British composer Mike Oldfield (pictured) has taken delivery of a Euphonix System 5-MC DAW controller for his personal studio. Oldfield, best known for his 1973 release Tubular Bells, is a multi-instrumentalist and composer whose style is an eclectic blend of progressive rock, folk, world music, classical and electronica.
Oldfield's System 5-MC features a Euphonix System 5 compatible control surface with 32 faders and the MC Media Application Controller centrally mounted in a standard MC frame. The workstation is integrated with Apple Computer's Logic Pro DAW application running on a Mac G5.
“The last project I worked on was a double album and I used the Mac and Logic Pro with lots of plug-ins exclusively,” Oldfield says. “It was somewhat of an experiment to determine if I could work without a mixer at all. I found that changing various aspects of the mix in real time, such as EQ and echo sends, is extremely difficult to do with the mouse, and while I was able to work without a mixer, I relied too heavily on plug-ins and automation. In the process, I somewhat lost the human feel of making music. This is when I realized just how essential the mixer really is.
“Much of my music—particularly the early instrumental works, such as Tubular Bells—were made in the mix,” Oldfield continues. “The mixer was used almost like an instrument itself. I'm so accustomed to the use of a mixer that eliminating this aspect of the music making process just didn't seem natural. The System 5-MC's ability to be configured the way I need it to be is huge. It enables me to define the system precisely the way I want it. The ability to get what's needed rapidly is extremely important because, without this, it interferes with the creative process. I'm running the latest version of Logic Pro, which now supports Euphonix' EuCon high-speed protocol. Combined, these two products form a seamless system that enables me to treat the mixer as though it were another instrument."
Since taking delivery in early July, Oldfield has been experimenting with the System 5-MC's features while also configuring the setup to optimize his work environment. In the process, he has become very fond of the controller's layouts, which represent the manner in which tracks are organized on the surface. Layouts can be easily recalled, providing rapid access to hundreds of tracks, grouped logically together for simple and straightforward operation.
"I find the layouts to be extremely useful, as they enable me to assign my various tracks where I want and immediately recall them as they're needed,” Oldfield says. “I hate having to reach up to the far end of the console to grab a fader when mixing surround because it takes me out of the sweet spot. By being able to assign any track to any fader, I avoid this situation and remain focused on the music. I'm currently involved in re-mastering a number of previous projects into 5.1 surround sound, so this capability represents a significant benefit for me."