Depeche Mode’s latest album, “Sounds of the Universe,” is due April 20 internationally. I got the chance to cover the band for Keyboard Magazine, speaking with Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher as well as returning producer Ben Hillier, who was a big part of the signature sound of 2005’s “Playing the Angel.” Martin developed eBay and KVR Audio addictions during the making of the album, so you can imagine just how much gear love was part of the process – with the talent of the musicians and Hillier’s vision as a producer managing to keep the resulting sound open and polished.

You’ll get to read the finished story in the May issue of Keyboard – meaning there’s still time to subscribe if (ahem) your subscription may have lapsed. But my editor at Keyboard got a great brainstorm. Ben Hillier and 140 dB sent us some spy photos from inside the studio, so Keyboard has posted those shots and challenge their readers to identify just what’s going on.

Depeche Mode Behind the Scenes – Part I
Part II (with contest)
Part III

I’m doing this for entirely selfish reasons. One, I’d find it hilarious if a CDM reader won the contest. Two, I’m quite curious about the gear that isn’t identified with numbers or labeled in the captions. Now, I know what some of it is, but consider it a bonus challenge to those who find the first five too easy. (Well, some are very blurry shots, so that should help keep the difficulty amped up…) For those extras, feel free to comment here. (Well, obviously not the contest entries, or you’ll spoil the contest.)

As a thank-you, the winner gets the new album and a free subscription to the magazine.

This is not the contest image at top – it’s Martin Gore with the very gifted recording engineer Ferg Peterkin (whose name I also find strangely comforting).

Good luck. I’ll keep my mouth shut. We’ll have more available online, including some words from Ben Hillier on the techniques used in production, when the issue ships – stay tuned.