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  • Please describe the recording setup of this old record.

    Hey guys,





    Here's an old Brian Hyland recording from circa 1964-65.



    It has a very idiosyncratic sound based on its recording setup. Just how do you get a record to sound like this? Where were mics placed?



    How many mics, do you suppose, were placed in the room, and what type? In that era, and on that budget, how many mics could they use in one take?



    Of course it's noisy... but that's arguably part of what's good about it... Where in the pipeline did that noise encroach upon the mix?






    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jJmdKnS94M





    Thanks, Dave
    Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


    Friend me on FACEBOOK!

  • #2
    They used fourteen microphones on the drums, recording it through an MBox 2, then used drum replacement. Nice choice of samples, capturing a lot of the room. Tympanis sound nice, eh? Vintage samples, baybeee!!!!



    The piano is actually the stock software piano plugin that comes with Pro Tools 10. It's a nice one. Sounds just like the real thing. The guitar is one of those acoustic guitar modeling things. And those orchestration samples!! Oh, so right!!!



    Whole thing is really tight, too. All snapped to the grid, so it's all perfect, seriously right on. You can tell the Pro Tools engineer programmed in a really nice swing rhythm to capture the whole thing, giving it that "human" feel. So right. So good. The PTE (that'd be "Pro Tools Engineer" - class certified!) wanted this doubled vocal, so he copied the vocal on to another track and goosed one forward a few milliseconds and panned 'em a bit using a 3.0dB panning scheme.



    Everything was overdubbed. That way, everyone could record in separate cities and get their parts oh so perfectly. That's the best way to capture that magic of musicians playing together, that amazing chemistry that occurs when everyone dropboxes their wav files to the PTE and he weaves 'em into a glorious tapestry of righteous music.



    The PTE wanted that sort of vintage thing going on, so he ran the mix through an analog tape plugin. Analog, after all, is an effect, isn't it? Of course it is!! Well, it is now. You can tell, too...you can see the reels spinning on the plugin! Serious realism here.



    Then, as the crowning touch, the PTE slapped on the Izotope record crackles and warble, just to nail that vibe. The last two plugins are where the noise comes in. After all, there's no noise or distortion on a digital recording, after all, oh no.



    I hope this answers all your questions, Dave.
    Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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    • #3
      I would say impossible to say where and how things were mic'd other than to say...lot's of ambient or far mic's or whatever but to my ear and only listening to a few seconds....it sounds like the overuse of reverb.

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      • #4






        Quote Originally Posted by rasputin1963
        View Post

        Hey guys,



        It has a very idiosyncratic sound based on its recording setup. Just how do you get a record to sound like this? Where were mics placed?



        How many mics, do you suppose, were placed in the room, and what type? In that era, and on that budget, how many mics could they use in one take?




        What do you find idiosyncratic about this, out of curiosity?



        It sounds like a bunch of people in a very large room with gobos between them, some room mics, some close mics, not much on each instrument, lots of the usual sorts of microphones you would expect during that era, and they probably could use a fair amount of microphones since they were also doing orchestral sessions and all sorts of things back then.



        Big dominant voice with tons of reverb makes it a little harder to determine placement and that kind of thing, of course.



        And unless we can hear the master tape, it'd be difficult to determine where the noise comes in since someone probably ripped this from a record player.
        Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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        • #5
          As far as 1960's "AM pop hit" records go, it seems more vacant, somehow, as if they were almost attempting a Phil Spector "Wall Of Sound", but did not take it far enough... So it's neither mic'd intimately, but nor is it the full-on big "warehouse" sound of a Phil Spector.



          Then the whole sound is noisy/distorted, and, to my ear, more noisy/distorted than it had to be, for that time period.



          And naturally I'm wondering about overdubs--- how many they might've done, and how many tracks they had to work with. It sounds like Hyland's leadvox is done-- what--- three times?



          Then I find myself wondering how this selfsame song/arrangement/instrumentation/performance would sound if it were recorded today... You know, everything clean-clean-CLEAN ! What would it sound like THEN? I'm not sure it would even be worth doing.
          Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


          Friend me on FACEBOOK!

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          • #6






            Quote Originally Posted by rasputin1963
            View Post

            As far as 1960's "AM pop hit" records go, it seems more vacant, somehow, as if they were almost attempting a Phil Spector "Wall Of Sound", but did not take it far enough... So it's neither mic'd intimately, but nor is it the full-on big "warehouse" sound of a Phil Spector.



            Then the whole sound is noisy/distorted, and, to my ear, more noisy/distorted than it had to be, for that time period.



            And naturally I'm wondering about overdubs--- how many they might've done, and how many tracks they had to work with. It sounds like Hyland's leadvox is done-- what--- three times?



            Then I find myself wondering how this selfsame song/arrangement/instrumentation/performance would sound if it were recorded today... You know, everything clean-clean-CLEAN ! What would it sound like THEN? I'm not sure it would even be worth doing.




            It depends on how it would be done today, I suppose. They could do clean but vintage like the last Chris Isaak recording, or they could do it like I described above.



            It does seem vacant, but how much of that is due to arrangement? Or engineering? It doesn't sound like a great engineering or mixing job to me. I've also heard a fair amount of old records that kinda sound like this, so not everything was masterfully done like some of Spector's recordings. I heard some of his recordings on a good system, and it sounded seriously fantastic, with beautiful placement, arrangement, sense of space, gorgeous instrumentation, balance, the whole bit. I had heard Spector's recordings my whole life, but to hear them on a really great system was revelatory.
            Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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            • #7
              A friend of mine here in LA makes records "vintage style." They are not or as polished as effected as the mix posted, though. I've seen his process (which he is very particular about). A minimum of tracks, a lot of bleed, and minimal overdubs. Everything is tracked in a small room on a prosumer 1/4" 8 track using a non-descript analog mixer. See: http://www.wildrecordsusa.com/fr_home.cfm



              Here's a mix that sounds a little more like the one in the example, and this one was made in the nineties. When they play it live, it sounds about the same. Two great singers, mixing their harmonies in real time by working the mic.






              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijr7e0THYWU

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              • #8
                half inch four track in the studio as well as quarter inch stereo/mono mix tape machine

                15ips

                studio about 35x40



                started with a live metronome click fed to drummer during the basic track



                1. first pass on tape was mono drums, elec rhythm guitar and also an acoustic rhythm guitar, piano, bass to fill the four tracks. Drums on 1, the combined rhythm gtrs on 2, bass on 3, underlying piano on 4.



                Several compressors used in real time on all the instruments as captured to tape



                2. the four tracks were then run through the console and submixed in mono over to the quarter inch tape machine. Reverb was dialed in at this early point and printed because... hey, this was the 500th pop song recorded this week and the guys pretty much knew what reverb amount they'd need so far... so no biggie to print some of it now.



                3 That feed was then direct recorded back over to a fresh (empty tape area) of the four track onto track one. Which then begins to change the overall sonics (of course).



                4.Brian then recorded lead vocal (u67) on track two and then doubled it on track 3 while listening to the mono mix on track one. In parts he moved his singing on track 3 to a harmony note rather than strict doubling. But only a couple of times during the course of the song. At one point, a sub-submix (so to speak) was done directly on the four track for the word "satisfied" towards the end of the song.. which is a two pt harmony. He then did one more pass on track 4 to triple the main line in spots..



                5. Now, the four tracks are again routed through the console (affecting the sound even more) and this time, mixed over to the two track in stereo with the basic tracks left and all of Brian's vocals so far, mixed to the right.



                6. The new two track was now (yet again) direct routed over to (yet again) an upper area of the half inch reel where the tape was blank. The song is now ... basic track on trk1 of the four track, and Brian's mixed vocals now on track 2 of the four track.



                7. Tympani and chimes were now overdubbed in one mono pass to track 3.



                8. A main piano riff (and elec guitar doubling that riff) were recorded in mono to track 4.



                The song was now mixed down through the console (for about the fourth time) as a mono track to the quarter inch machine.



                Reverb was a custom live chamber, maybe 60x60 with shellac walls/



                The four track was then mixed to stereo the same day for this release version...

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wCc1...e=results_main



                The whole shebang was then cut for vinyl... changing the sound yet again.





                And that's the way the song was made... in the tiny imaginary universe I operate in.



                Oh yeah... one other thing I made up... Brian would've started the session with a room full of musicians on the basic track (like use the tympani/chimes guy then), but there really was no budget for all those people in a spector-type approach. And the room wasn't big enough... and the tympani and chime weren't even there anyway that day.



                Hey, do you wanna know a cool thing you can do with chimes that Chips Moman taught me? This part was in the real world. Record some chimes (tubular bells for you 70s guys) in single notes on the tape machine...er... iPad. And only play individual notes ... and not too close together.



                Then, while you're mixing them to a sub track, set your automation (or ride the fader) so that you don't capture the hit of the chime... fade it up only right after the it.... and make sure it's all compressed and then gate the tail... or lower the fader real fast if you're automating. Cool sounds eh?.....



                Oh yeah.. back to poor Brian....



                Things got worse four years later for Gypsy Woman. Have you ever listened to the bass... er... lack of.. good bass part on the otherwise stellar (stellar) Gypsy Woman. Well... the reason that all happened was.........

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                • #9
                  Cool and fascinating information, you guys. How I appreciate you and your erudition.







                  It occurs to me that, as Leon Russell did this arrangement, this may well be a Wrecking Crew/Gold Star recording after all... hmm..
                  Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


                  Friend me on FACEBOOK!

                  Comment


                  • #10






                    Quote Originally Posted by rasputin1963
                    View Post

                    It occurs to me that, as Leon Russell did this arrangement, this may well be a Wrecking Crew/Gold Star recording after all... hmm..




                    Bummer. There was a budget. I have to re-invent my story.

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                    • #11
                      I LOL'd through the first paragraph or two from Ken. And then I cut down to the reply box. (So apologies if I missed anything really great in between.)





                      Sounds like they were trying hard to recapture the 'magic' of Spector's Wall of Sound recordings. But it sounds like they may have only had access to a two track recorder instead of the three tracks that I believe Spector used at Gold Star during his peak.



                      All the instruments are on one track (which you will hear dry on the right). Lead and back up vocals apparently ended up on the same track and those, along with the returns from the reverb (which had some of the instruments fed in as well) end up in the middle. The reverb sound, in addition to being overwhelming, is also distorted, just like many of Spector's tracks.
                      .

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                      • #12
                        I LOL'd through the first paragraph or two from Ken.



                        Sounds like they were trying hard to recapture the 'magic' of Spector's Wall of Sound recordings. But it sounds like they may have only had access to a two track recorder instead of the three tracks that I believe Spector used at Gold Star during his peak.



                        All the instruments are on one track (which you will hear dry on the right). Lead and back up vocals apparently ended up on the same track and those, along with the returns from the reverb (which had some of the instruments fed in as well) end up in the middle. The reverb sound, in addition to being overwhelming, is also distorted, just like many of Spector's tracks.
                        .

                        music and social links | recent listening

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