Audeze chats with mix engineer Stéphane Piquemal

March 14, 2023

Stéphane Piquemal is a France based mixing engineer. He describes himself as a "driven, perfectionist, foodie."

Stéphane Piquemal in the studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones

"LCD-X’s bottom end is tight, deep and punchy, stereo image is stunning, highs are not over-hyped. I can hear stuff better than any cans I had before."  - Stéphane Piquemal
Here's our chat with Stéphane:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

I mixed Only One by Aaron Taylor & Mickey Shiloh (Janet Jackson, Britney Spears) a Pop track with a Caribbean vibe I particularly love.

I recently mixed a track that is real disco banger: Desir Disco by Elisa Ezzedine feat. Patrick Hernandez (80’s disco legend).

Mixed a few songs from The Voice France, The Voice Kids and The Voice Ireland Artists.

You can out find more on my website.

The forthcoming album by vintage pop duet Jane for Tea is also a project I’m very proud of, they’re very talented people and I had a blast mixing it.

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

My role is to bring excitement, joy, sadness… enhance whatever the mood of the song is. In order to do so, sometimes I have to go deeper and be more heavy-handed, particularly with drums, they are the meat and potatoes of the song.

Vocals, is a delicate one too, particularly with Pop music, they deliver the message, the vibe of the song, it’s a main feature, you have to take care of. I can spend a lot of time on vocals.

What kind of music did you listen to while growing up?

I grew up listening to my parent’s vinyl: The Beatles, Elton John, The Police, Supertramp, Joe Jackson, Miles Davis…you name it.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life?

My musical background as a professional musician, definitely helped a lot.

How do you stay fresh, focused?

I still enjoy listening to music a lot, nerding out and cooking of course. Oh? Did I mention I love food? Mixing… Cooking, same thing right? The art of putting things together and taking care of the main ingredient not being drowned in the sauce, et voilà!

Family time (cat included) is very important too.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

Yes, setting-up speakers in a room. I learned it the hard hard way.

When I started, 15 years ago, I overlooked monitors placement, back then I was struggling with the low end and lead vocal volume, so I started messing around by moving in the room until I got the low end right and a good stereo image.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project?

Actually, there’s quite a few! But my modified 1176 or the Retro sta level is my go-to for vocals, I might have some plugin afterwards, but the main sound comes from these actual devices.

Neve 33609 comes to my mind when I think about piano, Empirical Labs’ Distressor is ridiculous on bass guitar.

What are some of your favorite tools recently?

I love Earthquaker devices’ Palisades, it’s an overdrive pedal, a great box for adding color.

Shadow Hills mastering compressor and Chandler Curve bender eq is fantastic combo I enjoy using on the mix bus, warm and fat.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

I consider that being a musician with some basic music theory skills is the bare minimum required. On top of that having a good music culture knowledge is also crucial.

If possible, get close to a mentor who wants to support you in this long journey. Shout-out to my friends Pascal Garnon and Joe Zook who helped me a lot when I started out. Be curious, and learn from your mistakes.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

As far as I remember I had always used headphones, back to those walkman days :-)

On a daily basis I use them for checking mixes, and also as a music enjoyment, typically on my couch…

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

LCD-X’s bottom end is tight, deep and punchy, stereo image is stunning, highs are not over-hyped. I can hear stuff better than any cans I had before.

Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

I recently mixed a Pop track for Universal Music’s new protege, Artemisia Toussaint, great actress-singer, surrounded by a great production team.

I used the LCD-X for checking the low end also for some little tweaking on the overall mix.

Stéphane Piquemal's Audeze LCD-X headphones