Joe Chicarelli in Sunset Sound’s Studio 3 with his pair of Electrodyne 511 EQs
LOS ANGELES — Looking through the impressive discography of Joe Chiccarelli, the question that immediately comes to mind is “Does this guy ever sleep?” Over the past three decades, the Grammy Award-winning producer, engineer and mixer has worked on countless recordings by everyone from Frank Zappa, Elton John, U2 and Brian Wilson to Beck, Morrissey, Tori Amos and Counting Crows.
These days, Chiccarelli is still at the top of him game working with popular acts like The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Shins, My Morning Jacket, The Strokes and Minus The Bear. But even though many of these bands push the frontiers of modern music, Chiccarelli maintains an affinity for retro-styled recording gear–especially his new pair of Electrodyne 511 equalizers from Pete’s Place Audio.
“Ken Hirsch at Orphan Audio had initially told me about wanting to build these 500 Series modules a while back, so when I heard from Peter Montessi that they were actually in production, I told him that if they sounded anything even remotely close to the vintage units that I absolutely needed a pair. I’ve always loved working on old Electrodyne consoles and modules because they have this beautiful, thick ’70s kind of tone.
“The new 511s did not disappoint me in the least — I love them! Ken really captured that cool, old-school Electrodyne vibe in a 500 Series module. I’ve found that it can be used very subtly; or, if I really want to crank it, I can turn it up full throttle and it sounds fantastic. It doesn’t sound phase-shifty or ugly — it’s very smooth. So it’s been great for things that I want to make sound big and aggressive, like a snare or kick drum. In fact, I think I’ve used them on snare and kick for literally every project I’ve recorded lately.”
Chiccarelli was working in Studio 3 at Sunset Sound in Hollywood when he first took delivery of the two EQ modules. He notes that fellow producer/mixer Rich Costey was working in an adjacent studio at the time. “As soon as I got them, I told Rich that he really needed to check them out, so he ‘temporarily’ borrowed them for his session and wouldn’t give them back!” he laughs. “Thankfully, Peter brought me replacements.”
Since purchasing his Electrodynes, Chiccarelli has put them to good use on new albums for Minus The Bear, The Strokes, Young The Giant (formerly The Jakes) and Adam Stephens (Two Gallants), among others. “The 511s have managed to get used somewhere along the line on just about every project I’ve worked on in recent months. Of course, it always depends on the music, but they really excel on stuff that sounds organic but punchy — where I want things to sound real and honest, but still be full-bodied and aggressive.”
In addition to using the 511 on snare and kick drum, the renowned engineer has employed it on both electric and acoustic guitars. “There’s something very smooth about the top end of the 511,” he says. “You know, 10k can sometimes get a little nasty on acoustic guitar, but on these it’s just really, really sweet and open-sounding.
“The Electrodynes have definitely been a welcome addition to my collection. Most of the tracks I work on tend to be more rock-oriented and require tools with aggression and personality, which the old-school stuff seems best suited for. These modules have been a really nice complement to the API and Neve gear that I typically use. They sound big and take up a lot of landscape, but they’re honest and powerful at the same time.
“In my opinion, the 511 really fills a void in the 500 Series format. Most of the pieces in that range tend to be either really surgical or really aggressive, but this is perfect in that it can be subtle or powerful. Fantastic stuff.”
Pete’s Place Audio was founded to bring a wide variety of handcrafted, innovative, boutique recording and live audio products to market. Under the leadership of President Lisa Montessi and backed by the manufacturing expertise of A-Designs Audio, Pete’s Place collaborates with some of today’s most talented recording artists and engineers to help determine what products, regardless of how esoteric, they feel are missing in the studio and live performance environments.
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