Bright Bright Machines’ James Cocozza shows us around the duo’s studio.
My Studio – Bright Bright machines
I used to work on a mate’s Dynaudio BM6As, which are good speakers but when you drive them hard the mids suffer. I have a bad habit of working loud, so 3-way was the way to go. When I built this place I went for the Klein and Hummel O300s. They’re really revealing as well as being very ‘hi-fi’ sounding. I tried Adams and just didn’t get on with them as instantly as I did with the O300s. I would like a pair of Barefoot MM27s, though, and I could have got a pair direct from the inventor back in 2006 for almost nothing. I’d probably be deaf by now if I had them!
As for the NS10s, we all know why… good to reference against and to balance the mix.
The X-Desk just makes life easy for the setup. It acts as a monitor controller and mixer, and helps route everything in and out of the computer. I use the inserts a lot, and the master insert can be used in parallel too which is really handy when processing things with the hardware comps.
The reason I chose the X-Desk was that I didn’t need a traditional mixer with EQs and preamps. The API 500-series rack, once filled, will give me a lot more options. So I’m just paying for a neutral and clean signal path with the X-Desk. Once you’re running a lot of signals through it, and the mix and the gain staging is all right, then the mix bus definitely has a sweet spot. You can distort individual channels too which can sound really good but it has caused a couple of channels to crap out on me. This has happened on three of these desks to me, so be careful – they can’t handle much abuse!
Fatso, Obsidian & API 500 Rack
The Fatso is probably the closest thing that you can get to tape sound without actually using tape. It’s so versatile. You have the warmth settings to tame harsh highs, the tranny to add some harmonics to the lows, and a multitude of compression options. The one issue was trying to get good levels of saturation on sources without the compressor kicking in, so I’ve wired up a couple of 10K linear pots to TRS jacks and plugged them into the inserts. Now I can really crank up the input gain to get crazy levels of saturation with no compression.
The Dramastic Audio Obsidian bus compressor is based on the SSL quad compressor. I was going to get an Alan Smart C1 or C2 but then checked these out. I found the Obsidian doesn’t mess with your stereo image like most other bus comps I’ve used, and it has a few little tricks up its sleeve. The cool thing is it has a Lo-fi setting which makes the unit self-distort via an almost instant release, which adds a pinch of overdrive. That’s the sound of the transformers working, and when you get to its skull-and-crossbones ratio setting, you’re onto to some serious analogue crushing. Sounds amazing!
The sound quality of the A-Designs EM-PEQ is simply awesome. Anything you run through just comes out sounding better! I primarily use them as a mix bus EQ, but also for sweetening sources like breaks and synths. Sweet highs, mega lows. At the time I got them they were the only Pultec-based EQs in the 500-series format. There are more options now with greater flexibility, but you can’t beat these if you’re after a Pultec-style EQ.
I mainly use the API 550a on vocals. It really brings them forward and gives them that API edge – but I don’t use it enough to warrant keeping it so it’s gonna go at some point.
Finally, Purple Audio Actions. I use these for running synths through. They’re kind of based on an 1176 – they have a similar sound, but you can’t beat a proper Urei! You can really drive these and get good distortion and all sorts of nastiness out of them.
Moog Voyager & Pedals
You can’t beat the Moog for soft, warm and deep bass but my favourite trick is to run a distortion pedal pre-filter on the insert, to really make it growl. Love it! It’s also a great source to run through a string of pedals for spacey sounds and textures.
Fender Squier SP-10 Grot Box
I chopped up the cone on this small cheap guitar amp to run synths through. You get some amazing sounds through it. The distorted synths in ‘Northern Lights’ are a mixture of the original synths and returns through the ‘grot box’.
Native Instruments Maschine
Love using this machine to quickly write beats and get ideas going before moving into Logic. It’s fun to get away from the computer screen for a bit and program directly in Maschine. It seems to inspire you in different ways.
I got this a couple of weeks ago. Really cheap and you can get some great sounds out of it. It doesn’t have masses of bass but it has a cool metallic kind of sound that I like. I’m going to get the Kiwi Technics mod to turn it into a beast.
An amazing poly-synth in such a small package, and with the plugin it’s now integrated into your DAW. I hardly ever used it before that was released as it was too fiddly and I found it a real pain to use. In fact, I almost sold it. That would’ve been a massive mistake! It really can do it all.