As a founding member of both L.A. Strings and L.A. FilmScore, multi-instrumentalist Christine Wu has performed on shows like American Idol, the Grammy Awards and America’s Got Talent as well as backed up musicians like Usher, Kelly Clarkson, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and even Queen and Kiss.
Although she’s primarily known a violinist, Wu is equally adept at both cello and viola, not to mention a skilled arranger-composer, programmer and recording engineer with her own well-appointed Pro Tools-based home studio. One of the primary components in her recording setup and overall sound these days is an A-Designs Audio MP-2A tube microphone preamplifier.
“I’ve brought every imaginable mic pre into my studio–running strings and everything else through them–and I usually say ‘meh’ and pass,” says Wu. “But the MP-2A sounded great across the board. Clean, but not cold–perhaps a bit sweeter–and always pleasing. Violin, obviously, has a lot of high frequencies as well as the sound of the bow friction. The MP-2A doesn’t change anything per se but, rather, handles those issues in a way that is both pleasing and gentle. I now use it for pretty much everything, actually, unless I’m looking for a lot of coloration. Even then, I try to keep it in the chain because I absolutely trust it.“
Wu’s first encounter with A-Designs’ gear was hearing Reggie Hamilton’s REDDI tube DI box, which he used for his bass tracks on an album she was producing. “Reggie’s tone is the perfect blend of warm and substantial, yet completely clean; it’s ridiculous how good his sound is, and the REDDI is part of that,” she says.
Hamilton brought over several other A-Designs products shortly thereafter, ultimately prompting Wu to add a REDDI to her own live touring rig. “Hearing the quality and tasteful way that the DI and mic pre handled all audio definitely got my attention. The default problem with many DIs is that the signal often becomes harsh. It took some experimentation with the levels throughout the signal chain from instrument and wireless on down to the monitor engineer and FOH. But we got a great tone–much more pleasing than with standard-issue DIs. I’ve actually had people try to rip the REDDI from its dual-locked spot on my rig to get a better look because they’re so curious how I’ve gotten my sound!”
An A-Designs EM-PEQ 500 Series equalizer module also managed to find its way into Wu’s live rig. “The EM-PEQ has saved me many, many times,” she says. “One might expect that the setup would be the same every day but, in fact, someone is always tweaking something. I often find that suddenly my violin’s tone is different. This could be anything from a wayward input at FOH to an inadvertently altered volume level anywhere on the chain to a change of equipment. I can always do something helpful with the EM-PEQ without destroying the sound I need to preserve. I’m planning to bring it into my studio as well now to do gentle roll-offs. I like that it doesn’t feel too surgical, making it easier to avoid mistakes.“
Beyond her work on television and tour, Wu and the other members of L.A. Strings have all performed in major symphony orchestras and on numerous hit records, films and videogames. L.A. Strings’ home on the Web is found at www.lastrings.com. For more info on Christine Wu, visit www.christine-wu.com.