Producer Dr Lachlan 'Magoo' Goold talks Technology Change

Producer Dr Lachlan 'Magoo' Goold talks Technology Change

 “Meet Magoo, one of Australia’s top music producers and mixing engineers – a two-time ARIA award winning one, to boot. His work has helped shape the landscape of modern Australian music, with an impressive catalog of clients including Midnight Oil, Regurgitator, Art Vs Science, The Jungle Giants, Go Violets, Jeremy Neale, and more. Magoo has been spending less time of late in the world of production, but luckily we managed to catch him during an atypical week. Read on below for a journey through his world.


Lachlan ‘Magoo’ Goold is one of Australia’s most respected music producers and is known for pushing the envelope and bending the status quo when it comes to recording.

He’s currently lecturing at there brand new University of Southern Queensland campus in Caloundra on Kabi Kabi land.

He’s a published academic with a PhD and continues to create & mix music in his spare time. When it came time to outfit the new campus with monitoring ADAM Audio was his first choice and as a result numerous teaching labs were set up with A7X loudspeakers.

He had previously used them throughout his PhD research (results published here) and were chosen due to the need for honest mid-range reproduction and clear mix results in the top and bottom end.

“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.”

We asked Dr Goold about the process of creativity and where it intersects with the dynamic nature of technology.

The Changing Pace of Technology in the Music Industry

There is one compelling constant in my thirty years of making records: changing technology. So, is there a need to stay on top of the latest recording technology innovation?

In 1992, as a young 22-year old I had the privilege of recording demos for a band named Deguello at Red Zeds studio in Brisbane’s Albion. It’s hard to remember the exact details of what transpired that day, as I did record and mix four songs in, at a guess, a 15-20 hour session.

Being only my fourth ever recording session, I think the session went well, but one lesson I learnt that day went well beyond the studio we were working in.

Red Zeds studios had a growing reputation. It was not because it had high-end equipment or a large recording space (like some Brisbane studios). What it did have were two energetic engineers who were prepared to work above and beyond expectations, all in the name of delivering some kind of sonic apotheosis.

Jeff Lovejoy and I pushed prosumer quality equipment to its extreme and built a solid reputation in Brisbane for creating world-class recordings (well, that was our goal).

Red Zeds was a modest studio. Set a short distance away from five raucous rehearsal rooms, the meagre isolation of the studio did little to quell the drone created in the building.

There was a 1” 24 track Tascam tape machine and console. Over time you learnt to EQ the sound while recording to compensate for the sound you would hear back.

The people with romantic images of tape machines didn’t use this technology (MacDemaro excluded).

While the studio had around $30 000 worth of equipment, this was  entry-level at that time in the recording industry. As the notoriety of the studio grew, so did the equipment list. Jeff Lovejoy and I would make requests for new gear with the owner, Joe, and when he could afford it, he would succumb to our wishes, and we would find a new toy to play with.

Here is the first moral in this story. When this fresh piece of kit came, we would drool, interrogate and work out precisely what this magical box could do.

While I’m not talking about expensive gear here, what we did was learn how to get the most out of this new item.

There would be quite a wait (it seemed like that at the time) between new equipment purchases, which only allowed us to master the equipment we had further.

Over time, the studio grew to have some reasonably decent gear, including an automated AMEK console, an Otari 2” tape machine and 6 loaned Neve preamps that never seemed to be returned to their owner. 

Did we stay up-to-date with the latest technology? Well, yes and no.

The studio did grow naturally, meaning the studio only bought equipment when it could afford it (well, I can only assume).

Still, at that time, the latest equipment was beyond the reach of a small Brisbane studio, far from the record company coffers required to feed them.

As the studio’s stature grew, so did mine Jeff’s.  This allowed us to contribute to the studio equipment list. The most significant purchase for me was my AKAI S3000XL sampler. It cost $5000 in 1995 and was worth more than my car.

The sampler was equivalent to one stereo digital track. Of course, using small samples, you could get quite a bit done with the magic box, and it felt like it gave me an edge.

I’ve always liked to stay current with the  technology, but there’s a difference to buying every latest gadget or plug-in for manipulating sound.

While, I still would’ve been considered an early adopter of Pro Tools, I didn’t buy my first system until 2000. That’s 5 years of draining every last bit out of the AKAI S3000.

Ultimately, technology is literally the logic behind the technique of using a tool. Technology will not make the song you’re working on better. Technology does not fix chord progressions, melodies or lyrics.

The goal of song production is to enhance or create meaning in a song and this is readily forgotten. While technology can inspire novel sounds that build help your song stand out, it’s only a matter of time before that trick is widely available to everyone.

Finally, I’ll come back to the Deguello recording. Apart from the songs, the next most important parts of the recording studio are communication, friendships and trust. Music is one of human’s most fundamental parts of communication.

In fact, many academics (myself included) consider language a special type of music. Communicating well in the studio will build rapport, friendships, trust and ultimately make better music.

Music is communication.  Becoming a better communicator will be better for your studio practice than that plug-in that you may only use a few times.

On bass in that day all that time ago in 1992 was Federal Audio’s Chris Bosley. We’ve been involved in many recording projects and other adventures over the years, and I feel honoured to call him a friend.

While I have to confess that I’ve succumbed to gimmicky production in the past, my point here is that using the tools you have effectively is way more important than keeping up with the latest trend.

  • Dr Lachlan ‘Magoo’ Goold

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