Production Values: Renaissance Man (Bonus)

Producer/engineer/musician Carmen Rizzo talks about his production style and challenges, his computers, and his first film scoring job. He also offers tips for better studio productivity.
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This online bonus material supplements the "Production Values: Renaissance Man" feature story in the August 2007 issue of EM.

Carmen Rizzo's Gear

What''s your main sequencer in your studio?
I''m a Pro Tools user. It''s my main instrument — my main tool. I use it to record with and I also use it to sequence with. I run it on a Mac — a new Xeon, a Quad 3 GHz. I have a deal with Intel, so I have an Intel-based Mac. Then I use an iMac, which is a PowerPC, a non-Intel, as a VST host, which runs Ableton Live and Logic. Rarely Logic, usually Ableton Live — about 95 percent of the time. And I also have a 2.3 GHz Dual Core Dell Intel, on which I run Ableton Live as a VST host for the PC instruments that I can''t use on the Mac. And then of course I use an Intel MacBook, a black one, as well, in the studio and on the road, and then I have a white Intel MacBook which I do visuals with on the road.

Are all of your computers synced up via MIDI?
They''re all linked. I hit play — it''s like NASA control center — I hit play, and they all are in sync. I lock them with MIDI beat clock. I use M-Audio hardware for the laptops and the iMac, and then of course I use HD3, TDM [hardware] for Pro Tools.

How are you getting the audio between the computers? Through FireWire?
Good question. These days, I run the audio through an M-Audio NRV10 [mixer /audio interface], which is a godsend. And that is an instrument in itself. And you can use it as sort of a looping tool and an interactive tool between your audio hardware and the computer, or you can use it as a great 12-input mixer.

What else is in your setup?
The hardware for the audio is all M-Audio, from a FireWire 410 to a Fastrack Pro to an Audiophile Ozonic. The keyboards and controllers are M-Audio, and I also have a Roland JP-8000, an Alesis Micron, and a Korg Micro-X, and I use the original Korg Electribe. And then I have an E-mu Audity, which I love, which is rare now. I also use a Novation XioSynth, and my other hardware consists of various things from a Roland Space Echo, the original 201, to an Electrix MoFX.

What about your mic pres and other input gear?
For the recording stuff, I use a Brent Averill API stereo mic pre with DI boxes included; I''m a fan of his stuff. I have two DBX 165As, I''ve got an Altec compressor, and a Pultec Mavec. I also have a UREI 1145 parametric EQ. And then an AN2, which is a Studio Technologies stereo simulator.

What about mics?
I have an assortment, including a Neumann TLM-103, AKG, Sony, and CAD mics, which I love. I have the new valve one and the solid-state one — the lollipop one — which are great. And I also use the M-Audio Sputnik.

I have these amazing new speakers, which are Tannoy, Precision 6 with a subwoofer — amazing! I also use the M-Audio BSX-5s with the sub and KRK V-4s.

What about soft synths?
I use all of the Native Instruments stuff, mainly Battery 3, Reaktor, and Absynth. I use a lot of the G-Force stuff, which I love. I use a lot of the Digi instruments, which are quite good, like Hybrid, Strike, and Solid. Also overlooked are the IK Multimedia soft instruments. Sonic Synth is like a Swiss Army knife. That and SampleTank are brilliant. Sonic Synth is just so overlooked; it''s such a great instrument to have. I use so many soft synths, I could bore you.

Is there just one room in your studio, or do you have a live room and a control room?
I''ve got a little lounge, and I''ve got sort of one big room that has all the gear in it. And I''ve got a smaller room that''s separated with a glass door that I mainly do the recording in.

Do you record drums in there ever?
Not really. It''s mainly used for vocals, guitar sounds, and percussion. I haven''t recorded drums or strings in there. But I also kind of pride myself on my portable setup. I''ve traveled all over the entire world, recording on a laptop. That''s kind of my second rig, really, besides my studio in Hollywood, which is basically a MacBook Intel and a FireWire 410, which is M-Audio, and an M-Audio Transit, which is that little handheld thing. Because on the road I use M-Powered, which is important to mention. It''s another product that''s overlooked.

Read the Carment Rizzo interview on producing, mixing, playing and programming.