Founding members of the multi-platinum band LIVE recently established Think Loud Studios in their hometown of York, Pa.
When it came time to install a console in the world-class facility’s expansive Studio A, they opted for a 48-channel Solid State Logic Duality analog console/controller.
The extensive experience that the group and their engineers have with classic SSL analog consoles led them directly to Duality.
Known for classic albums including Throwing Copper, Secret Samadhi and The Distance to Here, the members of LIVE have returned to the community in which they grew up and launched the studio.
In addition to the band’s own projects, Think Loud Studios serves the artists on its record label, Think Loud Entertainment, and friends of the group, including the band Everclear.
The vaulted ceilings and abundant natural light of the 53,000-square-foot building’s fourth floor made it a natural setting for Think Loud, which was designed by Horacio Malvicino, says bassist Patrick Dahlheimer.
“This is inspirational,” he remembers thinking. “This is going to be the studio that we always wanted to build and is driven to be songwriter and musician friendly.”
“Part of the LIVE ‘signature sound’ is the sound of SSL,” says guitarist Chad Taylor, noting that Tom Lord-Alge, who has mixed the majority of the band’s recordings, works exclusively on an SSL 4000 G Series console. After Taylor and Lord-Alge spent a day evaluating Duality, the decision was easy.
“There’s a convenience factor and a history of the SSL that exists through Duality. In the studio, I’m predominantly focused on the performance of the musicians and the arrangement of the song, and less on the technical aspect of the engineering.
“I found that those worlds got married very conveniently through the Duality.”
“My immediate reaction was that there’s a dimension and a spatial factor to the Duality,” Dahlheimer adds of SSL’s SuperAnalogue sound. “Perceptively, it was really very clear.
“There’s definitely a punch and a clarity, especially to the drum tracks. One of the other qualities is the bus compressor. Once you are in it, there’s cohesiveness to the songs that jumps out.”
Duality’s unparalleled sonic characteristics, analogue/DAW hybrid approach and historic lineage made it the only choice for Think Loud Studios, say its principals.
“It has a front-end signature, in particular with the mic pres and the EQs, that really plays into that soundscape,” says Dahlheimer. “That definitely helps our creative process.”
The console’s hybrid approach, combining a traditional analogue path and processing with DAW control in a single hardware surface, allows the creative process to flourish as it did in the pre-DAW era, Taylor says.
“One thing we took into consideration was that we still like to work in analogue,” he adds “With the convenient flexibility of Duality, we are able to switch very fast back-and-forth between our analogue and the digital workstations.
“Working with Duality pulls my brain from looking at music on a computer screen to actually interfacing with the console, like we did 20 years ago. The concentration is on ‘listening’ again, and not ‘seeing’ the music so much. That’s an important characteristic to the creative flow.”
The choice of Duality has paid immediate dividends as LIVE went to work recording its forthcoming album.
“We had a bunch of tracks in a rehearsal state that had been recorded through various preamps,” Dahlheimer says. “We got a very polished sound through the Duality very fast. I was thrilled with that. Duality helps outboard equipment shine, but we found ourselves using a lot of the onboard preamps in tracking.
“In fact, we recently re-recorded existing drum tracks to take advantage of Duality’s sonic signature. There was definitely clarity, presence and dimension to the new tracks.”
Taylor also recalls having previously owned an SSL G+ console.
“The format and feel of the Duality remind me of the G,” he says. “While it simultaneously moves into a new-world environment of, essentially, Pro Tools control and interface, but one that still has the markings of a traditional analog console. I’m glad we stayed in the SSL family.”
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