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Neve 1057 Modules

Neve 1057 Modules

The 1057 was one of Rupert Neve's first generation of combination microphone preamplifier and equalizer designs. These modules incorporated germanium transistors and the legendary St. Ives input/output transformers. I first encountered this rack of 16 1057’s in 1992, at Southern Tracks Studio in Atlanta, Georgia while looking for some 1073’s. At the emphatic recommendation of the studio owner, Mike Clark, I grudgingly tried the 1057’s and never looked back. They were subsequently used to track drums on “Superunknown”, “Celebrity Skin”, “Mechanical Animals” and “Untouchables”, to name a few. According to their former owner, they came out of the first Neve console ever shipped to the United States. Whether or not that is true, this is undoubtedly the largest single set of near-consecutive 1057’s in the world and they have a special place in recording history. From 1993 to the present, I haven't heard a better microphone preamp for recording drums.
Neve 1058 Modules

Neve 1058 Modules

The 1058 was another one of Neve’s first germanium microphone preamp/equalizer designs. It has some of the same basic circuitry as the 1057 with a smaller footprint, high and low fixed frequency cut/boosts and a switchable/sweepable midrange. What makes these 4 modules unique is, they have no input transformers and the output transformers are Marinairs, which were designed for later modules like the ubiquitous 1073. This anomaly gives them a completely different sonic characteristic than the usual 1058 (which would sound closer to a 1057). Due to their gritty, dark coloration and unusual midrange presence, they are ideal for recording bass and guitar and have been used on nearly every recording I've produced, from 1993 onward. These 1058's were used exclusively in the bass and guitar signal chains on “Superunknown”.
Watkins Dominator Amp

Watkins Dominator Amp

These amplifiers are extremely rare and valuable- unless they’ve been modified and trashed to the extent that this one has. Originally owned by Jake E. Lee, I rented it from him for “Celebrity Skin” and it wound up being our primary guitar amp for the duration of the recording. It has an extraordinary, distinct tone and I’ve never heard another Dominator that sounds even close. Sonically, it's a marvelous cross between a Vox AC30 and a Marshall JMP- tight and focused, yet crunchy, aggressive with a prominent midrange honk. Under a microphone, it has the magical ability to sound many times larger than it appears- possibly because its original speakers were replaced with Marshall 30 watts. My history with this amp is star-crossed; Jake wouldn’t sell it when I first used it and when he offered it to me years later, I didn’t want it. After that, it disappeared, but, as destiny has willed, it recently came into my possession and sounds as wonderful as it did 20 years ago.
Moog Modular System

Moog Modular System

This modular synthesizer is actually two separate systems that some enterprising individual mashed up in a Kriscraft flight case. One part is from the 1960s (those modules all have the legend “R. A. Moog” screened on the bottom) and one from the late 1970s. In addition, I have added a Bode Frequency Shifter (one of the most remarkable and unique analog signal processing devices ever) and a few custom modules. Apart from making electronic music with this instrument, I also use it for signal processing. There have been wonderful digital emulations of this instrument, but nothing compares to sitting in front of it, just tweaking knobs and hearing that amazing, rich sound overwhelm the speakers it pours out of. After interacting with a modular Moog for awhile, it seems more like a living creature than a mere machine.
Telefunken Ela M251

Telefunken Ela M251

The Telefunken Ela M251 is considered by many people to be the finest vocal microphone in the world. This one is particularly special, since it was the original 251 from the Power Station Studio in New York City (which reopened as Avatar Studios in 1996) and was used on legendary recordings by Chic, Bruce Springsteen, Duran Duran, David Bowie, Madonna, etc. Since I acquired it, it has been my go-to vocal microphone on such recordings as “Celebrity Skin” and “Mechanical Animals”. Actually, it sounds great on just about everything.
Telefunken CMV3a Ela M302/2 Ela M028/1 bottle mics

Telefunken CMV3a Ela M302/2 Ela M028/1 bottle mics

The CMV3 was the first condenser tube microphone designed by Georg Neumann and put into production in 1928. The CMV3a began production in 1932 and gave a user the ability to change polar patterns by changing the head capsules. It is known as the “Bottle Mic” and its other more notorious soubriquet, ‘The Hitler Microphone” (since it was that dictator’s favorite due to its powerful sonic characteristic). I first used this Ela M302/2 in Paris on a session with Ozzy Osbourne and have incorporated it into my drum mic set-ups ever since. Although these microphones can vary drastically from one to the next, ideally, they have an unusual high midrange presence and an impressive low bass response. The 302/2 has a stand mount while the 028/1 is built on a table mount and was specifically designed for radio stations. One of the interesting features of these microphones is, when they are on, the indicator lamp is in the shape of an Iron Cross. Very politically incorrect.
Serge Modular System

Serge Modular System

Like the modular Moog, this Serge system is also 2 different configurations- the larger one being from the 1980s and the center 3 racks from 1996. Apart from being a complex, tone-generating synthesizer, it is also a very powerful and sophisticated analog signal processor. Over the past 20 years, I have used this instrument in various configurations on every recording I’ve done from “Celebrity Skin” onward.
Neumann M250b

Neumann M250b

The Neumann M250b is considered by many to be the finest microphone in the world for recording orchestras- in fact, they are often used in the infamous "Decca Tree” configuration. The “2" prefix denotes that these mics were designed for radio station usage and that their power supplies, cabling, etc are interchangeable. I’m not in the habit of recording orchestras so I mainly use these as proximity microphones for recording drums since they are very precise, refined and have a stunning, crisp high end. They don’t sound great on everything, but when they suit, no other microphone comes close.
Synthi AKS

Synthi AKS

This instrument is legendary for so many reasons- not least of which are such things as its spiffy design, battleship-style patch matrix, and the fact that it lives in its own suitcase. It also has a storied history, having been featured on recordings by David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Jean-Michel Jarre, Gong and Roxy Music to name only a few. It is best known as the synthesizer used for Pink Floyd’s “On the Run” (which was apparently a one shot performance with no overdubs). It has been one of my favorite synthesizers since I was first loaned a pair by legendary jazz drummer Stu Martin and then, Brian Eno. It also has multiple inputs and can process a variety of signals in the most brutal ways imaginable. I’ve been using this Synthi on all my recordings since “Untouchables”.
RCA BA6A

RCA BA6A

This limiter was originally designed for use as a limiting amplifier in radio and TV stations. It was popularized by Jimmy Page, who, legend has it, used one to record his acoustic guitars on "Led Zeppelin 3". Very aggressive and surprisingly fast for an old tube limiter, it is well defined in the low end and works well on bass amps and kick drums. One of my favorite things about the BA6A is, everything that goes into it comes the other end out sounding humongous. The late great Mike Shipley made this abundantly clear when he showed me how the BA6A can add size and girth to a vocal while getting it to sit beautifully in a mix. I have been using this one on all of my recordings since 1993 and for several years, I traveled with a rack of three.
EMI Mastering Chain

EMI Mastering Chain

In the 1960s, recording studios in the U.K. had engineers who could both repair and design recording equipment. The EMI TG series was originally designed to accommodate the needs of The Beatles as they outgrew the original EMI REDD series desks that were tube-based and designed using Telefunken hardware. This stereo mastering chain is one of about 40 or 50. It incorporates a pair of 12412 Filters, 12413 Equalizers and a pair of the famous 12421 Compressors. As individual modules, these have a different gain structure than they would in their intended environment. This set doesn’t have input transformers and therefore, signal comes in at an extremely low level.