Richard Chycki: "the Red 4Pre is a great-sounding unit; wonderfully open and accurate."
If you were to judge solely from his resumé, Richard Chycki wouldn’t seem like someone who has much time for frivolity—the man has had one serious career. He has worked with some of the biggest bands in rock, including progressive rock icons, Rush—having remixed several of their touchstones of the progressive era in 5.1, including 2112, A Farewell To Kings and the venerable Moving Pictures. There’s not a doubt that he’s in high demand in that complex musical genre, currently working with another iconic prog-tinged combo, Dream Theater, as the band currently tours in support of their critically-acclaimed current album 'The Astonishing' (itself mixed and engineered by Chycki). And in between, there have been plenty of other big names—Aerosmith, Mick Jagger, Skillet, and Pink among them. But there’s one item that stands out as the strangest, silliest item on his CV: a 2006 gig taking care of the record and mix for Trailer Park Boys: The Movie.
Chycki, who like Ricky, Julian and Bubbles (a.k.a. the mockumentary comedy’s miscreant title characters) hails from Canada, remembers the job well. “Oh yeah, that!” he says with a laugh. “I did a bunch of songs, including some with Bubbles. He was wearing those glasses all the time, even in the studio. I tried those glasses on and I don’t know how he does it; you can’t even walk around with them on. That whole job was a lot of fun, as you might expect.”
Photos: Rob Lawrence Photography
Given the stature of the artists who he’s worked with, fun is an attribute that’s weaved its way through Chycki’s career. “With a lot of the gigs I’ve been fortunate to have, especially with artists like Rush or Aerosmith, there’s of course a lot of work involved,” he explains, “but bands like that are super-established. Their fans are lifers, and those bands are going to tour the world and fill up their venues. So when they’re in the studio, they’re there to make music for themselves, really—and that makes everything so much fun. We have a lot of laughs and just make music. You can’t go wrong with that.”
There’s something else he hasn’t gone wrong with: Focusrite’s Red 4Pre. He’s already used the interface to mix “Our New World,” the recent single from Dream Theater featuring Lzzy Hale, as well as Rush’s “Freewill” (which he remixed for Harmonix’s enduring Rock Band game franchise.) “I was looking for something that was all-in-one, that had monitoring capability, and interfaced well with Pro Tools | HD,” Chycki recalls. “And it absolutely interfaces so well. The Red 4Pre has ultra-low latency for native setups and that's a simple Thunderbolt connection. Personally, I have an HDX system—just connect a pair of DigiLink cables, set the Red 4Pre to Pro Tools mode, and it works great with no unexpected surprises. When set to Pro Tools mode, the routing is fixed. So assigning audio routing within Pro Tools is really the only memory work that’s required; but I understand Focusrite has a release coming that allows freely assignable routing!”
Chycki’s also an in-demand mixer and recorder of live shows, and the Red 4Pre has quickly become his go-to unit within that realm. “With Ethernet and Dante,” he explains, “A client simply provides me with a Dante feed from their router and I’m ready to print in no time. And all I have to do is bring my computer, a Thunderbolt PCIe chassis and this one interface with me, which is fantastic. Before, there were AES interfaces, channel splits, mic preamps, outboard gear and more outboard gear. Now, the soundman can just feed me a nice clean signal via Dante. It’s beautiful.”
But really, it’s the simple things that have sold Chycki on the Red 4Pre. “It’s a great-sounding unit; the preamps are fantastic. They're wonderfully open and accurate,” he says. “Plus it's easy to zip back and forth between two different sets of monitor speakers and two different headphone mixes, which is great. Also, it just feels solid. After ten or twenty thousand miles, some gear might not do so well. But this has been traveling with me a fair bit, taking all the lumps and bumps you might expect—and I’ve had no problem with it at all. And to top it off, the ergonomics are amazing. I can really say that there’s a lot of love here for the 4Pre.”