Live Percussion or Loops For Recording Music

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So ….. you’ve got the basis of your track recorded – drums, bass, guitar, keys maybe – & vocals – now it’s time to dress it up with a bit of tinsel & fairy lights!
Most people these days head for the loops folder – especially in Logic as it’s easy as pie to drag & drop some pre made loop into the mix to liven it up a bit – or to cut in some flavour.
However! – it’s always a good idea to question where you’re going with said track – do you really want it to sound generic & perhaps a bit boring? – Cause loops really can be a bit bland.
Take Funkadelic – did they use loops? Course not – they were a powerhouse of creativity – as were all the jazz bands from time!
Listen to On The Corner by Miles Davis – it’s completely nuts – out of time cowbell – clave all over the place – but Boy does it sound good! So good people sampled it to death.

Recording Music Out of Time & Out of Tune

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Glockenspiel Tuned Percussion

Well yeah – it looks a bit odd – & for sure it’s not gonna win any beauty pageant – but this kind of hand made – not quite in tune percussive element can really add some personality to a track – especially if you run it through some spacey analog echo effect – and we got a few of those!
It’s all about personality – & adding a bit of magic to your production.
EDM has edged its’ way into all genres of music production – which is great on one front (ie creative use of digital effects) – but a bit crass on the other – not all music needs perfectly timed delays – some music needs a gnarly freaked out something rearing its’ ugly head to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to the mix!

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xylophone tuned percussion

So ….. you take something like a Glockenspiel – hit a few of its’ pretty notes in time to your track – then run it through a huge stereo delay – & Lordy – a whole new percussive & tuneful element arrives to pep up the mix – it’s a beautiful otherworldly thing!
Check This out!

Cool huh.
Though you do not in any way need to be as adept as these two chaps – you just need a room – with a mic …. & a bit of imagination.
We use this little thing all the time:

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balafon

There’s just something sweet, happy & nice about him – & he loves being hit! We must have used him in about 70 recordings over the years – but you can use anything you find in the house – brass bowlsceramic plates – the bottom of your door???
All have interesting acoustic properties you could make use of.
Just look at Tom Waits !!! He’s made a career out of hitting stuff – & makes some of the best music like …. ever.
So …… grab a loop if you must – & mangle it with some plugin ….Or ….. open the crazy door – start banging around & see what magic you can create with a spoon and your moms lightshade.
We do !!!!!

Tube Eq VS Solid State Equalizer

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Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in London Town – we do like twiddling knobs!
I mean – plugins are great – they even sound pretty good these days eh – but essentially they are a bunch of 1’s & 0’s – real hardware knobs – that’s something you can feel while you spin the wheel!

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The KT pultec tube equaliser – developed for music production waaaaay back in the day – & was such an amazing design that they are still not only in use – but still being manufactured approx 50 years on from inception!
We’ve had the software version for years.
Yeah…… It’s ok. Does what it says on the box – & with wings! Tightens up the flabby low end – sharpens & sweetens up the highs – add a nice little mid scoop – all round ice cream time!
But the thing about software – is its’ software. It’s actually just a bunch of 1’s & 0’s – binary code in light form. If it weren’t so easy to use it never would have taken off – because it doesn’t sound much like hardware at all. Nah.
So – how happy were we to buy in 3 of these stupendously cool all valve / tube eq units!
It was like Christmas unwrapping them – New Years wiring them in to our system – &! Like the Moon Landing when we started running audio through them!
Shit! we thought …. these are good – how did we Ever live without them.
And!……. they’ve been involved in one way or another in every recording, mixing & mastering session we’ve had since. In fact – I don’t think we’ve been this excited since this tube mixer arrived!

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He is of course vintage (from the 50’s) & sounds beautiful for vintage jazz, blues or classic rock – while our new equalizers are brand spanking new.

Music Mixing & Producer Control

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And of course – having Big Knobs to twiddle doesn’t hurt either.
The range of different tones you can get out of this eq is pretty amazing given that there are no mid controls. Well … there are – but only low mids or high mids – this is a character eq – meaning it adds a lot of colour to the audio you run though it – if you want to get surgical you use one of these:

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tc parametric

Or indeed – one of These:

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music mastering equalizer

Yes – it’s made by those Alesis people – a kind of mid range bunch at best – but! …. Doesn’t matter in music world does it – how much something costs – if it sounds good & does the job its’ designed for – then use it.
These big music hardware companies do sometimes tend to try making high end equipment – they usually fail – but on the way there can be some interesting developments – most of which cost too much to manufacture – and this is one of those units.
Beloved by German Electro artists & music producers – it has one trick – & one trick only – it cleans up the mud in audio like nothing else – mainly down to its’ pretty astounding 10 (!!) bands of parametric eq. You just sweep all the frequencies for low to high to find the boxiness, harshness or mud – take those frequencies down 2-3 db (only!) – re balance the levels – & shit! The recording now sounds like a bigger, sweeter, shinier version of what it was before.
Magic.
We have all of the best toys – & probably the best music production values in London Town!
Here’s a nice shot of King Krule in the studio – we just finished recording their new lp (we also recorded the Ooz!)

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Mixing Music – in the Box – Analog Mixer – or Both !

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Mixing Music – in the Box – Analog Mixer – or Both

Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in South London – we get a lot of different clients with a lot of different needs.
Might be a folk group, jazz quartet or classic rock band that want to record everything live – possibly to tape – usually to hard drive as tape costs are a bit high.
Those guys usually want a minimal amount of editing so generally come into the studio after playing a few gigs to get them super tight.
Usually we’ll track all the audio through our mammoth collection of analog preamps, equalisers & compressors, plus we’ll send sets of audio to our selection of transformers for a bit of extra zing & juice – because we collect transformers (the black art of recording & Music Production) & have probably the largest collection in London Town !

Music Producing

After all that – it’s mixing time.
Analog equipment does odd & beautiful things to audio – it’s to do with a lot of things – buffering – transformers – & the physics of analog equalisation.
In short – there are no rules – some expensive bit of gear may sound crap – while some cheap bit of home build mayhem may for some reason sound superb – you just gotta dive in – spread a few dollars around & keep what appeals to your sense of good audio.
We like to use These Alice mixers:

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alice analog mixer

They have really tasty Belclere (as found in Neve desks) transformers – a musical equaliser section – & a monumentally gorgeous compressor / limiter section at the output – which just sits all the audio in its’ right place. Drums especially sound phenomenal mixed through this desk, plus the limiters are superb on vocals.

Glensound Broadcast Mixer 

This is a super high end mixer – folks (me included) think the mic preamps are as good as vintage API pre’s – & just running audio through it adds a beautiful 3d’ness to the mix – so we tend to use it as part of the mix buss when either mixing or mastering.

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BBC Mixer

This is our wall mounted D&R Stylyx mixer – great sounding 80’s desk – the channel strips have added transformer options (bottom left of mixer) & are amazing on vocals, drums, bass & guitar – the parametric equalisers are literal audio magic!!
The transformers add a whole bunch of weight & saturation to whatever audio is run through them – we either use them in the desk – or solo using the DAW in/out widgit.

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shrunkenheads recording studio control room – lots of vintage & modern mic preamps, eq’s – compressors etc – we track righteous audio & have made records for ghostpoet, king krule, micachu, domino records & a whole host of local talent

And last but not least – this!
A hand built analog mixer – maybe not the highest quality – but boy you can overdrive it so it sings like a banshee!!

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analog saturation mixer

You can see the studio HERE:

www.shrunkenheadsstudios.com
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Valve Tube Microphone Mixer Pre Amp

Recording Studio South London Life! 

Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in South London – we’re like the audio Ben & Jerry’s – a whole gamut of flavours & tastes! 

In our search for audio perfection & diversity we’ve bought in a ton of recording studio equipment – some we keep – some we sell on – not because it’s bad gear – it’s just not right for us.

The Behemoth – now that’s a keeper!

It’s a four channel microphone mixer built for a radio station in 1952 which has the Biggest audio transformers we’ve ever seen – so the saturation or overdrive of any audio run through it is sublime! 

It’s super on vocals, acoustic / classical instruments – but amazing on drums ! They go down to tape in near perfect form & just sit in the mix sounding all kindsa pretty ! 

Plus – it’s got little green lights that glow when the channels are turned on:

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 Radiophonic Workshop

or what !!!!!!!     

Best of all though – it has a beautiful valve equalizer that makes everything you run through it sound like Motown

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So – we rigged him up to the patchbay – sat his ass on a shelf overseeing the control room – & now we got super lush valve recording & mixing beautifullness at our fingertips. 

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You can hear him in action recording drums at the bottom of the page – & you can see the studio HERE

Microphone Making 1 – Binaural Stereo Coppermic

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Recording Studio South London Life ! 

Here at The Coolest Recording Studio In South London – we buy this mic – we buy that mic – in a constant search for sonic perfection – or at least sonic perfection for each particular recording instance – as each session requires individual attention to detail.

A song might require a particular guitar sound – then it might require the same guitar sound but miked with more ambience to add to the original take come the bridge or chorus .

It might require a completely different guitar sound – or a much more saturated one to add body. Regardless – whatever you’re looking for – be it the perfect recording space, tape compression or natural clarity – you’re going to need to start with the right mic.

Microphones Make Music

So ……. you need a specific recording device – which doesn’t seem to exist – so whatcha gonna do??? 

Make one! That’s right folks – rather than making do with what’s on offer – get yourself in the saddle & create what you need from scratch! We do. 

Here is our first microphone offering – Coppermic 1 (CM1

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 – yes it’s made out of copper – we love copper – it looks beautiful – & it’s tough enough to withstand road abuse and / or field recordings. 

It’s hand held but also has a regular mic stand fitting. 

It’s phantom powered so has excellent signal to noise ration – is clear as a bell & sounds gorgeous!! 

There will be a battery option made in the near future

We used top quality components (natch) & have done some test recording (with & without eq) so you can hear for yourself how Goddamn Nice it sounds. 

As you can tell – we’re Very pleased with ourselves. 

Check out the video at the bottom for soundclips. 

Recording Microphone Tone Options 

So what’s with the coloured foam? 

Here’s the mic naked: 

We designed the foam capsule covers to cancel wind noise & to affect mic tone & volume. 

The red cap covers shown here are for general outdoor use (to cancel wind noise etc) – to remove a bit of the top end from guitar – voice or cymbals.

The stripey covers (look great don’t they) are much denser – they take the audio input to the capsules down by approx 10-12 per cent – shelve a large amount of the top end off the incoming audio – so are excellent for bass frequency instruments – though they also work beautifully on all sound sources – especially if they are too bright.

It’s all about microphone placement!

The capsules in this mic are set at 110 degrees & 19 cm apart – this configuration is based on the ORTF design – though we felt the need to slightly widen the distance between capsules for a more open sound.

More microphones coming soon 

The design room is masterminding plans on a grand scale – watch this space for more super interesting recording shazzle !

You can see the studio HERE.

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Recording Studio London – Antique Reverb Effects Unit Mojo !

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London Recording Studio Life

Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in South London Town – we got a gear problem – no sooner do we find a piece of equipment we like – then we just Have to buy a second unit. You know ……. in case the first goes down.

So – what with all the gear we hand make on site for our artists – our store cupboards runneth over. Maybe it’s time for a yard sale!

Pioneer SR101 Valve Tube Reverb 

  valve spring reverb

One piece of equipment we hold close to our hearts & which we shall never be parted from – is the Pioneer SR101 – all tube (valve) spring reverb unit – as used by Amy Winehouse on her beautiful Back to Black lp to put the shine on her vocals drums & guitars.

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You’d think that something built for the hifi market (see the phono sockets at the back) would be too lo fi & mojo like for a recording studio – but it actually sounds clean, rich and beautiful – the space it creates is a pretty wonderful place for vocals, drums guitars & synths etc. Maybe not something you’d run too many elements into in a mix – it’d get muddied up pretty quickly with too many frequencies bouncing around the springs – but for sure it beautifies specific types of audio in ways nothing else can.

We use it all the time as both an audio saturator & as a gorgeous space to place things in.

The saturation from the valves is utterly lovely – so lovely that we’ll turn the reverb down to zero sometimes just to get uncoloured saturation. Then we hit the input hard to get them tubes glowing – sublime on vocals, guitars & drums! Possibly the smoothest saturation ever. Aside from our Supra Saturator of course – that’s the bees knees of saturation devices!

We’ll be showing out a whole bunch of our toys in the coming weeks so stay tuned.

You can see the studio HERE.

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Recording Studio London – Analog Audio Saturator Saturation Device

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Recording Studio London

Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in London Town – we make a Whole Bunch of music related stuff – sometimes designed for specific artists – sometimes just for us. Here’s a little bit about the newbie.

Audio Saturators – the pro audio market is flooded with them. From big boys like Waves to small independent software manufaturers like Sonimus – who havn’t designed a saturator per se – but have always embedded saturation into their channel strips & recording studio eqaulisers. To Klanghelm – who have a very nice freebie HERE. There’s a lot of choice out there folks & some of those choices are quite expensive so tread mighty careful ! – just because so & so producer might use this or that bit of kit doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.

Maybe we can shed some light on the subject.

Thence – what exactly does saturation do? & Why are people so infatuated with it?

In short – it’s all about how audio is affected by analog devices sch as mixing desks, equalisers, compressors – & other assorted bits & pieces of the analog recording studio chain.

Such as microphones, mic preamps etc.

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Recording Studio Hardware Saturation in Audio Production 

Running audio into analog hardware in a recording studio generates distortion (in a nice way) & thus harmonics. This adds sparkle, energy & a form of compression to said audio – which helps to bed it into the mix & makes the music or audio sound much more finished & pleasing to the ear.
In our recording studio we have a veritable plethora of mixers & various other analog devices both solid state, valve (tube) & tape.
All do their jobs beautifully – the solid state or transistor based equipment adds the most subtle and pretty overdrive so we use those devices mainly on vocals or percussion / drum overheads where clarity is vital. The valve gear has much more pronounced or coloured flavours wich we have to use to taste – you may want your vocals & guitars dazzled with tube overdrive – you may not. & tape – well … it may be expensive but Lordy it makes Everything sound amazing! Vocals especially are a thing of wonder!
We are lucky to own all this equipment – but it all cost a fortune – & continues to do so due to maintenance & component replacement costs.
Not everyone can afford to come spend time in our lovely recording studio – so we decided to build a little part of it in to a very portable box full of analog components you can use in your own home or project studio. 

Analog Saturation Hardware Effect Unit 

www.recordingstudiolondon.net

Analog Saturator for the Home & Pro Recording Studio

Our Supra Saturator is a spec built device designed to fit right into your in-the-box workflow.
It simply plugs into your audio soundcard using your daw i/o widget (see here).
Then you can run your audio through it to taste – easiest way to get mixing desk type analog saturation into your studio, & the only device like it available. See it in action here:
Or you can use it inline whilst recording to add depth, energy & shine to your drums, vocals, guitar, synth etc.
1. plug your mic into a preamp.
2. Plug your  preamp into the Supra – & adjust the output of the preamp til you get just the right amount of analog saturation.
3. Prepare to be amazed at how lovely your audio sounds!
You can purchase units from us Here

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