Mixing continues into week 2. Here’s a photo of me (right) with Dustin T. Rooney of XR-TABS (left) and Ethan DeAngelus (center), in the lounge on break during the ‘WET FIRE FOR EDISON THE UNCLEAN’ mix.
New parts came in for patch bay. Tape machine saga continues, and is still not back in service, but we’re all pulling for a speedy recovery.
Continued overdub sessions with XR-TABS, and tracked two songs for FINE. Had rehearsals with QUITTERS & DIVEY.
I know what you’re going to say – isn’t that ProTools in that photo? Yes, it’s true. The tape machine happened to be in the shop right when I had some sessions with XR-TABS and FINE. so we went digital. It’s about the music man – don’t worry. Tape machine is coming back this week, it’ll be good to be home again.
FINE. reviews takes in the control room. #nosmoking
I moved the 388 to the live room for writing and recording demos. #studioB
I came home to find these waiting for me – a Roswell Mini K47 condenser microphone and a replacement tweeter from The Speaker Exchange. Okay – sure, a tweeter isn’t exactly THAT exciting except that it came so fast. The people at The Speaker Exchange are awesome and sent a replacement quickly and with no issue or charge. That never happens! [See: Week 6]
The Roswell Mini K47 lives up to its reputation – it is the best microphone under 500 dollars (at least that I’ve ever used). I ran some side by side tests with my other condensers and the Roswell showed an undeniable presence in the mid range that is pleasing and natural.
I compared the Mini K47 with a Shure SM81 and an AudioTechnica 2020. Obviously all these microphones should, and do, sound totally different, but it is nice to know HOW they sound different – so I made a playlist of my friend noodling on a well known song. I recorded it with all three mics placed side by side [at about the neck of an acoustic guitar]. What do you think?
Fostex VF-16 extraction and “Home Bruise.”
The first muti-tracked recordings I ever made were with a Fostex VF-16. Between 2001 to 2004 it got a ton of use. I’m happy to say it’s still running strong. In 2004 my friend Neil Hodge recorded a track with me called, “Home Bruise,” but we were never able to finish it. A rough mix of it has been floating around the internet for years, but the multi-track has been trapped on a 40 GB hard drive in the Fostex VF-16 …. UNTIL NOW. I used ADAT output to extract all 16 tracks into my Alesis HD24, took the tracks from there to my MAC (via ethernet), and finally to GoogleDrive and across the continent to Neil (aka. Mitis Lumen) in Los Angeles. Can’t believe how good that little machine was/is, and still trucking after almost two decades of use (my dad still uses it with his band, the Mystic Voyagers).
Finally, I found this cute lamp the other day, here it is on the organ!
I had to make a stop at MidState Camera on my way to the studio, which is about two miles away. I walked through neighborhoods between Warwick Ave and Elmwood Ave. I’m a Rhode Island native but some of these areas I’d never seen, others I’d not been to in years; I’d suddenly find myself walking past an old friends house, nostalgia, deja vu, etc. It was a kind of madeleine moment.
Last week I fried the tweeters in the main set of monitors (I realize now I shouldn’t have normalized those group sends the way I did…). I found replacements through Speaker Exchange and installed them, they sound as good, if not better, than the originals. [Update: one of the speakers arrived damaged, but was replaced without charge by the manufacturer]
This weeks theme was experimentation: tape delay/slapback and reverb chamber (still looking for that sweet spot).
Vocal tracking with two microphones (Slapback / Automatic Double Tracking):
1) SM81 via GAP Pre-73 to Otari with Ampex 499 tape.
2) SM57 via Crest channel strip to 22-4 (Tascam) running 15 IPS & some low-grade thin tape (.5 mil 2400′ ‘open reel’ brand) and returned to the Otari.
Used the pitch control to dial in the desired delay timing.
The idea to separate the slapback vocal and the dry vocal through two separate mics came from a recent interview in TapeOp (“They’d use a second microphone direct into the mic preamp of an Ampex 350 [tape deck] for the slapback, and they’d mix that in as a separate channel on their console, as opposed to [using] an aux send or something.”). I look forward to trying this with more exciting microphones and microphone placement.
After dubbing vocals and guitars I was ready to do some mixing. Ping-ponged a couple more generations of the PAYOLA$ cover I’ve been working on for BEDNAYS. Even after four generations of bounce, between the Otari (using Ampex 499 tape) and the Tascam (using ATR MDS-36), the noise floor is impressively low (no noise reduction employed!).
Attempted selfie while tracking vocals.
Tracking vocals in the control room.
Visitors Saturday – did an impromptu recording with Scott Macreading (Sallad/Salad Cowboys, Aquatic Symphony, etc.) and José Diaz Rohena of Neighbors. Sarah Macreading stamped the art out for PIXELS cassettes, something I’d been putting off (thanks!).
Lawrence finalized the ACCESSORIES cassette artwork, too.
I think I got my humble drum kit sounding the best it has in years. Started with the kit – moved it around the room – tuned it the best my non-drummer abilities would allow, set it up one piece and one mic at a time. This week I experimented with five mics on the kit (as opposed to my usual 3): mid/side overheads (‘Glyn Johns style’), snare (bottom head), kick, & a ‘fat’/ambient mic just over the kick towards snare – pushed the drum mix through an RNLA in mono parallel with the dry signal. Send the mix through ‘the vault’ reverb chamber. Result was something like the Gil Norton/Pixies drum sound.This was for the BENDAYS X-MAS album’s first track (it’s a cover by the PAYOLAS – do you know it??). However, I’ve realised my partner was right when she said I should have started this in July! Target date: Christmas 2018?
My trusty old drum kit, custom wrapped by David McNally.
Has a visit from Justin Marra, an old friend with whom I gigged with extensively as a teenager. Justin is an educator who also just finished building a home studio in East Providence for voice work and has been actively writing and recording all the while.
Saturday evening was productive in the studio, worked on a demo which included borrowing some words from Emily Bronté. Earlier in the day we met with Mark MacDougall from 75 or Less at his ‘headquarters’ in Warren to discuss an upcoming collaboration [hopefully official news on that soon]. & PIXELS rehearsed Sunday evening – FINE. had a gig Friday and Sunday night – you should see them if you haven’t yet.
Friday. Tested out some new features – real, reel, tape echo using the Tascam 22-4 & group sends *nice* & reverb via bank vault ( send — > speaker in vault –> room sound –> microphone — > mix –> magic ). [more on this soon]. Tracked some improvised weirdness. It was fun, mostly an excuse to try out the gear, i.e. box set material.
Saturday. Thea and I had a Pixels gig at 33 Golden in New London. We played with The Planes, who were finishing up a short tour, and Oberon Rose. Albums were exchanged. Nuclear subs were moved.
Pixels at 33 Golden.
Oberon Rose album & tapes from The Planes.
Sunday. Started tracking for a new BENDAYS cover (Christmas album ?? ). Continued dubbing Pixels tapes.
The control room now has a ‘pegboard’ wall that replaced a poorly constructed wall built by the previous tenant. Inspired by “Helmholtz resonator” style walls in photos of classic studios. We salvaged what we could of the wall, including attempting to make it a square (it’s actually a pretty crazy shape when you run the numbers, but it looks square now). Put in some new lights, hung a sound absorption panel in the control room, and other bits of unglamorous work (including a few cans of Great Stuff to seal some cracks) were taken care of. Many thanks to Bob Davis, my dad, for leading the wall-rebuild project.
In addition to construction, we mastered the PIXELS record to quarter inch tape Friday evening. I have started dubbing to cassette and stamping tapes – DIY or die.
Lawrence and I began reconfiguration of the control room. We unplugged every wire, snake, cable, component to start from scratch. The console inched around the control room until we found a new spot. Cobwebs were vacuumed, windows were cleaned. Mapped a new patch bay on paper.
I spent part of the weekend unpacking more boxes and found some old records (see Weekend Update #1). One of them was Kamchatka III. Kamchatka is a fusion/improvisational group lead by Dave McNally (I believe they still play?). I was a member of the group in the mid-2000s. For the third record, Dave let me take over production. We recorded it in my home studio, then known as Doctor Corporate and in my parents garage & basement.
This was a fun record & the first Kamchatka record done in the analog realm (including tape splice edits!). It was also my introduction to Matt Whitcomb who would go on to be Volcano Kings‘ lead guitarist. This is my favorite track from that record, but my favorite movement starts at 4:58 – Neil and Dave lock into such a great feel for almost two minutes while Matt and I layer chaos. Bon appetit!
King John ‘eil Leads the Termite Parade (2008)
More info: Kamchatka III