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I supppse I'm belaboring the obvious, but what a joy it is to work with true professionals in the studio.
All of the musicians on this current project I'm working on are all top notch. They show up on time, are prepared, and are enthusiastic about being there. There are no "rock stars" in the room. No egos, no selfish playing. Their playing is tasteful, dynamic, and geared towards the songs.
RO's very own Dave Hawk (dvdhawk ) has been an absolute God-send. I couldn't have asked for a finer co-engineer. Actually, he's a better engineer than I am, and because he is, it frees me up to wear the producer's hat more. Having total confidence in him is a wonderful safety net to have. I may worry about a horn arrangement, or a bass or guitar part, but I never worry about him or what he's doing. He is absolutely stellar at capture.
So many times over the years, I've had to work with egomaniacs and selfish players, people who could barely tune their instruments, those that were always screaming about being turned up in the mix...anyone who has ever owned their own studio on the mid level knows that you take whoever walks through the door with the cash, and that the majority of your clients pretty much suck. There are exceptions, of course, but in my own experience, true cats were pretty rare, and the opposite was far more common.
I am so lucky in this project, that everyone involved are such professionals.

Anyway... just felt like saying that. ;)

Comments

DonnyThompson Fri, 08/04/2017 - 11:32

pcrecord, post: 451820, member: 46460 wrote: The bests artists are those who stay humble. They worked hard, know their craft and they don't loose energy in justifications.
I worked with a few of those and it was a blessing. Everyone grows around them instead of being drained to madness.
Glad you enjoy your project Donny !!

You brought up a great point, Marco... that great players spark other great players, they lift each other up. Not in a competitive way, or by trying to impress anyone, but in a way that inspires, in a way that nurtures creativity.
;)

kmetal Sun, 08/06/2017 - 19:17

Great players make the engineers job just easy! Any of the times I've been lucky enough to record professional mucisians, the songs just seem to mix themselves. That was one of my first 'aha' moments when I started working at the studios.

As an aside, it also bring things into perspective when theirs engineers who brag, ect, about how good or sucessfull, they are or whatever. It's like 'bro, you pressed the red button well, get over it'. This isn't to say great records don't take a ton of work on the production side, but we all know theirs a level where the mucians, studio, and arrangements, are all top notch, leaving a little bit of glad handing to the engineer. The classic recipe for success.

I'm happy for you guys (D, Hawk, and company) that your project is flowing well. Let me know when it's done and I'll purchase a copy. It's cool that your having a fun time on this one fellas, we all know not every project is necessarily like that.

dvdhawk Sun, 08/06/2017 - 23:21

Yesterday was another one of those sessions Kyle, just take the time to put the right mics in the right place and push REC.

The combination of musicianship and tones on these basic tracks [ drums, bass, keys, rhythm guitar ] will take almost zero effort (or EQ) to mix. It was tracked without a hint of compress or EQ, other than the appropriate variable HPF. The tones were exactly where I would have wanted them to be.

In case anybody cares - this week it was:

Kick: Audix D6
Snare: Heil PR22
HiHat: AKG C451b
Rack Tom 1: Sennheiser e604
Rack Tom 2: Sennheiser e604
Floor Tom: Audix D4
2x OH in X/Y: Shure SM81
Under Ride Cymbal: Heil PR31BW
Bass: Avalon U5
Keys: Stereo Rapco DI
E. Guitar: SM57 (near)
E. Guitar: MXL Ribbon (@4ft) Donny would have to provide the model number

Previous sessions there were a variety of combinations on the guitars, including Sennheiser MD409 and Shure KSM313 on electric, and one or two C414XLS on the acoustic.

Just add good musicians, press record, and let simmer for 30 minutes.

dvdhawk Mon, 08/07/2017 - 09:40

Davedog, post: 451862, member: 4495 wrote: WOW an actual PR 31 in operation. I almost bought a couple of those. I'm just not doing enough live sound to justify it and my studio kit has it's ears already set.

They would be perfectly at home in your studio mic locker, Dave. They are a beautiful sounding, extremely versatile little mic. I have 2 of them and I like using one under the ride, because I hate it when the ride gets buried by the rest of the kit in the overheads. The PR31s are compact, very directional, and have all the best traits of a high-end large dynamic. The sound is crystal clear and silky smooth, without the hyper-sensitivity and bleed of a SDC in close quarters on a drum kit. And they are perfectly suited for vocal / voice-over / radio broadcast, drums, guitar, horns, - really just about anything. Kind of a super compact version of an RE20 or MD441.

And if anyone was thinking this was a total shill-job advertisement for Heil mics... Nope, I'm not a Heil dealer, just a fan.

kmetal Tue, 08/08/2017 - 03:10

dvdhawk, post: 451855, member: 36047 wrote: Yesterday was another one of those sessions Kyle, just take the time to put the right mics in the right place and push REC.

The combination of musicianship and tones on these basic tracks [ drums, bass, keys, rhythm guitar ] will take almost zero effort (or EQ) to mix. It was tracked without a hint of compress or EQ, other than the appropriate variable HPF. The tones were exactly where I would have wanted them to be.

In case anybody cares - this week it was:

Kick: Audix D6
Snare: Heil PR22
HiHat: AKG C451b
Rack Tom 1: Sennheiser e604
Rack Tom 2: Sennheiser e604
Floor Tom: Audix D4
2x OH in X/Y: Shure SM81
Under Ride Cymbal: Heil PR31BW
Bass: Avalon U5
Keys: Stereo Rapco DI
E. Guitar: SM57 (near)
E. Guitar: MXL Ribbon (@4ft) Donny would have to provide the model number

Previous sessions there were a variety of combinations on the guitars, including Sennheiser MD409 and Shure KSM313 on electric, and one or two C414XLS on the acoustic.

Just add good musicians, press record, and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Glad to hear it hawk. Kudos for using a mono 414xls on acoustic some of the time. That's a very authentic sound.

Love those sennys on toms if their the ones I'm thinking of, the little clip ons...??

I've personally never liked audix mics on the kicks and snares I've tried them on. As an under snare mic it's 'ok' if there's nothing else around. I think I'm the minority in this case. Many engineers I know like and do well with audix.

I say this in a friendly way, lol rapco d.i??? Really? DW fearns offering is a big time luxury, but a countryman or radial are within the realm of mortals and maybe something closer to the level of these mucisians experience and gear? What keyboard(s) were you tracking?

It's not like I don't and haven't used whirlwind and rapco I myself at the studio for di, with decent results, but I always felt it wasn't truly meant for that.

Mxl ribbon??? Super interested in a budget ribbon. I was leaning toward a cascade fat head. My RO buddy ChrisH recently suggested shiny box as a good choice for budget ribbon, citing engineer Matt Bayles using it on a mastodon record. Curious how you guys like the mxl since you used it precisely how I had it in mind, few feet of the cab w a 57.

DonnyThompson Tue, 08/08/2017 - 07:38

Davedog, dvdhawk pcrecord kmetal audiokid Boswell Kurt Foster

The MXL Ribbon mic we used as a companion to the dynamic mic on the Vox guitar amp is a model 866.
Yup, it's a cheapie, certainly not a Royer, but it's great at capturing very smooth mids on a guitar amp, not at all brittle or harsh, with nice warm lows as well. We've got a 57 in-tight on the speaker, and the 866 is backed off about 2', on-axis, with the "front" of the mic facing the amp.
On the most recent session, the drummer brought his Craviotto Snare - an incredible sounding Snare... instant tone. We didn't have to do anything to it at all, other than using an HPF on the channel-in. (Dave would be the one to tell you which corner frequency he had the HPF set for).
One of the things Dave is using on the kit, is a direct mic on the HH. To be honest, I rarely ever used a direct mic for the hat. I could probably count the number of times over 36 year of drum kit recording on one hand. LOL
Instead, I'd usually rely on the OH's to grab it - but I wouldn't change a thing that Dave is doing, because these tracks sound great. These are gonna be so much fun to mix... working with tracks that sound so good from the get-go...great tones, great feeling and groove, awesome dynamics... I'm really looking forward to that stage of the project.
I've been over-the-moon happy with the way these tracking sessions have been going, and the tones (and performances) that we are getting. ;)

-d

kmetal Tue, 08/08/2017 - 09:42

DonnyThompson, post: 451895, member: 46114 wrote: Davedog, dvdhawk pcrecord kmetal audiokid Boswell Kurt Foster

The MXL Ribbon mic we used as a companion to the dynamic mic on the Vox guitar amp is a model 866.
Yup, it's a cheapie, certainly not a Royer, but it's great at capturing very smooth mids on a guitar amp, not at all brittle or harsh, with nice warm lows as well. We've got a 57 in-tight on the speaker, and the 866 is backed off about 2', on-axis, with the "front" of the mic facing the amp.
On the most recent session, the drummer brought his Craviotto Snare - an incredible sounding Snare... instant tone. We didn't have to do anything to it at all, other than using an HPF on the channel-in. (Dave would be the one to tell you which corner frequency he had the HPF set for).
One of the things Dave is using on the kit, is a direct mic on the HH. To be honest, I rarely ever used a direct mic for the hat. I could probably count the number of times over 36 year of drum kit recording on one hand. LOL
Instead, I'd usually rely on the OH's to grab it - but I wouldn't change a thing that Dave is doing, because these tracks sound great. These are gonna be so much fun to mix... working with tracks that sound so good from the get-go...great tones, great feeling and groove, awesome dynamics... I'm really looking forward to that stage of the project.
I've been over-the-moon happy with the way these tracking sessions have been going, and the tones (and performances) that we are getting. ;)

-d

Excellent! I'm thrilled as I am surprised that the mxl isn't harsh or brittle. Obviously I know you guys are skilled, so I figured you used it cuz it sounded good/pleasing. It's certainly an impressive price point for a ribbon mic as well, I'm assuming it's the mxl R144?

I always use a hi hat mic for tracking and may or may not use it for the mic. Usually overheads have more than enough cymbals for me.

Drummagog actually has dynamic tracking for hi hat tracks, so you can replace a sloshy hi hat, with a multi sample set of your choosing. It even detects open and closed hats.

I can't say how well it works yet since the DG/BFD software isn't installed on my new rig yet. I would imagine it depends significantly on the player/editing whether or not it's useful.

I've never even heard of a Cravattio snare, seems like something we all need to hear.... in due time I'm sure we will all be cranking up you/daves recordings in our own spots when it's all done.

It's fun following this project start to finished, as a vicarious engineer!

dvdhawk Tue, 08/08/2017 - 11:15

Kyle, I get the Rapco question, but don't be snob. There's usually nothing wrong with a basic IMP or Rapco DI. They are generic, unremarkable transformers, and sometimes generic is just fine. I have plenty of other choices, but I'm not hauling everything I own to Ohio. I had a full truckload as it was, I'm not loading up a trailer too. And off the top of my head, I have a Countryman Type 85 (or two), a Radial JDI, 2 more Avalon U5, a Sebatron VMP-2000 dual channel tube pre that would all do the job nicely. The DIs would be more honest, the Avalon and Sebatron would be adding and printing more color - which isn't my decision to make. And in this case it's probably a moot point anyway.

We're recording the MIDI data along with the analog audio, going in with every intention of using the Native Instruments B4 in the final mix instead of the B3 sound generated by the keyboard itself, and so on. So in the end, the generic DI is mostly for monitoring purposes. And if it weren't, I'd still be OK with it. These are guitar-driven grown-up pop rock songs. If someone comes in to do some epic keyboard suite, it will make more sense to dig deeper into the analog keyboard lines.

There's no accounting for taste on the Audix mics, you know it's always a combination of how good or bad the drums sound, relative to the style of music you're recording, and then you can decide whether it's the right mic for the job. You can't take a drumkit tuned for modern country and do hip-hop with it, you aren't going to get a satisfying metal recording with a kit tuned for jazz.

As for micing the hi-hat, I appreciate good hi-hat and ride technique and that often gets lost in the overheads in a rock mix. A good drummer can get a dozen different sounds out of single ride cymbal depending on where they hit it, and what part of the stick they use. The snare usually dominates the OH, so I like to put a mic on the hats, and the ride(s) so I can hear the drummer pedal the hi-hat when he's not hitting it with a stick, and the detail of the ride cymbal. At mixdown I'd set the OH levels first to compliment the close mics on the kick and snare to establish the core of the kit, and just mix in enough of the brass to get some detail back. From 4ft - 5ft away you don't get the distinct attack of that nylon tip hitting the top of the hat in overheads awash with every other sound the kit is making all at once. If it turns out you don't need it, don't use it.

That's what I like to do, and again, there's no accounting for taste. That won't be how everybody wants to do it. For better or worse, I usually have a pretty good idea what I'm looking for before I pick the mics, based on the type of song, and all I can tell you is the combination of drummer and drumkit we tracked over the weekend isn't going to need much of anything to mix. The previous session where we were going for more of a Motown vibe, the drummer brought the absolute perfect vintage Ludwig kit for that, and the resulting tracks (in my opinion) are exactly as they should be - modern sounding, but still true to the Motown feel Donny was shooting for.

kmetal Tue, 08/08/2017 - 23:44

dvdhawk, post: 451913, member: 36047 wrote: Kyle, I get the Rapco question, but don't be snob. There's usually nothing wrong with a basic IMP or Rapco DI. They are generic, unremarkable transformers, and sometimes generic is just fine. I have plenty of other choices, but I'm not hauling everything I own to Ohio. I had a full truckload as it was, I'm not loading up a trailer too. And off the top of my head, I have a Countryman Type 85 (or two), a Radial JDI, 2 more Avalon U5, a Sebatron VMP-2000 dual channel tube pre that would all do the job nicely. The DIs would be more honest, the Avalon and Sebatron would be adding and printing more color - which isn't my decision to make. And in this case it's probably a moot point anyway.

We're recording the MIDI data along with the analog audio, going in with every intention of using the Native Instruments B4 in the final mix instead of the B3 sound generated by the keyboard itself, and so on. So in the end, the generic DI is mostly for monitoring purposes. And if it weren't, I'd still be OK with it. These are guitar-driven grown-up pop rock songs. If someone comes in to do some epic keyboard suite, it will make more sense to dig deeper into the analog keyboard lines.

There's no accounting for taste on the Audix mics, you know it's always a combination of how good or bad the drums sound, relative to the style of music you're recording, and then you can decide whether it's the right mic for the job. You can't take a drumkit tuned for modern country and do hip-hop with it, you aren't going to get a satisfying metal recording with a kit tuned for jazz.

As for micing the hi-hat, I appreciate good hi-hat and ride technique and that often gets lost in the overheads in a rock mix. A good drummer can get a dozen different sounds out of single ride cymbal depending on where they hit it, and what part of the stick they use. The snare usually dominates the OH, so I like to put a mic on the hats, and the ride(s) so I can hear the drummer pedal the hi-hat when he's not hitting it with a stick, and the detail of the ride cymbal. At mixdown I'd set the OH levels first to compliment the close mics on the kick and snare to establish the core of the kit, and just mix in enough of the brass to get some detail back. From 4ft - 5ft away you don't get the distinct attack of that nylon tip hitting the top of the hat in overheads awash with every other sound the kit is making all at once. If it turns out you don't need it, don't use it.

That's what I like to do, and again, there's no accounting for taste. That won't be how everybody wants to do it. For better or worse, I usually have a pretty good idea what I'm looking for before I pick the mics, based on the type of song, and all I can tell you is the combination of drummer and drumkit we tracked over the weekend isn't going to need much of anything to mix. The previous session where we were going for more of a Motown vibe, the drummer brought the absolute perfect vintage Ludwig kit for that, and the resulting tracks (in my opinion) are exactly as they should be - modern sounding, but still true to the Motown feel Donny was shooting for.

lol I'm totally a snob, and considering I don't own a DI and never have, also a hypocrite too. Looks like you've got a nice collection of DI, with plenty of options covered. Ive just used the di on my pre amp or interface at home, and in the studios too. I'll pretty much use the DI box for similar applications like you did on this one. I'm so sick of hauling gear around, I've been designing a completely remotely acessable system so ideally I bring nothing but a tablet or phone, or use the clients computer/speakers to tap into mine remotely. Lol so we can add lazy to the list too. ;)

I also like to mic the ride and hat. It's very minimal ("extra") set up time and it can be worth it. Some metal drummers are good at polyrhythms, and really do some intricate work on the ride and hat (to a lesser extent), that would get lost without a mic. There's always the mute button and delete key if all or some of the the track is not needed.

This project is cool that your using different drum sounds. Even better that your using different kits rather than just swithing samples.

I think a lot of people, at least around the studio, overlook the value of tracking the midi data for keys along w the di/amp. It's something I definately do. Like dr dre says, id rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. That lyric was referring to a baretta I belive in the song, but I use that logic for a lot of things.

I agree there's no accounting for taste, which is what keeps engineering interesting and artistic. My tastes seem to evolve over time. Boredom inspires new things, and like you said each kit or source requires unique consideration.

DonnyThompson Wed, 08/09/2017 - 03:44

kmetal, post: 451907, member: 37533 wrote: Excellent! I'm thrilled as I am surprised that the mxl isn't harsh or brittle. Obviously I know you guys are skilled, so I figured you used it cuz it sounded good/pleasing. It's certainly an impressive price point for a ribbon mic as well, I'm assuming it's the mxl R144?

It's an MXL 866.
I've been known to be a gear snob myself, but I've also used what I've had available, too, and I wouldn't hold up any project just because I didn't have a rack of Neve or API pres, or other uber hi dollar gear. Besides, with Dave's incredible collection of gear, mixed with what I have, we're certainly not hurting for quality.
As he mentioned, we are recording the keys to audio tracks strictly for cue purposes. We are recording the midi data at the same time so that we have options during the mix. I can assure you that the DIs we are using would be absolutely fine if we chose to use the original audio.
While gear does count, so does the performance quality, having cats who know how to get great tones at the source is vitally important. We've had several drum kits in to record different songs with, along with different players, and having that variety has made a big difference too. It's going to alleviate the risk of having all the tracks having the same sonic signature. :)

kmetal Wed, 08/09/2017 - 13:12

DonnyThompson, post: 451926, member: 46114 wrote: It's an MXL 866.
I've been known to be a gear snob myself, but I've also used what I've had available, too, and I wouldn't hold up any project just because I didn't have a rack of Neve or API pres, or other uber hi dollar gear. Besides, with Dave's incredible collection of gear, mixed with what I have, we're certainly not hurting for quality.
As he mentioned, we are recording the keys to audio tracks strictly for cue purposes. We are recording the midi data at the same time so that we have options during the mix. I can assure you that the DIs we are using would be absolutely fine if we chose to use the original audio.
While gear does count, so does the performance quality, having cats who know how to get great tones at the source is vitally important. We've had several drum kits in to record different songs with, along with different players, and having that variety has made a big difference too. It's going to alleviate the risk of having all the tracks having the same sonic signature. :)

Excellent!

I'm glad you guys are choosing your sounds on a per song or songs, basis. That's a cool artistic choice to have. It's one area where one man bands / basic home recording setups fall short. The ability to tune and choose instruments appropriate for the song is vastly overlooked.

The Adele 21 album has 3-4 distinct sounds/setups/mixes among its 12 or so songs. That's one of the more blantent examples that come to mind.

This isn't to say that it's necessary in every case. Metallica's black album has a consistent sound throughout, and sounds like the band playing through a set in a nice room with a fantastic mix.

The cool thing about you guys's project is its a creative choice that you guys are both smart/exerienced enough to use, and do it well, and you have the appropriate facilities to do that as far as gear/rooms.

kmetal Wed, 08/09/2017 - 13:30

Hey, I just googled the mxl 866, and nothing came up.... is it only part of a kit or discontinued? If it's part of the kit, do you happen to remember the kit model??

The R144, R80, R77, are the only that poped up? Maybe I am missing something?

As an aside, this R144 doesn't seem to be to shabby in general, and especially at the 99$ price point. I'd probably hpf these examples but ya know it's YouTube, and it's always easy to mentally re-mix some else's work, not always so easy when in the drivers seat. Vocals wouldn't be the main place I'd expect to use one anyway, but it does a good job. I'd take it any day over the mxl LDC's I've used at the same price.

The male vocal track actually kinda reminds me of D's style of production / songwriting, except Donny does it better :)

This is a useful demo of the R40, which is 150$. Thing sounds pretty good to me on the clean channel, don't care for it by itself on the overdrive channel.. I would imagine pairing both the R40 and 57 would fare pretty well in general for clean or dirty.

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