Audeze interviews producer, engineer and educator Kristian Kohle

December 30, 2023

Kristian Kohle is a German Metal Producer and head of Kohlekeller Studios, who is also known for his educational content on YouTube and in his academy Kohle Audio Kult.

Kristian "Kohle" Bonifer in the studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones

"Audeze headphones have been one of the biggest game-changers in my career."  - Kristian "Kohle" Bonifer
Here's our chat with Kristian:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of? 

Over the last 20 years I have worked on countless chart hitting albums with all kinds of bands from heavy rock to extreme metal. Bands like Powerwolf, Aborted, Electric Callboy, Emil Bulls and others.

The highlights might be two German Number 1 albums with Powerwolf and two golden records with Dymytry.

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

It's always different. Sometimes I record, produce, mix and master entire projects, sometimes I'm just in one of these roles.

I just went from a songwriting session with a band called Hämatom to a live mixing project with Powerwolf. Most of the time I'm busy with several projects simultaneously these days.

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

I have always been a rock and metal guy. I guess it's the same story for most producers in this genre. You start a band and try to become a rockstar. At some point you also start producing your own band, fall in love with it, start working with other bands and slowly transfer into a producer. These days I'm listening to all kinds of good music, I'm hardly getting booked for anything that's not heavy though, haha!

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?

A career in the music industry will always be tough and sometimes frustrating. You gotta be good, but you also gotta have luck. I have had many frustrating moments in my career. Sometimes because I knew I had not been good enough, sometimes because of something that was totally beyond my control. It sounds like a cliche, but you gotta go through frustrating periods, you gotta question your own art to become better. If you're always satisfied with yourself you're quickly gonna get saturated and you will lose the passion and drive that you need in this job.

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'm a gear nerd and don't know where to start, but here's an example:

I have a huge passion for tube guitar amps and guitar speakers and I'm using them in all of my productions. Luckily my YouTube channel has given me the chance to dive deeper into that rabbit hole. I love testing and comparing different amps, guitar cabinets and speakers. And this passion helps me to create guitar tones that don't sound like everything else out there!

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

There's one advice I can give: Don't try to start a career if there's no burning passion inside of you. The first years will probably be extremely hard. When I started there was nothing more fascinating than producing music for me. I spent all my free time and every thought on this. Not because I had to but because I loved it. That's the spirit you need. Otherwise you better go for a regular job, haha!

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

I use headphones both for controlling my mixes / masters and as sonic lenses to be able to spot certain details. They can also be a backup in case I'm forced to work in acoustically problematic control rooms.

I originally started using Audzeze headphones because they are the closest to mixing on speakers that I know. I still use them on every mix to double check the low end.

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

Audeze headphones have been one of the biggest game-changers in my career. Before I got my first pair of Audezes (LCD-2s in 2016) I was only mixing on studio monitors. I was mainly using headphones as an additional tool for detail work like spotting distortion, digital clicks or other artifacts. Both the overall sound stage and the low end of all dynamic driver headphones that I had used before just sounded very different from working on studio monitors in a good sounding room.

The LCD-2s really played in a different league. They had a low end that was extended and big without sounding fake and they offered a sound stage that felt very much like mixing on monitors and not like having something glued to your ears. It was so much easier to create mixes that "translate" to other systems. Mixes that sound great anywhere.

After some time I moved on and upgraded to the LCD-X which offered a more linear an even more precise overall frequency response while offering the same amazing sound stage. Those headphones made it possible for me to finally do mixing work outside of my studio, anywhere I might go and that was a big game-changer for me!

These days I never travel / go to any other studios without my LCD-Xs. They're my insurance in case the acoustics in that place are not good enough.

I use my Audezes on pretty much all projects I'm working on. Even when I mix on studio monitors I always double check the low end on the LCD-X. Last year I remember using them a lot to mix the "Monumental Metal Mass" by the Powerwolf, a live album that went to #1 of the German album charts.

I also used them during a drum session with Matt Starr (Mr. Big, Ace Frehley) at Sunset Sound in LA where I wasn't used to the sound of the control room. I always use them to mix the videos and courses I do for my recording / mixing academy Kohle Audio Kult. And finally: I really enjoy watching movies with the LCD-X on.

Kristian "Kohle" Bonifer's Audeze LCD-X headphones