Producer/engineer Brad Wood with his modular Tonelux analog mixer.Nashville, TN (February 12, 2008)–Say Anything made a splash with its debut a few years ago, but bent over backwards to avoid the sophomore slump with its 2-CD follow-up, In Defense of the Genre, which was recorded with a modular Tonelux analog mixer in the hands of producer/engineer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Sunny Day Real Estate).
Wood tracked drums, guitar and bass with the band at Electric Lady Studios in New York before returning to the Tonelux mixer in his Los Angeles studio to track vocals, electronics, and miscellany. He mixed all 27 songs with Pro Tools HD|3 Accel, with individual tracks and submixes to the Tonelux for final mixing, and a return to Pro Tools to record the two-channel mixdown.
Designed by Paul Wolff, Wood’s customized console consists of eight MX2 mono line inputs with sends, four FX2 dual line inputs with sends, two MP1a mic preamps, two TXC compressors, and one SM2 stereo master, for a system that has 16 mix inputs.
Having piloted many large-format consoles in his hundred-plus album career, Wood reflected on how he prefers to make records these days. “I’ll never sit behind a large console to mix a record again; I much prefer my computer monitor, my speakers, and my modest outboard gear. I can’t stand the comb filters that come off of a large console–it’s too much. At the same time, it’s obvious that when you take your mix into an API Legacy or comparable console, it instantly sounds better.”
To find a happy medium, Wood underwent a months-long test of all the leading small-format modular systems on the market. “The Tonelux sounded amazing,” he said. “It had tons of headroom. The first thing I did was send audio through it at unity. Just like those big consoles, it instantly sounded better. When I built a mix from scratch, I was sold. I could push it hard and it took it all and sounded solid. It wasn’t a tough decision. The Tonelux difference was obvious.”
Mixdown of In Defense of the Genre was challenging. As if mixing 27 songs, each with multiple sections in need of distinct treatment, weren’t enough, Say Anything’s six members were scattered across the country. Wood produced mixes, posted the results on a secure server, mixed other songs, received comments on the previous mixes, tweaked the mixes and reposted the results until everyone was happy. “The Tonelux modules are built to high tolerance,” he said, “which proved essential. I could recall a mix and know it would sound the same.”
With one Tonelux project finished, and Dar Williams on the way, Wood looks forward to filling the open space in his two Tonelux V-racks. “They’re just getting started,” he said. “And here I am with all this room to expand! Tonelux is really on to something, and I can’t wait to see what else they come up with.”