Elliot Mazer: A Master Producer Combines the Best of Analog and Digital — Including the New UAD-2 SOLO/Laptop

Elliot Mazer
Elliot Mazer

Elliot Mazer is the man responsible for the sound of some of the most beloved classic rock records of all time, including Janis Joplin’s In Concert (live album), and Harvest and Decade by Neil Young. Mazer is a master of analog recording, yet has also embraced digital technology to get the best of both worlds. Employing Universal Audio founder Bill Putnam’s recording equipment since 1968–when he first used the classic 610 preamps–Mazer eventually mixed on the legendary Green Board, a 610 console that lived in Wally Heider’s remote truck and later in Neil Young’s studio, and currently uses the 2-610 mic pre’s as well as a range of other UA equipment, including a UAD-2 SOLO/Laptop DSP Accelerator Card.

"The UAD plug-ins sound authentic … I use the 1176, LA-2A, and the Pultec EQs a lot. They are the real thing."

“The 610 is great as a mic pre or a line pre,” says Mazer. “It has a great and familiar sound. I use it to color mixes I do today. I take a stereo feed from Logic or Pro Tools digitally through a UA 2192, which feeds an analog signal into a 2-610, which then feeds back to the 2192, which feeds back into Logic or Pro Tools.”

Speaking of UA’s 2192 Audio Interface, Mazer notes that he was an early adopter. “I am one of those people that cannot stand the sound of the Digidesign I/O boxes. People that use them to record (or play) into Pro Tools are getting 50 percent of the sound. A few years ago, I did an A/B comparison. We listened to masters of Frank Sinatra at 192/24. These were recorded live in the Sands Hotel in Vegas, through a UA recording console. The 2192 made it sound real, down to the tinkling of the silverware and glasses. With the Digi 192 I/O, you could not tell what those sounds were. … It sounded like mush. Frank's voice sounded like Frank on the 2192. … Since then, I’ve used the 2192 for all the I/O I do in Pro Tools and Logic. On projects at Neil Young's studio, we record multitracks onto his 24-track Studers and Pro Tools at 192/24.”

On the DAW side, Mazer has been using UAD TDM plug-ins in Pro Tools and UAD Powered Plug-Ins in Logic. Recently he upgraded to the UAD-2 DSP Accelerator Card, which has quickly become an essential tool for him. “The UAD plug-ins sound authentic. … I use the 1176LN, LA-2A, and the Pultec EQs a lot. They are the real thing.”

Elliot Mazer @ Redwood Digital
Elliot Mazer at Redwood Digital

Mazer’s newest piece of UA kit is a prototype of the new UAD-2 SOLO/Laptop card, which he recently used to record the Whybirds, a four-piece band based in England. “We cut the whole thing at 192/24. We put the finished stems into my laptop, which has the UAD-2 SOLO/Laptop card in it, and I did rough mixes in Logic. This gives us a better idea of what to expect from the PT sessions. Since the UAD-2 SOLO/Laptop card fits in a pocket, I was able to do more work on the plane back to New York. I then took the drive and loaded it on the Mac Pro and continued mixing seamlessly in my studio. For this project, I used the EMT 140 reverb, 1176, LA-2A and Pultecs. And I love the Cambridge EQ because it sounds great, and also because it lets me adjust it by dragging points on the display until it sounds right.”

“The songs were recorded into an externally clocked Pro Tools through an SSL AWS desk. When we finished a song, I wanted to make some rough mixes, but the AWS/PT setup is not conducive to mixing since it only had 24 faders … and that Pro Tools system didn’t have the plug-ins I normally use. So we would export consolidated tracks out, then I made a new Logic session and was able to create mixes there with the SOLO/Laptop, which were later translatable to my system at home.”

Mazer took the rough mixes home and completed them on his UAD-2 QUAD with the same plug-ins. And he loved the entire experience. “The consistency is great with UAD, and I always have the same plugs in the sessions—on the road and at home.”

Check out the Whybirds "Wild Wild Wind" (featuring the UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins).

— Marsha Vdovin

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