When Danny Byrd joined forces with D Double E, it was always going to turn our heads. With a new crossover collab released earlier this month on Ministry of Sound, we caught up with the drum ‘n’ bass great to find out what’s in his studio.
Danny Byrd has been a drum ‘n’ bass force for over two decades. He signed to legendary Hospital Records over 20 years ago and has collaborated with General Levy, MC GQ and Netsky.
D Double E is a pioneer of grime who’s latest album ‘Double Or Nothing’ was critically acclaimed whilst featuring fellow A-list talent including Kano, Giggs, Ms Banks, Ghetts, JME and Triggs.
On their collab ‘Selecta’ it’s drum ‘n’ bass with a fresh production twist including jungle breakdowns with funky 90s horn samples. Flowing seamlessly on top is D Double E’s rapid and playful bars. If you’re not heard it yet in a club, you can listen below.
We spoke to Danny Byrd to find out the gear he used to make the track.
Danny Byrd – My Studio
This is a picture of me in my temporary studio in Box, Wiltshire. I just moved from living in the Bath town centre for 20 years where I had my last studio, and currently have big plans to build a soundproof and acoustically treated room here in another bigger room but for the time being I’m working in one of the spare rooms. One of the bonuses of moving here is that Real World studios is a 1-minute drive, and that was really handy for being able to use it to mix down the new single ‘Selecta’ with D Double E for Ministry of Sound. There is a nice little music community around here, in fact my neighbour has a great studio in his garden, and one of the producers for Tears for Fears is a few doors down.
Little Labs Monotor
Probably the most boring bit of kit on this list! But again something I’ve found really useful that I never thought I needed.
In the past, I always had just used the built-in headphone amps built into my sound cards but I was advised it really makes a difference to have a dedicated headphone amp for your cans! This box gives any headphones the power they need, and being powered from Avocet the sound quality is second to none.
Atari 1040ST With Cubase 2.0
This is a bit of kit that’s come out of storage since I’ve moved house! This little beauty was the sequencing heart of most of the 90’s dance records. I want to incorporate the Atari into my new studio I’m building and pair it with a legendary sampler like an Akai S950. So many of the records that “Selecta” is influenced by were made on this machine. Although I’m missing a black & white monitor for this, I need to get looking on eBay to fire this up!
This is another iconic drum machine from the 1980’s! I bought this in New York in 2014 for £1,000, they are now worth £5000! That’s almost better than Bitcoin!
The SP-1200 only has 10 seconds of sample memory but the sound is ridiculously phat and really great for sounds that again you can’t get in the box.
Akai MPC X
Anyone that knows me will know that I love anything MPC. I’ve had the MPC 2000XL, the 2500, even the mini MPC500 that ran on AA batteries.
The MPC X is probably the best of all of them due to it being a standalone machine but also that can interact with its own software and other DAWs. I use the MPC as it makes me focus on things differently compared to if I was starting something in Logic. The sound that comes out of it is always really solid and tight! Love these things!
I think I was one of the first people in the UK to get these speakers! At the time I just did a little research and took a chance on them and luckily loved what I heard. They have built in DSP room correction in them, which means that they can correct problems in your acoustics such as too much bass or too little bass. I would highly recommend them for people that are working out of bedroom studios as they can really help with the mixdowns.
Universal Audio 1176 LN
A staple in recording studios for years, this black box of joy main use for me is vocals and especially for tracking vocals! We used this when tracking D Double E’s vocals at Super Symmetry Studios in East London. The chain is always a U87 mic going into Neve 1073 preamp and then into an 1176 or Tube-Tech CL1B.
What the 1176 allows is for the levels to remain consistent when recording, and this brings out a better performance from vocalists than without it I find. You also don’t have to do nearly as much compression in the mix afterwards as a lot has been added during the recording initially.
I have had this box for a couple of years and although it’s designed really as a mix bus processor I found I never really use it across the whole mix.
What I find it useful for is individual elements, like on ‘Selecta’ I used this to boost and saturate the sub-bass. It’s got a really nice EQ that I boosted at 50hz and also it has a transformer built in that when turned on just adds this real analogue weight to stuff.
Sennheiser HD 650 Headphones
As I said I’ve just moved house so these were invaluable for checking the levels of D Double E’s vocals and the general mix in an unfamiliar room at the time. D&B producer S.P.Y suggested I try these, as I’ve had other high-end headphones before but never really got on with them but these really suit drum ‘n’ bass in my opinion.
I am using them with the Sonarworks correction for this brand of headphones. It makes the material a lot more flat and I find it translates really well on speakers.
Crane Song Avocet II A
I would always see these in studios and wonder what that thing with the green knob was, and it always seemed very expensive for just a volume knob but it’s so much more than that!
With this, I’m able to use the onboard Crane song convertors when I use it digitally, so it sounds A LOT better than my Apollo X16. It also allows me at the press of a button to A/B between what’s playing in Logic and something on Spotify or Apple Music. Useful for seeing how your mix stands up to other tracks out there.
SSL 4000 Strips
I love these channels, they are straight out of a real SSL 4000 E Series console.
There are various great plug-ins from Brainworx and also SSL themselves that emulate this, but the real thing is really good for the fundamental parts of your track.
So for the track “Selecta” I used the compression and EQ on these for the Kick and Snare to just make them punch more in the mix. I’d love to have 32 of them but usually, the plug-ins work just fine on pads, fx, etc… so I just usually use these for drums and sub bass.
Danny Byrd and D Double E’s ‘Selecta’ is out now on Ministry of Sound.