I believe in 'flirting with the line' when it comes to making music. In other words, I tend to favour rich layers of 'musical’, analogue saturation, soundscapes with a fearless low end and a 'harmonically rich' stance in general; all for the sake of helping your art flourish, creatively and sonically.
Projects of all sizes can be accommodated and will receive the same level of hard work and attention to detail regardless of your budget.
My’ hybrid setup consists of an analogue mix bus chain and a multi computer system to take advantage of the resource hungry, yet cutting edge sonic power of Acustica and N4 plugins. Alongside this, I utilise a 32 core UAD Satellite setup to accommodate all of your favourite UA offerings, alongside an exhaustive list of other 'big hitters' in the software world.
It’s no longer a question of whether ITB (in the box/digital mixing only) or OTB (out the box/using analogue equipment) is better, it’s simply a matter of preference. However, real NOS (new old stock/vintage) tubes and transformers offer a highly complex and ‘live’ tone that’s hard to describe, but truly gives the final push to a mix or master. As a result, I choose to mix and master in a ‘hybrid’ fashion, utilising an analogue mix bus chain which adds further weight and dimension to the soundstage.
Tell me about your project and how I can help, through the 'Contact' button above.
7 ReviewsEndorse Ross David Saunders
Ross's dedication to sonics & carving tone knows no limits! He will push you (& himself) to create the best you can do, ever inspiring and highly motivated. His love for the sonic palette will rub off on you and take you on a journey you rarely get in the studio. Ross puts the song & art above everything else, every move motivated by the want to make it the best it can be. His knowledge, experience & ear is the standard and can hold his own with any artist / studio out there.
I've worked with Ross for 20 years on stage & in the studio on many different projects, long may that continue!
Having worked with Ross on numerous and varied projects, I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending his skills as a musician and engineer. Ross' attention to detail, instinctive musicality and encyclopaedic knowledge of the craft would be welcome additions to any project. He'll approach your music with as much care, effort and passion as you do yourself.
I have had the pleasure of working with Ross on numerous occasions and look forward to continuing to work with him in the future. He is the nicest of guys and always very professional. He is dedicated, passionate and truly talented. An absolute pleasure to work with!
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ross on a couple of projects, and he is absolutely one of the best in the business. His dedication, flexibility, skill and knowledge are second to none. Ross creates an amazing working environment and it’s always a joy to be in the studio with him. Couldn’t recommend him highly enough!
Having worked with a number of engineers over the last six or seven years, I have to say Ross is by far the best I've worked with. His attention to detail is second to none and his willingness to go that extra mile to make sure a client's happy is rarely found. Ross really makes an effort to understand the exact feel and direction you're going for with your music. He's also a really friendly, understanding and open-minded guy which is so essential when working closely with someone on something as personal as your music.
I’ve had the pleasure to work with Ross on numerous recording projects, with outstanding results time and time again. A truly talented, passionate, tireless, open minded and endlessly musical mix and mastering engineer.
I've worked with Ross on a few projects, and I cannot recommend him enough. He always brings a unique and fresh approach to take your music up a level, wether he's mixing something you've recorded yourself or simply putting the final touch on your track with mastering. Great communication, great equipment and a super nice guy to work with!
Interview with Ross David Saunders
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: It's a cliche for sure, but I love the simple fact that every single record or Single is truly unique and brings it's own set of challenges and unique vision! I'd hate to think that I'd ever become a one trick pony when it comes to mixing and mastering; there's nothing I love more than referencing the history of recorded music and trying to dial in the perfect tone and sonic world in an attempt to get the sound in the artist's head!
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: How much do you charge and can you tune x/y/z. My rates vary depending on budget and time expected on a project. We live in an amazing world now where so many people have access to very powerful tools, but you still need the many years of experience behind and in front of the glass, plus a professionally treated room to get professional results. I have extensive experience in Melodyne and general editing, but I don't encourage this over an organic, 'human' performance; I see this kind of editing as a special tool to be used sparingly rather than genetically engineering a performance.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: That a mixing or mastering engineer can turn anything into a hit record. Hit records and/or great productions require care, attention to detail and hard work at every single stage from song writing to demo recordings to tracking to editing etc. A great mixing or mastering engineer will always make anything they are given sound better though, whether it's the last 5 percent needed or a necessary 60 percent plus of heavy work required!
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Cafolla - Cowboys & Africans (2019). This was the most ambitious project I've been involved with so far, which featured the talents of some of the best musicians in Scotland and NYC. The project wasn't rushed, it was savoured and the record addresses the current issues of today in a bold and free fashion! The sound creation opportunities were limitless and the record spans so many genres it was a sheer delight to tip the hat to some of the greats like David Bowie, Talking Heads, D'Angleo, Herbie Hancock, RATM, Kamasi Washington, Frank Zappa, Enio Moricone, Prince, Fela Kuti and Stevie Wonder.. to name but a few!
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm due to start a new album recording with a project called 'Mama Terra' featuring pianist/composer Marco Cafolla and saxophonist/composer Konrad Wiszniewski. Think 'Kamasi Washington' meets 'Robert Glasper'! I'm also due to mix and master the next Single by 'Craig Irving', an Indie/Pop artist based in Inverness/Glasgow.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I've yet to work with him (but due to receive an album master next month!) but I'd recommend 'Robin Schmidt' for mastering. His masters for 'LANY' and 'The 1975' sound incredible and he seems to be a genuinely nice guy too!
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Both! Mixing and mastering entirely in the box is absolutely possible in 2021. However, despite running a PC tower dedicated to Acustica/N4 plugins (resource hungry, but best for tone!), I still missed the complex and 'live' tone of valves and transformers! We're so close now, but there's still a magical final 10 percent (sometimes more, sometimes less!) that analogue gear brings that can't be denied!
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: We will make your music great, not matter what the challenges are. There's not a single project I've ever undertook that I didn't work long and hard at to make the artist delighted. I know what it's like to be on the other side, I've worked with engineers that 'count the minutes' and become 9-5 services; this is literally the reason I started to record, mix and master professionally! I care and I want to get the job done right and make sure a record is made, not rushed under a 'the clock is ticking' mentality!
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Simply write down as much as you can about your vision, the story behind the music and an honest budget and timeline for finishing the project. I genuinely care about making your vision a reality so don't hold back on the details!
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: My Fender Precision 'Hot Rodded' P Bass, an RME Babyface Pro FS, a Neve 1073, a Mohog 1176 and a Flea 47 Vintage Mic!
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Harmonically rich and low end proud for the most part, all in the name of getting as much of that 'golden age' tone into modern music as possible!
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: The Porcupine Tree. Few productions have knocked me backed as hard as their 2002 album 'In Absentia' which, in my opinion, is their best sounding record. The care and attention to detail Steven Wilson and the guys have for their capture, tones, sound design, mix and master is simply inspiring.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Once you start to forget about the technical process of mixing or mastering and get lost in the music, know that you're at that magical moment where you should stop and commit to a mix print!
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Predominantly 'Progressive' Folk/Traditional music that mainly encompasses full backline (drums, bass, guitar) along with a complex mix of midrange focused 'traditional instrument' top line. 2nd to that would be Rock/R&B/Soul or Indie/Pop, being a massive fan of the 70s and more recent big pop productions, e.g. The 1975, LANY, Highly Suspect - anything involving Mike Crossey or Joel Hamilton to be honest!
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Having a very wide taste in musical genres and a willingness to adapt my creative work to fit the vision of the artist. I like to use my ears rather than set boundaries based on 'fear based' rules and thinking.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: A wealth of experience and tastes from 20 years in the music industry! I don't believe in forcing 'my style' onto a production, each artist has their own unique style and vision and I love nothing more than referencing the artists they've been inspired by to get as close to the sound they're looking for as possible!
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: This varies from project to project, but assuming a session has been finalised from an editing point of view (editing and tuning are services I can offer as a separate job!), I'll lay out your session in my preferred DAW (Logic Pro X), route everything out in an 'analogue console style' format ITB (complete with all analogue mix bus chain) and then simply get to work!
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: My hybrid setup consists of a multi computer system to take advantage of the resource hungry, yet cutting edge sonic power of Acustica and N4 plugins. Alongside this, I have a 32 core UAD Satellite setup to accommodate all of your favourite Universal Audio offerings, as well as all the other standard setters like DMG (Equilibrium, Trackcomp, Multiplicity etc.) and Oeksound Soothe/Spiff, to name but a few. It’s no longer a question of whether ITB (in the box/digital mixing only) or OTB (out the box/using analogue equipment) is better, it’s simply a matter of preference. However, real NOS (new old stock/vintage) tubes and transformers offer a highly complex and ‘live’ tone that’s hard to describe, but truly gives the final push to a mix or master. As a result, I choose to mix and master in a ‘hybrid’ fashion, utilising an analogue mix bus chain which adds further weight and dimension to the soundstage. This includes some of the following: Elysia Xfilter Stereo EQ (Rack version) Thermionic Culture The Kite Stereo EQ (NOS tube upgrade) IGS Audio Tubecore 3U (late 60s NOS tube upgrade) IGS Audio Rubberbands Stereo Tube EQ (early 70s NOS tube upgrade) Handsome Audio Zulu RME and Lavry A-D/D-A reference grade conversion.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What stage is your production at, does it need further editing, are you providing a select bunch of stems? What's your budget, we'll make it work, but it's important to know what time we have and the deadline.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been a professional in the music industry for 20 years and around 15 years in the world or record, mixing and mastering. I received a BA Hons degree in Applied Music in 2005 and have been classically trained since the age of 10 (Violin first, Piano 2nd followed by Bass guitar as my final priority instrument!).
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm a huge fan of artists and engineers that embrace 'low end rich' music, 'valve/transformer tone' and 'musical' saturation. Recent favourites include (artist and engineer/producer): LANY (Mike Crossey), Kamasi Washington (Russel Elevado), The Kills - Ash and Ice (Tchad Blake/Tom Elmhirst), Lettuce - Rage! (Joel Hamilton).
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Most of my recent recording, mixing and mastering work has been for the Scottish Folk/Traditional music scene. This does include a vast expanse of genre crossover however, with complex soundscapes involving full rhythm section backline, programmed beats and everything in between! My next most frequent genre would be R&B/Neo Soul/Funk, with the artists 'Cafolla' and 'Federation of the Disco Pimp' being a good example of this. All of the above examples involve me either recording, mixing, mastering, playing bass or sometimes all 4!