Owner of Fretless Studios; music production without the fret. Take a second to listen to my past work to see if I can be of value to you! Here to get your tracks sounding top-notch.
I specialize in mixing. Anything from acoustic sessions to full band productions, I've got you covered!
The goal every project is to get the mix sounding as much of a finished product as possible before mastering, so that anything in the mastering stage is as invisible as can be.
I mostly work locally, having recorded in Sweetwater Studios for one of my clients, but mostly I just work out of my home studio. I'm getting results just as good here in my home studio than I am at high end studios, so I really just prefer working at my place!
My credits are definitely not as impressive as some/most people on here, but I'm very content and confident in my work so far. Recently(3/03/21) I've participated in a mixing contest hosted and judged by Ken Lewis(holds 102 gold records, worked with Eminem, Drake, BTS, Usher, etc) based on the best sonics, and out of nearly 100 mix engineers, I placed 3rd for my mix. I work with Chris Hau and Lizzie Peirce from Youtube for their podcast 'A Couple Of Creatives', and mixed a few of Chris's videos, just to name a couple of my accomplishments!
What you'll get from my work:
-44.1kHz 24bit WAV file for a mix or master (can be swapped for higher/lower quality, just ask!)
-included 320kbps MP3 for masters
-2 revisions for mix, 2 revisions for master
Shoot me an email by clicking the Contact button above and we can get started!
Click the 'Contact' above to get in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.
6 ReviewsEndorse Michael O'Connor
Michael did an amazing job! We recorded on Sunday and by Tuesday he already had the finished product (entire audio and video) done and it was incredibly professional quality. Not to mention he had donuts waiting for us! I couldn’t recommend Michael more.
Anyone who records their own music is looking for a professional sound and above all, a particular sound. These two aspects are of utmost importance: first, knowing what kind of sound you are looking for and secondly working with someone who knows how to achieve it. This is the reason why we recorded our album Ayün with Michael and so far we’ve received great feedback on the music and the sound. Check out our page to listen to the album at kelsicote.com
I had the opportunity to work on many projects with Michael, with the most recent one being Life Goes On Cover by BTS. It was a very musically entertaining and an educational experience working with him. He has great skills when it comes to planning out a whole production, and he knows how little details matter in music!
Michael is not only an awesome sound engineer but also a great musician. He has a great understanding of variety of instruments and knows how to put it all together. Him being a versatile musician definitely helped producing my project and making everything sound better.
I have worked with Michael several times on a variety of projects. Each project is always different, ranging from folk to heavy metal. This type of versatility musically, paired with his knowledge of physics and acoustics makes him a great person to trust with your product. Michael has nothing but the best hardware and software to make your mix and master sound radio ready and presentable. I would not hesitate to work with him in the future in any capacity.
Michael and I teamed up for a cover song during the pandemic, and I was very happy with how it turned out! Michael handled all of the programming and engineering on the track, and the result was a very high-quality sound. If you're looking for a crisp sound from someone who's easy to work with, Fretless is for you!
Working with Fretless studios on my single “The Astronaut” was an amazing experience! All of my visions were brought to life and it turned out better than I thought it would. The quality of equipment is great and the process was easy. I will definitely be contacting Michael to do another project soon!
Interview with Michael O'Connor
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I loved working on an album for a local band not too long ago. I was the audio engineer from start to finish, and produced a very miniscule amount. I'm super proud of how it turned out because there were a lot of instruments I've never heard before, and it was a super dense mix for every song. One of the songs I had literally no idea how I was going to make it work keeping everything separated and audible just from the amount of instruments and similar tones they had going on all at once. But I worked my hardest and I think it turned out really great! Just one of those instances where I knew I had to take a backseat and trust they knew it could work. They ended up getting a good amount of recognition for their album!
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm working on building out my online work, a few music video projects, doing some mix competitions, staying busy trying to make this freelance thing work!
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Honestly I'm new to SoundBetter, but would love to get to know others here! Say hi if you want to get to know me!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Absolutely 100% digital. Long ago were the days analog beat digital by miles, 20, maybe even 10 years ago. But things have changed. You can no longer hear the difference between analog and digital processing, unless of course it was poorly made. Can you honestly say what song was mixed completely analog vs digital for a modern mix? If so, let me know so I can hire you! 😂 Digital just offers the same, if not better results than analog nowadays (depending on the manufacturer/designer and the product itself) at a fraction of the effort and time to get things working. It honestly grinds my gears when people have a superiority complex for analog gear over digital 😂 Slate Digital has some comparisons of completely analog vs digital mixes if you think you can guess all the right answers! That being said, if there's a piece of analog gear you love, and there's no digital version of it/the digital version isn't up to par, go for that analog gear! Personally I've just found I've got all I need in the box, and then some.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise to work with you to get something you can enjoy listening to for a long time. I'll be giving it my all!
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love that everything is different. Nothing is the same and that's what makes it interesting! Pair that with music, you have sold me! I love being able to put together a great sounding song from scratch and simply making things better than they were.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How do I send you the files/what format? -The highest quality WAV file you can, all consolidated starting at time 0:00! Please send stems dry with any effects you think are imperative on a separate track, unless they are so crucial they need to be baked in to the track!
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Well, I get mistaken for a DJ a lot to people outside of the music industry 😂 I'd say a lot of people think mixing includes things that should have been done in the writing/recording phase. For example, crazy reverbs/delays, vocal effects, etc. Ideally this would be done before sending it off to the mix engineer. The vision should already be laid out. While there is nothing stopping me from doing this, I would be changing the feel/vision of the song at a stage where it should really only be about bringing out the best of the song, not adding anything groundbreakingly new. Think of it like an emotion-bringer-outer.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: Are you happy with the production/writing/instrumentation? Is it really ready for mixing? What are the most important elements of the song to you? Do you have any reference tracks you would like me to listen to for this song/project?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: The proof is in the pudding. Check out their past work to see what they can accomplish! Credits don't really showcase talent, it's really just a marketing tactic and social proof. While credits do show you are credible and most likely take your craft seriously, they don't accurately depict your contribution to the project aside from a simple title. If you really want to know what they can do, see their work! Hopefully you can get a feel for how they are as a person/how they communicate before you pull the trigger. Hopefully you can make a long term relationship, and that this project won't be the only project you work on together!
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Slate Digital ML-1 mic, Slate Digital VRS8 audio interface, my Macbook Pro, a midi keyboard, and my acoustic guitar. Literally just the essentials because you really don't need much to make hits! The interface was overkill but maybe I could find some small diaphragm condenser mics on the island? 😂
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: Mine is a bit odd. I started out playing guitar at a young age and later found some friends to play with in a band. They had a computer with Pro Tools on it, but no one knew how to use it, so I took up learning it (I think I was 12 or 13 at the time? Some time around 2007-2008). Eventually I got my own rig and started recording friends, and eventually it turned into paying clients in high school. I actually went to college for Physics, and got a job as an electrical engineer. I took some audio classes in college (though I really learned most of it from doing it myself prior to the classes) and also helped run sound for the college's concert hall. On top of school and then work, I was recording bands/artists all the while. When COVID hit, I was laid off. I've decided to push my audio freelance to hopefully get to a point to do it fulltime, as this is where my true passion lies! I just couldn't stop doing this because this feels like it's part of me, and if I continued with a full time job on top of this it just wouldn't be sustainable from burnout. I'd love your help in making this my full time job!
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'd say I tend to make things large. Snares massive, toms as cannons, full wide pianos, and all of course if the song calls for it. I try my best to bring out the emotion of the song, and in some cases make things larger than life. It's just more fun to listen to that way! I definitely wouldn't say I go out of my way to make that happen, but I'm not afraid to go where it needs to go in order to push that emotion!
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I've actually been thinking about this lately. I'd love to work with Adam Gontier (formerly of Three Days Grace, now Saint Asonia). I grew up listening to him and always dreamed of playing guitar with him as a kid; now that I'm older, and can actually potentially offer him value through mixing, I'd love to work with him. It would make my inner child so happy to do something I've dreamed of from the beginning, and largely how I came to be who I am today. Seems like an incredible guy to work with aside from my personal attachment to him/his work!
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Circling back to my comment on Graham Cochrane of the Recording Revolution, one of his tips stuck with me as far as production: use contrast. This can mean anything; from energy in the verses as opposed to the chorus, contrast in tone, or anything else you can think of. What I thought was interesting that he mentioned was a contrast in rhythmic vs melodic elements. If you have all synth pads running for the entire song and nothing else, kinda boring right? It needs some rhythm to give it life. The same is true for the other side; a song only of drums? Same deal, the chords bring the music into it. So whenever I'm creating a song, I look for what is rhythmic and what is melodic. Sometimes melodic instruments like a piano can act rhythmic depending on what is being played, and sometimes it can mash with something rhythmic like the drums. To remedy this, you can just make the piano do whole note chords or change how the piano sounds to give it more sustain to separate it from the rhythmic elements!
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: It's really all over the place. Sometimes acoustic/vocal songs, sometimes rock, pop, really everything. At the core it's the same: use what you're feeling as the emotion and do your best to bring it out of the song.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I pride myself with my ability to problem solve. This may not have much relation to mixing, but it sure does when building the foundation and continuing to improve when it comes to mixing! You can rest assured that I will continually look for ways to improve and be more efficient and effective. If I'm not hitting the mark on something, let me know and I will do my best to figure it out to the best of my ability!
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: Having a background in music and a bachelor's in physics, I think I bring a unique perspective. I have a very detail oriented brain, but growing up in music, I know how and when to use my gut and feeling to guide what moves need to be made. For the most part, that's what it usually is for mixing/music. However when a problem arises, I can use my nerdy background to solve the issue pretty quickly no matter what it is. Because music is subjective, I know when others may have a better opinion or mindset and will let them take the lead on their idea. Too many times have I had an idea I thought was the best idea in the world and then some time later, even years, I look back and see that other person was right. No matter how right I think I am, I've learned that taking the backseat can actually benefit the song because chances are they are probably right!
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I try to work as fast as possible. Not to rush it, but to actually make for a better end product. The number one factor in getting worse mixes I believe is the amount of time you spend on it. Believe it or not, not all mix moves will improve the mix. Sometimes they are too miniscule to have any real impact, or your ears are just lying to you because they can get fatigued after awhile. To counter this, I make sure everything is organized and set up before I start mixing, sometimes with a template, and then I work as fast as possible. Sometimes with a timer to give me a deadline and keep me on track. I alternate between doing only volume first and then EQ and compression, and bringing things in one at a time and making sure the added track fits perfectly before moving on.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Currently I sort of have two. One is my tracking room with more reflections and space for recording including a super dead and dry vocal booth that offers a nice compliment to the 'live' room to tackle any song that comes in. It's acoustically treated with rugs on the wooden floor so that I can control the amount of reverb/reflections. My second, is my 'mixing' room above a garage which helps with keeping the room dry from reflections. It's also acoustically treated, and smaller to make the room more suitable to listening to every detail. The ceiling is angled on two sides that help dramatically for reducing standing waves/resonances. Both are calibrated setups with Sonarworks!
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I basically owe all of where I'm at to Graham Cochrane of the Recording Revolution. He's an audio engineering teacher on Youtube, and I've followed him from the beginning. Seriously cannot give that guy enough credit! Specifically his '30 Mixing Tips In 30 Days' were what really got me interested and following through with audio. As far as musicians, I love them all! Everyone has their own take on things and it's definitely valuable to respect and learn from everyone that has a different take.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Currently I mostly do mixing and mastering work remotely, but I have some local projects as well where I'm doing the whole one-man show as far as production for client's tracks!