LONDON, JUNE 9, 2022 ― As musical needs continue to evolve around the world, Metropolis Studio, one of London’s largest commercial studios, has recently added Dolby Atmos mixing to its list of services. The decision coincided with a studio upgrade which allowed the HQ team to better manage remote productions with the studio’s newly added space in Brighton. The addition of the new studio ultimately inspired Metropolis to install immersive audio capabilities to better meet the demands of major music labels.
“Atmos is quickly becoming an industry standard, so we knew we had to step in,” says the studio’s chief sound engineer, Paul Norris. To meet Atmos demand, Norris added Audio NUGENHalo Upmix, Focus, and Paragon plug-ins from the Studio Toolbox. This arsenal aids the Metropolis team creatively, while helping them translate a stereo mix to surround without losing any of the integrity of the music.
He regularly uses NUGEN Audio’s Halo Upmix software as he finds it advantageous when working with stereo stems. “Depending on how many stems you receive, Halo Upmix is especially useful when effect stems are delivered separately,” he explains. “Halo allows me to mix the effects to make them immersive, which is great. I also like to use it on individual stems, like drums and percussion. Depending on what’s going on, Halo Upmix can be used to make these stems a bit more immersive.
Norris also keeps NUGEN’s Paragon software reverb running high when he has a vocal stem with built-in reverbs. “Being able to then send that rod to Paragon to disable the front channels and only use the rears and height, was really helpful,” he says. “It allows me to have extended reverb and give the sound a bit of space, depending on how you use it on the vocals. I also found it useful for putting the battery “in” a room.
In addition to Upmix and Paragon, Norris uses NUGEN’s Focus set of stereo manipulation plug-ins, in particular Monofilter, when working on stereo mixes. “The Monofilter is extremely useful when I get a lot of stereo bass recordings that require the sub to be in the middle to give it a solid bass, but still keep things intact,” he explains. “I often use it on drum tracks. I think it’s great on this stuff, to have a bit more whip. Even though the plug-in technically does something unnatural, it still produces something very real.
Among the other Focus plug-ins in Norris’ toolbox is Stereoizer, which he uses frequently. “I use it a lot on percussion because I think it’s a great way to get a bit more whip to the sound,” he says. “I also incorporate it a lot on synthesized stems.”
He recently used Stereoizer to add width to a mono track for a choral arrangement. “It filled out the chorus so much more than just hearing it in mono,” he explains. “Stereoizer helps me add something a little more creative and exciting to the recording in a natural way. It doesn’t change the artist’s or producer’s vision. The NUGEN software has been super handy in recreating sound organic.
Like many sound engineers, Norris began his career studying music, creative music technology to be exact, at the University of Hull. After graduating, in 2010, Paul was offered a job as a runner in Metropolis. Norris quickly rose from racer to assistant to full-time engineer, working on a variety of projects spanning hip-hop, classical, pop and metal. Today, he’s the studio’s chief audio engineer, overseeing its music technology business and working with names like Gorillaz, Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, Mystery Jets and GRAMMY-winning Rhianna. album recording, without apologizing.