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(Original Article reprinted from Focusrite.com website)

Tori Amos and the world’s first Focusrite surround system

Tori Amos will be using a second Focusrite Red 3, purchased from HHB, in conjunction with the unit she has been using for the last few years as part of her live rig.

Tori’s live and studio engineers, Mark Hawley and Marcel van Limbeek, approached Focusrite and asked if it would be possible to use two Red 3s together in a studio environment, to use as a four-channel surround sound system. Following a bespoke modification carried out at Focusrite’s High Wycombe headquarters, the two Red 3s were duly installed at Martian Engineering, Amos and Hawley’s Cornwall studio.

Each of the four Red 3 inputs is separately sensed, and this composite signal is then used to drive a single sidechain. This allows all controls across the two Red 3s to operate as it they belonged to a single unit. Hence all four channels have control over the source of the sidechain, and will compress equally so that the balance remains undisturbed. The four channels can also be filtered to separate out a sub bass signal, allowing 5.1 performance.

Tim Shaxson at HHB said: “As far as I know this is the first time anyone has used Focusrite Reds in this way. We weren’t sure whether it would be technically possible to modify the Reds to achieve what the customer wanted, but the results were way ahead of what we could reasonably have expected. I anticipate selling a lot more pairs of Red 3’s in future!”

Tori Amos was recently out on tour to promote her latest double CD, To Venus and Back, which includes both new material and live recordings from her 1998 Plugged tour. After co-headlining for a month and a half with Alanis Morissette, Amos and her band played two weeks of arena and shed dates.

Mark Hawley, FOH Engineer for the tour and studio engineer for her recordings, uses a whole host of outboard for signal processing but the most fundamental parts of his rig are the collection of Focusrite Reds used in all four signal chains. Mark Hawley says of his Focusrite collection;

“We first bought a Red 1 for Tori’s Vocals. It’s a beautiful sounding pre-amp that really does Tori’s voice justice. When we bought the Red 2s and 3s we were hoping to achieve the transparency and warmth of the Red 1 and we were far from disappointed. The Red 2 is a fantastically musical EQ which is great for vocal and piano and the same goes for the Red 3. It’s a real bitch to get the right compression on a piano without killing the expression, but the transparent compression of the Red 3 made light work of the challenge.”

Mark is soon to test out the ISA 430 Producer Pack at his studio, Martian Engineering.

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