In recent months, multi-GRAMMY Award-winning producer and mixer Chris Lord-Alge has adopted Focusrite’s RedNet Ethernet-networked converters as the interface of choice between his Avid Pro Tools system and his classic SSL 4000 E/G+ mixing console.
For more than 20 years, Lord-Alge has brought digital multitrack sessions into his analog console via the Sony 48-track DASH tape machine format, but with tape supplies dwindling, he made the transition to RedNet 2 digital-to-analog converters and other RedNet hardware in late 2013.
Lord-Alge knew that he had found a replacement for the Sony converters after auditioning the RedNet system, consisting of a pair of 32-channel RedNet 5 HD Bridges with three RedNet 2 16-channel A-D/D-A converters, at his Mix LA studio.
“When they put the RedNet rig up I said, did you patch it or not? It sounded like what I like, what I’m used to and what works for me.”
While the switchover to an all-digital nonlinear workflow will obviously be beneficial, Lord-Alge says he would not have made the transition unless the Focusrite system offered the sound character with which he has become so familiar. “I want the sound of my old D-to-A, which is a bit more analog, in some ways a bit more lo-fi. It’s got a bit more glue in there,” he explains.
As the music production process becomes increasingly hard disc-based, the RedNet system was the logical step to take after spending so many years with “Bessie” and “Bertha,” his two vintage Sony PCM-3348 digital tape machines, he says. “I liked the 3348 D-As because they’re hard hitting. The RedNet has a harder impact, like I’m used to. I want it hard hitting—that’s my personal taste. I don’t want hype, and with RedNet I’m not getting hype, I’m getting impact.”
Not that Lord-Alge had any reason to doubt Focusrite’s RedNet before he tried it; over the years he has used a Focusrite Red 3 Classic Dual-Channel Compressor/Limiter across his stereo bus on 10,000 mixes, by his estimation, racking up credits along the way with artists such as Green Day, Muse, Daughtry, My Chemical Romance, Rise Against and many, many others.
Recently, with the new RedNet set-up, he has added another Bruce Springsteen project to that extensive list. High Hopes is an album of previously unfinished material that was completed in stages over the course of the past several years and released in early 2014.
“The last round of tweaks that I did with Bruce, we had the rig up, so when it came time to print we went Red, baby! It shows that our transition is working,” says Lord-Alge. The High Hopes album topped the charts worldwide in January and features three tracks – “American Skin (41 Shots),” “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and the title track – that Lord-Alge mixed using his Focusrite RedNet system.
“New things I’m working on are going the same route,” he continues. “The transition is definitely fully under way.”
Upcoming mix projects include Adelitas Way, Gloriana, Grizfolk, O.A.R. and his fourth album with Rise Against, he reports.
Lord-Alge admits to a sense of relief that he has found a replacement for a key piece of equipment on which he has come to rely and that has served him well for over two decades. “I’ll be able to continue with what I like, transitioning from format to format. It’s not a compromise. That was a big concern to me,” he confides.
“You’ve got options for your D-to-A: blonde, brunette, redhead, whatever—I picked the red one,” he says. “People have a choice, and Focusrite makes the choice easy.”