Renowned Australian producer/engineer Lachlan ‘Magoo’ Goold cut his teeth in Brisbane’s burgeoning 90s music scene, recording seminal bands Powderfinger & Not from There, breaking through with the ARIA-award winning Regurgitator album UNIT.
Multiple ARIA nominations and a two-time ARIA award winner, Magoo has worked with some of Australia’s finest acts including Midnight Oil, Art Vs Science, Custard, The Cruel Sea, Renee Geyer, The Jungle Giants, Saskwatch, Tex Perkins and many more.
After an extensive career spanning more than 25 years and producing 39 triple J Hot 100 entries, Magoo continues to spend time mixing while also researching & lecturing in contemporary music at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC).
We caught up with Magoo to talk all things music, sound & studio while he was busy putting the final pieces together on the new studio & research facility at USC, equipped with ADAM Audio A7X.
“My curiosity was always around how far you can push things. I think I've always had that drive. The person I wanted to impress the most in the studio was the artist - do something amazing that they'd never heard, as well as serving the song.
"To be an academic you definitely need to be curious. I think it uses the same area in your brain when you're researching something - you are using those same creative juices.’
In 2014 Magoo set out exploring his Phd thesis: “Space, time, creativity, and the changing character of the recording studio: Spatiotemporal attitudes toward 'DIY' recording”.
In it, he observed and researched the changes in the practice and outcomes of new & old recording methods, with results indicating that music creation and recording was equally effective “at-home” or traditional studio settings.
After that extensive deep-dive into modern audio technology, Magoo now works 100% “in the box”.
“The reason that I'm 100% in the box is multilevel. I can say I've done my research. I did do a PhD where I had to look at the difference between doing things in a “real studio”, and then doing them completely in the box. I was looking at the recording phase, not so much at the mixing phase. It did prove to me that there's no real difference at all. The most important thing is how you apply your creativity. It's all about the songs anyway. I slowly decided to push myself to work entirely in the box while mixing.
Magoo believes that in the process of moving away from studio hardware, the one item that isn’t becoming redundant any time soon is - studio monitors.
“I guess the one piece of gear I couldn't do without is a good pair of monitors. That's the one thing that hasn't changed through all of it - you do need a decent pair of monitors.”
“Through my PhD, I was recording in houses & some of the monitoring environments were questionable. I did find that it would take me longer to mix those songs later because how I was hearing things was not completely true.
"Having really good monitors definitely helps through every step of the way - even when monitoring environment were not great. I was using the Adam A7X all through my PhD recordings.
"I still got good performances, which was the main thing. [But] you need good monitors to hear whether the performance is sufficient.
"Try better than sufficient - you want them to be amazing.”
We talk further about what led to Magoo’s choice of ADAM A7X in the construction of the teaching labs, and what he looks for in a monitor speaker.
“I'm from the era when there were NS10s in every studio. I used to travel around the country and there wasn't really any other option. You just had to get used to NS10s, or you were just going to sink. There was no other options. I got very used to NS10 and their honest mid-range.
"That's really what I look for - that honest mid-range where I can hear everything.
Keep the mix clear and uncluttered in the middle, and push the boundaries on the low end. You really need to get the mids right because that's where the ears are the most sensitive - I don't like monitors that are too scooped.
"I don't want the monitors to do the work for me - I want my mix to do the work.
"That's what I'm looking for. You want it [the mix] to sound good on an iPhone, earbuds, a laptop, which is how most people listen to music now. Low and behold, they're very mid-rangey environments. You need to sort your mid-range out and that's what I want to hear, is clarity in that area.
"Every decision you make, you're reflecting on top of what you're hearing coming out of the speakers.”
In part two we’ll look at Magoo’s approach to music education and the the technical aspects of creating a learning centred studio environment.
Photo: Joe Panetta (owner of Red Zeds studios), Jeff Lovejoy (renowned Brisbane producer/engineer) and a young Magoo (probably late 1994 or early 1995)
A Selected Discography