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Inside the Box – Part 1: Going from Analog to Digital with Sylvia Massy

My name is Sylvia Massy. I’m a producer, engineer, and enjoy using analog equipment and digital equipment for recording music.


When I was in Los Angeles, I had a great amount of success with hard music, and I was working with bands like Tool and System of a Down. I came out of the punk world, however, I love all types of genres of music and had an opportunity to also work with Prince and Johnny Cash, but I’m best known for the rock genre.

I think environment has so much to do with the performance that you’ll get. I’ll drag artists out into salt mines, submarines, barns, we’ll record outside at night, we’ll record in the back of a van.

For instance, I’m going to be recording a band called Thunder Pussy at a place called Satsop. It’s an abandoned nuclear power plant. We’re going to be recording in one of the cooling towers. Now, you can imagine, this is going to be an awesome acoustic space, but there’s plenty of technical challenges in making this happen.


While I never fly blind when I’m recording in a remote situation, I have a very trusted set of headphones that I carry with me. As a producer, I like to also be a part of the creative process. Like an artist, the things that I have in an analog studio will be colors that I can add to this canvas. Remember these? I find it very important when I’m recording to use this Neve console, but the Neve console is not necessarily the cleanest, most accurate representation of what it’s recording. It colors the sound, and it colors the sound in a way that I really like.

If you enjoy records by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, by Sheryl Crow, there’s a certain sound to these records, and that’s specifically the Neve.

You know, change is often hard for anyone. At first, I was resistant. I didn’t want to fight it. I knew it was the best thing to do. Now, I mix only in the box, and all of those colors that I require from my analog equipment are now available in digital, and not only those colors, but so many more colors.

I’m in the digital realm now. I can add effects, and compression, and equalization on every single track without having to have stacks and stacks of rack equipment, and it’ll be as clean as I want it, or it’ll be as dirty as I want it, because I don’t always want perfection. I do want to destroy things a little bit.




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