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The Well Pennies Add Neve 1073LB Preamps To 500 Series Rack

Folk/pop duo cite "warmth and character" of the units as helping them create "rich and complex" art.
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Bryan Vanderpool of The Well Pennies with the Neve 1073LB preamps at Golden Bear Records in Iowa.

U.S.-based folk/pop artists The Well Pennies — husband and wife duo Bryan and Sarah Vanderpool — recently supplemented their modern workflow with Neve 1073LB microphone preamplifiers, specifically adding three of the preamps into the 500 Series rack at their studio in Des Moines, IA.

“A 1073LB preamp was one of the first things we bought for the studio when we moved back from Los Angeles,” Bryan Vanderpool says. “We wanted the best and we knew we loved the Neve sound. There are so many copycats out there, but there’s nothing that sounds like an authentic Neve 1073. These preamps help us get that warmth and harmonic drive that is missing from so many modern recordings. They can turn what would normally be a sterile recording into a rich and complex piece of art.”

Engineered and manufactured in the UK by AMS Neve, the 1073LB is designed to retain the unique sonic characteristics of the original 1073 Classic microphone preamplifier, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. But while the architecture, matching components and original hand-wound transformers may be the same, the 1073LB is intended to offer modern advantages because it comes in a portable form now popular with professional producers and engineers.

“Many of our favorite recordings were recorded with Neve gear or on Neve consoles, but it wasn’t until we got into the art and science of recording that we discovered the gear behind our favourite albums,” Bryan Vanderpool explains. “When we first became aware of the 1073, we had no idea how iconic it was. We recorded our first EP with producer Michael Woodrum at his studio, and as he was cycling through preamps on Sarah’s vocals it was the 1073 that immediately jumped out at us. It had the exact characteristics we were looking for. When we started recording our own music, I called him up to talk about his gear and that was when we learned how influential and iconic the 1073 preamp is.”

Although they are now based in Iowa, the Vanderpools originally met in Boston while supporting each other’s solo sets in various clubs and venues. They moved to Los Angeles where in 2011/12 they recorded and released their debut EP, and have subsequently released two more albums – “Endlings” and “Murmurations” – that are noted their soaring harmonies, pop melodies and lush string arrangements. Their 2016 relocation to Des Moines, enabled them to set up Golden Bear Records, a studio and record label.

“We moved here with the sole purpose of building a recording studio away from the chaos of Los Angeles,” Bryan Vanderpool says. “We originally built the studio just for The Well Pennies, but Des Moines has such a vibrant art and music community that after a while our calendar started filling up with all sorts of local bands and songwriters. Today, whenever we’re not working on Well Pennies material, we’ve usually got some great local artist in here recording or mixing new music.”

Golden Bear Records (www.goldenbearrecords.com) has an extensive collection of vintage electric pianos and synths, a Hammond B3, a Yamaha U3, high-end guitars and banjos, and several restored vintage drum kits. Apogee Symphony Mk II are used for conversion and the studio has JBL 708P monitors.

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“My workflow is a bit of a mix because I’m a control freak and don’t always like to commit to something right away,” he explains. “My favorite way to work is to record through our preamps into our Apogee Symphony and then come back and use our compressor and reverb units after the fact. That way I can dial them in perfectly to the mix. But I also use quite a lot of plugins as well, it’s the golden age for home recording.”

Like many artists, the Vanderpools have been keeping busy during the pandemic by working on material for a new album and recording cover songs for an EP. In his role as a producer, Bryan has also been mixing a new album from Ethridge Netz and will soon be recording a new project by the band Dear.

“Lockdown has been really odd, but luckily we’ve been staying busy with various remote mixing projects over the last few months,” he concluds. “It helps having our studio in our home. It made the lockdown really easy for us. Whenever we’re feeling inspired or have an idea, we can record at the drop of a hat (often in our PJs!). It will be really nice to have our band back together again in the same room, though.”

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