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Secrets of Mixing Grammy Award Atmos Records with Fab Dupont

19 March 2024
Case Studies

Fab Dupont (also known as "Fabulous" Fab) is an award-winning French Mixing Engineer and Record Producer. He has worked with an extensive list of international artists since the early 2000's, including Jennifer Lopez, David Crosby, Bon Jovi or Mark Ronson. Fab has been running Flux studios in Manhattan for more than 20 years and is also co-owner of educational website Puremix and plugin maker Process Audio.

We interviewed Fab in the Atmos room at Flux, in which he uses a D-MON 12 for Atmos mixes. The Trinnov is a central piece of the studio for his mixes to translate outside the studio.

Tell us a bit about this place

My name is Fab Dupont. I make records for a living, and I make them in this building in New York City, in Manhattan. The studio is called Flux Studios.

What do you consider the most important in your room ?

The perspective is everything. You have to know what you're listening to, otherwise, you're wasting your time. Now, in any room you go in, you have a different set of speakers, and the set of speakers react differently to the room. So it's very difficult to understand what's going on in those rooms, because maybe they're not tuned for translation. Maybe they're tuned to make things sound loud, or they're tuned to make things sound boomy so that clients are happy.

I realized quickly that for me, the way my brain works, I need to hear reality coming out of the speakers. I'm not interested in being flattered. I just want to know what's real. The thing is, no matter how good your speaker is, the problem is always the room. It's very difficult to build a good room.

And these days, most people work in their bedrooms or in rooms that are not being acoustically treated. And even if they're being acoustically treated, there are limitations. For example, at Flux in the studio, we cannot push the walls. Acoustic treatment in the room is the most important piece of equipment, but it will only take you so far.

What was your original take on room correction solutions?

I started looking into room correction systems because you're 80% there, you're 90% there. That's great. I like to be 100% there. I tried everything. I tried EQs or old school analog EQs. Over time, I tried various room correction software, which some of it is okay, but the workflow doesn't work for me. I was looking for a standalone solution that would be literally a processor. That's when I discovered the Trinnov system.

At first, it made things complicated for me to understand exactly how to use it at its best. But since then, I have learned how to use it, and I have learned how to make the most of it. And so now at Flux, we have a system in  the stereo room, and we have a system in this room for the Atmos.

What is your experience with Trinnov Optimizer in Atmos?

We installed this Atmos system, and we tuned it. The difference was huge, and it made things so much better, we were able to get perfect translation. In Atmos, the key these days is to translate to headphones. So you listen to your mix on speakers, and its dope. The thing with Atmos is you can't go listen to it anywhere else, because your car doesn't have 14 speakers and your buddy down the street doesn't have Atmos.

Before the Trinnov, I was having major issues. The vocals were not placing right, the bottom was not right, It sounded too thin in the headphones because it was too fat in the rooms. When we put the Trinnov and we tuned it properly, that went away, because what the Trinnov does is it compensates for the X percent of stuff in your room that's no good. The principle is to bring your room as good as possible acoustically first, and then you use the Trinnov to put it to perfection.

What about using the Trinnov as a monitor controller?

This room does Atmos and stereo. We do insane amounts of vocal tracking sessions and writing sessions in here. We have to be able to bump in stereo quite loud, so people can feel the music. Then the day after, we have an Atmos session, and we have to be able to play Atmos. So the D-MON is great because not only does it do the room correction, but it is also the monitor controller.

It's a monitor controller that can do Atmos and stereo. You can customize it to do whatever you want. It can also handle the talkback. You can make it handle cues in certain ways. So it's a very elegant system, kind of center of the studio solution. But it's great to have everything integrated because ergonomically, when you think about it, you shouldn't have to think about how your speakers and your room are processed. It should be transparent, you set them up once, it's good, you let it go, and you never think about it ever again.

What would you tell other engineers about Trinnov Optimizer?

You have to decide what's important to you. Some people are motivated by what's in their rack.
I am motivated by what comes out of my speakers. So if you work right now, and you are happy, and you have great translation, and you keep getting better and better mixes and better and better music, and everything is peachy. Life is great.

What I find is that most people send me mixes or rough mixes, and they're like completely out of whack. These are really talented people, and I know that the reason their mixes are out of whack is because they can't hear anything in their room. But they have a lot of money invested in microphones and stuff. For me, I like to spend money on things that help me get to where I want to be faster.

I wish to make a lot of music. I would rather not have to ask myself questions like is this too fast, too lean? Is it too bright? I just want to enjoy the music. I would like to remove the monitoring system from the equation.

So for me, it's worth it to invest in the best possible room, the best possible speakers and the best possible monitor section and room correction system, because that has the best return on investment.

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