Audeze speaks with mixing engineer Sam Sherbin

November 18, 2023

Sam Sherbin is a mixing engineer based in Los Angeles, California. First cutting his teeth at various studios in New York City, he went on to develop his skills under the mentorship of the late Bruce Swedien at his home studio in Florida. Sam has also attended a Mix With The Masters masterclass with Manny Marroquin in 2013. Since then, Sam has scored cuts with international stars like CL, Stray Kids, Rachel Platten, Ebony Obsidian and more. He collaborates closely with the likes of multi-platinum, 2X Grammy nominated producer and composer Nick Lee, expanding Sam’s footprint in both music and network television shows like NBC’s Grand Crew. Sam is also an artist under the Plugin Alliance with presets and industry reviews with the TOMO LISA EQ and SSL G Channel.

Sam Sherbin in the studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones
"My LCD-X headphones are a game changer while doing final tweaks on a mix. The clarity is incredible; I was able to hear sounds that weren’t detected by the Pro Tools meter!"  - Sam Sherbin
Here's our chat with Sam:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

I have a few projects that I really loved working on. Stray Kids Up All Night from the SKZ Replay album was special. A lot of vocal detail and ear candy moments for the headphones.

Another project I'm super proud of is Phil Augusta Jackson's The Redondo Tape when the producer Nick Lee and Phil finished the entire project on Audiomovers and Zoom during the quarantine. It was truly a collaborative project and my mastering engineer Alex Psaroudakis did an amazing job preserving the sonics of the record. It also got amazing responses and placements. 

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

My main role is a mix engineer and sometimes consultation on projects that are in an earlier stage, such as writing or pre production and helping clients find producers. I love mixing records as I can provide value in the greatest way. Sonics are extremely important now more than ever because of the streaming services. Everyone's mix quality is going to differ; a great and musical mix is vital!

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 in music around 11 or 12 on the violin. It was a pretty challenging instrument to say the least. I pivoted to the flute which has its own challenges. Then I found music production as a perfect intersection between technology and music. The music I listened to varied between the Beatles and their catalog to the classic Motown era. My parents always had a wide range of musical genres they would listen to! Nowadays, I'm listening to all the current artists and staying on top of any musical trends. Spotify playlists and TikTok help with finding new talent and new upcoming artists.

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

My best friend Paul had a computer with a microphone, and we used that to make our own songs at age 11. From that moment on, I wanted to work in recorded music in some way, shape, or form. The Gulino family was early mentors of mine. They helped me to understand Pro Tools and recording bands early in 2008. My mentor was the late Bruce Swedien who recorded and mixed Michael Jackson's Thriller. He always put the music first and fostering relationships with the artist. He taught me how a mix can be a transformative experience and not to be taken lightly.

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 moment of frustration was losing a mix, which happens to all of us. I learned from that experience to take your time with each record and reference as much as possible. Talking to friends who are in the same profession helped me get insight on how to overcome the obstacles and make sure everything runs smoothly. I approach my mistakes from a critical lens: how can I make the next experience better? From the actual mix to the communication aspect of making a record.

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 don't have any gear per say; I'm completely 100% in the box for mixing. I have favorite software like the AMEK series from Plugin Alliance. I find myself using Waves a lot for their classic Renaissance compressor. Fabfilter Pro Q2 and Pro L2 are a staple in my mixes for the ease of use, and their sound is incredible. I'm also a fan of BABY Audio’s Smooth Operator which I use on harsh vocals.

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

Always remember your why; that's going to guide you in this business. I think it's a smart choice to find a mentor early on and stay in the studio where the music is being made!

It's beneficial to learn some music theory in addition to technical knowledge. Take every meeting from someone you’re inspired by or interested in working with; get outside the studio and hang out in a coffee shop for a change of scenery.

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

I've been working with headphones since the beginning of my career. As a mixer, I utilize them now with a different perspective; it's important to hear the subtle EQ and compression moves. I'll mix the song on my main monitors and then do a playback with the headphones to hear any pops and clicks for quality control. After the quality control part is done, I'll listen through again and reference between the rough and my mix then make adjustments as needed.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

My LCD-X headphones are a game changer while doing final tweaks on a mix. The clarity is incredible; I was able to hear sounds that weren’t detected by the Pro Tools meter! I start the mix now with the headphones, doing edits and overall cleanup on tracks because it’s very accurate. I’d mix on my monitors and do a final check on the Audeze. Clients love how my mixes turn out!

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

I mixed Cecilia Gault’s latest single “Harakuju Girls” which was featured on Tidal's Hyperpop playlist. I partnered with Grammy-nominated producers Tommy Parker and YNG Josh to mix the new single “Energy” from Sonny. I’ve been working closely with Casey Conroy and producer Willy Colón on her single "Cashew" and upcoming EP. It was fun to mix a trap symphony movement for composer and producer Anthony Barfield; it was a 46 piece orchestra recorded at Powerstation NYC. I’ve also worked on singles for artists like Meron, Shoutin, and Kevin Chung. The Audeze are a gamechanger for the finer details in printing the first mix and final pass! Clients also love listening to the final mix on them as well. :)

Sam Sherbin in the studio with his Audeze LCD-5 headphones