FOR ENGINEER MARK NEEDHAM, MANLEY IS IN THE MIX
Los Angeles, CA — Some engineers are known as specialists — highly focused on a particular musical genre, they’ve forged reputations as the go-to person for recording or mixing when it comes to rock, metal, hip-hop, or (insert style here). For engineer/producer Mark Needham, the answer is “all of the above.” The long-time studio pro’s discography reads like an essay in eclecticism, with credits ranging from Fleetwood Mac, Imagine Dragons, and John Hiatt to Pharoah Sanders, Taj Mahal, and Pink. Add in an extensive list of projects for film, TV, and commercials, and you’ve got a picture of a musical chameleon with an unstoppable work ethic.
Needham’s passion for the creative process is reflected in his Los Angeles studio, The Ballroom, where a tantalizing mix of vintage and bleeding-edge gear reflects his appreciation for the finest in audio tools. And prominent in his collection are several pieces of gear from Chino, California’s own Manley Labs.
“I’ve been using Manley gear since the company first started,” Needham observes. “I have a few Variable MUs, a couple of EQs, some preamps — I probably have most of the stuff they make.”
He cites his long relationship with Manley gear as an integral part of his sonic signature. “I started using Manley gear in the ‘90s, and it became part of my sound, especially in mixing and tracking.” he offers. “I cover a pretty wide range of stuff, from Chris Isaac to EDM, and I love the way that tube sound enhances it all.”
Sonic qualities are just one aspect of Needham’s choice of Manley gear. “I was drawn to their gear because it went well with my own ethos,” he explains. “Manley was a company with very high standards and they put a lot of time and thought in the products they were making. I try to put a lot of thought into the work that I do, and I gravitate toward people and companies that are like-minded.”
Needham recently got his hands on the new Manley Reference mics, and says they do not disappoint. “I’ve got two of the Reference mics and two of the Reference Gold mics,” he says. “They sound amazing. I do a lot of artist development work, and I’m producing a band called the Newsboys right now. The music is a combination of Rock and EDM — very dense arrangements, sometimes more than 150 tracks. I find the Manley Reference mic is one of the few that can cut through these very dense tracks.”
“I’ve used the Reference mics on a number of different sources, and it always sounds great,” he continues. “I’ve recorded acoustic guitars with the Reference Gold mics, and I’ve had great results with them on the 1901 Steinway I’ve been tracking. I’m about to use them to record a children’s choir in a very large church, and I’ve no doubt they will sound amazing.”