We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jason Sadites – an independent guitarist and YouTuber, who put out his first solo album in 2005 and has worked with some well-known musicians including Kenny Aronoff, Marco Minnemann and Tony Levin.
He has also been one of the first to create video reviews of our new SpeakerMix Pro plugin – catch his 3 videos below!
So Jason – it’s great to speak with you today! To start off, can you tell us a bit more about your work…
Alongside my own music making, which is constantly evolving, I also do a lot of online content creation for digital audio products. I got into the YouTube thing a few years ago, became an artist with Line 6 and really started working with the Helix and a lot of their products. That really got my YouTube channel a fair amount of attention, so it’s been a really enjoyable thing to work with. Line 6 are a great company with really wonderful people. Working with them has opened up a lot of opportunities to work with other companies now too. One thing I would say though is that I have to believe in a product to promote it. That’s the only way the video is going to come across with authenticity and credibility. There’s so many videos out there where it’s just so-and-so has been paid to make a video about a product; they’re not really emotionally invested in it in any way, except for the pay cheque. It’s good to be in a position where I can pick and choose!
What’s the breakdown of your day-to-work work, in terms of content creation and music making?
Great question! I spend a large portion of my time now making YouTube videos, just because they have been so well received and my channel is growing nicely, but I do a lot of session work too. I get sessions for things like – one day I’ll be recording guitar parts for a country jingle on the radio and then the next day there’s a metal band from Germany asking me to record a solo.
So, a fair amount of session work, shooting the YouTube videos and even just researching the products and learning the ins-and-outs takes up the bulk of my time. I haven’t really put any releases out recently, as far as my own music goes. I do have seven albums out, going back to 2005 as I mentioned earlier. On my latest album, Marco Minnemann plays drums on the whole thing and Tony Levin plays Chapman Stick on that, and I actually just released that on vinyl which is available now in a limited run. In terms of composing music, I do a lot of demos on YouTube for things like Helix & other amp modeler presets, so a lot of my time is spent composing little demo pieces of music to showcase those. That’s been a really enjoyable process, because you don’t have to make it too complex it’s just to show off the tone, so that’s been fun.
Between all of those things, I’m definitely kept more than busy!
It sounds like a really great balance of variety.
Yeah, that’s the key, right?
For sure. Are you using a purely digital setup right now, or do you still use some physical gear?
I would say that my setup is 95% digital. I grew up through the time where I owned a really well-equipped studio with guitar amps, great microphone selection, the whole works. I went through that in my younger years, learning to record with physical gear, and I think that experience has served me well now creating tones in the digital realm, because those skills still apply when you’re doing things like creating impulse responses and such, like yourselves are doing.
It was maybe three years ago that I decided to get rid of my last tube amp, because it was just sitting there collecting dust. If it wasn’t being used, I couldn’t really justify having the resources tied up in it.
What made you try out our SpeakerMix Pro plugin?
I reached out to you guys because I’ve used Celestion IRs in the past and I really, really liked them. When I read about SpeakerMix Pro the Dynamic Speaker Responses it was very interesting to me, the idea that it was no longer a static impulse response. Now, all of a sudden, the idea of having those non-linear characteristics of a speaker built into the response really piqued my interest.
I had a conversation with one of my colleagues at Line 6 just recently and he was asking me about the DSRs, and I said that I think, in my opinion, it might be the last piece of the puzzle in the whole digital modelling chain. I think the amp modelers themselves are reacting like a tube amp as much as they ever could, at this point. If you have a distorted tone and roll the volume back it cleans up nicely, it responds to your fingers the same way a tube amp does, but the one thing that was still missing was that same non-linear response and characteristics from a speaker, in the same way that a tube amp reacts to how you play and to the input it’s receiving.
So, I was really interested to try SpeakerMix Pro to see how it felt and how it responded to my playing.
In one of your recent YouTube videos, you mentioned that you thought the plugin was a game changer.
Absolutely! Like I said, it might be the last piece of the puzzle that was missing when comparing a fully digital chain to the real-world analogue chain, where you do have that speaker potentially reacting to different input response that we’re giving it. So yeah, it’s a pretty interesting concept and a stroke of genius to go there. I have no idea how the technology works, but I’m willing to just sit back and benefit from it!
How long have you been using Celestion’s IRs?
It’s probably been 3 – 4 years, I remember it being very shortly after they first launched.
I Started using the Line 6 Helix during summer of 2017 and I actually entered a contest you ran, where I submitted a video and an original song. I think I ended up coming somewhere near the top, so it was funny to look back as I was making the videos about SpeakerMix Pro!
I’ve been a huge fan of Celestion speakers my whole life and I’ve had so many guitar setups that have used them, so I’m pretty familiar with the speakers and even in something like the Helix, even if I’m using everything internally, I still often gravitate to the cabinets which have Greenbacks or something else Celestion-based. It’s what I’m used to and it’s what my ears like to hear.
So yeah, I started poking around with the impulse responses right around when you first launched them.
Going forwards, would you gravitate more towards using Dynamic Speaker Reponses, or do you think you’ll be using a combination of DSRs and IRs?
Sometimes I’ll make presets for things like the Line 6 Helix, which will ship with the product as one of their factory presets. Obviously, I can’t throw a DSR in there, but now in the studio with the work that I’m doing – absolutely. It’s just so easy that I can just quickly open up SpeakerMix Pro and get started with one of the many speaker responses that I have to choose from. I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t, unless there was a very particular sound I was looking for that wasn’t covered in my library. I really like the product and I think it’s added a really interesting dimension to the whole digital amp modeler scene.
Do you have a favourite Celestion DSR?
I’m a real sucker for the Greenback. I tend to gravitate towards that or a Creamback, depending on what I’m doing, I would say those would be two of my favourites. Even if I set out to try something else, I always seem to end up back at those two!
I’m also a huge fan of anything that’s mic’d with ribbon mics. For the longest time I had a Royer R-121 that I used religiously, and I still have some other ribbon mics, so I always tend to gravitate a little more towards anything that incorporates them. Starting there always seems to get me where I want to go, when it comes to searching through IRs & DSRs.
Do you enjoy blending your own custom mixes of IRs and DSRs, or are you more of a straight-out-of-the-box guy?
I have no problem doing that and I’ve done it many times, but at the same time, maybe it’s my inherent laziness, I always like to do as little as possible! If I can pull something up and not have to fiddle with it that’s great, because sometimes you end up jumping down that rabbit hole of option paralysis where you think, ‘wait a sec, what am I even doing here!?’. I strive to keep it as simple as possible and maybe see if I can get where I want to be with a touch of EQ and then go from there.
However, blending also opens up so many possibilities and SpeakerMix Pro is amazing for that because of the ability to experiment with six different channels. The sky’s the limit if you really wanted to dig deep into that side of speaker responses.
Do you think SpeakerMix Pro would be suitable for a beginner to the world of digital music?
I see no reason why not. With ten minutes of reading, I think anyone can get their head around the concept, so anyone with any experience with physical mixers or mixers within a DAW will be able to recognise & understand the layout.
That’s something I was really impressed with when I first got it, the ease of layout and how the UI looks like a nice, vintage console – it was immediately very familiar. I knew what everything was and was up and running in a matter of seconds.
I think a beginner could figure it out in a matter of 10-15 minutes with some light reading and there’s just the idea of getting your head around the concept of a dynamic speaker response reacting to how you play. Once you understand that concept of how much your input signal affects the sound, you’re pretty much off to the races.
So, do you have any sort of feeling about how many musicians have moved over to the digital world?
I think it’s growing at an extraordinary rate and for good reason. We’re at a point now where you can blind compare a digital tone, from something like the Helix, and a tone coming from a real amp and it’s about 50/50 which people are able to tell which tone is digital and which is analogue.
I have so many artist friends who are out touring and they’re all using Helix, Fractal, Kemper – they’re all using digital products. If there was some way that the DSR technology could be loaded into one of these modelers, so it could be taken out of the studio and on the road, that would be a huge game changer.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is thinking of trying SpeakerMix Pro for the first time?
I would say that anybody who’s not experienced with more in-depth audio engineering, I would definitely advise them to research the non-linear behaviour of DSRs first. Just understanding that concept of non-linear responsiveness in a piece of audio equipment before they use it can help, because they may not notice the benefits as much if they aren’t aware of the capabilities of the plugin and don’t push those limits to really showcase the plugin’s potential. This is really what the DSRs are about, for me.
If you’re not going to push the DSRs and see what they can do, you may as well go back to your static Impulse Response and just be happy with where you’re at. I think that would be an important thing to bear in mind for a beginner, at a minimum just educate yourself it you don’t already know how the whole system is working so that you can get more from the plugin.
How have the ongoing pandemic & various lockdowns affected you, musically?
Well, the artists that I know that predominantly toured have obviously been devastated. They’ve all been scrambling to figure out how to work in the online world now, whether it be session work or YouTube etc. It’s been pretty catastrophic for those folks that rely on live music scenes.
I think the folks who were already set up online, doing the same sorts of things that I’m doing, have probably benefitted from it, in a strange way. I hate to say that, because of how much suffering so many people have been through due to the pandemic, but through no one’s choice pretty much everything got pushed online. People have been watching more content due to having more time on their hands and so I’ve definitely seen an increase in YouTube views & subscribers. On the other hand, I have also heard people saying that now there’s simply too much content to watch! But yeah, personally I’ve seen un uptick in activity over the pandemic.
Thanks very much for your time today Jason, it’s been a pleasure! Is there anything else you would like to add or promote to finish off?
Check out Jason’s deep dive into SpeakerMix Pro and our Dynamic Speaker Responses:
Check out Jason’s demo of some of his favourites from our range of Dynamic Speaker Responses: