I recently had the opportunity to record with a microphone that has a legendary history. On January 30 1994 Nirvana recorded “You Know Your Right” at Robert Lang Studios. This microphone is a Neumann Long Body U47 Tube, used to record Kurt Cobains vocals on that session. I used this mic to record vocals and sax with CFE. They also did a kick ass cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The studio I work out of Empire Sound also has a microphone with legendary history, an original Telefunken Long Body U47 Tube, these microphones could almost be considered brothers each with their own flavors.
I love analog recording to 2 inch tape!! There is no comparison to the amount of detail and clarity tape brings out in music. Analog recording also adds rich warmth and fatness to your music with delivering a great sheer on the top end without any harshness. There are huge debates amongst the audio community that pluggins can now achieve the same desired sound and there is no longer a need for analog recording. This statement in my opinion is false. There are 2 sides to my opinion, the first coming from a scientific standpoint. Todays digital recording technology (year 2023), at its highest quality allows you to record at a sample rate of 192k, which means 192,000 points per second are being recorded and a line being drawn from point to point to create the waveform you see on the screen. The highest digital bit depth you can record at is 24 bit, the bit depth is defining the dynamic range of the song being measured at 6 db per bit giving a recording a maximum of 144 db of dynamic range beginning at digital 0db then working backwards down into negative numbers. No matter how high or low a recordings sample rate and depth is the waveform will always square off when zoomed in far enough. Recording to 2 inch tape has no sample rates or bit depths, it is a true waveform. No pictured dots being drawn in or dynamic range limits. The waveform on analog tape has a true shape, a true unaltered curve. So recording to tape scientifically has a higher sound quality than recording to a digital medium. The 2nd side to my opinion is that it just plain sounds so good. Tape has a certain sound that adds lots of character to a recording and that is something that digital can not create. The signal is running thru resistors and transformers where a digital signal is not and a pluggin is only attempting to recreate the real thing. Empire Sound Studio in Dallas Texas has an amazing Studer A-827 2″ Analog 24 track tape recorder that I love recording on and we also have brand new tape. To sum it up, recording to tape is cool!
String recording sessions are very delicate and require a great deal of concentration. Pictured here is artist Chris Engle adding cello to one of his songs to be released on his upcoming ep. The session started using microphones: Telefunken u47, Neumann u87 and AEA N22. For the final recording the microphones positions changed to the u47 and u87 on both sides over the F hole and the N22 placed up in the air pointing down. When we mixed the song we overall liked the u47 sound the best and blended in the N22 to add room and string texture. During string recording sessions I try my best to capture the organic performance at the highest quality possible, utilizing microphones and gear that best compliments the sound.
Dolby Atmos Mixing
The future of audio mixing has arrived at Empire Sound Studio in Dallas with Dolby Atmos. It is quickly becoming a standard around the world. Dolby Atmos is placing sounds as objects inside a surround sound field with endless possibilities of sound field placement and automation movements. Where surround sound has failed in the past is where Dolby Atmos brings the future to today’s mixing. Dolby Atmos adapts to any listening environment/speaker system from full surround sound systems, sound bars, cars, to your favorite headphones (being transformed to spatial and binaural audio). We have installed a 7.1.4 system with Kali Audio Speakers and JBL Intonato Monitor Management System.
Vocal tracking at Empire Sound Recording Studio is freaking awesome! There is a huge selection of out board microphone pre amps, compressors, and eqs (on and out board) to carve and color the vocal sound to any vibe I want. These are the microphones I typically choose from at Empire: Vintage Telefunken U47, Vintage Neumann U67 or a Neumann U87. In the video below I am tracking with the Telefunken U47, through an Avedis MA5 microphone pre amp then to an Empirical Labs Distressor and then added a small amount of high end boost with a Heritage Audio 73 EQ JR. This is one of my go to vocal recording chains at the studio.
Had a great weekend at Empire Sound Recording Studio filed with Mixing, Recording, Producing and Mastering. On this post I want to focus on an aspect of how I mix on the SSL 4K e/g+ console. Below is a boomerang video I took on instagram of the mix buss meters. YES I SLAM THE MIX BUSS 🙂 What I like most about mixing on a SSL is the ability to really push mixes. Not all songs need or require to be slammed into the mix buss, this song definitely got there. Running mixes this hot in no way causes distortion or degradation in audio quality. You can see above the meters the audio being printed into pro tools with good level and healthy dynamics. It acts has a type of compression that also introduces new harmonics into the song that otherwise would not exist. More so adding color and excitement while adding a slight bit of control to the overall song. This is something that can only be achieved with real analog gear and not digital plugins.
Recording Session With Jim Suhler
I recently had the opportunity to have a recording session with legend guitar player Jim Suhler. Jim is an amazing musician, he tours with George Thorogood and has band called Monkey Beat. This is at my home base, Empire Sound Studio Recording Studio located North of Dallas TX. He brought in a small Ampeg Amp that added the perfect twang to his slide. I kept the recording pretty simple with a Shure sm57 into a CAPI v28 pre and small amounts of eq on the SSL 4K console.
Drum Mixing Spotlight
This is a look into how I mixed drums on a record at Empire Sound Recording Studio. The mixing chain begins with sending all the drum tracks to individual channels on the SSL 4K. On the SSL I add individual processing, EQ, Gate, and SSL channel compression if needed. The kick and the snare channels are also sent to Empirical Labs Fatso’s. All drums are sent to the console’s routing matrix to create a drum bus that is routed to a Manley Labs Elop+ stereo compressor and then returned to new channels on the console. The Manley Elop+ is calibrated with an oscillator for precise stereo compression, just a small amount of compression was used, with high pass side chain filter and link buttons engaged. I then created a separate drum bus with the routing matrix sending all drums with shells, no brass, to another pair of SSL channels where I created a parallel drum bus for compression. For this second drum bus the SSL 4K compressors are used for compression pretty much to their max with fast attack and fast release. EQ and filtering is applied and mix into taste. Yes having different color lights on the meter bridge adds character as well. Thanks for checking out my insights to drum mixing.