make it very versatile.
2 Empirical Labs EL-DS DerrEsser + EL500 powered chassis. My favorite de-esser ever! Very musical and surgical.
1 SPL 9842 4-ch Transient Designer. Paul Wolff was correct when he said it should have been called The Ass Saver.
2 SPL 9629 2-ch De-Esser. Works quite well on 9 of 10 voices; not so effective on the other 10%.
Mic Preamps and DIs
1 Avalon AD2022 2-ch. Punchy, clear, modern sound. Vocals, guitars and Fender basses come alive through it. Variable impedance is useful.
2 Chandler Limited Germanium Preamp/DI. Old school thick Neve tone. Adds rock attitude to guitars and bass. Makes acoustic guitars sound like ’70s recordings.
2 Focusrite ISA 110 Limited Edition. Tough to go wrong with these. The EQ is very useful.
1 Apogee Duet2 USB. For laptop field recording. Sounds pretty good.
1 Radial JDI passive direct box. Excellent direct box.
2 Radial X-Amp. Excellent reamp box.
1 Little Labs Redeye 3D Phantom. Idiot-proof DI & reamp device. Sounds great!
Outboard and Pedal FX
1 Eventide H8000FW 8-channel Harmonizer. Can do anything you can imagine! Used every day.
1 TC Electronic M3000. Natural sounds; can be used subtly to good effect.
1 Lexicon PCM60. Crunchy old school reverb. Rarely used in recent years. Saves feeble snare drums.
1 Yamaha SPX90. Haven’t used it in years.
1 Yamaha D1500 Delay. Cool modulation FX. Almost never powered up, but once a year, it’s just the right thing.
1 MoogerFooger MF-101 Lowpass Filter. Not for the uninitiated–this is a serious tweaker’s pedal.
1 MoogerFooger MF-103 12-Stage Phaser. Wide range of sounds. Excellent.
1 MoogerFooger MF-104 Analog Delay. Dark tone is nice for vocal slapback effects.
1 MoogerFooger MF-105 MuRF. Multiple Resonance Array Filter with sequencer. Awesome!
1 MoogerFooger MF-107 FreqBox. Moog “synth” tracks guitar playing.
1 Fulltone Soul-Bender. Makes Strats ooze with character.
1 Fulltone Full-Drive 2. For slide playing. Adds sustain without masking the tone of the guitar and amp.
1 Fulltone Clyde Deluxe Wah. Sounds credible right out of the box. No mods necessary.
1 Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. Love it on vocals. Sold it to a friend, but listing it to remind me to buy another one.
1 CAE Freddy Fuzz. Strats dig it.
1 CAE Black Cat Vibe. Coveted by many, possessed by few. Studio quality UniVibe.
1 Chandler Limited Germanium Boost. Boutique boost for discerning tone fanatics.
1 Chandler Limited Little Devil Colored Boost. Boutique boost for discerning tone fanatics.
1 Chicago Iron Octavia. Hendrix-esque octave fuzz. Requires finesse to dial in the sweet spot for different guitars.
1 Demeter Compulator. Opto in a pedal. Changes your tone for the better, even without gain reduction.
1 Demeter Tremulator. Ry Cooder-esque tremolo. Instant vibe.
1 Boss DD-5 Digital Delay. Has reverse mode. Lives in a dedicated bypass loop box because it has to.
1 Boss FT-2 Dynamic Filter. Old-school envelope filter.
1 EBS Octabass. Octave below. Tracks well-enough for guitar.
1 Sho-Bud Volume Pedal. Vintage pedal steel volume. Very sweet tone when it’s working.
1 Ernie Ball Volume Pedal. Basic, bomb-proof.
1 Ernie Ball Jr. Volume Pedal. Basic, bomb-proof.
1 Maxon AD80 Analog Delay. Short maximum delay time, but warm and sweet.
1 Rocktron Banshee Talkbox. Won’t blow up your guitar amp!
1 Sonic Research Turbo Tuner. My favorite tuner. Tune to the attack…unless you’re playing a slow ballad with long tones.
1 Peterson Strobo-Flip. Handy strobe tuner with Buzz Feiten Tuning offsets.
2 Custom Audio Electronics Power Supplies. Very clean and reliable.