Celldweller has been forging a reputation since the early 2000s for visceral, driving music that seamlessly blends rock and electronica in a way that could only be achieved by way of his unique larger than life productions. While his creative approach to sound has remained constant since his first Celldweller releases, his gear has continually evolved. Working out of his Detroit studio, he recently overhauled his system to take advantage of the industry-leading clocking and conversion of Antelope Audio’s Orion32.
This multi-instrumentalist, who fans know as Klayton, considers any sound fair game for his compositions. “I will pick up anything around me that makes sound and try to figure out a way to use it,” Klayton explains. In the midst of a busy summer putting the finishing touches on his latest Celldweller release End of an Empire, Klayton is working on two film scores and preparing to work on a video game score in the fall that he recently signed on to compose. “I like to stay busy,” he says.
Breaking the Cycle
Klayton’s previous audio interfaces were part of an incumbent fixed hardware and software system that was no longer meeting his needs. “I was really tired of the expensive upgrades and poor support and was looking to branch out on both the hardware and software fronts,” he says. He stumbled across the Orion32 because of its features. “It had D-SUB input and output, it had dual ADAT in and out which I use for my modular synth setup, and it had the world-renowned Antelope clock — plus the fact that it could stream 32 channels over USB, which was dumbfounding,” Klayton recalls. He soon acquired two Orion32 units and added MADI cards to enable access to the full 64 channels of I/O. “The sound quality is incredible,” he says. “I very quickly threw my old converters up on eBay and never looked back. I even got rid of my old stand-alone master clock.”
Perfect Every Step of the Way
When Klayton puts together a Celldweller track, he handles every aspect of the production from the tracking to mixing to mastering. The Orion32 excelled every step of the way, enabling a great workflow and commanding results. “The Orion is great for tracking, it’s really responsive and sounds great on both top end and low end and latency is really low,” says Klayton, who uses the Orion’s inputs exclusively for everything from guitars to strings to synths. The generous number of input and output channels also did wonders for his workflow. “I’m a one man band, so having 64 channels of I/O is great because I can have everything from guitars to synth patched and ready to go at all times,” he says. “I also leave some of the channels on the Orion set up as inserts for my outboard gear, which lets me patch it into my DAW as easily as I could a plugin.”
Bridging Worlds: Analog and Digital
On Celldweller’s upcoming release End of an Empire, Klayton found himself mixing analog and digital sound sources and external processing more adventurously than ever before. “There’s more analog synthesis and outboard gear on this album than anything I’ve done in my career, and the warmth of those sounds is retained by the Orion on both input and output, which is key.”
Klayton concedes that mixing a Celldweller track is a complex endeavor, so the clarity of the Orion’s outputs is key in helping dial in just the right settings. “I jam so many elements into one track that it can be a struggle to try to make everything sound good together,” he explains. “I definitely found that I wasn’t wrestling against the interface to try to get my top-end and low-end clarity, which was an improvement over other rigs I had used.” Klayton is also now able to take advantage of the full range of audio software available on the market without the restrictions of his previous hardware. “It’s great to be able to run any software I can get my hands on with the full 64 channels of pristine I/O from my Orions.”
Curiously creative by nature, Klayton’s work is constantly evolving as he experiments with new sounds to incorporate into his compositions. “I just bought a cello, mostly for sound design stuff,” he says. “I’m not planning on playing a concerto at any point.” With the Orion32 as the core of his studio setup, he knows he has the right tools to capture any sound he can produce and help conjure any sound he can imagine. His words of wisdom for fans and fellow producers: “Your ear is your most valuable tool in all of this, but having great gear goes a long way.”