Producer and mixing engineer, Tim Palmer (U2, Robert Plant, Ozzy Osbourne, Tears For Fears), talks us through his five essential studio tools.
GML 8200 STEREO EQ
One of the most important parts of my mix bus is a GML Stereo Equalizer. I used it in all the old school studios and have used it in my home studios ever since! It is a classic piece of gear to me.
When you are searching for the perfect highs to add to a mix, some equalizers don’t feel like they’re connected to the music, the frequencies feel alien to the sound, too surgical. The GML finds the sweet spot, it’s musical and it’s just so rewarding. My GML is part of every mix I do. Most of the time the GML is basically adding some of its beautiful top end, and a little bit more in the low end, while at other times I may be notching something specific out, but the GML is always present in my mix chain. One of the best pieces of gear I’ve ever bought!
GENELEC 1031A MONITORS
One of my favourite things to do when concentrating on a playback is to switch off the computer’s visual monitor. Just use your ears. The difference in perception is astounding. People are listening too much with their eyes these days, and it’s very easy to be distracted when you see the waveform on the screen. Power down the monitor, close your eyes and listen to the music, there’s a whole other dimension there. Adding your eyes to that brain circuit just changes the way you hear and perceive music. So disconnect the eyes, listen with just your ears and remember that after the song leaves the studio, nobody is going to see the audio ever again.
I’ve always believed that detail is subjective, while emotional space is vital. You can fine tune things to the point where you are only dealing with personal taste. The emotional space, whether it’s a distorted, clean or treated, sets the character immediately. The Kemper gives me all the emotional spaces that I need and fast.
I’ve never been a guitar snob or guitar amp snob, I appreciate the classics, but for me, the Kemper does everything that it needs to do. Adjusting the delays, the reverbs, and tapping the tempo are simple. To be honest, in most cases you would be hard pushed to tell the difference between the Kemper and the original modelled sound.
AVID PRO TOOLS
Now with digital recording and especially Pro Tools, you can actually make decisions about how much saturation and distortion you wish to add to the sound! You can also play around with the actual parts and performances! Move parts around, nudge the timing, really mess with the emotion. There is so much less compromise and more surgical control of so many things, from fader moves to control of sibilance! I don’t think I could mix without this power now.
In today’s world of mixing, being able to get back, recall and tweak a mix is imperative, with Pro Tools this is now an easy task, in the ’80s we took hours trying to get a mix back, and it wasn’t that accurate.