Leeds, UK (January 26, 2023)―UK-based engineer Lee Smith was recently tasked with mixing British recording artist Holly Humberstone’s live performance for TV at the 2022 BRIT Awards.
Smith, co-owner of Greenmount Studios in Leeds and a 20-year veteran of the music business, has mixed all of Humberstone’s records. For the BRITs performance, he was briefed with creating a mix that felt like a live experience while remaining authentic to her sound—with a tight deadline of just one day.
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“For the BRITs, Holly had a stripped-back live show, so it wasn’t a huge undertaking, but the recordings I received from the event had some problems,” Smith reports. “The acoustics in the room were great, but the room mics were very noisy―one side kept dropping out and they were unusable. To solve this issue, I decided to re-create the size, shape and reflection time of the room.”
Smith used Nugen Audio’s Paragon room emulation plug-in on an aux channel in his mix session to emulate the room instead of using the room mics. “My aim was to achieve a mix that retained all of the vibe and feel of the captured performance, without the issues of the faulty room mics,” he explains. “Paragon turned out to be a lifesaver. I could control what I sent to it rather than relying on the mix from the PA. That meant I could do things like de-ess the vocals before the effect and alter the balance of instruments sent to the room depending on what was happening in the song. It was so useful for a mix of a live performance like this because I could add excitement and intimacy in a natural way. It was a big room, so you want it to sound alive and not too dry or processed.
“In this case, Paragon was the best tool for me to emulate the space and help make the performance feel real, live and not too exposed. This is helpful for the viewer at home, so that when they are looking at the show on TV, there’s not this fake reverb sound to it.”