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Producer · Engineer · FOH
John Delf
John Delf - Hero
John Delf
John Delf

John Delf

Producer, Audio Engineer
John Delf
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Edge Recording Studio

John Delf has been a Sound Engineer since 1990 and a Tour Manager since 1996. In addition to a life on the road with some of the biggest acts in the business, including a 4 year, 300 Arena tour with 5SOS. He runs a professional SSL recording Studio, and even has enough time to make the odd cup of tea…

5 Seconds of Summer, James Arthur, Billy Corgan, The Script, Lily Allen, Plan B, Kylie Minogue, Jason Derulo, Crystal Fighters, The Feeling, One Ok Rock, Rickie Lee Jones
Making the tea...

I first started trying to be a Sound Engineer 28 years ago after finishing a degree in Architecture. After my 4 year degree I decided I didn’t enjoy Architecture and wanted to get a job in a studio. So I traipsed around the whole of the North West of England knocking on Studio doors asking for a job to which they pretty much all replied… no. Most wouldn’t even let me through the door. One studio was running a year-long course so I started that and within 3 months on the course I went back around all the studios again and this time one of them said I could do work experience with them, which involved sitting at the back and watching, making tea and cleaning the toilets. I was soon doing 50 hour weeks and every now and then the studio manager would go for lunch and ask if I could take over the session, then he would come back 4 hours later and I would have had to swim and make it happen or sink. Pretty much learning in at the deep end. 

After a while I managed to get a paid job in another studio and started doing complete session myself from start to finish. Whilst at this studio some of the bands asked me if I wanted to come do their live sound to which I said no but then one of them convinced me to do it and the live side of my career took off and I went from small Clubs to Theatres, European Tours to World Tours, Arenas and eventually Stadiums Tours including supports with One Direction, Paul McCartney, Adele, The Killers, Take That, Jennifer Lopez, One Republic and U2 and Headline Arena Tours with 5SOS, James Arthur, The Script, Plan B, Lily Allen.

Vintage and Modern

Over all the years of touring I started collecting gear together with the thought of eventually opening my own studio which 8 years ago became a reality, so as well as still touring I now have Edge Studios in Cheshire, an SSL AWS based recording studio within a 1400 sq foot Victorian Barn including 4 live rooms and a very large control room. The studio has exceptionally good sounding live rooms with great natural reverbs. We try to get the sound right at source using the rooms to their full effect making our recordings sound very natural.

We have an SSL AWS 924 console with PMC MB01 Monitors that are incredible. As well as running Pro Tools we have an Otari 2” 24 Track tape machine for those moments when… well you know. We have Yamaha NS10s as a compliment to the PMCs and a few Neve 1073 Channels to give us some extra warmth. We have a selection of over 100 mics that I have built up over the years but I have to say the Astons have become our go to condenser mic for most things, as they sound incredible. I can’t think of a mic that has come out since I started doing sound 28 years ago that has made such an impression on me.

Both the Origin and the Spirit are just so musical in their delivery, and have individual sounds that are both extremely useful in the studio. I love the fact that the Origin sounds like a Vintage mic and the Spirit like a modern condenser, but without losing that warmth. They sound so good that the Neumann Valve mic spends a lot more time in its box than it used to. They have become our most used mics, and really I think these will become future classics, up there with the Neumann U87 or AKG414, as any studio inventory will not be complete without a pair of Astons.

Home and Away...

At home I have a full clone of the studio computer including the computer monitor, that’s paired with Dynaudio BM6a active monitors, so if I need to take anything away to work on I can.

Live, my digital desk of choice for years was the Soundcraft Vi6 because of its pre amps and layout but I have recently discovered the Digico SD12 and its sound and workflow are really great. I have used pretty much every digital desk out there on one tour or another but the last Arena tour I went old school and took out a Midas Heritage and a load of Analogue Outboard including DBX 160s and Summit Compressors and I have to say Digital still hasn’t caught up sound wise with this sonic perfection. You can do so much more with a digital desk but sonically there is no competition. 

I’ve worked with many bands over the years including 5 Seconds of Summer, James Arthur, The Script, Lily Allen, Plan B, Crystal Fighters, The Feeling, One Ok Rock etc. I first used Astons live on the 5 Seconds of Summer and James Arthur tours as overheads and ride mics, and in the studio, they get used on pretty much every single session that we have come through. I’ll be taking a pair to India for a Crystal Fighters show in Mumbai soon as well.

Out-takes

Q. If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. "Crying."

Q. What would your fantasy mic be? (i.e. not one currently in existence!)
A. "One that is small but switchable between different mic types so you could effectively use on multiple instruments and give you a choice of sounds for each one and not just polar patterns but mic simulations say a 87 or a 414 or a small condenser or a dynamic. And also one that has a clip that easily fits to Toms without falling off. Or an un-cuppable vocal mic for singers who want to be rappers."

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?
A. "Solid, Warm, Classic, Musical." 

Q. What was the first song to make you cry?
A. “Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees. I went to see Radiohead play a competition winners gig for about 200 people back in 2008 at the BBC, they played for 45 mins, and the intimate setting, the songs they played, were just so amazing I must have cried my way through most of the gig.”

Credits

"My all-time great…. Radiohead, The Beatles, The Smiths, Elbow,"

 5 Seconds of Summer

 Crystal Fighters

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