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Tips for a newbie, taking on a large project on SSL console

Discussion in 'Recording' started by jaseyjas, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. jaseyjas

    jaseyjas Guest

    ok ok, i know many will read this, and may have mixed onions.

    Heres the overview.

    I am a composer, looking to get more involved with engineering. I know some basics, nothing crazy, so bear with me. my friend is an excellent guitar player, and needs me to record two tracks for him, with a bass player, and drummer. we have studio time, and it will be on an ssl board (dont know the model or input yet, hes arranging). My other buddy is coming with (who knows engineering, but just to guide me, i want to do as much as possible to learn).. Obviously though, i don't want to come off as a newbie. Im pretty quick, and am sure I will be fine by the end of the night, but i want to avoid as many bumps as possible, and not prolong anything since these are PRO musicians. (im talking REALLY good).

    Luckily my friend will be there for help...

    but, any tips of advice, or things i should find out before recording (days, minutes) in advance. Or other tips i should know before going in there. Like, what to make sure the studio has, etc. I think i will be ok on mics for the drum set.

    My current game plan:

    Drums:
    Planning on using around 10 mics for the drums (a bunch of sm57s, stereo large condenser overhead, these will be either stereo k2's or stereo akg 414's) (I have never recorded drums before)

    Guitar:
    3 mics total on a fender tube amp,
    this will be a sm57 on one speaker (3 inches away), and about a foot away (x/y patter with two large condensers (either two k2's, or two akg 414's).
    ( I have used this set up with the k2's before and got a good sound, but didnt know if i should be using k2's on drum over heads instead)

    Bass:
    direct input through a line 6 bass pod, and also mic the amp with a bass drum mic.
    (I have never recorded bass before)

    ---------
    thats about as much as i have down right now, im sure im missing some important things, since ive never tracked a full song in a legit studio, nor on an ssl console, only neve 60 track.

    The Studio time is booked for this coming Monday at 9:00pm

    i appreciate any help.

    thanks,
    Jason
     
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Well jaseyjas, it sounds as though you have already put some good preproduction thought into this. Bravo!

    While you said you have not recorded much of anything before, you did mention something about a 60 input Neve? So you have been up against these monster mixers before? In that respect, and SSL should pose no surprises. But, without a house engineer, if you've not had hands on time, you may spend more time trying to figure out how to get sound through the console to the speakers much less to the recorder. I can't quite believe that a studio with and SSL would let you run amok in their control room never having been checked out in it before? So I'm going to assume that they will include the studio engineer.

    Now on to your concept recording.

    Everything that you have mentioned sounds to me to be sounding good. I've not used a K2 on drum overheads either. Might be nice? I've generally used 414's or SM 81's, typically. But a studio that has an SSL generally has a nice microphone locker as well. That is, unless it's one of these newer bedroom SSL consoles?? You mentioned jazz and for jazz drums SM57's will work well. A more interesting sound can be obtained utilizing the Sennheiser MD421 on the drums in place of the SM57's. Bigger fatter deeper is what you'll get from those. Great on rock-and-roll. I like them in the bass drum better than most bass drum microphones and they can really take the SPL's better than most.

    Otherwise, for a tracking session, it sounds like you have everything covered. So nice to hear somebody who has put this kind of thought into this challenging new project. I know you'll do wonderfully.

    So right now, I'll share a recent SSL story with everybody.

    I worked for a short while with Bob Clearmountain, when I was at Media Sound in NYC in the late seventies. So, here I am talking to my friend Bruce Kane, of Sterling Productions, in Sterling, Virginia, who used to be one of Rick James' engineers. I told him I thought I had heard that Bob Clearmountain was still working on an SSL 4000. Bruce looked at me and said " no, he's probably working on an 9000." I said "I didn't think so?" So when I was at the AES show, I bumped into Bob as I have over the years. I asked him about that. He said he definitely is still working on his SSL 4000 console that he has in his studio. And then he said to me ".... And I have all series E equalizers in it. You know, the ones everybody hates. I love them. I can't use the G series equalizers. You twist the knobs back and forth and you don't hear much change...." But then I said to him "when we were at Media Sound, there was the Harrison, the 2 Neve's and the API." He said, " yeah, I never used the Harrison much. I liked the 2 Neve's but that API.... I just could never get the microphone preamps to give me what I wanted. Couldn't get my sound out of those things. Can't stand them." So I asked him since I didn't think the SSL 4000 microphone preamps was all that good, was he really using that thing? He said "yeah and I have this older Apogee converter with a built-in microphone preamp that I like. Who would have ever thought, that the company that makes one of the best converters would make a decent sounding microphone preamp that nobody ever knew about? So, I use that for a lot of overdubs when not using the SSL preamps." Isn't that something!

    This just proves that no matter how great a piece of equipment is or has the reputation of, no matter how great the engineer may be, this is all totally and personally subjective, based on experience and technique. If Bob Clearmountain can't get a good sound from API microphone preamp's, I guess they're not worth using? Right?....Or are they? One of the greatest preamps ever made. But not according to Bob. So for those of you that cannot afford the best, just know that a handful of RadioShack dynamic microphones and a Beringer mixer can still yield a hit based upon your engineering expertise and not the equipment.

    Former maintenance engineer@Media Sound late seventies
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  3. TVPostSound

    TVPostSound Guest

    And a decent SSL studio should come with a second engineer to help you.
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    And maybe even a third???

    Fifth wheel
    Ms. Remy Ann David
     
  5. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    My advice would be to maybe mention your ideas to the pros, but don't get too attached to your proposed methods. If you have no experience with the rooms and equipment in that place, or little with recording and mic'ing techniques, listen carefully and gracefully accept what might be why you should do something a different way, or with different mics, etc.

    If you are sitting in on the tracking and hearing something that bothers you, by all means mention it, and try to explain. They will probably be much more likely to identify, explain and remedy something more quickly if you explain it well. If they hear something they don't like, ask them to briefly explain what it is, and how they intend to deal with it.

    Basically, the last thing you want to do is to go in all hard-headed with your notions and cause friction....not that it sounds like that is your intent.

    Listen and learn. Anyone can claim to be an audio engineer because they know what all the cute little knobs and buttons do on all that stuff, but it's what you DO with all those controls...and everything going through them...that makes the difference. When you think about it, in the end, your pro buddy will probably REALLY be doing the mixing and things...you'll just be receiving the signals from him to guide your hands on the board. That's not a bad thing, as long as you listen carefully and absorb.

    Consult your pro buddy beforehand about your ideas. He may suggest to you why only two mics may be better on guitar than three, for example. (I don't know that to be true in your case...just an example). Of course, if you've got the time to experiment in the studio, then nothing wrong with experimenting...if you've got the time that someone is paying for. Basically, talk to the people running the studio beforehand. They may suggest something different. They know what they have, and what usually sounds good, and probably know what outside items they can incorporate well.

    You don't want to appear inexperienced, yet you say you are. The most mature thing, the wise thing, would be to keep relatively quiet, stay business-like, and listen carefully to learn. Nothing exposes inexperience more quickly than someone with preconceived, but non-experienced, notions spouting off about things they barely know. You may impress people more by being a quick study, and not denying your inexperience if brought up. I know I'm more impressed with people who learn quickly, allow themselves to shed preconceptions, and admit mistakes, than I am with people who "know it all". I sure as heck don't know it all, and I prove it all the time :roll: And for gosh-sake, if there's a Phil Spector-type side of you just itching to expose himself, hold him inside at least until you're washed-up and senile, also! :twisted:

    So, no real technical advice here...just some practical advice.

    Have fun, and good luck.

    Kapt.Krunch
     
  6. jaseyjas

    jaseyjas Guest

    Thanks for such a great response!
     
  7. jaseyjas

    jaseyjas Guest

    indeed, there will be a pro engineer there.
     
  8. jaseyjas

    jaseyjas Guest

    Thanks for much for the input, i really appreciate it!
     
  9. natural

    natural Active Member

    This might be helpful

    http://www.solid-state-logic.com/resources/manuals/console_doc.html
     
  10. jaseyjas

    jaseyjas Guest

    Ohh, indeed. thank you
     
  11. jaseyjas

    jaseyjas Guest

    Soooo, i did the recording yesterday. things got switched around and i ended up tracking on a 60 neve. thank you for everyones help. I will post a sample up soon.
     

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