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recording a Leslie

What works best for you?
Thanks Roly


Member Mon, 01/13/2003 - 04:01
I have used a variety of things,depending on the room size and sound.. but using two Sen. 441's, one at top, and one at bottom, pointing away from each other, and about 6" - 8" away with the "eq curve switch" on the mic in the "M" (standard) position gave the most honest growl and true sound of any of the dynamics.

Member Mon, 01/13/2003 - 06:52
Old school, 2 57s. 1 top, 1 bottom. Usually I'll use 3 mics. 2 lrg diaprhams & either Re20,421 or another lrge diapram for the bottom. Left top at far corner, right top next corner but still at the vents(almost like joining both ends of a 90degree angle. Not diag). Gives great doppler effect. I usually have the leslie iso. Mics at 9"-14". I keep all mics at the same distance. Keep the leslie loud if possible. If you mic too close and with lower volume you risk hearing the switching relay pop when changing leslie speeds. Without a drawing that's the best I can do.

Kurt Foster Mon, 01/13/2003 - 11:42
I don't want to start a flame war here too, but please don't use de noising on your tracks. This destroys the musicality and is a cheezo, cheat way to get a track. What did they do before computers came along? LOL! This willingness to abandon the old ways for technological solutions is just a lazy approach. Have the organ player play louder, move the mics around, call an organ repair person in to set your Leslie in good working order. There are a number of organic fixes that may be applied here. DON'T resort to this de noiseing suggestion. I have had great luck in recording Leslies with 3 mics A D112, RE 20 or a U87 on the bottom and 2 pencil sd condensers or 57's on the top. How you place the mics is dependent on how fast you want the upper rotor to move back and forth on the speakers, closer together in front makes it faster, on the sides and further back on the cabinet slows the movement down. I have also used ATM Pro 35 clip on mics (like the ones used for tom toms) clipped to the vents with great success. Don't be afraid to experiment. Fats
Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.

Nate Tschetter Tue, 01/14/2003 - 07:10

It depends what you're doing. In a dense arrangement, I tend not to mic in stereo. Sometimes a mic like a BLUE Baby Bottle about 3' from the Leslie aimed at the center of the cabinet is all you need.

In a jazz setting, you still may not want a lot of stereo information so a 57 on top and a 421 on the bottom can be nice.

When you _do_ want stereo, there are a number of ways to go. I like to stop the Leslie and move the top rotor by hand so that its facing out the back opening between center and the side of the cabinet. This is at about 4:30 (if you consider the top of the Leslie a clock). I place one mic there and then turn towards 9:30 and put the other one there. In my old 145, the rotor does not sit in the exact middle of the cabinet so its not a perfect angle but it sounds pretty darn good. Use...shit, whatever sounds good. Sometimes I use 57s, sometimes a small diaphram mic, sometimes 414s...I dunno.

In this case, if the organ is featured, I'll put a bottom mic on, if not...I generally won't.

I'll also windscreen the top mics as a fast rotor setting generates a lot of wind noise. You can even fashion a windscreen that fits in the rear top rotor opening just like the old "weaving loom and panty hose" vocal pop sheild.

Doublehelix Tue, 01/14/2003 - 11:15
This is a forum and a place for people to share different idea's with each other. How can someone learn if there is a forum bully contradicting others opinions at every turn?
Didn't Fats just share *his* opinion? There is nothing wrong with what Fats did...right or wrong, it was his opinion, and as you mention, this forum is a place to share ideas. If he disagrees with you, you take it as an affront to your credibility.

I don't see it as "bullying", but rather as presenting a contrary point of view, so in your own words:

Let each person decide what is true and not true.
How can this happen if you don't hear both sides?

If he disagrees (again, right or wrong in your or my opinion, doesn't matter), should he not voice that opinion? He even tries to explain *why* he disagrees so that:

Let each person decide what is true and not true.
Dude, you ask Fat's to chill out, I think it is you that need the "chill pill".

'nuff said.

Kurt Foster Tue, 01/14/2003 - 11:23
My haven't the past few days been interesting? I have recorded a lot of Leslie tracks without de noising. If you want to hear them just listen to any of the Kenny"Blue"Ray and Jackie Payne CDs I did that are availabe at No noise there! Just some great organ tracks by SF Bay Area keyboard great Austin De Lone. I dunno, maybe the Leslie Mix recorded need some repair? I wish this would all stop so we can get back to what's important. ...... Fats :roll:

Kurt Foster Tue, 01/14/2003 - 12:37
If I smell bullsh*t, I'm going to say I smell bullsh*t. Last time I checked this was still a country where freedom of speech is allowed. I am allowed to express my opinions. Just because I'm a mod here doesn't mean I have to take personal attacks such as the dung heap and sea monkeys things from anyone. I will respond. I will stay out of your face if possible but if you say things like you have in the past, I just can't promise that I won't say I think your wrong, misinformed or just plain full of it. You never answer directly any thing anyone asks you. This whole thing started with the business of the console question and your elitist opinion that records can only be recorded by people who have access to multi million dollar facilities. Everything you have brought to the table since then can be shot full of holes. I have tried to make peace twice and you just keep stirring the pot. I just can't help but think you have another agenda. Really, for the readers lets take this to PM or just drop it. I really am a nice guy and I'll be there are people who think you are too. Maybe we can agree to disagree and I will try to temper my responses a bit but if you say things like the 001 has Neve pre in it I'm just gonna do my best Ronald Regan impression and come out and say "There you go again". Fats

audiowkstation Tue, 01/14/2003 - 13:03
Their has been and always shall be differences in opinion. With the laws of acoustics, their is not right way or wrong way. Healthy opposing conversation will lead folks to try either or both ways and one way they will find more satisfaction in THEIR domain.

Please excuse typos, I am in a hurry things going on....

I agree that their are countless ways to go about attacking a situation and finding the best results for a certain project. I can gurantee if 10 of us were all given the same studios, zerioed out and calibrated and the same band and were asked to record the same song, their would definitly be 10 distinct different mixes and representations. I will go so far to say that the "best" tonal representation and the closest balanced mix may not have any mojo and not vibe as hard as anothers that was done artistically.

Face it folks, this is art. Art knows no boundarys. I have seen priceless (millions of dollars) paintings where the sky was green and the grass was orange. People disfigured to the point of tatal abstract, yet the painting is worth millions is has worldwide acceptance as a grand masterpiece. IS it accurate? Hell no. Is it appreciated, yes!

Now in technical recording, mixing and mastering, I also believe in art but I also feel their is an established goal to achieve in getting there which is simply, to work best on all systems from the 5 dollar walkman to the 1 million dollar home theater. If it were not for the varibles of abstract and these laws of normality needing to be set forth, all mastering engineers would go out of business within the scale of being able to run their facilitys with no income. I guess I am passionant about calibration and using certain guidlines to help the engineer that has NOT see thousands of hours of production or has not had the oppurtunity to work a large format fully automated console like a VR60 or a G+. Can the small scale engineer in their bedroom get SSL or NEVE results? They with a hell of a lot of tutoring, fine tuning their system, speanding more money on wire, mics, and acoustics and calibration AND having a mastering engineer that has the ability to undo the warts or take a 2+2 masters and remix and edit the vocals can come damn close if in some ways, better. The last large scale facility I ran had at least 500 feet of cable between the 2-bus out and the power amps and at least that much to the speakers. 4 million dollar studio and they had the amps out in a showcase in the lobby to look cool with a huge crt right above them with video of the session. First week, I snatched them out and located them in the control room and improved the entire system 5 fold. The I noticed the westlake BBSM 10's had an out of phase pair of midranges. I unsoldered them and resoldered them and got the speakers to balance. Then I purchased 21 thosand dollars worth of lumber and acoustic material and changes the shape of the room and threw some drapes over all those huge assed windows all over the place. I got rid of all the florescent lighting and installed incandecent. I got some Gel film to dim them (no light dimmers allowed folks) and the place started really having some mojo. The producer there hated the NS10's and they were under the desk. He has some small PB6.5 Tannoys on the meter bridge and I could not handle THAT particulars speakers ability to spit highs out the tweeters like squeesing watermelon seeds and the dime sized cymbels. The hooty bass they had from the rear ports. I put the NS's on the bridge and brought up a mix. I got the uglyness out of the sound (it was not tracked by me) and started folding in the 46 tracks of music starting with kick and bass, then going to the whole note midrange and then the snare and overheads...bumping the bass up a little to fill, then adding instruments and capping the instrumental off to bus 1/2 in subgroup. Then the vocals, then the mix. Full automation and I was doing it old school, (of course I had to fix some of the bad tracking prior) but the producer came in and said, damn those westlakes sound killer and I said, that is the NS10's and he turned green right there and said they have never sounded that good. I actually had to do some tweaking to the westlakes to tighten up the bass as clear and clean and punchy as I had it on the tens.

What I am saying is that sometimes you just got to break a leg. Try something new, look at everyones input, decide what is practical for you and experiment. Unfortunantly, professionals cannot take time to experiment on the clock, just when you are off the clock. Helps to be a cheif engineer so you can go in and do what you want to do. I have seen damn near everything you could imagine and I still learn to this day. I will say this, at no time have I ever heard the variation in freqency balance and dynamic integrety between projects I get to master that I have heard in the last 5 years. And this is coming from the majors. This is due to lack of standards and protocol but you know what? I can make it right, I just have to work alot harder and deal with people that have an open mind.

Check out the track in streaming and hear a damn good production or two. Many were made on small systems and they just took the time to listen and learn. Try new things, trust what people are saying and make mistakes when misinformed. Then they have it. No one ever learns anything without making some mistakes along the way. And no one can tell me I am flat wrong on something that has been proven by professionals over a 45 year span...but I will say someone can show me improvements on the basic concept. It is relative, not absolute. All of it is.

One day though, I fully expect the mainstream recordings that I think suck profusely go down as classics compared to some of the crap that will be done "in the name of art" 10 years from now. Perhaps then, I will release the armpit fart recordings and have a least I have the concept copywritten so if someone steals it, I still make money.

audiowkstation Tue, 01/14/2003 - 13:42
Damn DH, I thought I had a good post!!!

Damn damn.. (repeat of C. LLoyd (the professor of back to the future 1)

Lets just have fun folks. I understand being passionant about all of this, I get my hackle up as well but one thing we DO practice on RO is to take emotions to the private messaging system. Posting this publically makes everyone look like a shit head.

I degress into a master tape from Bob james (at 112dB peaks)

audiowkstation Tue, 01/14/2003 - 14:09
Ja...every once in a while, I will take the big assed amp up to the peak lights blink to blow the dust out of the woofers. ja, the bass kicked my ass..I am slightly dizzy..but you got to redline the monstor from time to time. Keeps it healthy..but for the ears sake, I was protected, I just wanted to feel the bone crushing bass ...been a while. Good for the speakers to make them move once in a while too. At 100dB on bottom, I cannot see any cone motion at all. I got them to do a good 3/8inch (3/16 half wave) motion on that. If I had more wattage (greater than 1000 per channel) I could get them to do 15/16ths, their limit.

Nate Tschetter Wed, 01/15/2003 - 07:03
Hi Mix

I have never denoised my Leslie. I might mute it in a quiet passage but the noise doesn't really bother me. PSometimes its a CREAKY old thang but I really never thought of it as a problem. Mine doesn't really hiss too badly, no more than a guitar amp. It does hum like a mofo but that's because its unbalanced and my cable is about 100' long.

The swith does indeed control the speed but if you put the mics closer together, the stereo image will be "thinner" because the mics are closer. I'd really like to wire in a "brake" switch on my B.

I have a "Cosmic Preamp" for my Leslie. It has two inputs, each with gain and a footswitch to toggle the slow/fast motor.

Having not done it, I guess that changing tubes would make as much of a difference as it would on other tube devices. This might be something I give a try before my next organ session.

Kurt Foster Wed, 01/15/2003 - 08:02
I think have discovered where the difference of opinion we have here regarding the Leslie and the "denoising" thing lies. On my side of the fence we call what you're talking about, noise gating or as you mentioned in your post "downward expansion". That's what gave me the clue. I have always understood de noising as a computer program like Sonic Solutions, and yes, that does degrade the sound according to how much processing is used and no, I would never do that when I was tracking. An unfortunate misunderstanding on both of our parts. That being said, yes I would use a gate or expander on any noisy source. A lot of recordist don't like to do this but hey, I like to live dangerously.

Thank you for your nice comments in your last post. I am a very opinionated person and I will continue to use it if I wish but please understand, it's just my opinion. I think a lot of readers enjoy this about me. At least that is the feedback I receive. I try to never make it a personal thing ... unless I loose it which I admit I can once in a while. I am really sorry about the choking you thing. That was personal and over the line. I don't want to keep churning the butter so I hope this can be the last of it. xxxxx's Fats

Nate Tschetter Wed, 01/15/2003 - 12:20
Hi Mix

I guess one reason I typically don't expand is that I'm all over the volume pedal when I play. When I've tried in the past to expand that out, I was really pumping the expander so now I tend to do "manual expansion" riding a fader or muting.

But I must try out the new tubes in the about in the organ itself?

Kurt Foster Wed, 01/15/2003 - 13:16

The switch does indeed control the speed but if you put the mics closer together, the stereo image will be "thinner" because the mics are closer.
By placing the mics closer together, the time it takes for the rotor horn to travel from the left mic to the right mic is reduced. This is simple physics. Shorter distance, faster time. It will not affect the stereo spread. If you pan hard left and right in either scenario you will achive the same image spread. Now to the gate / expanders ..... There are two different pieces of gear that are termed an expander. One is the type which you just described. Sort of a compressor in reverse. The other is really just a noise gate that attenuates rather than entirely cutting off the signal. The Drawmer (sounds like a broken record doesn't it?) 404's and 202's do this as do some of the Symmetrics pieces. The Drawmers have a 90 dB /20 dB switch where the Symmetrics actually allow you to dial in the amount of reduction below threshold. I use this kind of expansion on a Leslie, noisy guitars and even vocals. The reason I favor the Drawmers is in addition to the 90 /20 dB feature they have a cool hi pass and lo pass filter that really lets you zero in on a particular range of the audio to trigger the gate. It doesn't affect the audio signal just the detector circut. Frequency dependent gating / expansion. Try the Drawmers, you'll love 'em. If you can't get either of these another technique would be to mult the signal to 2 channels on the console and gate one of them. Once the gate is tuned in you can bring up the ungated channel so there is always some signal present but attenuated down until the gate opens. Fats
Tannoys, Dynaudio, Blue Sky, JBL, Earthworks, Westlake, NS 10's :D ,Genelec, Hafler, KRK.
Those are good. …………………….. Pick one.

SonOfSmawg Wed, 01/15/2003 - 14:14
Hiya Guys! Nice war! Glad that's over...
Just thought I'd comment about what I know about in this thread ... tubes. No matter if you're talking about a Leslie, an organ, a guitar amp, or your Gramma's old radio in the den, changing tubes makes a world of difference. Ummm but that's not always a good thing. Sometimes an old set of tubes takes on their own "aged" characteristics that can be desireable. Then again, sometimes they just become noisy, hot, and sound like dung.
When you decide to replace tubes, in anything, keep in mind that tubes made by different manufacturers have been manufactured in very different ways, by different design. In something like a Leslie or an organ, it would be very wise to speak with people who have tried different tubes in their units, and see which worked best for them, and why.
Some guitarist keep two or more different sets of tubes around, to change when they want a slightly different sound. Perhaps (?) some organists do the same thing.