Kevin S. Hahn’s Tip to New Producers: “Be Relentless”

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Kevin S Hahn

With over 2 decades in the music business, Kevin S. Hahn has done just about everything from engineering international recording projects such as ScorpionsPaul Gilbert and  Portland Trail Blazers, to award winning music productions.

As a performer, Kevin has spent many years as a session and “hired gun” guitarist (AnimotionDilana, and Kleveland. He currently handles the lead vocal duties for the popular tribute act Stone In Love (Journey Tribute Band).

Kevin has been the owner and producer at Opal Recording Studio for 22 years. Over the years, Opal Recording Studio has built a reputation as a top notch, creative and affordable recording/mixing facility. Kevin also brings his expertise and experience as a new partner to Primal Recording.  

Do you play any musical instruments?

Yes, Guitar, Keys and Vocals.

How did you get into music and for how long have you been producing for?

I always loved the studio as a session musician and engineer. Now as the owner of two studios, I’ve been producing and have been in music production for 24 years.

What, in your opinion, are the skills needed to be a music producer?

You need to have a good grasp of everything going on in the studio. The performance, musicians psyche, instruments and gear, capturing sound, mixing and recording technology.

How do you become a music producer? Do you study with courses, learn online, or just experiment?

I studied music in college but never took any recording courses. To  become a music producer, I think you should read, study and experiment. There are tons of resources out there.

Who are the producers who have most influenced your approach to music production and why did they have that influence?

Butch WalkerBob ClearmountainTrevor Horn.

What DAW are you currently working with? Why do you prefer to work with this DAW?

Pro Tools HDLogic X and Wavelab.
PT is industry standard. I’ve been using it for 18 years.
Logic X is great for composing and music production.
Wavelab for mastering.

And what about your room? How big is it? Is there treatment?

The live room is 30’x 17′. 12 ft ceilings. It has balanced sound treatment with wood and stone walls.

What monitors do you use?

What are some of your favorite microphones?

Which microphones do you like to use on vocals?

When you set up your sessions, what’s your general layout and what would you start mixing first?

It depends on the style of the music. When it comes to Rock, I start with drums. If I’m recording a Singer/ Songwriter, I’ll start with the vocals.

What are your five most favorite plugins?

What is your favorite Soft Synth VST plugin?

Native Instruments Kontakt

And what’s the one plug-in that you simply couldn’t do without? Why do you like it?

API 550 eq.
It’s got great character and mojo!

In your opinion, can some plugins really improve the a track’s sound?

Big yes! Some really bring life and energy to a track.

Which plug-ins do you like to use on vocals?

Do you have a lot of compression going on?

One or two per track.

As far as EQing goes, are you doing more subtractive, additive or is it an equal amount of both?

Both equally. You really have to pay attention how each tracks relates to other tracks.

In regard to cutting frequencies, are there areas that you find yourself gravitating more towards?

Mainly low mids and super lows. It helps with clarity.

What plugins do you typically have on your master bus?

How do you make your mix louder?

SSL compressor or Shadow Hills comp with L2 Ultramaximizer or L3 Multimaximizer.

In your opinion, what classifies as a good mix and a good master?

Balance and clarity. Vibe and impact.

What do you do when you feel stuck with a mix?

I walk away for a bit. I need to come back objective and be able to see it from different angles.

What is your biggest challenge as a music producer?

It usually the budget. It’s challenging to make records now for half of what we spent 15 years ago.

What׳s your advice to producers who are starting out and making tracks in their bedroom?

Be relentless. The more you do it, the better you will be. Also be a sponge with knowledge. Learning never ends with this craft.

Has COVID-19 affected your work in any way?

Covid-19 has definitely affected my business. My studios have been shut down for the last two months. I had a few online mixing and mastering jobs but business is down 85%. I always try to pivot and make the most of a situation and see it as an opportunity. With the extra time, we finished a new website, studio maintenance and learned new software. Also, it’s a great time for experimentation. Like anything in life — it’s perspective and attitude! 

Would you like to work with Primal Recording Studio?

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