Reference Laboratory Looking Ahead in Pro Audio
Nile Rodgers | RIC01, A Hitmaker's Perfect Companion!



Nile Rodgers is a musician/song writer/arranger/producer that doesn’t need to be introduced to anyone in the music business. Nile’s has dressed more musical styles and his signature is watermarked on more top-ten successes than most of us could ever imagine, producing records for artists such as Madonna, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Grace Jones, just to name a few. Besides collaborating with contemporary artists such as Michael Bolton, Joss Stone, his most recent recordings with Daft Punk, Adam Lambert and DJ’s such as Avicii, David Guetta, Felix Da Housecat are topping the charts in over 80 in 2013 and proving that the ‘70’s movement “disco sucks” was wrong...disco music never died.

After having struggled against an aggressive form of prostate cancer, and recently declared clean (read Nile's Blog "Walking on Planet C"), Nile has been living what he calls his “second life” as record producer, musician and leader of Chic, the band originally formed with his friend and partner, the late Bernard Edwards, boasts a lineup of first-class musicians, just like the current bassist Jerry Barnes. For over 30 years, Bernard’s bass riffs and Nile’s guitar rhythm patterns are still some of the most sampled by DJ’s and imitated by musicians and record producers to this day. Nile is constantly working on studio productions, highlighting the pop music scene with his guitar playing style and ever so incomparable sound. In 2013, Nile Rodgers and Chic have performed live at some of the most popular European festivals, treading miles across the UK, Serbia, Iceland, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Ireland. Nile admits that between 2012 and 2013, he and his band have performed more than ever in the history of the Chic Organization, drawing crowds of all ages from all over the world, eager to dance to the beat and sing along to some of his unforgettable greatest hits.

As Chic’s FOH sound engineer and Production manager, it is an honor and privilege for me to share this decade of my professional experience with Nile Rodgers, asking him to release this short interview on his experience with the Reference Laboratory RIC01 cable he has been using lately. I managed to sit down and finally have a chat with Nile about the Reference Laboratory cables during our bus trip, the morning after having entertained an enthusiastic audience at the London's Roundhouse venue, and at the same time, million of virtual attenders at the iTunes Festival 2013. Dispite the tiredness, his welcoming and open smile clearly said it was the right moment.

14-15 settembre 2013, durante il viaggio da Londra (iTunes Festival) e Portmeirion (Festival Number 6)

JR - Nile, your guitar sound and playing style are the most imitated and easily identified, and not only in the songs you produced and wrote for CHIC. How important are the tools you choose and how much do you rely on a particular instrument, amplifier or accessory, such as cables and microphones?

NR John, as you know, my setup is quite minimal and straightforward. Although I own a large collection of guitars, my steady companion is this old 1958/1959 Fender Stratocaster, nicknamed “The Hitmaker”. I simply connect my guitar to an amplifier, usually a Fender Hot Rod DeVille 4 x 10”, and use the clean channel without overdriving it. I always leave choice of cables and mic placement to my sound men, but I am particularly confident with the traditional Shure SM57. I’ve been using a wireless system for a while now (Shure UR4D), primarily because I like the freedom of movement it gives me on stage. Although I am aware that a cable will always sound better than an RF transmission, this system works very well for me and if my sound men are happy, then so am I. Put together a reliable instrument, the right cable and the experience of those that work with you, and you get what I see every night, a participating audience, satisfied from what’s getting to their ears.

JR – You are always very aware of your sound. Have you ever given specific importance to cables or have you ever A/B tested any that brought you choose a specific brand or model?

NRAs I said previously, although I’m aware of things, I don’t get into specific tech decisions. This is why I let my sound men decide (you and Marco Dellatorre), since you’re working with my sound. Of course, I am aware of the difference that a cable can make, and I’ve always tried to use what is considered as high-end equipment, but I never really taken time to actually A/B test any cables. Recently though, I’ve noticed that I’ve been using lower volume levels on my guitar, but at the same time, my sound is present and consistent. I’m definitely appreciating the results obtained with the Reference RIC01 cables we’re using. Some times musicians worry too much about their instrument or particular amplifier, but we should also realize that the quality of our signal path, input to output, must remain as coherent and transparent as possible and the result of careful choices. What sense is there in playing an instrument that costs thousands of dollars if we’re going to lose its quality through the use of a poor cable, or a misplaced microphone?

JR – As a matter of fact, during a few of our last sound checks, you often asked us what had changed in your guitar sound, allowing you to play comfortably at lower levels, but still receiving your distinctive presence and natural harmonics.

NRLook John...I’ve been working with you and Marco for almost ten years now, and I realize that you are always very careful with the equipment you chose to satisfy the band and me. Half way through our last European tour, I had noticed that the presence and richness of my Hitmaker was getting better (and louder) in my wedge, and after asking you what had changed, your answer was that besides the different amps and wedges we use every night, one of the substantial differences was in the cables we were using to connect my wireless system to my pedals, as well as the links between the pedals, plus a RMC01 cable on the amp’s SM57. I never asked you to make these changes, but I like it what I’m hearing.

JR – You’ve been using a wireless setup for a few years now during your live performances, but you’ve been using the same system for your studio sessions as well. What do you suggest can be done to compensate for the loss in bandwidth through radio transmission, when talking about cables?

NR – What we chose to make life easier when performing live or in a studio is an individual decision. Even if the vest wireless system will never equal a cable connection, I like to feel free to walk around the studio while recording. The wireless system I use on stage is the same one I use in the studio. I am used to this sound now. Just see how much more popular my guitar has become now, after recording on the Daft Punk album. I suggest using whatever allows us to feel comfortable, being carful to choose high quality equipment, including the choice of the right cable for our instrument. I am satisfied with the results obtained with the Reference RIC01 for my instrument and the RMC01 on my amp’s mic. I am grateful to my audio team and Angelo Tordini, CEO of Reference Laboratory, for giving me the opportunity to appreciate these products.

JOHN RYAN, Nile Rodgers & Chic Tour Production Manager & FOH Engineer



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