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X:144
X:144
X_144
X:144

X:144

Producer, artist, director
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X:144

Producer, hip hop artist and film director X:144 – aka Maged Khalil Ragab – has worked with artists including Ms. Lauryn Hill and on the audio for some of the biggest video game franchises around. Here he reveals how his Aston mics compare with the competition. (Clue: “they crush them”)

EA Sports, Madden NFL, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Qusai, Fredwreck, Alchemist, Kool G Rap, Joell Ortiz, Blueprint, Solillaquists of Sound, MF Doom, Dark Time Sunshine
A Chosen Lineage

Ever since I was an infant, my father said he knew I’d do something with music, but he just didn’t know what it would be. Both of my parents were huge lovers of music in general. My dad was an aspiring singer and writer and my mother constantly had music playing around the house and she had the voice of an angel. She would play classic Egyptian tunes from artists like Abel Halim Hafez, Oum Kalthoum and Warda Al-Jazairia whom my mother looked just like, and funny enough I was convinced they were sisters. When Warda Al-Jazairia came to play a concert in New York, after the show everyone was leaving the theatre and my parents lost me in the crowd because I was going to the stage to go see my 'auntie'. I was four years old and music was the most colorful part of my life.

Naturally, when I was starting to make music it was the music of my generation: hip-hop. I was rapping in lunch rooms, doing battles on the street and forming a badass crew (N.I.T.E.) with some of the best rappers in the city. We even coined the term 'Ozone' which is the city of Orlando’s hip-hop moniker.

 

Vibe, texture, and intention

After years of refining my workflow and trying everything technology has to offer in the studio, my go-to set-up for writing and composing is Ableton Live and Push 2. The workflow is just intuitive and incredibly fun. It’s rekindled my love for music creation. I don't use too much hardware musically outside of the Moog Sub 37, which is the only analogue synth I own (and love it). Depending on the composition, I either end up doing the entire arrangement in Ableton or I end up doing that in Logic where I mix all of my records. Logic used to be my go-to music composition tool, prior to that it was my Akai MPC3000.

Workflow is really about creating the right texture, which, ultimately, is about finding the right sounds. I don’t have pre-made drum kits or go-tos for sounds or synths as a big part of how I like to create is curating the sounds from scratch each sitting. It’s a process that’s never really left me from the days when I was working on the MPC and digging for records to sample. Now it’s just about vibe, texture, and intention, but mostly vibe. I’ll abandon everything if something feels good.

The super booth

The thing that gets me about Aston the most is that I wish they were around when I first started. The performance is on par with a lot of high end mics. I’ve A/Bd against the mics I first purchased and they crush them. The build quality is also a thing of magic. The mics are designed really well, with a healthy amount of features. That’s the thing that gives you the most mileage out of them – it feels like this stuff was made by musicians for musicians. My favorite configuration is the Origin with the hi-pass filter and -10db engaged, mic’d ultra close to the artist. There’s an incredible amount of warmth in the mids that opens up when mic'ing like that. It makes the mic sound larger than normal.

The Halo has been the God send! I’m not a fan of mic stand-mounted acoustic solutions because they rarely work, but the Halo has been one of the best acoustic tools I have. Moving to LA in a new space had me super concerned after leaving my room with a booth in Florida. Having the Halo has me barely being able to spot a difference. I’ll never record vocals without it.

Out-takes

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. “Making video games like I currently do. Outside of that, I’d put all energy in working on films.”

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. “The one I design with Aston.”

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. “Disruptive, groundbreaking, brilliant, and pro-artist.”

Q. What was the first song that made you cry? 
A. "Visions by Stevie Wonder." 

Credits
©2018 Aston Microphones Ltd, All rights reserved.
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