This article was originally published in Playback Issue 002. Subscribe to Playback for free to stay up to date with our latest articles, interviews, product reviews and more.
While visiting Bob Clearmountain at his home studio for this interview, we talked about some of his most essential pieces of gear. Read on to learn about the console, EQs, and compressors that have helped Bob get the job done on records for Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, and many more.

SSL J Series Console

"I bought the SSL in 1994 and it was expensive, I mean it was close to half a million dollars. Plus, I had these big digital tape machines which were $200,000 you know? So I spent a lot of money on this analog gear so I need to keep using it [laughs]. Also, I started on the E Series back in ’79, and the E Series is not that much different than the G Series. The first one at Power Station, I was responsible for ordering the first E Series SSL in the United States. So I got to know it really well.

I think I became associated with SSL, a lot of people knew our association. I became pretty tight with the company. But it just worked for me, you know I loved the automation, and I kind of evolved with their system over the years, and the thing still works. It works great. It’s 25 years old and it’s still working fine. It’s got a couple little problems here but I can usually fix the little problems that it has, I’m pretty good with a soldering gun actually. I just love it.

I’ve done a couple in the box mixes and they came out pretty good to be honest, I wasn’t disappointed. You know people say “Oh, you can’t get as good of a sound in the box as you can on a console.” I don’t know if that’s true, I really don’t know. Maybe, but I’m just so much more comfortable on a console and I can work much faster, cause I don’t have to tell something what I want it to do, it just does what I want it to do. I can hit 10 EQ’s on 10 channels in a matter of seconds, whereas trying to do that in the box is pretty tough. I feel like it’s a lot more efficient, and it’s just more fun. I’m just more comfortable working on an analog console.

Pultec EQP-1A3

"The pieces that I probably wouldn’t want to do without would be Pultec’s first off. The EQP-1A3 I just think are just invaluable. It’s amazing, it’s such an old design from the 60’s but there’s something about them. You put that on guitar, and it just sounds better. You can brighten something and it doesn’t get harsh. On drums, I always have a Pultec on the snare drum. It’s amazing for just about anything; piano I love putting it on. In fact the two Pultec’s that I bought from Vintage King, they’re always on the piano. I use an SSL compressor into the Pultecs."

UREI LA-3A And 1178

"The UREI compressors, the LA-3As I love. I would use LA-2As but I have four LA-3As here and I have a couple more LA-3As at the other studio.  They’re just incredible for vocals, because they’re very transparent. You can do quite a bit of compression without it sounding compressed. They’re just incredibly great for vocals.

I also use the 1178s, which is like two 1176s. I actually prefer the 1178 for some reason. Well first of all, you can get two for the price of one, in fact they’re a little cheaper than one. They’re a little cheaper than a black face 1176, the 1178 you can actually get for less money. Of course, now that I’ve said that, it’s going to probably change [laughs].

They’re great, plus they’re stereo, I use them on stereo toms all the time. I use them on snare drum and vocals. I go back and forth on the vocals depending on the song. You hear the compression a bit more on an 1176. So sometimes, on some rock stuff, I really want to hear it pumping a bit.


Jeff LeibovichIf you have any questions about the gear Bob Clearmountain mentioned in his interview, we're here to help! Contact one of our Audio Consultants via email or by phone at 866.644.0160.