FreshBeat Studios adds A-Designs HAMMER and REDDI as well as Pete’s Place BAC-500 and Blast Pad for commercial and TV/film score production
LOS ANGELES — Although Nard Berings’ name may not be immediately familiar to most people, his compositions have been heard by countless millions. How? Nard and his brother, Klaas, are the co-owners of Fresh Beat, a company with studios in both Los Angeles and Amsterdam that produce music for some of the most popular television shows and commercials around the globe.
Shows like America’s Next Top Model, Gilmore Girls, Smash Cuts, Oprah Winfrey, American Idol and Burn Notice have all featured music from the Berings brothers, as have commercial campaigns for Campbell’s, Verizon, Mattel, Burger King, Honda, Nissan, Doritos, Heineken, IKEA and many others.
With FreshBeat being in top demand these days, Nard recently moved his L.A. studio setup from Venice Beach to a brand new, larger facility in Mar Vista. Wanting to equip the new space with some additional outboard gear, he has steadily been adding a number of A-Designs Audio products as of late, starting with the HM2EQ HAMMER.
“One of my friends, a fellow composer and studio owner who writes for an audio magazine in Holland, told me about the HAMMER, and then I read some great things about it on Gearslutz,” he says. “Peter [Montessi, A-Designs Audio president] let me try one in my studio and it was exactly what I was looking for — a ‘friendly’ coloring EQ, not too extreme, and with a nice open high end. Although Peter told me that it wasn’t designed as a mastering EQ, I’ve been mainly using it on my master buss to open up my mixes and add a little bit of bottom. I also frequently use it on the drums and background vocals busses, and all I can say is ‘wow!’
“The HAMMER has such a beautiful high end that never gets harsh. It’s always very sweet, bright and open sounding. It’s also good for mids and bottom, of course, but it’s not a ‘muscle’ EQ that really pumps the lows on drums, for instance. It’s a very subtle EQ, and, even with extreme settings, it won’t get out of hand. It doesn’t do everything, but what it does, it does best.”
Nard also fell in love with A-Designs’ REDDI direct inject box. “I actually hadn’t really used a DI before and didn’t know why I would need one until Peter let me try the REDDI out in my studio,” he says. “I plugged in my bass and, again, thought ‘wow, what a difference!’ It sounds extremely fat, warm and direct, and it’s unbelievable how it makes guitar and bass stand out in a mix. I usually use the REDDI to track a clean guitar or bass DI signal, then also use its ‘Thru’ output to feed an amp that I’ll mic so I have two signals to mess with in the mix.”
In addition to the HAMMER and REDDI, Nard further chose to purchase several products from A-Designs Audio’s sibling company, Pete’s Place Audio, including a BAC-500 compressor and Blast Pad Filter.
When using the BAC-500, a 500 Series compressor module, for tracking vocals, bass and guitars, Nard was equally impressed. “What a beautifully musical and intuitive little compressor,” he says. “I first tracked a Spanish guitar and Taylor acoustic though it, as well as sang through it, and it sounded amazing. I used a subtle setting — not too hot, with attack and release both at 12 o’clock, ratio on 8, and ‘no knee’ — and it made the tone fatter and more direct sounding without feeling like it had been through a compressor. Vocals, in particular, sounded totally upfront without doing anything extreme. And even when I did crank the ratio up for more audible compression, it was nearly impossible to make the BAC-500 sound bad.”
But perhaps the thing that surprised Nard the most was the Blast Pad. “I have been experimenting with different pop filters over the years and, although I don’t consider myself a nit-picky purist, I’ve found that most of them don’t do a very good job and actually muffle the sound quite a bit. The Blast Pad, however, is by far the best one I have ever used. It maintains vocal clarity while completely eliminating pops. There are other pop filters that block the wind but they sacrifice treble. Not the Blast Pad. No matter what you do, there’s no popping or compromise to the sound–even if you’re literally blowing through it.
“Plus, it’s a very sturdy design — very durable. If it gets dirty, I wash it with some soap and water and let it dry. This thing should last a lifetime. I won’t be surprised if my grandchildren will still be recording with it some day,” he laughs.
Overall, Nard notes that the A-Designs and Pete’s Place products have made a tremendous improvement to his recordings. “My mixes sound more open and brighter, and bass, guitar, drums and vocals all seem to have more definition in the mix. Thanks for helping me improve my sound, Peter. You are a genius!”
A-Designs Audio is a boutique manufacturer of high-quality professional audio products, including the MP-A Series (all-tube microphone preamplifiers), Pacifica, REDDI (all-tube direct box), ATTY and ATTY2’D (passive line attenuators), EM Series (500 Series-compatible microphone preamplifier at EQ modules), and HM2EQ HAMMER (dual mono, three-band tube equalizer). For more info, please contact A-Designs Audio at 818-716-4153 or visit www.adesignsaudio.com.
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