Meet the MW1
Let’s take a look at a cool piece of gear that
can help make better guitar recordings.
Made by Creation Audio Labs in Hermitage,
Tennessee, the MW1 Studio Tool was
designed from the ground up to solve some
of the common problems we encounter
when plugging in to get that killer take.
I’ll admit that when I first checked this unit
out I was skeptical about having another
“toolbox.” But once I saw – and heard –
what it could do, it went right into my rack,
and I’ve used it on just about every session
since. The MW1 can act as a transformerless
D.I. adding no coloration to your sound, or
it can record D.I. and multiple amp tracks
simultaneously. It can be used to re-amp
tracks that have already been recorded or
to add guitar pedals to them.
Featuring phase and ground lift switches
for noise elimination and an always active
Tuner Output, the MW1 is great for muting
your guitar via the front panel Mute button
and tuning up silently. There’s a super clean
Boost output with up to +30dB of gain – a
direct relative of the company’s MK. 4. 23
pedal boost. You can also plug pro level studio gear like EQs or compressors directly in
front of your guitar amp signal. Finally, there
are both input and output impedance choices for tone shaping and helping to keep
interference down with long cable lengths.
The basic design came about when Creation
Audio Labs worked with multi-platinum
producer/engineer Michael Wagener, hence
the name, MW1. Michael is known for the
huge guitar tones from acts such as Ozzy
Osborne, Metallica and Queen. He worked
with those bands to design a box that not
only solved common recording problems,
but also maintained the highest level of
I’ll briefly mention just a few ways in which
I’ve used it recently which may help shed
some light on how you might apply it to
your own sessions. First, I set it up so that
there is a 1/4” cable plugged into the rear
Instrument Input. Then, another 1/4” cable
goes from the rear Buffered Output to a
rack tuner, which is always active. The Boost
Output jack on the rear then feeds my
guitar amp closet and the XLR Line Level
Output runs directly into a single channel
of my Pro Tools 192 I/O. Going the other
direction, another channel from my 192
I/O then goes to the XLR Line Level Input,
which is used for re-amp duties.
When cutting electric guitar parts using an
amp, I just plug into the Instrument Input
cable, mic up the amp with a separate
preamp, and set the level using the Clean
Boost on the front, which also lets me selectively drive the amp’s input gain. In addition, I’ll record the D.I. output to a separate
channel, from which I can add software amp
plug-ins such as Amp Farm or Eleven.
Wisely, they made all of the outputs on this
box live at the same time, so, for the most
part, the front mimics the rear. This would
allow you to record up to six amps at once
from a single input. For a simple second
amp setup, you could run a 1/4” out from
the front Tuner or Boost Output.
Quite often my old amps do have quirky
ground issues, with obvious buzzes in the
recording chain. An old Magnatone M-10A
of mine did this on a recent session, so I
engaged both the MW1’s Chassis Ground
Lift and Line Level Input Pin 1 Lift, both
accessible on the rear of the unit, which
solved the problem delivering a crystal clear
signal with no buzz.
While recently recording guitarist Scott E.
Moore – no, not that one – we ran the K&K
Pure Western soundboard transducer from
his ‘ 34 Gibson L-00 acoustic to the MW1
Instrument Input. We sent that signal out to
a Gibson Falcon amp with a touch of reverb
and tremolo, and mic’ed it up using the D.I.
path as a second “clean” channel. Finally, I
mic’ed the L-00 directly using an Earthworks
QTC1, offering the ability to dial in a great,
fat sound from the three individual sources.
What the MW1 has done is totally streamline my guitar recording process. In one
single-space rack box, I’ve got a high-end
D.I., amp splitter, re-amp unit and a simple,
great way to use my stompboxes in a mix.
Plus, it keeps all of my cables neat and out
of the way, which lets me think about nothing but the performance.
Head to premierguitar.com for a video
walkthrough of the box, featuring Michael
Wagener himself, courtesy of Creation
is a producer, engineer and mixer who has worked with
artists ranging from Al DiMeola to David Bowie. A lifelong guitarist, he’s also the author of Pro Tools Surround
Sound Mixing and composes for such networks as
Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon and National Geographic.