Brian Ahern Test Drives the Universal Audio 6176

May 19, 2003 12:00 PM, Editors


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Producer Brian Ahern recently tried out the new Universal Audio 6176 on some reissues of his older Emmy Lou Harris records: Pieces of the Sky, Luxury Liner, Elite Hotel, Quarter Moon and a Ten Cent Sky and Blue Kentucky Girl. The 6176 combines Universal Audio's 2-610 microphone/instrument preamplifier and the 1176LN compressor-into a single "channel strip" product.

Ahern is using the 6176 to record vocal overdubs and in the mastering process. "I'm taking the original 1/4-inch masters mixed in the '70s and running them thru the dual-6176s to add a bit more loudness. Keep up with contemporary values, so we say?" Ahern chuckles. "I like the color that the tube/pre amp of the 6176 generates I've been using a pair of [original] Neumann M50s for the vocals. The M50 omni capsule is built into a plastiscene ball mounted on a pedestal inside the microphone cage. From this subtle and arcane technology, combined with the 6176, results a sense of depth and 'being there' enhanced by the microphone's uncanny ability to put acoustic guitar 'in your face' from a distance of 12 feet! You record the whole instrument and air around it, instead of jamming it up to the sound hole."

He likes to use the 6176 as the pre amp. "Most voices and instruments are defined by their midrange frequency content.  The 6176 has a powerful and articulate midrange lens, and the compression has always been one of my favorites. I can set up the 6176 for two different feeds on the microphones, which gives me a very subtle coloration. Then, I have control on the input and the gain of the mic preamp before I even get to the compressor, which gives me more options. When I go to the Studer [24-track analog tape machine], I can then pick two different stocks and two different speeds so there's four more options there."

He also prefers to use the 6176 EQ on direct input for bass overdubs. Recently, he used it on a vintage Hagstrom Bass overdub. He used a little low-end EQ and put some overdrive through the preamp. "The Equalizer is well-thought-out and the innovative Impedance Selections create subtle tone changes that are otherwise unavailable. My vintage Hagstrom Bass bloomed as never before through the Instrument Input."

For more on the 6176, visit Universal Audio online at

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