Audeze chats with immersive mix engineer Sul Ki Son

January 23, 2024

Sul Ki Son is a multiple award winning Korean American Mix Engineer & Immersive Mix Engineer from New York City. Sul Ki started his career as an engineer @ the legendary Bennett Studio in Englewood NJ. He is best known for his work with Dolby Atmos as an Immersive Mix Engineer (Lil Wayne, Chief Keef, NAV, Coi Leray, & many more.)

Sul Ki Son wearing Audeze LCD-MC4 headphones mixing

"The headphones made me feel as if it was just part of the room. I would go from the studio monitors to my headphones & I was amazed by the translation." - Sul Ki Son
Here's our chat with Sul:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

Lil Wayne  -  Go DJ (Dolby Atmos) There's a lot of energy on this record. It was crucial to capture the excitement of the original song and translate that into Dolby Atmos.  

Coi Leray  -  Thief in the Night (Dolby Atmos) This was Coi's freshman album on Republic/UMG & to be a part of it was such an honor and a privilege.

James TW -  Easy (Dolby Atmos) This song is such a beautifully written ballad & also one of my favorites from the Heartbeat Changes Album. 

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

I mainly mix both Stereo and Dolby Atmos formats for major labels and independent artists worldwide. Recently, I have started to develop two new artists that everybody should be on the lookout for: Sabrina Lee and LVA. Sabrina is a super talented Korean American alternative pop singer/songwriter from Virgina. She has recently placed her song "Be There" in the Netflix film "Man in Toronto." Sabrina is currently working on her debut EP. LVA is a non-binary electrifying pop punk singer/songwriter based out of Brooklyn, NYC. Under the alias LVA GRL, they have consistently performed at iconic NYC venues such as: The Electric Bowery, Arlenes Grocery, The Delancey, College Shows at Binghamton University, and many more.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I started getting into music at an early age trying to learn how to play various instruments. In my teens I listened to mostly Hip Hop, R&B, and K-Pop. As I started ear training and working as a recording and mix engineer, I started to explore other genres. I see music as a color palette: The more colors I have, the more I can ultimately make. It's awesome when you can tap into elements from different genres effortlessly. In some cases you’re even able to transform something traditional into something different or unique, those kinds of songs have always stood out to me. It's most satisfying when I can find something new with that “je ne sais quoi” that most people aren't aware of yet.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

Working at Bennett Studio really taught me first hand about studio etiquette & I was able to learn some valuable lessons during my time there. I remember as an assistant engineer I would practice doing recalls on the SSL every chance that I got. One night, I got to do the SSL recall for a Wyclef Jean session & I was really nervous, but they still really liked the way I was efficient at doing things so they kept me on for that session. Times like that really taught me that being prepared for the opportunity is the most important part.

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?

One time I got a vocal that was distorted & because the artist wasn't going to re-record the vocal again, I just used Lo-Fi & some distortion plug-ins to make it an effect & sound like it was intentional. Sometimes it doesn't have to be perfect. The imperfection can be the part that makes it stand out from the rest of the crystalline image.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

I work mainly in the box now so I would say UAD Pultec, UAD Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor, UAD 1176, UAD DBX 160VU & UAD SSL E Series Channel Strip. As for instruments, I recently picked up a new Fender Stratocaster so I've been playing a bit more. I'm also getting into experimenting with new pedals and vintage ones I pick up here and there. I use the pedals not only for when I'm playing guitar, but also when I'm mixing to create unique new sounds.

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

Sometimes, your fear means you’re moving in the right direction, use it to guide your way. Nothing ever good comes from being comfortable. Working hard and being passionate about everything that you do & not giving up, because when you give up you fail. "Boys, be ambitious! " - William Clark

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

Headphones have always been a part of the workflow for me. Especially when we live in a world where most of the average music consumers are listening to them. I believe a great accurate pair of headphones like the LCD-X's & LCD-MX4's help me to be more mobile and I can literally work from anywhere at any time. With the Audeze Headphones I can trust what I am hearing will translate.

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

Lately, I've tried both the LCD-X and the LCD-MX4's. The headphones made me feel as if it was just part of the room. I would go from the studio monitors to my headphones & I was amazed by the translation. The detail & imaging became much more accurate, I noticed especially the high frequency information became much smoother & more focused in the low frequencies. Using the Cryogenically Treated Cabling paired with a Grace m900 DAC & Headphone Amplifier has only made the MX4's even better by enhancing the depth & adding more smoothness.

Audeze LCD-MX4 headphones on mixing table