I am tracking a lot of guitar lately and for one of the projects I am producing I really wanted to get some new sounds. I had read about Roger Linn’s new guitar pedal which is called the AdrenaLinn II.
The AdrenaLinn II is an effects processor for guitar, keyboard or bass that combines a number of features:
A beat-synched multi-effects processor:
- Tremolo, flanging, rotary, delay, random filtering and other modulation effects, including programmed sequences or filtered tones or note arpeggios, in synch to the internal drumbeat or MIDI. Also included are classic filter effects like auto-wah, guitar synth and talk box
An amp modeler:
- 24 models of classic guitar amps over the past 40 years, distortion boxes, a clean preamp, and a few original amp models
A programmable drum machine:
- A great-sounding beat box with 200 drumbeats and over 40 sounds
This was the most fun I have had on a guitar in years. Although I had booked a couple of hours in the studio to lay down some tracks I spent nearly 6 hours playing with all the different sonic possibilities from this pedal.
Inverse Square Law
I did live sound at church last Sunday and there were a number of issues that took place. The primary wireless mic began randomly emitting short, explosive bursts of crackle. Clearly a short in the cable assembly but no backup wireless system was available. We switched to a wired microphone for the second service. Much better.
However, during the second service we received a complaint that the overall sound pressure level was too high. One person apparently walked out due to the sound level. Of course we diligently adhere to a house standard which has been in effect for several years. My recommendation was to observe the inverse square law and sit further back from the loudspeakers if sensitivity to higher sound pressure levels is an issue.
Although more specialized, studio sound is much less stressful than live sound. There is a higher level of uncertainty in live sound. So many variables can impact the presentation of high fidelity in live sound and there is no second take. To be successful in live sound is to be completely and absolutely transparent to the listener. Better to never be noticed in live sound!
Chris of Beta Monkey Drum Loops and Samples was posting to the recording.org site looking for comments on the Audix D6 microphone. He is thinking about using the D6 in place of the AKG 112 to track the kick drum. I picked up an Audix D6 a few months back and I have not looked back. I may fall back on the Sennheiser MD421 or the 112 again but so far I have really enjoyed the sounds I can get with the D6. I may try out his drum samples. They are inexpensive and I can always use some hits to create a different snare sound.
Fergus Marsh recorded bass guitar tracks for one of the projects I am working on in the studio. Fergus has worked with a number of notable artists including Bruce Cockburn and Steve Bell. He has also worked with an old friend of mine Glen Soderholm.
Fergus is an outstanding musician and he has mastered an amazing instrument known as the Chapman Stick. My youngest son has had the unique advantage of meeting many of Canada’s most talented musicians. Matthew has seen Fergus play on Steve Bell’s DVD. He was so pleased to see Fergus play the Chapman Stick live in the studio.
Although most of my recording work is done on the other side of the glass I still have many performance opportunities live and in studio. There are times when I contribute directly to projects that I am producing. Such was the case last night as I tracked a number of guitar parts for a current project.
Years past it was always a hard go. However, with the magic of Remote Desktop and wireless networking, this is now so much simpler. I set myself up in one of the talent rooms and I use my laptop computer to drive most of the equipment in the control room. I can operate the Control 24 and Pro Tools environment as if I were in the control room. The laptop operates the studio DAW as if it were directly connected. Very slick.
Currently running about twice the normal load of session work in the studio. Really pleased to see how well the studio is doing and also the improvement in sonic fidelity over the past couple of years. We also are seeing a much higher calibre of talent coming in and that makes the whole process that much more enjoyable for me personally.
First stage test of the new Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue (DRRI) yesterday. Absolutely remarkable sound! Over the past few months I have played a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, a Fender Custom Vibrolux, a Mesa Boogie F50 and now the DRRI. I have found an absolutely stunning amplifier in the DRRI.
A number of players argue that the DRRI needs to be modded to sound its best. Typically the mods are focused on replacing the stock tubes and the stock speaker. The DRRI comes standard with a Jensen C-12K speaker. This 12″ speaker is a ceramic design with a vintage voicing. The DRRI also comes with 3 12AX7s, 2 12AT7s, 2 6V6s and 1 5AR4 rectifier. I originally thought that I would mod the amp but after the stage performance yesterday I am not so sure. A rare experience for me to be transported by the tone of an amplifier. In fact, I have never been transported. I was yesterday. I will think hard about whether any mods are needed for this rig.
Upcoming session this week features a talented bassist with a number of interesting challenges. I usually track the beds with all players in attendance. For this session, the bassist will be tracking against pre-recorded drums, acoustic guitars and scratch vocals and keys. My primary concern, as always, is the capture of the performance and the sound. Sometimes playing against pre-recorded tracks takes the magic from the performance.
I will be looking at the chain to see if there are any tweaks to improve the technical side of capturing the instrument. I often use the following configuration: Radial DI (either active or passive depending on the instrument) – Brent Averill 1272 preamp – Pro Tools. I’ll only use compression as a last resort. Most of the bassists we work with have pretty good control over their dynamics.
Last week was especially hectic and I did not have the opportunity to update this blog. One of the threads I was looking into last week was the quest to improve the current guitar rig that I use. I returned my Mesa Boogie F-50 for a Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue. Actually, I tried a Fender Custom Vibrolux first. The issue with both the Mesa and the Vibrolux is the significant hiss at idle. For my applications in the studio and on stage I cannot tolerate the level of hiss. With the 65 Deluxe I see some good points but there are several improvements that I need to make. Currently on the pedalboard:
- Analog Man Juicer compression pedal
- Analog Man modified Ibanez TS-9 distortion pedal
- Boss NS-2 noise suppressor
- Ernie Ball volume pedal
- Fender stage tuner
- Voodoo Labs Analog Chorus
- Line Six DL 4 Delay Modeler
The TS-9 does not match well to the amp. A very solid-state distortion effect. This amp seems to match well with the Soldano Supercharger and Hughes & Kettner Tube Factor pedals. I’m going to try the Tube Factor since it’s a lot less noisy.
Some comments off the Harmony Central review section:
This amp has the best sounding, most soulful clean tone I’ve ever heard. Very sweet, soft compression when driven. I find myself playing through preamp one most of the time, though the reverb and vibrato channel is nice too, just a little more trebley. I usually run the treble down a bit, maybe around 4ish, and the bass up around 7.
Buy a Weber 12F150D speaker and install it. Buy some Electro Harmonix or NOS Philips tubes from thetubestore.com and install them (yes, ALL of the tubes). Re-bias the amp to spec. Enjoy your new amp!!!!!……… For about $200, plus the cost of the DRRI, you will have an amp that rivals the sound of many “boutique” amps that cost nearly twice as much! You MUST do these mods in order for this amp to sound its best. There are other mods (replacing caps, etc.) available on the web that will tweek the sound a bit more, but the above changes will provide at least a 200% improvement over the stock tone IMO.”
Spent about 6 hours yesterday doing mindless drum edits on a couple of songs. All the while I was thinking that I need to hire an assistant to do this kind of work. I still do not forget the days of tapes and razors but I also do not think we were quite as fussy about timing back then. I often spin pop CDs against the click and I am amazed at how many producers are working in bullet time. In some cases the drums are absolutely and totally locked. Which, of course, is not humanly possible. Oh the power of Pro Tools.
Young Talent These Days
We had a young player in the studio recently who demonstrated a certain level of arrogance. I suspect this is due to the prevalence of computer-based multitrack software. Armed with Cakewalk and a Shure SM-58 and anyone can become a fully qualified and experienced audio engineer. This made me think back to the many years I have spent trying to learn this craft. Over 25 years now and what strikes me more so today than ever before is the overwhelming body of knowledge much of which I still have to learn. Perhaps that is the difference as we age. We begin to understand that experience and wisdom really matters. I reassured this young player that I had a pretty good idea as to which microphones to use and where to point them. He played reasonably well.
I picked up Michael McDonald’s Motown CD. This project was produced by Simon Climie and recorded and mixed entirely within the Pro Tools HD environment. I was quite impressed with the overall sound of the album particularly the bass tracks. What was also very interesting was the number of credits given to Pro Tools on this album. Even the Sony Oxford Plug-ins were given an honorable mention. Here is an excerpt from Simon’s take on the project:
Simon recently produced Michael McDonald’s latest album, ‘Motown’, which was released in the UK in May this year. “This was the first album I recorded using Pro Tools HD,” says Simon. “Michael’s vocals are amazing! The album sounds incredible in 5.1 too and it’s selling like hot cakes in America – it’s through ‘gold’ already. All the reviews say that his vocals sound amazing – thanks to HD! We also worked with new arrangements of some great Motown material. The record company wanted Michael to duet with the original artists, so within the hour, we had time-stretched Marvin Gaye’s original vocal into the new Michael MacDonald version and sent off an MP3 file for approval via DigiDelivery. They were amazed.”
Simon believes that the Pro Tools HD system enhances creativity. “It gives me much more of an active involvement and affects the recording process in a big way,” he comments. “We do a lot of editing of the structure of the song as we go, such as making a double length intro or lengthening the guitar section, and I can even arrange the master track while I’m recording something else. I can go through the session and mute things without it stopping or crashing – I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing this in Logic, by the way! Traditionally, with a recording session, the band would go away while something was tried out but, with Pro Tools, you can do this on the fly. If we had to go back to the old way of working now and do an SSL-style recall, everyone would be so impatient and angry and you’d lose the moment completely. Pro Tools, a great engineer and the vibe of a big studio with a good live room, is the perfect combination and can only enhance the performance of the musicians. There’s no multitrack tape to worry about – I can just get on and manage the production. It’s pretty limitless.”
Simon continues, “You can almost be at mix status before you finish recording.”