JULY 2012: David Kalmusky is an effective producer, a natural mix engineer, and a world-renowned guitarist. His massive list of credits includes The Wilkinsons, The Road Hammers, Emerson Drive, and many others. His work is Grammy-nominated, Juno-awarded, and chart-topping.
About ten years ago, Kalmusky approximated his console workflow on his in-the-box sessions by relying on the sound and functionality of Metric Halo's ChannelStrip. Recently, he acquired Metric Halo's new Production Bundle of plug-ins, which adhere to the same high standards of ChannelStrip and have thus replaced 90% of the plug-ins from other manufacturers. Kalmusky's in-the-box sessions are now populated almost entirely by Metric Halo plug-ins.
"I initially hesitated to shift to in-the-box mixing because my console-mixing workflow was so well established and efficient," explained Kalmusky. "I have great sounding outboard gear, and I can pull up a decent mix in just fifteen minutes. That's a fast workflow. It was about a decade ago that I found Metric Halo's ChannelStrip. I hadn't imagined it was possible to have that same fast workflow in the box, but ChannelStrip made it possible. To this day, I always start a session by inserting ChannelStrip on every channel across the session." Currently, about half of Kalmusky's work is executed entirely in-the-box.
In many respects, Kalmusky likes to remain at the technological cutting edge. "I'm an early adopter of the Pro Tools|HDX system," he said. "But I've been pretty underwhelmed by the third-party support so far offered. That's why I was pleased that Metric Halo jumped ahead of most of the rest of the industry in embracing this platform for all of its plug-ins." But like his hesitance to shift to in-the-box mixing, Kalmusky can also be conservative. "It usually takes me about a year to fold a new piece of gear or software into my workflow," he said. "But the integration of Metric Halo's Production Bundle was fast, which is a real testament to its quality and usability. It has replaced almost all of my other plug-ins."
Kalmusky has used the new Metric Halo Production Bundle on sessions with Journey, Vince Gill, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, The Wilkinsons, Neal Schon, and Robin Zander (of Cheap Trick) already this year, and that list is growing with every new session he takes on. The Production Bundle includes all of Metric Halo's cutting edge plug-ins: ChannelStrip 3, Character, HaloVerb, Multiband Dynamics, Precision DeEsser, TransientControl, and Multiband Expander.
Kalmusky uses Transient Control on all of his drum tracks, and he also likes to use it to tame the transients of small stringed instruments, such as mandolin. He uses Multiband Dynamics on bass guitar and vocals. "The Multiband plug-ins are smooth and transparent," Kalmusky said. "The whole Production Bundle seems to be as well thought-out as ChannelStrip. HaloVerb has quite a different sound from other plug-in reverbs. It has a useful character that almost sounds like a vintage echo chamber to me.
"The upgrades on ChannelStrip 3 are also awesome," he continued. "The integrated spectrum analyzer is useful, and the new compression algorithms expand the range of instruments and situations in which ChannelStrip is the right choice. It seems like everyone has tried to copy ChannelStrip, but none of them feel or sound as good as the Metric Halo original. I usually hate terms like 'musical EQ,' but it's really apt in this case. The whole thing sounds natural and analog." And despite it's excellent sonic characteristics, it is so conservative of DSP resources that Kalmusky can simply apply it to every single channel without giving it second thought.