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 the middle of an artists warehouse. It’s not sound proofed, there are no baffles, no partitions, no booths and it has a sloped corrugated iron roof. If it rains, it’s great for … well, recording rain on a tin roof! Despite the roof it has a nice acoustic quality to it.
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 but not everything is amplified, for example it’s not necessary to amplify the drums, electric bass, keyboard and guitar amps in the space. As a consequence, the recorded sound is not the same as the live sound. All mics, DI’s first go thru a PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 – 24 channel digital mixer with sends a mix of whatever needs to be amplified 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. At the moment recording 24 tracks @ 44,100 Hz Record Bit Depth 32
Recording Software/Daw: Sonar X2 Producer
Processing: 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 the players and 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/percussion 1 x SM57 with transformer removed.
Removing the transformer results in a better frequency response and warmer sound, but the gain drops significantly, so it’s boosted with a Triton FetHead pre-amp. Sometimes use a Sennheiser 421 for other percussion (Another is on my must have list. They’re great)
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 or a 1940s Electro-Voice V-1 Ribbon @ about 1/2 mtr from the cabinet (with a chunk of acoustic foam clipped to the reverse side).
Keyboard: Via a DI, again after the musicians effects.
Guitar cabinets: Vox AC30 – 1 x Fostex M88RP Flat Coil Printed Ribbon (with a chunk of acoustic foam clipped to the reverse side), Roland JC120 – 1 x 1952 Riem 230 Mignon Ribbon (same, chunk of acoustic foam), Fender Princeton DSP65 – 1 x 1960s Shure 330 Uni-Ron Ribbon ( & chunk of acoustic foam). 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’d double mic guitar cabinets with Shure SM57s. There’s not enough channels or mics 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 about 1 mtr out from and above the instrument at head height
Vocals: 2 x Beyerdynamic M500 Ribbons (matched pair) thru Triton FetHead pre-amps, 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 ‘when/what/why’ and fullsome fs. Also makes for easy cleaning after each use.
Standard Channel List: Unless otherwise stated, plugins for the mix down are ProChannel via Sonar. None used for recording. (You can’t delete effects from recorded sound)
Ch 1 Rode NT55 CymbL – to Cymbal bus
Ch 2 Rode NT55 CymbR – to Cymbal bus
Ch 3 Sennheiser e602-II Kick drum – Plug ins: Compressed and filtered by Sony MultiBand Dynamics via SoundForge10 – to Drums bus
Ch 4 Shure SM57 Snare Top – to Snare bus
Ch 5 Shure SM57 Snare Bottom – to Snare bus
Ch 6 Shure SM57 HiHat – to Drums bus
Ch 7 Shure SM57Tom l – to Tom tom bus
Ch 8 Shure SM57Tom 2- to Tom tom bus
Ch 9 Shure SM57Tom 3- to Tom tom bus
ChlO Shure SM57Timbali – to Drums bus
Chll DI bass Post outboard gear – Samson S-com compressor, ART 351 31-Band Graphic Equalizer, Digitech DSP128- Samson S-com compressor – Plug ins: Compressed and filtered Sony MultiBand Dynamics via SoundForge10 – to Drums & Bass bus
Chl2 DI Technics SX-PC15 Keyboard via Peavey KB100 – to Instruments bus (no drums or bass)
Chl3 1960s Shure 330 Uni-Ron Ribbon & Triton FetHead – Fender Princeton 65 DSP – to Instruments bus (no drums or bass)
Chl4 1952 Riem 230 Ribbon & Triton FetHead – Roland JC120 – to Instruments bus (no drums or bass)
Ch16 DI Acoustic Instrument – Triton FetHead Piezo PreAmp or Behringer TUBE ULTRAGAIN MIC200 Preamp
CH17 Sennheiser 402 sax – to Instruments bus (no drums or bass)
Chl8 Sennheiser e835 Lyre vocal – to All vocals bus
Chl9 Shure SM58 Drum vocal – to All vocals bus
Ch20 Beyer M500 Ribbon & Triton FetHead – vocal – to All vocals bus
Ch21 Beyer M500 Ribbon & Triton FetHead – vocal – to All vocals bus
Ch22 1982 Fostex M88RP Ribbon & Triton FetHead – Vox AC30C2- to Instruments bus (no drums or bass)
CH23 Shure 5M58 keyboard vocal – to All vocals bus
Ch24 Conga Shure SM57 sans transformer & Triton FetHead – to Instruments bus (no drums or bass)
Ch22 Final mix down for export – to VolCheck
(Usually about 20 microphones in all)
Snare mix – Group EQ, compressed, Sonar FXreverb – to Drums
Cybals mix – Group EQ – to Drums
Tom Toms mix – Group EQ Compressed – to Drums
Drums – Placement Sony reverb via SoundForge10, Boost and Limited via Sonar Boost11 – to Drums & Bass
Drums and Bass – out to All instruments mix
Instruments (No Drums or bass) – to
All instruments mix – to Instrumental & Vocals mix
Vocals – to
Intrumentals & Vocals to
Master – Izotope 5 to
VolCheck – final output to … usually MP3 Lame 320
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).
Captured at the 82a Sunday Session on the 31st May 2015
Craig Collinge electric piano, Arron Manfield sax, Benni Seidel audio edit mix,
Mono raw, recorded flat (no EQ)
Thanks to Frank Sinko
for caring for this mic before I bought it
Captured at the 82a Sunday Session on the 15th March 2015
Melanie Eden vocal, Peter Busboom guitar L, Arron Manfield flute, Benni Seidel bass. When players listen anything is possible
Recorded with Vocals and flute thru PA (recorded with 2 room mics, amps close miked – FedHead preamps)
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.
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) Three different head sets … best a pair of AKG 701’s
Distribution: MP3 by Lame via the Sonar DAW (If you use Sonar and don’t want to pay for the Sonar MP3 encoder, the Lame script is below )
TIP: to stop the popping on SM58’s: Unscrew the mesh cover and place a cotton ball on top of the element. Take it out and replace after each performance, when you wash the inner foam. You do wash the inner foam …. right? There’s nothing worse than using a mic with a foam insert smelling of booze, cigarettes, garlic and stale rock and roll spittle.
Create a “Lame” directory in C:\Program Files\Cakewalk\Shared Utilities\Lame
Place a copy of Lame.exe and Lame_enc.dll in the new directory
Load Sonar – Go Utilities/Cakwalk Ext Encoder Config. Enter the following
Friendly Name : Lame High Quality Stereo [128/320]
Description : Lame High Quality Stereo [128/320] Lame -b 128 -m s -q 0 -c -V 4 -B 320 –tt “%T” –verbose –ta “%A” –ty “2009” –tc “%C” %I %O
Path : C:\Program Files\Cakewalk\Shared Utilities\Lame
Command line : Lame -b 128 -m s -q 0 -c -V 4 -B 320 –tt “%T” –verbose –ta “%A” –ty “2009” –tc “%C” %I %O
*************** Exports a high quality Mp3 and embeds the track name and the author as ‘Contributing Artists’ *****************