Jordan Valeriote is a Canadian producer/mixer/engineer and the founder of Hardcore Music Studio. He has worked with bands like Silverstein, Neck Deep, Forevermore, Intervals, Counterparts, Nick Johnston, Auras, and many more.
Today, he is here to share with us his top 6 essential plugins for mixing metal. If you’re interested in taking your metal mixes to next level – you can also check out Jordan’s “Mixing Metal” course which includes TWO sets of multi-tracks from Silverstein and Afterimage!
This plugin is all my mixes. It is on the snare tops, snare bottoms, toms, bass, guitars, vocals. It is basically what I use for all the musical EQ, and all the boosting. It really is the tone shaping plugin that I use across almost every single track in the mix. I think you need to have a nice kind of musical EQ that you can also push pretty hard. For heavy metal you want that punchy top end to cut through the mix, so you need to be able to push this fairly hard, and this plugin allows oyu to do that.
I love this thing on my drum bus, on a parallel drum compression bus, and on my mix bus. I will usually mix into this plugin once I get about 25% into the mixing process. When this is on, it just tightens it up and contains the mix in the best possible way.
In metal and heavy music, you often need to enhance and augment live drums sounds, or in some unfortunate situations, totally replace the kick and snare with drum samples. This plugin is amazing for when you need to enhance or replace drum sounds. It is by far the most accurate triggering plugin I have ever used. It is extremely quick to choose samples, and then lay it down to a track.
- Related: Mixing Metal Drums with David Gnozzi
This is a multiband compressor that I use to do two very specific jobs in the mix.
The first place I use it is on the main rhythm guitars. What this does is really controls and tightens up the low end boominess of a heavy guitar. I have the compressor set so it is only going to be affecting the low-mid range between 100 and 400 hertz. This is much better than scooping that out with an EQ because that would make our guitar tone sound thin and we would be missing that low-mid power.
The second place I always use this is on the bass. This time I am using it on all those sub, rumbly frequencies – from about 100 hertz down. I am just compressing those frequencies on their own, and the goal here is to compress the low end so that it’s solid across wherever he’s playing on the neck. Once that’s compressed, I can just use the gain control here and then just turn my sub low end up or down in the mix.
This plugin gives you that aggressive, up front, in your face vocals. It works great on singing vocals, but it also works great on screams. It makes them sound like they are screaming even harder! This is the first thing I insert on a vocal track, and it takes be 75% of the way there, and then I take it the rest of the way with SSL Channel Eq-ing into it, and then some de-essing and saturation afterwards. This plugin is also great on bass and drums!
The sixth plugin is a bit of a wildcard. For me, it is essential to have a saturation and subtle distortion plugin, but I am hesitant to name just one because I have used a broad range of really great saturation plugins, so I am going to show you two of my favourites here.
One of my favourites is Crane Song Phoenix. This is a Pro Tools only plugin, and it does a great job of thickening up sounds, smoothing over sounds, and just subtly changing the tone in a way that is just different than EQ.
If you don’t use Pro Tools, another saturation plugin that I am equally happy to use is the Soundtoys Decapitator. It has a number of different emulations available so you can pay around and find the tone and the type of saturation that works best for your mix.
Watch the video below to hear more about Jordan Valeriote’s 6 Essential Plugins for Mixing Metal!