Mix engineer Mark Needham equipped his Los Angeles studio with a 32-fader ICON D-Control™ worksurface, an integrated Pro Tools|HD® Accel system, and a variety of modular Pro Tools|HD interfaces and peripherals. For Needham, the ICON system is an essential part of an integrated digital workflow that lets him work with an array of established and emerging artists simultaneously. Recent projects mixed with ICON include Stevie Nicks, Edie Brickell, Pete Yorn, Chris Isaak, My Chemical Romance, and The Killers.
“The way I work now, I mix bands from all over the world, all at once,” says Needham. “ICON has made the whole process much faster and easier. While I’m waiting for a band in Australia to upload parts and another in New York to listen to a mix, the ICON system enables me to work on something else. Even using outboard gear, the recalls are extremely fast, so I can jump back and forth between multiple projects effortlessly. ICON has helped us double—or triple—our productivity.”
The layout and organization of the D-Control worksurface gives Needham the comfort he was used to with a large-format console, plus important added features. “I’ve been doing this for almost 35 years,” he says, “so having a console that works somewhat like an analogue board is very convenient—it’s how I grew up working. But I also like the unique ICON features. For example, I love how easy it is to work with plug-ins—being able to copy and drag EQs across a whole line of faders saves a ton of time.”
Jeff Greenberg, the CEO of famed Village Recorder (also in Los Angeles), agrees that the ICON system is the perfect marriage of a traditional large-format console and an integrated digital system. The Village installed a 32-channel ICON D-Control system in its Studio F room, which is used for overdubs, editing, mixing, and post production work in both stereo and 5.1 surround. “Everything we do is in Pro Tools,” says Greenberg, “so it was a natural fit to select ICON. It allows us to make the most of the Pro Tools system. At the same time, the ICON system’s flexibility and ease of use lets people work in a way that they can’t with any other console.”
The ICON system at Village Recorders has contributed to a star-studded list of artists” projects, including Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, t.A.T.u., Gwen Stefani, Nelly, Papa Roach, Kurupt, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (who worked with Janet Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire), Heart, Aaron Carter, Walter Becker, and Ozzy Osbourne.
Mick Guzauski, whose previous credits include Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey, Brian McKnight, and Michael McDonald, had a chance to explore the ICON system at recording artist Kenny G.’s Malibu studio while working on the saxophonist’s new album. “Kenny G. chose the ICON because he needed a system that could deliver instant recall,” says Guzauski. “He likes to be able to make small tweaks to tracks quickly and easily. For me, getting to use the ICON for this project was a great opportunity.”
Guzauski dug deeper into ICON when he returned to Kenny G.’s studio to work with singer Clay Aiken. “I really like having all the tracks in front of me all the time,” he says. “ICON makes it easy to create custom groups. I can have different “views” of the mix and even have faders control plug-in parameters. Having easy access to and control over my go-to plug-ins is also key. The Sony Oxford EQ, Massenburg DesignWorks Parametric EQ, Waves plug-ins, and ReVibeTM are right at my fingertips.”
Guzauski also enjoys how the new features of Pro Tools® HD 7.2 software (and now Pro Tools 7.3) are integrated with ICON. “The VCA groups give me flexibility that previously was only available on some of the top large format consoles. I really like the automation graphics too—seeing what you’re writing in real time is an enormous benefit.”
Brian Malouf, whose multifaceted career as a percussionist, engineer, producer, and label executive has enabled him to work with talents such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, and Everclear—sees ICON as a flexible environment that can easily be tailored to the unique sound of each artist. “With the ICON system, you can get any sound you want,” says Malouf. “You can emulate a traditional board or create something totally new.”
Recently, Malouf has been using his 32-fader ICON D-Control system with artists such as the Dave Matthews Band, Gomez, Matt Nathanson, and Shawn Mullins. Though the D-Control worksurface gives him the feel of a large-format console, Malouf likes the fact that it’s compact enough to fit in his studio, which is connected to his house in L.A. “It’s great to have a professional workspace at home,” he adds.
The D-Control worksurface itself offers tactile elements and visual feedback that Malouf finds essential to working quickly. “The layout of the console and things like the rotary encoders really let me zip around fast,” he explains. “The artists like the tactile controls too. Some people really like to get hands-on with the mix, and with ICON they can get involved without having to use the mouse. The visual feedback is really impressive as well. No other console can give you all the information that an ICON can provide.”
Rich Nevens, Digidesign director of worldwide console sales, comments on the ever-growing success of the ICON integrated console environment: “We’re really proud to see so many top studios, high-profile mixers, and chart-topping artists all over the world adopting ICON as their audio production system of choice. Regardless of the type of project - music or post - ICON provides them with the most creative and powerful environment currently available for creating, recording, editing, and mixing sound. The comprehensive set of new automation features that we recently introduced with Pro Tools HD 7.2 software has been overwhelmingly well received and further increased the demand for ICON by mixers in all fields.”