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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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.

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.