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John Horesco Ventures Inside the Box

John Horesco

Atlanta-based engineer John Horesco, whose recent credits include Usher, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Collective Soul and Bow Wow, joins the ranks of engineers who have all but forgotten about the large-format mixing console for an in-the-box working style, due in part to a few powerful plug-ins.

“Our large format console is pretty much obsolete. In fact, we’re even thinking of getting rid of it,” says Horesco of the audio setup at SouthSide Studio, the facility he frequents that is owned by producer Jermaine Dupri. Horesco, who frequently works in collaboration with Dupri’s longtime mixer, Phil Tan, has used Metric Halo’s ChannelStrip on several albums after discovering it during a Collective Soul project.

“I first started really getting into ChannelStrip when we were doing live drums,” he says. “When you have 12 to 16 tracks of drums, you need EQs, compressors and gates. As separate plug-ins they eat up a lot of processing power.

“Originally I was working on a TDM system. It didn’t have a lot of power, but we were trying to do bigger mixes. You start getting into some plug-in-intensive stuff and you start running out of power. So I started messing with ChannelStrip when I was tracking live drums for the Collective Soul guys, doing the rough mixes and trying to get the drums tightened up. It saved a lot of DSP, which allowed me to use bigger reverbs and other plug-ins to add a little more space to the tracks.”

Now, he says, he uses the ChannelStrip on vocals, as well. “I have presets for generic vocals with a high-pass filter at 120 or 150 Hz, just to roll that off, and the compressor set for a really general level. I’ll throw that on a buss, or on individual vocals in the middle of tracking. Then, if the vocalist asks for something, like a ‘telephone’ EQ, I know it’s there and I can quickly make the changes. It’s super convenient and does what it’s supposed to do.”

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