Manny Marroquin Webinar

Join a live video chat with 9-time Grammy Award winning Mix Engineer Manny Marroquin.

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Manny Marroquin is one of the world's most in-demand mixing engineers. His work with artists from a variety of genres including Sia, Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons, Eminem, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Rolling Stones, Linking Park, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Kanye West and others have earned him a reputation as a versatile hit maker, as well as 9 Grammy Awards.

Video transcription
Shachar Gilad:

Hey, everyone. We were totally international. I'll show you. You can see here from everywhere. LA, Denmark, Guatemala, everywhere. DC. Hey, everyone, for joining. Thanks a lot for swinging by I'm Shachar from SoundBetter. We're really, really honored to be here. Say hi to all your folks and hear some of his skills and alchemy, I'll get all these questions to Manny, whatever you want to ask, we're here for you. Welcome Slovakia, Iceland, we're really excited to have you. Handing it over to Manny. Thanks a lot for joining. Let's do this.

Manny Marroquin:

All right. I'm so excited to be here, guys. Thank you. We did this about what? A year ago? It was great. I had a blast. I think you were in New York.

Shachar Gilad:

And Poland at the time.

Manny Marroquin:

Poland, woohoo!

Shachar Gilad:

And you were here at Larrabee Studios.

Manny Marroquin:

It's good to be in the same room and thanks again to SoundBetter, and you Shachar for having me. Any time I get a chance to talk about our art form, I always get excited because it's what we do every day. We live, we breathe. It's all about mixing music and our process to get what is in here, hopefully out of the speakers. They need help. That'll make my week, my month, my year. You want some brighter lights? Is that ...

Shachar Gilad:

Sorry guys. Turn these up a little bit?

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, I'm in Larrabee Studios. I don't know if anyone's heard of Larrabee, but in my opinion it is the best studio, one of the best studios in the world. I've been in this room for about 16 years now. It's an incredible room. I'm still a hybrid between... I have an SSL K series 80 inputs. I run all my tracks as if it was the gold days of analog, everything spread out on the board separate on 48 channels and then I have my computer.

I do a combination of analog, so I'm still a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to outboard gear, but I'm still a forward thinking when it comes to plugins. Now I have [inaudible 00:05:17], but I worked on these plugins with Waves and the whole point of that was to be able to get stuff that I use all the time and fast. One of those, I was never ... Let's bring it up. If it works within a few seconds then that's your plugin. If it doesn't, then grab another piece that works. The foundation of the way it's bundled to be able to get anything as quickly as possible.

I know that I'm going to be taking some questions. Yes, anything, You can ask about the LA rams for the international fans, they might know what that is but we finally have a football team in LA, so very proud. Yeah man, do you want to get me some question and ...

Shachar Gilad:

Yeah, definitely.

Manny Marroquin:

Lighting is better I think. I think people can see my very tired 3 in the morning face.

Shachar Gilad:

You know what? They're looking at the gear behind you I'm sure.

Manny Marroquin:

They're like fuck. Move the camera around and show you guys my room. Again, I was telling you guys it's been ... [inaudible 00:06:46].

Shachar Gilad:

All right. Let's get in a couple of comments here. They're getting a little bit of a lag. It could also have to do with the internet connection on the receiving end. We just did a test and it's okay here, but we're going to try to debug this while Manny accepts some questions. First question we've got has got 41 up votes so far. What type of steps do you take to reduce muddiness and to tighten up the mix?

Manny Marroquin:

I always say mix, the biggest challenge for me, low end and vocals, where they sit in the mix. For me, low end, growing up during a lot of hip hop in my early days, being with them in the room and seeing what was a focal point on the low end is really important. What you guys got to do, what I do is I really figure out what my focal point is. You understand, you got sub, you got bass, you have kick and and maybe a guitar. There's a lot of information down there and there's not a lot of room. Pick out what's your focal point.

It's pretty obvious, an 808, maybe that's the focal point and there's the bass. I will color my bass around my 808. One of the most frequently asked question is what I do to that sounds, and I wish I had a better answer or a more acuter answer than I don't do anything to them because there's already enough low end in there. I'm not going to add more to it. What I am going to do is I'm going to color around that sound. If I have a bass that's fighting any frequency, any crossover frequency from the 808, I'm going to get rid of it and then I'm going to have that be a secondary focal point. Whatever your focal point is, my rule of thumb is don't fuck with it as much as you think you need to mess with it and you color around that sound and that's really how you get focal points to really stick out and that's how you start cleaning the low end. If it's fighting each other, just pick one. One's got to be Batman and the other's got to be Robin.

A lot of the times if you listen to the mix itself it kind of will give you an answer for you and clean up low end.

Shachar Gilad:

All right. Cleaning up low end, we got a lot about this one.

Manny Marroquin:

Also monitors are really important. Make sure you know your monitor. Make sure that ... I'm still in the NS-10s. I've been mixing on those since I started. You have to know your monitors. I have a sub on my NS-10s. They are harsh sounding monitors. For me, it's really important that I don't get tired. I have a sub so that I don't loose the emotion of all that information. Then yeah, just to make sure that you really know your monitors. [inaudible 00:10:13] whatever sounds pleasant to your ears and it's just a matter of Just keep on working them. Listen to records you like, respect, reference those type of records when you're working and pretty soon you'll know those really well.

Shachar Gilad:

[inaudible 00:10:41] let's see if we can see that.

Manny Marroquin:

Thanks for the question, Bud.

Shachar Gilad:

Wow, we have 969 people live right now.Thanks a ton for doing this! It seems like all of your mixes regardless of genre (from Black Skinhead to Queen of California) have this beautifully crafted clarity and power on tiny speakers but then I listen on a full range system and there is a robust yet unobtrusive additional octave in the low end. Was wondering how you approach balancing a nice big low end for the full range folks without the mix suffering a quieter or smaller sound on consumer speakers (laptop, earbuds, etc.)?

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah. Thanks for the compliment. Listen, I love that you went from Black Skinhead to Queen of California. Queen of California, by the way, is one of my favorite John Mayer songs. I loved the sound of that. It just sounds really pleasant, really beautiful. The emotion of it is great. I got to say clarity, on the low end, one of the keys is you got to make sure you are not overcompressing your stereo bus. That's the most common mistake in young engineers and I think seasoned engineers as well. We're always fighting that how much is too much. What I've learned is the less I limit, the louder it can get and I get more emotion from it. Not to say that limited mixes don't have that, but you've got to be able to create dynamics.

I just talked about it at Namm over the weekend. One thing about dynamics is that's what we associate as emotion and soul, a big part in our mixes. You've got to make sure there's dynamics. Even if it's a limited sounding mix, there still has to be highs and lows. If you're limited mix, that could be your ceiling. There's got to be something there. How you create those valleys could be with volume, with filters, with EQing something out that would be the focal point so that you get a little bit of ... You rest a little bit so that you're... It's like the that drops where you've got ju-ju-ju-ju-ju-ju-ju and then it drops and then it goes back up and then it drops. If you only had one continuous drop, you wouldn't appreciate the next drop and the drop after that or the turn because you've got to really space that out.

Dynamics is really, really important, so I pay really close attention to all that. I listened to actually very low volumes and I listen to it at really loud volumes. I still listen to the clarity of that low end whether it's low or really loud. I feel like your stereo bus has a lot to do with that.

Don't overdo it that's my suggestion, if you need to overwork the mix and what I mean is create that sort of explosion when you need it, I'd rather take the time and work on that than an easy fix and just slap a limiter across the mix and there goes all your dynamics. You may not be able to get back.

That would be my suggestion to make sure that you listen to various volumes and try not to over-limit mixes. I think a lot of the music today, that may be a style today. That might change in a couple of years. Who knows? I remember 90s hip hop. It wasn't about limiting. It wasn't about ... Yet in the 80s, even some of the Michael Jackson records, they were trying to see how hot they could get them.

The level wars have been here since a long, long time. It's nothing new. The difference is that we all have access to those tools that we didn't have before, that was saved for the mastering houses.

Shachar Gilad:

Do you not use limiters at all?

Manny Marroquin:

I mean, not on a stereo bus. I tend not to ...

Shachar Gilad:

Each one on individual tracks?

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, sure, if I want an effect or if I want to control something. But not for and overall loudness tool. I've never been a believer in that there's a lot of guys that are hard with it. I use slight compression. I always say I do ... Yes, my 9K SSL and the L2 just so that my clients don't see a red light. It gets rid of it. That's all it is. I don't overwork the L2 unless that that's part of their sound. Now that's a production tool.

A while back a client goes, "It's in the red." I'm like, "Well, it's not distorting." "But it's in the red!" He couldn't get past the fact that it was hitting red but it felt good. The moment we brought it down, something happened to it. We lost that feeling of it but we didn't get the red. I'm always like, "Screw the red." Yeah, use your heart and your gut and your ears. I'd rather bet on those than a red LED.

Shachar Gilad:

Do you monitor also on laptops?

Manny Marroquin:

You know what, I don't really monitor on laptops. I think I got to sound ... I know the sound of the room well enough to know how it's going to sound on the laptop, maybe just by repetition again and listening to a lot of my mixes on laptop speakers. They keep getting better and better. I just started using some headphones that are amazing. I'm going to give them a nice plug Audeze Headphones, I'm in love with those. We've been having a good relationship so far and I see a bright future for that company and the pro market to be able to work in your bedroom and on the road, on the plane, and all that so you can be more portable with a truer sound.

Shachar Gilad:

Do you still do the car test?

Manny Marroquin:

I don't do the car test. I don't even own a car anymore. For those of you guys that know LA, to get around without a car is pretty difficult, but I've managed to do so and I love not driving. I love not having to get behind the wheel and the crazy LA traffic. Yeah, no more car test for me. that changed my life.

I don't live too far for from a studio, so that's really important to me to be able to spend more time, whether it's at home or here and not in the car. That was really important, and not having a home studio I have to go to the studio and work.

Shachar Gilad:

There's work and there's life.

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, I get a shower. I wouldn't shower for days, weeks if I was at home working. I like showers.

Shachar Gilad:

You heard it Manny ikes showers. It's true, you've got some nice what's ups here from people saying thanks for doing this. Somebody just jumped on here from Tanzania, East Africa. I thought that was really, really cool.

Manny Marroquin:

This is the beauty about this. The sky's the limit and so fortunate today that we have this technology to be able to do this live. People from all over the world jump on it because everybody in the world, we just need to make better sounding records and keep that going, have our generation be the one that really make great sounding records wherever you're from. If East Africa, let's make some good sounding records, man.

Shachar Gilad:

Let's see. We got here Jack Birch is asking how do you use metering when mixing?

Manny Marroquin:

That's good. It's so funny on my SSLK I don't even look at my meters. At one point, I had tape over them. I just used my ears. I feel like today we got so many like... You can see a waveform and you can be influenced by the look of the waveform. Think about this for a second. We're influenced by how something looks. It's so ridiculous when you break it down.

Again, I would suggest not doing that because it's really ... The records I'm most proud of are the ones that I don't remember what the waveform looked like or how this ... It was just about the emotion. I think that all of you, I bet you if you were in front of me and I asked this over the weekend, and I always ask this, how many of you are doing this because they love music, and I guarantee you 100% of you guys will say, duh, yes, of course.

Then we forget and tools drive us. You drive the tools. I feel like a lot of engineers today are relying too much on some of this equipment and tools because we have them and they're great, but we forget that we need to know why we fell in love with music and that's the reason why we're here doing it and a lot of sacrifices you guys know, both time, personal life, and all of that to create something that you're proud of.

When it comes to me, look at my meters. I know when it's distorting and then back it up. I don't care how hot I am. I test distortion and if I don't hear distortion then I'm okay. It can be as loud or soft. It doesn't really matter. I would say pay less attention to that meter and just listen to it. There's a couple tricks on how to test distortion. Set that up at your studio and make sure that you're able to listen and use your ears.

Shachar Gilad:

Don't use meters. A couple of people here were saying that they also put tape on the meters.

Manny Marroquin:

There you go! Wooh!

Shachar Gilad:

I heard people say that ... Sometimes when they mix they'll throw a towel or something on the Pro Tools mix window just so that they can't look at anything. It forces them to actually just to listen.

Manny Marroquin:

Try this. You play a mix with the lights on completely bright. Then you'll have a different emotional connection to that mix, to that song. It's really important for me. That means that our eyes have a different connection. Light has a different connection to how you perceive music. That goes back to your waveforms and your meters and all that. That means that a part of your brain is working in a way that you may want to get rid of.

To be I feel a great producer, great mixer, 50% of your left brain and 50% of your right brain working together, but each one of them is going to tell you that they're more important than the other. Finding that balance is going to be important.

We do ... I forget what it is, 85% to 87% of our left brain, right? Maybe even more because of the way you tie your shoe laces, the way you drive, the way you type, everything's left brain, left brain, left brain. We don't really tap into that right ... For us, we do tap more than say the majority of people not doing something like what we're doing, but the key is knowing how to consciously tap into the right brain, meaning when you close your eyes and you feel the music, that's you tapping into that right brain. How can you do it without having to close your eyes and do it consciously? That's another form that I've been trying to develop since early. It's something that I don't think I've hit. I'm still working on it. I recommend someone show you how to do it. [inaudible 00:24:02] some paints and it's all right brain. You go left on how you hold your ... how you live, [inaudible 00:24:31].

Shachar Gilad:

I notice that when you mix, you move around a lot. Your body is very physical. If you're just sitting still in a chair, then your eyes kind of gain focus of all your senses, right? Probably if you're moving around then it's a little harder from a visual kind of aspect.

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, that's funny because I do this thing. I'm not sure ... Maybe a lot of you have heard of Mix With The Masters. It's seminars in the south of France. We're there for 7 days and it's pretty cool because we get to spend 1 on 1. There's a real true bond by the end of the 7th day. It makes... I can tell who gets into it. I can tell who thinks more on the left brain, right brain. The ones that think from the left, if they get on the board or whatever workstation, they tend to think more. For me, like Shachar was saying, I want to keep that very raw emotion. Just be stiff.

For the left brain thinkers, you know who you are. Get lost in that music. You don't have to be a good dancer. It's really important. There's people who do the same thing. I bet on myself that if it makes me move, chances are it's probably going to make some other people shake.

Shachar Gilad:

Yeah. I think this really smart ...

Manny Marroquin:

Comments there.

Shachar Gilad:

Yeah. Thanks everyone for the comments.

Manny Marroquin:

Sorry everyone about the ... Is it lagging a little bit?

Shachar Gilad:

It's lagging a little bit. It's a bit choppy. We checked the internet here before we got started. We're wired up. We're doing our best, if you missed something, you can follow it up. Thanks for the patience. Alright. Do you use side chaining? For example, do you side chain the kick drum to the bass? Can you expand on that.

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah. Great technical question. We were talking about low end information. My last resort, I cannot find room for the bass and the cake and the 808, I will tend to do a really fast attack, and fast release side chain. I will take the side ... I'll take say, for example, if I want my kick to shine when it hits I want the 808 to come down and in volume. That's how I side chain so that the kick can shine without the kick and the 808 hitting at the same time and killing my stereo bus. It'll give me more head room.

Yeah, I'll do that a lot. I'll take that compressor, put it on the 808, side chain inputs and a little bit of pre and then I play around with it so they both coexist and my stereo bus is not crapping out. Very useful in in low-end. If you're doing hip hop stuff, people don't want to hear that dip, so you've got to be really careful with that. Make sure you listen to it in speakers that have a lot of low end. Whatever your biggest speakers, The groove of the record may hurt a little bit, so it's a fine balance of how much salt, how much pepper.

Shachar Gilad:

If you're side chaining a little bit of that attack, does the 808 end up being more for kind of for the sustain?

Manny Marroquin:

Exactly.

Shachar Gilad:

You're not really using 808's attack typically [inaudible 00:29:21].

Manny Marroquin:

Exactly. [inaudible 00:29:24].

Shachar Gilad:

[inaudible 00:29:29] with 808.

Manny Marroquin:

You do the opposite as well.

Shachar Gilad:

Oh, you can do ...

Manny Marroquin:

Say my kick is too loud. it is not flat enough and then I do it the other way so that when they both hit at the same time, one is... Selecting who takes that priority is the art form. It can be done both ways, but determining which is the art.

Shachar Gilad:

Do you usually use the kick for side chain or do you sometimes use the snare as well?

Manny Marroquin:

Snare as well. Sometimes there's a snare and a kick, they hit at the same time. Doom-doom-dat-doom-doom-doom-dat. That hit, whatever you're doing to your stereo bus, if you're compressing it a lot your compressor is going to kind of do it because they both hit at the same time, especially if you have the Steve Jordan snare was just so bold and it's deep and it's got this nice top but yet it almost crosses frequencies with some kicks.

When they both hit at the same time, I will do that with the kicks, so the snare will take priority, depending on the group, so I have done that with snares as well.

Shachar Gilad:

All right. Rock and roll. Felipe Luis.

Manny Marroquin:

Phillipe Luis.

Shachar Gilad:

Hi, Manny. How's it going? With the modern change of the music industry, how's today's business approach to make a living out of music?

Manny Marroquin:

Great question, man. What I always recommend is you should never on a business level negotiate on your behalf, ever. You should be the artist and you should have a manager. People say, I can't get a manager. Well, a manager in our industry, 95% of the time will not get you work. They will be coordinators more and they will get you paid. They will collect. They're the bill collectors. We'll need that because if you have a mix and we all have to do it. It doesn't matter what level you're at. If you have to chase money, you really have to go and spend time using ... Start with the left brain, using too much left brain to get paid. It's only going to piss you off because they said, oh, the check is in the mail and it's not in the mail. 90 days since you've gotten paid for this project and you're going to be all pissed off and then you've got to go back to a mix. You're not going to perform well on that mix.

An it will mess with you and you're not going to have a clear head. You will lose or you will not perform well. Ask your best friend, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your cousin. It doesn't matter who it is but somebody has to do the negotiation for you, so that person who comes in that's been negotiating doesn't say that you're the a-hole trying to get more than you're worth. Now you have the scapegoat which is now your manager can be that ass and then all you have to say is that's their job, that's what they paid for. You're clear and there's no bad feelings when you go into a creative environment. You guys should do that.

Shachar Gilad:

Getting that layer of separation someone else is collecting on your behalf, so much that you're going to get the gigs.

Manny Marroquin:

Managers, again, they will not get your gigs. That's the biggest misconception on managers where, oh, they're going to get me gigs. It's not that. Honestly, it's going to be what they say, you're only as good as your last hit, but how do you get that first hit? Well, you're going to have to hustle and people are going to have to believe in you and a combination of you have sound better, for example. That's a great job making that connection.

You may not even need that. You can have a company like this one. That's why I support SoundBetter because it definitely connects the dots and there's a world of information and people that need to collaborate and need to really connect and this is the platform, probably the best platform out there that can do that.

Yeah, I recommend doing this instead of you negotiating on your behalf.

Shachar Gilad:

how do you decie what you're worth Danny asks?

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, I get that question a couple of times a week. are you doing independent records? How established are you? Where are you trying to compete? The guys at the top tier, they try not to undercut each other, but sort of a certain standard. Then there's indie rate and there's new artist rates, then there's international rates. There's all types of rates.

One thing that you've got to remember, the most someone pays you is the most they'll ever pay you. It's not I'll do it for just $100 this time and the next one you pay me $500. He'll never pay you $500. They always pay you $100. What they pay you is the most they'll ever pay you. Of course there's always exceptions, but for the most part that's going to be the way. You've got to think what's that worth. What's worth your time? What are you willing to live with? Hey, I'm cool with getting $500 a mix. It's going to take me 6 hours and I'm going to do it fast. I'm going to do it in my bedroom and I'm cool with it. I think you'll be able to answer with a little bit more research, but a question that really relates to ... Especially if we're doing something here that people from all over the world are tuning in, you've got to really find out what your worth is by doing research and what your competitors are doing and what they're willing to pay. Of course bend the rules a little bit if you need to, but for the most part is you've got to do that research.

Shachar Gilad:

Good wisdom. We've got to hear Jesse Miller asks, Knowing you have a close friendship with Michael Bauer. How many of his multi-bus techniques made it to your workflow? Thank you for your participation in this event.

Manny Marroquin:

Michael Bauer, if you don't know him, you should check him out. He's got a sound and a technique that he does and it works. He's one of my favorite guys to hang out and be proud to call my friend. I really respect him as a person and mixer. I just really got influenced by different techniques over the year that not necessarily one person did.

I like what this person did for the kick drum, this person for the vocals. Now, with this, you can really follow ... With Michael try to emulate what he's doing because that's a waste of my time because I'll never be that good at it. I still will use my ABCD process like he does on the SSL, slightly different.

Shachar Gilad:

Yes, 1017 people online. Let's see here. Narick, Narick asks, "Hey, Manny. Thanks for doing this webinar." Thank you, indeed.

Manny Marroquin:

Thank you guys for coming in.

Shachar Gilad:

"I know mixing is all about emotion and vibe and I know a lot of the great engineers like yourself probably get great sounding tracks since you're only as good as your clients." Your work sounds amazing. What advice would you give mixers that are still getting songs that aren't produced or performed well? How do you bring out good emotions about recordings that doesn't have much substance life after cutting with EQ for example?

Manny Marroquin:

There's different levels. I'm very lucky with that I do get some amazing sounding stuff. As amazing as it is, I find that sometimes harder not to fuck something up than to make something sound good.

In other words, I could easily get incredible recording stuff, but my taste doesn't feel like it works, then it's not . Good sounding things, and this is an engineer talking, and you're going to be shocked that I say this, to me I pay less attention to the level of recording and more attention to what I can do ...

I'll give you an example. Going back to a place like Mix With The Masters. I'll never forget the first year I brought some Lana Del Rey stuff and I put it up on the desk and I kind of messed around with it and one the guys said, "Of course it sounds good. You brought the stems. Good point." I said, "That's a great point." But I'll show you how I do it.

Out of 15 guys, they all bring 2 or 3 different sessions. Put any session on the desk that you think was recorded not well. I mixed it in front of him in the class and they were all kind of shocked. They were like, shit, it sounds amazing. What did you do? How did you do that? I honestly couldn't explain it, but we broke it down. We analyzed what I did to it. All of a sudden it was a great sounding mix.

This is one thing that young engineers... let me just keep it real with you guys. It's not rocket science. Don't blame the recording. Blame yourself for not getting a good sound. There's no recording in the world that's bad enough that's not going to make me feel something if I put my heart and soul into it. That is where we say really. There's too many excuses. There's so many it's not fair. You have a 33609. You've got massive passive, but it's level playing field when it comes to your heart and soul. Don't blame the recording for your lack of interest in something.

The second most common question is how do you get into a mix or a song that you don't like? Simple. I look at the glass half full. I find anything in theattrack and I'm sure fellow mixers have heard it before. I'll pick, even if it's a hi-hat, it doesn't matter what it is I'll put all my energy into it, a snare, a hi-hat, and then all of a sudden I'm going to start bringing things around the hi-hat. I'm going to start coloring around the hi-hat. Then I bring the snare, then I bring the kick that I hated. All of a sudden it kind of makes sense because I've been coloring around the hi-hat. Pretty soon I'm going to bring up all the faders and tracks and all of a sudden it's starting to make sense.

I could have taken the approach of like, man, who did the blah, blah, blah. By the way, that's all going to be clouding your mind, which is..., so leave that at the door. Your job, my job as a mixer, doesn't matter where, who, why, any of that was recorded. My job is to make it sound good. There is a way no matter ... To this day I haven't had, and I've been doing it for a long time now, haven't had a recording [inaudible 00:42:52], but it starts here. You've got to get your mind clear. I always say it's like that sprinter, man, going to the Olympics for that 100 yard dash and they're stretching and they're so focused and they know exactly how the race is going to go in their head. So what makes one person beat the other? It's preparation, mindset. You've got to have your mind right before you even go in the studio to mix because there's where the other sprinter's going to be because you beat yourself.

My advice is try not to think about the bad recordings. Think about how you can make them better because that is your job. Sorry that was a long answer to a very short question, but I felt like it was worth spending the time.

Shachar Gilad:

Definitely. Getting a lot of thanks here in the comments for what you're saying, for doing it. Let's see. All your vocals, no matter what genre, this is Miro, Miro. All your vocals no matter the musical genre can be saturated with different things, with different things but with your powered rhythm section the vocals are up into the front. Instrumental never gets over it, never overpowers it I guess. How do you manage that?

Manny Marroquin:

I said the second hardest thing besides low end is vocals. 2 things I probably pay not the most but a lot of attention is the rhythm track and the vocals. It's just sometimes, let's go back to the not well recorded vocal, right? That seems to be more common now. What I do is I honestly go back to I color around the bad sound. A "bad sound", you can really, really lose track of it because the way of thinking for us is the more we do, we're fixers, not mixers, more so than any other time. We think of fixing things. That is a wrong, wrong approach to what we do. What you really should be looking at is not how to fix this. Sometimes what not to do is better than what to do for a lot of reasons.

In this case, with vocals, however it was recorded, whether it was a 47 through a 1073 or a freaking whatever bad mic is out there through a shitty preamp. If I feel it doesn't match the emotion, for example, the good recorded vocal is just professionally recorded in a good room and a good pre-amp to it. When I get the shitty sounding vocal, I don't do anything to it. In other words, you color around that, because if you try to fix the poorly recorded vocal, chances are it will souind worse, so take the complete opposite approach. Leave it as pure as it is and then color around it, because what you're going to do to what happens around the vocal is going to make you think that that vocal is way better what it really is.

I think we've all had those moments where you saw something and you're like, oh dam, it sounds like crap, but then it's about what's around your focal point as well. It's not always about what you hear, but it's the dots, the little dots that connect that sound, and that's really important to know and recognize and what is around that sound and that may influence what you're listening for and it may make a huge sound, the way you perceive that sound. You may have thought it wasn't good. That's the treatment that I got from vocals.

I don't put ear candy just to put ear candy. I put ear candy more as a production. If there's a delay, then it helps me hear transition that maybe the producer didn't get as tight. If it's an emotional thing where I want the local to really speak to me and be in my ear, then there's a different technique and I'm going to let it swim and I'm going to compress it a certain way so that I hear more of that ka-ka-ka so that it's right in your ear. If it wants to swim, if it's a Lana Del Rey where it needs to swim because it's part of this dream, it's different ... Use the effects for what the song is trying to tell you. Don't use effects just because, well, now I got a vocal and I got to put some reverb or delay. Don't do that just to do it. Do it because there's a very good reason that's going to help the song/production to get that, again, that emotion at the end.

Shachar Gilad:

It's all about context for sure. I think that's something that is so easy to forget. You hear a vocal and you're like, "Oh, let's make this vocal thicker and fatter" and then you go to do the same thing with your kick and with your snare and I think choosing what the focal point and what's around that makes sense.

Manny Marroquin:

Very effective.

Shachar Gilad:

Yeah. If you were doing Lana del Rey which reverb would you use, a plate? medium or long?

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, I love the plates on there. I love the rich plates. They sound beautiful. Try that. A chamber would be good, too. Sometimes I'll use 2 of them. I'll use the short hall and a large plate.

Shachar Gilad:

And send a little to both?

Manny Marroquin:

Yep. That gives you that early reflectio and then something else.

Shachar Gilad:

For that tail?

Manny Marroquin:

That effect when you hear it wet. I want to hear it wet. When you use one reverb, it's really hard to hear that whole big sound. You almost need 2 or 3 different things. You almost need also a delay that carries over so it's in 3 layers, like your short reverb, your delay and your long.

Shachar Gilad:

Does the delay go into one of the reverbs?

Manny Marroquin:

Not necessarily, but in my plugins I have that. I think every time I use a reverb, I add a little touch of that just so that it swims a little more. Unless I want an effect . I love reverbs on delays, just a hair so you hear that.

Shachar Gilad:

Awesome.

Manny Marroquin:

Mixes that already here, a lot of the times [inaudible 00:50:16] because I would spend a long time trying to get whether it's the effects or the dynamics. We've been talking about dynamics and effects in the last almost hour but someone can come in and just put a limiter and just completely destroy all of that. That happened many times to my mixes. I'm just going to give it to them as hot as possible so they don't do anything to it.

I can get away with that a little bit. I don't know if you guys can. Not you guys, but I don't know if you should. This is years and years I'm just perfecting that mastering mix type so that I don't get disappointed on what ... There's masterings out there, a few of them that really get the sound that I'm trying to do. They don't complain that, oh, it's too hot I can't do anything to it.

Shachar Gilad:

Name a couple of the guys you use.

Manny Marroquin:

There's definitely from Dave Kutch, I know Tom Coyne does a lot, Chris Gerringer, Chris Athens, Michelle Mancini here that's been actually mastering some of my stuff as well. When you get to a certain point you know 3 or 4 or 5 different mastering engineers I'm okay with any of those. They know the system 8now, but I would recommend finding one that knows your sound and stick to that. Maybe find 1 or 2 ... It's a tricky part of our business right now.

Shachar Gilad:

[inaudible 00:52:12].

Manny Marroquin:

Who's your favorite. Listen, my drums always go through a Neve 1073. I would have to have that ... My vocals always go through a TubeTech CL 1B. I can take that .

Shachar Gilad:

1B for the vocals.

Manny Marroquin:

I love, love 1176. I just love that. I get this Tree audio console now that I know it's 8 channels but if it was one channel then I would.

Shachar Gilad:

What do you use it on.

Manny Marroquin:

[inaudible 00:53:25] ... A couple DBX 160 X and all of a sudden it's very musical. [inaudible 00:53:32] there's the quad 8s that I love [inaudible 00:53:36].

Shachar Gilad:

It's interesting that almost all you mentioned are EQs.

Manny Marroquin:

It's true. You know with compressors, I'm a fan of EQs because I feel like you can control certain... I think I'd rather have a shitty compressor than the other way around.

Shachar Gilad:

I've seen your work. You really do a lot of work with EQs and levels before you touch any compressors.

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, I feel like you can get anything you're trying to get with an EQ. Now you're trying to control ...amazing sounding EQ over a good sounding compressor.

Shachar Gilad:

Reverbs, delays, distortions, those things are all secondary for you?

Manny Marroquin:

That order. EQ compressor, when I talk about them in seminars, it's like, look, I'll touch the EQ, then I'll touch the compressor.

Shachar Gilad:

All right.

Manny Marroquin:

If I touch the compressor first, that means that my mind for EQ goes to that because I know the tone of the compressor. I try to use compressors most of the time is not necessarily to compress my 1176 what tone that'll give me. I like that tone. just go for tones and I know what that tone is. I'd rather then use a compressor and use that tone than EQ that tone.

Shachar Gilad:

What you're saying is that even when you do reach for compressor, after all the EQing you're using them for more tone shaping which is almost like it was kind of EQish.

Manny Marroquin:

Exactly.

Shachar Gilad:

Not so much like dynamic control.

Manny Marroquin:

That's exactly it.

Shachar Gilad:

Interesting. Somebody's asking here how important is it to be in LA orNew York?

Manny Marroquin:

Man, the weather is shit.

Shachar Gilad:

I think they mean in one of those 2 spots, anywhere else in the world?

Manny Marroquin:

Oh, besides the 3Ws? Reference biggie by the way. I love LA, I'm from here, I grew up in LA. I think it's an incredible place. Let's talk first about cities. There's only a couple of cities in the states, New York, Nashville, LA. I personally, I'm more of an LA guy where here I can go to the beach in 20 minutes or I can go to the desert in an hour and 20 minutes. I think that's really important for someone like me.

New York is an amazing place, but I feel like you've got to think about this because a city will make you or break you. As silly as it seems like the weather's great, Cities make you or break you. This is a tough, tough, tough business. We all know that. It's very competitive. It's a tough business. If I'm going to be in a tough business, I'd rather be in a place where I connect with. I've done a lot of new work in New York and I still love New York, but if I were to do 90%, 85% of my stuff, I'd rather do it in a place where I connect with. Again, I grew up here, so I connect with LA. I feel like LA right now is the best it's ever been in the culture that we have here. I'm a big foodie guy, the restaurant scene, the culture in LA exploding, the ... main reasons ... It has nothing to do with being in the studio. It has something to do with your lifestyle and I think this [inaudible 00:57:34] will support the way I

Shachar Gilad:

[inaudible 00:57:37].

Manny Marroquin:

You'll be disappointed so many times. [inaudible 00:57:48] as a negative thing we've done, as opposed to rejection [inaudible 00:58:01] criticism. When someone does my mix and they use someone else, I've learned a lot from what not to do next time. It doesn't matter what level you're at Grammy's or records, number 1s, none of that matters. This is a level playing field. You've got to stay mentally strong and you've still got to love it, you've got to have the passion.... go buy a shovel and dig under him or [inaudible 00:58:49] you'll have a lot of disappointments [inaudible 00:58:57] taking a step back [inaudible 00:59:03]. The most important thing is to go [inaudible 00:59:05] because they really are what's going to make you have a long career [inaudible 00:59:12] disappear. If that's what you want, cool [inaudible 00:59:15].

Shachar Gilad:

Touching on that flavor of the month question, one thing that I've noticed about a lot of your mixes is that you really feel like it's close and connected to the producer's likeyou have that one sound which some mixers you definitely do have a sound signature, but it's very ... It's almost like genre and producer agnostic, which also allows you to work in all these different genres. How important do you feel that that is? Is that a conscious decision or is that just kind of your approach?

Manny Marroquin:

From day 1, it's been a very conscious decision. I grew up playing drums and being in the rock bands. I grew up in a very hip hop oriented neighborhood and then I learned jazz and classical. I always felt that to be happy, for me to be happy I had to be conscious of all those genres. I'm a drummer, I understand drums and because I understand how guitars should sound and how this and that, so I sometimes took gigs that didn't pay much to grow. I didn't want to be known for just what I listened to was hip hop or [inaudible 01:00:47], I can understand that. I can totally understand that, but that's not who I am. I really love and appreciate all genres, this is who I am.

Shachar Gilad:

Awesome. Let me take one more.

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, what is it? 3 or 4, man, that went gast. We may have to do 2 some other time.

Shachar Gilad:

Oh, let's do it. [inaudible 01:01:21]. I can't remember who asked this. I'll find it in a minute and give him a shout out, but where do you start with [inaudible 01:01:50].

Manny Marroquin:

For me, it's like if we mix a start, I start with the drums, even if there's no drums. What that means is I'll the rhythm section, whatever makes me move. If there's no drums, something in the track is there. It's a dance song or a ballad or something is going to make... I find a group . Whatever's playing the groove, it could be, again, baseline or guitar, a shaker, doesn't matter what it is. Then I immediately move into the vocal. Once I establish the rhythm, I go to the vocal and see what is fighting in people. [inaudible 01:02:45] clarity and emotion on the low end, the group and also the vocals and those are the first 2 things I start with.

Then I started coloring things because then everything else is kind of supporting those 2. Then there's always that focal point which could be the synth or the drums. It could be a synth, it could be a guitar, it could be a sample, doesn't matter, but it kind of fits in. If you get the rhythm section right and your vocal sounds like a million bucks... It's about the taste. Taste is really, really the question is how do you acquire taste? Are you born with it? Do you acquire it? How do you do that? The only way I know, the only answer to that you have a passion for music, and then you'll have your own taste and you will know that I like this, I don't like that and it's a preference, and then you'll get your own taste. It's really important to have your stamp, hey, listen, I don't consider myself to have a sound, but there is something consistent in it, regardless of the genre, and over the years I've developed that naturally. Everyone will naturally have that.

That's what's going to make you or break you, honestly. It's going to be what taste do you give the producer, the song, the artist? Then once you have that, you just keep applying and repetition and you just keep perfecting that art form. Believe me, that's how you start getting calls because of your personality on the mixes.

Shachar Gilad:

How important is personality not on the mixes, in success in your experience out here in LA?

Manny Marroquin:

Wait. You're saying how important is not having personality ...

Shachar Gilad:

No. You mentioned personality in the mixes, and we definitely know what you mean, like personality in the sounds that you bring to it, but I mean just actual your interaction with people.

Manny Marroquin:

My own personality?

Shachar Gilad:

Yours and other people, other mixers and producers [inaudible 01:05:17], how important is that for success?

Manny Marroquin:

It's really important, because I always say that nobody wants to be in the room for an asshole for 12 hours, let alone the whole album. I take the approach of being humble because, listen, I'm from a different country, a third world country. To be able to be doing this at a pretty high level, shit, I always say that the worst day in the studio is the best day of my life in another country.

I take a very humble approach to it. Listen, they're paying me to work on your record. That's such an honor, so I take it very seriously. Why would I want to be stuck with an ass? I don't think anybody wants that. Passion and personality are going to get you coming not through the door but they're going to keep you in the room. I want someone that touches my music to be as passionate as I am. The people, the creators, are extremely passionate and they want that same passion. They want to see that. If they don't see that, then they're going to someone that does have it.

When they bring it to an ass, first moment they find in someone that can do the same thing in this nice guy, they'll go to that person, so people skills are really important, really, really important. I always tell my kids you say "thank you" and "please", you're halfway there.

Shachar Gilad:

There's one thing, everybody that I meet in this industry and your name comes up, it's always 2 things that they say. They're like, "Manny's a beast. He's a mixing engineer. He's such a nice guy."

Manny Marroquin:

Ah, that's great.

Shachar Gilad:

I'm sure that's a non-negligible part of your success for sure.

Manny Marroquin:

That's amazing, thank you.

Shachar Gilad:

I actually wanted to follow up to something you said before that I found interesting. You said you always start with the drums even though there's no drums, and then you end up carving things around the vocals, right, because your mixes are very contextual? You get the vocals and you don't try to change them because they might get worse and you just add to them, but you carve the mix around them. If you do the drums first or the rhythm section first and then you get to the vocals and you find that actually it's not a perfect [inaudible 01:07:44] do you end up going back to the rhythm section?

Manny Marroquin:

Yes. I always end up going back because at that point my process is to be inspired. Just the drums by themselves, the blend, the EQ, whatever it is, inspires me to go to the vocal. Then by the time I start mixing other things, by the way, I don't know what that song really should sound like yet. I think I have a pretty good idea, but what if I'm wrong. You almost got to question yourself. What if I'm wrong? What if the drums didn't have to be that hard? Or they needed to be harder? To me, it's like every level, and I see it in different levels, different inspiration levels. To get started, for me is like the rhythm section because I'm feeling something. My vocals, now I'm hearing what the song is about. Then I put maybe 16 guitar tracks. Now the drums may change. I have no problem working backwards now because now I'm inspired by these guitars to compensate for the guitars.

Now I'm growing into this mix. It's more of kind of an indie [inaudible 01:08:58] not in your type of sell. Then I started compensating for it and then I may go back to the guitars and then I go back and forth in between and I'm checking the vocals and then everything starts to ... That's the process of mixing. Now the vocal's sounding right and then the synth is getting in the way and then I clean up that because again ...

Shachar Gilad:

You don't get too attached.

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, never get too attached. That's a great point. I never ever get too attached to any of the levels. First of all, never get attached to any of that because you may have the producer that comes and says that drum bland sucks. If you're attached to it, you'll be like, "No, that's the best drum blend", and then you're fired. No, never get attached because then he'll come in and say that's the wrong drum blend and you've got to be confident but humble enough to be like, "Okay. What were you hearing?" I'm hearing more of this and that and now it's your job to translate that and execute it. I never get attached to it. I'm just looking for inspiration.

Shachar Gilad:

It seems like when you mix ... We kind of answered that before that you move around a lot and you're looking to get inspired first and foremost and have that kind of lead you. Sometimes when I do a little bit of mixing, I find myself trying to problem fix or be smarter than it. You're looking to get inspired by every song. You look to find the good thing in it and let that kind of lead you. I've seen you bounce your head when you mix. I think that definitely somehow creeps in to the work you do as opposed to someone who's doing it from a very surgical way.

Manny Marroquin:

Yes, 100%. Couldn't have said it better myself. Someone said, which I just ... Advice to all, never get attached to anything in life.

Shachar Gilad:

I know she wants that shout out. Let's see. Somebody's like, "How do you like your coffee?"

Manny Marroquin:

I like my men. Just a joke, guys.

Shachar Gilad:

Manny's a happily married dude. Azaya says, "Peace, Manny. I saw in an interview that you print your analog stems back in Pro Tools for any final recalls and key your 2 bus compressor to keep your mix essentially the same once it's back in Pro Tools. Can you explain how you do this and how you would do the same in the box?

Manny Marroquin:

Wow. Someone's been paying attention. What we do, again, we ask what's across my stereo bus and I really work my SSL compressor a lot. When I mix stems, when I print stems, one of my guys print stems, if I bring up the hi hat, to buy a hi hat but not a lot of level here in the mix, my compressor, my stereo compressor will not act the same, so when you play back your stems, they're going to be all weird. They're not going to sound right because of my stereo bus. What we do is we print a version of the mix and then we key that into the compressor. So it's been keyed by the mix come down because of the way the stereo bus is hitting.

When I go back to my stems, everything will be printed as if the stereo bus was always going, but the separation ... Once I have my stems, now I'm in the box. Now I can make any change in the box. If they say vocal up, vocal down, mute this part here, mute this part there, I don't have to recall the mix on the desk. For those of you who remember recalling on desk is like, it's a nightmare. The equipment may change the sound, so it never comes back perfect. This way don't recall on the desk so if the client wants an update, I'm able to do an update without tearing the whole board or recalling it.

Shachar Gilad:

That's really smart. One more time for everyone out there because that just was not right. What you're saying is if client s ask for a level up or down on something and maybe a mute. Really that's what it comes out to, right? It's rarely a sound difference. You're saying the way things went through your bus compressor affected the sound of things, so then if you bring up something up or down you still have that same effect of your console's bus compression that happened on that and everything else.

Manny Marroquin:

Exactly.

Shachar Gilad:

I'm just a little slow on [crosstalk 01:14:02].

Manny Marroquin:

That's exactly it. If you have a bass, that's going to eat up a lot of your information, a lot of your levels. If your kick is not being ... If your bass is hitting and that's everything gluing everything, if there's no compressor, it's going to be sort of wild, so you're not going to have the same glue. To me, as you guys, all of you that understand, it's a tool to have. Sometimes you want thing to be glued. Other times you don't, you want a separation. Knowing the difference and what that does to a song is really important to know.

Shachar Gilad:

Glue, when you think of glue, what comes to mind?

Manny Marroquin:

Nice compressor. EQing techniques, like if your kick is here and your snare is there, glue could be if your top of the kick is 200 hertz, let's just say argument's sake, the very bottom of your snare is at 800 hertz, then you kind of EQ these things a little closer. Now they're touching each other, that's glue. If you have a sound that's doing this, but you want the opposite and you want separation, Then you can use EQ to separate and that's a different type of glue[and separation and knowing that is really the key, knowing where you need glue and where you need separation and what that does emotionally. That's really important to know.

Shachar Gilad:

It's interesting how it really comes back to EQ again. Because one of the things, compression is one of them. Air, air on vocals, that's all the rage, has been forever [inaudible 01:16:02]. How much of that do you think is the vocalist singing that way and how much of that do you think is the EQing.

Manny Marroquin:

When it comes to a lot of pop music today, it's very competitive. One thing to get it to sound pop more is by adding some top end, air, for example. It's just what we're hearing today. I think that the artist may do it but I don't think some of the artists have that air, so you deal with EQ so that. Instead of bringing him up, you add it there and all of a sudden ...

Shachar Gilad:

What would you reach for for air? If somebody called you and said, hey, I want more air ...

Manny Marroquin:

No, it's going to sound rude, weird, but I use my EQ. I used EQ on Waves, my plugin.

Shachar Gilad:

Which one?

Manny Marroquin:

Which is the EQ, the top ... I got a 10, 12 and a half and 15. That's the best air that you'll find out there in my opinion. I'm sure you can find others. People say, "Oh, you don't use your own plugin." I use it on every mix. They save pmy life... should be fast. We don't have time to tweak and to get that emotion that's really important. Later on you may come back and tweak here and there, but you want to get that idea out immediately.

Shachar Gilad:

Stay inspired?

Manny Marroquin:

Stay inspired, that's it. I guess if we learned anything today, it's always be inspired and never get bored or lose interest. There's going to be those times that you lose interest and how do you get back into it? You get mixers block and how do you get out of that as quickly as possible? It took for me at least years of traveling there to be able to do this. Some of you guys may have it already and others ... It's not going to take... Being aware of that, being aware that every time you go in the studio is that race that I keep envisioning. It's a race. You're racing and you better perform physically, mentally. All these are ... I see them as bricks to make a wall. They're all bricks and one is not more important than another. You see a brick wall, they're all the same size. You've got to make sure that all of the things we're talking about is just another brick until we have that you have nothing. You've got nothing.

Shachar Gilad:

How many hours would you say you've mixed in your life?

Manny Marroquin:

Woah.

Shachar Gilad:

Ballpark of course.

Manny Marroquin:

I have no idea. I've been doing this for over 20 years. Just because of the holidays I would say may 11 months of the year.

Shachar Gilad:

20 years.

Manny Marroquin:

For 20 years. Yeah.

Shachar Gilad:

The reason I ask that, I think for all of us out there.

Manny Marroquin:

10,000 hour day.

Shachar Gilad:

Yeah, the 10,000 hour day. I think the reason I asked that is I think for all of us to remember that this isn't something that happens overnight. If somebody's out there, been mixing for a year, year and a half a couple of times a week, I think they've got to be okay with it and maybe they don't also have access to [inaudible 01:19:44]. Most of the experience really, they can't expect themselves to be at the same level. Just a matter of commitment maybe you might get to Manny's level.

Manny Marroquin:

Listen, I always say you're either in it or you're not. If it's a hobby, great, but if you want to make a career out of it, it's a lifestyle. We were just talking before we got online we go to sleep thinking about it. We wake up thinking about it. We dream about it. It's a 24/7 gig even when you're on vacation because there's always things you will get inspired by and that's the difference. You've got to put the work in. You've got to put the work in. There's no shortcuts. I always say that I meet a lot of young, entitled engineers and it's kind of frustrating because, I hate to sound like this, but it's going to be tough for them to make it on a consistent basis at a high level, because there's that sense of entitlement that they don't have to work for something and there's no shortcuts in this. You can't skip the line either or cut the line.

Shachar Gilad:

All right. Do you want to maybe just show the room real quick?

Manny Marroquin:

Yeah, let's show you guys the room.

Shachar Gilad:

Best studios in the world where all the hits are made. Careful with this thing if we can.

Manny Marroquin:

Let's see. Lots of wires everywhere. This is the desk I was talking about. Let me show you my SSL, a couple of cool reverbs that some of you may recognize. Let's go the other way. You've got to get used to it being reversed. I'm not drunk, I promise. There's my man. If he asks me what to do with those buttons, I have no idea.

Let's show some of the rack here. There's some of the stuff on this side, then some stuff on that side. Let me get out of the frame here.

Shachar Gilad:

Do you like those AMSs?

Manny Marroquin:

AMS, yep. APIs, motowns, PCM42s.

Shachar Gilad:

Pultecs, everything, Eventide.

Manny Marroquin:

Distressors, Pultecs, yep.

Shachar Gilad:

Is there a piece of gear you wish you had and you don't?

Manny Marroquin:

I'm sure there's stuff out there. I don't know. I'm always looking, so you guys got any suggestions or recommend anything that I may be missing out on, please let me know.

Shachar Gilad:

I want to say thanks again to Manny for doing this.

Manny Marroquin:

Thank you.

Shachar Gilad:

Thank you so much. This is really always an honor and an educational experience and we know how valuable your time is. We know that right before this and right after this you're probably mixing a hit record that we're going to be playing on the radio, no joke.

Manny Marroquin:

Fingers crossed.

Shachar Gilad:

Yeah, just thanks again and thanks there for hanging out and for putting up with some questions.

Manny Marroquin:

We'll do this again for sure. If you guys don't follow me on social media, please do on both Twitter and Facebook, Instagram and all that. I'm a big fan of Gear and stuff that I'm doing around town. I always welcome any suggestions, any ... Just drop me a line on there and good luck to everyone and thanks for hanging out with us.

Shachar Gilad:

Yeah, Manny's Twitter's a link direct to Manny's Twitter right at the bottom of the webinar and links to Manny's plugins. If you haven't checked them out, they really are amazing. They're as close as you can get to Manny sitting in the other room and being like, "I would actually reach for this. I would reach for that." As close as you're going to get right in your box.

Manny Marroquin:

By the way, listen, thank you. The reason why it's called triple D is because of Shachar. He gets the credit for that because I think that's brilliant. Thank you guys. See you next time.

Shachar Gilad:

See you next time. Thanks a lot.

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