SiX SuperAnalogue™ preamps, intelligent routing options and ‘stunning sound’ are put to use in Octave Records’ first release by jazz great, Grammy Award-winner Don Grusin
Boulder, Colorado, May 2020 — When high-fidelity audio equipment company PS Audio relocated to larger premises a couple of years ago, CEO Paul McGowan set aside space for a recording studio and mastering facility, which became the new home of digital audio pioneer Gus Skinas. That partnership, Octave Records, has now launched a record label of the same name that is releasing pure DSD projects produced using an all-analogue signal chain that includes Solid State Logic’s SiX SuperAnalogue™ desktop mixing console.
“Everything I’m doing is all DSD,” says Skinas, a longtime Sony employee who was subsequently instrumental in bringing the manufacturer’s Sonoma DSD (Direct Stream Digital) recording technology to the pro audio community through his Boulder-based Super Audio Center. Now, recording, mastering and remastering projects at Octave Records, he says, “We’re always really careful to use the best analog gear we can, because with pure DSD your main processing is analog, and your mixing is analog.”
At his Octave Records studio Skinas has a vintage Studer console. “But I replaced the front end with the SSL because it sounds better than the Studer. The SiX gets the summing of the groups and main buses, and I use it for talkback and all of that. It’s exactly perfect for these high-end DSD recordings,” he says.
The first release on the new Octave Records label is a solo piano project, entitled Out of Thin Air, by Grammy Award-winning jazz keyboardist Don Grusin. The release, available via streaming and on hybrid SACD, was the first project to be recorded at Grusin’s new studio, Moose Sound, at his home in Colorado. It was recorded live to two-track by recording engineer and producer Robert Friedrich, co-owner of Five/Four Productions (with fellow former Telarc Records engineers, producers and high-resolution audio innovators Michael Bishop and Thomas Moore). “It’s just stunning; it sounds wonderful,” says Skinas of the project.
“The bandwidth of the console is great. I had all these high-bandwidth mics and mic pres going into it, and the DSD returning into it, using it as a monitor. What I liked about it was that when I flipped between the SSL console and DSD, it sounded pretty close — a lot closer than PCM is. You could be completely confident that you were capturing everything,” he says.
“I also mastered it as I was mixing because I didn’t want to go through another stage of processing,” says Friedrich, who had a TC Electronic System 6000 reverb and a Millennia NSEQ-2 equalizer available. “The Maselec MPL-2 peak limiter was there as a security measure, but I don’t think I even tickled it. Though solo piano can be tricky to record, if I can’t mix a solo piano live to two-track recording after doing it so many times in my career, there must be something wrong with me,” he laughs. Friedrich said he looks forward to making more recordings using the SIX.
Skinas bought the SSL SiX sight unseen following Friedrich’s recommendation. “He said, ‘We should try one of these.’ I just bought it to try it,” he says. He had no qualms about the purchase, though, having had a relationship with SSL since the early days of the company. “Years ago, in the ‘70s, I went to see an SSL console before there were any in this country. So I knew this console would be good. And it is good!”
If you would like to hear sample recordings, Gus Skinas and Octave Records have been kind enough to provide samples in both in DSD and PCM formats (available for download below; not for commercial use and may require DCF/DSD compatible player).
Download sample of DSD DL recording here (requires .dsf/DSD compatible player)
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