Snake Newton is an industry professional who is making his mark in several different areas of the recording industry, working both Front of House (where he can namecheck Robbie Williams, Duran Duran, Snow Patrol, Pet Shop Boys, Supertramp, Sugababes and many more) and in audio post.
On the audio post side he has recently set up a comprehensive mix facility at home with full surround to handle the increasing amount of live post production work that he is involved with. And as part of that investment, he has purchased a Prism Sound Orpheus FireWire multi-track audio interface.
“The Orpheus was literally a revelation to me,” he says. “I was working at Sphere Studios in London on a mix for DVD for a Duran Duran/David Lynch collaboration. A friend of mine, Josh Blair, said 'Hey try my Prism Sound Orpheus! You will love it!'. I was dubious, really, as I’ve heard many converters and there are many-high end units delivering exceptional sound, but the Orpheus simply blew me away. I was aghast at the thought of finishing the session after he took it back, so I got my credit card out 30 minutes after first plugging it in to buy myself one with next day delivery!
“It was, simply put, like having an acoustic veil lifted. Suddenly the mix had a coherence that I hadn't experienced before. The top end sounded crystal clear – way up in the 'fairy dust zone'. The transients suddenly came to life; the snare in particular suddenly took on new life. All at once I could hear a level of detail in spatial placement, front to back and left to right, that I couldn't before. What you can’t hear you can't work on, and the Orpheus was revealing detail that needed uncovering and working on. Basically it raised my game.”
Newton used his Orpheus to mix both the David Lynch-directed Duran Duran project – filmed last year and not yet commercially available – and the group's Diamond in the Mind DVD/CD release for Eagle Rock Productions. Both feature many of the same songs, though, unsurprisingly with Lynch involved in one of them, they take very different routes during the productions. The challenge on both was the same, however.
“Post mixing true live performance can be a much greater challenge than mixing a studio recorded track,” says Newton. “Firstly, people expect a great deal these days, fidelity and detail from a show which may have been more about energy than sparkle and finesse. I think the Orpheus helped me capture a good balance of both. Neither album has a single overdub, nothing was replaced. And with 76 raw tracks (before splitting out any of the tracks which of course happened a lot) I had a lot to contend with and Orpheus helped my mix with its detail and depth perception. With such a large number of inputs you need absolute confidence in what you hear being accurate.”
Newton’s plans in the future include perhaps expanding the Orpheus’ role into the live side of his work. “I can't ever imagine being without it in the studio and I am indeed toying with the idea of using it live as the converter for any analogue outboard I may use on future tours,” he says. “I can honestly say I've listened to mixes I've done from years past and immediately hear how I could improve those mixes 10- 15% just by 'having my ears opened'. It has proved to be the single most important piece of kit I've bought since buying my first Mac!”
About Prism Sound
Founded in 1987, Prism Sound manufacture high-quality professional digital audio equipment for the International broadcast, film, music production, manufacturing and telecommunications sectors. The company's product range includes the Prism ADA-8XR precision 8-channel converter unit, which is regularly used for music and film soundtrack projects by clients such as EMI Abbey Road, BBC, Sony, Lucasfilm and Walt Disney. Prism Sound also manufactures a range of audio test and measurement products, including the de facto standard DSA-1 handheld digital audio generator/analyser and the dScope Series III audio analyser system.
For more information: www.prismsound.com