Straight Outta Lockdown: iD22 Helps Produce 8 Tracks In 7 Weeks!
It takes a leap of faith to leave a successful career in music education and reconnect with a passion for 90s Nu Jazz and HipHop production. Yet Mick Feltham did just that and set up a small, acoustically designed mix/production studio in his back garden, choosing iD22 as his audio interface.
For Mick, getting back in touch with his 90’s UK Broken Beat (BRUK) / Nu Jazz roots wasn’t a leap into the complete unknown, as he had released on a number of different labels including LTJ Bukem’s Cookin and the Earth series as a co-writer/producer in Gee Dubya’s K-Scope, “which led on to some very lucrative syncs and commercial music.” Inspired by what he was hearing coming out of the LA Beat Scene, he was itching to get back to it.
“As most of my production is ‘in the box’, what I needed most was a great sounding space where I could write creatively and produce mixes that would translate anywhere,” explains Mick who (rather fortuitously) had gained plenty of experience as project manager for the Music Department at Northbrook Metropolitan College where he helped design and specify their new, high performance 20-studio complex. “That’s how I got to know Audient; they were incredibly supportive of the project and what we were trying to achieve there.”
Back to his own, more modest production setup. “Using that knowledge I took my time ensuring that the three critical components of acoustic space, monitoring and audio interface would give me not just accuracy, detail and sonic integrity, but also suit my production style and work together as an optimal setup.
“Having a solid vision of the music I wanted to write and produce brought a lot of clarity to my studio design and setup. I chose the iD22 because, at the time it was the most featured of the iD series (the iD44 was yet to release),” he continues. “Apart from the crystal clarity of the Burr-Brown converters and pristine pre-amps, the fact that it had a dedicated JFET DI, inserts points on channels 1 and 2, ADAT I/O and an independent headphone out made it pretty much future proof. All that in one small box!
“The great thing about the iD22 is that it can cope with so many configurations, and I could try out loads of workflow ideas,” he continues. “I’m a real big fan of old analogue synths and run them through my Joe Meek VC3 and AKAI MFC42 to add a bit of character. However I didn’t want an external mixer solution, I wanted to use the iD22 converters once on the way in and once on the way out – just two points of fixed gain – the DAC at an amazing 120 dB and ADC at an equally impressive 114dB. Everything else is then 32 bit floating point processing (unless I want to do some real time sonic mangling by using outs 3 and 4 as an external effects bus which goes into a Korg Kaoss Pad KP3 + then into my Akai MFC 42 before coming back through the return inset points as a Cue mix in Ableton).
“I decided to create a ‘virtual mixer/patchbay’ using iD22 software mixer output options and the extra I/O available through ADAT. It means I can call up any of my analogue instruments using the External Instruments plug in in Ableton. (MIDI is handled by a MOTU Express 128). Fortunately the iD22 is built with expansion and compatibility in mind.” Plugging in an 8-channel mic pre increases his inputs to ten. “After using the iD22 for 18 months, upgrading that mic pre to an ASP800 is definitely next on my list.”
Emerging from the UK’s seven-week total lockdown having written and produced eight new tracks, Mick confirms he’s really happy with his setup. “That is a very good indication of an effective workflow. Right now I can do everything I want with minimum time but maximum creativity and sonic integrity and most importantly, fun!” he explains. “I wanted to let Audient – and the music production world – know just how much of a positive contribution the iD22 has made to my creativity, quality and consistency.”
He will be posting some bite-sized examples of his studio setup over the next few weeks on Instagram. To listen to his latest, aptly-named album ‘Straight Outta Lockdown’ which he describes as “a celebration of crate digging, analogue synths, creative sampling and beat tape culture” visit either Soundcloud or Bandcamp.