Audeze chats with mixing and mastering engineer Devin Johnson

With over 17 years mixing experience and over 7 years mastering experience to date (2022), Devin Johnson has become one of Atlanta's highly sought-after Mixing & Mastering engineers.  

 

"I can now hear the subtle differences that I wasn’t able to pick up in my other headphones.  It has truly helped me to not have to take as many trips to the studio to check mixes." - Devin Johnson
Here's our talk with Devin:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

Working closely with 2 Grammy Award winning producers Jazze Pha and Cassius Jay.

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

Being a mixing & mastering engineer, my main role is to make sure that I have achieved a sound that is pleasing to all parties involved.

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

I got started as an engineer by total accident. One of my best friends (Jervius) and I used to like to rap.  Another friend of mine (Corey) had a Tascam Hard Disk recorder (forgot the model...this was 1998!!!), a mic, and a Korg M1. I wasn't as serious as an artist as my friend and found I gravitated more towards the production equipment and had no problem being the one to record.  So after being there for a year we wanted to try out a "real studio".  At the job I was working at the time a coworker would always mention going to the studio to record.  I asked him if I could come with him and he agreed.  After seeing Pro Tools for the first time on a big screen TV and watching the engineer work I was hooked!  I brought my friend and we began to work out of there.  After being there a few times the owner/engineer could see my enthusiasm watching him work.  He asked if I would like to come and learn more, of course I said yes!  I listen to all genres of music so that I can be abreast of the sound of the time.  Over time music has become louder and with the introduction of Atmos, more immersive.

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

The major influences in my life as an engineer would have to be Corey Jones - The first person that let me and my friend play around on his equipment which gave me the spark. Carlos Love - the owner of the first studio that allowed me to play around on Pro Tools. And Billy Hume - the person that taught me the technical side of things, like what a compressor does, what is the ratio, attack, etc.  He was a very meticulous person which in turn made me become a stickler about certain things and who also made me understand "You can't polish a turd."  Record at the best quality you can so that you don't have to "fix it in post."  These three individuals hold the key to my entire beginning.

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?

The frustration of having any DAW is you can forever retouch the song because of some new plugin or some update that has come out.  Learning how to reach a finishing point that I was satisfied with was very hard.  I had to learn to just give it my best with whatever is available at the time.

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 am definitely a Black Box fan!  Also a big Clariphonic EQ fan!  Those two plugins alone can change the sonics of an entire song!

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

Never stop learning!  Things change so much in this industry due to technology.  Play around constantly.  Go remix songs you've already done or call an artist whose music you enjoy and mix a song for them for free, just to try out new plugins.

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

I have been working on headphones now since January of 2018.  They have become my main listening source.  I'm always on the move and have clients that have mix edits so headphones with my mobile setup have been a lifesaver.  I have become very accustomed to mixing and mastering in headphones.

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

My Audeze LCD-X have been a great new headphone for me!  The amount of the music I can hear now is amazing! I can now hear the subtle differences that I wasn’t able to pick up in my other headphones.  It has truly helped me to not have to take as many trips to the studio to check mixes.  

Recently I just finished mastering a new album for Grammy award winning producer Cassius Jay.  I’m also in the process of mixing a few songs for super producer Jazze Pha.