Legendary producer/mix engineer on mixing for the new generation and giving each track its own identity
Atlanta, GA, June 8, 2020 – Grammy-award winning producer/engineer and entrepreneur Lu Diaz has become something of an authority on good low-end in modern hip-hop, R+B, and pop music production by bringing his signature kick to dozens of gold and platinum records for major artists like Pitbull, DJ Khaled, Jay Z, Mary J Blige, and the Baha Men. Since 2018, Diaz’s Amphion Two18 studio monitors have been a key part of his mixing and production setup, enabling him to deliver the kind of mixes that have packed the dance floors for the past thirty years.
Impact and character
Diaz’s obsession with the perfect low-end was born directly out of his adolescence in Miami. A rock drummer at first, he found himself drawn to the homegrown freestyle and hip-hop music exploding out of the area in the mid-1980s. The power and impact of the music immediately influenced his fledgling production work, and quickly became a signature element of his style. “Where I come from in Miami I was just swimming in 40hz for my whole life,” he said. ““It just seemed to give the sound this incredible lift and I knew that it was what I loved.”
Diaz has sought to capture that lift in his mixing and production work ever since through a careful combination of intuitive feel and a keen ear for the right mixture of low-end elements that have power and precision. Doing so not only ensures that the track will work, but also allows him to respect the initial artistic vision behind them that gives them their unique character and staying power. “Songs are like people in that they all have a different personality,” he said. “You can’t lose the focus on that, and that definitely impacts how you mix low-end because you want to give them the right feel so that they are competing but still make sure that they have a character that honors the original vision of the track.”
“In order to do that you have to hear all the elements properly and make sure that the kick and subs are working together without sounding muddy. I’ve been using Amphion Two18s for this because of how truthful they are in these situations– you can hear all that mud right away and it makes it so much easier for me to identify what isn’t working and get the song where it needs to be.”
Mixing for a new generation
Diaz works completely in the box using a mobile Pro Tools rig and his laptop with plugins from Waves and Antares. Although he acknowledges the nostalgia and appeal of the big console studios of his youth, he’s quick to point out that staying current on the technology has offered more than just convenience. “What worked 15-20 years ago is great, but the audience has moved on,” he said. “The new generation isn’t married to the romance of analog and that’s the people you are making music for. I’ve always stayed current with what’s available because ultimately it keeps me in touch with what people want to hear and how they want to hear it.”
When not mixing on the road, Diaz operates out of his recently completed private studio in Atlanta, Georgia. He uses a custom desk built around his Slate Monitor Controller and UAD system with Prism convertors. Seeking a monitor setup that would sound even and honest, Diaz has made his Amphion Two18 speakers the centerpiece of his setup. “You hear so many speakers over the years and every one of them has their own coloration,” he explained. “The problem is that as an engineer you don’t want that. You aren’t the audience, so you want to hear exactly what’s there so we can mix with confidence.”
“I’ve rarely had speakers that give me so much information. Even at a low level you can still hear so much, and that’s allowed me to work much more quickly and confidently. That’s been crucial for me when mixing low end, because I know it’s going translate big and have the impact that I want. I always lean on my Amphions now because they give me all sweet spots.”
For more information about Lu Diaz please visit: http://www.thebestmixengineer.com/
For more information about Amphion, please visit http://amphion.fi/
Amphion Loudspeakers Ltd. was established in 1998. We design and build loudspeakers that are characterized by honest and accurate sound reproduction. Precise driver integration ensures world-class imaging and phase coherency. Controlled dispersion technology helps achieve more stable results in a variety of room acoustics. All products are handmade in Finland (and the Amphion amplifiers are assembled in Finland) to ensure enduring listening quality.