A few people have asked about how we record the Sunday Session, what mics, how many takes, software etc etc
It’s all live. One take: Often there’s no discussion about what is going to be played. Everything is recorded fairly flat, with a tweak to the tops and some roll off on the subs to eliminate rumble, especially on ribbon mics. No overdubs, no samples. With the exception of reverb, nothing is added. If it’s not necessary to the sound or adding to what’s going on, it’s deleted or EQ’d out.
Is basically a large room in an artists warehouse/living space. It’s not sound proofed, there are no baffles, no partitions, no booths and it has a tin roof. If it rains, it’s great for … well, recording rain on a tin roof!
There’s no separate control room, so it’s like being at a live gig in a very small club or pub
Everything: is close miked & first thru a PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 – 24 channel digital mixer with sends to the FOH and Fold Back and thru a firewire to the recording computer;
Fujitsu Lifebook SH761: at the moment. Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) J7-2620M. CPU: @ 2.70GHz 2.70 GHz. RAM: 8.00 GB. Operating System: 64-bit / Windows 7. With nothing else running (clean boot), it handles 24 tracks @ 48,000 Hz 16 bit
Recording Software/Daw: Sonar X2 Producer, Sound Forge 10, iZotope Ozone 5.
Plugins: Sonar, Sound Forge, iZotope Ozone 5 and Variety of Sound (Warm, free and extremely nice)
From the Presonus: there’s a stereo send to a 1970 Jands JM10 12 Channel Analogue mixer to the PA FOH with a touch of reverb added via a Digitec DSP128 processor. Talkback and other non-recorded signals go thru this desk to the PA and Fold Back.
The PA/FOH: 2 x 15″ JBL reflex enclosures & 2 x JBL 2425J HF compression drivers, powered by a Behringer iNUKE NU3000 – Stereo 880 Watts per side. Because it’s a small space/venue the FOH also acts as a foldback for vocals and acoustic instruments, no guitar amps, bass, keyboards or drums. This is quite adequate for an audience.
Foldback system: 2 x 12″ x 2 way enclosures powered by an Amcron Micro-Tech 1200 – Stereo 480 Watts per side. The two speakers are set either side and to the rear of the players (I don’t have wedges yet). This is a raw signal from the Presonus, no reverb or effects. It carries mono vocals & acoustic instruments and a slight touch of keyboards & guitar amps to their opposite sides of the setup so everyone can hear each other. There’s also a small powered mono monitor for the drummer that carries vocals and acoustic instruments. (if the drummer can’t hear themselves, they’re playing too loud :-)
Drum Kit: Close miked. Bass drum 1 x Sennheiser e602-II. Main snare is a 1930’s Premiere double snare 2 x SM57 one on top, one underneath close to the snare). Tom Toms 3 x SM57. Timbalis & Drouyn Marching Snare share 1 x SM57. HiHat and Piccolo snare share 1 x SM57. Cymbals 2 x (Matched Pair) Rode NT55 positioned overhead & about 1/3 of a mtr away. The drums are not damped. So we get a full range of tonality which can be EQ’d out and compressed in the mix, but can’t be put in in the mix, ’cause if it ain’t there, it simply ain’t there!
Congas & shakers: 1 x Behringer C-2 or an SM57 depending on what’s available.
Bass: Via a DI after the musicians effects. For a normal recording situation I’d also mic the rig with the Shure 330 Uni-Ron Ribbon @ about 1/2 mtr from the cabinet.
Keyboard: Via a DI, again after the musicians effects.
Guitar cabinets: Vox AC30 – 1 x Fostex M88RP Flat Coil Printed Ribbon, Roland JC120 – 1 x 1952 Riem 230 Mignon Ribbon, Fender Princeton DSP65 – 1 x 1960s Shure 330 Uni-Ron Ribbon. All ribbons are via Triton FetHeads. The Fet Head is a phantom powered preamp. Phantom power only goes as far as powering the Fet Head, it does not reach the microphone. (More on Ribbon Mics and Phantom Power in a future article)
In a normal recording situation, I double mic guitar cabinets with Shure SM57s. There’s not enough channels available on the Sunday Sessions :-(
Sax/Brass: 1 x Sennheiser MD 421-II Again, in a normal recording situation, I double mic with a Rode NT55 or Behringer C-2 about 1 mtr out from and above the instrument at head height for ambience
Vocals: 2 x Beyerdynamic M500 Ribbons (matched pair) thru Triton FetHeads, 1 x Sennheiser e835, 4 x Shure SM58’s. All vocal mics have foam covers which cuts down on ‘popping’ ‘p’s, ‘b’s and the whoof of the ‘h’s in ‘when/what/why’. Makes for easy cleaning after each use.
Also have: a variety of DI’s and other mics .. full list of gear
VA@82A (Virtually Acoustic):
The last hour is usually an acoustic period. Essential amplification only (eg., the keyboard). I have recently acquired two vintage mics to experiment with recording this part of the proceedings, aiming for a simple mono recording.
An STC 4021 (for centre overhead) circa 1935
An STC 4035 (centre table height) circa 1950
I hope these will be commissioned in the next couple of weeks.
Mixing process: Because the room is live and there’s spill, a lot is EQ’d out, leaving only what’s required to define the character of each instrument or voice. The tracks are then grouped, edited, cut down, getting rid of glaring mistakes and really boring bits before position/panning & reverb/effects on each channel if necessary and a mix down. The mixed track is copied two or three times. One copy is kept, the others are used for mastering versions. These are all kept in the one DAW file as separate tracks. A copy of the raw mix is exported as a high quality .wav file, so if the DAW file is lost or corrupted there’s still a copy of the semi finished track
Mastering: Usually left for a few days before mastering with Sound Forge 10 & iZotope Ozone 5. This is done via Sonar X2 so the mastered tracks stay in the same DAW file. Again, the mastered tracks are exported as high quality .wav files in case the DAW file is lost or corrupted.
Next mastering session I’ll render some short before and after demonstration samples.
Monitoring: 2 x Behringer Truth B2031As – 2 x Bowers & Wilkins DM12s and a Hyundai SW-HY-1010 for Subs powered by a SonyTA-1120A. (The B&W’s, Hyundai sub and Sony were found discarded in a Sydney back lane)
Distribution: MP3 by Lame via the DAW