US and International Grammy Award winner and mixer, Goh Hotoda, has created numerous hit records since the start of his career in 1980. With over 30 million copies sold of Madonna’s Immaculate Collection album, Hotoda has also worked with Chaka Khan, David Sanborn, Prince, Duran Duran, Janet Jackson, Utada Hikaru and many others. Hotoda says McDSP plug-ins provide a “comfortable yet unexpected spectrum” to the music industry, allowing him take his mixes to the top of the billboards.
Hotoda began his career as an assistant engineer in Chicago with Universal Recording Studios, later moved to New York as a freelance engineer and ultimately traveled the world looking to set his thumbprint on the music industry. “Mixing is what I do best, and that’s what the people really like about what I do. With Madonna I introduced my long time experience with house music, incorporated with pop music, which was something she really wanted to do. She was always looking for a new vogue style, and she got the biggest hit by one of those songs.” Now living in Japan with a private studio and label, Hotoda uses McDSP plug-ins to help anticipate what’s next in the music industry. “My goal and mission is really to provide the best music with the best mixes; new technology and plug-ins are really working for me.”
In 1998, Hotoda first started experimenting with McDSP plug-ins. “I was using FilterBank and it became my favorite. The configurations were so lightly designed, I could control all the EQ’s or even change the sound on every channel if I wanted to.” After Pro Tools 7 was released, Hotoda got his hands on McDSP’s CompressorBank plug-in, designed to emulate the sounds of vintage and modern compressors. “CompressorBank was also one of my favorites. Back in the days the only compressors available were like the Waves compressor and I didn’t really go crazy for those because of the critical adjustment type of compressor it was, it was really made for almost a laboratory type of sound, it wasn’t really musical to me. But FilterBank and CompressorBank are not designed like that. They have a special musical target, you get what you’re looking for, and I really like that about McDSP plug-ins.” With Digidesign’s new ICON console in his studio, Hotoda finds that he likes McDSP plug-ins even more because the knobs on the console match up directly with those found on the interface of the McDSP plug-ins. “CB2 is now my default compressor. If I have a special requirement in a track, it’s the first thing I grab.”
As Hotoda experienced the transition from analog to digital, he found a fondness for external limiting and compression. “Multi-band compression is really an interesting effect that I’ve been looking for. The ML4000 limiter has a completely different way of manipulating compared to the old style of limiting. With today’s limiting, you can’t have a mix without it because your mix will end up so small or very distorted. Limiting and compression are must-haves.” Hotoda lays the ML4000 on most of his mixes as a fine-tune EQ and compressor, he says “with four bands its like having an extra hand.” After discovering the excessive width and spectrum of ML4000, Hotoda found that it gave him the freedom to be artistic within a musically controlled environment.
“In the digital domain, it’s a completely different canvas that we can draw to. With a larger dynamic range of 96 dB, I’m able to throw the limiters up on my mix buss before I even start mixing. I check to see how much level I can use for the bass or certain instruments and to know where I can go further. On the mix I want vocals larger than actual things, not expanding it but with my limiting environment I know how much I can push the width, height and depth then make music around it. Musically it’s correct, but the details are not there because I don’t push them loud enough, but that’s where ML4000 starts to do the work and put them in the picture.” Hotoda finds that with the ML4000 he can keep the bottom (low frequencies) of the track consistent as he brings up instruments around it. “I can find specific details of the frequency by tuning the crossover point and threshold; it’s really almost like mastering. So if you look at the big picture from the ML4000, you have limited range and a provided band to look for details. If you feel lack of the midrange you can go look for it and put the levels where you want and play around with the frequencies. Personally, I use the ML4000 to check my individual elements and finalize the mix. It’s a tool to me that’s not only a time-saver, but a tool to help enhance what’s not there or what was there but you can’t hear.”
Just as Hotoda uses ML4000 as an enhancement tool on his mixes, he also finds that McDSP’s MC2000 gives him the boost he needs. Taking on a project for Sony, re-mastering a compellation project, Hotoda went straight for the MC2000 to provide listeners with a great mix. “All the records were mixed on different years, days, with different formats, styles, different engineers, different studios and everything. I needed to check everything to make sure all the vocal balances were the same. With a compellation you usually get the master from here or there, add the same mastering EQs or limiters and go from there. But this time I went through all the songs and I transferred them to 96k. I used MC2000 to solo each frequency and bring up the exact vocal point to be the loudest. I was going against even the producers original wishes, I didn’t respect anything but the vocals, making sure that was the main thing.” After balancing all the vocals, Hotoda took the compellation Mixes back to the mastering studio at Sony for final check and level adjustments. “They were surprised how I made all the vocals sound almost as a new remix, by having that consistency. Then they asked me how I did it and I think they started using McDSP products after I brought it in because they couldn’t believe the results. The sound was amazingly clear.”
Hotoda believes McDSP has aided him in achieving not only hit records, but also a distinguishable sound that makes him stand out. “Mixing is like an art collection to me. I really make sure my mix is the best I can make it today, so that in 10 years I can be proud of myself when I listen to my mixes again and go – Oh that’s my mix!”