Having grown upon a steady diet of records recorded between 1928 – 1974, I find myself on a personal quest in my own work to either recreate, evolve or utlimately channel those early sonic inspirations. In an age of the digital recording studio which can’t be avoided this can be a challenge. The digital recording studio domain offers many blessings, but there are a few ‘curses’ or challenges straight out of the box in working with zeroes and ones, rather than pure analogue sound.
One of the classic complaints of digital recordings is that they are brittle or even cold sounding. In recent years the price points have gone down, whilst the functionality and quality of digital recording interfaces have increased substantially. Effectively for the modern recording studio the digital interface has become yesteryears tape machine. Whilst the tape machine was an important part of the ‘classic sound’ of recordings in the past it was only one of the many chain of components that went into any recording of a vocal, guitar or any instrument.
One of the joys today is having access to a mixture of both digital and analogue technology. The magic of analogue or valve technology is that it has the wonderful ability to add warmth, character, grit and depth to a recorded signal. In my own endeavours I will always record with a valve pre-amp before inputing or capturing any instruments into the digital domain.
For me personally, one of my choice pre-amps is the LA-610 MkII. This is a modern interruption of two classic vintage pieces of gear, nicely packaged into the one box. The component of the unit is a recreation of the classic Bill Putnam of the pre-amp section of the 610 console.
The 610 sound can be heard on classic records from Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles to the Beach Boys. The second element of the LA-610 is the most beloved LA-2A compressor. The LA-2A is a levelling amplifier that evens out the peaks and troughs as an instrument is recorded. Like the original LA-2A, the LA-610’s compressor adds its own colouring and flavour to the signal path.
For recording I found myself preferring the sound, tone and colour of using a hybrid solution of old valve technology and the latest in digital interfaces. I think if you want to try to chase some of those classic tones its really a case of recording today, but looking back towards yesterday.
Check out some of Nick J Harvey’s tones using the LA-610.