Hey there audio friends,

Not a spare minute the past month but fortunately we’ve been able to give every project its requisite time! Battery Humans have been in, remarkable staunch crust punk from Brisbane. They are playing this show very soon, you should attend if you are local and love raging politically charged music. Bad Sext have also been here, great band heavily influenced by Frankie Cosmos, Nina Nastasia, Kurt Vile to name a few. We’ve also had Tee Noah in mixing some more singles, a tonne of vocal tracking sessions for various projects. We mixed a record for Milan Graham, chipped a bit more at the Hope Drone LP. Lastly, Matt Hykus has been here doing some production for a local act. Matt is a Universal endorsed artist who is currently existing as a present day troubadour.

SOME NEW GEAR

ANTELOPE ORION

Had this wonderful little A/D / Master Clock up for audition on some projects this month and fell in love with it. Its hard to quantify how antelope have managed to squeeze in 32 channels of analogue conversion  (db25 terminated audio) into a single rack space box. Immediate thoughts were that we have to keep this unit. Massive difference in the top end, much less brittle and more articulate. Smoother if you will and more pristine in the way it correlates transients. Its hard to articulate tonal qualities in regards to converters, but its safe to say this will be our clock now.

TUBE TECH SMC2B

The big boy! Stereo tube opto multi band compressor, fair to say it could really be used on anything. Stereo bus would be its natural home, but great on drum groups or as a de-esser for vocals. Lauded by many knowledgable engineers such as Al Shmitt, who is inarguably one of the greatest living recordists and can’t complete a session without the SMC2B. The only difference between this version and the mastering version is that the pots are rotary rather than stepped. The advantage in our case in regards to these pots are that the crossover points are easily sweepable. Hugely helpful on mix bus to be able to tune into where compression differences occur.

Talking about compression/limiting on mix bus, something to think about is when multi-band can come in handy. What happens with a 4k bus comp for example is that the side chain is excluding lower frequencies out of the compressor section. This will cause the compressor to only react to information above a certain frequency, although when an excursion speaks to the detector the low frequencies will still compress. Or even still, a floor tom may suck down a vocal etc.  Multi-band can be an extremely useful alternate utility for mixing.

One thing we would recommend not doing is using this (or any) multiband in parallel, its a very difficult thing to pull off without causing massive phase discrepancies.

We obviously encourage all the freelance people that use Underground to patch this in next time they are here, but keep in mind just because something has a massive price tag and a bunch of tubes doesn’t mean its the best agent. There is a session note floating around the internet somewhere from Iain Burgess which states, “stereo bus compression is for pussies”. As you age as an engineer it becomes increasingly harder to argue against the late and great Iain Burgess. Still, to each their own. This thing sounds incredible.

MANLEY REFERENCE CARDIOID

Tube cardioid microphone suited for vocal applications. Tickled pink by this purchase, such an incredible transducer for the human voice, although we have successfully used it as a mono overhead, front of set mono and guitar amplifier mic.

Not many know this but the capsules in the Ref C are the same that were used in the CR3A/CR2001, a Feilo K67. The Ref Gold uses a capsule designed by Josephson (mic royalty) which is based on the CK12, though both the Gold and the Ref C have the same electronics. Through various shootouts we determined the Ref C was a clear winner for vocals. Not to say the Gold isn’t an incredible microphone, the Ref C was just purpose built for vocal duties. It has a thicker sound, high mid forward and an equal amount of air. Some would say this equates to more colour and less transparency.

BATTERY HUMANS

3 day session with a bunch of overdubs. Our vocal chain was something to remark on; 421 (1/3 toward speech on its equaliser) patched into a mult. One signal went to a 902, distressor on fast, 1176 slow to tape. The other signal went to a pinned E1010 with all the bass rolled off, all modulation down, max delay with shortest feedback. A blend of both signals (70% dry, 30% wet) was then sent to a Ceriatone Friedman clone via a hotcake and an eventide time factor, which was reamped into two weber blue dogs with front and back PR30’s. The back microphone was phase flipped and the signal was patched into the line section of our Daking EQ cutting some 700Hz. This particular unit is insanely hot and despite having reliable pads sometimes its better to run something into its line.

The drums in the photo below were so great. Insane massive Sakae drum set. RIP to that short lived company, they belted out some incredible pieces of wood.

BAD SEXT

Bad Sext have been in the building laying down 4 songs for a digital release. We needed this particular mid 70’s ludwig for the sounds they were characterising prior to the session. Its probably the least resonant drum sound we have put to tape this year, curious too as they were older, thinner shelled drums. It was an objective to do the ol’ double head setup to reduce the pistonic effect of the drums, but soon found out they were dampened already to a satisfactory level. The C&C snare we had for this session was ridiculous, super fat and crisp whilst still being incredibly even to track.

Some abnormal choices here. Most likely the first time a 421 has ever been used on a tom here. The 421 on tom norm somehow propagated like a feedback loop. Firstly, its hard to employ the differoid effect with 421’s, cymbals also sound horrendous. Looking at their lobes its just a bunch of bananas visually, generally speaking nothing is flattering through a 421 except whatever is right infront of it. In this particular case the drums were hugely deadened to the point of almost zero resonance, additionally there wasn’t much cymbal playing at all (and the cymbals were choked) so it was a rare circumstance in which a 421 was appropriate. Sometimes you just know something that usually doesn’t work is magically going to.
Bass Drum: EV RE20
Snare top: Oktava MK012
Snare bottom: M201
Tom 1 top: 4041 (flipped)
Tom 1 bottom: 4041
Tom 2 top: 421
Tom 2 bottom: D112
Hi hat/cymbal spot: m160
Ride spot: m160
Overhead: Manley Ref C
Front of Set: AEA R88mkii
Elec Bass A: Beyerdynamic M380
Elec Bass B: Neumann 103
Elec Guitar A: Heil PR30
Elec Guitar B: Bees Neez tribute 3
Vocals: M88