Touring Audio Engineer Ashton Parsons discovers Metric Halo Production bundle plug-ins
Wed, 10 Jan 2018 15:41
"Whether it's a day off on the road or at home in Michigan, I'm always sitting in front of Pro Tools, and Metric Halo plug-ins are becoming a bigger and bigger part of that experience." So, says Ashton Parsons, a mostly-touring audio engineer who also runs the Michigan-based project studio Sentimental Dreams. He most recently served as the production manager, monitor engineer, and post-production re-mixer for the chart-topping girl group Fifth Harmony. In his latter role, he has re-mixed live performances for Disney TV, a Disney Christmas special, and Showtime at the Apollo on Fox. Proof that he's happy to jump genres, Parsons also remixed Disturbed's Live at Red Rocks and did several live videos from the same tour. He also recently completed Anthrax live in Japan for the European release of "For All Kings." Black Label Society and Papa Roach have also relied on Parsons' knack for delivering mixes that magically convey the intensity of the live experience for the small screen.
"Over the years, I met plenty of engineers who swear by the Metric Halo ChannelStrip plug-in," Parsons said. "I got the Metric Halo Production Bundle really out of curiosity, and I'm slowly making my way through the plug-ins. Already, I'm using Character on pretty much everything, plenty of Dirty Delay, ChannelStrip, and, most recently, Precision De-Esser. The comments from my clients have all been very positive. They're definitely noticing the subtle, but significant, impact the Metric Halo plug-ins are having."
He continued, "I've had a few people comment on the sound of their vocals, and then I bypass Metric Halo Character so they can hear what it's doing to the sound. They've been amazed. I've tried a ton of saturation plug-ins, and they're always too heavy-handed. They're not subtle enough to represent a real analog signal path. Metric Halo Character gets it right. I usually use the 'SoftSat' emulation. It doesn't hit too hard and really holds all of the harmonics together. I put it on all kinds of things these days."
Parsons has also been using Metric Halo Dirty Delay in his vocal effects chain. "I found that the Dirty Delay presets get me where I need to be without any additional tweaking," he said. "I lock the time to the session's BPM, and everything falls beautifully into place. It adds the space I need, especially for pop vocals like Fifth Harmony."
Metric Halo ChannelStrip is another useful tool. Parsons uses it on instrument busses to apply subtle dynamic and frequency sculpting to affect the overall tone and balance of the various components of a song. "With Metric Halo ChannelStrip, everything is right there in front of me," he said. "I use mild compression on vocal busses as the final glue that holds all the pieces together. I love that each section – gate, compressor, EQ, and limiter – has an on/off button that allows me to enable or disable it easily. All the graphics are super useful, including the Real-Time Analyzer, and I like that I can expand and contract the view."
Recently, Metric Halo Precision De-Esser replaced Parsons' previous de-essing plug-in. "Metric Halo Precision De-Esser is simply more accurate," he said. "On top of that, it's quicker and easier to use. The Real-Time Analyzer makes it easy to see the problematic frequency, and then I just drag the 'bell' on top of that frequency. That takes care of it. And it's completely transparent. Other de-essers essentially give a vocalist a lisp. But not Metric Halo – just a clean vocal where the sibilance sits at the right level."