Friday, April 9, 2010

Recording Presentation Week 2 Notes

Sound Reinforcement (Live)

Electricity and sound physics: volts, electromotive force; Ohms, resistance in DC; current flow, AC/DC ground; direct current, electrons go one way (sound cables); alternating current, electrons (both ways). Articulation loss happens when 15% of consonants are lost, poor speech is heard. Make sure proper gain structure is kept. Different types of mics used: Piezo mics, wireless systems, lapels (lavalieres), boundary mics (PZM's), Shotgun mics. When mixing for live mix, take into consideration of frequency response curve, proximity effect, unbalanced mic cables, distortion and dynamic compression (clipping). You can use limiters on all speaker s to make sure feedback level isn't reached. Noise Gates are useful if mic isn't always being used. Loudspeakers never have flat frequency responses so use an EQ to carve out resonate frequencies. Crossovers are used to send certain frequencies to certain speakers. Horn speakers are used for high frequencies (tweeters). Passive Crossovers send signal to all speakers while active crossovers choose what frequencies are sent where. Large speakers sometimes use tweeters in the back to compensate for high frequency loss. It is important to have mixing board off-center in venue so that every position can be taken into account when mixing.

California Studios

Gadgetbox Studio - Andy Zenczak - Started out with 4 track, plays drums and piano, inspired by John Mcentire from Tortoise. His studio has 5 inches of space between walls and floors. Also used bamboo for some baffling.
M.A.R.S. Studio - Ken Capitanich - One room for live tracking and mixing. Started out recording live shows. Likes Digital Performer and loves using tube equipment.
Indigital Studio - Brody Bergholz - started out in a band and has learned through school and master classes.
Suspect Studios - David Gakle - Large live room in studio. Also a drummer.
7 South - Steve Powell - Invested in studio with some friends. Established in the 80's in Santa Barbara.
Conway Studios - Buddy Brundo - Uses an SSL XL console.
Common Factors of Studios: tube mics and analog gear, comfort in appreciated, most owners teach, freelancing is important, started by buying a building and starting to record, know a lot about the technical side of things.


Basically a transducer that turns air pressure to an electrical signal. Alex Bell widespread the use through the invention of the telephone. Though the telephone mics used used carbon diaphragms which have a narrow frequency range. Dynamic mics use a voice coil to achieve electromagnetic induction. Requires a large physical movement, which is why it is best for drums, transients become softer. Ribbon mics use an aluminum 2-3 micron thick ribbon. Condenser mics are based on the electrostatic principal. Created by a circuit between 2 plates (1 which is moveable). Speakers can be used as microphones, though a limited frequency response is represented. XLR cable sends signal via Pin 2 (positive) and pin 3 (negative) and pin 1 is ground.

Phil Spector

Phil was born a Russian Jew and possibly inbred by cousin as parents. His mom was very overprotective and demanding. He became a natural at the guitar and started taking lessons with Barny Kessel. After high school he worked as a court room scribe. Began writing songs and went to Fold Star Studios to record the song, 'To Know Him was To Love HIm,' which reached 88 on the billboard charts. Phil is introduced to Brill Building and Phil's first production 'Corrian for Hill and Range' went to #9 on the billboard charts. Started using Gold Start as main studio and produced 'I Love How You Love Me.' Ronnettes 'Be My Baby' charted at #1 and is claimed to be Phil's best interpretation of the wall of sound. Often times he started the recording process by using a guitar track. He was know to mess with drums a lot and was very particular in how they sounded. All of his sessions costed tons of money because of how long it would take to record and get everything right. His dad committed suicide when he was young and it affected him greatly though out his career. Hired karate instructors to become his bodyguards. The song 'Mountain High, River Deep,' by Tina Turner was the beginning of the end for his wall of sound sound. The general public started to follow artist who they could follow as they developed there sound such as Dylan and The Beatles. When working with the Ramones, Phil forced them to record with strings and session musicians instead of the actual band members.

Chess Records

Chess was a record company founded by Leonard and Phil Chess which primarily focused on monopolizing and popularizing blues music. Notable artists included: Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Eddie Boyd. A lot of songs that were written by Chess artists were taken by popular white artist of the time and turned into big hits (Bob Dylan, Elvis, The Doors, Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin). Many female artists were made popular by the label: Jackie Ross, Koko Taylor and many others. In the late 50's, Chuck Berry joined the label and was a big part of getting the word out about Chess.

The Beatles

The Beatles formed in 1960 and had their first EMI session on June 6th, 1962. Their first proper session happened on September 4th, 1962 when Ringo was part of the session. For the song 'Love Me Do,' a session player was brought in to play drums. Please Please Me was released in 1963 and was recorded in a single day. It was engineered by Norman Smith, who encouraged instrument leakage for a live feel. It was recorded with a BTR-3 twin track machine. The record went to #1 of UK charts for 30 weeks. Mics for the record included: drums (2 mics) STC 4038 ribbon mic for OH 4033 - A dynamic and ribbon for kick. Vox AC 30 amps for guitar, miced with U47 or U48 set to cardioid. The U48 set to figure 8 was used for vocals. By January 1964, The Beatles used a 4 track, overdubs were done without headphones. A standard mix consisted of track 1, panned hard left, track 2 and 3 in the middle, and track 4, panned hard right. Half speed overdubbing was done on 'In My Life' with the piano solo. Ken Townsend developed Automatic Double Tracking, which was used quite often.

San Francisco Recording Studio's In the 1960's

Original Coast Reocrders was purchased by Bill Putnam, who was the first to use artificial verb, multiband EQ and stereo recordings. Commercial Recorders was a studio that did mainly voice over and worked a lot with SF Giants commercials. Columbus recorders was part of the sentinel building and worked with artist such as The Grateful Dead and Credence Clearwater Revival. The dead session were very disorganized and one engineer mentioned that it was like 'trying to organize a school of fish.' Golden Gate Records did a wide range of projects, from big bands to orchestras. The Great Society recorded there and 'Somebody to love' was done there. Roy Chen Recording featured recording on a budget and was located in China Town. This recording studio used a bunch of high end gear and eventually went out of business due to the low amount of income they were making. Pacific High Recording featured an indie, experimental, and a laid back atmosphere.

Gates, Compression, Expanders, Limiters

Gates were originally used as noise gates for analog recordings. Gated Verb was discoverd during a Peter Gabrial session using a SSL 4000 board while Phil Collins was playing drums and heard the sound of the drums through the talk back. The source snare was sent into a reverb unit and then to a gate. Limiters are used to prevent over modulation. Analogy for compression: ratio=gravity. The greater the radio, the greater the amount of gravity, where the signal can jump up as high. A limiter is also used as a maximizer. The Fairchild is considered the holy grail of limiters and compressors. Famous compressors include, Urei 1176, Teletronix LA2A, Anamod 670 and ADL 670 (fairchild clones), and a Dramwer DSS201. An expander is used to make loud parts louder and quieter parts softer.

Beginning of Trident Studios

Trident studios opened in 1967. Hey Jude was recorded there with an 8 track recorder. The studio was once home to a very famous Bechstein Grand Piano which was lost sometime later. Malcom Toft started making consoles because he couldn't find a console which he thought had the right requirements for what he needed. When making the first board, he took into account the S/N ratio and Equivalent Input Noise (signal level gain). Started his own console company in 1971 where business was made by word of mouth.

Abby Road Studios

Abby Road Studios is located in London at what used to be a 9 bedroom town home. Now it is broken into 3 different studios. Studio 1 is used for orchestra recordings. Land of Hope and Glory was its first recording in 1931. During the 1940's it was used to create propaganda for the BBC and the war. 'Oh Mein Papa' was the first song recorded at Abby Road to reach #1. The Beatles used it as main studio and perfected controlled feedback to use for recordings. Flanging was also a new technique to be used at Abby Road. Many films and famous albums have been recorded there including: Return of the Jedi being mixed at Abby Road and Radiohead recording The Bends and OK Computer there.

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