Composer PJ Hanke scores with Dangerous Music

Almost ten years ago, composer and producer PJ Hanke realised that ‘in-the-box’ mixes from his personal composing studio just didn’t have the quality of previous projects he had completed on large format analog consoles in his past work. His search for a solution led him to purchase the Dangerous 2-Bus analog summing mixer, the Dangerous Monitor and the Dangerous MQ to get him back to the sound he liked and remembered. "For nearly a decade, my studio setup of 2-Bus, MQ, and Monitor has allowed me to treat my Pro Tools HD rig like an analog setup with a proper mixing desk," said Hanke. "The Dangerous Music gear is fantastic."

A search for an analog summing device is how Hanke found Dangerous Music, "I had come up as a young composer working with large format consoles and 2-inch tape machines and when I came out to LA to collaborate with Hans Zimmer at Media Ventures, I had the opportunity to put a new studio and a new rig together. I wanted to make sure that what came out of my writing room would be mixes that could be distributed or would go right to mastering, and I’d never felt like ‘in-the-box’ mixing sounded like."

"I was researching the idea of summing and I discovered Dangerous Music, so I invested in the Dangerous 2-Bus, the Dangerous MQ, and the Dangerous Monitor system," recalled Hanke. "As soon as I started working with the Dangerous 2-Bus I could immediately tell the bottom end of my mixes was tighter. It did things that I was used to hearing in analog recordings. I felt like the depth of the music was much clearer too. And I think the most obvious thing was the stereo field just moved out to the left and the right when I was mixing through the 2-Bus, versus just doing a straight stereo bounce-to-disk in my computer."

"I really wanted a monitoring section so I could snap back and forth from what I was hearing on input, such as virtual instruments, and also listen to my work after being digitally recorded as though you would between the repro and record heads on a tape machine," added Hanke. "I am able to do that on the analog side of the Dangerous Monitor system. And to have the stepped volume control was a big deal for me because I like to write and listen to things at the same levels to hear the current mix reacting in the room in the same way day after day."

Hanke chose the MQ for several reasons, "Because I record live in the studio, I wanted to make sure I had good sounding and powerful headphone feeds to the musicians and artists, and I wanted VU meters that I could see at a glance, that’s what the MQ gave me."

Working in areas of music creation from composing for movies, TV and commercials, to pop music, with the Dangerous 2-Bus Hanke is able to use analog techniques he was used to, "In a pop application, I’ll mono things up just like I would on a large format desk." Recently one of those pop projects Hanke co-wrote, produced and recorded on, The Sirens by recording artist Holly Conlan, featured one of his tracks as a chosen single – it was produced and recorded at his studio using the Dangerous Music setup.

On the movie side of his composing work, Hanke gets musicians into his studio to record as well, "We’ll do a lot of live recording before I score the movie. On certain projects I might compose pre-records and write to an imaginary scene, per the director’s notes and the script notes. We’ll record those tracks that will be played back on set and then I help direct those scenes as the musical director. When they edit the movie, we revise the music if needed and then I score the movie. That’s also why I like the Dangerous Music gear, because I’m not just writing in a rig and sending it off to a dub stage, there’s a lot of live music recording that’s done through the Dangerous gear here in my room."

"I’ve built a number of rigs over the years around different Pro Tools systems and Apple Logic systems, using various digital interfaces, and they all sound fantastic through Dangerous Music gear, it’s the common thread. These three pieces of Dangerous gear are nearing 10 years in my control room and none of it is going anywhere. I’ve been a Dangerous user since 2004 and love their stuff."