Delaying the Brain !

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Here at the Coolest Recording Space in London Town – we know All about the FX Effect – the way audio can trick & fool ya into tumbling head over heels into an audio void ….. we created !!

Live tracking is all about capturing the immediate elements of a performance or song – but post production – or mixing – is how we embellish, twist, change or enhance that original recording – & time delay effects are some of the most interesting, mind bending tools at our disposal.

Here’s a few of our fave delay & modulation units:

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analog echo delay

Analog echo – this one has had the time knob replaced by a volume pedal so the echo speed can be controlled by foot – keeps the hands free & adds to the nutso factor – which we like. The feedback control on this unit sends the echo back into itsself & can create insane DR. Who / BBC Radiophonic Workshop like soundscapes – this with the added bonus of the gain preamp overdriving beautifully makes it a fave amongst synth players & guitarists – it just makes you feel good listening to it.

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electrix mo fx

Built for dj’s & studio work – this is an all out classic – the Electrix Mo-Fx has a sublime gain / saturation stage, a very psychedelic flange / modulation section, the best stereo panning tremolo we’ve ever heard, and the most delicious delay! – it’s a mind bending, thought inducing, brain expanding tool of all creation!! Not only do the effects sound superb, the various hit & kill switches allow this unit to do things in real (or midi) time that will warp your gazebo! New & delicious creations appear after every take!

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korg ampworks

Another lesson in the vagaries of audio equipment – just because it’s cheap – don’t mean it aint good! Korg make a lot of audio gear – have done for quite some time now – this here little box actually contains some rather excellent guitar amp & speaker emulations – plus tap tempo reverb / delay / rotary / tremolo & phaser effects. It’s built for guitars (natch) – but is pretty Goddamn amazing on drums, vocals & synths if you really want to warp out the audio – it’s a superb way of adding interesting artefacts to a song & lifting said piece over time – cheap – but pretty amazing.

You can see the studio HERE:

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Adding Ambience – Verbs – Delays or Heavy Compression ???

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Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in London Town – we don’t half like our sounds Au Naturel – I mean we got some beautiful outboard (& plugin) reverb & delay units – & they’re amazing – but sometimes – specially on drums – you just want that hyper real sound of the drums in their recorded space – & for that – the best thing to do is set up a condenser or ribbon mic about 6 – 12 feet away – & compress the living crap out of it.

Solid state compressors will be faster & more accurate that tube comps – but tube comps will add warmth & tasty distortion.

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compressors & a lexicon verb

You won’t need to mix too much of this track in with the close mics – but get it right at the recording stage – & boy will it take your audio to another dimension! ….. I mean literally!

You can also use proper outboard ‘verbs or delays to add space & richness to your mix – these are Our main outboard spatializers:

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tc & dynacord delays & verbs

The MXR was Dave Gilmour’s fave unit & is lush – the dynacord is so good it’s invisible to the ear – & the TC is the guitar delay of choice for audio professionals throughout the mix / production industry.

Best plan – is to always use a little of each – keep it all bubbling away nicely.

You can see the studio HERE:

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Choosing Eq’s to Hit That Sweet Spot

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Here at the Coolest Recording Space in South London – we like to get sounds down right! It is easy to over eq audio at the recording stage – so always err on the side of caution – & use it judiciously !!!  (Word!)

There are a plethora of different types of hardware eq out there – & they all react uniquely to the audio you throw at them. Graphic equalisers are useful for cutting & boosting instrumentation – but Parametric equalisers are much more creative & music tools – so we tend to use these in our studio.

This is a vintage solid state Orban stereo parametric – it’s not as defined as modern units – but has a very sweet tone so great for adding weight to vocals & guitars – or for giving drum ambient / overhead mics a classic texture:

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orban

TC make some superb equipment from live gigging gear to high end studio verbs, eq’s & preamps. This monster is so sharp it can cut the tiniest sliver of offending frequency from a troublesome piece of audio – & also can boost extremely particular frequencies – so adding super tight subs to a drum bus – kick or bass instrument – or sweetening up a whole mix is what this thing excels at. Used every session!

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TC

Tube (Valve) equalisers are always interesting – these we use on just about everything at one stage or another – just a touch will lift a guitar or vocal & make them sound super special – & you won’t have to mess about with too much eq at mixing time. They are also phenomenal on drum overheads / ambients – & extra gorgeous across whole mixes – they seem to add a sort of 3d-ness to the proceedings.

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tube eq

You can see the studio HERE:

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Cheap Beats & Electro Frills

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Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in London Town – we got a Whole Gamut – a Plethora – indeed a Bounteous selection of audio toys to bleep, blurp, click & whistle their way into whichever compostiton fancies a bit of extra shting


Extra Toys – most definitely do not need to be expensive – but they do need to be interesting – here’s a few we’ve used recently to embellish various musics.


1. Drum Synth 


These are great – you can trigger them by either cv/gate, hitting the front face with a pencil or finger, or even better – from an audio source like a live snare or kick drum. 

They are made by Rakit & are based on the electroharmonix drum synths from the 70’s – which were the coolest of the bunch. 

It’s excellent for adding subs or modulation to a kick drum – noise to a snare – or indeed just playing along live to add odd rhythmic textures to a track. 

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Next up in a very odd looking thing we got from a £1.00 shop in peckham, London – for £1.00 !!! 

It only does one thing – a kind of bishy bashy cheapbeat – but has a bunch of nasty rolls that seem to work just about anywhere you put them. Odd.

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Old keyboards with inbuilt drum machines are a superb source of rhythm madness – run them through a distortion pedal or compressor & play along to a track – it works every time – & you generally get enough mojo to set the track trajectory on a completely different path – mucho ideas!!! 

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You can see the studio HERE

www.shrunkenheadsstudios.com

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Tube Compression – That Drum Sound!

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Here at The Coolest Recording Space in South London we like to get supercharged – which is why we’re renown for turning All our knobs up to 11 !!

Here’s a few videos showing how tube compression affects the sound of the mics:

1 – The Behemoth: – lots of heavy duty transformer / valve compression – great on drums.

2 – The Vortexion – a tad more hi fi sounding – these were used by Joe MeekThe Who – & a whole bunch of cool engineers back in the day. Also great using a condenser mic for piano!

3 – Akai preamps – these came out of an Akai reel to reel tape machine – they sound nice & crunchy on drums – great on guitar (electric & acoustic) & great on percussion.

We do have a large collection of vintage tube preamps at www.shrunkenheadsstudios.com – all have distinct supertasty flavours we use to capture a certain je-ne-sais-quoi – that magic element that makes a good recording sound Great.

Sometimes – you just need some extra Mojo – like these RFT tube preamps from the 40’s:

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Or these Ampex pre’s – amazing with condenser mics:

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You can see the studio HERE:

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Mic Pre’s – Putting Flavour In The Mix!

www.shrunkenheadsstudios.com

Here at The Coolest Recording Space in London Town – we got all kinds of studio shazzle – mixers / compressors / eq’s – but for audio capture, the most important thing aside for the mics – are mic preamplifiers.

They come in all shapes & forms – from lovely vintage tube pre’s that warm up the sound of an instrument or space to super fast solid state units that capture transient material (like metal drums or fast picked acoustic guitar) to transformer based pre’s that you can distort at the input to add bloom & energy to an audio source.

This is a Vortexion tube preamp as used by Joe Meek & the Who back in the 50’s & 60’s – beautiful for recording drums, guitars, vocals & ambient spaces with ribbon microphones. They were broadcast quality units that add a rich, fullness to the mic chain. You can also use them to pleasantly saturate vocals etc in post production.

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vortexion  

These Ampex 602 units came out of an old tape recorder & were modded for independant use. Oddly enough they work beautifully with modern condenser microphones so we use them a lot for drum overheads if folks want a vintage Motown like vibe. They’re also gorgeous on acoustic guitar.

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ampex  

The Alice 828 mixers were developed by Ted Fletcher & used as compact outside broadcast units for the music, tv & film industries. The not only have lovely limiters at the stereo output, but also Belclere transformers (as used by Neve) at all 8 channel inputs – it’s the best preamp I’ve ever heard for saturating drums – kicks – snares & toms all sound huge & beautiful when you start pushing the gain.

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alice 828

Glensound were built for Welsh tv – portable outside broadcast units built to a very high spec. They are likened to vintage API preamps as they are very fast – so great for drum overheads, ambient recording, vocals & acoustic instruments – our go to preamp for percussion & steel string guitar.

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glensound  

Black Lion are a new company that base their creations on existing preamps – but add a bit of their own spice & flavour – these are their take on api preamps – & they are superb! Very fast so bloomin’ fabulous on kick, snare – & amazing on electric guitar & bass. They also double up as a very precise instrument DI.

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black lion

You can see the studio HERE.

www.shrunkenheadsstudios.com

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Recording Sweet & Beautiful Vocals 1 – The Ribbon Mic Trick

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Here at The Coolest Recording Space in London Town – we get a whole bunch of vocalisers – from full on rock gospel belters to sofly spoken folkists – & they all generally need one thing – attention to detail.

There’s not One go to mic for any session – but you can betcha life that the Shure SM7 is a good place to start for most sessions – to test the waters so to speak.

It’s got a good full range – and just sounds excellent – especially if you’ve got someone who doesn’t have great recording technique – like your live singers etc.

We always double it up with either a condenser or tube microphone to add either variety of tone or airiness – looks a bit like this.

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The sm7 is sung into from about 5-6 inches away – the tube or condenser mic is set further away to pick up more air.

Another great trick is to set up either an omni condenser or ribbon microphone & face the side to the singer – this means the voice will hit the side of the mic body & enter around both sides of the element – makes the voice sound further away than it actually is – works great on guitar too!

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or…. you could try this old 70’s trick of taping a pencil over the front of a mic – stops “Pops” & again can make the vocals seem more distant than they actually are.

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You can see the studio HERE:

www.shrunkenheadsstudios.com