The reputation of Philippe Cerboneschi preceded him. If you didn’t know him by that name, you might know his Paris studio Motorbass Studio or as a member of Cassius, under the name Philippe Zdar.

If none of these ring true, then the names Justice, Franz Ferdinand or Cut Copy certainly will. Zdar was a leading producer and engineer, having worked with some of the biggest names in rock, indie, alternative and dance music, as well as his own creative output at Cassius with partner Hubert Boombass.

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While the equipment he used was a vessel for his soothing and concise workflow, Zdar emerged in the age of consoles and tape recorders and never wavered, finding magic in the imperfections of his collection. of extremely impressive equipment in the control room of Motorbass Studio. The character of the rig is a dichotomy of warm tube-filled preamps, EQs and compressors, and digital reverbs and effects.

Motorbass and the records that bear his name carry his legacy after Philippe’s tragic death in an accident in mid-2019. When looking at the gear Zdar used to leave a sonic imprint on all of his work, it’s important to divide it into equal creative parts that were used for Cassius and in the studio that are all centered around a series console. E to 48 channels of Solid State Logic.


E-Series SSL Console

The SSL that sits at the heart of Motorbass Studio consisted of 48 channels of a mix of black and brown EQs. Zdar talked about using it primarily for mixing and having plenty of preamp options for recording, so he often bypassed SSL preamps.

The SSL offered routing options that allowed Zdar to send audio around his control room to effects or to a sidechain signal, a common dance technique for dodging bass, synth, and kicks. of foot. SSL EQs are as precise or wide as you want, allowing for a little push and pull of an already stellar sound signal.

All of this is ultimately routed to an SSL Bus Compressor, providing classic compression and unparalleled dynamic control over your entire mix.

EAR 660 Limiter/Compressor Amplifier

SSL bus compression is known to be fast, punchy, and dynamic. While this works to reduce transients a bit, really crushing a mix requires slower, more harmonic-rich processing.

Zdar discussed needing a Fairchild 670 or similar, and settled for a pair of EAR 660s before discovering he preferred them to their bulkier, slightly more expensive counterparts. The EAR 660 Limiter/Compressor Amplifier is a mono tube compressor with a link connection available for stereo operation, as Zdar did on all of his mix.

Three of them take up the majority of a rack in Motorbass’ control room, nestled between dynamic DBX and a brightly colored GML EQ.

Mixed Pultecs

The EQ is hard to ignore when discussing Motorbass Studio gear, fulfilling Zdar’s obsession with Pultec EQs.

Pultecs wall in the Motorbass control room features EQP-1 and MEQ-5, the latter being a more midrange-focused incarnation of the classic EQP-1 which traditionally focused only on high and low frequencies. .

The Pultecs allow the user to boost and cut the same frequency resulting in a truly unique curve that offers a super controlled little peak that can be pushed hard enough without being overwhelming.