SNAP! blog

Studio One – Outboard Racks

EQUALISERS

FOCUSRITE ISA 110 x 8
Many experienced engineers regard these classic Rupert Neve designed mic pre/eq modules as the ultimate tracking modules, particularly for drums. The four band, class A equalisers were based upon Mr. Neve’s designs for the legendary Air Monseratt console, and are as different from more recent Focusrite designs as vintage discrete Neve units are From their modern IC based successors. In total we have two eight way racks, providing sixteen additional channels pr pre/eq normalled across the 16 monitor returns of the Neve console, giving a total of 60 input channels for tracking and mixing, all with the best transformer balanced preamps and smooth full bodied, versatile eq.

  • Historical note; As the plaque confirmed, these modules came from the legendary Metropolis Recording Console.

PULTEC EQP1A-3 x 2
Tube Pultec equalisers do something that no reissue ever can, adding sparkle to the top end and warmth to the bottom. And the EQP1A-3 is the ultimate full range tube eq, an ever present in the best studios and mastering rooms worldwide. Undoubtedly a constant tool, adding mojo to vocals, acoustic guitars or mixes day after day.

PULTEC MEQ 5
Tightly focused on midrange frequencies, this tube eq brings out the grit, the sweetness, the bottle of an electric guitar, snare or sax. Or daisy chain it to an EQP1A-3 and HLF-3 and have ultimate control of the entire frequency spectrum. A killer.

PULTEC HLF-3 x 2
Although passive filters, these simple eq’s have massive hand wound inductors that bring a signal to life. Beloved of Reggae engineers and musicians, the HLF-3 gives massive attack to your mix.

LANG PEQ-2 x 2
One of my all time favourite eq’s, these discrete solid state equalisers add massive body to any signal. As my former house engineer, Mike Pelanconi, used to say, the Langs make any track or mix take a giant step forwards, bringing life and excitement to the sound. Originally designed for mastering, these beautiful units feature massive hand wound inductors. Loverly..

ALLOTROPE MIC PRE/EQ x 2
You won’t see these anywhere else as my two Blue Allotropes are utterly unique. Best described as a cross between Trident A range and Neve, these early 1970’s equalisers have a character all of their own.

  • Historical Note… One Allotrope console and one only was made in the early 1970’s, commissioned by John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin fame. I bought the console ten years ago and despite my best Efforts, found it was irreparable. The only viable option was to pull and refurbish the eighteen mic pre/eq’s. Two eight channel racks went to the States and I kept the only pair of blue fronted eqs. One buyer, Mike Castoro, copied and modified the circuit and now markets his cheap copies under the brand name of ‘Wunder’. But the Allotropes are the real deal. Great

DECCA DUAL MASTERING EQUALISER
Another rarity, although not Unique. Indeed, there may be a dozen of these 1960’s equalisers scattered around with producers such as Danny Lanois, Ian Broudie, Will Gregory (Goldfrapp), David Gilmour and a handful of others. Lovingly and painstakingly restored and reworked by electronics genius, Neil Perry, these Deccas were originally built for mastering, hand wound inductors and all. Now with an active stage and the two channels carefully matched, they are best described as subtle but sweet. On acoustic guitar, for example, the highs sing and the lows purr. Across a mix, these eqs add a rare musicality to acoustic or ambient tracks. Very, very nice indeed.

MAYFAIR MIC PRE/EQ x 2
So far as I’m aware, only four pairs of these Green meenies still exist. Transformer balanced, forty years old and bristling with germanium transistors, these rare eqs offer a short cut to the authentic early 1970’s EMI sound.

  • Historical note… John Hudson of Mayfair Studios planned to build a new console to replace his old Neve. A handful of these superb mic preamp/eq modules were made before the cost of the enterprise led to the abandonment of the project. I found a handful of these when we bought the contents of Mayfair in 2009 and delivered them to boffinista, Lincoln Fong, for restoration, refurbishment and racking. The rarest of the rare…

COMPRESSORS AND DYNAMICS

FAIRCHILD 670
For any single piece of outboard to occupy eight units of precious rack space must mean that it’s a very, very special beast, and the 670 most certainly is. Perhaps the most copied tube compressor ever made, original Fairchilds still deliver something that nothing else can – a thick, creamy, wonderful sheen that gives every track a gloss of quality at the flick of a switch. As with every other piece of gear at Snap, this 670 has been serviced and lined up to perform perfectly and is maintained regularly to ensure optimum performance day in, day out.

TELETRONIX LA2A
Another classic tube limiter from the 1960s, the LA2A is the beez kneez on bass, double bass and certain vocals. This one came from the legendary Plus XXX studio in Paris.

DISA VARI MU x 2
Often known as Swedish Fairchilds, these Vari Mu compressors feature 6386 tubes and juicy transformers. Insert on bvs, guitars, bass or whatever and let this rich, juicy limiters do the work, riding levels effortlessly and adding a warm, full flavour.

NEVE 2262 x 4
Although possibly unfamiliar to most engineers, the Neve 2262 is exactly the same in terms of electronics and control as the better known early 33609. Fully discrete and maintained in tiptop condition, these are perfect for drums, percussion and even linked across a mix. I’ve owned these for fifteen years and had them lovingly racked up by Neil Perry.

UREI 1176LN x 2
Blackfaced, of course.

DBX 165A x 2
I’ve always been a massive fan of these great limiter/compressors and am constantly amazed that They’ve never attracted the same kudos as the 1176. When made they were twice the price of the Urei and For a multitude of uses are more versatile, faster and fuller sounding. It’s always been my ambition to have a pair in the rack and now I have. I’m a happy bunny.

DECCA MASTERING COMPRESSORS x 2
Another Neil Perry revamp, these Deccas are as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth. Made in The 1960s for mastering, they do something nothing else can, adding crunch and tightness to any signal. This Pair came from Nigeria six years ago and have been a long, long time in the workshop. Rather lovely. And almost as valuable as the Fairchild, believe it or not.

VALLEY DYNAMITE x 4
I’m a big fan of simple, punchy VCA comps and the Dynamite is one of my favourites. Bang them on drums, electric guitars, bass or wobble board and they make the track rock. Thanks to Italian technista, Mattia Satori, for restoring and racking these four babes.

FAIRMAN BUS COMPRESSOR
Just to show that I’m not a total Luddite, these modern classics deserve their place in Snap’s star studded racks. Simple, effective and punchy, they’ve earned their stripes ten thousand times over.

EMPIRICAL LABS DISSTRESSER(Brit Mod) x 2
These modern classics deserve their place in Snap’s star studded racks.
Simple, effective and punchy, they’ve earned their stripes ten thousand times over!

Stereo linkable – complete with Brit Mod.

DRAWMER DS201 DUAL GATES x 2
Gates have their place, even in this digiblah age. Whether for cleaning up tracks, clipping tails on reverbs or triggering on the sidechain to lock drums and bass together, gates have a variety of roles in the recording process. And the Drawmers are easy to use, with handy front mounted sidechain filters for tuning.

DBX 902 DEESSERS x 2
Deessers are essential for polished, professional vocal Recording, but are also useful tools for selective frequency compression on hats, cymbals or even dealing with string or fret buzz.

REVERBS AND DELAYS

EMT 140 PLATE
Our 140 is a rare quadraphonic plate, offering two inputs and four outputs. Lovingly recapped and serviced by Dave Way, this is the ultimate, natural reverb. It lives in the plate room with…

EMT 240 GOLD FOIL PLATE
Sweet and honest, the 240 makes vocals come alive and acoustic guitars sing. Definitely one of my all time favourites.

TILE ROOM
The earliest form of reverb, our tile room features a speaker at one end and a mic at the other. The room is tiles throughout – walls, floor, ceiling – giving a rich, natural reverb that no electronic device can replicate. Not only is this probably the only true tile room in London (and possibly in the UK with the exception of Rockfield Studios in Monmouth). However, we’ve taken things one stage further by utilising a multipattern microphone with remote control pattern select enabling the engineer to experiment with different characteristics. Amazing.

LEXICON 480L
V4, with classic cart and LARC.

EVENTIDE 2016 ‘PRINCETON’ REVERB
A rare classic, superior in every way to the recent reissue.

LEXICON PCM70
Still one of my favourite reverbs and effects, this little beauty needs no introduction.

MASTER ROOM STEREO SPRING
Two large gold drainpipes in the machine room house long springs, remotely controlled by the eq/level control in the racks. If you want a boing on snare, guitars or even a retro effect on vocals, this rare beast is the real McCoy.

ORBAN SPRING
For shorter boings, this baby spring delivers great results, creating retro snare or electric guitar sounds or merely adding wacko vibes to a dub mix.

AMS DMX1580S and KEYBOARD CONTROLLER
There’s nothing like an AMS delay, and I’ve owned this for years. Indeed, I couldn’t record or mix without one. Stuffed with 20 and 12 seconds respectively and dual harmonisers, the keyboard controller allows real time tuning of the harmoniser or turns the 1580S into the mother of all phasers. Truly a stonking machine.

ROLAND SDE3000
Dedicated delays are invaluable when mixing and the Roland is simple and effective.

ROLAND SRE555
The rackmount version of the classic 501 space echo, this tape delay adds authenticity to vocals, guitars or dub drums. A variety of delay lengths range from echo or ADT to lengthy repeats, all supported by optional chorus and crappy spring reverb.

EFFECTS

BLUEBIRD CYCLOSONICS PANNER
I love this unit. Subtle to a fault, it adds body to acoustic or electric guitars or air and sparkle to backing vocals. It’s one of those rare units (like the Dimension D below) that is so subtle you often don’t realise it’s working until…until you turn it off. Suddenly the sound becomes dull and lifeless. It’s rare gems such as this that add character and life to a track.

GELF PHASER
A child of the early 1970’s this Gelf is the opposite of the Bluebird or Dimension D, offering thick, analogue, whooshing phase that gives body to keyboard pads or pseudo Leslie to electric guitar tracks. A lot of fun.

EVENTIDE H3000SE
Reverbs, harmonising, effects and lots, lots more, this box of tricks has earned a role as a studio essential since first introduced, a decade or more ago.

PUBLISON IM90
Not for nothing is this beast also called the ‘Infernal Machine’. Twelve grand and change when new, this incredible machine samples, reverberates, delays, harmonises and more. An all round killer of a machine.

PUBLISON IM89
A dedicated harmoniser but much, much more. A favourite toy of Queen during the glory years, this creative tool is limited by your imagination. Big, orange and splendiferous.

MARSHALL TIME MODULATOR
A flanger, a phaser, a modulator par excellent. If you’ve never used one, plug it in and instantly you’ll unlock the trade secrets of your favourite US mix engineer. Groovy, baby.

SPL TRANSIENT DESIGNER
Along with the Distressers, this represents another nod towards the twenty first century. A remarkable little toy, it lets you redefine phase and balance on a mix. A clever little box.

ROLAND DIMENSION D
The most subtle of chorus and phase generators, but perfect for giving keyboards, guitars or even bass space in the mix. Simple to use; controls effective comprise on, off, less or more