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Katalyst at Grandmaster – Recording with Focusrite Red

We went to Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood to record Katalyst – a 10-piece instrumental band – with engineer Matt Pliskin and renowned producer/musician Mark de Clive Lowe.

Designed by legendary acoustic designer Don Davis, Grandmaster, located at the heart of Hollywood since 1971, has played host to hundreds of classic artists and albums. In pride of place in the control room is the 1973 Neve 8028 Console – the last standard Class A console that Neve ever made.

Katalyst was formed in 2014. Since then, they have gone on to play in the prestigious Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, backing recording artist Dion at Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek’s Reflection Eternal concert at the Belasco Theater, and a host of events and concerts in the Los Angeles area.

Katalyst’s style of music can best be described as “contemporary instrumental”. Every member of “The Kats” writes and composes as well as playing. Katalyst is not just a band: it’s a collective of producers, composers, session musicians, and writers, handling film scoring, producing tracks for artists, or arranging and performing an artist’s music for a live show.

Katalyst’s instrumentation includes drums, bass, guitar, two keyboard players – one of them playing piano in this case – tenor sax, alto sax, trumpet, trombone and a sousaphone player who also played a Novation Bass Station synth with his free hand on this recording.

Engineer Matt Pliskin works with Focusrite as a Red and RedNet product specialist. “Given Katalyst’s style of music,” he said, “it was natural choice to track them together, live, rather than in an overdub-type approach. This meant we needed more than the typical 24 inputs that the studio is equipped for. We brought in our Red 8Pre as the audio interface, along with two portable racks with four RedNet MP8Rs spread between them. This gave us a total of 40 mic inputs to work with.”

“One of the great things about the Red 8Pre is the fact that it has Dante connectivity,” Pliskin continued. “This allowed us to connect to some other of our Dante network-connected devices, in this case our Focusrite RedNet units. This is wonderful because everything connects together with standard Ethernet cables.” A single Ethernet cable ran into each of the live rooms and brought all the audio in and out of the control room. “So it was easy to record nine people in the wood room and the piano in the cement room,” Pliskin noted.

The Red 8Pre was used to get all the audio in and out of Pro Tools|HD. Using the Red 8Pre’s built-in monitor mix capabilities, the artists were able to control their own headphone mixes, using the Focusrite Control App for iOS. RedNet AM2s provided headphone sends to the artists.

“With almost anything you plug in to a RedNet mic pre, it’s going to sound great. But especially with a band like this, where you have so much going on – so much dynamic to it – it really shines,” Pliskin commented enthusiastically.

“I would say that the Red 8Pre is the best audio interface that Focusrite has ever made,” Pliskin opined. “There are really no compromises here. From the beautiful front panel to the excellent displays that show you all the information you need, plus access to your mic pre controls, as well as comprehensive software control. Not only that, you have a huge array of I/O, whether it’s mic preamps, line inputs, ADAT inputs, S/PDIF inputs, as well as the Dante connectivity that allows for quite a lot of expansion. It’s extremely versatile,” he concluded.