L to R: Mastering engineers Dale Becker and Bernie Becker with the Neve Genesys
Bernie Becker recently acquired a new 16-channel Neve Genesys stereo/5.1 mixing console from Jason Cropper at GC Pro for use at his Bernie Becker Mastering facility, which is located within Firehouse Recording Studios in Pasadena, CA. The portability of the compact desk allows Becker — a longtime studio owner and engineer who has also spent years on the road as a monitor mixer and live recording engineer for Neil Diamond — to easily move the Genesys between Firehouse and Diamond’s Arch Angel Studio in Los Angeles.
PAR: What attracted you to the Neve Genesys?
Bernie Becker: I do love the Neve 88R and was always very attracted to the sound of that console. And at Firehouse, they have a ton of 1084s, some older Brent Averill 1084s, and this is right there. Except, in my mind, it’s nice because it’s brand new, and you don’t have some of the problems that you get [with old modules]. I noticed right away with the 88R that there was just something in the mic pre and the EQ that I liked. So when I first heard [the Genesys] was a possibility, I thought it sounded like a combination that might work for me. The mic pres sound like a Neve, and the EQ is definitely that EQ.
PAR: Are you using it mainly for tracking and mixing?
BB: We use the rooms at Firehouse a lot. Last year, I did quite a few silent movie soundtracks for Fox, working with several great composers who had access to original scores. I’ve got people with instrumental music or music that’s acoustic in origin where they’re trying to maintain a little bit more space. We also do the occasional rock or jingle thing. I mix maybe 10 projects a year. And sometimes, we’ll even use it in the mastering room. I like iron and wire. Sometimes people bring in a project that’s missing something; when you bring it up on the board and spread it out through 16 channels, and sum all those channels, in spite of the things that in our minds might be technically bad — like phase shift and the way that the wire rolls off or adds frequencies — it suddenly feels like there’s some movement.
PAR: It seems to be a nice hybrid, with digital control of an analog signal path.
BB: And it’s a great DAW controller. I get so frustrated mixing with a mouse! You’ve got eight extra stereo bus faders. You can use them as subgroups or they get assigned to a DAW mode so you can use them to control your workstation. There’s a mic input into each module, a balanced line input, an Input 2, and there’s a DAW input as well, so you could have a lot of different inputs sitting there and just choose between them. Since there’s a main path and a monitor path, you can pick the order of the dynamics, the EQ, and two inserts, and you can assign what you want in each path. You can choose where the direct output comes — right after the mic pre, after processing, before the fader, after the cut button. It comes with recall software. I love the fact that I can store a setup for each song, or for a tracking setup.
PAR: Have you been using the console at Neil Diamond’s studio?
BB: Neil had a couple of number-one products this past year. We probably mastered five or six different things for him last year. He’s always doing something. Arch Angel has this really nice API board; it has a nice bus sound to it for mixing. A lot of times when we’re on the road, we have to sum things when we’re listening, but when we get back to the studio, we can break it out. Having the Genesys sitting side by side with the API, doing the same mix and being able to go back and forth, was a nice way to qualify that I’d made a good decision. I’m super-stoked about it.
Steve Harvey is the West Coast editor for Pro Sound News