Solid State Logic is proud to announce that mixer, engineer and producer Ethan Mates has entrusted the SSL Matrix to deliver big-room results in his newly relocated purpose-built private studio.
Mates has been using SSL equipment since the early 1990s, when he meticulously sliced and diced composite vocals in 4000G+ rooms for the biggest pop divas of our time, under the tutelage of Ric Wake in New York.
A few decades and a cross-country trek to Los Angeles later, he’s had the pleasure of recording and mixing for acts like Tupac Shakur, KoЯn, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots, The Doors and many more.
Threading much of this, Mates has also been an indispensable production member of nu-metal/rapcore outfit Linkin Park. For the group’s sixth studio album, The Hunting Party (2014, Warner Bros/Machine Shop), Mates recorded much of the material at Larrabee’s new Studio 4 on its classic 4000G, with Andy Wallace handling mix duties in their 9080K room.
Meanwhile, Mates was looking for just the right console to tie his home facility together. He chose the SSL Matrix SuperAnalogue console to deliver the classic analogue SSL sound and flexibility he’d come to demand.
“I’ve always had some kind of studio at home, but I’ve never really mixed there – just tons of editing, production, programming, and writing for film and things like that,” says Mates. “I didn’t want to be completely in-the-box anymore. In searching for my console, I knew I wanted to have an SSL stereo bus, so that I would be summing through an SSL. That was imperative to me.
“Matrix just seemed like the obvious choice. The first couple of projects I mixed on the Matrix were smaller, more organic sounding, and I ended up taking it as a challenge to mix them the way that I used to do — rough mixes and just mixed it all by hand.
“I’m still learning things like A-FADA mode, but it was a really cool experiment…and a lot of fun. I really like having the routing capabilities of Matrix and the dedicated tactile monitor section. The big green button for flipping between analogue and Pro Tools control is awesome. It makes a huge difference to my hybrid workflow!
“Plus, I totally love having 40 inputs on mix down, should I need them, and I have the Matrix effects returns all filled up with Pro Tools outputs. So, it’s just a really nice package for what I need.”
Mates recalls the first time hearing Matrix summing in action, saying it took him back to the 9K series. “You know how SSLs have that familiar kind of mid-range area? Well, I just put up some stuff through the 2-mix, that I knew what it sounds like at the studio and was like, yeah, this sounds like SSL, this sounds totally familiar to me. Nothing exaggerated and nothing new, just familiar.
“I totally feel like I’m working on an SSL console with Matrix. The summing just lends this beautiful, collective, cohesive distortion. You know, one of my main problems – and that of all engineers, I think – inside the box has not always been the sound of individual channels, but rather summing through master faders. That’s when things start to fold and not be as big and cool anymore.
“The more you can spread out the mix and have it in the analogue domain, just so that it has that extra headroom to breathe, the better. With Matrix, that classic clean wide-open SSL sweet spot is clearly there. That’s the key to the whole thing for me.”
With a regained trust in his private studio, Mates views Matrix as both a wise music choice and great business decision. “I’d say maybe one out of every six clients that I have has the budget for me to sit in a huge room for $1,200 a day mixing,” he adds. “It’s just reality. So, if I’m not going to be in a huge studio, or I don’t want to pay $2,000 a month in air conditioning and electrical bills to have a G in my room, this to me is the best possible solution.
“Even if I’m just doing rough mixes or programming and I need to send somebody something, just being able to have the kind of quality that translates to other SSL studios all the time – it’s very important. So much of having skills as a mixer, producer or whatever is about having a foundation that you can work off, where there are just certain things that you know are right and sound right!
“When you’re mixing in-the-box, you’re constantly second-guessing your decisions. Having something like Matrix, where it sounds immediately familiar and I know how hard I can hit the bus and I know what the gain staging is going to be like, it just really makes you feel at ease and not have to worry about it at all.”