“They were sonically amazing and naturally I wanted them, but the investment was hard to justify financially for my own small home studio,” he says.
Luckily for Degiorgio – and many other project studio owners like him – Prism Sound was about to come up with a solution. Soon after completing the Abbey Road sessions he heard that the company was launching Orpheus, a multichannel Firewire computer interface that promised all the audio quality of Prism Sound’s internationally acclaimed converters, but at a much more affordable price.
“This was exciting news,” he says, “but the ultimate test was to see if Prism Sound had cut any corners with the sound quality. As soon as a unit was available I asked for a demo and was immediately impressed. Not only does Orpheus match anything I've heard before, but I personally think Prism Sound has improved upon its flagship model, the ADA-8XR, which I used at Abbey Road.”
Kirk Degiorgio has now bought an Orpheus and installed it in his project studio in Suffolk, where he is currently working on a second album for The Beauty Room – a band that he co-writes for as well as producing.
“I’m using Orpheus exclusively to record vocals and instrument overdubs,” he explains. “I usually use high-end outboard mic pre amps for all vocals and instruments, however the Orpheus' on board pre’s actually won the vote for certain vocal takes due to their natural transparency and sonic accuracy.”
Renowned throughout the dance music scene for his mixture of Detroit-style techno, funk, soul and jazz fusion, Degiorgio has been producing music since the early 1990s and has recorded under numerous aliases including As One, Elegy, Esoterik, Critical Phase and The Beauty Room (with the vocalist Jinadu). He has also founded two record labels – A.R.T and Op-Art Records – and released seminal material by artists such as Aphex Twin, Carl Craig and The Black Dog. Degiorgio’s reputation was further enhanced with the release of his As One albums "Reflections" and "Celestial Soul", both of which made the Muzik Top 30 albums for 1994/5. As a producer, his work with Clear and Shield was critically acclaimed for its unique style and beautiful electronic soundcapes.
Although he works in commercial studios around the world, Degiorgio’s main base is his project studio, where he uses a combination of Logic 8 and Pro Tools with an 8-core Mac Pro.
“I have a select few pieces of high-end outboard equipment from Neve, Daking and Cranesong and hardware synthesizers such as DSI Polyevolver and Moog Voyager,” he says. “I also use Native Instruments soft-synths and Sound Toys plug-ins.”
His decision to invest in an Orpheus was cemented by advances in technology, in particular new multi-core chipsets which meant that Native processing had reached a level where a dedicated DSP system such as Pro Tools was no longer essential.
He explains: “I decided to switch to a Native system using Logic 8. One advantage of going native was the wide choice of convertors available. I have recorded sessions using interfaces from Digidesign, Apogee, iZ Radar and while most of the top line converters from these companies are all very usable, I found the Orpheus to have the best sound for my tastes.”
For the new The Beauty Room album, which will be released later this year, Degiorgio decamped to Los Angeles where much of the tracking was done at Sunset Sound.
“It has been a joy to hear every nuance of the performances on the Orpheus D-A path,” he says. “The clarity, detail and separation in the D-A side alone is worth the price of the unit. The fact that you get 8 channels of A-D/D-A, Prism Sound Overkillers, 4 high-quality mic pre amps, top sample rate conversion - all in a convenient 1U firewire format - is simply stunning value. I'm putting Orpheus through its paces all day, every day at the moment. It is rock-solid in operation and even acts as a monitor control for my studio. Listening to my favourite all-time mixes for reference is dangerous with the Orpheus. It just makes you want to sit all day listening to your music collection!”
Ultimately, Degiorgio feels it doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles an interface has because the key issue is, and always will be, sound quality.
“Before I bought the Orpheus I was sceptical about how much difference there would be between mid-high end converters,” he says. “I suspected it would be a marginal difference but I was wrong. For a project studio owner to have access to this kind of quality is surely unprecedented at this price.”