Aaron Van Allen

Mixer, Studio Owner, Musician

Aaron Van Allen on SoundBetter

I caution you not to hire a mixer who works at a large studio. They don't have full round-the-clock access or ample time to invest in your mix. I own my pro studio with 15yrs experience. I welcome mix shootouts, competitive rates and lengthy feedback/direction. Seasoned in drums/bass/guitar&voice I'm happy to add instrumentation by request.

I am a studio owner and pro musician for a living. I have 15 years experience in Pro Tools with an analog/digital hybrid setup. I have relationships with many well known artists such as The Roots, Santigold, Incubus, Bad Brains, The Lemmonheads, Coheed & Cambria, Taking Back Sunday, Further Seems Forever, Circa Survive, The Wonderyears and more.

I only use the industry's most regarded microphones, preamps, converters and monitoring for my mixes. More importantly, my room is professionally designed for optimal listening and referencing. No diy setups, nothing left to chance.

We will mix until we are both satisfied with the results or I will hand over my session files so you can pass ALL the work I've done along to your next engineer.

I pride myself on preserving grace notes and getting huge drum sounds without using any sampling. I'm open to any mixing style, however, I can also edit performances or leave things loose per your taste. We are pretty much limitless from the jump!

Click the 'Contact' above to get in touch. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Interview with Aaron Van Allen

  1. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  2. A: I made metal EP for a band that they now want to put towards an EP. It's so agressive and in your face, more so than anything I've ever mixed. However it doesn't hurt your ears the way the latest Green Day and Foo Fighters does. It's just as loud as those records but way more balanced. I love both those bands but I can't even listen to those two releases. I'll be honest and say if you love those bands come and have me mix you, but if you love their latest mixes, I might not be your guy. I'm not for slicing people's eardrums with spoken word S's

  3. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  4. A: I'm working on a full length for an indie band. They are hard to put into words.

  5. Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?

  6. A: Not that I've found so far!

  7. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  8. A: No way to answer this. I can't put one before the other. Maybe I could if I knew who the artist was going to be beforehand but I'm a hybrid guy for life.

  9. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  10. A: To make you sound just as good as you had hoped, nothing less.

  11. Q: What do you like most about your job?

  12. A: For some reason I'm able to dive right in and start making an artist sound better. I'm able to do it without hesitation.

  13. Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

  14. A: Can you turn this instrument up a pinch? Answer: sure thing!

  15. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  16. A: Maybe people might think of me as a great musician first, mixer second, but no one I've mixed has ever thought that.

  17. Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?

  18. A: I ask for references via mixes they wished their stuff stood up next to. References on how loud they want there stuff to be. How polished or gritty or wherever in between. How loud each instrument should be next to the other. Things like that. I'd ask more while I'm working on your project as I'm already confident I can nail the job.

  19. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  20. A: So long as you like their work, go with someone who has the time for your mix not some hotshot you see has a credit on a bunch of signed artists. You will be an afterthought to them.

  21. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  22. A: a 57, my computer, the dangerous compressor a 1073 and my Focal's

  23. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  24. A: I was a musician and played in successful bands. Band members come and go so I got good at tracking all instruments and making my own records. Somewhere down the line it got serious enough to where I now own a small studio.

  25. Q: How would you describe your style?

  26. A: Modern but with actual care put towards people's delicate ear drums

  27. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  28. A: I don't know who that will be when I get to my heyday as a mixer. Right now it's players like the Chili Peppers and singers like Bruno Mars

  29. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  30. A: The best songs start with some lyrical phrases and a melody that you found stuck in your head. The best player plays to their strengths. Don't let a bad room warp your perception of a mix. Once you lose too much of your high pitch hearing, everyone will think your mixes hurt their ears and no one will like them but YOU : ( yes that's for you older rocker cats, chill

  31. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  32. A: Anything with Drums, Bass, Guitar & Vocal

  33. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  34. A: Making live instruments sound perfect. Even when you thought they'd never sound good at all.

  35. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  36. A: I bring authenticity to drums with complete control over the sound so that you don't have to use replacers! I bring my love of warm James Jamerson bass or awesome Rancid/Suicidal Tendencies punk bass to let you know you can have it either way or anything in between. I bring 24 years of playing electric guitar to help sculpt the tone you've crafted. I bring a lifetime of being a pro singer to make sure you're right on pitch with no semblance of autotune artifacts, and tons of analog/digital hybrid processing to all of the above.

  37. Q: What's your typical work process?

  38. A: I like to break up my work into the different departments you'd see at the largest studio. I'd take a day strictly for editing and fine tuning, something that only an assistant would typically do but is so crucial if a band wants to sound as tight as their competition. Having said that I also work with a lot of old school or gritty artists who wish to forgo this treatment. (hey as long as you intonate and tune your guitars, fine by me) Before I go onto the mixing stage I'd like a sort of hierarchy of level from the artist if possible. i.e Which tracks are most important to get out front from first to last. Never to fear though! I love to champion parallel compression and make tons of elements fit together no matter how busy. That's what's great about modern mixing. I'm sure the band wants a radio and CD level and EQ on their mix as if it were mastered. Well I do mastering too! and I am a firm believer in having fresh ears. Luckily I have plenty to work on and will take some time away and come back to give the mix a great master for the artist, even if it's intended to be mastered by a separate entity. I will provide you with all the necessaries to do so, plus you can fall back on my work if you don't like some other mastering engineers. That's about it, I'm every guy on each floor of the studio, so to speak. You just dictate to me your vision.

  39. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  40. A: My studio is a combination of what I consider the most vital microphones (your u87s, sennheisers, AKGs, at least one great tube & ribbon mic), the best mic pre's (API, Neve, UA, Avalon), top of the line conversion and clocking via Avid, very transparent monitoring (dangerous audio paired with Focal) in a professional grade acoustically treated room. I am a believer in the digital revolution that's happening in production and I could never even find the time to see what all of the thousands of plugins I own do, but I try to use them all none the less! BEFORE YOU BOLT FROM THIS PAGE.... I'm also a purist in the fact that I don't believe they sound the same as analog processors which is why I own pieces like the 1073, SSL's VHD pre's for real analog breakup, Moog delay and filtering, Warm audio EQP's, Dangerous Audio compressor, LA 610, Avalon 737 and more. I believe that analog summing through my midas board has a beautiful sound unlike finalizing in the box, as does my dangerous d-box summing. All three are viable ways to get to a great finished record.

  41. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  42. A: I have a few local Philadelphia friends and peers who I really appreciate. I'm lucky to have played beside and recorded with Chuck Treece who is a philly session player/producer/artist who played the bass for Billie Joel's "River of Dreams" also played for the Roots, G-love, Bad Brains, Urge Overkill, Amy Grant and Lauren Hill. I have a good friend Ken Kweder from here who is a folk rock legend in Philadelphia dating back to the 70's. He told Clive Davis to go fuck himself, look it up... I play along side and have recorded with Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday/Breaking Pangea/the Color Fred) in our band Terrible Things. I Collaborate with Mel "Chaos" Lewis in writing/producing songs for various artists. He's had success creating beats for Willow Smith, Jayden Smith, The Roots, The Black Eyed Peas and more. Playing with Ben Kenney was inspirational as he's a hometown hero. Each time I hang with Coheed & Cambria due to Fred's history of friendship with the group, it's a dream because they are one of my all time favorite bands.

  43. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  44. A: The latest projects I've mixed are a singer/songwriter rock album (i.e Brian Fallon, Ryan Adams) a 2 piece Metal Band that sounded like a Female fronted Motorhead, and a grunge pop rock act that reminded me of the lemonheads/jawbreaker/old school foo fighters. I've also done Female fronted young pop music similar to old Demi Levato, EDM stuff, and Hip Hop projects some of which i'll make the beat and some of which the artist will provide.

Mix Mashup

I was the Mixing Engineer in this production

Gear Highlights
  • ALL UAD plugs
  • Dangerous Compressor
  • Various outboard by Neve
  • API
  • SSL
  • Aphex
  • Moog
  • Warm
  • Summing by Dangerous Audio
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