Producer and audio engineer Chuck Ladouceur is a second-story man. No, he’s not a burglar; rather, he bought a house with a large, two-story garage and built Red Dog Studio on the second floor. That’s where you’ll find him most of the time.
Ladouceur got his musical start in the 1970s singing and playing guitar for a high-school rock band. He soon became interested in recording and made the then-common progression from a ¼-inch, 2-track Studer open-reel deck to 4-track cassette, digital tape, and finally modern DAWs and a commercial recording and production facility. He formerly worked as a graphic designer and art director while pursuing his love for recording on the side, but for the past ten years he has made his home at Red Dog Studio in Blackstone, Massachusetts, near the Rhode Island state line. Since founding Red Dog Studio, he has worked with such acts as Zakk Wylde, Jessi Alexander, John Pousette, The Numbskulls, Aztec Two Step, and a long list of others. In addition to studio and location recording, mixing, and mastering, he offers voiceover, sound design for film and theater, video production, and an assortment of multimedia and Web services.
PreSonus equipment is at Red Dog’s heart, including a DigiMax 96 multi-channel preamp and an MP20 stereo mic preamp. The DigiMax 96 has long been Ladouceur’s go-to outboard gear for drum kits in studio recordings and in the field for location gigs. “The sound of the DigiMax is very punchy and clean-sounding,” he explains. “It has great pre’s with built-in limiters, and the ADAT connections are a plus. It’s always nice to know that the signal will get nicely limited should something get out of control.”
The DigiMax’s built-in limiting is especially important because Ladouceur prefers to track live in the studio. “I tend to track bands playing as a group,” he explains. “I feel that’s where the magic is in their music. That’s how they play live: they feed off each other’s energy. For example, check out the excerpt from the Bruce Leroy song ‘Coffee Cup’; you can feel the energy and excitement. That was completely live in the studio, with no overdubs or punch ins. When you have 16 or more tracks being recorded at once in the studio, you don't have the opportunity to watch every signal input. The DigiMax limiters provide me with peace of mind so I can concentrate on keeping the session running smoothly.”
A BlueMAX compressor was Ladouceur’s introduction to PreSonus. “It was one of the best pieces of gear I have ever owned,” he insists. “I still have it and use it frequently in smaller live-sound situations, strapped across the stereo output bus or as an insert to tame some unexpected audio peaks. It stopped working one day, so I called PreSonus and talked directly to one of the owners. [This was almost certainly president and founder Jim Odom.] He told me to send it in directly to him, which I did, and it was returned in about a week—no charge! I was not even the original owner. It has worked great ever since.”
Recently, Ladouceur purchased a PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2 digital mixer. “The StudioLive is my main live location mixer/recording interface. It’s extremely flexible,” he enthuses. “I love the solid, transparent sound and extra headroom of the XMAX mic pre's; a Fat Channel for every input; and the six auxiliary outputs. It’s great for dialing in multiple headphone/monitor mixes at once. I can feed the mains an individual mix and use the multiple outputs to feed individual headphone mixes, video camera feeds, preamp-insert direct outputs to my backup recorders, and main outs to the audience, while using FireWire to send audio to a laptop computer.”
Ladouceur has complete confidence in the StudioLive 16.4.2 and uses it even with his most famous clients. “I recently brought the StudioLive out to a location gig over in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts,” he says. “Queensryche was on tour in the area and was stopping in at radio station WPXC to do a live acoustic performance promoting their new album American Soldier, and program director Suzanne Tonaire asked me to engineer the event. I set up four vocal mics, four DIs for acoustic guitars, and six headphone mixes so the band could just walk in and play. Queensryche performed three songs: ‘Sliver’ and ‘If I Were King’ from American Soldier and ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’ from Operation Mindcrime, and the session went very smoothly, with the StudioLive feeding the OnAir Radio mix, the video camera, and band headphones. The StudioLive made it easy.”
What does he like best about PreSonus products? Replies Ladouceur, “PreSonus units feel very solid. They are built rugged enough to stand the daily rigors of a professional audio environment. The knobs have that nice bit of resistance that inspires confidence in the quality of the equipment. It looks and feels like it’s built to last, and you can depend on it to perform flawlessly.”