Award-winning producer, songwriter, and composer Mark Ronson has worked with some of the biggest artists of his generation and beyond, we find out more about his creative process and some of his favourite gear choices in studio.
From Amy Winehouse to the Barbie soundtrack, Bruno Mars to Queens Of The Stone Age, Mark Ronson has had about as much impact as a producer as anyone could dream of having.
The Mark Ronson Sound
Ronson’s real journey as a music producer began in 2001, when the manager of NY-based artist, Nikka Costa, discovered him as a DJ and suggested that they work together.
Having started out producing tracks for a Tommy Hilfiger campaign, Ronson then used this as a platform to launch Costa’s single Like A Feather in an advertisement.
Around this time he signed a contract with Elektra Records, and went on to release his debut album Here Comes the Fuzz in 2003.
With his live setup, Ronson used a combination of vinyl and a Serato setup which often involved playing back AIFF files he had sampled from his own collection.
If you can’t find a vintage SL-1200 on the second-hand market, the Audio-Technica AT-LP140XP is a more affordable option with 3 different playback speeds.
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As with many top producers of Ronson’s era and before, the MPC production workflow shaped his creative process early on in his career. Standing out even today as a complete bona fide production station, the MPC encourages users to program beats manually by tapping the sample hits into the sequencer.
Not only do many artists love the MPC for its creative immediacy and punch sound, but it’s also renowned for sequencing other instruments via MIDI, especially when shuffle comes into play.
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When it comes to pop, hip-hop, and RnB recordings, the Avalon VT-737SP has probably seen more use than any other preamp in the industry. Its all-tube topology provides incredible dynamic range and loads of ultra-clean gain.
Meanwhile, the EQ can really focus help on the nuances when working with top artists. For this reason, it’s no surprise that Ronson favoured the VT-737SP in studio.
Like many modern producers, his approach involves plug-in heavy processing which suits the clean Avalon sound. Provided it’s paired with the right mic, the VT-737SP will get you great results in any musical style.
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The Neumann U47 was one of Ronson’s preferred mic choices, and although a SE2200a was also used in the production of Back to Black, the U47 was Amy’s go-to studio mic for most of her career.
One could argue that any mic would do with a voice like hers, but countless users of the U47 have reported a certain magical quality and characteristic beauty to its sound.
When you combine elements like great songwriting and vocal artistry with the right channel strip and of course, the room, the Neumann U47 could well work wonders for your next recording.
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Although Ronson came into music production as a DJ, he had plenty of experience tinkering with impressive instruments like the Fairlight as a kid and understood the premise of using the right tools to achieve the best sound for any record.
He fancied sampling and acoustic sound recording, but also understood the flexibility of the DAW environment and the power of effects plug-ins, so Pro Tools was his main recording system from the beginning.
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- Technics SL-1200: Derringer's Music
- AKAI MPC 3000: Music Gateway
- Avalon VT-737sp: Avalon
- Neumann U 47: Neumann GmbH
- Avid Pro Tools: Avid