NORTHRIDGE, CALIFORNIA – MAY 2009: Form factor and functionality were instrumental in Jeff O’Rourke’s decision to purchase a Tonelux Designs Ltd. console for his Rourketown Studios facility in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley. The setup combines the best of both analog and digital audio for O’Rourke, with the Tonelux analog desk, configured to handle over forty inputs, uniquely integrated alongside a Digidesign work surface in a custom-designed console.
The ability to perfectly match the profile of the modular Tonelux system with that of the Digidesign D Command was a critical factor in the design of the custom-configured console, which was manufactured by Sterling Modular studio furnishings. The unique configuration features the analog and digital surfaces either side of a center section that incorporates metering and automation master control.
“I was able to fit the Tonelux right alongside the D Command and shape the buckets the way I wanted them,” explains O’Rourke, an engineer, producer and former guitarist with Los Angeles-based rap-rock band, Phunk Junkeez. “And the small format was great, because I was able to put everything into a smaller footprint.”
When O’Rourke and his clients are tracking in the Chris Pelonis-designed Rourketown facility, signals pass through an eclectic collection of outboard preamps directly into Pro Tools and the tracks are monitored via the D Command work surface faders. “I spend all my time on the Tonelux when I’m mixing,” says O’Rourke. “I have a dedicated EQ and compressor wired inline for every insert on the Tonelux, so when I hit the insert buttons on the console everything is right there, ready to go. I don’t have to do any patching to start a mix.”
Charlie Bolis of Vertigo Recording Services wired the custom console setup and the vast array of vintage and contemporary outboard equipment. The Tonelux console was supplied by Vintage King Audio and automated with Martinsound Flying Faders motorized fader automation.
“When I’m in mixing mode, Pro Tools is simply used as a playback and record machine, and the Tonelux is my main focus. It’s fun and intuitive to mix on Flying Faders, although it was kind of a luxury to do it,” he says. “Flying Faders is easy and touch sensitive. I don’t have to do any breakpoint editing when I mix. It feels more organic like playing an instrument. When I’m on the Tonelux I’m free from the mouse and computer screen.”
A variety of sessions have passed through Rourketown since the new setup was commissioned, including mixing the latest “Eyes Set To Kill” album with Tom Flowers, a California-based mix engineer well known for his work with pop punk band The Ataris. “So far everybody has been loving it,” O’Rourke says, who appreciates both the high performance and the low power consumption of the Tonelux system. “The console is almost completely discrete, and it has a totally ground up circuit design from Paul Wolff. As far as I understand Paul has come up with a very smart design. The console has super high headroom without needing constant “pedal-to-the-metal power. Most importantly it sounds amazing.”
The one-of-a-kind custom console design was a labor of love for O’Rourke, who appreciates the efforts of the vendors involved. “I can’t say enough about the Martinsound people. The guys over there were great. Jim at Sterling Modular was amazing too. Charlie Bolois did a great job as always, and the guys at Vintage King were extremely helpful, especially when it came to letting me listen to the gear before I made my final decisions. And, of course, Paul Wolff was great and very patient with all my questions. Building this console was a great experience and I’m very happy with everything. It looks amazing, too!”
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PHOTO CAPTION Jeff O’Rourke, Rourketown Studios, worked closely with Paul Wolff, Vintage King, and Charlie Bolis to help configure a forty-plus input Tonelux console.