Most people remember Grammy award winning producer, Steve Levine, as the man behind Culture Club, John Howard, The Clash and XTC’s iconic 80s sound. In recent times, Levine spends his time co-presenting on the BBC Radio 2 program The Record Producers, with Richard Allinson. The show explores the work of individuals who have had a lasting impact on modern music.
In addition to his radio work, Levine continues to produce music and is currently mixing live tracks recorded from last month’s Liverpool International Music Festival. The festival featured performances by Boy George, Mark King, Bernard Butler, Tim Burgess, Hollie Cook, Mary Epworth and Natalie McCool, as well as Levine himself demonstrating a live recording session. He’s mixing the tracks from his Assembly Point Sessions using his new Audient ASP880.
“I used ASP880 on drums for the pre-production for the real-time session, and I’m now mixing the live tracks for the video with the Audient unit” Levine explains, “I’m using it as a way of adding eight analogue outboard legacy effects such as the H3000 (which bands really love) or my AMS Phaser, both when recording and mixing. I can just plug them into the ASP880’s inserts and they come into my desk digitally. It’s as simple as that.”
“As I have a rather large patchbay, I liked the idea that the AD-DAs are on D-subs. I have one or two legacy synthesizers and in order to start ‘fiddling around’ with those, I can just use the ASP880 as a stand-alone converter and patch them in digitally” he continues, “I’ve used the DI inputs on the front; they’re good at isolating noisy synthesizers because the grounding is good. I’ve got quite a lot of DIs and I think these are as good as anything else I’ve got.”
Levine’s Liverpool UK-based studio, ‘Steve Levine Recording’ is centred around a digital desk; with the Audient ASP880, placed alongside his keyboard. “It gives me eight more mic inputs via ADAT, allowing me to increase the number of inputs I have available – in addition to my console – which is useful for those big sessions.”
“The variable high pass filter on the ASP880 is very handy for me, as I have the AudioTechnica 5040 mic which doesn’t have that option.” Levine continues, “I’m a big fan of the AudioTechnica ribbon mics and I like the fact that with the ASP880 you can flip the impedance and change the character of the mics. This is particularly noticeable for example on guitar cabinets. You can make it a duller tone or a brighter tone, which if you’re doing an overdub gives you an additional feature.”
Students regularly visit the studio to see how Levine works, his close ties to Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), has allowed budding engineers a glimpses of a veteran producer at work. “I want the students to be able to see, hear and compare an array of different mic pres.”
Just under a year ago, Levine decided to relocate his studio to the Baltic Creative Campus in Liverpool, which provides the renowned producer with more space in the control room than he’s used to – and more space means more gear.
“The question now is whether I can get any more,” says Levine eyeing the spaces in his rack.