Audeze talks to composer and mixer Lars Deutsch

August 15, 2023

Lars Deutsch is a composer and mixer who has scored and mixed four hundred films and commercials, featuring James Earl Jones (Darth Vader / Star Wars), Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings), Brett Gelman (Stranger Things), Keke Palmer (Dope), BTS, Dua Lipa, Lizzo and many more.

Lars has written music for countless brands like Adidas, Budweiser, Toyota and Mercedes Benz. He also frequently writes and produces for recording artists. His songs have been featured in TV shows and commercials, and his work enjoys airplay around the world.

Lars Deutsch in the studio with his Audeze MM-500 headphones

 "The low end / sub of the MM-500 is amazing. So I feel more comfortable mixing below 50Hz than on any other headphones."  - Lars Deutsch
Here's our chat with Lars:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

Recently, I enjoyed working with rapper Tru Def. One of our tracks is kinda high energy hip hop, but I hid a lot of thematic development in there. At the end, the arrangement is pretty wild, with a big hip hop beat, double bass metal drums, full on trailer brass, fifty different synths and another fifty tracks of him. You can check the track out on my Instagram. On top of that it is fun working with him and he brings the energy.

I also love working with Irko, who has mixed a number of my productions. Some of those tracks are ear candy. Scoring and mixing a Stephen King film was a treat too.

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

My strength is story telling with sound and music. Scoring and songwriting, production and mixing are my bread and butter. I also do audio branding. My title might change, but essentially it is all about decisions to support a story.

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

I am from a small village in Germany and I grew up with heavy metal and soccer. When I started out I wanted to be a guitar hero, but I moved to writing and a more story based approach early on. I studied classical music in the U.K., got a BA and MA in composition and then went on my journey scoring every low budget student film I could.

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

In my late teens I spent a lot of time by myself writing and playing with sounds. There was no social media, no stage parents - it was just exploration for exploration's sake. Music was the motivation. After enough time with an idea, it becomes its own thing and ideally - undeniable. It is like zero-ing in on the truth. I like that journey. It takes longer than re-using existing molds, but for me it also leads to more interesting results. This approach has stayed with me.

I guess the other thing is a dedication to life-long learning. Not a day passes that I don’t discuss a piece of gear, a mixing technique or a songwriting idea with someone.

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?

I think there are two factors that create frustration in my work. One is the randomness of what happens to your work regardless of its quality. For example when you write a show theme, win a pitch against a lot of people and then your music gets thrown away anyway.

The second frustration usually comes from clients / collaborators who do not understand the workflow or bring issues to the production.

My personal work-around is to practice detachment, live very clean, use some biohacking tricks and try to make my happiness an inside job. I am getting better at this, but it is often still tricky. The hardest lesson to learn is that you can do everything well on your end and things still go south.

Sometimes people shadow me to see my workflow and to get a sense of the industry. They enjoy seeing the creative work, but once you have seen a beautiful score butchered by notes by someone who has never worked on a film before - you are usually cured.

A friend of mine is a doctor now. He was between music and medicine. He shadowed me for a bit and saw a film producer faking a heart attack to get out of paying his crew…

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

As a composer I work in Logic. I use Orchestra Tools samples a lot, Eventide, Fabfilter and Hofa plugins are on every session. I am currently working on a synth album so U-he Hive and Diva and Tone 2 Saurus are in use a lot at the moment. My set up is a mic, preamp, good interface, speakers and headphones - everything else happens in the box.

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

Read “10% Happier” - it is very useful and relevant. Find a healthy way to deal with the randomness of the entertainment industry. I live very clean and I have a feeling that helps me to learn my lessons rather than to run away from them.

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

At some point I realized that I prefer sunlight, flexibility and being able to travel, to the dark studio. I abandoned treating my room and the idea of building / renting something. It has been an obsession of mine for a while to be able to deliver world class quality with a travel set up.

Headphones have become a staple for me, even when I am in my studio. I like them for editing and for immediacy. If headphones do lower mids well, I can trust them. I have obviously used headphones my entire career, but I have been a full on headphone guy for three years.

Most of my work is spent on headphones. I use my speakers and the car for quality control and to feel the mix. I use CanOpener for about a minute when I am close to the final mix to check for masking of the vocals / lead instrument.

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

I have been working on headphones for a while, but two things changed with the MM-500:

The low end / sub of the MM-500 is amazing. So I feel more comfortable mixing below 50Hz than on any other headphones.

The sound is closer to being "in a room" than usual with headphones - without losing any detail.

They seem semi-open, so they give me a little bit of my own space without sealing me off completely.

I just scored and mixed a flying theater (like an amusement park ride), mixed a noise pop album and I recently wrote a show theme with rapper Tru Def. I used the MM-500 on all of these projects.

The Magic Wands album "Switch" reached #3 in Germany. The first "mixed and mastered on MM-500" album from me.