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Van Morrison Producer Problem-Solves in the Studio with Bittree Audio Patchbays
USA – As a touring and recording member of Van Morrison’s band for 14 years, drummer Bobby Ruggiero is uniquely tuned into the musical conversations that take shape under direction of the musical legend. As owner of The Wildest Man studios in Las Vegas, Ruggiero is responsible for bringing the musical visions of Van Morrison and others to life in the producer’s chair. This was once again the case earlier this year, when Van Morrison and his band entered the studio to record the band’s 41st album, Three Chords & The Truth, due for release on October 25.
Surprises happened along the recording journey, as often happens on a Van Morrison recording, including an unexpected session with Righteous Brothers vocalist Bill Medley, which resulted in a duet on the album called “Fame Will Eat The Soul”. Ruggiero often faces similar challenges with other recording and mixing projects at his studio when he’s not on tour. These unexpected twists require a nimble recording environment that allows Ruggiero to quickly make changes and adjustments to instrumentation, as well as the recording and mixing workflow.
To optimise flexibility in the studio, Ruggiero invested in Bittree’s ProStudio PS96DB25F audio patchbay. The front-programmable, high-density PS96DB25F is the flagship model of the ProStudio Series, combining robust durability with superior sound quality in a compact 2x48, 96-jack 1.5 RU rackmount configuration.
“The core benefit of this patchbay is that that it accelerated my entire workflow, and as a 96-point patchbay we could load 48 channels into it,” said Ruggiero. “It allows me to create outstanding sound, it’s easy to use, easy to program, well-crafted, and just very flexible overall. We can use our analogue gear without slowing down, which means we can produce great sound and remain competitive in this business.”
Ruggiero prefers working in the analog environment, which makes working with new gear a challenge. “Someone is always bringing in a new piece of gear,” he said. “While recording Three Chords & The Truth, I was asked to patch in some new gear that sounded similar to classic LA-2A compressors. Without the Bittree patchbay, I would have had to remove several components from the rack, find where the returns were going to the console, and test out the new gear. Instead, I could plug right in and go straight to work. And I can do the same with any other client that comes in, or easily move gear to new channels. We can keep moving forward regardless of the challenge, and the Phillips screwdrivers are mostly gone.”
Ruggiero adds that he “saves hours of time” by not having to create a new template for every project, and can instead change everything in the PS96DB25F to correspond with a new session. He also gives high marks to the half normalling feature, which adding further flexibility to his recording and mixing workflows.
“With the normal going from the output to the input, we can add something while continuing to send a signal to the corresponding jack underneath,” he said. “We can take the clean signal and the parallel compressed channel, we can do a headphone monitor mix, or even split the signal and record two versions simultaneously. We can do all this and more without interrupting the flow since they are half normal, and since it’s being done through the patchbay we eliminate the extra snakes and cabling.”
While Ruggiero originally had looked at a ProStudio Series patchbay that offered half the channel capacity, the Bittree experts guided him to the larger model to support more complex recording projects. “It was the right decision,” he said. “I wound up maxing it out for the new Van Morrison album. We ran outputs to our preamps, DAW, converters, compressors, EQs, reverbs and anything else you can think of in the studio. One thing I have learned is that we’re always going to need more than we have.”
In picture: Bill Medley, Bobby Ruggiero and Van Morrison in Ruggiero's studio.
30th September 2019
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