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Producer and engineer Riccardo ‘Ricky’ Damian has Antelope at the heart of everything

Since 2014, Italian-born londoner Riccardo ‘Ricky’ Damian has been the right hand of the UK’s uniquely prolific record producer – Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Christina Aguilera, Lily Allen). Working as an audio engineer and consultant out of wherever the task at hand takes him to, Ricky’s passionate efforts and expertise in top studio facilities across Italy, the UK, and the United States have rewarded him with a Grammy award – “Record Of The Year” for 2015’s “Uptown Funk”, the global mega hit which saw Mark Ronson collaborate with singer Bruno Mars in a performance deemed “impossibly cool” by critics. In his time, Ricky also manned the board for an incredible who’s who of artists that forms a discography strong enough to replace any kind of literary accolades – check his website at riccardodamian.com !

About Ricky Damian

In addition to being a go-to guy for record-breaking productions, Ricky Damian is also an Antelope aficionado from way back. The story begins when he was just 15 years old, working as an assistant engineer and soaking in know-how at one of the best recording studios in North Italy. There, the original (silverface) Orion 32 – a breakthrough device and now a legend in the recording realm – was employed to pipe as many as 32 channels of hi-def audio between the computer and the board in one of the rooms. It was the first interface to do so, implementing a custom USB controller and oven-controlled clocking in addition to its extensive analog and digital connectivity. “I was really interested in the software side of it.” – adds Ricky. “The internal mixing and routing facilities are really, really beautiful. That way, we were able to do a lot of what could only be done with a really big desk inside the box.”

Ricky Damian sitting in the studio

The Orion 32’s flexibility, reliability, and sound quality captivated the budding engineer early on, as he candidly admitted. It’s no surprise, then, that Ricky took the Orion32+ – now with Thunderbolt connection, 64 audio channels and a formidable arsenal of low-latency FPGA FX – to the next milestone in his professional career, the live production of UK singer Sam Smith. In charge of producing and handling the backing tracks, Ricky sought a “no restrictions” approach. “We needed a unit that was compact so we could fly it around, and had lots of I/O. I decided to base the whole playback rig around the Orion 32+, because it’s a great interface with 32 audio channels in 1U rack space. I was always really happy with the design and the software – we could use it any way we decided.” – remarked Ricky. “As soon as the actual tour started, we went full-on 32 channels and it was great! Everybody loved it, the sound of it was really, really good and today, the Sam Smith live production is still based on this playback rig.”

The versatility of the Orion 32HD

Presently, Mr. Damian is a freelance audio engineer, fond of the Orion 32HD and the unit’s ability to interface with Windows PCs, Mac computers and Pro Tools HDX systems, all with the trademark sound quality of an Orion 32. This way, anyone can bring their projects into the studio he’s currently based at, and work on them. “Whether it’s a kid with a laptop or a professional with their own rig, we wanted to make sure they can use all of the studio’s facilities. Anybody can turn up, plug in over USB, and have full access. I think it’s groundbreaking and it’s really important for the way music is made nowadays.” – says Ricky. “And another cool thing about this interface is that, with presets, we can easily switch between ‘Pro Tools mode’, which is the default setting of the studio, to a laptop situation – without wasting time and killing creativity.”

Ricky Damian sitting in the studio with Antelope Audio

See Part 2 of our video series with Ricky Damian here.