Producer Eugene Toale (pictured) says he never considered himself a fan of vintage preamps. “I’ve been engineering since 1999 and never really reached for vintage pre's,” Toale says. “I’m kind of a hi-fi person, so I worry about what transformers are in line and what I’m giving up and how much distortion I’m causing.”
But when a friend suggested he try the BAE Audio 1073DMP, he agreed to give the vintage design one last shot.
“To my surprise, I completely fell in love,” he says. Now the 1073DMP has become the workhorse of his studio inside the Bedrock LA complex, where he has developed a reputation as the go-to producer for Latin Alternative music. The 1073DMP was featured heavily on Buyepongo’s Todo Mundo, released in late 2015, and was used on all sources for the upcoming record by Las Cafeteras. “Using the 1073DMP has been like a revolution for me,” he says. “I’m using it for everything.”
Toale, who cut his teeth as an engineer in New York City working with top hip-hop artists including Kanye West and Raekwon, relishes the opportunity to use the 1073DMP in his work with the up-and-coming Latin Alternative music scene in Los Angeles.
“I’m now producing 12 of the Latin bands that are coming out of here,” Toale explains. “We’re not talking regional Mexican music. It’s more like the alternative music that the kids in Silver Park and Echo Lake are doing but sung in Spanish and always incorporating traditional influences.”
That unique blend of influences has provided Toale with an opportunity to test the mettle of the 1073DMP on a wide range of sound sources, including some traditional instruments less common to American studios. “I’m recording everything from high-tech dance sounds to indigenous Mexican instruments, and the 1073DMP has been amazing at capturing the nuances of all of them,” he says. “It has been an incredible addition to my toolbox to have a preamp that I could lean on in new ways.”
Toale says he has been surprised by how universally applicable the 1073DMP has been to all of his sources. “I’m not usually a one mic, one stand, one cable, one knob person, but I’ve kind of been able to lean on the 1073DMP for just about everything on the Las Cafeteras record.” That’s no small task, given that the band’s instrumentation includes instruments such as the zapateado, glockenspiel, quijada, requinto, and more. Pairing it with his favorite dynamic mic has become the de facto signal chain for any instrument.
“Instruments like congas and guiro have incredible detail that I’m not sure many engineers are really capturing," Toale says. "The 1073DMP preserves all of that.”
He says it also helps him control the harshness on metallic instruments. “The 1073DMP is not super dark like some vintage pre's, but somehow manages to make the really high end frequencies sound very pleasant even when an instrument might sound harsh in the room,” Toale says. “It’s remarkable how it softened my cymbals and metal shakers without throwing away high end clarity.”
Toale says he was able to fully appreciate the sound of the 1073DMP’s Carnhill/St. Ives transformers when he brought the sessions he had recorded into the mixing stage.
“The weight of all those transformers really adds up and gives the mix some heft,” he explains. “A lot of recent Latin music has an overly slick, bright, overproduced sound that I don’t care for. With the transformers in the 1073DMP, I’m able to capture something that has the glued-together sound of old school Latin music but with modern clarity.” He also notes how pleased he has been with the construction and functionality of the stepped knobs on the 1073DMP, which he describes as “pro as hell.”
Hand-wired and built at BAE Audio’s facility in California, the quality of the components and assembly pays dividends in the control room for Toale. “Sometimes I realize mid-take on a vocal that I’m on the wrong gain step and I’m able to make an adjustment without any kind of click or dead spot in the track,” he says. “That has saved me more than once!”
Toale says he has found the 1073DMP to be a versatile preamplifier that simplifies his workflow in the studio and enables creativity. “You can add color and saturation with 1073DMP if you want, but if you’re a little responsible with your gain staging it also works great as a rich, open preamp that will never do you wrong,” Toale says. “It just adds happiness. It’s not a matter of re-creating a vintage sound from my favorite record. It just sounds good—plain and simple.”
For this reason Toale sees himself turning to 1073DMP for a long time to come: “You can’t go wrong with one of these things and a good mic. I’m thrilled to fall in love with it.”
Find more information at www.baeaudio.com/products/1073dmp.
Eugene Toale's music can be heard on SoundCloud at soundcloud.com/eugenetoale.