Tommy Vetterli at the New Sound Studio.
Pro Sound News recently spoke with Tommy Vetterli, a trash metal guitarist with bands including Coroner and Kreator and owner of The New Sound Studio in Switzerland, where a custom Cadac Clive Green console makes up the heart of the studio.
Q: What is your background with music and music production, and how does it help you run The New Sound Studio?
A: As a guitarist, I have played among others with Coroner, Kreator, VooDoo Cult and Stephen Eicher. I’ve also done a lot of session jobs for artists in a variety of styles.
Of course, both the Studio and I personally benefit from that experience and reputation. But I also believe that you can’t excel at this job if you are not a good musician. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule, but I myself have, for example, worked with a highly trained engineer who, as soon as the beat stopped being straight 4/4, screwed up each and every punch-in because he had no feeling for the groove. And an analog Studer has no ‘undo’ button!
Q: When did you decide to start your own studio and how long have you owned The New Sound Studio?
A: The studio itself has been around since 1980. I worked there for 10 years before 2005, when I took over the whole thing. In every band that I’ve played with in the past, I was always the one who recorded the demos. Recording, producing and mixing has always fascinated. When I had the opportunity to record in proper studios with professionals, I was sometimes very disappointed with the results. I was convinced that I could do it much better if I would acquire the necessary technical know-how, so I worked my way via the 4-track tape recorder through ADAT to today’s top studio.
Q: Where is the studio located?
A: The New Sound Studio is located in the middle of Switzerland, about half an hour from Zurich, right by the beautiful Lake Zurich.
Q: What kind of music do you record at The New Sound Studio? Do you have a preference?
A: Because of my past as a rock and metal musician, these styles are of course very present (at the studio). We do, however, also work with anything from urban, to jazz, to pop, to punk. Personally, I have no preference. Even if it sounds like a cliché, for me there’s only good music and bad music.
Q: What is the set up in the studio?
A: The centerpiece is a custom-made Clive Green (Cadac) 52 track analog console. We record with a fully equipped Pro Tools HD system and a Studer A80 tape machine. I love the tape sound, but digital also has its advantages. You can get quite close to the sound of tape with the Burl AD Converter, for example.
The large listening system is a Quested Q412, and as near field, we use Pawel Acoustics Elektra and Auratones.
When it comes to plug-ins, in my opinion, there is no plug-in that gets close enough to the sound of analog compressors. We use original ADR Compex and Vocal Stesser from 1970 (known for the legendary Led Zeppelin drum sound), Inward Connections Vac Rac, Teletronix LA-2A and LA-3A, Purple Audio MC 76, Alan Smart C2, Distressors, Fatso, API 2500 and more. Our plug-ins include Waves, MDW, Massey, Sonnox and Soundtoys.
For reverb, I prefer the outboard version: I use EMT 140 and EMT 240 Plates, Lexicon 480.
Q: What is a Clive Green console? What makes it unique compared to other consoles?
A: Well, actually it’s a Cadac console from the 1980s. Clive Green is the brain behind Cadac, who is not as well known in recording areas as, for example, Neve or SSL. In Europe, there are only six or seven consoles such as mine, as they were at least 1.5 times the cost of a Neve back in the day. Technicians that have worked with it know that this is one of the best sounding consoles, and no other manufacturer has matched this quality, or has ever reached their frequency and phase response.
Many legendary recordings of Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Kinks, Jethro Tull, Motorhead, Jeff Beck, Gary Moore and Def Leppard were produced with such a console. Unfortunately, Cadac stopped producing studio consoles in the mid-80s and set focus only on live consoles.