JUNE 2012: Karsten Lipp is an innovative guitarist, composer, and electronics alchemist whose work has appeared in films, in musical releases of his own and others’ projects, and on the stages of European clubs and festivals.
After spending a decade in Italy, Lipp recently returned to his German homeland, where he works with Australian singer/songwriter Emaline Delapaix and fronts the experimental jazz band Swoosh, in addition to contributing to myriad one-offs and projects that leverage his deep knowledge of electronic music, recording, mixing, and guitar tone and technique. In 2001, Lipp purchased a Metric Halo Mobile I/O 2882 interface, which – thanks to Metric Halo’s commitment to future-proofing its equipment with upgrades – is still a tool he uses on a daily basis. Since then, he has added a Metric Halo ULN-2 +DSP interface. In addition, Lipp uses the Metric Halo ChannelStrip plug-in on every mix he executes.
"I always enjoy performing and recording in spaces that have their own special character," said Lipp. "Paying attention and playing with the acoustics of a space almost makes the room into another musician. Back in 2001, I was excited to learn about the Metric Halo 2882 interface because it was the first mobile audio interface with built-in preamps. It would allow me to make mobile recordings. Actually, I had no idea about the quality and the power of the 2882 before buying it. At the time, I was just looking for an affordable and transportable machine that could do the job."
In 2008, Metric Halo released the 2d Card that upgraded older versions of the 2882 and ULN-2 to enhance the performance and feature set so that the units would stay ahead of contemporary units from other manufacturers. "It's amazing, my eleven year-old equipment is still up to date," said Lipp, who only recently installed the 2d Card. "Metric Halo is generous with driver, firmware, and software updates that often come with amazing new features, for free!" Even the 2d Card, which is a circuit board that replaces much of the internals in the 2882 or ULN-2, costs much, much less than even the cheapest professional-grade converter. The ULN-2 interface that Lipp purchased included a +DSP license for his Metric Halo converters that unlocks powerful processing without taxing his computer's CPU, as the processing power resides within the interfaces themselves. "I'm sure I'll still be using these converters in the years to come, with future generations of Macs, Thunderbolt, or whatever may come," he concluded.
As one of his revenue streams, Lipp records classical concerts using his Metric Halo converters. "In over 400 concerts, my Metric Halo converters have never, not even once, failed me or introduced a glitch into the recording," he averred. "They're absolutely rock solid. Moreover, they're built like tanks. I especially love that the 2882 has nothing external that can break; it's just a well-built metal box." Now that Lipp has the 2d Card installed, which adds enhanced mixing capabilities to MIO Console (the software brains for all Metric Halo interfaces), he plans to mix FOH and monitor mixes for all his shows with Emaline Delapaix.
Apart from some "very charming lo-fi recordings" made by Delapaix, Lipp recorded everything on her new EP Between Breeding Seasons with the Metric Halo ULN-2 and 2882, exclusively relying on their high-quality preamps. "I have never really compared preamps or converters," said Lipp. "But I have been in many fancy studios that had systems and outboard gear that were much more expensive than my 2882 or ULN-2. But I never felt the wish to 'upgrade' to something else (apart from a Metric Halo ULN-8). I don't even look around. I'm just a really happy user, and I always get compliments for the sound and the recording quality. One thing I've noticed is that the Metric Halo preamps and converters always sound warm and deep. They translate the dynamics of the music in the same way that I hear it live."
Lipp also mixed both the Delapaix project (Between Breeding Seasons) and his latest, Swoosh release, using Metric Halo's ChannelStrip plug-in, which combines equalization, delay, compression, and gating in one interface. "I used ChannelStrip on almost every track of every song," said Lipp. "I love the EQ in ChannelStrip for its clean precision. With other EQs, I'd sometimes feel like I'm turning knobs and it keeps getting worse. I'd try to resolve one issue but then create another problem. With ChannelStrip it's so much easier to understand what I'm doing and what needs to be done. I turn one knob and I actually hear only one knob! It's very responsive to even very minimal adjustments and so transparent that I can really hear what I'm doing. I often only need a 0.5 dB dip. It's also extremely important to have gain, sample delay, and phase inversion in the same plug-in. They are all the tools I need to get a clean and transparent mix. I use the sample delay and phase inverter when I mix drums or other instruments that have been recorded with multiple mics to get a sound that is natural and powerful."