Tony Maserati and Mirrorball Entertainment
Grammy winning engineer/mixer Tony Maserati has worked with the likes of Jason Mraz, Mariah Carey, The Black Eyed Peas, and Lady Gaga. Working out of Mirrorball Entertainment in LA, which he co-founded with Stefan Skarbeck, he and his team made a huge contribution to Beyoncé's recent smash album, which became the fastest selling iTunes release to date. We caught up with him recently to discuss his work on that and other current work using Sonnox plug-ins.
Tell us about the Mirrorball Team.
With the Mirrorball team, we have a couple of different things. We have a crew - a very loose group of engineers we call Outfit 27, which is five or six guys. They started as my seconds and so on, and now they're engineering on their own. When there are projects that fit them, they jump in with me and we collaborate technically.
And then we have Mirrorball Publishing, which is a collective of ten writers who also frequent the building. They use the engineers as well. Our other partner is Down Town Publishing. We also have Mirrorball Entertainment, which has a distribution deal with the Orchard. It's a way of keeping the good talent close by and continuing to incubate and foster them. And in return, I get high-quality assistants and engineers.
We find that it's a better situation to be together as a group rather than working alone. Engineers are typically very one-man band on most things. I like to run it differently and include my assistants. Like on the Beyoncé project in particular, my seconds got engineering credits on most of the songs, because they did the work. They engineered. They were big players in the mixing of that record as well, and participated tremendously. We wouldn't have gotten that record done if it hadn't been for my team. So I consider it an honour to have these guys around me.
Tell us how you used the Sonnox plug-ins on the Beyoncé project.
First and foremost my primary go to EQ is the Oxford EQ, which I used quite often on it. I'll use it for everything, as it's a testament to the engineering of the product. There are some products that have a tonal quality that I might make use of, but I won't necessarily dig in on it like I would with the Oxford EQ.
What would you use it on the most?
I tend to use the Oxford EQ on vocals more frequently than anything else, just because it's so important in the mix and the fact that I like it so much. I also really appreciate the way it maps out on my D-Command controller. I can instantiate a lot of them without a tremendous burden on my processor. Those are the kinds of things that I look for.
What else did you use on this project?
I used the Oxford Reverb quite often. It sounds so good that I'll sometimes put it directly on a track, and use the Wet/Dry control to blend it in. I won't do that with many reverbs. I think probably the Oxford Reverb is one of the few products I'll do that with, because I know the engineering is of good quality. It sounds great and that's important to me.
You also use the Inflator?
Oh yes, because I like the tone and the functionality of it. I tend to use that quite often in place of, say, a typical maximizer, because it adds a bit of nice tonal quality. Also, I use it when I just want to do something different. Everybody has their own little favorites that become part of their sound.
Tell us some other projects you're doing now.
Well, I've been working on Santana. I did the whole album, and again, I probably used Sonnox EQs on every song, but also used the Inflator and Reverb as well.
On his guitar?
Carlos usually tracks quite a lot of microphones for his guitar. So I'll use the Inflator on two of the four or six microphones for example. Of course the EQs will be used randomly - on whatever I feel. I like the way the Inflator holds things up, and with a guitar, it adds a nice tonal quality and doesn't make it harsh. That's something I consider to be an important facet of any maximizer. So yes I used it quite a lot on the Santana stuff.
We just did a new Robin Thicke single, which was great. We also worked on the new Sky Ferreira single. All of these probably have similar layouts of Sonnox EQ, Reverb and Inflator.
I've been using Sonnox for quite a long time now and they really are go-to plug-ins for me.
Interview and editorial provided by Rich Tozzoli