Mixer Jeff Juliano Chooses FOCAL Monitors
Twin 6 Be Powered Monitors with Sub6 are now his Main Measure of a Mix
Mixer Jeff Juliano has used a lot of different speakers, and in the past 10 years he’s relied on the supposed ‘industry standard’ Yamaha NS10. But no more. Juliano recently tried the Focal Twin 6 Be powered monitors at his Delaware mixing studio and has now made them his number one choice. Having mixed a host of platinum-selling albums for artists such as Jason Mraz, Josh Kelly and Lifehouse, as well as John Mayer, who won a 2003 Grammy for his album “Room for Squares” which he mixed, Juliano has a great ear for sound, but was ready for the change.
“I’ve been going through so many speakers in my time mixing, I was an NS10 guy for so many years, and started to believe that was the only speaker in the world that mattered. The Focal Twin 6 Be monitors are the best that I’ve used in terms of studio-to-consumer listening translation for car stereos, clock radios — iPod ear buds, you name it. They really translate: what I hear in the studio is what the outside world hears, in my experience. When I go to the car and check a mix, it’s what I hear in the studio. That’s the end-all, that’s what matters,” stated Juliano.
Past experiences were not great for Juliano with powered monitors, but all that changed with Focal, “I’ve used a ton of powered monitors and at the end of the day I was afraid of them because all the other powered monitors had a dip around 1K to make them less fatiguing, and they have a high-end boost. The Focal Twin 6 is the first powered monitor that I’ve heard that you don’t have to be afraid of hearing the mid-range. You get the mids really kicking and it’s fine. On other powered monitors when you take that mix anywhere else you’re going to have a harsh mid-range. With the Focal they’re real flat and extremely truthful. These things just tell you how it is.”
One of the key differences Juliano noticed when he started using the Focal monitors was how much more he could hear in earlier mixes he’d done on NS 10s, and how easily he adapted to what he heard now on Focal monitors. “Listening back to mixes I’ve done on the NS10s through the Focals, it kind of scares me because I hear top-end distortion that I wasn’t hearing in the NS10s, I was so used to using them, I thought I knew them. With the Focals there wasn’t a learning curve, it actually spooked me at first. ‘This sounds good, this sounds bad,’ it wasn’t because it was on this speaker. The Focal monitors were just that truthful, sonically.”
Juliano notices the sonic transparency in the Focals, “Anything that’s wrong, it says ‘hey, wait, here I am’ — if there is something in the low-end, the mid range or the top end it really comes through. You hear so much more air in the top end of these speakers. Distortion comes through much clearer: I find a lot of mistakes now in people’s tracking. It’s that full-range and open, you hear every bit of detail, like the reverb trails, things I didn’t really hear in the NS10s. They would come screaming out in a car stereo at you. The translation from my mixes to the real-world is beautiful on these.”
Having more confidence in his mixes before sending to a mastering engineer has been a boost for Juliano too, his latest project for PARAMORE, mixing a live DVD and dual live CD, garnered a startling comment, “The A&R guy at Atlantic loved my mixes for the PARAMORE record, they said ‘lets get it mastered’ — there were no recall mixes in all the 18 songs. That makes my day happy,” said Juliano.
He also received very positive comments from Sterling Mastering (NY), “My guy at Sterling Sound said I made his job easy! That was music to my ears, because at the end of the day it’s my job to get it to be the best it can be at that stage, right before that guy masters it. When that guy, who I respect, tells me I make his job easier, that’s a great day for me.”
Describing his use of the Focal Sub6, which he uses with the Twin 6 Be monitors, Juliano said, “That Sub6 is extremely versatile because of the way you can dial it in, you can make it work in any environment or any shape of room you have to work in. You can find a place for that sub and dial it in perfectly. I’ve used a number of subs in my time, this one’s got a variable phase, a crossover, a low-pass, a level control, it’s ridiculous!”
“I kind of grew up on a subwoofer in terms of mixing and engineering so I’m used to having one. At the same time the Twin 6 is the only speaker I’ve used where I don’t need a sub, I’m just one of those guys that likes to feel a little bit of the kick and the bass when I’m mixing at louder volumes. When I go to low volumes, I turn the sub off. But when I do turn it off I can still hear the bass in the Twin 6s. With the Sub6, you push the bass up to where it sounds good to you, and you get in the car and listen and it’s perfect. That’s a security blanket and a comfort.”
His new Focal monitors also allow Juliano to get the most from his outboard gear as well, he says, “It makes me proud of my investment in outboard gear, because I feel like fifteen years later I’m finally using my outboard gear properly and to its full potential because I can hear everything so much better through the Focal monitors. You’ve got to hear it right or it doesn’t matter what outboard gear you have. I can honestly say that I have never been happier with any one purchase for my studio.”
In the end Juliano quickly learned to trust the Focal monitors and that saved him time, “It didn’t take me a long time to learn the speakers, once I started listening to mixes in other spots: my car, my home stereo, the iPod. You hear your mixes back and you say ‘I mixed that song really fast and it came out really good’— and that saves time, any time I can shave a couple hours off my day of work I’m happy! And that was definitely due to the gear.”
Commenting on Focal, the company itself, Juliano said, “Simon [Cote], my contact at the company ‘burned in’ the speakers for me, which apparently you need to do when setting them up. That kind of service is great, it shows that they are a solid company. And they back their customers.” [SIMON TO DECIDE TO USE THIS PARAGRAPH OR NOT]
Juliano’s extensive credits include John Mayer “Room For Squares” (Columbia/Sony) Mixer, RIAA Certified 4X Platinum (GRAMMY WINNER 2003); James Blunt “Live Tracks” (Atlantic Records); Jason Mraz “Waiting for My Rocket to Come” Mixer, RIAA Certified Platinum; O.A.R. “Live From Madison Square Garden” CD/DVD Mixer – 5.1 Surround Sound (Lava/Atlantic/Everfine Records); Josh Kelley “Special Company” (DNK Records); John Butler Solo “Live Tracks” (Atlantic Records); John Mayer “Any Given Thursday” CD/DVD Mixer; Lifehouse “Lifehouse” Mixer, RIAA Certified Gold; Eight Dave Mathews records as Mixer including “Live In Central Park” RIAA Certified Platinum; Bruce Hornsby, Ben Folds, Robert Randolph, PARAMORE “The Final Riot” (Fueled by Ramen); My Favorite Highway (Virgin Records); Green River Ordinance (Virgin Records), and many other artists and recordings.
Contact Jeff Juliano through his website at: http://www.myspace.com/jeffjuliano
For more on Focal monitors please visit: www.focal-fr.com (choose the ‘Focal Professional’ link)