Simon Phillips Makes BAE Audio Preamplifiers Standard ‘Protocol’

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Revived Vintage Console at Phillips’ Phantom Recordings Sports BAE Audio 1084 and 1272 Modules, for 'Classic Sound without the Rust'

Drummer extraordinaire turned producer Simon Phillips knows a thing or two about what vintage gear sounds like, and has a special appreciation for BAE Audio. Phillips recent production triumphs are manifested in Protocol’s latest effort, entitled Protocol III, and Billie Rainbird’s Deep Blue: both recorded through Phantom Recordings’ unique vintage 16-channel 4-buss mixing desk fully retrofitted with BAE Audio 1084 and 1272 modules.

“I began my recording career in the early 70s at the age of 16, and I played through a lot of classic consoles of that era around London when they were still new,” he says. As his renown as a session drummer mounted, his knowledge of studio technology also gained notice, ultimately resulting in his first opportunity as a studio engineer on a 1983 session for Mike Oldfield. “There are a lot of vintage consoles and they’re beautiful and they sound great, but time has changed them. I can pretty much guarantee they don’t sound the same as they did back then,” Phillips notes.

“I was co-producing the record, and knowing the ropes around the studio was suddenly told, ‘You’re the engineer now.’” Today Phillips owns and operates his own studio, Phantom Recordings, in Sherman Oaks California, where he has recorded his own band Protocol and many other internationally recognized artists. BAE Audio’s 1084 and 1272 modules are an integral part of his signal chain at Phantom Recordings, and the sonic results meet both Phillips high standards and those of his clients.

BAE Audio’s faithful recreations of classic British preamplifiers, which include the very same Carnhill input and output transformers used in the originals, were perfect for resuscitating the aging console, “bringing it to life,” as Phillips says. “I use it as a tracking board of course with the great input and EQ sections of the 1084,” Phillips explains, “and I’ve also been using it as a 16-channel summing board for my ProTools HD sessions by routing the channels into the line inputs of the 1084s and then routing those into the 1272 busses.” For Phillips, this method is consistently superior to mixing entirely in the box. “Splitting the mix into stems and incorporating the analog signal path adds something to my mixes that I find very pleasing to the ear.”

Visualizing the Audio
When it comes to micing up a session, Phillips has a unique approach to assessing the best setup. “I’m very visual, I see what the session entails – what the line-up is, what the music is like – and I get a mental picture of what it’s going to sound like,” Phillips explains. Whether he’s behind the kit or not, he pays special attention to how drums are recorded. “I prefer to use condensers on both overheads and close mics the majority of the time,” he says, “and they go right into the 1084 modules.” Phillips loves how the 1084 performs on guitars as well. “When you mic up a 4x12 cabinet you often end up with a lot of muddy low end, so I really appreciate having access to the 1084’s hi-pass filter to control some of that.” Brass and piano are some of the other instruments that Phillips says really shine through the 1084s, though he concedes, “everything sounds wonderful through them, really.”

The More That Things Change
Phillips has been in the industry long enough to have worked with many iterations of recording technology. “While a lot has changed, the basic signal path is still the same: a microphone, a cable, a preamplifier, a recording device,” Phillips says. “With digital recording you can go back and tweak a lot of things after the fact, but you’ve got to get the signal chain right the first time, and that’s why BAE Audio is such a great choice for vintage sound and modern reliability.”
For more information on any of BAE Audio's preamplifiers, please visit http://www.baeaudio.com.

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Jeff Touzeau
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