Arcade Fire Engineer Mark Lawson Takes UA Hardware On A Trip To The Suburbs

Arcade Fire’s album The Suburbs was released to critical acclaim before going on to win the “Album of the Year” title at last weekend’s 2010 GRAMMY Awards. Mark Lawson is the talented engineer that worked closely with the indie rock band – with its multitude of members and ever changing instrumentation – during the recording of this award-winning album. Arcade Fire, based in Montreal, Canada, is fronted by the husband and wife duo of Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. Universal Audio hardware was an important player in the sound of their acclaimed release.

In addition to managing the chaotic amount of musicians in their sessions for the album, Lawson also had to deal with the technical end of recording a vast array of continually changing instrumentation in varying (some, rather dubious) locations. He and the band are hardcore analog enthusiasts, utilizing both vintage and modern, gear and techniques.

The Universal Audio 1176LN Classic Limiting Amplifier and the 2-610 Dual Channel Tube Preamplifier played an integral part in Arcade Fire’s sound. “I’ve been using 1176s since day one in the studio. I’ve used the 2-610 in combination with an 1176 to record all kinds of projects–since the beginning of time,” commented Lawson. “We also have a vintage UA 2100 sidecar. I used the sidecar to record a variety of things. Each channel has a 1108 preamp, a limited EQ – broad stroke treble and bass – section, a very slow optical limiter and a large square metal fader. Every time the lights would flash on the limiters, I would smile and hope for the best. It was tricky to monitor sometimes in the makeshift DYI spaces. The title track, Suburbs, with the dueling drum kits, was recorded with that sidecar.”

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Analog gear and recording to tape help form much of the warm sound that makes Arcade Fire so popular, Lawson relied heavily on the 2-610 for recording. “Much like the 2100, I find that with the 2-610, it just does what it does instantly. You don’t have to futz about with it. It sounds really clean and clear. It sort of has a warm overtone kind of thing that can be enjoyable sometimes. It just sort of works every time. I don’t have to second-guess. I just plug in the mic, and I know it’s going to be a nice, full sound that’s going to be totally useable.”

Read the interview in its entirety on Universal Audio’s Blog.

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