Tech talk with Steve Aoki

Steve Aoki gave Audio Media International an exclusive insight into the gear he uses to produce records in his impressive, futuristic-looking Nevada-based home studio for the latest issue of Audio Media International. 

Aptly named the Neon Future Cave, the studio is centred around a large workstation housing an “epic” Slate Raven Z3C digital mix rack and Focal SM9 monitors:

Read the full feature here.

“There are a lot of mics that I used in the past but I have just got the microphone of all microphones, the Sony C800G. That’s the one I had been looking for and it’s been really difficult to get.

“But before I was using the Neumann TLM 103 (pictured, right). I’ve worked with them a lot and they’ve sent me a bunch of mics. I’ve used that on most of my sessions in the past. All the Neon Future sessions [were] done with the Neumann TLM 103.

“All the new stuff was with the Sony C800G. That’s a vintage tube mic that sounds incredible. It’s definitely one of the highest-level mics in the game, there’s no doubt about that. And it looks sick. It’s just this dope, futuristic looking mic, which is perfect for my studio.”

“For my interface, I’m using a Universal Audio Apollo 16 with a DSP Accelerator, which helps when I’m using my UAD plugins, and I use that for everything.

“As far as preamps and compressors go, I’ve got an Avalon VT-737SP in my Dim Mak studio. The Avalon gives me a warmer tone. In my home studio here [in Las Vegas] I have a different set up. I have a Universal Audio UA 6176 (pictured, right), which is a combo of the classic 610 preamp and the 1176 compressor/limiter.

“The UA 6176 has a really nice crisp sound to the unit and I run pretty much everything through it, including all my guitars and my bass. In a lot of my new productions I’m going back to my roots and adding guitars and bass and not just [working] in the box.

“I do a lot in the box as it is. A lot of my productions are in the box. I’m not really going too far out. But now that I have this sick studio, I’m definitely utilising other stuff.”

“I have a good amount of Waves plugins, like the CLA Vocal (pictured, right) and the JJP Vocals. I think that most people use those. These are all basically one vocal engine that includes compression, EQ Boost, Delays etc. Soundtoys is another plugin that I use, Echo Boys for delays, Crystalliser, which has some cool stuff with pitch shifting and reverse echo.

“Then I’m adding some inbox compression with the Universal Audio 1176LN compressor and the Teletronix LA-3A Classic Audio Leveler. The LA-3A helps keep levels at a good place, while still giving the vocals enough room for dynamics.

“I’m also running some de-essers like the Manny Marroquin Triple D to get rid of some of the unnecessary sounds. Then I’ll also slap an EQ in front of my chain, maybe one in the middle, one in the end. Obviously the chain changes depending on the vocals.”

“For playback monitors, I have these massive Ocean Ways. They are taller than me actually. They’re huge club kind of speakers and they are custom made for the studio. They are a really cool company. They don’t make that many speakers, so having these is really cool.

“The colour scheme on the speaker matches the studio. For my mains I have Focal SM9s. They are great, really incredible monitors. I have a pretty big room here in Vegas, well it’s like a standard room, but my studio in LA is really small and it works in both small and bigger rooms.

“For reference, I have my Bang & Olufsen speakers in my car. That’s the first place I go outside my studio to test things. Everyone is either going to hear it in the car, or computer speakers, so you’ve got to give credit to those speakers too. Lastly, I check my mixes on my Avantone MixCubes (pictured, right), which emulate most laptop/computer speakers. You can really tell if a mix is level through those.”