Los Angeles–based producer and engineer Tony Shepperd (pictured) has recorded and mixed artists such as Kenny Loggins, Take 6, Whitney Houston and the Backstreet Boys in his project studio, Tonysound, a converted garage in the San Fernando Valley that Shepperd designed and built. Shepperd’s album credits span more than 20 years, and Tonysound is widely regarded in Southern California as one of the best home studios in the Los Angeles area.
For recent projects, Shepperd has relied on A-Designs’ 2-channel, solid-state Pacifica mic preamp (a 2006 TEC Award nominee) and REDDI tube direct box. Bassist Reggie Hamilton recommended A-Designs’ products to Shepperd. “Reggie and I were working on a project for Whitney Houston,” recalls Sheppeard, “and he walked in with this big, bright red DI box. I said, ‘Dude, did you bring the fire hydrant in with you?’ But he said I had to hear it, so we plugged the REDDI in and it was absolutely amazing. It’s still the best-sounding bass DI box I’ve ever heard.”
Based on that experience, Shepperd contacted A-Designs’ Peter Montessi, who suggested that he also try out the company’s Pacifica preamp. According to Shepperd, “The Pacifica has the depth of a Neve, the top end of a GML and the punch of an API all rolled into one great mic pre. There’s something truly wonderful about this box. If you listen to an artist performing in the tracking room and then go into the control room, it sounds even better than the real thing. It’s amazing. The Pacifica has become my definitive, go-to pre, regardless of whether I’m working on pop, jazz or R&B.”
Shepperd recently helped out Nathaniel Kunkel by tracking some background vocals for Diana Ross’ upcoming record at Tonysound. “Peter [Asher] brought these three ladies in to sing, and we put each one of them on a separate mic, eventually switching over to having them all sing into a single AKG C12 VR,” Shepperd says. “We went from the C12 into the Pacifica on to a Tube-Tech CL 1B and straight to Pro Tools HD3 at 96k, 24-bit, and it was stunning. Peter was just freaking about how good the sound was—absolutely loving it—and he’s certainly someone who knows a good sound when he hears it. The Pacifica was a big part of that.”
Shepperd points out that many producers, engineers and artists who visit his studio are fond of the Pacifica on acoustic guitars. “It just rings through in the track,” he notes. “I worked on some new demos with Kenny Loggins about a month ago. It had been two years since we did his last record together, long before I had the Pacifica, and after he knocked out some guitar stuff, he looked at me and said, ‘What did you change? It sounds even better than before.’ Since I started using this box, people tell me that all the time.
“Same goes for the REDDI, though,” he continues. “I did a session with Jimmy Haslip [bassist of The Yellowjackets] two weeks ago and he said, ‘What did you put on my bass?’ I told him that I didn’t put anything on his bass; we simply went into the REDDI to the Pacifica to the Tube-Tech, and that’s what he was hearing. He couldn’t believe it. It was just perfect. As a general rule, I don’t like to use a lot of EQ. In fact, I try to get away with using no EQ whatsoever when tracking. And that’s what I love about the REDDI; it sounds fabulous right out of the box.”