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LANOIS/ENO treatments & gear: question for thethrillfactor and gearslutz
Old 21st December 2005
Gear Nut
Jacklynn's Avatar

LANOIS/ENO treatments & gear: question for thethrillfactor and gearslutz

I am a music therapist and am very interested in the more ambient production and engineer techniques with effects processing. Using the studio to do all kinds of manipulations to get the desired end result of a seductive listening experience for myself and my clients. i would like to learn as much as I can about this topic.

I have read some of thethrillfactor's posts on this topic. He seems to know quite a bit about the Lanois/Eno sound treatments and production.

I wanted to ask him and any others if they would mind sharing more elaborate knowlege with me about what Peices of gear you know about that they were using and how they used them between 1980 -1986 on albums such as Harold Budd's The Pearl & Plateau of Mirror, Michael Brook's Hybrid, Apollo, On Land and Thursday Afternoon.

The treatmetns on those are so haunting...especially the Pearl by Harond Budd.

Also later ambient albums like Daniel Lanois' Sling Blade soundtrack..I love those tremeloey guitar effects he gets. What does he use to get that fast throbbing sound on Slingblade? Some kind of pedal?

I love the sounds of these albums and would love to further my knowlege of the gear they were using and how they implemented it in ways that my mind may not be able to grasp without another person explaining it to me who has enough expereince to comment on these concepts. I am not new to sound engineering so please elaborate as much as possible.

Thank you kindly for your time and wisdom
Old 21st December 2005
Gear Maniac
FlametopFred's Avatar


Keep in mind that the foundation of both Eno and Lanois is a recording philosophy, both of whom have philosophies (or styles) that are polar opposites.

It are those opposite styles of recording and producing that made for the Perfect Storm with U2 and other projects.

More than any specific peice of equipment, Eno bends forward from the brain, Lanois bends up from the heart. Where they meet is in the area of sparks.

That would be a very lengthy discussion, comparing them, then fusing their processes. And it would be dependent on the location, and the engineer they were working with, either individually or collectively.

Good question though. I don't think the answer is equipment related.
Old 21st December 2005
Lives for gear

As fugshaker said; difficult to separate the technique & gear from the creator;

however, you could start with a search here; in fact, if you look at the bottom of this thread, you will see a related Eno/Lanois thread

Numerous articles in various recording mags cover this topic;
I'd suggest Sound On Sound and Mix Magazine for starters

Much, but not all, of the sound you refer to is founded on time-based effects;
delays and reverbs by a variety of companies, including Eventide, Korg, Lexicon, AMS, analog tape delay, plate reverb, etc.

serial & parallel signal processing is also applied; the same 2 devices chained together will sound different than if brought up on separate faders

Ebow guitar techniques are used
M. Brook has his infinite guitar device
Lanois uses various pedals, as well as controlled feedback sustain technique a bit.
Eno will add effects to an effect; so what you hear doesn't always resemble what he started with.

Bear in mind too, that often they will start with a very simple idea, and create a larger sound via an assortment of fx - processed minimalism, if you will.

best of luck with your research
Old 21st December 2005
Gear Maniac
FlametopFred's Avatar

Lanois is a real "room person" and was one of the first (if not the first) to put the console in the tracking room. No dividers between engineer, producer and band. In many cases, Lanois is playing an instrument while standing next to the console, playing and nodding to his engineer (in the early days, his brother I think).

I think he still records that way: find a great, conducive room. Big enough room for the band and the console. Set up and play. Play along, be involved in the music as a producer.

Eno is a real "mistake person" in the sense of allowing, encouraging, creating mistakes. One of his more famous early mistake-creations was having David Bowie's guitarist just play "a solo in this key" without listening to any of the backing tracks. In effect, seemingly random notes in the key of G. Eno then added reverbs and echos, and sure enough the finished product sounds about like any other guitar solo you have heard ... ie: not so random after all.

Eno believes that "the human element of music is the mistakes", or, not being so perfect. At least allowing the random of the moment to enter above all else.

Lanois' ambience comes from the room full of musicians colliding mid-air.
Eno's ambience comes from keeping all the mistakes and making them work.

In both cases, the equipment and the technical are there to serve the creation, to serve the song, to serve the performer - and not the other way around at all.
Old 21st December 2005
You would do well to have a long hard look at the Eventide 3000 FX processor. It has 'ethereal' sound from the get go.. Subsequent models like the DSP 4000 even go so far as to have presets NAMED after the man...

Space age

Are all adjectives that can be used to describe the sounds that you can get from this brand of digital FX box..

Good luck..

Old 21st December 2005
Lives for gear
Bob Ross's Avatar

Originally Posted by fugshaker
More than any specific peice of equipment, Eno bends forward from the brain, Lanois bends up from the heart. Where they meet is in the area of sparks.
That is a lovely quote, Fug! Absolutely poetic, and wonderfully descriptive. Seriously.

It also probably explains why I love most of Eno's repertoire, but can only tolerate Lanois' work when he's collaborating with another "cerebral" musician (eg., Eno, Peter Gabriel, Robbie Robertson...). This "from the heart" stance that so many Roots [sic] musicians wear like a badge of honor is often an excuse for simplistic & puerile gestures.

(he says, donning flame-proof suit)
Old 21st December 2005
Lives for gear
espasonico's Avatar

One thing found very often in Lanois albums it´s the EH Memory Man. I love that pedal.
Old 21st December 2005
Gear Maniac
FlametopFred's Avatar

was thinking about this last night

just wanted to add that Lanois and Eno are both very technically competent people. They grew up with equipment from the time they were teens.

As a process, Lanois is only concerned with the 'start' and the 'end' of the song, the creative process. Lanois doesn't care what happens in the middle of the recording process, as long as there are good songs to start with, and there is a great album when he is done. No matter who he is working with.

Eno, from all my references, doesn't care about the start or the finish. He seems to only care about "what's happening at the moment" and how that can be nudged or coaxed into other directions, other forks in the creative paths.

That's why they worked well together (whether you like the results is subjective). There was that dovetail fit between their two outlooks.

Technically, I think they are both on the same level. Both love to mess with the audio path in the same way. Delay. Reverb. Filtering. Eno is probably, if anything, much more of a Filter man, using filters to alter the sound even prior to being recorded.

just my humble two bits worth

I would wager that both Eno and Lanois would hate being labelled, hate being revered, and if anything, simply encourage anyone interested to just jump in with your sleeves rolled up and get your hands dirty with the sound, dirty with the production grease on your hands. No other path of study than just doing it. Recording. Producing. Mucking about.
Old 21st December 2005
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guru007's Avatar
I'm guessing you would really enjoy Eno's year-long diary: A Year (with swollen appendices)
It's a very insightful, honest, and revealing look into his daily life and thoughts on just about everything from recording, fame, politics, culture, art, commerce, parenthood, you name it.

FYI: My wife's a Psychologist and she also enjoys (and often uses) Eno/Lanois music in her mindfulness exercises with clients she treats and Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Social Workers she teaches (for those not exposed to the mental healthcare world, we're not supposed to call them "patients" anymore). The Eno diary is also a favorite of hers.

Old 21st December 2005
Lives for gear
jomo1234's Avatar

I think a lot of the Harold Budd "sound" comes from the use of detuning some of the instruments (particularly the piano), which gives things a very melancoly and reflective tone. A perfect example of this is technique is on the album he made with The Cocteau Twins, called 'The Moon & The Melodies'. If you listen to the track "The Ghost has No Home" you will hear the detuned piano. It's a lovely track.
Old 21st December 2005
Lives for gear
doorknocker's Avatar
What always strikes me about Lanois' production is the 'cinematic' quality of the sound, you always have a background that frames the 'action'. This was/is a major influence in my own work. A big part for me is using the E-Bow, it's amazing how 'invisible' you can be with it while making it a major part of the atmosphere.

Another very interesting guitar thing that Lanois mentioned in a interview is guitar/amp interaction; which he credited to Neil Young. If you play electric guitar while closely facing the amp/speakers you get completely different sets of overtones than with isolation. This is true even for clean parts at moderate volumes. This is the reason why I try to avoid isolating guitar amps or playing in the control room without direct contact to the amp whenever possible.
I think this is an essential technique even more so than effects though they are obviously a major part of both Lanois and Eno's approach.

Lanois started out as a pedal steel guitar player and still uses the instrument and slide guitar a lot. The floating quality of slide/steel playing surely contributes immensely to the general atmosphere and is even more pronunced by using pitch-shifting effects that also keep things 'afloat'.

This is the plain opposite of the 'modern' pop approach in its unfortunately very common manifestation where EVERYTHING is fixed and static : Pitch thanks to heavy use of Autotune, rhythm by being tied to a grid.
It makes for extremely unexciting music.
Old 21st December 2005
Gear Maniac
FlametopFred's Avatar

i n t e r e s t i n g

there's some pretty cool stuff in this thread, kind of a how-to manual ... some very technical tips and some very ethereal philosophics to go along with

cool .... great topic, Jacklynn!
Old 21st December 2005
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wallace's Avatar

I recently got the U2 video "Classic Albums, Making of Joshua Tree" and the making of Willie Nelson "Teatro" from the library. There were some cool Lenois things in there.
Old 21st December 2005
Gear Guru
lucey's Avatar
Lanois uses a lot of pedal effects, like the Meatball - and other Lovetone pedals, also Tremolo (that throbbing sound) ... AND ... a lot of straight guitar -> amp tones that are raw and rich in harmonics and room tone. A Les Paul in a dimed out little Gibson with a single 12" in a big room, standing near the amp. He likes the immediacy of cranked 1 x 12" amps. I do too

At one time you could hear the Ensoniq DP Pro all over his records. A 1U rack effect, discontinued, very difficult to program but the stock sounds are close to some thing he used often.

He also mixes with a second engineer also mixing on a B desk in another room from the same tracks, and runs the other board to 2 ch on his board. That way he can peek in on the blend coming from the other person and incorporate anything cool. A bit of Eno in that.

Incorporating the room, commitment to effects, allowing and encouraging the human elements, and some actual hardware ... all these will get you close.

Oh ... dont forget the API and Neve sidecars for tracking!
Old 21st December 2005
Gear Maniac
FlametopFred's Avatar

being out of date is sometimes handy

I have this old, ancient really, Korg DRV-3000 (with the handy remote control, don't know why more rack effects don't have that!) that I just can't seem to shake.

Been using it since about 1988. It does stuff that other equipment just doesn't do. Not sure if that's because it has a limited 8-bit mind, or whatever. Then there is the old Lexicon 92 Delta T ...a weird thing that does stuff yet to be duplicated (for my ears). Together the sound moves around in odd ways.

Sometimes in the swirl of all that old echo and reverb there is something magical that cancels out or accumulates or works like a strange digital swirling Leslie. Don't know how to explain it, but it seems to work. On occassion.

Maybe it's about that ?
Old 22nd December 2005
Gear Nut
Jacklynn's Avatar

This is incredible! I didn't expect to get so many wonderful responses but there are a lot of people very interested in the technical aspects of my question but also the ideals and relationship between two very different creative producers who seem to complement each other better than if they worked alone. Arguably two of the best producers of contemporary music!

Some of these technical responses are helping me to understand the types of effects that were employed. I like hearing about things like the Ensoniq DPpro and other effects units. Getting a few of those things together may be worth while as a learning tool to get some basic understanding of breaking apart the puzzle...the many layers until arriving at a point where one discovers they have learned how to make these kinds of treaments in a similar fasion as well as developing some jumping off points for our own treatments.

I have to agree that there is some kind of magic that happens with the processing of effects that I hear that has that random swirling most likely caused by early digital effects processing that was somewhat limited in its frequency response, detail and fidelity. Also intermittent failure and at the time they probably felt that the digital gear just wasn't cutting it but the sound they got was so warm and organic that I don't think our modern "clean" and perfect digital gear like Eventide H8000 and TC Fireworx type units would have given as interesting results.

I would love to know more specifics about certain peices of gear by manufacturer that they used between 1980-86 on alnums like Harold Budd's "The Pearl" and "Appolo". If anyone out there is knowlegable in the gear they had and how they may have implemented it I would love to learn more about that from you.

Love reading all your thoughts on this.
Old 22nd December 2005
Special Guest
vancalot's Avatar

Lexicon Primetime...

I remember that Eno was credited as playing a "Primetime" on a record with David Byrne called "The Catherine Wheel". It was a cool mostly instrumental record from about '79-80.
As a proud owner of a Model 93, I can tell you it is a great piece. Especially in 8X mode (1.5k bandwidth..! Dark and filtery echos...) You can hear it all over The Talking Heads masterpiece "Remain in Light".

Buy one if you can find one..


PS Not to be confused with a Super Primetime... also a cool piece, but for different reasons.. most notably the "ƒ" button...
Old 22nd December 2005
Gear Maniac

Hei there, here`s some stuff to chew on -

David Torn talks about ambient effects on the Gearpage (a gtr forum) and mentions Lanois several times, like below;

"Lexicon Vortex - an interesting concept but the idea was a bit unfinished I think. This product most likely suffered from Lexicon's lack of interest in such an unusual device and the desingers probalby were working on a small and fixed budget. The average "copy your clapton licks" guitarists a plenty didn't get it so how are you going to market the thing? A few cool sounds from this box can be heard on the opening scene in the movie Slingblade where Danny Lanois uses this box set on the backwards panning delay setting , bleen or orbits or something like that. He loops this guitar phrase with a Boomerang and sends the thing into the vortex and then into a longish Lexicon reverb...probably the LXP-1 or the PCM70 and then likely out to the eventide H3000 for some overall stereo widening...maybe a chorus or detuning of some sort. Probalby a lot more crap going on too. It's not exactly the kind of animal you can disect

Digitech studio Quad - trying to be an Eventide in the way it sounds and functions and it's feature set with the whole modulator patching thing that Eventide invented. The chorus pragrams are huge sounding, almost better than an Eventide. This is one of Brian Eno's current favorite units for program 37 (octal chorus) which was actually my favrite progam too. Basically this patch replaces Eno's long favorite "symphonic" patch on the Yamaha SPX90. I spoke with him this past summer at a lecture he gave. He would always run the output of his reverbs into the "Symphonic" patch on the SPX90 to modualte and excite the reverb tails. The "octal Chorus" in the digitech does this to an even greater extent when applied to 100% wet reverbs at 50% with the chorus IMO, making reverbs even bigger and spacier sounding for treatments where the output of the reverb is the sound and no dry signal exists.

Lexicon LXP-1 - Daniel Lanois' favorite reverb for guitar.... "


Check the Electro Harmonix effects.
The 16 sec Delay was used a lot, I believe, by Eno early on. Typical examles found on "On Land". Using the half speed (and reverse), faders etc for realtime glitches and "slow rumbles", it is a very warm sounding digital box.

Lots of video clips/demos of EHX pedals by Peter Stroud (some of these are classics like the Memory an and Micro Synth)
For Eno/Lanois potential and history check these;
(Here`s an EH 16 sec site with links
This box is now reissued and has recently been upgraded.
Check also the Holiest Grail

Relating to the evolution of the 16 sec Delay is the Maneco loopers;
"Yeah, I'm really knocked out by these things. A Manecolooper is like having an original Electro-Harmonix 16-Second Delay, a Line6 DL4, a Z Vex Lo-Fi Loop Junky, a Boss VB-2, and a Deluxe Memory Man all in one box."

Eno interviews

Free download of the Erik Tamm book "Brian Eno - His Music and the Vertical color of Soun"
Tamm on Eno
The Oblique Strategies . some Eno `by accident` philosophy

A few Daniel Lanois interviews (I would think googling should bring up a lot more)

Michael Brook - an interview (Mem Man, 16 sec Delay, ebow etc)

The Effects review section of Harmony Central covers most effects ever seen daylight;
Sound clips of lots of classic effects
Check also the Looping Tools pages on Loopersdelight

The gtr pedal forums discuss effects use, the Search button will bring up stuff like the new EH 16 sec mod/fix etc.
Search for Eno or Lanois on the Loopersdelight forum will bring up lot of posts


There are manu ways to catch those haunting Enoesque soundscapes;
Personally I would use a mixture of analog and digital, of hifi and lofi, of rack and stomp boxes, of dry and effected sounds
Having a delay where I can add other effects (tremolo, filters, modulation, a POG for pitch shifting, reverb, vol pedal for swells, etc) that will work only on the repeats is a great way to get a good blend of dry and effected sounds, of nearness and distance, definiton and ambience.
Old 22nd December 2005
Lives for gear
jomo1234's Avatar

Definitely check out the Korg digital sampling delays made in the early-mid 80s...SDD1000. SDD2000, SDD3000. They are 8 bit and give everything a grainy quality that is quite unique. It's so funny that these units are now considered 'vintage' and are increasing in value on the used market. They do sound nice though...I have a 2000 and it always gets used.
Old 23rd December 2005
Gear Nut
Jacklynn's Avatar


That is awesome! Thank you dear. It will take me a long time to absorb all that info but I have started taking those links and chipping away at them. Some of it will likely become a bit exponential but I will try to filter through it as best I can.
Old 23rd December 2005
Here for the gear

eno gear

i am a huge fan of these guys i picked up a newer copy of sound on sound that has a great interveiw with eno as far as gear goes he is using logic, a eventide h3000 a digitech vocal processor a digitech jam man looper he is now very into devices that have been evolutions of the therim like the korg kaos pad and alesis air fx the mixers shown in the pictures are mackies and the native instuments fm7 virtual synth witch is a update of his favorite synth the dx7, and a triton, and various drum programs, as far as his theory of making music at the moment, it is a less is more approach look at the list of gear he has its not neve or ssl (i am sure he has acces to any gear he wants) its korg and mackie digitech,he is quoated in a round about way as saying music or anything groundbreaking is not pushed forward because of complex technology but by a lack of it. he has also said to make interesting music to do it with cheap gear fast. he also thinks that the emphasis on a performers personality is the thing that is holding music back at the moment. very good interveiw there is also one in mix but those are about the most uptodate things on eno
Old 23rd December 2005
Here for the gear


also i forgot to mention this in my post,eno says in the interview that a big thing that happend, that inspired this type of music (ambient) is from being in a hospital for a few months due to a car accident, and he started listening to the atmosphere of what was going on in the room , i myself at one point would get up in the morning and just close my eyes for 15 min or so and listen after a while its like your ears can cut through to hearing the electricity in the wires,(lol, well maybe not that good) you do begin to break through and hear very intensly like cutting through layers of sound. this is the same thing with blind people, so think about that as a exercise, it can be very theraputic just a meditation on sound of the room,
Old 23rd December 2005
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zarembo's Avatar

Originally Posted by rollingrecords
...eno says in the interview that a big thing that happend, that inspired this type of music (ambient) is from being in a hospital for a few months due to a car accident, and he started listening to the atmosphere of what was going on in the room...

Eno also talks somewhere about listening to records while recuperating from this accident, and being unable to cross the room to flip the record over. He would lay there for long periods of time listening to the needle skipping in the end of the groove over and over creating another sonic atmosphere through the repetitions. kind of like if this flower made a little sound each time...
Old 23rd December 2005
Gear Maniac
toomanyorgans's Avatar

lanois guitar pedals often include: vintage 808 tubescreamer, digitech whammy 1, ORANGE KAY FUZZ and BLUE KAY TREMELO (sling blade score!), electro harmonix nemory man. outboard stuff: h3000, h949, lexicon primetime delay, korg rack delays, ensoniq dp4, vortex, DBX subharmonic synth... back in the day i'm sure it was a lot of 16 sec delay and stuff like that. a rare bird to check out in the EH stereo ambitron pedal which is a "stereo synthesizer" some short delays and phase inverter stuff, gives you a lush wide guitar signal into two amps. big sounds from small amps. feedback and sustain. shaking the guitar. anything goes.
Old 24th December 2005
Gear Nut
Jacklynn's Avatar


Great list of gear! Awsome response. Where you aquire all that detailed information Lanois' pedalboard gear and rack processing gear?

Thank you dear.
Old 8th January 2006
Lives for gear
Silvertone's Avatar
Don't forget one of Danny's favorite ambience makers, the Suzuki Omnichord (now called the Q chord), this is an electronic autoharp. You can hear it on many of his tracks, very atmospheric because to play it you just rake your hand up and down over the sensor strip as it goes through the scales of the key you are holding down.

best regards,
Old 15th November 2006
Gear Addict

I love this thread!!!

I'd also love to hear more about how they used the effects units they were using back in the early 80's to make all the really cool ambient series albums and the ones with Harold Budd!
Old 15th November 2006
Lives for gear
juicylime's Avatar

A guy I know did some work for U2 alongside Lanois and Eno here in Dublin. I used to lap up every snippet of the stories he told about them. One thing I remember was that apparently Eno came in one day excited like a kid on xmas morning because he found some new multi FX unit he loved and brought one each in for himself, Lanois and the dude I know. It was a Zoom 1204!
Old 15th November 2006
Gear Addict
Barilla's Avatar

I'm a great admirer of Eno's work - a great inspiration on so many levels.

No-one has mentioned the EMS VCS3 synthesizer yet. This was used by Eno throughout the '70s and '80s on classic records such as 'On Land', 'Music For Airports', 'Apollo', 'The Pearl'... pretty much all of them, in fact.

Eno used the VCS3 as a 'treatment box' as much as a synthesizer - taking various sounds from tape (he used a couple of Revox A77 1/4 inch tape machines) and treating them through the unique filter (it's not quite a low-pass, nor a band-pass, it's something in between), the ring-modulator (which again is an odd one, due to the pretty unique way it distorts when overloaded) and the on-board spring reverb. Due to the patchable nature of the unit, he would set it up in ways that it just wasn't meant to be set up - and in the process created controllable feedback loops. Nothing else sounds like the VCS3 (except some of the other synthis made by EMS, of course).

Think of that swelling guitar sound on 'Deep Blue Day'... that's the VCS3 filter at work on a guitar.

You could take a cheap Casio keyboard and process it through the VCS and it would come out sounding like something from 'The Pearl' (in fact, I read somewhere that Harold Budd and Eno used exactly that for some sounds on that record)

I think a lot of what made the music so mysterious was that there was very little in the way of top end on those sounds. The brain has to imagine some of the sounds itself, unlike a lot of today's productions where everything is 'in your face' and bright (nothing wrong with that in it's place, either).

If you're into music therapy, you need to check out music from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, in particular the work of Delia Derbyshire - a woman who I can never talk about enough! Incredible woman. Like Eno, Delia was a pioneer of mysterious and extremely deep electronic music and soundscapes, but she never really got the recognition she deserved. A true inspiration to me and so many others these days:

Old 16th November 2006
Gear Addict


That is really cool. Do you think with a box like the eventide harmonizer, you could do something similar with the filter sweeps, envelope and reverb stuff in the VCS?

How would you set up effects processors to emulate what the VCS3 does? I know it's not the same but I would love to try this kind of thing to hear how it sounds.

I am sure getting a real working VCS3 is not exactly do-able these days!


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