« I suddenly knew what I had been missing,” said Wes Chapmon, describing his initial reaction to the ASP4816 after running a mix that he’d previously been working on with his digital system. “The sound was alive, three dimensional, revealing and much easier to work with.” According to Wes, owner of Studio Bohemo in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this intangible difference was one of two ‘game changers’ offered by the analogue console from British manufacturer, Audient.
“The sound was alive, three dimensional, revealing and much easier to work with.”
“The ASP4816 was a big shift for us,” he admits, having used a digital desk previously, running 4 96k I/O cards to 2-Lynx AES16 cards on the computer side. “We normally set this up in two layers for 24-24bit/96k ins and 24-24bit/96k outs. “Before, we were locked in at 24bit/96k and honestly we usually worked at 24/48 for higher track counts, resources etc,” he explains, citing the other crunch point. “Now we are not limited by the console and are running everything to and from two Lynx Aurora16 converters that are capable of much higher sample rates and fidelity.”
The time to revert to his ‘analogue roots’ had been approaching for some time, confesses Wes, the son of an engineer and a classical pianist. “I was always surrounded by music: two pianos going and a healthy diet of microphones and recording gear. I grew up listening to works created on analogue equipment; creating and mixing music on analogue equipment,” he says. The final straw came when re-listening to a couple of tracks he’d recorded years ago on an analogue desk, which “planted the seeds of discontent with our digital set up.”
“A plugin after the fact just can’t do what this does. Audient is one of the few companies to understand this and get it right”
Enter the Audient compact ASP4816 desk, which with the key features of a larger desk and fully-featured inline architecture, certainly fulfilled his desire for his studio to have an analogue heart. “As soon as it arrived – after we managed to get it up the mountain – we ran some basic patches through it just to hear those gorgeous EQs,” he says.
Wes is uncompromising when it comes to his requirements: “I want a clear and audible shift in the sound so I can make clear and artistic decisions without second guessing or wasting valuable time with ‘maybe this plug-in or maybe that emulation’. What makes a great EQ, is one that with a well-recorded sound can twist it through all the bands and frequencies and shapes, make it sound radically different – yet musical – and potentially useful in every permutation. Maybe I’m just still on the honeymoon but I think that describes the ASP4816 pretty well.
“The inserts are also critical to digital recording,” adds Wes. “It can be important to have dynamics processing between the preamp and AD converters. A plugin after the fact just can’t do what this does. Audient is one of the few companies to understand this and get it right, as seen through the product line, especially the iD22 and ASP880.”
“As soon as it arrived – after we managed to get it up the mountain – we ran some basic patches through it just to hear those gorgeous EQs”
A small studio built on the side of a mountain, Studio Bohemo provides comprehensive project services to songwriters and musicians and is the product of Wes’s dream “…to build an artist retreat/studio in a contemplative setting.” He continues, “We didn’t know anyone here or have a job and neither of us were from the north-east. We literally looked at properties online in various places that inspired us, took a few weekends to visit them and picked this place to relocate and build.”
Sixteen years on and this seemingly brave move is paying off. “We have worked with several local artists and a few artists have flown in for projects and a welcomed retreat. We have a few things on the go at the moment, including a multi-album release of restored and re-mastered material from jazz great and friend Betty Johnson who sang with Sachmo (Louis Armstrong).”
In true Bohemian style, Wes is content living ‘in the now’ and is hugely driven by his latest endeavours with his new console. “Really, though I’m always most proud of the artists that put themselves in that personally vulnerable place behind a microphone because of some compulsion to bring art and beauty into the world. Whatever the outcome, that always blows me away.”