Los Angeles, California:
After a couple of decades working in a multitude of studios with a wide cross-section of artists as an engineer, producer and mixer, Joe Chiccarelli has had the opportunity to try many different types and brands of recording equipment. But one brand became a constant early on in his career, and has become integral to Chiccarelli's typical signal path — API.
"API always is my guitar sound," reveals Chiccarelli. "There's a certain mid-range presence and aggression that the API preamps and EQs have that nothing else has. I like how forceful it is and how it projects through the mix."
One notable recent example is "Icky Thump," the new full-length release from the White Stripes, he says. "All the guitars are through API 550As. I don't think there's anything else on them but 550As. The preamps varied, but the EQs were always API. That's the sound of Jack White's guitar on all of the new record."
On a typical project, he explains, "I tend to use API 560 EQs on kick drums. I almost always use 550A EQs on electric guitars and 550bs on acoustic guitars. I love the clarity of the upper end harmonics for stringed instruments. No matter what preamps are used, API is always part of the equation. On a recent project for BMG artists Judd & Maggie I've been using the API 2500 compressor as a drum submix compressor and a piano compressor. I've even used it on the stereo buss. It's a fantastic box."
API also helped define the sound of the critically acclaimed new album from The Shins, "Wincing the Night Away," not to mention attain the band's first certified Gold album. "The Shins project was tracked and mixed on an API Legacy Plus at Supernatural Sound Studios in Portland, Oregon. Just recently I went to Toronto to mix an album for the Canadian band, Stars. The are a wonderful up-and-coming band whose last disc sold about 70,000 in the States. That was mixed on a Legacy Plus at Phase One Studios."
Depending on the desired effect and the tonal qualities of the instrument being recorded, Chiccarelli will often mix and match the signal processing devices that he uses. But, he says, "APIs are always a part of every session I do. Even if I'm using another console, there are always some API modules or a vintage 1604 console around."
For example, he says, "On the new Raconteurs record, we rented an old API 1604 to put all the drums through. On Mika's album, which went double platinum in Europe, we did the same thing and rented an old 1604 to do the drums. I love the boldness of the sound from the 512 and 312 preamps."
He continues, "I tracked with Morrissey earlier this year, and once again, all the guitars were API EQs and the drums were a combination of API and Neve. The new Rentals album was mixed on an SSL but with several API EQs on synthesizers and guitars."
Chiccarelli, who has worked with Elton John, Beck, U2, Melissa Etheridge, Tori Amos, Oingo Boingo, Rufus Wainwright, Carole King, The Cult, Bon Jovi, and many, many others, fell in love with the API sound early in his career. "I've been around API consoles since the early '80s, working at the Record Plant in L.A. with Frank Zappa. And I still use this gear every single day."