Ken Lewis On Analog Vs. Digital

JLBarrow • October 17, 2011 • No Comments

In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX Grammy Award winning producer, arranger and engineer Ken Lewis talks about everything from his work on Watch The Throne to Shyne being dropped from Def Jam. But I culled this little nugget from @WEKetchum’s  interview about the never-ending debate between analog and digital workflow.


DX: On your site, you say that you work with a lot of analog and digital instruments. Break down the pros and cons in each of those for the readers.

Ken Lewis: These are the differences, from what my ears tell me. I grew up in this industry working on big 12-foot long consoles. That was my daily thing. I always thought analog sounded great, but I was excited when digital started coming around, because of the editing, speed and flexibility—things digital gives you that analog doesn’t. But one thing that digital has been very slow to catch up on is the sound. There was a time around 2000 and 2001, that I went completely in the box [digital] to start mixing. I did that for a few years, unless a major calls, and I do that on big consoles. I never felt like I could mix as well in the box as I could on a big desk, and I was probably one of the earliest, busiest in the box mixers. There was a time where I had maybe done as many as anyone on the planet. I was getting good mixes, and I got two Grammys for songs I had mixed in the box, but I know I could’ve mixed those better on a console. So in 2007, I put myself in the biggest debt of my life, and bought an SSL console. Now, I’m mixing with the best of the analog world, and the best of the digital world. There’s a precision and flexibility in the speed that digital has that analog will never have, but there’s a realness in character that analog has that digital just isn’t quite there yet. I try to find the very best of what both of them do and marry the technologies together, and that’s how I make records.


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