I am an award winning Berklee Grad providing radio-ready mixes and masters. Being an artist is a lot of work, and you have to manage a lot all at once. I am here to make sure all the pieces come together and your vision is realized! I have taken artists from having no prospects to having ISC semifinalist certified winning songs!
Recipient of Berklee's Sennheiser Award and the Music Production and Engineering departmental achievement award, Berklee grad Ben DeSoto is an audio engineer at the cutting edge of modern sound.
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Interview with Ben DeSoto Mayor
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I am working on a second album for a new artist I have been developing who goes by the name of Aquagie. The first single for the first album just came out! Check it out, it is 100% by Aquagie on all music streaming platforms! I am also working with several more artists, either mixing or producing for them. Some recent releases are "Kevin" by Nia Ashleigh and "miomo" by Georgia Parker. More on the way from them too.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Not at the moment. I may try to convince some of my engineer friends to try out the website though!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Digital. Analog is expensive and one dimensional. I can't get an analog piece of gear that does brick wall eq, multi band dynamic fully parametric processing and solos frequency bands all for $100, now can I? Digital quality has been getting better and better, to the point where many pro engineers can't even tell the difference between their trusty hardware cl1b and the UAD emulation of it. Digital is the future!
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How much do you charge? All the time. Everyone wants to get the cheapest thing, regardless of the quality, especially if they are upcoming and chomping at the bit for their time in the limelight. Understandably, they have been working hard. But quality is not free, so I charge $800/mix. If you have extenuating circumstances and think you can offer a deal that is similar in fairness to $800, let me know, and I am usually amenable to negotiations.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: It depends on who you ask. If you are talking about the general public, there is a low chance they even know what an audio engineer does. If you are talking about your typical new artist working on their first release, they might think that mixing is a dark art, or that it is unnecessary. Both are untrue! Mixing is the frame in which you place your art. Presented poorly, even the best art will not connect in the way it is meant to. It is also not a dark art, it is just a lot of work to get good at!
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Please make sure you really like the demos on my website! I want someone to come in trusting that they are in good hands so they get the best experience possible.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Computer, Sennheiser mastering headphones, Izotope Ozone 9, Pro Tools, soundtoys everything suite. With these tools, I don't think there is anything I couldn't do production or mix wise. 6th would be a power source ;)
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I played piano as a very young chid. In high school high school I sang choral and musical theatre. I performed in the all-national honor choir and competed in the Ben Vereen awards. Frustrated as a basic pianist and singer trying to make smash hit productions in Logic, I realized that I had a lot to learn, so I decided to enroll at Berklee College of Music and pursue Music Production and Engineering there. I took it very seriously when I realized this was the key to solve my past frustrations with production and mixing. I won a departmental merit scholarship while there, and three of my works were selected for the senior showcase album, which is extremely rare to be so heavily represented in a small work where every single Music Production and Engineering major is eligible to be selected on a short 12 track album. I have been working freelance for two years now, and am about to finish my degree this summer.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Laid-back and easy going. I think being an artist is a very stressful entrepreneurial venture, so I make sure that when you are working with me, you have a safe haven where you can relax, and know that everything will turn out just like how you had intended.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I love the artists I already work with. I love to develop them and make their dreams slowly but surely become a reality. It is a very satisfying line of work knowing that I am directly influencing the trajectory of these upcoming artists in a positive way.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Well placed transitions are key. Try to think like a drummer and where they would put the fills that say "here comes the new section".
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work on anything that my clients do, and this has ranged from singer songwriter with a full orchestra to minimal 80's synth pop. I have done it all. But recently I have been working in more of the electronic pop and trap areas.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: My ears, both for frequencies and communication. I have done a lot of ear training in order to get precise frequency identification, but more importantly, I listen to YOU. I hear what you have to say, and I always make sure that you are satisfied with the end product. Any worries or requests you may have I address. That is the way we build trust and a win-win server-client relationship.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: My taste, and ears. I have spent an enormous amount of time training my ears. I have near perfect frequency identification abilities. I can tell you the difference between 3kHz and 3.5kHz with no problem. This allows me to be incredibly precise with my mixing and allows me to master my own tracks and have them compete with the best. What sets me apart from there is my taste. You hire me because we hear music the same way. That is what builds trust and allows for creative risk that takes songs to the next level. If you and I hear music the same way and have similar taste, we will have a long lasting professional relationship, I'm sure of it!
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: For mixing, I have a basic Pro Tools template I use to load all of the stems into quickly. From there, I get a feel for the record while soloing different elements to get an idea of what is actually in the song. I then get to work on managing the low end and drums relationship. My next immediate focus is the vocals. With those three in good order, the skeleton of the mix is complete. I don't want to give up too much of my process, but know that I make sure that everything is brought out to its fullest by the end!
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: It is a simple near field monitoring setup with quality gear, and it is extremely effective. I have put in quite a bit of effort in my room setup to ensure I have accurate monitoring conditions (corrected low end for nodes/anti-nodes, and precise imaging).
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Serban Ghenea is my main inspiration as a mixing engineer. He has defined the sound of my generation, mixing hit after hit that I grew up listening to. Looking back, I can tell whether a song I heard growing up was mixed by Serban because those are my favorite tracks. I want to bring that kind of joy and inspiration to the next generation like him.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I currently do mixing and mastering for artist/producers, and build songs from the ground up with artist talent. This includes songwriting and production all the way through to mastered finished product.