Doug McBride has installed a brand new Rupert Neve Designs 5088 discrete analog mixing console at his Gravity
Studios recording and mastering facility located in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. The 5088 console, outfitted with 24 tracks of Shadow Mix moving fader automation, is configured with two Portico 5012 Duo Mic Pre, eight Portico 5032 Mic Pre/3-Band EQ, twelve Portico 5033 5-Band EQ, two Portico 5042 "True Tape" Emulator, and two Portico 5043 Dual
The first session produced on the new 5088 console, which replaced a vintage Neve 8058, was by multi-Grammy Award-winning Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy for the upcoming TriStar Pictures feature film, "Cadillac Records," which chronicles the rise of Chess Records in the 1950s. "It was a lot of fun," says McBride, who cut his teeth at Chicago Recording Company before opening Gravity Studios 15 years ago. "He had worked here on the old console a few years ago and was really happy with how things went."
Multi-platinum selling band Live worked on the console later that month, recording a new single and a studio track for the band's upcoming live album release.
In addition to allowing Studio A's control room to be remodeled (Studio B is a mastering room that also handles overdub and edit sessions), the 5088 was installed for a number of significant reasons, as McBride explains: "One of the biggest things for me was that, with our old Neve, we had delightful sounding but limited EQs. They were broad-stroke EQs and I ended up patching in surgical EQs on almost every channel at mixdown. So that was a bit of a hassle, and in addition I would end up making my critical EQ decisions while bent down over my rack, out of the sweet spot."
Additionally, he says, "Part of it was economizing in terms of the draw of electricity and the expense of cooling down a larger console. Part of it was that we're now, like a lot of studios, changing the way that we work to incorporate Pro Tools, so we don't need as many console channels. I'm extremely happy with this console. There's a lot of power that's right there in the sweet spot."
Before ordering the 5088 console, he recounts, "I borrowed a pair of Portico modules, the 5033 5-Band EQ and the 5032 3-Band EQ/Mic Pre, for a couple of months and compared them to what I had previously. I didn't feel, with the 'Silk' button in, that there was an appreciable difference sonically between my older Neve and the current Neve in terms of the mic preamp's tone."
Now, he notes, with so many EQ modules installed in the console, "I no longer need to patch in the external EQs. I find I'm now able to make all those crucial decisions from the sweet spot." McBride elaborates, "I spend a lot of time mastering as well, so I'd gotten accustomed to making those decisions from the sweet spot. Once you get used to that, it's hard to go
back to leaning over into the corner of the control room."
It was also part of the plan to improve the ergonomics and the acoustics of the room. "We've already had a lot of compliments on the accuracy of the room and I think part of that is due to the treatments that we've made and also part of it is due to not having as many reflections off a giant console like we had previously," he says.
Over the years McBride has worked with a variety of local artists such as Smashing Pumpkins, Rachael Yamagata, Veruca Salt, and Tub Ring. He has also mixed tracks for The Walkmen, Oh My God, Northstar, and Fall Out Boy.
Owned exclusively by Rupert and Evelyn Neve, Rupert Neve Designs Inc. was founded on passion, experience and a desire to build products embodying the highest musical quality. In continuing his legacy as a pioneer in audio circuit design, Mr. Rupert Neve is currently focusing his talents on creating innovative analogue solutions to the issues facing the modern recording engineer.
For further information on Rupert Neve Designs please visit www.rupertneve.com.