Bristol, UK; May 2023 – “It’s safe to say we’ve stepped things up a gear with Los Dedos,” said audio engineer Ben Capp, after a successful session with the band in a Welsh residential studio, recently. Utilising his portable Audient kit comprising iD44 MKII and a brand new pair of EVO SP8s, Ben took a leap of faith procuring the mic pres so close to his planned session.
Thankfully it was a sure bet. “The results were great and this is thanks to Audient,” says the Bristol-based studio owner and FOH engineer. He has put in the hours in his own studio, on the road with jazz trio Mammal Hands and as in-house sound engineer for the 650 capacity Trinity Centre as well as the smaller Jam Jar venue.
More recently he has started to outgrow his city-centre studio space however, challenged by noise from neighbours, building work, reduced parking/loading and rent price hikes. As a result he has started to adapt his kit and become more flexible. “I’ve welcomed other ways to work, namely building a mixing space at home and investing in equipment which means I can be extremely mobile with recordings,” he says.
The Audient iD44 MKII audio interface was one such investment. “This was a bit of a game-changer for me. I can use it at home with its four great-sounding preamps and everything I need from a monitor controller. I can also take it to any recording session with a laptop in a small Peli and I’m away!”
What was missing however, was the channel count for recording a larger ensemble. “I’d been keeping an eye out for a set of ADAT preamps that I could integrate into the system, and control with the brilliant and intuitive iD software. I naturally looked at Audient, having had good experience with their products. I discovered that the EVO SP8’s could cover everything I was looking for in a small unit, with jack outs, the intriguing Smartgain function and all for a really good price. So I took a chance.”
Pleased with the first two EPs Ben had recorded, when the ‘razor-sharp trio’ Los Dedos approached him to record and mix their third, Ben grabbed the opportunity to test out his new setup. So he took it all with him to a studio he had worked in a few times before. “At Giant Wafer Studios you get a lovely sounding space with high ceilings, dead booths and great separation along with a whole range of vintage mics and outboard – and amazing views of the surrounding Welsh countryside.
“The 24-channels of installed Neve and API style preamps run into an Antelope Orion HD system via a patchbay so you can really get all the character you want from this studio and the well-treated rooms,” he explains. Despite this, he decided to bypass the Orion/RME MADIFace option, running everything into the iD44 and two EVO SP8 mic pres, giving a total channel count of 20 inputs.
“It went really smoothly and I’m really happy,” beams Ben, explaining how it all came together. He used the ADAT outs to run into the studios’ Behringer P16i and out to individual P16 headphone mixes. “That worked perfectly. The iD app made setting up the mixes extremely easy, grouping channels into the ‘Cue’ mixes, whilst running some things directly from Reaper, such as a click, guide and the recorded tracks for overdubs. I reserved a channel on the SP8 for my talkback, which again was simple to route.
He was impressed with the Smartgain feature too. “It really did save some time getting the levels right. All in all, this setup offered me convenience and efficiency. This allowed me to spend more time getting things right in other areas, such as mic placements and making sure the band were happy. For me this is just as important, especially when you’re the only engineer on the session.”
Was the band happy ultimately? “They were extremely happy with the recordings we captured and loved the way we could work.” Indeed, the EP is set to be released in autumn.
His iD44 is also coming with him to live gigs. Ben likes consistency with his choice reverbs no matter what the house desk is, so uses iD44’s versatile send/return routing. “I’ve started taking it out with a laptop running LiveProfessor on shows with Mammal Hands and Alabaster dePlume,” he says. “I then also have a couple of other inputs available for a desk recording if I want them.”
With a host of shows coming up, both he and his Audient gear sound like they’re going to be busy. Which is great, as he is confident he can rely on it. “Audient really considers the crucial things that smaller studios, producers and musicians are looking for, and package them into affordable and beautiful products that I for one find inspiring to use.”