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API Inspires Foo Fighters

Bucking the ongoing trend of digital audio, Foo Fighters' "Wasting Light" was recorded and mixed on an API 1608 console.

James Brown (left) and Butch Vig, with a noted band in the background graciously waving hello.

Jessup, MD (May 27, 2011)–Bucking the ongoing trend of digital audio, Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light was recorded and mixed on an API 1608 console.

The album, which moved more than 235,000 copies in its first week and made its debut at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart last month, was recorded and mixed completely on a 32-channel API 1608 console in frontman Dave Grohl’s untreated garage and spare room. Although many consoles would have fit Grohl’s spacing and input requirements, the API 1608 and its 16-channel expander were chosen for their topology and size.

“The API sound is great for rock,” said Wasting Light producer Butch Vig. “It’s not subtle and it’s not soft. When you turn the gain up on an EQ, you can really hear it. It’s musical. We drove the 1608 and colored the album with the pleasing sound of its subtle distortion.”

After the group decided on the recording desk, album engineer James Brown requested that the console’s 500-series expansion slots be filled with 16 API 550A 3-band EQs, eight API 500B 4-band EQs and eight 560 graphic EQs.

“I’ve always loved the API sound,” said Brown. “I grew up as an engineer on a pair of API consoles back at RAK Studios in England. The sound is very open and musical. Heading into the project, I was glad to have the API sound as a known quantity. Also, I knew it would withstand the heavy workload day in and day out.”

According to Vig and Brown, Grohl deliberately avoided any digital recording, mixing or mastering for reasons in addition to the sound quality. Grohl wanted to avoid the urge to “tweak and shift and polish” and to no longer rely on editing to fix any less-than-great takes, which meant a revival of the all-tape-based production techniques the Foo Fighters had used in its early years. They described their recording process as “challenging, yet inspiring.”