Having served as FOH engineer for the likes of Robbie Williams, Duran Duran, Snow Patrol and Pet Shop Buys, as well as plying his trade in the world of audio post-production, Snake Newton has invested in a Prism Sound Orpheus FireWire multi-track audio interface for his home facility.
In order to handle the increasing amount of live post-production work with which he is involved, Newton purchased the Orpheus interface to take pride of place in his comprehensive home set-up. “The Orpheus was literally a revelation to me,” he said. “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 the 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 several of the same songs, although Lynch’s involvement unsurprisingly led them down very different routes during the productions. However the challenge on both was the same.
“Post mixing true live performance can be a much greater challenge than mixing a studio recorded track,” explained 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 for the future include the possibility of 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 per cent 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!”
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