Monday, May 21, 2012

The Inaugural Meyer Studio Rock Band Recording

This past Saturday the 19th, Jeff and I awoke at 6AM-ish to set up the Meyer Studio for a full-band recording session. The session's purpose was to lay down the rhythm tracks and a first pass at vocals for two tunes. The instrumentation The band is Manwich and Potato Salad, and they shall go down in the recordbooks as the first band to record in our new studio.

We knew going into the session that the instrumentation would be a full drum kit, electric bass, and electric guitar, plus vocals from Kevin, the guitarist. Kevin sent us a couple demos, and I knew from working with him before that his style is an upbeat pop-rock with elements of blues. Kevin mentioned a Raphael Saadiq song that demonstrated the '60s "motown-homage" quality he was interested in capturing, but still had a modern pop "edge" to it. Jeff and I decided early on that we wanted to get a controllable, close-miked sound with all of the elements isolated from each other so that we could "design" the sound if the band desired it.

We placed the drum kit in the classroom on the wood floor, and loaded it up with mics to give us options in the mix.

The drummer, Neil Daniels, clearly had significant experience in the studio, and the drums were tuned beautifully. I wanted to try using my SM7 out in front of the kick drum to capture a more complete "picture" of the drum, in addition to the AKG D112 up close, capturing the "thud" of a pop-rock kick.

A few other pictures of mic choices and placements. An AKG D6 on the floor tom...

A Sennheiser MD421 on the rack tom...

I've been aching to try using ribbon mics as a pair of drum overheads, so I placed our Beyer M160s in XY above the kit, centered over the snare. They do an excellent job of smoothing out the harshness of the cymbals, while capturing a good image of the whole kit. The Neumann KM184s were placed to get  a wider overhead option, but also to capture the high transients that we lose with the ribbons.

Here is an audio sample of the ribbon's soloed: LINK

For room mics, we placed the Neumann M149 in omni about 10 feet in front of the kick drum. Directly next to it, we put the Shure VP88 in Mid/Side mode. The two are phase-aligned, and gave us some imaging options for the room sound. The moving blanket is covering the studio's TV, which acted as a giant reflector of the drum sound directly into our room mics ... no good!

Kevin's guitar was an off-brand Stratocaster model fed into a Fender Deville tube amp, which gave a great clean tone with a little crunch to it. To give us tonal options, we put up both an SM57 and a Neumann U89 in cardioid. Both the guitar and the bass were also recorded through a DI, to give us the option of "re-amping" the signal later.

These pics are just to show the extent that we used the studios supplies. We ran out of mic stands, and nearly ran out of patch cords and XLR...

The session was a hell of a lot of fun, and Jeff and I have some very good tracks to play with. The musicians — Chris Lorentz on Bass, Kevin Dekimpe on guitar and vocals, and Neal Daniels on drums — were fantastic and really insightful during the whole process. We look forward to being able to post the final tracks soon!


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