This is a real-time shoot of a prototypical tracking session, with no smoke or mirrors. Going from scratch to a rough mix in an hour or so with mic choices and placements, preamp choices and mic swapping for tone shaping. All steps are explained and commented.
Tracked with Avid ProTools HD|Native, full line of Royer Ribbon mics and Mojave Condenser mics, UA 4-710, UA610, Great River MP2NV, Great River EQ1-NV preamps and eqs as well as Dangerous Music Monitor ST, Dangerous Music Summing and Focal speakers.
How many of you guys have tried to record somebody who sings and plays guitar at the same time? Isn't that a wonderful thing to do? Alright, so. Meredith is about to change your life.
In a good way.
At Flux we have developed and interesting trick on how to have the same human being...
Human being, right? Both singing and playing at the same time.
This is Will Knox by the way ladies and gentlemen.
We're using two Royer ribbon microphones.
The thing about ribbons is that they are mellowy sounding.
Which is great, especially if you are working with a digital system.
Where everything is pretty much a mirror of what you put in.
You get no help from the tape machine and you get no softening of anything.
It's a mirror.
It's nice to have a microphone that sounds smooth and mellowy and even.
most people tend to pick a large diaphragm condenser and shove it onto the singer. The problem is that that was designed to go through eight rows of transformers plus a piece of tape.
Now you're going through a DC coupled converter that does nothing for you and everything turns out so bright that your teeth hurts every time the singer sings the chorus. Right? That's we've switched to using Royers on vocals as much as we can depending on the singer.
In this particular singer, who's here, it sounds pretty darn good.
So on the vocal we have the new Royer 101.
And on the guitar we have the SF 2.
The thing about ribbon, despite the fact that they sound smooth, and they're even and not as bright as the condensers, is they are figure 8.
You know what a figure 8 is? Alright. If you have the microphone like this it picks up both the front and the back.
And it has a wonderful thing...
Here on the side, it has amazing rejection.
Borderline to nothing.
If you have a ribbon microphone you go 'bla bla bla', you hear 'bla bla bla'.
If you go 'bla bla bla', you hear (silence).
If you imagine, if you see here you have the front of the mike and the back of the mike and this is the rejection.
Now if you are smart enough to you use this microphone so that this part picks up his vocal and this part rejects the guitars you're not gonna get a lot of guitar in the vocal mike.
If you use the guitar microphone and you do the same trick, when you put the rejection area of the ribbon towards the vocal, you ain’t gonna get a lot of vocal in the guitar mike.
Is that possible? Absolutely.
Demonstration. Can you just do the first verse? Wonderful! So let’s listen to that.
You know right away it sounds good.
Right? You play it, you like, "ohh, nice!" There's a few things. Let's listen to just the vocal.
Rocking right? OK.
You see the separation? You wanna hear that again? Let's play that again.
It's pretty crazy.
Can we hear the guitar mike just for entertainment sake? See what I mean? Buy yourself some ribbons.
I can make a record out of this.
If we switch back to the vocal, here’s one of the things that might happen.
If you have a slightly insecure singer.
No! Not this one.
This one rules the world.
But if you have a slightly insecure singer, all 99% of them, they all would say: "Oh, but it sounds muffled".
No it doesn't sound muffled, it sounds right.
But they are singers, you gotta deal with them.
I'm talking about the ones who don't write their own songs.
And a ribbon is a darker microphone, that's the whole point. OK? But it's nice to add a little bit of a "humfff" thing in the high end to make it shine a little bit.
It's gonna have two things, first you'd work less harder to mix and B, you'd shut the singer up.
Which is a wonderful thing.
So what we have done here.
Is we inserted the Dangerous Bax EQ which is the new EQ that just came out in line and we're gonna EQ up.
We're gonna put it after the preamp before the converter.
Right? So microphone, preamp, EQ into the converter.
This is to show you that if you don't get exactly the tone you want...
You know it's good, you know the microphone is the right one, you can tell but you know it needs a little bit of...
'Je Ne sais quoi'.
You can insert some processing to make it sound cool.
In this particular case we're gonna use the BAX EQ because it's so smooth.
And it's really gentle and it sounds great.
So what I'm doing is adding...
I'm hi-passing the bottom to remove the rumble, Adding a couple dB at...
And I'm adding like 2 dB at 4.8k shelf.
And let's do another quick recording with that.
Same part please.
OK, let's listen to that.
Would you be kind enough to compare with the previous one? It sounds great but it's a little dark.
The new one with the EQ.
Just a little bit of a... 'humfff' OK.
You see what I did, right? If you hear again.
Could you play that again? I'm gonna...
Oh now, I mean, Meredith, sorry.
We're gonna play it again.
Listen to: 'solid, steel'.
'I'm a cog'.
So 'Solid steel', 'I'm a cog', listen to those two transients and listen to the energy in those two words. Let's play it again.
You hear these little peaks coming out? OK.
So, right now we're using the new UA LA 610 MK II A tube 610 preamp, so a tube preamp, like a traditional 610 preamp, and it has a LA 2 compressor in it.
And we tend to love that on vocal.
In this particular case, with this particular microphone and environment, with what Will had for breakfast this morning, there's that little peak going on.
Right? I know in my heart that the microphone is good, but I'm not happy with that peak because I know it's gonna kick my butt tomorrow when I mix it.
So, why don't we see what happens if we switch preamps? To see if we can get a better tone with the same setup.
So we're gonna switch preamps.
- 710? The 4-710 is what we have left.
So, 4-710 number 4 which would be line 13.
And let's see what that does.
When you're stuck...
Over time you'll learn that, 'Ah, this is that problem'.
'Humm, this is this problem'.
So right now we're gonna switch between the two UA preamps.
Maybe, Will, because of what he had for breakfast this morning, maybe he cannot use a tube preamp.
You don't know.
Maybe he needs a good solid state preamp with an opened sound.
So, that was fantastic, you should do it again.
I'd like to point out the insane consistency of this human being right here.
What you don't know is that all this time he's lip synching to the same recording again.
Alright, so this is with.
So we started with the LA 610 preamp, and the LA style compression, a little bit of compression, maybe a couple dB.
Now we're switching to the new 4-710 preamp with a little bit of the 1176 style compression.
The setting I'm on right now...
We are on the fast, so we're catching the transients.
Let's see how that sounds.
Same vibe but without the peaks.
Can you play the...
Play the second with the LA-610.
See? It's a little smothered.
I put my money on this one.
You may have to close your eyes to hear it.
But the reality is that's the difference between something that sounds a little pressure cooked, smothered, and something that just sounds open.
You have to try different things, those little differences are the differences between a demo and a record.
Would you like to hear the difference again? Who would like to hear the difference again? OK, let's do that again.
Let's play the LA 610, first two phrases.
And then the the 4-710, first two phrases.
I won't speak in the middle so you can memorize the sound.
It's pretty... You guys heard it, right? So now let's talk about that.
You know I hate DIs. Why are you using the DI? Because as we know, after working...
What do you mean 'as we know', I don't know what you're talking about.
We've worked with the singer, Will, before and...
he plucks very lightly.
So, sometimes the guitar to vocal ratio when we come to mix it, as you know, it's fighting.
So there is a little bit of vocal in the guitar mike and vice versa, so you bring up the guitar to to get more guitar and you get more vocal.
So we take a DI, I always take a DI of the guitar.
Never of the bass.
we need it just for slight reinforcement, just, you know, when we come to mixing, to be able to boost the guitar on the choir part.
And for the DI we use the built-in Hi-Z input on one of the four 710.
And I always complain about the fact that the DI sounds like crap and then Meredith records the DI and I always use it in the mix.
So, could we hear the sound of the DI? On one of the existing recording.
Well it's not as horrible as some but...
Can we hear the DI and the microphone together? See that air? Only a microphone can give you that.
Can I hear just the microphone? OK. I'll try really hard to not use the DI tomorrow.
And I probably will fail.
Cool. Questions on this? Why not record the guitar and the vocal separately? Very good production question? Why would you not do that? Because all the love is gone if you do that.
No, I'm dead serious. All the love. All the music goes away.
We' ve tried it with Will, who's a phenomenal guitar player, and as you may have noticed, a phenomenal singer.
So you think with that kind of skill set, we could do that.
Every time we tried to record the stuff separately, because I'm a stickler for high five, and some of the songs, where he strums, it's more difficult, and every time we just don't like the way it sounds.
We just don't like the way it sounds because the life is gone.
You know the difference between...
You know, you go to see a really great band live, Right? And you're like, 'wow man, that's awesome'.
You go and you actually buy the CD.
If they don't give it to you for free.
And you go home and you put it on and it sucks.
How many does that happen? Every time.
That's because somebody came in and said, 'OK, go record your guitar part'.
'And now go record your vocal'.
That's not how live music is made, that's not music.
That's puzzle. It's a different thing.
I am enduring the rent of a New York city studio in Manhattan for one reason, so that we can track a live band all together.
Make music all together. Enough with the piecemeal stuff.
It's horrible. That's good enough for Britney and Gaga.
And for everybody who makes music...
Right? So that, that would be why.
I feel very strongly about that. Could you tell? So now I'd like to... Is there any...
Violin player from Indiana, with a dry sense of humor in the room?
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Fab Dupont is a Grammy winning NYC based record producer, mixing/mastering engineer and co-founder of pureMix.net.
Fab has been playing, writing, producing and mixing music both live and in studios all over the world. He's worked in cities like Paris, Boston, Brussels, Stockholm, London and New York just to name a few.
He has his own studio called FLUX Studios in the East Village of New York City.
Fab has been nominated for Grammys 6 times, including two Latin Grammys and has received many other accolades around the world, including Victoires de la Musique, South African Music awards, Pan African Music Awards and US independent music awards.
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