September 7, 2016 · Los Angeles, Calif. – In-demand engineer and mixer Jeff Ellis perfected his craft working on vintage consoles like the one at Eastwest Studios in Hollywood, where he started as an intern before working his way up to a house engineer. “The first console I learned on was a classic British console with 1073 mic pres,” Ellis says. “That’s all I heard through the first few years of my career, so the that sound will always feel like home to me.” Ellis quickly realized that there was something about the design of these vintage circuits that made it a critical tool for making records at the highest level. Since going independent to work on Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE and collecting a Grammy Award in the process, Ellis continues to value that classic sound in his signal chain.
“Almost any good studio will have at least a rack of 8 vintage-style pres regardless of what console is being utilized in the room, it’s that important,” he says. “I’ve encountered BAE Audio pres in many of these studios, and have always used them interchangeably with vintage channels.” When it came time to outfit his own project studio, located within the Bedrock.LA studio complex, Ellis turned to the compact and versatile BAE Audio 1073 DMP to deliver the vintage tone he loves.
Keeping It Classic at Home
Although Ellis often has the opportunity to work in major studios with some of his well-known clients, his project studio is still a key part of his work. “My project studio is my home base of operations,” Ellis explains. “It is designed to have the vibe that inspires me and is located exactly where I want to be, inside of Bedrock.LA studios. That said I like to keep my gear mobile as I am often working in various studios around the world. One thing that’s cool about the 1073 DMP is that I can grab it and go and it easily integrates with my other mobile gear.” Having used a BAE 1073 rack preamp recently on Frank Ocean’s Aaliyah tribute “You Are Luhh,” he knew the 1073 DMP could deliver world class vocals, thanks in no small part to the use of the same Carnhill St Ives transformer specified in the vintage 1073 designs like those used on channel ORANGE and Ocean’s recently-released BLONDE.
Aside from its phenomenal performance on vocals and instruments, the 1073 DMP is also a versatile creative tool for crafting exciting new sounds. “It overdrives in a really cool way, so for example you can take a line level send off of drums and feed that into the mic level input of the pre you can get some really great distortion that can be used in myriad ways during production. You don’t have to follow any rules!”
Inviting Great Performances
For Ellis, there is no secret to an amazing mix. “Most of it comes from the arrangement of the song, the quality of performer, and the production aesthetic,” he says. “If this was all recorded well with gear you trust, then it comes together naturally in the mix room.” Ellis says he owes his success to keeping the flow going during sessions. “I care most about logistics, ease of use, and any factor that helps me make a session run more fluidly. I will not use any piece of gear that I think might get in the way of that. I really love that I can throw up the BAE 1073 DMP and not worry about faulty vintage circuitry or aging transistors.” The reliability and workflow results in a better end result for Ellis. “You ultimately get better art and better recordings if everything is working as designed the first time, and I can count on the 1073 DMP for that.”
A Future Classic
Ellis loves BAE Audio because of its unique combination of attributes. Hand-wired in California to the exacting specifications of a time-tested design like all BAE Audio gear, the 1073 DMP is a classic that Ellis can count on for years to come. “I have seen so many great studio moments lost due to failing or poorly maintained vintage gear and it’s just not worth it,” Ellis says. “I work quickly in the studio so that I never let a moment of artistic expression slip by, and with the BAE gear you get the best of both worlds: vintage sonics and reliability. I love classic consoles, but it’s difficult to keep gear from the 70s working perfectly all the time. I wont have to worry about that with my DMP until I’m about 70 years old.”