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Serban Ghenea Mixes - all ITB? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 1st May 2018
  #1
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Serban Ghenea Mixes - all ITB?

Is Serban mixing all itb or is he using some outboard? What plugins is he using? Someone has to know something about his techniques, considering his huge success as a mixer..
Old 1st May 2018
  #2
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Old 1st May 2018
  #3
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If you use the search you will find a few other threads.

Serban is a pretty private guy, not much recent info about him, but yes, he is supposedly ITB. He'd almost HAVE to be just given how much high profile work he has.
Old 1st May 2018
  #4
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It is believed that he does it ITB, according to his statement. But, who the heck cares?! I respect the curiosity of the OP but so what if he does it ITB or not? What changes what? Are you or anyone else trying to emulate his work?

YouTube
Old 1st May 2018
  #5
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I remember asking someone involved with an album he worked on about the production of it, and the person who did the engineering on the record in question told me that the resulting record was mixed on a console by Serban. I seem to remember it was track on an API and mixed in a Neve or vice versa, but I can’t remember which model consoles were involved... that’s my extremely vague memory regarding the convo.

That was pretty early on in his career, certainly before he was considered any big name. So I have no doubt he may be mostly or totally ITB now.
Old 1st May 2018
  #6
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He's been all ITB for years now, going back to at least late 2000 decade.

There's this bit of him plugging product - Grammy-Award Winning Mixer/Producer Serban Ghenea Comfortable Working In “The Metric Halo Box”

Grain of salt whenever you read things on a product page though. And that's been up at least 6-7 years. Longer, since they're plugging "Breakaway" as an upcoming project. . . . which came out in 2004.
Old 6th May 2018
  #7
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I just finished mixing a top 40 pop artist's new album with Serban and I asked him tons of questions... He's 100% in the box and using the same plug-ins we've all got!
Old 6th May 2018
  #8
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Called up Serban and he told me he's completely in the box except... out of the box he uses ground up unicorn hooves* mixed with the tears of mixers who want to be him.

*this is where everyone gets it wrong and uses the horn. It's the hooves!

Old 6th May 2018
  #9
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I’ve never really paid much attention to him as a mixer but listed to Bruno Mars latest effor 24 k and he nailed it like I’m sure he does lots of other things. As an analog stalwart kinda shows ITB can work just fine. However this kind of stuff very much lends itself to ITB mixing in terms of tones. I’d be curious to see how he’d handle a mix of acoustic instruments from a band perspective... say something in the rock vain like foo fighters as something easily accessible and able to be referenced easily.

That being said he’s a massive talent!

Wiggy
Old 7th May 2018
  #10
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Not quite the Foos but he did mix the Imagine Dragon’s 2017 record.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggy Neve Slut View Post
I’ve never really paid much attention to him as a mixer but listed to Bruno Mars latest effor 24 k and he nailed it like I’m sure he does lots of other things. As an analog stalwart kinda shows ITB can work just fine. However this kind of stuff very much lends itself to ITB mixing in terms of tones. I’d be curious to see how he’d handle a mix of acoustic instruments from a band perspective... say something in the rock vain like foo fighters as something easily accessible and able to be referenced easily.

That being said he’s a massive talent!

Wiggy
Old 7th May 2018
  #11
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There's also this:



Which isn't the mix on the album. You can do a side by side. Weezer said they thought Serban's was the better mix technically but they wanted a consistent feel on the record and he only mixed that one track.

Here's the OTB mix:



They're really close though.
Old 7th May 2018
  #12
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That's interesting... I think they made the right choice!
Old 7th May 2018
  #13
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Quote:
I just finished mixing a top 40 pop artist's new album with Serban and I asked him tons of questions... He's 100% in the box and using the same plug-ins we've all got!
Could you expound on this? I think its been common knowledge that he was one of the early ITB (which means no summing, no HW inserts btw) converts.

Any insight into his workflow? Is he working in outside rooms/travelling at all?
Old 8th May 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
There's also this:
Ghenea v. Costey
Old 8th May 2018
  #15
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While Serban's name always pops up when folks mention great sounding ITB mixes, I wasn't impressed the few times I've listened to his work. But I may not have listened to the right stuff, can anybody please recommend some of their favourite Serban mixes ?
Old 9th May 2018
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by hitsville View Post
While Serban's name always pops up when folks mention great sounding ITB mixes, I wasn't impressed the few times I've listened to his work. But I may not have listened to the right stuff, can anybody please recommend some of their favourite Serban mixes ?
Literally everything tha Max Martin produced (in the last 15 years or so?). So look at his discography and start there...
Old 9th May 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
There's also this:



Which isn't the mix on the album. You can do a side by side. Weezer said they thought Serban's was the better mix technically but they wanted a consistent feel on the record and he only mixed that one track.

Here's the OTB mix:



They're really close though.
I like the separation on the OTB mix better. I think its more obvious during the verses... OTB sounds more open to my ears.
Old 9th May 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glamrock80 View Post
Not quite the Foos but he did mix the Imagine Dragon’s 2017 record.

I thought the Costey mix on that Weezer track was much better than the ITB mix. The ITB mix was s*****, pointy...a bit harsh although super punchy and deep on the good side.

I have to say though, some of those Imagine Dragons mixes are simply phenomenal! My kids (clears throat) “made” me listen to them all last year. ;0) some very creative stuff going on in those mixes for sure.

Last edited by Funny Cat; 9th May 2018 at 02:55 AM.. Reason: Spellcheck
Old 9th May 2018
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hitsville View Post
While Serban's name always pops up when folks mention great sounding ITB mixes, I wasn't impressed the few times I've listened to his work. But I may not have listened to the right stuff, can anybody please recommend some of their favourite Serban mixes ?
As mentioned above, he mixed most of the latest album from Imagine Dragons, he also mixed Becks latest album to name a very few!
Old 9th May 2018
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myles83 View Post
Quote:
I just finished mixing a top 40 pop artist's new album with Serban and I asked him tons of questions... He's 100% in the box and using the same plug-ins we've all got!
Could you expound on this? I think its been common knowledge that he was one of the early ITB (which means no summing, no HW inserts btw) converts.

Any insight into his workflow? Is he working in outside rooms/travelling at all?

He works out of his spot in Virginia Beach, doesn't seem like he travels much as we'd be on the phone for revisions over the past six months and he was always at his place. Honestly don't have much to say about his workflow as it all seemed very straight forward. He'd spend a day on a song and send over for revisions. Just about all of the first mixes were 99% with little to no revisions necessary. I'll also say that he has one assistant and is doing all of the mixing as well as any revisions himself.
Old 9th May 2018
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wellsa View Post
He works out of his spot in Virginia Beach, doesn't seem like he travels much as we'd be on the phone for revisions over the past six months and he was always at his place. Honestly don't have much to say about his workflow as it all seemed very straight forward. He'd spend a day on a song and send over for revisions. Just about all of the first mixes were 99% with little to no revisions necessary. I'll also say that he has one assistant and is doing all of the mixing as well as any revisions himself.

Just out of curiosity...why would someone who primarily mixes (from his home at that) and works 100% ITB need an assistant? Serious question.
Old 9th May 2018
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Just out of curiosity...why would someone who primarily mixes (from his home at that) and works 100% ITB need an assistant? Serious question.
Setup/load into track layout/routing, any editing, file checking, managing incoming/outgoing files (data management in general), etc.

All the sh*t stuff that isn't actual mixing.
That's why I bring on an assistant -- managing that other stuff means you have a chance at a life outside of work.
Old 9th May 2018
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
Setup/load into track layout/routing, any editing, file checking, managing incoming/outgoing files (data management in general), etc.

All the sh*t stuff that isn't actual mixing.
That's why I bring on an assistant -- managing that other stuff means you have a chance at a life outside of work.

I get where you’re coming from and I could see that if he was working on an SSL with racks of gear.

But really do you think someone on serban’s level gets tracks that need editing etc? That’s what producers are for. The good ones anyway.

I can’t imagine having an assistant do routing ITB for me either. That’s why templates exist.

File checking...that’s usually when you get your first listen to how well things were recorded too.

Also, are you saying you work 100% ITB and have an assistant? I guess this is a new trend?
Old 9th May 2018
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Just out of curiosity...why would someone who primarily mixes (from his home at that) and works 100% ITB need an assistant? Serious question.
I would imagine his assistant preps the sessions for mixing so all he has to do is mix!
Old 9th May 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
I get where you’re coming from and I could see that if he was working on an SSL with racks of gear.

But really do you think someone on serban’s level gets tracks that need editing etc?

I can’t imagine having an assistant do routing ITB for me either. That’s what templates are for.

File checking...that’s usually when you get your first listen to how well things were recorded too.

Also, are you saying you work 100% ITB and have an assistant? I guess this is a new trend?
I mix 98% in the box.

If you mix a song a day and spend half the day just getting things in the right place, it doesn't leave a lot of time to mix.

An assistant doing file checking makes sure there aren't any pops/clicks, fades are in place, trim off room noises/people from the takes, etc. They can do that all on a separate system before it shows up on the main mix (and contact the client to get replacement files, etc.) Missing files -- yeah, that happens. Tracks that need editing -- oh yeah, that happens. People send things they think are "perfect" but everyone's "perfect" differs and an assistant that knows how you like things laid out or files on what busses, etc can catch and fix these things while you are actually mixing some other song. If the first listen is the day the mixer pulls it up, then you can lose a whole day if something is wrong while you get things sorted.

A template is just the start. And one can have multiple, multiple templates. The mixer can hear the demo and say "setup the drums like was used in Song X and guitars like Song Y and pull up the presets that were used on Artist K's vocals two years ago on Song J." How many tracks dedicated to drums are you going to need? That's only going to be able to be known when you open up the delivered files and start duplicating/routing what was received. Why not let an assistant deal with the grunt work -- there's no artistry there.

And this isn't a new trend. This is probably just at a different budget level (after all an assistant adds to the overhead)
Old 9th May 2018
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
I get where you’re coming from and I could see that if he was working on an SSL with racks of gear.

But really do you think someone on serban’s level gets tracks that need editing etc? That’s what producers are for. The good ones anyway.

I can’t imagine having an assistant do routing ITB for me either. That’s why templates exist.

File checking...that’s usually when you get your first listen to how well things were recorded too.

Also, are you saying you work 100% ITB and have an assistant? I guess this is a new trend?
I wish I had an assistant! I’d second the need for setup - you literally can spend half a day setting up a session well. Which means that you can then mix a big track in half a day.

These are big tracks people like Serban are mixing - and yes even with well produced tracks, there can be clean up jobs happening.

I use templates for FX and some groups but honestly track count varies so much I don’t find much use for channel templates, unless I’m doing a whole album.
Old 9th May 2018
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
Just out of curiosity...why would someone who primarily mixes (from his home at that) and works 100% ITB need an assistant? Serious question.
People wanting a gazzilion stems. So many hours are wasted on things that aren't about mixing. So at his level or any really an assistant could have allot to do if youre working fulltime as a mixer
Old 9th May 2018
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
There's also this:



Which isn't the mix on the album. You can do a side by side. Weezer said they thought Serban's was the better mix technically but they wanted a consistent feel on the record and he only mixed that one track.

Here's the OTB mix:



They're really close though.
The most remarkable thing to me is just how close they are! Very very similar mixes. The thing is with these superstar mixers... you rarely know what impact they made on the record because you don't hear the 'before and after'. In this case, to my ears, he didn't make much impact i.e. they both sound very good and very similar.
Old 9th May 2018
  #29
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One interesting thing I notice (probably to be classified under 'mastering' rather than anything to do with Serban): The 'OTB' mix is mastered way quieter (5.5dB) than the 'Serban' one, which is being compensated for by Youtube normalisation.

Are you sure these are actually different mixes and not just different masters????
Old 9th May 2018
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
There's also this:



Which isn't the mix on the album. You can do a side by side. Weezer said they thought Serban's was the better mix technically but they wanted a consistent feel on the record and he only mixed that one track.

Here's the OTB mix:



They're really close though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkung View Post
I like the separation on the OTB mix better. I think its more obvious during the verses... OTB sounds more open to my ears.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Funny Cat View Post
I thought the Costey mix on that Weezer track was much better than the ITB mix. The ITB mix was s*****, pointy...a bit harsh although super punchy and deep on the good side.

I have to say though, some of those Imagine Dragons mixes are simply phenomenal! My kids (clears throat) “made” me listen to them all last year. ;0) some very creative stuff going on in those mixes for sure.
I think they sound like 2 different mixes by 2 guys, but I don't really feel (from youtube, listening on headphones...like everyone else) that one is clearly "OTB" and the other isn't. They both have bits I like more than the other.

It's very different to Serban's usual genre - and I think that shows (a bit like Spike Stent mixing Muse). The aspects of his mix that for me sound "better" than the Costey mix are things like the deeper bass and the dancier drum bits. It loses out a little in the tone of the guitars - sounds honkier to me, and sometimes the bass is overpowering (in a way it wouldn't be on a dance pop track).

Really - this sort of thing is Rich Costey's world - he *should* turn in a more stylistically appropriate result! I'd like to hear a Tchad Blake ITB mix of the same thing though.
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