Audeze talks to mix engineer Matt Sim

April 22, 2023

Matt Sim is a Grammy-nominated and award winning mixer for stereo and Atmos based out of Hong Kong. He started his career as a staff mixer at the legendary The Hit Factory NYC. He left after spending a decade there when he became a highly in-demand mixer with clients from all around the world. He is currently the leading Dolby Atmos music mixer in Asia, signed to Warner Music Asia in 2021, as well as serving all the artists from all other major labels.

Matthew Sim in the studio with his Audeze MM-500 headphones

"Audeze MM-500... truly is a weapon for music production and critical listening.- Matt Sim
Here's our chat with Matt:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

Oboy - Omega album (mixer)

Illenium - ASCEND (Immersive Music Mixer & Mastering engineer)

Jackson Wang - LOST & FOUND (mixer)

GEM - City Zoo (Mixer)

GEM - Revelation (Immersive Music Mixer)

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

My main roles these days are split between mixing stereo or Atmos or both (if I get lucky)! And more often taking on a lot of mastering work as well, from clients liking my mastering on my own mixes to mastering other people's mixes. In the process of mixing, labels often have me refine the production (mostly muting stuff) a bit to their preference just to make it more radio friendly.

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 practicing and learning classical piano and guitar when I was young, but I spent more time playing progressive rock and jazz music with electric guitar during high school. I grew up listening to all the English pop music from the 70s onwards from the UK or US, and tons of rock n roll and guitar instrumental music from the 80s and 90s. It definitely helped when I moved to the states and built my career there because my musical taste just fit right in since I grew up listening to American music anyway. I actually met and worked with a ton of artists that I grew up listening to, like John Mayer, Bon Jovi, Evanescence, The Rolling Stones etc, it was dream come true moments for me. But it was my time at Berklee College of Music that helped me to figure out what I am truly passionate about, mixing records!

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

It would definitely be my time working at the Hit factory Studios, working under Troy Germano along with all the other senior in house engineers like Kenta Yonesaka, Jason Staniulis and Dave Rowland. When you work alongside with high profile artists/producers/engineers, you pick up everything naturally, not only limited to engineering chops and music taste, but culture, language, history, fashion, artistic visions, business ideas, etc. All these influences made me who I am culturally and musically, and that’s the sound of Matt Sim. I also learnt a lot from Troy on how to navigate the music industry as well as running a business in music and through our friendship, I got to meet a lot of his business partners and legendary engineers that worked under him in the past. That knowledge and experience keeps me survive and thrive in the music industry.

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 of my biggest frustrations was my first time recording a rapper from Brooklyn that I had no idea what he was talking about since he was mumbling the entire time. It was a very tense moment and everyone got frustrated very quickly in the middle of the night. When the session was finished finally in the morning, my hands were literally shaking. I did survive that night, at least no one got shot or punched in the face LOL. Later I sat down with my seniors and my boss and reflected on the situation, and realized I was not the only one that had a similar experience. It made me feel a lot a better and knowing moving forward I just have to keep my calm and do my work while observing more from the side how rappers usually communicate, and I grew more afterwards and handled all the similar sessions with ease. I think being an experienced recording engineer sometimes you just have to work in a lot of different scenarios and survive it, all those real life experiences add up so you can handle tricky situations better in the future.

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 a minimalist when it comes to gear. It was always my Sennheiser hd600 and Yamaha ns-10 plus Antelope or Apogee DAC convertors. My recent favorite definitely the new Audeze MM-500 and my new Grace m900 DAC.

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

The music industry (and everything else) has changed drastically in the last 5 years. I have a hard time catching up myself. For example, we all do remote sessions now; AI is taking over now, there’s a lot of AI tools for mixing and mastering as well as production/song writing/A&R; Atmos is taking off while stereo could be dying soon. Survival of the fittest is the game we all play now, keep learning and be open minded, don’t fight what’s coming but see how your expertise can be part of the future instead. Your career should build upon the knowledge and experience that you possess. Most importantly, be nice and genuine to people around you, and keep the positive energy flowing.

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

I have been working with headphones since 2011 and it’s been a crucial part of my workflow as I rely on them tons. A great pair of headphones is so revealing, especially the low-end and it’s also a great tool to pick up any noises in the signal that you can’t pick up on a pair of speakers. I spent at least 50% of my time mixing stereo or 80% of my time mixing in Atmos on headphone because they are always consistent no matter where you are. No professional studio can offer the same type of consistent frequency response and stereo image. When I am traveling and can’t bring any speakers with me, it'll be 100% headphones that keeps it going while delivering consistent quality of work that labels and my clients are looking for. There’s no excuse not to work when you have a pair of trustworthy headphones. When I go to any studios or places to work that I am not familiar with, my headphones will be my solid reference point to prevent any bad decision making. For Atmos mixing/mastering, I spend more time mixing on headphones in binaural to make sure it will translate well in spatial audio on consumer headphones, that’s where majority of the audience will be listening to.

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

Audeze MM-500 has been gradually integrated into my mixes, there’s not much of a learning curve as it was tonally tuned to what I am used to in a professional studio setting, I can’t praise enough of that. It truly is a weapon for music production and critical listening. Even at a lower volume, the frequency response of the Audeze MM-500 is consistent. That alone helps to preserve my hearing and I can work for longer hours without fatigue while making similar if not better mix moves. Furthermore, MM-500 works exceptionally well in binaural setting since it offers me a higher definition of the immersive soundstage. I am able to make more precise panning and immersive mix decisions with it.

I have been working on stereo mix/master for Twopee from Thailand and OSN from Taiwan recently. And a lot of Atmos mixes from Universal Music and Warner Music Asia recently that I lost track of… All with Audeze MM-500!

Matt Sim's Audeze MM-500 headphones