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Steve Levine and the Meris 440 and Ottobit in studio

Producer Steve Levine Relies on Meris 440 & Ottobit in Studio

The Meris 440 Mic Pre and Ottobit Bit Crusher have found a new home in the studio arsenal of master record producer and songwriter Steve Levine. An industry stalwart since his first work at CBS studios in 1975, Levine has worked with a lexicon of artists from The Clash and the Jags with CBS records to Natalie McCool or 6 Day Riot under his own label Hubris Records.

Steve Levine and the Meris 440 and Ottobit in studio

These two new and unique 500 series units are now proving invaluable to the writer and producer of BBC2’s ‘The Record Producers’: “I’ve been using the Meris 440 for a few months now and have found it to be a really indispensable studio tool”, says Levine who regularly avails himself of the 440’s built in effects loop.

“Many of today’s guitarists and keyboard players are using ever expanding pedal boards to create their signature sounds. Getting the best quality signal path to record these setups with so many pedals in the chain often results in a lot of compromise.”

“The 440 allows me to attach some of the pedals to the mic pre itself, resulting in a far superior recording signal path and often a big improvement in overall sound quality and much better headroom.”

Meris has equipped the 440 Mic Pre with boutique-spec Cinemag transformers, similar in character to the now-famous API 312 pre, and offering impressive headroom and low signal-to-noise ratio. Steve says, “The other biggest evil in big pedal setups is Hum (often from bad grounds or low quality 9v power supplies). The transformers used in the 440 in the setups I use have managed to remove this problem.”

The mic pre is also designed, as with all Meris products, to bring advanced creative production opportunities to your fingertips. Levine continues:
“Another creative tip that works equally well with both guitars and synthesisers but especially with synthesisers is placing a drive pedal in the insert loop.”

This recording set up allows virtually any studio mic to be placed in front of the guitar amp to capture the perfect signal with the pre amp but then by inserting a drive pedal in the FX loop allows for creative tonal tweaking with the pedal (or indeed any pedal). This is a really superb method of recording and as far as I’m aware the only product that works in this way.

The Meris Ottobit is a 500-series Bit Crusher, again with a host of unique features and sound capabilities. It’s actually designed to be played like a bit of an instrument, capable of creating complex step sequences and modulated, almost distorted de-rezzed sounds from even the most basic of input signals.

Levine has included this in his 500-rack, right after the 440 Mic Pre. Here’s what he has to say:

“This has to be one of the most interesting 500 series modules. 
I’ve been trying this out on my various vintage analogue drum machines and synthesisers. The results are very interesting.”

In the most extreme settings, it often sounds as if the module is creating a brand new sound source. Sample loops can be turned into something totally unique especially if the LFO is set in time with the feel of the loop.

“Having hardware control on a device like this really makes creative sculpting so much fun. If you are into creating unusual and interesting tones then this is for you.”

All Meris gear is designed and built in Los Angeles, CA USA.

For any Meris enquiries in the UK and Ireland contact Sound Network on [email protected] or call +44 (0)20 3008 7530.