With similarly eclectic CVs for his work and equipment choices, Mike Elizondo is among music’s most versatile talents. His credits ranging from 50 Cent and Mary J Blige to Ry Cooder and Fiona Apple – a versatility he credits in part to his background as a bass player…

‘Being a bassist first, I think, gave me an advantage in my work. It trained my ears in a particular way, to hear the big picture, support the ensemble, listen to the drums and singer, and when to trim the fat, so to speak,’ he explains. ‘And I think it also got me thinking in terms across genres, whether it’s jazz, rock, R&B, or something else. Not every producer is an instrumentalist first, but for me I think it’s shaped the way I approach this work, and it’s led to some great projects and successes in my career.’

Mike ElizondoA recent relocation saw him move from LA – where he was based for more than 15 years – to Gallatin, Tennessee, just north of Nashville, where he now lives and works in a 5,000-sq-ft studio.

‘I had made the decision to move to the Nashville area, but the original plan was to move into a small set-up where I could do just some pre-production work but do the real work at Nashville’s great studios. But this five-acre property came up in Gallatin, and I couldn’t really turn it down. Its previous owner built it, and he was a studio designer by trade. It’s a gorgeous space. And then tragically the pandemic hit, but I’m now fortunate to have a fully-decked-out space to call my own. I often work with a dedicated tracking engineer, and this setup is great for that. It’s my dream scenario.’

The studio control room is centred on an SSL 4056 E/G console, a Neve BCM10, an Ampex MM1000 tape machine, an eight-track Scully 280B tape machine and an Endless Analog Clasp tape/DAW system. A key component in the new set-up is a pair of W371A Smart Active Woofer Systems and 8361A Smart Active Monitors from Genelec, which he sourced through Vintage King in Nashville.

Elizondo has been a Genelec user for years, having previously relied on a pair of 1031s for much of his work. A friend’s recommendation of the Genelec 8361A and W371A systems for the new space, prompted immediate action. ‘I ordered them right away, sight-unheard,’ he says.

‘Initially, I figured the Genelec 8361As and the W371As would be my mains, and I’d rely on a different set as close-fields, but I’ve ended up using the Genelecs for both applications,’ he continues. ‘I remember when we got the monitors set up, and I brought up some of my go-to test mixes and favourite albums to listen to, and I just instantly felt like I was immersed in this music. The low end is important to me, and the low end felt punchy and defined and not at all muddy – I knew that what I was hearing was totally accurate.

‘I kept on pulling up more records, trying to find some fault with my new Genelec five-way system, but there wasn’t any fault to be found. After several hours listening to different records, everything just felt great. And I recognized the feeling in terms of continuity from my previous Genelecs – this is definitely part of that heritage, but the next generation of it.’

Elizondo is particularly fond of Genelec’s GLM software and the AutoCal protocol, which automatically calibrates the monitors for a room and allows for multiple adjustable sweet spots as presets.

‘Currently, I have three sweet spots set up in the control room that I can toggle between – one for my main position, one at the client sofa behind me, and one at a sidecar workstation, where I do some programming work on another rig at the side of the room. I can push a button, and it feels like the Genelecs are right in front of me no matter where I’m positioned. It’s a game changer. And with clients, to be able give them the sweet spot where they’re already seated – that can really help keep the flow of ideas going, rather than stopping everything to say, ‘hey, come sit in my chair and hear what I’m hearing.’ AutoCal is like magic.’

He has been putting the new setup to good use, with new projects from Lake Street Dive and Twenty One Pilots in the works, as well as a major country artist.

‘I try to put a high level of polish into everything I work on, so even if it’s at the pre-production stage of a project, it can sound like a final mix when it leaves my facility. The combination of the Genelec 8361As and the W371As really let me apply that level of professionalism to this music, so my engineer and I know that what we hear is accurate and will translate across different setups and speaker rigs and car stereos. I’m proud to be able to offer that level of detail in what I do, and Genelec helps make it happen.’

More: www.genelecusa.com

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