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Producer's Corner With Devin Powers

Posted on January 5, 2012 by Eric There have been 0 comments

ASCAP Award-winning producer Devin Powers burst onto the music scene in the early nineties. His band, Cats:Choir, toured up and down the West coast and sold-out shows night after night. The band climaxed when their hit album, House:of:Dog, skyrocketed to the top of the European music charts. From there, Devin parlayed his success to tour and record with such legends as John Entwistle of The Who and Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats.

In 1997, Devin and his band The Vents signed, along with Blink 182, to MCA Records through independent record-label Cargo. The Vents national tour was highly successful, which resulted in Devin being courted by executives from Universal Film and Television. What was Universal's attraction? Devin not only plays countless musical instruments, he is also a top-notch producer and composer. He was hired as the Music Composer and Supervisor for the smash hit reality relationship show Blind Date, composing over three thousand musical pieces- including the show's memorable theme song.

"I work fast, really, really fast, sometimes writing, recording and mixing 40 tracks or more per week for TV, so my set up has many doubles and the patch bay rarely gets touched, Except when I get new gear!! I record into Pro Tools with as many tubes and transformers as I can put in between me and the digital world.

Because I play all of the instruments myself, I like to leave things ready to record and have a few standard setups depending on the sounds I need to create. On a daily basis these are the units that get crushed, rocked, twisted and tilted to create music that squeezes out of boob tubes around the globe.

Neumann U67 for female singers, U47 for males singers, Manley Cardioid w/ a Calrad 500 crystal or Webster crystal attached to side for overloaded distortion vocals. KM54 for acoustics.

The above mics are either patched into, Mercury Redd 47 mic pre/ Mercury 66 Limiter, Chandler Germanium / Universal Audio La2a or Neve 1073/ Retro Sta - Level on fast attack setting. Lately I have been using a Steve Firlotte modded Magnecorder mic pre that is really warm and thick as well.

My Gretsch Maple kit lives in the next room and is always miked with Neve 1073s kick / D12 and snare Sm57, Fairchild 662 pre / Sennheiser 421 on toms, Neve 1073/ Royer 121s on over heads. Additionally, I have an Altec 1567a mixer with 57s on kick ,snare and a 609 on over head coming in on a mono track , this sound rules! (Beatles, Beach Boys) An Ampex MX10 with an AEA 44 clone about 5 feet in front of the Kick, and two Shure Levelocs for stereo room. These mic’s never move and the pres are never touched, I am ready to play drums anytime by opening up 12 tracks.

Guitars and bass parts are tracked either direct through Neve 1272, a Mercury M72, Telefunken v72 or and Avalon 737, or a combination of direct and mic’s. I favor small watt amps Supro, Airline, Tophat, Marshall 20 watt, My all time favorite guitar amp is The Wizard modern classic 100 watt through 25 watt Celestion speakers, but it’s load and my cat doesn’t like it as much as I do.

For Reverb I love my AMS 16, and have an old Fairchild mono verb that I send up the center through the Stereo AMS for some old school spring chime. It reminds me of those old Donovan records, very organic, and the Fairchild/ AMS combo sounds unbelievable to me!

TC 2290 for Echo, I use two for different times. Is there anything better!!

Harmonizer vocal effect are either my AMS 1580 or a H 3000 Eventide, I love my AMS and The Eventide is not getting as much use anymore, but it has so many great patches that help with shading things that I keep it patched in and ready.

When it comes time to mix I have several stereo limiters set up with Eq’s following them so I have many on the spot choices. These are all patched and ready to bring in as plug-ins inside my Pro Tools session.

The stereo bus usually has a Manley Vari-Mu into an Avalon 2055 (for ultra highs and lows) into a Massive Passive Mastering Version. This is my gentle chain and I barley touch these boxes and do not have them on all the time. When I want to make a statement I use a Shadow Hills mastering limiter into Mercury PQ-P tube EQ’s, this rig really can pump up the vibe quotient. My stuff goes straight to TV with out sweetening most times so I add whatever touches I think are needed, and I do the same for the Pop bands I work with so it sounds mastered when it leaves.

ProAc Studio 100s, NS10s and a Yamaha sub, that is barely on, help me find my way through the sonic jungle. My cat leave the room when I get a 4/5k build up, as long as he is sleeping under my board I know I am safe, when he leaves the room I know it’s time for an ear break.

I send the Pro Tools tracks into a 32 channel Chandler EMI mixer and usually go back in on two tracks for the mix, for theme songs and pop songs I go DAT or CD burner.

Inside the tracks is where I have my magic dust limiters and eq’s, which is where I guess I should list my fave pieces, although I love everything above and am not sure how I could live without them."


Devin's Favorite Gear:

  1. Vacuvox CL2 Limiter2
    For Vocals and Bass these things are just amazing!! Brauer turned me on to them. I have even use them on the Stereo bus, really thick.
  2. Presto 41 Limiter
    For anything, these have a shimmer and thickness that is just wonderful!!
  3. Retro Sta-Level
    These are newer Sta-Levels that just rock your bass and kick drum sub and also make a weak vocal come forward really nice, Phil Moore and the folks at Retro Rock!
  4. Mercury 66s
    When I want that Fairchild sound, especially on vocals and drums.
  5. Inward Connections Vac Rac TSL3 Limiter
    For back ground vocals and acoustic guitars, just fabulous. I even did some stereo bus with this unit.
  6. EMI Chandler Zener Limiter
    Amazing for drums like nothing else, they also take your guitars and pushes them right through your speakers in a very aggressive way.
  7. Federal Limiter
    These old military units have a very cool mid that when blended with a track they can add great fullness and tightness, most people use them for bass, I also use a pair on kick and snare sometimes wow!!!!! I have 2 Wunder Audio 1073 clones paired with these, the low on the Wunder and the mid in the Federal are a natural match.
  8. Dept of Commerce Limiter with Dale Kronquist Mod
    These units are getting harder to find and they need some work, but the have a very aggressive focused sound that really works wonders on acoustic guitars an vocals. The mod turns them unto true vai mu units, I call them my Lo Fi Fairchilds, but there is nothing Lo Fi About them except the price.
  9. E.A.R Limiters
    Sometimes I put these in place of my Manley Vari Mu or the Shadow Hills in the bus or on a bass track, very, very tight sounding.
  10. Universal Audio La3as into a pair of Quad 8 333 eqs
    I use this setup for guitars and keys it is a great sound and always works. Just a classic sound.
  11. Universal Audio 1176 Limiters into a pair of Calrec PQ 15s eqs
    Also for guitars and keys, sometimes vocals. The Calrec also sometime end up on my bus they sound so rock, I leave them in line with my 1176’s and tuner the limiter section off so I get that cool tranny tone from both the Urei and the Calrec, The top end on the Calrec is luscious.
  12. Neve 33609, Neve2254e, Alan Smart and API 2250 each followed by API 550a eqs
    I have 4 pair that have been modded with balanced in transformers by Avedis, makes them fuller and tougher sounding and boy, these get a lot of use. These combos just sound so amazing and as with all of the above they are patched in as plug-ins so I can play with combos very easily.
  13. Quad 8 Limiters into Quad 8 310 eq pres
    Usually with the limiter out: this combo is amazing for thick forward vocals and with the limiter in these guys do amazing things to a kick and a snare, reminds me of that warm Queens of the Stone Age sound, Old school and musical, the 10k on the Q8 eq is just perfect and focused, so is the 140 hz. very tough sounding, round and full, but no mush!!
  14. Telefunken v74
    I will put this in the bus right before my Mastering setups, Manley or Shadow Hills, Sometimes it add a warmth, other time it is not needed. When it works it is really magic. These are used sometime in mastering to bring the roundness back, the tubes in these the EF series have a great high end that make the Cymbals chime. Sometimes I run keyboard sample through these, it add that 3 dimensional sound that the sample are missing
  15. Lang PEQ2 stereo Pair
    These eqs have such a warm sound, just a touch can bring a vocal right into the track, anything sounds better through them. The bass eq sound is a great match with the mid-range punch of the Federal
  16. Altec 436s
    I have 4 and use them when I want some grit, there is a mod that makes them thicker and you can hit them really hard without artifacts
  17. Altec 1567s
    I run drums and vocals and bass back through these in my rack to get a vintage sound, to blend in with the dry track, these are a really cool trick, especially for fans of Lo-Fi edgy music, plus the low eq is so big in these, I am surprised the Hip-Hop guys aren't buying these all up.

This post was posted in Producer's Corner

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