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.

king krule recording with mica levi and ghost poet in london studio

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

 

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Creative Miking for Larger Than Life Space Creation !!!

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Here at The Coolest Recording Space in London Town – we got The Science!

You can’t always rely on the luxury of a huuuuge space to record your drums / guitars or bass in – so how do you make a drum kit sound huge – in a not so huge space?

Well ….. there are tons of ways to expand audio in post production using phase (non) alignment, compression, delays/reverbs – transient shapers etc – but all these methods can get to sounding a bit Processed! – how do we achieve a nice – natural sounding drum kit recording – by using a Big Assed ribbon mic! – & a tasty eq (either at source or in production).

So – you got a coupla spot mics on the drum skins – and a nice pair of overheads to capture the stereo spread – you’re nearly there! What makes the difference though – is planting a large diaphragm ribbon mic right above the snare at overheads height – or – right above where the kick, snare & rack tom meet.

 

king krule working in the london recording studio with ghostpoet

 

You can control the toms & mid content by equalising out any boomy mid frequencies – this will also give the mic more “perceived” distance from the kit. 

If you’ve used a good preamp & captured enough bottom end you should be able to use this as the main mic to build the kit sound around. 

There are two ways to position the ribbon mic: 

Facing down will give you a good full frequency image – plenty of bottom end to manipulate & clear highs.

 

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Facing forwards will give you less clear low & high frequencies – but gives a superb, natural front to back distance – this mixed with the overheads is a killer combination for excellent, natural sounding drums. 

Give it a go!

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You can see the studio website HERE

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Twin Amplifier Recording For More Tone – Power & Space !!

king krule recording with micachu at ghostpoet studio 

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Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in London Town – we got an amp & speaker addiction! – We like ’em BIG – we like ’em small – it’s all about tone, the size of the sound, & the spread of the soundstage – whether you’re after a perfectly placed guitar in the mix (listen to early Van Halen) or a wall of sound (Black Sabbath) – this is the quickest & easiest way to track that something special.

Also a great way to get that huge bass sound you always wanted – here’s how:

First :

– you’re gonna need either a splitter pedal – or a Boss tuner (they have two outputs)

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guitar tuner splitter pedal

– one output goes to your regular amp – like this one:

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recording bass amplifier amp

This will give you the meat of your tone – so for instance – if you were a jazz guitarist & liked a lot of clean heavy bottom in your guitar sound – you may well use a bass rig as your first amp – and a smaller guitar amp with a 10 or 8 inch speaker for the second – which will add the midrange punch when mixed in.

Same for bass – use a regular setup for the basic bass tones – then use something like this:

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& dial in a bit of overdrive or distortion – mic them up separately & record to their own tracks – (make sure they are in phase) – then mix in the smaller amp to taste – heavies things up a treat & you don’t lose any bass tone from the original signal.

Tricks – we got em all!

See the studio website Here:

www.shrunkeheadsstudios.com

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Rudimentary Electric Bass Recording – Puttin’ the Big into Booty!

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Here at the Coolest Recording Studio in London Town – we do like a big fat bootifull low end – as much as we like melodic mids & tingling highs – & while there are a gazillion mixing / production tricks to make the bass sit nice, pop out or groove summore – you always gotta start out with the basics – & get the badass tracked.

First thing’s first – get your bass player settled – doesn’t matter if they’re sitting or standing – they’re gonna want to see the drummer – or at least the control room.

Plug the bass into a DI (Direct Injection) box before any pedals or fx units they may be using – you want a good clean signal going to your recorder – you can use this as is to mix in with the mic’d up amp – you may want to process it with effects or software amp emulations – or indeed you may want to run it into a different amplifier and re record a different tone later down the line.

Here’s a pretty good quality di:

king krule recording studio with ghostpoet at micachu band rehearsal

You just plug into the input – send a jack from the link output to the pedals or amplifier – & send the (in this case 600 ohms) output to your recorder. You may need to eq the signal slightly to taste – & it’s generally a good idea to compress it a bit too.

FET compressors are generally the best for bass – we’re lucky enough to have a vintage unit that sounds superb – even better when you use two channels – looks mean too!

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Always a good idea to mic up a bass amp to use with the di signal – it can be a huge 500 watt live rig – or a small 30 watt practice combo – depends what sound you’re after – mainly you just want a bit of air around the recording – & a bit of grit or punch from the speaker. Use a suitable bass mic – we have a bunch – but mainly use the Peavey 520i as it has character and is clear as a bell – or the AKG d25 – classic all round mic.

And we got a classic Acoustic bass combo.

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Put the mic dead centre of the speaker cone for a brighter sound, or out to the side of the cone for sweeter less aggressive tones.

We generally run this into one of our many different mic preamps that have transformers at the input to add weight to the signal.

We do Good Bass !

You can see the studio HERE:

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Tracking the Troubador – Acoustic Guitar & Vocals Live

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Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in London Town – we get all kindsa musicians rolling through the door to conceptualise & make real their dreams & visions. 

Here’s how we deal with your live singer guitarist – your performance artiste – they may not have great recording technique – but they sure can turn the fire on – & that’s what we got to capture.

Generally sonorous, storytelling types like Joan Baez / Woody Guthrie  \ Leadbelly et al – these folks need to be in the zone – there’s generally no overdubs or performances stitched together – they want it done live – they want it done proper!

So – this time with Mr Ben Holland – we set up a dedicated vocal mic set approx 18 inches away from his mouth. Then we set up two identical ribbon microphones – one facing the head, & one facing the guitar body. Angled like this the top one should reject guitar noise, & the bottom one should reject vocal noise – done right it works beautifully.

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We then added a large bodied vintage Tannoy ribbon mic on the other side & set this back two and a half feet – this adds more ambience:

king krule mixing with micachu at london recording studio

Please note the unplugged (dead) microphone he is singing into – this is to give the artist some focus & to stop them leaning in to the live recording microphones.

You can see the studio Here:

www.shrunkenheadsstudios.com

Modding Microphones for Extra Oomph !

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Modding Microphones for that Extra Shazzle!

Here at The Coolest Recording Studio In London Town – we like to tweak – until things are just that little bit extra – & that little bit better.

Modifying microphones – why woudja?

Well – ribbon microphones all have that lovely natural openness about them – but! They also all suffer (to greater or lesser degrees) from shell resonance – frequencies generated by the protective casing built around the ribbon.

This is a ribbon mic we had built & modified by xaudia a few years back – it is made from a modern ribbon, a vintage reslo transformer, a piece of meccano & part of a light fitting – looks a little nuts – but sounds heavenly – & because it has no casing – there’s zero shell resonance – so it gives a very pure image of what its’ recording.

 

king krule with ghostpoet at south london recording studio

Here’s a better view of the transformer:

micachu & king krule recording at shrunkenheads studios south london

This is a dynamic mic made by Peavey – of all people – it’s the one capsule they got right – the 520i is a superb all round microphone – great on kick, snare, toms, bass, guitar, percussion, horns, vocals – you name it – it shines – but! – it’s got a very hot (loud) output – so we bought a bunch of the capsules without transformers, had them wired up & mounted – now they’re a bit quieter so don’t overdrive the mic preamps so easily – & clearer, as they are not coloured by an output transformer.

ghostpoet recording drums at shrunkenheads studio with king krule

The plastic eye is a useful addition – it lets drummers know we are watching them – & is a reminder Not to hit the back of the mic!

You can see the studio HERE:

www.shrunkenheadsstudios.com

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Recording kick Ass Heavy Guitars 2

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Gettin’ Heavy With Guitars – amp & mic setups 2  

Here at The Coolest Recording Studio in London Town – we like microphones – they are somewhat of a passion of ours – why we have so many & so many different types

But – you don’t need a whole gamut – nay plethora ! – to make things sound big, bad & beautiful – with just two of the same mic (like the sm57 as used here) you can achieve a vast array of differing spaces & tones.

This particular setup is pretty superb at adding well a defined bottom end to whatever you use it on – in this instance it’s a guitar cab – but you can use it on vocals / drums / bass / horns etc.

Take two identical mics – & tape or cable tie them together so that one of the capsules is one capsule depth in front of the other:

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The one closest to the sound being recorded will be the main mic if using them in mono – you fade in the second mic to add body & tone – this second mic will be out of phase with the first some be sure to fix that in your daw

You can of course pan the mics left & right across the soundstage – this can create a Fu Manchu or Sabbath like wall of sound. 

For funk or Jazz guitar tones you can experiment with adding the second mic (in mono) & leaving it out of phase – Michael Jacksons’ Off the Wall LP was full of funky out of phase guitar licks. 

It’s a thing. 

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You can se the studio website HERE

www.shrunkenheadsstudios.com