Welcome to the EarthQuaker Devices Studio Series! Since so many of our favorite musical moments happen on recordings, we're peeling back the curtain and shining the spotlight on the men and women who use EarthQuaker Devices to help create new sounds and capture our favorite music on tape, hard drive, and ye olde wax cylinder.
Vincent Caro is a San Francisco based audio engineer with nearly three decades of experience and credits including Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, and so many of our favorite Hollywood movies. He was kind enough to answer our studio questionnaire, which we've published below in its entirety.
Do you use EQD pedals during tracking, mixing, or both? If both, roughly what ratio?
What are your favorite EQD drive/fuzz pedal combos when tracking guitars? Which dirt pedals do you feel pair well with particular guitar/amp combos or certain styles of music?
Tough to say which one is my favorite, but I’ve used The Speaker Cranker A LOT! I’ve also used the Monarch, and Dirt Transmitter a good deal, and lately I’ve been having fun with Spires and the Gray Channel.
What other electric/electronic instruments or sources do you use EQD pedals with, and what are your favorite applications?
I have a couple old synths that I’ve dusted off, and by playing through EQD’s pedals I’ve breathed some new life into them. I like using The Depths, The Rainbow Machine, The Arpanoid, The Organizer, and I just started messing with the Spatial Delivery too.
Have you tried them on acoustic sources via inserts and found any favorite applications for a particular pedal? Do you have a favorite outboard chain you like to pair them with?
I’ve gotten some interesting results by re-amping background vocals through the Rainbow Machine (obviously for effect).
What has been your favorite standard "bread and butter" sound you've gotten from an EQD pedal? Are there any that have retired or semi-retired old favorites for the same application?
I think I play through the Ghost Echo every day. I’ve been using the Levitation Reverb a lot too, but I don’t plan on retiring the Ghost Echo. I am looking forward to trying the Avalanche Run and Afterneath soon. Also, I’d be remiss in mentioning the Night Wire tremolo. I’m a bit of a tremolo addict and the Night Wire has been an exciting addition to my tremolo collection.
Which 2 EQD pedals do you use the most overall, and what would you typically use them on?
Speaker Cranker and Ghost Echo. Just playing and having fun doing so!
What do you think is the most overlooked or underrated EQD pedal, and what do you like to use it on?
The Depths. I’ve used it more for “Sound Design” than music so far. I’ve used it to create ambiences, and to process some “ho-hum” sound effect sources into some interesting “other-worldly” sounds. The same goes for the Rainbow Machine, except that I’ve used the RM for a good deal of musical applications.
How much time/frustration does this save later in the process?
If you or a guitar player you’re recording can get the perfect sound they are looking for at the amp, it’s a fairly easy job to then capture it well. This can save an enormous amount of time later on, where you can be faced with re-amping through numerous pedals, amps, or processing with outboard gear, plug-in’s, or simply just “optionitis.” So if you can get it right at the point of creation, there’s no better feeling and probably the greatest time and energy-saver.
How much energy does this lend to your process?
It depends on a lot of variables. What's the budget? How much time we have for tracking, overdubs, mixing. How integral is that particular guitar (or other instrument) sound to the song? For example, is there a particular rhythmic element (like delay or “Throb” from something like the Depths) or “vibe”, like reverb. If this is important to helping capturing the best performance, then we need to spend the time. If it’s a basic rhythmic part and you can dial in a different sound later, sometimes that’s the best approach in the “Big Picture/Economy” of the recording session.
Vincent Caro is a San Francisco based audio engineer. His credits include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Harry Connick Jr., and numerous major motion pictures.