Recording - October 2015 - 18

3

booths for piano and upright bass, and
two smaller booths for horns and guitar.
Electric instruments such as bass guitar
and synthesizer were to be taken direct,
with the musicians placed in the main
room near the drums for easy communication. The acoustic guitar booth would
also house Drew's guitar amp. On
acoustic songs Drew would play nylon or
steel string guitar in the booth. On electric
tunes, he would sit in the live room, near the drums, and feed
his amp isolated in the booth.
Even with all the separate booths, compromises still had
to be made. While Drew originally wanted to have multiple horns performing live, I convinced him to stick to one
player at a time. The size of the horn booth was simply
too small for multiple players.
4

Choosing the mics
A key step in the preproduction process is picking mics.
Philosophically, I tend to use more mics than necessary,
embracing the luxurious high track count of modern DAW
recording. While others sometimes judge overmiking as an
inability to commit on a session, I prefer the safety of redundancy. Sure, I rarely use all of the mics when mixing, as
phase problems grow with excess mics, but I love having varied choices long after recording. Sometimes it's difficult to
know what the sonic footprint of the project will end up as,
while still on the first tracking session.
Before discussing mic choices, let me first mention that a link
to free multitrack files can be found online at the Recording
5c

5a
5b

18

RECORDING October 2015

website at http://is.gd/ OnceMoreWithNRG1 (a page in
the Recording online reference library). Please download
the files and check out what the various mics sound like.
Note, however, that all sources went through NRG's
awesome 1970s Neve 8068 console. Most microphones, certainly the drum mics, received EQ and are
not heard flat in the files. In my opinion, the whole purpose of working on a classic console is to hear it, and
I'd rather employ luscious analog EQ when tracking
than save the task for later via a digital plug-in. This
said, my EQing is fairly subtle, and the raw tracks are
pretty similar to the untreated mics. The console's EQ
was easy to hear and is not very surgical in bandwidth;
a little went a long way, and it sounded fantastic!
Kick
I initially feared the worst when learning the drummer was to bring an 18" bass drum. Jazz kicks are
often small and wimpy, more reminiscent of a rack
tom. Luckily a hole was available for miking and the drummer had
great skill in making it sound incredible.
I placed three mics on the instrument. Inside, pointing at the beater,
was a Shure Beta 91. A favorite of mine, this flat condenser boundary
mic always delivers great snap. In the hole was a Shure Beta 52, a
large diaphragm dynamic with a frequency response especially tailored for the kick. For extra redundancy, a Neumann U 47 fet was
placed a foot or two in front of the drum. Using this vintage mic was a
total treat for me, as they are rare, expensive, and offer a massive bottom end. See Figure 2 on page 16.
Leakage from cymbals was inevitable with the outside-the-drum
Shure and Neumann, so a packing blanket "tent" was built around the
two mics. A few pieces of gaff tape held the blanket to the kick, and
a couple of small mic stands propped it up.
Snare
Three mics were also employed for the snare. On the top of the drum,
pointing at the center of the head, was a Sennheiser MD 441. A supercardioid dynamic, the 441 offers a wider frequency response than the
venerable Shure SM57. While I love a 57 on rock sessions for its
midrange crack, the 441 offers the sizzlier highs and beefier lows.
Taped to the side of the Sennheiser was a Shure Beta 98 D/S. This
miniature condenser, often seen on toms, also has a supercardioid pattern, allowing it to mate nicely with the 441. The shared supercardioid
pattern allowed me to position the 441/98 combo so the hi-hat would
be in the off-axis null of both mics, thus reducing leakage.
Some readers might be unfamiliar with the old trick of taping two
mics together for the snare top (Figure 3). The purpose of this technique is to have two very different mics on the all-important snare
drum. The 98 sports the transient clarity and high end response of a
condenser, but can suffer increased leakage. The 441, in contrast,
offers dynamic mic punch and a tighter polar pattern, but its high frequency response can be cloudy compared to a condenser. Taping the
mics together, with their diaphragms as close as possible, is critical.
This ensures the phase response of both mics is matched up.
The third mic on the snare, an AKG C451, captured the drum's bottom
(Figure 4). Snare bottom mics always offer great sizzle and personality.
For this mic, I was a bit more drastic with my use of EQ, greatly filtering
the bass, scooping the mids, and adding brightness to the treble.
Toms, Hat, and Ride
Regarding toms, I lucked out when the drummer brought only two.
While I love toms, the more there are, the harder they are to record and
mix. The simple rack and floor tom setup also allowed me to use NRG's
pair of 1970s AKG C414s. These two microphones sounded excellent,
sporting vintage C12 capsules. Many types of mics work on toms, and
large-diaphragm condensers such as 414s are always a nice choice.
Another benefit with 414s is that they can be easily switched between
cardioid and supercardioid. This grants flexibility in reducing the splash
of cymbals that might be placed either to the side of, or behind, the mics.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - October 2015

Contents
Recording - October 2015 - Intro
Recording - October 2015 - Cover1
Recording - October 2015 - Cover2
Recording - October 2015 - 1
Recording - October 2015 - 2
Recording - October 2015 - 3
Recording - October 2015 - 4
Recording - October 2015 - 5
Recording - October 2015 - Contents
Recording - October 2015 - 7
Recording - October 2015 - 8
Recording - October 2015 - 9
Recording - October 2015 - 10
Recording - October 2015 - 11
Recording - October 2015 - 12
Recording - October 2015 - 13
Recording - October 2015 - 14
Recording - October 2015 - 15
Recording - October 2015 - 16
Recording - October 2015 - 17
Recording - October 2015 - 18
Recording - October 2015 - 19
Recording - October 2015 - 20
Recording - October 2015 - 21
Recording - October 2015 - 22
Recording - October 2015 - 23
Recording - October 2015 - 24
Recording - October 2015 - 25
Recording - October 2015 - 26
Recording - October 2015 - 27
Recording - October 2015 - 28
Recording - October 2015 - 29
Recording - October 2015 - 30
Recording - October 2015 - 31
Recording - October 2015 - 32
Recording - October 2015 - 33
Recording - October 2015 - 34
Recording - October 2015 - 35
Recording - October 2015 - 36
Recording - October 2015 - 37
Recording - October 2015 - 38
Recording - October 2015 - 39
Recording - October 2015 - 40
Recording - October 2015 - 41
Recording - October 2015 - 42
Recording - October 2015 - 43
Recording - October 2015 - 44
Recording - October 2015 - 45
Recording - October 2015 - 46
Recording - October 2015 - 47
Recording - October 2015 - 48
Recording - October 2015 - 49
Recording - October 2015 - 50
Recording - October 2015 - 51
Recording - October 2015 - 52
Recording - October 2015 - 53
Recording - October 2015 - 54
Recording - October 2015 - 55
Recording - October 2015 - 56
Recording - October 2015 - 57
Recording - October 2015 - 58
Recording - October 2015 - 59
Recording - October 2015 - 60
Recording - October 2015 - 61
Recording - October 2015 - 62
Recording - October 2015 - 63
Recording - October 2015 - 64
Recording - October 2015 - 65
Recording - October 2015 - 66
Recording - October 2015 - 67
Recording - October 2015 - 68
Recording - October 2015 - 69
Recording - October 2015 - 70
Recording - October 2015 - 71
Recording - October 2015 - 72
Recording - October 2015 - 73
Recording - October 2015 - 74
Recording - October 2015 - 75
Recording - October 2015 - 76
Recording - October 2015 - 77
Recording - October 2015 - 78
Recording - October 2015 - 79
Recording - October 2015 - 80
Recording - October 2015 - Cover3
Recording - October 2015 - Cover4
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