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Top 5: David Lord

Producer, David Lord (Peter Gabriel, Tears For Fears and The Korgis, Icehouse, Jean-Michel Jarre) owned an SSL studio in the ’80s and is now enjoying semi-retirement and a home studio. Here’s his Top 5.

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8 July 2024

UREI 1176LN BLACK FACE COMPRESSOR LIMITER

This must be my most used piece of recording outboard gear. Designed by Bill Putnam in the 1960s, I purchased this unit second-hand in the late 1970s, and in the early days of Bath’s Crescent Studios. I think it must have been employed on every session I’ve ever worked on. It is especially great for controlling and adding a bit of character to vocals. I’ve been told that it was apparently used by engineer Bruce Swedien on all the Michael Jackson vocals. It is still in regular use in my ‘shrunken’ home studio today, though I don’t have any idea what version it is. It just does the job for me! I don’t know if the ‘all buttons in’ trick was a deliberate or accidental design feature but we used to employ a similar trick with the legendary Roland ‘Dimension D’ chorus unit, which Peter Gabriel introduced me to.

TC M5000 DIGITAL REVERB

I also couldn’t afford to upgrade to the TC S6000 when it first appeared but I’ve always been happy with this unit which was pre-owned by Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour. Again, I must have used this on every production of mine, especially for the creamy long reverbs that are suited to ‘new-age’ type sound worlds. Where possible I used to print reverb and effects to tape, and later to ADATs, while today I print to computer which means I can utilise the one unit for different types of ’verb. Of course, nowadays this isn’t so important, with the almost limitless counts of plug-ins available. Its other effects, such as multi-band compression, chorus etc used to be useful too, but now are rarely used. Does anyone remember the times when all we had available were the great EMT plate reverbs? That said, I did once win an award in The States for ‘Best Acoustic Guitar Album of the Year’ for John Renbourn’s 1979 album, ‘Black Balloon’ which was recorded pre-Crescent Studio days in my bedroom on a TEAC four-track enhanced with a ‘Master Room’ spring reverb!

DECCA PASSIVE EQ & COMP/LIMITER

I’m very lucky to own these two superb units which I believe Decca built for its vinyl cutting suites. Only a handful exist and these have been refurbished and re-engineered by the brilliant Neil Perry (of Raw State). They’re especially great for mastering. Interesting choice of frequency bands on the EQ: a touch of 32kHz and 40Hz works wonders! My HF hearing is somewhat restricted these days, but I can still hear a 2dB tweak at the top. And what a lovely solid bottom – must be the curves! I’m trying to decide who to leave these to when I’m gone!

ANTARES AUTOTUNE

Although it seems to have developed a somewhat mixed reputation, I’m not afraid to admit that I use it, though sparingly! I’ve never understood people who say they can hear it working. Not all singers are perfect and dodgy intonation really bugs me, so when it first appeared, Autotune seemed miraculous. The ability to tweak the odd vocal or instrumental note was a real time saver and problem solver. I often use it to gently pull a good vocal into an even better one, and most singers don’t realise it’s being used on their tracks and I’ve always found it advisable not to tell them!

APPLE LOGIC PRO 9

I moved from Cubase to Logic when it was taken over by Apple for compatibility as the majority of the people I worked with were using it. This still seems to satisfy my DAW requirements so I’ve not yet felt the need to move up to v10, though I’m sure it’s wonderful.  I only tried Pro Tools in its earlier incarnations and wasn’t that impressed; I’m sure I’d love it now though. I have to admit, these days, I don’t keep up with technology as much as I ought or used to, and the learning curves seem to grow ever steeper. Once the days of lining up tape machines, adjusting bias, cleaning heads etc. disappeared, I couldn’t have been more pleased. Nevertheless, I still have a lovely analogue Studer B62 recorder, which came from Apple Studio, the Beatles London Studio, set up in the basement of their Apple Corporation headquarters in 1968 – along with shelves of reel-to-reel masters!

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