Stereo to immersive
When tasked with mixing Snarky Puppy’s GRAMMY® Award-winning album “Empire Central” in Dolby Atmos, Producers/Mixers Nic Hard and Fab Dupont were aware of the challenge that stood before them. The two needed a tool that enabled them to bring the album to life in Atmos while still sounding like a natural extension of the original mixes.
Similar to many of their other albums, Snarky Puppy’s “Empire Central” was a live in-studio album with an audience. After initially being mixed in stereo by Hard and mastered by Dave McNair, the decision was made to turn the album into a fully immersive Dolby Atmos piece. Asa result, Hard called on his friend and colleague, Dupont, to help. The pair mixed at Flux Studios, Dupont’s professional recording, mixing and mastering studio in New York.
''Halo Upmix was crucial to our approach. It’s a very subtle but incredibly useful tool for making something feel naturally immersive.''
The right tools
The duo’s main goal throughout the process was to create a unique and truly immersive Dolby Atmos experience―NUGEN Audio’s Halo Upmix accomplished just that for them. “When you’re referencing a stereo master and shifting that to Atmos, the goal is to enhance the stereo version,” explains Dupont. “But in this case, we didn’t want it to sound like night and day, and that’s not as easy as it seems. Halo Upmix was crucial to our approach. It’s a very subtle but incredibly useful tool for making something feel naturally immersive.”
NUGEN’s Halo Upmix also provided the album’s Atmos mix with a captivating sound. According to Hard, the plug-in “takes a stereo source and puts pieces of it in each speaker, creating the sensation of being immersed. There are other tricks that you can do with delays and reverbs, but Halo Upmix definitely does something very special.”
''When you have a small stereo or single mono source, any point that you supersize needs to sound good when it’s downsized back to stereo. Halo Upmix is the only plug-in that I know of that does that well''.
Keeping things compatible
Since the plug-in is also downmix compatible, it enabled the duo to create a mix that can be listened to using any device, without running into phase issues. “It’s beyond important that our work is compatible with everything,” continues Dupont. “When you have a small stereo or single mono source, any point that you supersize needs to sound good when it’s downsized back to stereo. Halo Upmix is the only plug-in that I know of that does that well. It actually does it flawlessly.”
After nearly 24 years in the industry, Hard, a three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning mix engineer, has built an impressive portfolio. This includes recording and co-producing for well-known rock band, The Church; collaborating with world-renowned band, The Bravery; and, in addition to “Empire Central,” recording and mixing more than a handful of other albums for Snarky Puppy.
Although this was his first official project with Snarky Puppy, Dupont is no rookie to the audio industry. The GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer and mix engineer has written, produced and mixed music all around the world for artists like Shakira, the late David Crosby, Gregory Porter and many others.
After such a positive experience mixing “Empire Central” with NUGEN solutions, both Hard and Dupont agree that the brand will be a solid addition to their workflows on future immersive projects.
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