Deeply immersed in tracking and mixing for prime artists in the powerful K-Pop genre
GLAB Studios’ engineer Bong-Won Shin on producing deeper and magnificent results with Amphion Two18 and BaseTwo25
Seoul, South Korea – K-Pop is without doubt South Korea’s most influential cultural-export. This multi-billion dollar industry has global fans – largely due to exceptionally high production values, catchy melodies, and Hollywood-esque stage performances. Emerging as a musical force in the 1990s, it has achieved global recognition. We spoke with an influential engineer in this music-market, Bong-Won Shin, who now works in GLAB Studios – a beautiful facility established by our South Korean Pro-Audio Distributor, Gearlounge.
Tell us a little about yourself; how you got into this industry; studios where have you worked; and the music genre you specialize in …
I currently work as a recording and mixing engineer at GLAB Studios. I started my music career in 2006 as an intern at Tone Studio located in Hapjeong. After this internship, I landed a position at JYP Entertainment where I finally became a senior engineer – working as a mixing and recording engineer for seven years. Then I had the opportunity to continue working at MusicLab Busan in my hometown for a further three years. It was a very memorable moment in my life because I was able to share my musical knowledge with my friends who started their music careers at the same time that I started mine. Since January 2020, I have been working at GLAB Studios in Seoul.
GLAB was founded by Gearlounge and it is a commercial studio which allows for every type of music recording process – tracking, mixing, and mastering. “La Grande Chambre” is a recording and mixing room installed with the SSL AWS 948 console. With high-end converters, plugins and various outboards, we are aiming to achieve a classy and trendy sound. The room is acoustically very well treated. It provides a natural, neutral, non-fatiguing recording experience. The monitor-system that I mainly use is the Amphion Two18 and the BaseTwo25 System. My work is mainly focused on recording and mixing K-Pop music.
What is your workflow or process ? Is there a set way you use to communicate with clients ? Or does each client require a customized approach ?
It’s really different depending on the client and the situation. Usually, the work begins after receiving their tracks and understanding thoroughly what the producer wants to express. After sending the very first mix version to the client, we then send emails advising what needs to be improved or expressed in different ways. If there is something that is hard to describe through email, the client visits the studio in person to have a detailed conversation with us. Afterwards, the client plays back the mix under different sound environment including vehicles or his/her studio, and where he/she usually listens to music. After this confirmation, it’s good-to-go for mastering.
K-Pop has a global reach, with a number of artists recognised outside of South Korea. Could you let us know some of the artists or bands you’ve worked with ?
I have engineered, both the singles and albums of the following: JY Park, Day6, G-idle, NiziU, Wonder Girls, Twice, 2PM, 2AM, Rain, NU’EST, Itzy, Fromis_9, Kim Se-jeong, IU, Apink, Lee Juck, CL, GOT7, Oh My Girl, Kim Bum-soo, 15&, Stray Kids.
Among your recent works, are there any that have clearly benefitted due to Amphion?
So many results have been improved since I started to use Amphion. I can’t specifically pick one song as so many songs and results have changed in a positive way. There has been a significant improvement in our mixes since 2018 – when I first used Two18 in my sessions. I liked the fact that there is no hype or boost in sound. Some may say this is boring, but I want my mix to sound exactly the same in different environments. I wanted the perfect translation. In this regard, I haven’t found another brand yet that can deliver this besides Amphion. At the end of 2020, the Basetwo25 System was added to my monitor setup. Since the range of what I can hear has been greatly extended bigger, the results have also been much deeper and more magnificent.
Is there an engineering (or production) insight, technique, or approach you would like to share?
Nowadays, it is very easy to find various techniques through online platforms such as YouTube. Thus, rather than sharing some technical stuff, I would like to share the ‘attitude’ that I am always trying to keep. I hope it helps somebody who recently started a music career …
When people listen to music, they judge it focusing on the story of music itself rather than how it is mixed. When I mix a track, this is what I really care about and focus on. While it is true that the mixing engineer’s job is to impress/impact the listeners through good mix, when “technique” and “expensive gear” come before the story of the music, we are making a mistake, as a client might judge us on non-musical things rather than the music itself.
Every song has its own story, and we just need to make sure that the listeners can focus on this story most effectively – through good mixing. Of course, it is true that it takes a lot of knowledge, technology, and experience to express various musical elements well. But I think these technical elements should not take over the essential role of music. I believe that if I always keep this in mind and set the right musical direction that I want to pursue, it will definitely lead to good results.
Thank you Amphion and Gearlounge ! It was a pleasure to be interviewed.