Ryan Carline has been working as an engineer for one of the UK’s most prolific pop bands Take That for over a decade. He’s just wrapping up the UK Wonderland tour and in the middle of a mixing a live DVD recorded at the iconic 02 Arena in London.
And on top of that he works with Gary Barlow, one-third of Take That, who is doing a new musical ‘The Band’ which starts touring later this year.
We caught up with Carline as he was running from studio to hotel room to ask him about the difference Sonarworks is making to his work.
Sonarworks: So how did you come to hear about Sonarworks?
Carline: It was an ad online. I was looking for something to just give me a flat response. You know when I’m working in studios around the world I’m not familiar with I need to have a consistent reference. I had just heard good things about Sonarworks so I thought I would give it a try. And I fell in love with it straight away.
Sonarworks: So you use it in your studio but you also you also use it when you travel?
Carline: I do. I take the mic around with me in my suitcase. Even if we work in hotel rooms, I’ll have it with me, and we’ll set up the speakers in the hotel room and run the tests (laughs) I’m sure all the guests in the nearby rooms are wondering what that sweeping sound is when I’m calibrating. But it only takes a few minutes, and then I can mix from a hotel room.
Sonarworks: And what were your first impressions?
Carline: At first it was scary. When I first put it on because it’s so different from what I was used to hearing from the speakers. But I stuck with it because I believed in what it was doing and I thought it would be a good idea, so I figured I’d stick with it even though it sounded a bit alien to me to hear the speakers sounding so different. But the mixes just translated so much better straight away when I heard it in the car and on other systems. And that was the point I just felt I’ve got to have this.
At first it was scary.
Sonarworks: I’m guessing that because you’re producing Take That and Gary’s stuff these are commercial releases probably going off to mastering suites after you finished the mixes?
Carline: Yeah we had some stuff mastered at Abbey Road, and they hardly had to do anything really EQ wise. There were no major fixes I mean, whereas in the past there may have been some low mid issues and it seems Sonarworks has solved that problem.
Sonarworks: So what kind of problems has Sonarworks helped with?
Carline: It’s that I’m getting a more full sound is in the low mids because I think in the past there was a bit of a boost around 200Hz and below that created a lot of mud. So I was scooping out more than I needed from the low mids to tidy the mix up. Now I leave more of that in so the result is a bigger sound.
Sonarworks: You talked about it being scared, were you one of these people that was so used to your speakers that you weren’t producing bad mixes, but you got used to compensating for your room?
Carline: Yeah that’s the trouble I think it’s clear we all end up compensating and you get used to your speakers and what you need to do to make the mix translate on other systems. But then because we have to work in other studios, and on a lot of different speakers I’m not used to it just takes longer to acclimatise to these systems. With Sonarworks if I go to another control room I can just get the mix done quicker.
Sonarworks: Have you guys got into using Systemwide and the headphones version?
Carline: Yeah I use Systemwide every day as well because the thing is now I’m so used to the speakers sounding flat when I’m listening to reference material from Apple Music and Spotify I just like to hear everyone else’s mixes go through the same system.
Sonarworks support my headphones and so I use it on the headphones as well.
I’m always checking for balancing and panning and placement with headphones, so I get the mix to a certain point where everything’s sounding good on speakers and then I’ll cut the speakers and listen on headphones to just check for balance issues. I think a lot of people end up listening on headphones, so it’s important to check how mixes will sound on them. I like the idea that I can adjust what I’m doing with the headphones as well when I’m on the road. A lot of work we do on the road now, I’ve had to do like Take That live mixes on headphones before, like when I was in a hotel room in Milan, so even in these situations I know I can trust what I’m hearing.
Sonarworks: So what would you say to somebody who is considering using Sonarworks?
Carline: I’d say definitely try but when you first hear it working don’t be scared by what you hear. You will be so used to your speakers before you start using Sonarworks but just stick with it. Do a mix with it and check it on other speakers and see how it translates, I think you will be surprised. I wouldn’t mix without it now!
Carline has a busy life as an engineer for one of the UK’s top pop bands and has found a way to work around the world, sometimes is top studios and in less than ideal environments for mixing like hotel rooms and planes. He knows that with Sonarworks speaker, headphone, and Systemwide correction he can create mixes he can trust are right, mixes that are ready for commercial release.
You can read more about Ryan Carline and his work here www.ryancarline.com
A lot of work we do on the road now, I’ve had to do like Take That live mixes on headphones before, like when I was in a hotel room in Milan, so even in these situations I know I can trust what I’m hearing.