For over three decades, Matthew Noble has been at the forefront of pop music as a session guitarist, programmer, songwriter, engineer, and producer. His impeccable ears and knack for spinning irresistible tracks across genres has earned him an engineering client list that includes Rihanna, Diana King, Southside Johnny, and Rod Stewart, among many others. These days, he performs most of his work out of the Loft Studios in Bronxville, New York and in the newly renovated Riverworks Recording in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Recent work with the musical Big River and gospel artist Rell Holland & Experience have put Noble’s new favorite plug-in, Metric Halo’s enduring ChannelStrip, through its paces.
“I tried Metric Halo’s ChannelStrip because some other people that I respect were using it,” explained Noble. “My friend Keith Brown, who is a well-known Nashville songwriter, was working on a project with Billie Decker, who is one of the hottest mix engineers in country music. Keith’s enthusiasm for the plug-in, together with his revelation that Billie uses it ‘all over the place,’ was enough to motivate me to check it out.”
Riverworks Recording boasts a huge, luscious acoustical space, which has changed the way both Noble and the producers and artists he works with approach the recording process. “So much of my work there has involved tracking live instruments, as opposed to the ‘virtual players’ that live inside our modern computers,” he said. “While it’s been a refreshing change, it has also brought with it challenges. For example, getting a great drum sound and a great overall mix with the new expectations for how long things take these days is not easy. ChannelStrip has been very helpful because all the functions that I need to access quickly are all in one plug-in. These include the less ‘sexy’ functions, such as phase reverse and multiple trims, in addition to full-blown and flexible dynamics and equalization. Having everything in one plug-in has greatly improved my workflow.”
Because it can do so much, Noble often puts Metric Halo’s well-crafted presets to use. “The ChannelStrip presets are a great starting point.
They’re especially useful in a time crunch, when the client is breathing down your neck. The acoustic guitar and drum presets are often spot on, right out of the gate. When I tweak, the informative GUI lets me know exactly what I’m doing.” Of course, the best GUI in the world is useless if the algorithms behind it don’t cut the mustard. It’s here that Noble finds it really shines. “ChannelStrip has a great sound,” he said. “Like an SSL, it can be very aggressive and not at all subtle. Despite all its flexibility and sonic muscle, it has remarkably low CPU drain, which means I can use it whenever I need it.”
Noble’s introduction to Metric Halo’s ChannelStrip came back to him in an interesting way. “Last week, a New York client of mine wanted to make a few changes on a song that he had recorded recently in Nashville,” he explained.
“I opened the session and saw ‘Dekerator’ on it. Then I knew Billie Decker had performed the original mix. A moment later, the mix window opened and there was the ChannelStrip plug-in – all over the place!”