Producer and composer Talvin Singh has resolved his long-standing issues with analog to digital conversion by investing in a Prism Sound Atlas audio interface.
“This unit has changed my life,” he says. “I’ve spent years trying to find an interface that didn’t color the sound of the instruments I’m recording and finally I have something that I’m happy with. It has succeeded in bringing my whole studio together and I feel like I can breathe again.”
An accomplished Tabla player and electronic musician, Singh won the Mercury Music Prize in 1999 for his debut solo album OK. That same year, he collaborated with David Sylvian and he has worked with artists such as Björk, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Madonna and Massive Attack.
Three years ago, Singh moved to Suffolk after falling in love with the countryside around Aldeburgh. He acquired a dog and more recently set about building his own studio, which is housed in a hanger on a former air base. The studio is equipped with a Malcolm Toft mixing console, Quested main monitoring and a range of outboard equipment.
“I’ve tried recording ‘in the box’, but the truth is I prefer analog machines and real instruments,” he says. “I don’t really like the synthetic sound you get with plugins and I wasn’t convinced by that approach. I wanted to use Logic but I also wanted to mix on a console so that I could add my own reverb etc. The problem I faced was finding a good analog to digital converter that would allow me to do this.”
Singh tried various converters but felt that none of them were up to the task. “The minute I introduced a microphone into the chain, I lost the aesthetic of the instruments because they didn’t sound natural anymore,” he says. “I was really struggling to bring everything together and it felt as though everyone I talked to was sending me in the wrong direction. Nothing I tried was supporting the way I wanted to work.”
Eventually it was a chance conversation with a fellow producer that pointed him towards Prism Sound. A conversation with Prism Sound’s Channel Sales manager Mark Evans resulted in an Atlas arriving at Singh’s studio for a demo and within a few days of testing it he realized that his problems were over.
“Atlas is great because it has enough outputs to allow me to mix on my desk, plus it has a MDIO port so I can hook up my turntables and sample off my old records,” he says. “I tested the Atlas against other converters, on instruments that I know really well, and it was just streets ahead of anything else. The stereo image and stability was stunning and the sound was really clean and transparent. I’m not looking for an interface that makes the sound bright or exciting – I just want the truth of what I am recording, whether that’s a vocal or an instrument. The Atlas is so good that it gives me the best of both worlds – I’m so impressed with it that I’m considering buying another to give me even more I/O.”
Atlas is a USB multi-track audio interface that is compatible with both Windows and Mac platforms. Once configured with a computer, Atlas can also operate stand-alone using its ADAT, S/PDIF or AES3 I/O.
As well as the built-in inputs and outputs Atlas can accommodate other optional digital interfaces such as Pro Tools|HDX and AES3 multichannel options through its MDIO expansion slot. This flexibility makes Atlas suitable for the home, native or project studio as well as larger multitracking facilities by integration with the industry standard platforms.
Singh is currently working on a new album and scoring a German film that is being shot in Bombay. He also recently took part in TEDxLondon 2016 at the Science Museum where he was one of a number of speakers exploring the theme of ingenuity and the ceaseless creativity that runs through London. For this, he used a Prism Sound Lyra to incorporate percussion sounds he had recorded using Atlas and live sample some of the old Indian records in his extensive record collection.