Joe Chiccarelli adds Red 1 500 to his lunchbox

24 Jan 2014
Grammy award winning mix engineer Joe Chiccarelli recently added Focusrite's 'lunchbox' preamp, the Red 1 500, to his arsenal of 500-series preamps and audio processors.
Joe Chiccarelli is no stranger to the studio, nor to receiving the top accolades in the business. Through his work with The White Stripes, The Strokes, Tori Amos, and countless other major artists, Joe's picked up an impressive Ten Grammy awards to date. By his own admission he's a sucker for a retro sound, but with a modern approach to recording. This influence can be heard on Icky Thump, The White Stripes' 2007 album which Joe engineered and mixed, and subsequently won a Grammy for in 2008.

Joe Chiccarelli Focusrite Red 1 500

Focusrite's Red 1 500 preamp provides something he describes as "present, transparent and honest", and sits among other processors in his lunchbox rack that lend a more colourful tone to the sound. "It's definitely become a go-to for background vocals and acoustic guitar." 

The Focusrite Red 1 500 is made in England and features the same circuit topology and components (including the Lundahl 1538 and custom Carnhill output transformer) as the original Red 1 rackmount unit, which was first introduced in the early 1990s. Joe recalls working with the Red range around this time, "all the Red series had the same tone. There's a certain openness and sparkly quality to the top end that works for a lot of singers, and it's great for strings, piano and cymbals too. It gives them air; there's just an aliveness to the sound."

"The original Red 1 didn't have many frills," Joe remarks. "It was just a great-sounding preamp, and the Red 1 500 indeed sounds just like it. It definitely does what it is supposed to do: it has that size and breadth of tone to it, and it's certainly one of the more hi-fi, open-sounding preamps available in the 500 series."

Joe also used the Red 3 dual compressor/limiter extensively. "For years I worked with Etta James, and the Red 3 was the only compressor that I could use on her voice because it was invisible enough. Her dynamics were very wide, and you never knew when she was just going to go for it. To this day, it's also one of my favorite vocal and piano compressors."

For more information on the Red 1 500 please visit

Joe Chiccarelli Focusrite Red 1 500