Producer and Engineer Jan Kybert Partners with London’s Dean Street Studios to Provide a New Avenue of Creativity for Dolby Atmos Music Mixing
Seeing a demand for skilled Dolby Atmos mixers, Jan “Stan” Kybert recently launched the Atmos-focused Auraferix studio in partnership with London’s Dean Street Studios. With such unique mixing needs, Kybert jumped at the opportunity to not only use, but become a beta tester for NUGEN Audio’s new Paragon reverb software. As one of the first people to get his hands on the software, the certified Dolby Atmos music mixer has already incorporated it into his workflow for many high-profile projects.
The world’s first 3D-compatible convolution reverb, Paragon offers full control of the decay, room size and brightness via state-of-the-art re-synthesis modelled on 3D recordings of real spaces. It also provides an unprecedented level of tweak-ability, with zero time-stretching – which means no artifacts. With purity of sound at the forefront of this plug-in, Paragon reverb operates in up to 7.1.2 channels of audio, making it perfect for surround applications, including Dolby Atmos bed tracks.
“I’m loving Paragon; it’s probably the most impressive Version 1 of any plug-in I’ve ever used,” says Kybert. “The sound and ease-of-use is there, and everything makes sense. You can tailor it very quickly to what the task requires, which is also aided by the great presets. Additionally, the ability to change the brightness and size is all on the front page. By just looking at it, you can tell the user interface (UI) is spot-on. That’s really important for a good software solution.”
Among Kybert’s favorite Paragon tools are the ‘air room’ and ‘dark chamber’ presets. “They are the two that I go between and then I can instantly tweak or tailor those to what I want for each track,” he says. “Air room has a wonderful quality of adding space, but not necessarily hearing it – almost as though the music is happening beyond the centerpoint, which is exactly what you need for an Atmos production. The opposite of that is the dark chamber, where it’s rich and deep; I want that to be heard when I use that.”
Kybert credits the need to incorporate time-based effects into mixes as among one of the big challenges that Paragon easily helps him solve. “When you put a lead vocal in solo through a reverb, you need to make sure it fits to the track. NUGEN has simplified that process by not only having a great sounding reverb, but also making it possible to manipulate that reverb all on one panel.”
When it comes to his workflow, Paragon fits perfectly into Kybert’s toolkit, which also includes the NUGEN Audio VisLM and Halo Upmix plug-ins. “I’ve been using Paragon and VisLM on nearly every single Atmos mix, and Halo Upmix a good majority of the time,” he adds. “NUGEN has always been about brilliant precision tools and we rely on them for that. With Paragon, and some of their other newer tools, they’re pushing into that musical place that affects the sound or character and leaves room for a different energy with more creativity.”
For Kybert, NUGEN’s VisLM plays an important role in his mixing. “Among the wonderful things about Atmos music is that it is a dynamic format,” he continues. “That means we can have dynamic range, with quiet moments and loud moments. We want our choruses to really jump, so we can ramp up in volume and then we can pull that volume back for the verses to create that context. VisLM is just perfect for this, I can’t mix without it. I don’t want to even attempt to begin without VisLM, so I have the plug-in in my main template. It’s probably the first and last thing I check, as well as several times in between.”
A veteran of the music production industry, Kybert started out in the mid-90s, doing grunt work at Townhouse and Olympic Studios in London, and quickly worked his way up to producing, engineering and mixing. With the advent of Pro Tools happening nearly simultaneously to Kybert’s career trajectory, the producer latched onto the magic of mixing in the box as his primary skill set, which has served him well through the decades. It not only helped him land a spot working with Mark “Spike” Stent, who he credits as being “the greatest mixer ever,” but has also on a wide array of major projects. Most recently, he wrapped an album with Paul Weller, which the pair worked on entirely during the COVID lockdown.
In addition to its Atmos application, NUGEN Audio’s Paragon reverb plug-in is well-suited to creating immersive reverb in mono, stereo and surround formats. It is ideal for recreating authentic sounds of real spaces and manipulating IRs while still maintaining true convolution characteristics.