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Backstage Recording Studios, a private studio complex with two studios and artist housing situated on a 15-acre site, recently upgraded Studio A with a Solid State Logic AWS 900+ SE console. The console was most recently used to mix the live concert tracks of Megadeth from the Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax Big 4 European tour. The AWS 900+ SE replaces a DAW controller bringing SSL's signature SuperAnalogueâ„¢ sound back into the mix for Backstage, a studio that specializes in recording high level metal bands.
"I have been working for the last seven years in the box, mainly due to time constraints and budgets, but felt that I needed a change and wanted to go back to my roots of my early work with SSL consoles around the world," says Andy Sneap, owner of Backstage Recording Studios. "It always HAD to be an SSL when choosing a mix room, so when the chance arose, I purchased the AWS 900+ SE for the A room. It is very nice to have the flexibility of both worlds in one console. I get the analogue desk I wanted and I can control the resident Pro ToolsÂ® system from one surface. When the chance came to put the SSL in Studio A, I said yeah, let's go this route because there is a certain magic about being able to reach out and grab the EQ rather than being guided by what's on the screen.
Sneap, a much sought after producer/composer/engineer, is also the guitarist for the UK thrash band Sabbat, giving him experience on both sides of the glass. He has worked with many leading metal bands over the years including Megadeth, Nevermore, Soulfly, Killswitch Engage, Testament and just recently completed tracks through the AWS 900+ SE for Megadeth and the Norwegian metal band, Dimmu Borgir. Sneap likes the solid sonic foundation he is getting from the console.
"I've been convincing myself for the past several years that my tracks sound good in the box, and they do, but I find you have to take a different approach," relates Sneap. "Now that I am back to an SSL console, the tracks sound great right from the start. Everything that I run through the console has an openness to it and you simply can't beat it. I think the headroom makes a huge difference and the punch I get with my compressor settings gives a certain edge to the material that really suits rock and metal. The EQ was something I noticed as soon as I began working on a metal guitar track. I started dialing in guitar frequencies and rediscovered the top end sizzle that can be so hard to get right. The analogue EQ feels better and seems more responsive than a plug-in. I can actually dial that sound in with a plug-in after a bit of work, and I've been doing it for years, but going back to the SSL makes my life much easier. The sound is right there in front of you."
In the final analysis, the making of music is about producing a final product that best represents the creative intent of the artist and, with the AWS 900+ SE, the intentions are clear.
"I mixed the Megadeth tracks through the console and the group loves the sound," states Sneap. "This was the first project completed through the AWS and everyone involved is thrilled with the results. You can't get better than that."