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David Isaac uses Duende for new Marcus Miller Project
David Isaac uses Duende for new Marcus Miller Project

David Isaac uses Duende for new Marcus Miller Project

David Isaac uses Duende for new Marcus Miller Project

Jan 9, 2009

Duende user David Isaac

THREE-TIME GRAMMY AWARD WINNING PRODUCER/ENGINEER DAVID ISAAC DISCUSSES HIS USE OF DUENDE ON HIS RECENTLY COMPLETED LP ‘SMV THUNDER’ FEATURING STANLEY CLARKE, MARCUS MILLER AND VICTOR WOOTEN.

After working in Detroit with many artists including Parliament/Funkadelic, R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, El Debarge, Aaliyah, KEM, Aretha Franklin, Barry White, The Clark Sisters, Thomas Whitfield, Fred Hammond, Anita Baker and more, David decided (with some gentle prodding from a few top musicians and engineers) to make the move to Los Angeles. There he worked with artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Puff Daddy, Babyface, Billy Idol, Amel Larrieux, Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Toni Braxton, and more.

As time passed in his new west-coast home, David began to produce, engineer, and mix extensively with bass legend and producer, Marcus Miller. With his well-deserved reputation for nailing perfect mixes growing in the local scene, he was then called to engineer for artists like Luther Vandross, or to co-produce for Eric Clapton, Wayne Shorter, and David Sanborn.

Tell us about your recent project?

That would be the SMV project. When Marcus first explained the concept of SMV to me, I thought that it was going to be a real challenge to mix. Anyone would instantly think how three bass players would play together, would they play with a band, etc. Interestingly enough, the way they played around each other and the frequency range of the basses allowed each player to standout in the mix easily. Marcus' bass has a full sound. Stanley's bass was a little more in the upper range almost like a piccolo bass, while Victor's was kind of a mix between the two, but you knew when it was him by the incredible tricks that he played. Marcus has his signature sound and technique, and so does Stanley and Victor, so the way they setup the performance to take turns playing and the way they harmonized with each other was arranged very well and made it a breeze to mix.

Were you involved in the Recording and Mixing?

For this project, I recorded some of Marcus's parts and I mixed 5 songs.

What approach did you use in mixing the project?

When I mix I like to mix so the listener gets a good sense of where the musicians are in the room, so my approach in this case was to assign a pan position for each player that was consistent through the entire mix and for every mix. Stanley had his place, Marcus held down the center, and Victor had his place. This way the listener would instantly know who's playing.

Did the mix include other instruments?

I believe there was a couple of bass interludes, a song with an Orchestra, and several songs with a band, some that included artists like Chick Corea, George Duke and a few other musicians.

What is in your mixing arsenal?

When I'm at home and in the studio, I work on both Logic and Pro Tools. For the most part, I have an Apogee setup, the SSL Duende, a Kore 2, a Lexicon PCM96, UAD cards, and a host of other third party plug-ins.

So do you mix primarily in the box?

Yes, unless the client wants me to use some outboard hardware or I really need it. If it's recorded right, I don't have to go outside the computer at all. I've been mixing in the computer for about ten years now.

Tell us about why you used Duende?

Well when I was doing Marcus' solo CD last year. I was looking for something that would give me a great sound out of my home studio. I was also looking for something that would come up as a plug-in because there would be times when I would have to switch between film, TV, and studio projects all in one day. At NAMM, I stopped by the SSL booth and I got a demo of the Duende from Quinton Nixon and the rest is history. The concept of having 32 channels of SSL processing at home was really exciting to me. Once I heard how close it was for the money to an actual SSL console, I got one.

How is your experience with the Duende?

For me it's been great. Like I said, to be able to recall the SSL plugins within my mix is very important, but also I like the fact that it comes in a box that takes the load off of your computer. I've been working with SSL consoles now since the 80's, so the punch and attack that I get from the Duende is instantly recognizable to me. I like the Drumstrip's Transient shaper. It is a favorite of mine that I use on drum tracks quite a bit. It also allows me the portability to take my rig to other studios so I have the SSL sound wherever I go, whether it's someone else's home or a professional studio when I need to pull up the mix exactly the way I had it at home.

How would you sum up your experience with the SSL Duende?

I Love It! especially when friends come by my house and they can't believe that I get all of that sound from one small rack space unit! I'm anxious to try out the new plug-ins that you guys are working on!

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