Here you will find tracks from a "build a song in 4 hours" session with Francis Dunnery (www.francisdunnery.com). The mission was clear, but the execution was interesting. All of the sounds were recorded with 4 different mics in as close to the same position as possible - except the bass, which was recorded direct, and the drums which (with the exception of the snare) were mic'ed before the session began. The session was recorded on 23 February 2011 at "The Studio" on 7th Street in Philadelphia (www.thestudiophilly.com) and was sponsored by Studio Logic Sound (www.studiologicsound.com).
No equalizers were used in this recording, nor were any dynamic range control devices employed. The sounds you hear on this recording were from the microphone to the pre-amplifier, usually SSL E-Series pre-amps from the desk. Neve 51-Series pre-amps were employed for the drum setup.
The methodology was interesting. First, Mr. Dunnery laid a scratch acoustic guitar part, which employed an ELA M 260 with a base lead and female vocalist Dorie Jackson recording a harmony vocal. This was performed without headphones or a click track. The idea was that the artist would then build the song from the basic scratch track, which would not be heard again in the actual production.
As an initial vocal mic trial, two additional "warm up" songs were recorded (see Francis Dunnery and Dorie Jackson for the multi track session details and files). One song, called "Holiday," employed an ELA M 251E in cardioid and a U-47 for Francis's vocal, while a C-12 and AK-47 MkII were tried on Dorie. For the next warm up song "Heartache Reborn," the vocal mics were switched so Francis was on the C-12 and AK-47 MkII, while Dorie was on the ELA M 251 E and U-47. Both of those songs are available in a multi-track presentation for you to examine, but as the microphones were all in cardioid there is a considerable amount of guitar bleed (hey – it was a rough / scratch demo... far from "product"!!).
After the scratch / basis tracks were recorded, it was time to begin building the song. There were two acoustic guitar parts. For each part, four microphones were employed with the idea that two of those four were to be combined to form a composite sound (see photos for mics and positions).
On the first track (acoustic 1), the guitar was mic'ed from the neck, as well as the traditional "12th fret looking at the sound hole" position. For the second track (acoustic 2), two mics were again placed at the 12th fret, and two others were aimed at the bridge from a position of about 18 inches in front of the guitar and approximated 3 ft. below the guitar (see photos for details).
From these collections the mixer [you?!?!] should choose the sounds he [or she] feels will work best in the context of the presentation. As time did not permit ruthless attention to detail in terms of phase alignment, one would be cautioned that there are distinct phase anomalies when trying to use all 4 mics simultaneously.
The next bits to be recorded were the drums and bass. Due to time restrictions, the bass was taken direct through an Avalon M-5 direct box. The drum mic'ing is as follows: Kick: M80 inside the drum, AK-47 mkII at the outer hole. Snare was an M80 and Shure® SM-57 for comparison purposes. The toms (Floor, Low Rack, High Rack) were all mic'ed from the top with M80's. Hi-Hat was an ELA M 260 with the cardioid capsule, and the overheads were a pair of AR-51s (see photos for details).
Four room mics were also employed, one of which was an ELA M 260 positioned as a "pressure zone" microphone against the control room glass on the studio side. The method for this positioning is fairly straight ahead. You set up the mic so it is on the same angle as the glass and trap a business card between the capsule element and the glass. Then ever so gently you slowly move the stand holding the mic off the glass until the business card drops. This will give you about a millimeter(ish) of space between the glass and the mic, which will have the microphone "hearing" the reflections off the glass as opposed to the direct signal. It is a technique that gives a very accurate picture of how the room sounds.
The other 3 mics were placed at random within the room. As room ambience is a "random phase event," you can feel free to use any combination of them (or none at all) with the close mic'ed drums.
The next setup was piano. Francis knew how he wanted the arrangement of the song to go, and had a very specific piano part in mind. For microphones, we employed two of the CU-29 "Copperhead" mics in a close mic'ed setting, a pair of ELA M 260s in a similar configuration, and a single AK-47 MkII placed off the piano a few feet in a figure-8 pattern. When you're going through mix options, you will find that the CU-29 pair and ELA M 260 pair will be relatively in phase with each other, but unless you're going for an "effect," it probably will not be advisable to include all 4 mics on the piano at the same time.
Now it was time for "the money tracks" — also known as vocals!! During the initial "song base" recording, eight vocal mics were setup in two "wheel groups" of four. A wheel group is four microphones placed with their capsules as close together as possible, and the singer is instructed to sing into the center of the "wheel." This is generally used as a technique to determine which mic will sound best on the singer for this particular song. As the singers were rehearsing the song during the base track recording, each singer was recorded on each of the two wheel groups. This gave a rough idea of which set of mics liked each singer best.
When the actual vocals were recorded, the wheel groups were again setup, this time at a 90º angle so several of the microphones could employ the figure-8 pattern, while the mics that didn't have that capability were left in cardioid. The reason to set the mics at 90º and to use figure-8 was to attempt to get as much separation between the singers as possible. When using the figure-8 pattern there is an electronic, full frequency range null that is created at the side of the mic. By placing the singers at 90º from each other, the nulls from the mics in figure 8 could be pointed (or at least relatively pointed) at the other singer giving as much separation as possible.
The final bit of recording was an electric guitar solo. This again employed four microphones on a single guitar amp. Several takes were performed, so you – as the mixer – will have an opportunity to not only decide which microphones suit the aesthetic of the song best, but also get to either choose which of the guitar takes is best for the song, or you can build a single "compilation" track from bits of the various performances.
While the recording itself was performed at an amazingly fast pace (the entire project was recorded in 4 hours – start to finish!!!), there is no shortage of options for the mixer. Again – no EQ or compression was employed on any of the recorded tracks. You will hear what the mics heard, which should give you something of an understanding of the "texture" of each mic, and give some insight as to that mic's personality and character.
Happy mixing!!!TELEFUNKEN Multi-Tracks STUDIO - Francis Dunnery "Immaculate" by TELEFUNKEN Elektroakustik
Download the zips below, which are grouped by type for quicker download (total filesize of all files: 475 MB). There are also .wav and .mp3 rough mixes of both songs and the complete input list in PDF format, and, for fast broadband connections, one complete zip containing all the files.
Listen to the rough mix.