16yrs Experience with Pro studio build and top gear from API, Neve, UA, SPL, Dangerous, Avalon, SSL and much more!
I am a studio owner and audio engineer for a living. I have 16 years experience in studios with an analog/digital hybrid setup. I have worked with many well known artists such as The Roots, Santigold, Incubus, Queens of the Stone Age, Bad Brains, The Lemmonheads, Turbo Negro, Municipal Waste, Coheed & Cambria, Taking Back Sunday, The Color Fred, CKY, Further Seems Forever, Circa Survive, The Wonderyears and more.
I use the industry's most regarded microphones, preamps, outboard, converters, clocking and monitoring for my mixes. More importantly, my room is professionally designed for optimal listening and referencing.
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. However I'm open to any mixing style. I can edit performances or leave things loose per your taste. We are pretty much limitless from the jump!
Tell me about your project and how I can help, through the 'Contact' button above.
2 ReviewsEndorse Aaron Van Allen
I had Aaron do a mastering job for me with very specific objectives.
Aaron did a great job with the job and went above and beyond my expectations by giving me multiple mastered versions to choose from and helpful explanations of the differences on each. He was both communicative and timely, which made working with him easy and enjoyable. He was also very competitively priced. Very positive experience and will consider Aaron for future jobs!
Super fast work, and perfectly done. The site took too long to send Aaron the files but he was a pro and worked around it! Would recommend!!!
Interview with Aaron Van Allen
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
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.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Anything with Drums, Bass, Guitar & Vocal
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
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
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
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.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
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.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Can you turn this instrument up a pinch? Answer: sure thing!
Q: What do you like most about your job?
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.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Thats hard to narrow down. Current albums I'm working on include Progressive Rock, Hip Hop and Metal/Thrash. Oh and a pop record. It keeps me well versed in everything and isn't as time consuming as it sounds. The artists come in from time to time to work on a new song or two, with the goal of putting them towards full lengths.
Q: What's your typical work process?
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.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: an SM7, my computer, the dangerous compressor a 1073 and my Focal's
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Some people back home still think of me as a musician first, mixer second. I don't think that's accurate any longer.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: To make you sound just as good as you had hoped, nothing less.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
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.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: Not that I've found so far! I haven't done much poking around though.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I've got bands/artists coming in from time to time on albums ranging Pop/ProgRock/HipHop and Metal/Thrash
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
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), 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, Dangerous Audio compressor, LA 610, Avalon 737 and more. I believe that analog summing has a beautiful and sophisticated sound that is unlike finalizing in the box. However both are viable ways to get to a great finished record.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
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 the feel and authenticity of a vocal comes across while sounding as tight as desired.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
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. Also 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!!!!!!
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Modern but with actual care put towards the feel of a performance and minding people's delicate ear drums as far as EQ balance.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Problem solving the mix
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: Look very carefully and don't just spend top dollar thinking "problem solved". Choose someone you trust will stick with you and give your project time and respect. I have heard and witnessed many horror stories where lots of money was lost for little to no return.
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: I'm currently working on a Solo metal Artist who has lots of known artists that will be featured on the record. Members of Queens of the Stone Age, The Ramones, Municipal Waste, CKY, Danzig and more. I'll be mixing the record.