© 2012 Adesign Audio
Ventura for 2012 Par Excellence Award!
Posted on August 10, 2012
We are very proud that the The A-Designs Ventura has been nominated for a 2012 PAR Excellence Award in the Studio
Hardware/Channel Strips product category. We would very much appreciate your vote! Here are the details:
August 2012 marks the PAR Excellence Awards’ re-introduction as a
reader-voted program, presented by the editors and contributors of Pro
Audio Review (PAR) magazine. Online voting on the list of nominees by
PAR print and digital readers (subscribers only) will be open from the mail
date of the August issue through Friday, November 16, 2012.
PAR Excellence winners will be announced in the December issue of Pro
Audio Review and simultaneously online at prosoundnetwork.com, PAR’s
shared website with sister publication, Pro Sound News.
Nominations for the 2012 PAR Excellence Awards were developed through
the brain trust of PAR editors and contributors. Nominations were based on
the “I want to own this” principle; gear selected should have a proven field
track record, performedwell via PAR’s “real world” review process, or — in
the case of recently released products — have shown particular promise
through demonstrations, beta-testing and among early adopters. All
products for consideration must have been first made commercially available on or after July 1, 2011 and on or before June
30, 2012. The full list of nominees will be posted here concurrent with a press release distribution on Wednesday, August 8,
Graham Archer, engineer for Trevor Horn keeps A-Designs unit focused on
drum and mix busses
Posted on September 24, 2012
Since joining Sarm Studios in 2005, Graham Archer has
moved up the ranks to become one of Trevor Horn’s top in-
house engineers. Having recently engineered recordings for
Seal, Robbie Williams, Massive Attack, Ellie Goulding and
Madonna, Archer is often found in Sarm’s London or Los
Angeles studio reaching for his A-Designs Audio HM2 NAIL
Purchased last summer, Archer’s NAIL spends most of its
time on either the drum buss during tracking sessions or
across the two-buss when mixing. The engineer reports that
he deployed the device across the mix buss on recent
projects for Seal, Spector, Ben Saunders, and Kelly
Rowland, as well as on the entire drum buss for recordings
by Birdy and Jeff Beck.
“When I put the NAIL across the whole drum buss, the filter
allows me to get a really punchy, less compressed kick,” Archer describes. “It allows the bottom end of the kit to be quite
dynamic and hit hard. With ‘normal’ compressors, the kick can be the element that drags down the gain reduction and sucks
the life out of the drum buss.
“I usually set the filter somewhere between 150 Hz and 250 Hz, which allows me to compress things above those
frequencies. In reality, I find this makes the top kit, the room, and ambient mics sound more alive, exciting, and cohesive
whilst allowing the kick and the low toms to punch through largely unhindered.
“For me, the NAIL’s biggest strength is its versatility. I also like really hammering it and then using the mix knob to back off the
heavily compressed signal and find a subtler middle ground. In my opinion, the NAIL glues things together really well and
definitely makes everything more ‘3D’. It also adds an airy quality, like a subtle top boost, which is very clean and open. Plus, I
don’t know of another stereo compressor that has a solid state/tube design with a variable HPF and wet/dry controls, so it’s
Archer notes that he has also used the A-Designs compressor/limiter to provide a bit of subtle compression when tracking
piano, but the NAIL’s other primary duty has been to essentially “live on the two-buss” at Sarm for mix applications.
“Tim Weidner, Trevor’s other engineer, and I tend to pool our gear resources on Trevor’s projects and the A-Designs unit is
currently sitting on the mix buss along with a couple of mastering grade units,” says Archer. “Tim agrees with me that the NAIL
is a fantastically versatile compressor.
“I tend to use it in a fairly standard way with a low ratio, slow attack, quick release, and a threshold that results in a couple
dBs of gain reduction,” Archer describes. “In this context, it’s great, does all the things that I want from a mix buss stereo
comp, and adds more weight and depth to my mix with a sharper stereo image.
“One thing that I love about the NAIL, however, is that it can allow me to be a bit more creative if I’m looking for something a
little different. I can really crush a mix and then back off a lot of the compressed signal with the mix knob. It’s not for all
situations, but it can be really cool!
“Before doing anything with the NAIL, I’ll send a tone through the unit and align the left/right output gain. I then usually flick
one of the meters to ‘level’ and the other to ‘GR’ so I can see at a glance roughly how much I’m compressing and what my
output level is like. It’s only a guideline as I’m looking at the left and right signals separately but I find it really useful.”
Marc Anthony Tour Uses Hammer & Nail on 2 Buss
Posted on September 17, 2012
Marc Anthony, Chayanne, and Marco Antonio Solis – three
of the biggest names in Latin pop – are currently out on the
road together on their 14-city North American GIGANT3S
tour. Manning the house mix for Anthony once again is his
longtime FOH engineer, Jose A. Rivera, Jr., who has
recently chosen to apply an A-Designs HM2EQ HAMMER
dual-channel tube equalizer and HM2 NAIL
compressor/limiter across the stereo mix buss.
The idea came when Chris Cally, Anthony’s guitar and bass
tech, purchased several REDDI tube direct inject boxes
then introduced Rivera to A-Designs President Peter
Montessi. “A week before we went on the road, I had Peter
ship me a HAMMER and NAIL so I could experiment with
them a bit and consider using them on the tour,” says
Rivera. “When they arrived, I immediately used the pair to track bass and guitars in my studio and instantly fell in love with the
sound of each unit. It was quite an experience.”
“So I took them into our production rehearsals to see if they would also bring an improvement to our overall live sound,” he
continues. “After putting the HAMMER and NAIL across my stereo mix buss, I was stunned by the difference. Even without
touching the EQ or compression controls, the pair brought such a beautiful warmth and musicality to everything. I prefer to
use an Avid VENUE console on tour with Marc, which means that most of my processing is done via plug-ins, but the A-
Designs combo sonically wrapped everything together so nicely, and it continues to wonderfully surprise me night after night.”
Initially, Rivera was uncertain as to how he was going to utilize the HAMMER seeing that he typically relies on a graphic
equalizer to tweak out offending frequencies. “Once rehearsals had started, I noticed that the HAMMER was not only
extremely transparent, but that the way it added or subtracted frequencies was very musical. There was an instance where I
felt there was too much of a buildup in the 500Hz range, so all I did was attenuate it by 1.5dB and it was just beautiful. Jorge
Solorzano, the system engineer, and I were both amazed. We still have the graphic EQ on hand for one particular frequency,
but when we want to address a range of frequencies – high, mid and low – I definitely run through the HAMMER first. It’s a
wonderful little surgeon.”
According to Rivera, the only downside to his HAMMER and NAIL is that he doesn’t have two of each. “The rack stays on the
truck, so when I’m back in my studio between shows producing an EP for a local band by the name of Magazine Society, I’m
definitely missing them very much. I guess that just means I’ll eventually have to buy a second pair,” he laughs.
Potluck Con 2012
Posted on August 7, 2012
We just returned from Potluck Con 2012 in Tucson AZ. This conference was on hold for a few years and we are so happy to
have it back. It is the most uninhibited exchange of ideas for the recording engineer and producer and we look forward to
more amazing conferences in the future. Here’s a few pics…
Jon Erickson and Lisa Montessi
getting setup for a big weekend
Mike Montessi speaking with his hands
What do Jack White and A-Designs Audio have in
common? Producer/Engineer Vance Powell!
Vintage Levi’s bellbottoms, stylish glasses and fully
ventilated chesthair. Designer extraordinaire Jonathan Little
gets the finger.
The gang from Roll Music and Avenson Audio.
Analog vs. Digital panel. Steven Slate and engineer
Vance Powell really got their blood up on this one. All of the
panels were incredible. This particular panel really
demonstrated how passionate people remain about pure
The man of the hour, Craig Schumacher. Craig put this
conference together and deserves a giant pat on the back.
These conferences make a huge difference in moving
recorded music in the right direction. Thanks again Craig
and we’ll see you next year.
Looking for the best combination Mic Pre/EQ/DI?…The A-Designs Ventura.
Posted on July 20, 2012
Check out these world class videos featuring the A-Designs Ventura made by our friends over at Soundpure.
These 3 videos features A-Designs’ Jon Erickson going into great detail, inside and out. Jon answers many of the most
common questions and demonstrates the Ventura’s flexibility. Videos include a recording of the Olympic Ass Kicking Team
engineered by Fletcher and Jason Richmond using the A-Designs Ventura, Pacifica, Hammer, Nail, EM-EQ2 and REDDI.
Check them out here.
California Dreamin’: Pacifica & Ventura Compare and Contrast
Posted on July 13, 2012
Since its release in 2006 the TEC nominated A-Designs Pacifica has won a rabid following and high regard amongst the
world’s top engineers and producers, not to mention being used on countless hits. This year we released a sister product to
the Pacifica, The Ventura. Like its predecessor, the Ventura takes its core inspiration from the 70's Quad Eight consoles and
now introduces the EQ section from these classic desks. We have had many questions from engineers regarding the
similarities and differences between these two units and this document is designed to help answer some of these questions.
Op Amps AKA Amplifiers
Both units utilize a discrete op amp and run at the same high rail voltage of+/-28vdc for maximized headroom. The op amp in
the Pacifica is identical to the original amplifier in the Quad Eight Consoles down to the PCB layout while the op amp in the
Ventura has tweaks to the original design that gives it a slightly faster response.
Mic Pre Topology
The basic mic pre topology is the same in the two units. They both utilize a similar gain structure with input and output
transformers. Both units are fully balanced in and out. The Ventura has 70db of gain while the Pacifica has 72db. They both
have a gain control, -20db pad, phase reversal and +48v phantom. The -20 db pad feature on both units performs the typical
function of lowering the input gain of high level sources, but also serves as a tone shaping control by allowing the user to
push the gain to higher levels to achieve variations in tone. This is somewhat similar to balancing the master volume and
preamp level control on a guitar amplifier.
Both units share a unique vintage style which time has proven to be very popular. Of course it’s the sound that really sets the
Pacifica and Ventura above the pack, but these units also stand out in a rack and make people ask Whats That!?
Both units are highly versatile and can be used across an entire album without the muddiness of some vintage styled pres.
They both have very wide frequency response and high headroom with just a touch of color through subtle harmonic
distortion that engineers and artists love.
Made in the U.S.A.
A-Designs Audio is dedicated to American manufacturing. Both the Pacifica and the Ventura are built right here in Southern
California and utilize some of the same build partners that Quad Eight had back in the 70's including transformer houses. We
literally live right down the street from where those Q8 boards were made and are able to work face to face with some of the
Differences / The Basics
The Pacifica is a dual mono mic pre and D.I. The Ventura is a mono mic pre, D.I. and a 3 band band parametric EQ.
Ventura Routing Options
The Ventura may be used in a typical inline channel strip
type application utilizing the mic pre or DI into the EQ from a
single source, but it also has a very unique feature that sets
the Ventura apart from a typical channel strip. The Mic Pre/DI
and EQ sections can be used independently with their own
separate amplifiers and output transformers. EG. You can
track a guitar with the mic pre while eq’ing a kick drum,
Moreover the mic pre section can send its’ output to its own
dedicated output transformer for a one tonal option, the EQ
amplifier and output transformer for another option, and from
the EQ amplifier and output transformer with the EQ in
bypass for yet another color altogether. Its a tongue twister
we know, but this gives the user a great deal of tonal
variation and routing flexibility. The Ventura signal path is
Ventura 3 Band Parametric EQ
The Ventura features a 3 band parametric EQ whose inspiration comes straight from the 70's Quad Eight Ventura console.
The 33 Frequency points and +/- 15db cut/boosts are on custom rotary switches for full recall. All three bands feature
switchable “Q” control to adjust the frequency center widths and the high and low bands may be converted from peaking to
shelving with a flick of a switch. This EQ performs surgical and broad stroke duties equally well.
The Ventura features switchable lowpass and high pass filters at 150hz and 9k to eliminate low end boominess and to gently
roll off the top end. EG. The high pass is great for vocals or acoustic guitars while the lowpass works well at quickly getting rid
of excess string noise on bass guitar or for reducing high hat bleed. HP and LP filters always come in handy.
Without any marketing exaggeration, the Pacifica has a magic top end that makes people choose it in shootouts more often
than almost any other pre. It is not brash shrill or exaggerated, but gently forward. By comparison the Ventura has a cleaner
sound with a rich midrange. The Pacifica is a quick pick for vocals, acoustic instruments and overheads while the Ventura
excels at vocals, electric guitars, kick, snare and keyboards.
The Ventura features a Jensen input transformer and a pair of steel core Cinemag output transformers, one for the mic pre
and one for the EQ. The Pacifica features Cinemag input transformers and extra large Cinemag hybrid nickel/steel output
transformers. What does this mean? The steel core material in the Ventura helps contribute a touch more harmonic distortion
when pushed hard. The more ‘hi-fi’ nickel core materials and transformer size in the Pacifica contribute to its’ more airy top
end. Cinemag and Jensen are the two most highly regarded transformer manufacturers in the U.S.
“Direct Inject” or “Instrument Input”
While they have different names the 1/4? inputs on both of these units have one thing in common: They rival the most
expensive dedicated direct boxes and this places both units head and shoulders above the rest. The Pacifica’s 1/4” differs in
that the signal drives through a ultra high impedance circuit into the mic pre’s input transformer for a bit of iron warmth via
subtle harmonic distortion. The Ventura’s instrument input also features an ultra high impedance buffer, but is transformer-
less, yielding a bit cleaner sound by comparison. The Ventura instrument input also has its own dedicated gain control. The
Ventura has a switch which selects between the mic or instrument input while the Pacifica automatically switches the inputs
with the insertion or removal of a 1/4” TS cable.
We hope this has helped clear up some of the differences, but if you have any questions please feel to contact us. Click here
to see a list of our audio products