Second Night of Tracking with Aimee Lee, Mitch Hare and Others in Master Mix Studio A
This is the second part of a multi-part series. If you missed the first part of this series last Monday, check out the first article for details on the first day’s basic setup, drums, organ, piano and guitar, as well as microphone, preamp, eq, compression selection. Today’s update will be a bit less novel-esque than yesterday’s post because we have a lot less to cover.
To review, on the first night we had guests Matt Jacobs on drums, Mitch Hare on organ and piano, and Lindy Pedersen on guitar working out arrangements and getting basic tones in the control room. We took a couple of practice takes to tape and listened back to make sure we were get the right vibe for each arrangement. On our second night in the room, Bassist Dik Hedlund, Saxophonist Rich Manik and Vocalist Aimee Lee joined us to track three tunes. All three were tracked live in the room with only the vocal isolated. On the two tunes featuring a vocalist, headphones for the musicians consisted only of vocals and talkback, with the exception of Aimee who received a full mix, so everyone continued to listen and play together as an ensemble in the room.
Vocals were tracked through a vintage Neumann U67 in the connected iso booth. It was difficult to setup Aimee so she could see everyone in the room, but we made sure she at least had visual communication with band leader/pianist Mitch Hare. A pop filter was placed close to the microphone to get rid of any nasty plosives (“p-pops”). Aimee monitored the same mix through her headphones as we were listening in the control room, with the ability to add a little extra “more me” through the Lengevin cue mixer.
It can be difficult to visualize mic placement on the saxophone without Rich standing in place with his horn, but think 12″ out, pointed somewhere between the bell and the finger position. The instrument was captured using the Microtech Gefell M1030 Cardioid condensor microphone, which did a great job of picking up the detail of both tenor and alto sax.
Finally, Dik’s bass was captured through a Radial JDI, featuring a passive Jensen-transformer design, as well as an Ampeg BA-115 Bass Amp. A Shure KSM44 was placed a little high and left of center, a few inches off the cone. A pad was used on the mic, but otherwise it was set to a cardioid position with no roll-off. The amp is likely to become the main bass tone for this ensemble because it mixes so well with the other instruments in the room, but it’s nice to have the DI as well for a little extra “oomph” on the bottom-end.
Meanwhile, in the control room – the API 512c modules were used to pre-amplify the mic-level signal coming from the vocal, sax and bass microphones, as well as the bass DI. We discovered a “funny” patch point on input number four, so that was reported to our tech department and bypassed for the session.
The line-level vocal signal, bass DI and amplifier all passed through the API 550B modules for a little equalization on the way to tape. The vocal got a little +2dB bost with a 12.5kHz high-shelf for air and presence. The bass amp and DI both saw a +2dB 75 Hz peak on the bottom and another +4dB peak at 800 Hz to bring out the strings. You can see here that I ultimately ended up dumping the equalization previously placed on the overheads and leaving them flat. With everyone playing the Coles seemed to balance out just-right.
Vocals and Bass DI both passed through Summit TLA-100 compressors. A vocalist as dynamic as Aimee almost always needs a little dynamic control and bass DI tends to be “jumpy” enough to benefit from a little compression as well. Soft-and-smooth is what the Summit TLA-100’s do best, and they certainly did their job. You can see the whole compressor stack, including the 1176s previously placed on the organ, here.
Next we pick up a few overdubs for organ or vocals, bring a Wurlitzer into the mix and do a do one more tune with a much more minimal ensemble. We’ll definitely keep you up-to-date, sound-bites to come. In the mean-time, feel free to check out the high-resolution set of photos on IPR’s Flickr.