Oliver O'Neill

Rock Mixing and Mastering

Oliver O'Neill on SoundBetter

I have worked with many up-and-coming artists to bring their sound out of their heads and onto a track as they envisioned. From tracking instruments to pre-processing, mixing to mastering - each step is carefully managed to the highest standard to deliver the sound you're after.

Working out of a recording studio in Scotland specialising in rock music, I have worked with a variety of different clients, stemming from country to folk-pop and going as far as heavy metal and experimental electronic. Along side my productions with other clients, I also have a strong focus on composing electronic pieces.
The most important part about a peice of music, in my opinion, is how it can influence your energy levels, mood etc. (Even your heart rate!) Therefore, these different avenues of experience open up a new world of experimentation and creativity for me, leading to some interesting ideas/sounds along the process.

Out of all the amazing genres of music in the world, most of my experience and specialisation comes from rock music. The energy of the guitars, impact of the drums and harmony of all these different sections can work amazingly together to achieve great results, and it's my job to make sure they do.

Contact me through the green button above and let's get to work.

Interview with Oliver O'Neill

  1. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  2. A: Very recently, I did some work on cleaning up a backing track that was played at the RCH in Scotland. It came out nice through the PA.

  3. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  4. A: Right now I'm working on a few things, an "americana" rock outfit, where the album is currently being mixed, and a single for a similar band, more "pop-rock".

  5. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  6. A: Absolutely always .... both! Driving a signal into a analogue gear never gets old. Niether does putting normal signal through them too. With digital, you've got magic to play with, all the plugins, shortcuts, etc make it a sandbox but also a real power tool when it comes to taking on the work - as long as it doesn't crash! A gripe I do have about digital is that, when you're working in the box on a sound, and you're in a compressor for example, there are limited options for plugins that support adjusting more that one parameter at a time. In the analogue world, you can imagine setting the threshold for compressor and adjusting the output gain to match at the same time. In digital, the time to do such a task is doubled. I don't know anyone whos got two mice connected to their PC. I'm sorta glad I don't either \_(ツ)_/.

  7. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  8. A: I like to ensure my clients that the sound they envision is what i strive to achieve in my work. I love working closely with artists, adjusting sounds, levels etc until theyre perfect in the mix and to the artists ears. If they're happy, I'm happy.

  9. Q: What do you like most about your job?

  10. A: The thing I love most about what I do is how it is both work and play. When I'm working, it's on music. And when I'm chilling, It's playing music, listening to it, producing my own stuff, my mates' stuff. The list goes on...

  11. Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

  12. A: All the time I am asked, when clients come in to rehearse in the studio, is why there are so many knobs/buttons on the recording console. I then explain that, really, there are only so many types. And that they're just duplicated across the board. It's quite clever how it all works. When I'm working with people recording/mixing, the question I am asked most is about how, when tracking, all the elements seem balanced in volume even though their sources vastly differ in volume i.e drums vs vocals. I'll then explain how I gain stage though the desk, to achieve a constant "safe" level throughout all the tracks. I don't want anything to clip - and certain analogue emulated plugins in the box work better at these "safer" levels.

  13. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  14. A: For the many, it's all about numbers. Take social media for example, where it has become almost impossible to gain a following from nothing, relying on things like advertisements and boosts to get by. I prospect about a time when none of this matters, and people simply get by through having practice and working hard.

  15. Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?

  16. A: It is certain that I ask enough questions to be well prepared for a project ahead of time. I like to know details such as: - The basics i.e tempo, time signature. - Genre, - Any demos you might have, - Reference mixes. I need to know enough to be able to go into a project with the end goal being as close as possible to what you imagined it would sound like.

  17. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  18. A: In my opinion, the most important aspect of bringing someone else into your musical projects is that they provide a fresh set of ears. Someone who hasn't listened to that guitar part you've spent 3 hours on yet, or someone who has a totally different workflow for example. They can suggest things that you might not have thought of, and they can go into a project with professional experience in exactly what they do and make it shine. Conversly, you also get your fair few who work very closely with the artist in every aspect, even down to arrangement and writing of parts, helping you to develop an idea/sound further, bringing it closer to its end product. I, like many others, are open to "being" both of these types. It helps to have a dynamic flow, being able to chime in when needed and help along the way. I bring a lot of those traits to the table, with a personal touch.

  19. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  20. A: All I know is that sand is getting into everything! Id have to go with: - A solid workstation (It needs to run a DAW well, and have enough storage without internet!) - The Fabfilter suite - A guitar - Set of monitors - U87 Mic

  21. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  22. A: I started out about a decade ago fiddling around with programs like audacity and FL Studio, toying with old gear and just generally getting right into the vibe of it all. I stated learning FL Studio to a profficient enough level to mix, but I always felt it lacked certain features I was looking for. I started using Cubase a few years ago and have become quite skilled in its use. For me, It's fun to use and intuitive. Once you figure out how to do something once on there, you can do it forever. My experience recording and mixing and then eventually mastering started, like most, with my own band at the time. We would just record anything we could come up with. It didn't always turn out good, but it was practice nonetheless. Over the late few years I have been focused on improving my studio and sound, learning every day.

  23. Q: How would you describe your style?

  24. A: My style is quite grungy - I love getting really mean sounding guitars for example. Anything Nirvana and Alice In Chains fits the style.

  25. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  26. A: It is my dream to work with Jonathan Bates. His work in Mellowdrone and Big Black Delta have such a unique and interesting sonic character.

  27. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  28. A: Take frequent, short breaks. Even a nap on a long day. Over time your ears get tired, and they need rest for you to hear accurately again.

  29. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  30. A: Professionally, my niche and strongsuit is in rock music. It is in this that I can provide the most expereince, ideas and knowledge. I additionally work on my own bands music, which is also rock.

  31. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  32. A: The strongest trait I see in myself is my ability to go into a situation blind and work through it to the end. You never know what you're going up against in the music world and an ability to adapt and overcome the fear of diving into said world is something I admire in myself and others strongly.

  33. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  34. A: Something I love about artists that I meet is that they all bring unique ideas and sounds to the table. This has opened me up to expereincing a lot of different types of music and playing styles, allowing me to adapt and improve my recording/mixing techniques. When someone chooses to work with me, I make it my goal that what they envision in their work becomes reality - and some. An engineers role in mixing is not just to provide a mix of a song, but to do so while listening to the song though fresh ears. This can allow things to develop that may have not crossed the artists mind. Together, the artist and engineer work together to provide the best result.

  35. Q: What's your typical work process?

  36. A: The work starts before the band or artist comes in to track. When working with sound, especially recording real instruments in a room, a number of challenges can present themself. From phase to keeping time. The detail in a great production comes from the roots of overcoming these challenges though careful placement, and experienced musicians. But the idea of this "perfect" world is mostly baloney. To me, music is about the art, the performance, the energy. At the end of the day, as long as im getting a strong signal that sounds good, im happy. Recording isolated (one instrument/part at a time) or live depends on the clients needs. I usually prefer to record isolated tracks. Once I've got everything tracked - or in the case of remote work, everything open in a new project - I'll start phase aligning the individual tracks, then, if required, time alignment. After the raw tracks are sounding polished in themselves, I'll start doing a "dry" mix, playing with levels and panning of the tracks. At this point, I'm just looking for balance. Then the processing work begins, where I'll appy compression, EQ, reverbs and other production techniques to bring out the best in the performance. After we're all happy with how it's sounding, the track(s) get bounced to various file types based on individual needs. My usual loudness targets go by the spotify standard of -1 peak -14 LUFS, but I'm always open to experimentation and adjustments to these targets. Again, whatever sounds damn good.

  37. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  38. A: At the heart of the studio lives the Soundcraft MH4 console. Signals are taken in through a loom from the tracking room into the consoles lovely preamps. They can get really clean when needed, while offering awesome drive for those times where some desk saturation works wonders. Usually the signal is kept quite clean going through the desk, although sometimes I will apply basic EQ or compression before going into the Focusrite Saffire units. These work great, I have a few linked up to increase the channel count. The preamps on these can vary (coming from focusrites various "liquid" preamp emulators) from clean desks to famous tube pres that rounds signals off really tastefully. Next, we're going in the box to Cubase 13 running on a windows system. This is where most of the workload takes place, inlcuding tracking, pre-production, mixing & mastering. Running a "hybrid" system like this with the desk going into the DAW gives a mix of the sound of analog and the seeminly limitless world of mixing in the box.

  39. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  40. A: There are too many inspirations to list, but a few favourites include Mellowdrone ( Early 2000's LA Rock outfit), Syntax/Fluke ( Mike Tournier/Jan Burton), really into industrial rock/bigbeat at the moment, it has such an interesting vibe.

  41. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  42. A: The most common work I do and also what I most enjoy is recording and mixing rock music - working directly with the band to get the best out of their performance. From my time playing in rock bands, I understand the driving force is the energy - and that is what I work to get.

SEMB by Sakura

I was the Mixing Engineer, Mastering Engineer, Guitar Player and Arranger in this production

Terms Of Service

I will allow a realistic amount of revisions (Between 3-5). More revisions and time dedicated to a service will run additional costs at an hourly rate. Typical turnaround time is 3-7 days.

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