Our friends at RSPE Audio Solutions of Los Angeles recently had the pleasure of helping the Grammy-winning mixer-engineer configure his Avid Pro Tools S6 model M40 control surface. After spending only a few minutes with the Avid Pro Tools S6, Mick knew he had a hit on his hands—and considering the fact that he’s sat at some very prestigious consoles over the years, we wanted to know just what it was about the Avid Pro Tools S6 M40 that made him say, “I want one. I want it now!”
No other industry has embraced the purchase of new equipment as a necessary part of doing and improving business more than the pro audio industry. For a while, it was a point of intense pain for studio owners who would purchase a 6-figure, large-format console to attract clients, only to have something hit the market a year later for a fraction of the cost, smaller in size, and offering more features while creating the necessary client-attracting buzz (aka Pro Tools). On the plus side, it’s nice to know that when the need arises, you can spend a lot less these days and get much more bang for the buck. Such is the case with the Avid S6 and veteran, multi-platinum mixer, Mick Guzauski, whose recent relocation to Los Angeles meant saying goodbye to his trusty Sony OSX-R3 Oxford console and hello to a new Avid S6 M40 modular console/control surface. This is just an excerpt from RSPE's interview with Mick Guzauski.
RSPE: What was it about the Avid Pro Tools S6 that made you say, “I gotta’ get me one of these?”
Mick Guzauski: Well, the controls were all in very logical places. A big thing for me was the color-changing OLEDs; it was so easy at a glance to tell what the function of any knob or switch was. Also, the comprehensive control over the system from the center-section touch screen and focus fader; and that it could be configured any way you want—you could have a lot of faders and fewer knobs, or knobs on every channel. You could have a high density of controls near the center and then just faders off to the sides—it can be configured any way you’d like it. Also, the metering was great because you could see the waveforms scroll on the meter bridge aside from the normal metering. And in the future, they were showing me that EQ curves could be up there as well. There’s also gain reduction metering next to the faders following what Pro Tools is doing . . . and that’s just with the 15-20 minutes I had with it.
RSPE: You mentioned the configurability of the Avid Pro Tools S6; do you have a plan in mind or are you just going to load it up with faders and knobs?
Mick Guzauski: At first I’m not going to load it up. I’m thinking 24 faders with the M40 frame, and either eight or 16 of them having a full complement of knobs.
RSPE: Will you set it up for specific functions, for example, a certain section dedicated to sub-master busses etc?
Mick Guzauski: I usually mix with layouts—I use the (Avid) Artist Pro Tools controllers now—where in every layout I have my master fader, lead vocal fader, and faders I always need, that I put in the same place in every layout and let everything else move. The Avid Pro Tools S6 doesn’t have layouts yet—I’m sure it will in a later software revision, so I think I would probably use that the same way.
RSPE: So in other words you’d custom-configure the hardware to match your working template?
Mick Guzauski: Yes.
RSPE: You’ve sat at some very prestigious consoles; you have a Sony Oxford, and more recently mixed Daft Punk’s new record, Random Access Memories, on a Neve 88R. Do you feel you’ll get equal or better results with the Avid Pro Tools S6?
Mick Guzauski: I think so, yeah. Well, we’re talking two different animals there between the 88R and the Avid. You could compare the Avid Pro Tools S6 more to the Oxford, in that the Avid S6 is controlling Pro Tools DSP and they’re both fully automated digital consoles. Yeah, I think I could definitely get as good results or better, because we have higher sampling rates now.
RSPE: I had to ask; I assumed you wouldn’t take a step backward in results.
Mick Guzauski: No . . . Still, I think there’s a place for analog consoles . . . I mean there is a difference, and it’s great to record to an analog console, or at least external preamps. There’s definitely a place for the 88R and things like that—but I think the S6 is going be a great digital console because it’s so well integrated with Pro Tools.
RSPE: Since you’ve used the Sony Oxford console—I’m a huge fan of the Sonnox plug-ins— . . .
Mick Guzauski: So am I . . .
RSPE: . . . the question that came to mind was whether you felt that the combination of the Avid S6 and Sonnox plug-ins would give you familiar ground to work from?
Mick Guzauski: Yeah. I use the Sonnox plug-ins, especially the EQ plug-in a lot, and I would definitely continue using it. It sounds very much like the Oxford. It’s probably my favorite digital EQ. It has a nicer, smoother top-end air than any other EQ I’ve heard in the digital domain.
RSPE: What about Avid conversion—how do feel that’s sounding these days?
Mick Guzauski: I think it’s great! I just got a new 16x16 hardware for Pro Tools (Avid HD I/O)—very nice, smooth converters. I’m using some now feeding a Manley Massive Passive and Manley Vari-Mu to have some nice tubes and transformers on the stereo bus and get a little coloration; it’s very sweet, very smooth—the Avid converters sound great.