In sound engineering, few names resonate as profoundly as Kevin Shirley, affectionately known as “The Caveman.” With a track record boasting collaborations with rock giants like Journey, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Maiden, Shirley’s touch is synonymous with sonic excellence. This article delves into the heart of his studio setup, shedding light on his equipment choices and the philosophy that underpins his work.
Analog Roots in a Digital Age
Kevin Shirley’s journey in sound production is deeply rooted in the analog world. Despite the digital revolution that has swept the music industry, Shirley remains a stalwart believer in the magic of analog. As he puts it, “I am essentially very old school, and for as long as I could I resisted certain aspects of digital technology.” His approach to Pro Tools, for instance, mirrors the simplicity and authenticity of a tape machine.
The Best of Both Worlds at The Cave Australia
When setting up his secondary recording/mixing facility in Australia, mirroring his primary base in Malibu, Shirley sought to harmonize the strengths of both analog and digital realms. This led him to integrate the advanced networking capabilities of Focusrite’s RedNet range of Dante-networked audio converters and interfaces. Speaking about this fusion, Shirley remarked, “I guess you could say at The Cave Australia, I have the best of both worlds – old-school analog and digital. And that’s thanks to these wonderful Focusrite I/O’s.”
The Gear That Defines the Sound
Shirley’s studios, both in Malibu and Australia, are equipped with state-of-the-art gear. Central to both setups are the SSL Duality consoles, complemented by a plethora of outboard gear, including the revered Focusrite Red 3 compressors. The Australian studio boasts two RedNet A16R 16-channel analog I/O interfaces, one RedNet A8R 8-channel analog I/O, and two RedNet HD32R 32-channel HD Dante network bridges. Reflecting on the sound quality, Shirley notes, “The RedNet boxes just sound open and pleasing, and the bottom end sounds so solid on them.”
Versatility and Reliability: The Hallmarks of Excellence
Shirley’s work spans a diverse range of projects, from heavy rock productions to sensitive ballads. This versatility is a testament to the adaptability and quality of his equipment. As he aptly puts it, “It’s almost like the perfect I/O. It sounds like I’ve got my old tape machine back.”
Kevin Shirley’s approach to sound engineering, as highlighted in his 2017 interview with ProSoundWeb, offers invaluable insights for industry professionals. His seamless blend of analog warmth with digital precision serves as a beacon for sound engineers worldwide, proving that with the right gear and philosophy, magic can be created in the studio.