Designer's Perspective

Introduction

Welcome to RSPE Designer's Perspective!

Learn about the inspiration behind some of the greatest gear in the world, straight from the visionary designers who created it.

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At the helm of every audio company, there is a visionary, usually the founder and designer, sometimes it is the team leader from a company with a legacy that has made it's mark in our industry for decades.

We asked each "what makes your product unique and how do you best define the TONE of your range of products?"

We hope that you find each story interesting as we discuss the amount of dedication, creativity, passion, good ol' fashion hard work (and sometimes adding the little "crazy" that goes into the creation of these products). These efforts have defined the creative pallet of sound and afforded each of us the ability to record and create the music of our dreams and our clients' dreams.

Whether your 'search'  is to capture the most subtle nuances of a voice or orchestra, reproduce the most angelic voice captured by your prized microphone, recreate explosive thundering drums and sound effects, or achieve an effect that has never been heard, we can attest to the the super-human efforts of so many manufacturers to provide the tools that we all MUST HAVE!

With that in mind, we wanted to share each of these stories with our friends and clients.

If you see "DESIGNER'S PERSPECTIVE" in the description of an item that you are looking at, there is often more to the story than meets the eye, just click to 'read on'!

◀Click on the brand or designer in the left hand column to read more about some of your favorite audio gear!

BAE Audio
Mark Loughman

Retro & state of the art

BAE Audio

Mark Loughman (pronounced "loffman") and his chief designer, Avedis Kifedjian, of Avedis Audio fame, have a clear vision of both past and future for BAE product  design.  Before we get to that and to clear up any  confusion, yes, BAE is the same company as Brent Averill Enterprises.  The only thing that's changed is that BAE now stands for British Audio Engineering.  Well, not the only thing - while Brent Averill himself has retired to live the good life, Loughman, who fulfilled a key position with Brent Averill since the late 90's, is now president and CEO.

Today, as head of BAE, visionary Mark Loughman maintains the proud heritage of producing the highest-quality Neve replications available.  With meticulous attention to detail and superior craftsmanship, BAE uses only the highest quality components from the original suppliers, such as Carnhill (formerly St. Ives), Jensen transformers, and Swiss-made Elma gold contact switches.  All BAE products use discrete electronics and are completely hand-built and wired point-to-point (no circuit boards).

Along with maintaining the vintage legacy of BAE products, Mark also takes a decidedly progressive view towards bringing BAE into a more contemporary position, with the release of new products that meld both classis and modern design.

Like most parents, when asked which products he is most proud of, Mark has a tough time choosing between his three newest releases: the incredible 1073D 500 Series EQ/Pre ("D" for Deluxe), and 1066D (also Deluxe), and the new 10DC Class A Compressor.

While numerous owners of vintage Neve gear have openly stated that they often choose BAE over their original Neves, hearing is believing.  Call RSPE to order your own tribute to vintage tone!

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 Daking Audio
Geoff Daking

Class A circuit visionary

Daking Audio

When we first spoke with the multi-talented musician-recording engineer-designer Geoff Daking, we asked how he got started designing and manufacturing his amazing range of outboard gear (details in the interview).  In the process, we discovered a few things about how Geoff thinks and the philosophy behind Daking gear - some of the best mic pres, compressors, and EQ's ever made for recording! His top priority is to deliver the highest quality vintage sound at affordable prices - plus, he still manufactures his product in the "good ol' USA."




"If you're looking for that vintage sound of a Trident A Range, and you want to add warmth to the digital recording chain, look no further: the Daking mic preamps add a distinctive sonic character that really make your recordings come alive!"
 -Butch Vig

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Empirical Labs
Dave Derr

Distress & control
your sound

Empirical Labs

Dave Derr's inspiration for his very first product - the now ubiquitous Distressor - was the incredible tonal characteristics of the original Teletronix LA-2A, Urei 1176LN, and Valley People Gain Brain. Combining each of these classic units into a single dynamics processor resulted in a unit that not only was able to provide greater flexibility for the engineer, mixer, or producer, but also offer a wider range of control, precise response, and more radical effects than its vintage counterparts (not just a compressor, it's a distortion generator too).

Still one of the most coveted pieces of outboard gear - with over 22,000 of these fine processors sold - the Distressor is now available with the "British Option," a sonic emulation of a compression secret discovered in the early '80s; a result of pressing all four ratio buttons of the Urei 1176LN in at the same time.  This setting, termed "British Mode" or "All-Buttons Mode" (plus a few variations), provided a unique reaction to the incoming signal by using elements of the 20:1 compression ratio, but with an usual knee and new envelope shape.  The result was a very, very aggressive sound that became a trademark of rock music.


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► Grace Design
Eben Grace

Audiophile sound for
the recording studio

Grace Design

Grace Design is known for making audiophile-quality equipment that is stunningly accurate and transparent.  But rather than hear it from us, we'll let Eben Grace tell you in his own words what makes Grace Design unique.

"What makes us different is that we provide products that can be considered audiophile-grade to the pro industry, and at a value that makes them available to working audio professionals. This means that our goal is to always develop products which will faithfully and musically translate the artistic intent of the performance without color or sonic impurity.

We believe that all of the beauty of music originates from the performance, so the equipment capturing and playing it back should only serve to present that artistic beauty with total fidelity. While many companies spend their efforts designing ways of enhancing or altering the sonic presentation with subtle types of distortion and compression, we strive to produce an honest representation of the inherent beauty of music".

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► LaChapell Audio
Scott LaChapell

Tubes, Tubes, Tubes!

LaChapell Audio

Scott LaChapell manufactures a purposely limited range of hand-crafted products, such that each model will fit your recording studio like a fine leather glove.  LaChapell has designed a line of mic preamps that will give your recording the rich sonic characteristics that can only be coaxed out of a tube circuit.  These all-tube designs feature a gain structure that allow you to obtain a sound ranging from pristine and transparent to warm vintage, with just a twist of an input and output knob.  What makes the LaChapell tone so unique and musical (from a technical and philosophical point of view)?
Aside from the obligatory obsession that you will find from most "boutique" builders when it comes to component selection, you will undoubtedly appreciate the fact that you can also request a Telefunken or Amprex tube as a way to get even more flexibility from his products.
Add to that what is probably the coolest lighted LED toggle switches that you can find on any piece of outboard equipment and of interesting note, LaChapell rack mount gear uses hand-wound transformers to create a power supply that has a true 250V DC rail, which provides the best possible performance from tube circuits.

When it comes to Scott LaChapell's EQ design, he amount of thought and conviction that went into shaping tonal characteristics become readily apparent. His specifications are intentionally designed to please the ear.  And while this philosophy may preclude the notion "one-size-fits-all" equalizer design, you will find the Model 503 to be one of the sweetest and most musical equalizers around - you'll look for reasons to use it everywhere.

"The LaChapell 583s handles transients better than any tube mic pre I've encountered while retaining warmth unequaled in the world of solid-state pres. Its original, true-tube design and massive sound easily land it on my short list of the best mic preamps ever."
 -Russ Long, Pro Audio Review

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► Pendulum Audio
Greg Gualtieri

Hand Crafted Ear Candy

Pendulum Audio

While many designers hold their electronics background close to the vest, e.g. "I've been tinkering with electronics since I was a kid," Greg Gualtieri has much to be proud of.  An alumnus o Nobel Peace Prize factory, Bell Laboratories (where the condenser mic and high-fidelity recording were bron), Greg Gualtieri spent his time at Bell researching exotic semiconductor materials, growing crystals, and zapping molecular structures using Molecular Beam Epitaxy (used in the manufacture of semiconductor devices including transistors).  After 16 years at Bell Labs, Greg decided that building audio gear for discerning engineers and artists that truly listen to the sound they are recording would be his next calling.

The core concept behind Greg's design philosophy is centered on extracting all of the beneficial tonality and warmth from vacuum-tube circuits - without the not-so-flattering loose, muddy low end and missing high-frequency response that often makes a tube based product sound dark.  He still hand-builds every Pendulum Quartet II and tests every product sold - a clear commitment to delivering the absolute best, American-made professional audio equipment to your studio.

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► Solid State Logic
Jim Motley

Grindy & Dirty or
Ultra Clean Tone

SSL- Jim Motley


Jim Motley, Head of Business, Workstation Products, spoke with us about design and tonal philosophy at Solid State Logic. There are definitely 2 distinctive tonal viewpoints at SSL, the "Grindy, dirty rock and R&B sound" and also what SSL calls "Ultra Analogue", where the highest fidelity and natural sound are the supreme objective. Going back to the original E Series, Collin Saunders philosophy was to try and get the most accurate sound possible to tape, "as if you were in the room with the musicians". He and Paul Frindle began developing the G Series, taking all of the circuits from the legendary console and "dabbled with them". From there, the new G series "Black Knob" EQ with variable "Q", became the next in a line of legendary tone control. The SSL design edict revolves around a collaborative effort by the recording engineers employed at their new 15 acre factory in Oxfordshire England.

On that note, we could continue to "write up a storm" but Jim Motley tells it best in the video that we shot in the showroom at RSPE.

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► Maag Audio
Cliff Maag Sr. and Jr.

Getting "the air"
back in recording

Maag Audio


Cliff Maag Sr. has been a recording engineer for over 35 years. Cliff is the original inventor of the NTI EQ3 and the Nightpro PreQ3 & EQ3D, products which due to their unique sound are still extremely sought after to this day. What gave these products their signature sound was the AIR BAND, a boost-only shelf that has been described as "taking the blanket off the sound." This allows you to add a huge presence to the top end, with very low phase shift, no distortion, and without sounding edgy or harsh.

In 2008, over a decade after Nightpro had been shut down, Cliff’s son Ryan approached him about starting Mäag Audio due to numerous requests for the original NTI and Nightpro gear. Together with his two sons Ryan and Cliff Jr. (the production manager at NTI & Nightpro), the team officially founded Maag Audio in 2009 with a commitment to make the new technology sound and function even better than the original gear. While the designs remain true to their predecessors, Maag Audio elevates component quality resulting in new audio depth and clarity. The patented AIR BAND can be found on their current 500 series modules, the EQ4, PREQ4, and EQ2.


The Maag Audio motto:
Audio gear isn’t the most important thing in life,
but to us it’s pretty close to AIR on the “got to have it” list
.

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Watch our EQ2

DEMONSTRATION ►

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► Cartec Audio
Liam Carter

Hand-made,
Boutique British Gear!

Cartec Audio Ltd.

Story Coming Soon!
In the meantime watch our exclusive interview.

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INTERVIEW ►

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► Electronaut
Rob Roy Campbell

Retro Tone,
Modern Functionality

Electronaut

Story Coming Soon!
In the meantime watch our exclusive interview.

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