In the studio and out on the road
I work both on the road and in my studio. Most recording takes place on location, and most post-production in the studio.
My mobile recording rig is comprehensive enough to record a full symphony orchestra and chorus but still fits in a small van. It is fully flightcased, and usually I just need somewhere with a power socket and a bit of light in order to get set up. Many years' experience of classical recording on location has given me the skills to get excellent results in churches, school halls, concert halls, stately homes etc.
My studio is fully equipped for all aspects of post-production, including mixing in Dolby Atmos (7.1.4), editing and mastering. It is a room whose acoustic properties I know very well, and I get consistently good results that translate well to all listening environments.
How important is equipment?
Before I list some of the equipment I use, please let me make a point about its importance. I am a strong believer that the quality of the equipment used is as nothing compared with the skill of the person using it. In my lounge I used to have a much-loved battered old upright piano, which my children, when they were toddlers, liked to 'play'. Even if I had replaced it with a £120,000 Steinway Model D, I don't think they would have made great music on it, as they didn't (at that stage) have the skills. But if Alfred Brendel had paid us a visit, and knocked out the Hammerklavier sonata on the upright, it would have sounded incredible. Sure, I have absolutely no doubt that it would have sounded even better on a Steinway, but the point is still clear - it's the skill of the user that makes by far the biggest impact on the quality of the result, whatever gear is used. So please don't pay too much attention to gear lists - so far as I am concerned, they are usually irrelevant.
In many ways I am a contrarian when it comes to equipment. I take great pride in not following the herd into buying the latest gadget-of-the-month. Whenever anyone implies that you cannot get a great sound without using the latest HokeyCokey 2.0 MkIII, or that you have to use high sampling rates (not true), I just go back to some of the first CDs I ever worked on (analogue remasters of 1970s Decca opera recordings transferred to digital in the mid 1980s using analogue-to-digital converters that are of lower quality than the cheapest piece of current Behringer equipment) and am moved to tears by the sheer opulence and gorgeousness of the sound. All thanks to great artists recorded by great engineers.
My decision on what gear to use for a particular task is always based on a simple question: given the inevitable practical constraints, whether in time, budget or anything else, what is the most appropriate tool for this task? If asked whether I have Pro Tools, I sometimes reply with a smile that "I'm a pro, and I use appropriate tools." The point being that I want to be judged on my results, not on what I use to achieve those results. Do my recordings and mixes sound fantastic? Did I deliver on time and on budget? Did I supply exactly what I was asked to supply - file formats, documentation etc? Was working with me an enjoyable and stress-free experience? So far as I am concerned, those are the questions that really matter.
So having said all that, here is some of the gear I use in my post-production studio and mobile recording rig:
- Genelec monitors (The Ones)
- B&W monitors
- PMC monitors
- RME audio interfaces and mic amps (Fireface UFX+, Octamic XTC etc)
- Merging Anubis and HAPI monitor controller and interface
- Ferrofish A32 Dante format converter
- Self-designed and built monitoring controller and studio communications system
- DAV Electronics mic amps
- Mics from Neumann, Schoeps, DPA, AKG, Line Audio etc
- Sennheiser and Beyer Dynamic professional headphones
- Allen & Heath SQ6 mixer with Dante for live sound, streaming and DAW control
- Yamaha 01V96 mixer
- Icon Platform M+ DAW controller
- 150m Touring grade Fibre-optic cable drum with Neutrik connectors
- Sony and Panasonic HD-SDI cameras
- Blackmagic video switchers and recorders
- Plugins from FabFilter, iZotope, Sonoris, Liquidsonics, Flux, Lexicon etc
- Celemony Melodyne pitch and time correction
- Dolby Atmos Production Suite
- Bricasti M7 reverb
- DAWs - Avid Pro Tools Ultimate, Merging Pyramix, Steinberg Nuendo, SAW Studio, Reaper, Logic Pro
- AATranslator EDL conversion
- Noise reduction software - Algorithmix reNOVAtor, Cedar Retouch, iZotope RX8 Advanced
- Music notation - Dorico, Sibelius
- Video editing - Magix Vegas Pro
- DVD authoring - Mediachance DVD-lab PRO 2
- Sonoris DDP Creator
- Smaart 8 audio measurement
- Lindos audio measurement