For that direct-as-possible sound, Holdsworth has collected and used a variety of mic preamps, both stand-alone units and ones pulled from mixing consoles. "I have access to some Neve modules that belong to a friend of mine, the 1073's, and I have two AMEK preamp/equalizers that were designed by Rupert Neve, and I have a James Demeter mic preamp which is absolutely wonderful on some things. I think possibly the best one I've ever used was made by Millennia, but I couldn't afford it. The guy who lent it to me was really generous because he let me keep it for a long time. I was kind of sad to see it go."
The studio is based around a 44-input Trident console and Yamaha NS40 monitors driven by a UREA power amp. The outboard gear on hand includes a Demeter mic preamp, two Neve mic and line amps, a GAL 5-band stereo parametric EQ, and a pair of Trident TSM EQ modules. "In the studio, I mostly use old single-delay lines, in pairs," says Holdsworth. "I have bunch of old Yamaha 1500's I use for that. The digital effects all date from the days before multiprocessors. The only multiprocessors I have are Rocktron Intellifexes, which I like a lot. But I use those mainly for live work. I don't actually own a really good reverb. I usually rent one when I need one. I used to have an AMS 1580S and RMX-16, but I sold those to Steve Vai a long time ago and could never afford to buy them back."