Three On A Tree

al Herzberg? Engineering credits include The Black Eyed Peas, Christina Aguilera, David Bowie, Green Day, Herbie Hancock, Missy Elliot, Pink, Rod Stewart, Sum 41, and many more? Oh yes. We asked him THREE questions picked at random from our random question machine. Read on.

1. What is your main recording medium these days?

Tal Herzberg: I have been recording exclusively on Digidesign’s Pro Tools systems since 1994. My current setup is Pro Tools HD ACCEL3, 5 x 192 I/O interfaces, SYNC I/O master clock, MIDI I/O interface, and a plethora of software plug-ins. I use analog tape for stereo mix down, mostly 1-inch, sometimes 1/2-inch. I find analog tape saturation and compression in the bottleneck stage of the mixing process to be some sort of “magic glue” — it smoothes the top end, and tightens the bottom.

But I love my SSL AWS900 console, which is the centerpiece of my private studio (at the Henson Studios complex in Hollywood). It’s a dual function board — the first layer is a super high quality analog front end to the Pro Tools rig (preamps, EQs, compressors, monitoring and switching, all based on their K series flagship analog console), and the second layer is a Pro Tools DAW controller (based on the HUI protocol). It sounds incredibly good, and turns any recording and mixing process into a more streamlined experience than just working In-The-Box. The console’s small footprint keeps you in the “sweet spot” all of the time, which helps in building a great sounding, wide image mix, very fast. Another amazing tool I have discovered recently is Waves’ GTR, which is a series of plug-ins and a DI box, geared toward direct recording of electric guitars into a DAW. You must hear it to believe it. The modeled sounds of the amps and cabinets, combined with a great selection of stomp-box styled effects, made me rethink the conventional way of recording electric guitars, and for the first time choosing the direct path upon it.

2. Who were your engineering heroes when you were getting started?

TH: As a musician growing up, I noticed how good Beatles’ albums sounded, and I’ve been idolizing George Martin since then, especially considering what little and primitive means he had to work with. In 1991, when I was 21, I bought Jellyfish’s Bellybutton CD, which was produced, recorded, and mixed by Jack Joseph Puig, and it changed my life. This album sounded so good, that it made me decide to branch into sound production. I still consider this to be one of the best sounding albums I’ve ever heard.

3. Is there anyone in the world you would like to record?

TH: Since Frank Zappa is no longer with us, I will settle for Jack Johnson, Ray LaMontagne, and John Mayer.