SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Phil Rigger got his start in the music business the old fashioned way – in a rock band. That was the early 1980s, and the band was Outline. With Rigger on trumpet (boosted by a board loaded with pedals that launched his horn to the stratosphere) and acing the role of front man and lead vocalist, Outline tore up Australia, headlining packed shows and opening up for international acts that stopped down under. It was only a few years after the band split that Rigger formed Monstereo Music, a music and video production company that Rigger heads to this day. Now several decades into a financially successful and stable career, Rigger has written hit songs for other Aussie artists, produced and engineered innumerable albums, composed and produced for television and film, and, above all, continued to let his enthusiasm for the creative life keep him on a path that’s true. Along the way, he found Metric Halo and is now a dedicated user of Metric Halo’s hardware interfaces, its sound analysis program SpectraFoo, and its flagship plug-in ChannelStrip.
In addition to the intangible aspects of music production, Monstereo Music possesses a full-fledged recording studio and video production suite in Sydney. Like most people who get in the business and stay in the business, Rigger is opinionated about sound and the gear that improves (or sullies) it. The studio starts with a collection of tube mics from BeezNeez, Groove Tube, Neumann, and Rode, as well as solid-state microphones from those manufacturers and Shure, AKG, and Sennheiser. Outboard gear includes dual-channel Peach Audio tube preamps, Groove Tube SuPRE preamps, a Groove Tube MP-1 preamp, and a six-channel Audio Developments Class A mixer. The main Mac runs Cubase 7 and possesses 32GB RAM, 20TB of storage, and a Blackmagic video input card and 3GB output card. Event Electronics Opal studio monitors provide transduction at the other end. The video production suite possesses a cyclorama, three cameras, monitoring, and video switching. The video room and the control room are connected optically and via analogue so that users can monitor video input/output, as well as multichannel audio for webcasting and in-house shoots.
A collection of Metric Halo interfaces handles input and output conversion, as well as preamplification when Rigger is using a tube mic (he doesn’t necessarily like to go tube mic to tube pre for vocals). The collection includes one ULN-8, one 2882, and two ULN-2s, (one in the recording studio and one in the video production suite). “I got my first Metric Halo 2882 over a decade ago when my friend and frequent collaborator David Quinn discovered it,” said Rigger. “Because Metric Halo so faithfully supports its products with hardware and software upgrades, I’m still using that same 2882 today! What other piece of computer-related equipment evades obsolescence for so long? Between David and I we have three ULN8s, three 2882s and three ULN2s all with 2D cards.
He continued, “The reason I like Metric Halo interfaces is because they have that solid, high-quality sound. I’ve worked on a bunch of different high-end consoles over the years, and Metric Halo easily has the sound quality to compete with any of them. Of course, the portability is also fabulous. I’ve recorded so many live sets with my Metric Halo interfaces. They’re always solid and reliable.” Rigger also cites the on-board DSP as useful, especially the Character emulations that give the preamps different colors. “I’m a fan of the Classic British Pre emulation,” he said. “It adds a nice warmth to the recording that isn’t overbearing. In combination with a nice tube mic on vocals, the Metric Halo preamps produce a beautiful, rich recording.”
But Rigger’s use of Metric Halo gear doesn’t end there. In the studio, he keeps a second Mac up that runs SpectraFoo. It’s digitally connected to the main system for mixing and mastering. “SpectraFoo works beautifully,” Rigger said. “I've had it for nearly a decade. Other sound analysis programs have come along, but SpectraFoo's display is par excellence. Having it up on a second computer works really well for me because the machine has nothing else to do but analyze the input. The great thing about that setup is that while I'm working, I can solo any individual track, any group, or even the entire song and analyze it.”
Finally, Rigger uses ChannelStrip as his go-to equalization and compression plug-in. “If I want to surgically adjust something, de-ess a vocal or brighten an acoustic track, ChannelStrip is fantastic,” he said. “It doesn't put much of a load on the system, and although that isn’t such a huge concern these days, it’s a testament to good software design. I have a large collection of plug-ins, most of which I acquired for a particular sound or function, but ChannelStrip is more neutral and allows fine adjustment without imposing itself on the sound – a great feature! Metric Halo equipment and software are the foundation for my business.”
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