Noted musical director Adam Blackstone recently integrated a Solid State Logic SiX SuperAnalogue desktop mixing console into his workflow. Blackstone has a client list that has included artists like Justin Timberlake, Drake, and Rihanna, and played on Jay Z’s “Fade to Black” tour when he was just 21.
“The studios we were working in at the time were all SSL consoles, so SSL was a big part of my musical upbringing,” he says, adding that he’s used the SiX as everything from preamp to a summing mixer, to an analog mixer to a master bus.
Monitoring through his home studio’s Genelec G Five monitors and KRK Rokit 10s subwoofers, Blackstone notes how well the SuperAnalogue circuitry of the SiX captures the same sound he recognizes from SSL’s large-format consoles. “SSL has really done an amazing job at translating that big-console sound into this little mixer,” he says.
Guitarist and frequent collaborator Clay Sears has known Blackstone since his early days in the Philadelphia music scene. The two have found the SiX to be a useful tool for building the backing tracks that bolster high-production-value live shows. “We do a ton of touring and live TV work but also a lot of pre-records,” says Sears. “Pre-recording tracks for live events is kind of where it’s at now, so your recording game has got to be on point.”
For Sears, gear choice is a matter of meeting his clients’ needs and expectations. “At this level of the industry, I need to make sure that the tracks I send out meet the highest standards of quality, not just from a musical and artistic standpoint but from a sonic standpoint as well,” Sears says. “With the high-quality signal path of the SiX, I know that my tracks are going to sit in the mix with stuff that’s recorded at big commercial studios.” As the layers build up, the SiX’s SuperAnalogue circuitry really shines. “The sound of a particular piece of gear will really start to show itself as you start piling on five plus guitar parts, Sears says. “You really start hearing the difference that the SiX makes.”
For this year’s Super Bowl, Blackstone decamped to Miami with his band, including Sears, a full month in advance. “This show featured two headliners in Shakira and JLo, and I was honored to be their unanimous choice to MD the show, but I also had to make sure I was giving them both headliner levels of attention during the process,” he says. While Blackstone began leading rehearsals with his eight-piece core band on a large soundstage, he was also communicating directly with the artists and refining the musical arrangements. “There were changes happening all the time, so having a really fast workflow was extremely important, and the SiX really came in handy,” Sears notes.
Blackstone utilized the SiX as the front-end for his own synth bass layers for the performance. “I had my King Korg and my Moog Voyager down there, summing them right through the SiX for pre-records,” he says. He uses these backing tracks to bolster the sound of a live bass guitar for an authoritative punch. “Doubling an electric bass with synths is an approach I picked up from movie scoring sessions I played on that I’ve adopted in my live music production work.”
Blackstone concludes, “I always come back to that SSL sound. That’s what people are calling me for. They might not know exactly what gear I’m using, but they know my sound.”