Recording - October 2015 - 62
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Equipment: Windows PC with Zoom R16 and M-Audio Fast
Track interfaces, running Cakewalk SONAR X3 Producer,
Native Instruments Guitar Rig and Overloud TH2. Mics: AKG
C214 (lead vocals), Shure SM57s and Beta 58A. PreSonus
TubePre preamp used for some vocals. Behringer MS16 monitors, Bose and Sony headphones for mix checking. Fender
Stratocaster, Mustang IV amp, and Precision bass. Drums
played on Roland electronic kit, using samples chosen from
Toontrack EZdrummer, Steven Slate Drums, and XLN Audio
Music: "Promisemaker Pete" is a male vocal rock song. L.J.
did it all at his home studio.
Recording: Quite the fine one-man-band effort here overall,
although not without a few small areas that could use a little
attention. First off, kudos to L.J. for the smart, concise arrangement. He presented his ideas succinctly and built the track's
dynamics in a very musical way from start to finish. As for the
sound sources, we really loved the uber-present feel and tone
that L.J. got from his lightly distorted/heavily compressed
Fender Strat. Kind of a cross between The Cars and Tears for
Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"!
The rhythm section (while basic) provided a strong overall tracking bed. However, we did hear some slight distortion on both the
drums and the bass. We also heard a fair amount of smear on the
cymbals as the song got "heavier". In our opinion, the vocals were
a mixed bag-while the performances were totally solid, particularly on the Beatlesque backing vocals, we did notice some sibilance and proximity effect on the lead vocal, especially during the
more exposed parts at the end of the chorus sections.
Suggestions: In his gear notes, L.J. gives us a nicely detailed
description of his tools and working methods. While we know
the origin of much of his drum sound along with his bass, we
are less informed as to their treatment during the mixing
process. Our guess, and this is purely a guess, is that L.J. may
have been going for the infamous Abbey Road "smashed
RECORDING October 2015
through a Fairchild limiter" sound that was so vital to the Beatles
rhythm section during the Rubber Soul/Revolver era. If this is
indeed true, and the drum sounds are an homage, well... hats off
to you, sir! If not, we would suggest that you check for some signal path overload, either in the tracking or mixing stage.
Regarding the cymbals, while there have been huge strides
made in the sounds of software-generated cymbals, to our ears
nothing will ever truly capture them as well as a pair of wellplaced overhead microphones. Playing actual cymbals along with
the Roland drums would be a great addition to the drums here.
As for the vocals, sibilance and proximity effect simultaneously would
seem to indicate a mic position issue. Singing too closely into a large
capsule condenser mic would absolutely result in proximity issues.
Trying to EQ them away could, in turn, lead to exaggerated highfrequency presence, causing the sibilence. Nasty bit of business, eh?
Mic technique is still a crucial part of our skill set, even in the
world of Auto-Tune and sound replacement.. The old school engineers banked on it every day, and you should, too!
Summary: Strong effort, L.J.
Contact: L.J. David, firstname.lastname@example.org, ljdavid.bandcamp.com
DAW: PC with Zoom R8 interface running Steinberg Cubase
Elements 7 and iZotope Ozone 5. Mics: Audio-Technica AT2020
(vocals, kick) and AT2021 (snare, guitars). ART Pro MPA II preamp, MAudio BX5 monitors, Primacoustic VoxGuard for vocal mic isolation.
Music: "Empty Chair" is a male vocal country song, Tom did it
all in his "medium-sized basement rec room with hardwood floors
and gypsum roc walls".
Recording: Tom tells us that he wrote and recorded "Empty
Chair" as a demo for a country band that he was forming in
Vancouver. His aim was to compose and present the track as
"Classic Country".... which we assume does not mean the AutoTuned faux-'70s rock stuff that Nashville's cranking out these days.
Given these parameters, let's see how Tom fared, shall we?
Our definition of "classic country" relates to the sounds and styles
that emanated from Nashville (and to a lesser extent Bakersfield CA)
from the mid-'50s to the mid-'70s, before Urban Cowboy ruined
everything. Think Ray Price, George Jones, Lefty Frissell.
As with all genres, this one had its fingerprint sounds, and fortunately Tom has done his homework here. We hear subtle drums
with excellent cymbal clarity, a muted "acoustic" bass sound,
twangy electric guitars, and most importantly, pedal steel guitar
and vocals with gobs of reverb. Oh, and a darn fine "period"
composition to top things off.
Standouts here include the aforementioned cymbals (check out
the beautiful sound of the stick tips on the ride cymbal) along with
the rich sound on the pedal steel. We also really dug the super-tight
harmony vocals. On the flip side, the mix seemed a tad bit leftcentric, with the electric guitar solo, harmony vocal, and steel guitar all occupying the 11:00 slot in the stereo field at various times.
Suggestions: Tom did a great job overall here, creating a wellabove-average demo that gets his ideas across via some fine performances and tones. As for the mix suggestion, it could be that
Tom was striving for consistency and that is certainly his prerogative. It's also helpful to remember that many of the great recordings of yesteryear were delivered in glorious monophonic sound.
Consider that, or just center those slightly left-leaning sources, Tom!
Summary: Old school is working for us.
Contact: Tom Hammel, email@example.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - October 2015
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
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Recording - October 2015 - Cover3
Recording - October 2015 - Cover4