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Adrian Hall
Adrian Hall in the studio
Adrian Hall mixing
Adrian Hall
Adrian producing

Adrian Hall

Producer, Engineer and Mixer
Adrian Hall
Z Management

Adrian Hall has a vast amount of experience working with artists like Goldfrapp, Alicia Keys and All Saints. With eight years as a house engineer at Metropolis Studios under his belt, he is equally at home tracking a band in a Neve or SSL room or mixing  in his private studio with Pro Tools. Here he talks gear-in, gear-out, guitars and… Gabba!

Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp, Anna Calvi, All Saints, Simply Red
Masters, to tea maker, to master mixer

I originally studied acoustics at university and ended up with a Master of Engineering degree, but then gave it all up to make tea in a studio! I did some freelance assisting and ended up at Metropolis, working there from 1997, until I went freelance in 2004. I caught the tail end of working with big budgets – 48-track analogue was the main format when I started – and then I saw the transition into Pro Tools as the main recording format.

Mostly what I do now is mixing, with some production gigs as well. Often, the mixing gigs will involve some additional production, so I have a small booth for doing overdubs at my studio.

My projects include mixing Goldfrapp, Du Blonde, Big Deal and Polly Scattergood (for Mute Records). Then there was the UK number 3 album with All Saints, and the latest album from Amber Run. I also worked on the Depeche Mode concert DVD, Live In Berlin, and on records by Anna Calvi, James Yorkston (for Domino Records), Alicia Keys, Robyn, plus production work with up-and-coming singer/songwriter Annabel Allum and 'urban punk' duo Nova Twins. Other artists include Leogun, Swampmother, Dexy, Blueprint Blue, and American soul-pop singer Daniel Wilson.

Wild Thing, I think I love you

I work mostly out of a garden office at my home, which has a Pro Tools HDX system with 24 i/o, in a hybrid mixing setup. In the recording booth, I have a permanently mic’d up drum kit, for when budgets are really low and I have to do the whole thing at my studio. In terms of 'go-to' gear, I can’t get away from using my SSL XLogic buss compressor and Avalon 747 EQ across the mix on pretty much everything that I do, and my Vintech Neve-type EQs get used every day as well as gear by Aston, dbx, Buzz Audio, Universal Audio, Inward Connections, Empirical Labs and others. I’ve had to implement a strict one-in, one-out policy on gear and guitars as I’m running out of space!

With both Dexy and The Wild Things I used the Aston Spirit on vocals, and the Aston Starlights on overheads, acoustic guitars, percussion. In the studio, the Aston Starlights are my small-diaphragm condenser of choice, again always used on drum overheads, acoustic guitars and percussion. I used to have a pair of vintage Schoeps, but I actually sold those when I got the Starlights. I love the Vintage mode. With the flatter EQ, they sound really close to the Schoeps, and if I use the Modern mode with the EQ lift, it sounds very close to the pair of AKG 451s that I have, so the Starlights are like having two great pairs of mics in one. The Aston Spirit gets used when I need to record vocals that I want to have an edge to them. I also use it as a mono overhead or as a front-of-kit mic. I like the way the mic pushes sources to the front of a mix.

Out-takes

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. “I would almost certainly be an acoustic consultant since that’s what I studied. Regular salary, company car, travel to foreign countries to work in beautiful concert halls or with great architects… Remind me again why I spend most of my time in small dark rooms listening to the same song over and over again?”

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?
A. “Fantasy mic? One that sounds great on every singer, all the time, and never breaks down. Failing that, how about a tube version of the Spirit? Please?”

Q. What was the first song to make you cry?
A. The first song that made me cry was probably "Eleanor Rigby". My mum was a Beatles fan, she went to see them when they played in Hong Kong, where I grew up. The first record that I ever owned was the double vinyl of the Beatles Red Album compilation, with the cover where they're looking down the stairwell, y'know? I was six when John Lennon got shot, and I remember my Mum crying, and it made me cry, and always when I listened to that song.

Credits

"Favourite artists… Oh my, too many to list! I have a broad taste in music, from Radiohead to Lorde, Bowie to St.Vincent, Springsteen to Robyn. If it’s super-heavy dark metal or hardcore Gabba, I probably won’t like it, but anything else, if it’s got some kind of quality about it, it will get played in my house!"

Dexy

The Wild Things

Depeche Mode (Live in Berlin)

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