For the second SPL User Story, we visited Paul Schal (Tilman Brejora) in his 432Studios in Berlin and did an interview with him. In 2018 Paul founded the studios, providing production, mastering, mixing and recording service to international and local artist of all genres. Working in the audio industry as an artist, producer, professional mastering and mixing engineer for the last decade, Paul also spreads his knowledge giving workshops and tutorials.
We hope you enjoy this new series. Here we go:
What do you personally think is the biggest advantage of analog outboard equipment in mastering?
Time! I’m just so much faster in making decisions, having access to every parameter at your fingertips and getting to musical and rich sounding results with just a few parameter changes that your ears don't question to be an actual improvement of the material. The depth and richness I’m able to create with my chain is something I still can't find in the box.
What would you say are the most important characteristics of our 120V Technology within your workflow?
More freedom. The headroom that just feels infinite combined with almost no distortion even on heavy settings gives me the absolute freedom to make creative mastering decisions to gainstage the material in any possible way. Just every material I send through my chain instantly has more dimension and definition. Keeping the 120V chain over the whole mastering process brings analog mastering to another level. It's clean like in the box but feels musical, rich analog and literally steps outside the box like nothing else.
The DMC is giving me all the parameters I need to have perfect control over my signal and monitoring flow. I can’t imagine to work without the recording gain, input and return volume stages anymore. The sensibility of the recording gain potentiometer lets me perfectly set the level to drive in to my A/D converters, makes clipping a very important creative part of my workflow. The monitor loudness compensation is a fantastic feature and allows me to quickly A/B all my signal processing. This device makes makes going out of the box the most satisfying experience.
The connectivity the DMC provides, combined with the Hermes Mastering Router is a total game changer for me. I never found it so easy quick and intuitive to configure my analog signal flow. And that without touching any jacks or cables. The option to run 2 of 8 devices in parallel mode is another big feature I’m basically using all the time to feed in some parallel compression or EQ.
The Gemini Mastering M/S Processor in combination with the Hermes routing matrix gives me the possibility to run all my gear in MS mode, which gives me total control about the depth and stereo image of a master. I like to call it my 3D Matrix. The elliptical filter, stereo width control and balancing options making it perfect to manipulate the stereo image. It literally cleans up the soundstage for me. Definitely one of the tools I don't want to miss on any project!
I’m using the PASSEQ a lot in combination with the Gemini. The moment I switch the PASSEQ on, the music becomes alive! The low end control is amazing. The shelving filter allows to dial in the lowest sub bass frequencies with no distortion or rumble. The 720Hz gives me direct access to the lead sounds and center stage of a track. While I'm able to open up the sides and reverb tails with the Airband and a boost on 35kHz while lowering harshness of the mid cymbals with a rolloff at 18kHz. Using the PASSEQ always ends in a slightly coloring but very musical result that is complementing literally every material in a very positive way.
The PQ is my swiss army knife EQ from surgical to very musical adjustments. Its versatility is just stunning. Especially in proportional Q mode it allows a very smooth coloring to the signal. I’m using it a lot in the high mid section and to clean the muffel in the 120Hz to 200Hz area.
Before going back into my converters my signal usually gets compressed and lifted to heaven by the IRON compressor. The Sidechain EQ allows me to have a punchy and controlled low end while the 6 rectifiers give me the timing variants on attack and release needed to cover all sorts of use cases. The fast release times of the Germanium Rectifier on 220nf paired with a long attack setting works perfect on Techno and House Tracks with short but punchy kick drums while the LED with 3,3mf works great on modern Hip Hop or Trap productions with long 808 bass sounds.
All the SPL Gear has a very musical characteristic that you learn to integrate into your workflow and discover how well thought this concepts are in terms of musicality and versatility it seems each setting and parameter switch has its own use case and covers it in a very pleasing way.