A CHRISTIAN ROCK UPDATE
We've loaded three songs from the ADAT tapes that Pat Phillips (Grey Cat Sound in Atlanta) sent us. This was the band that Ted and I traveled to Atlanta to record in the fall; they've finished their overdubs and we received 9 tapes in the mail on Monday. 9 ADAT tapes! It's just like the old days. We're running Digital Perfomer from the front of our aging ADAT machine, it synchs up like a charm.
So we've got "Sing to the King," "Awesome God," and "Hungry" all loaded in and we've started some rough mixes to get an idea of what we've got. Here's some stuff we'll do, are doing, or have done...
Reamping the bass - gonna run the bass guitar, recorded direct, through an amp to get some room and speaker tone
Reamping the synths - same thing. Putting a digital synth through an old tube amp (probably the '65 Bandmaster) REALLY "warms" it up. Once again, speaker sound and room tone. Last night we used 2 mics, a Studio Projects C1 (on the amp) and a Rode NTK (pointed into a corner of the room opposite the amp), blended 'em and tracked 'em. Instant depth. Well, maybe not so instant, but depth. Watch the phase! I'm constantly flipping phase buttons to make sure we ain't screwing things up. Check the mix in mono!
Reamping some electric guitars - for two reasons. Partially to get some stereo content, and partially to get some room on the track, as it sorta sounds like it was recorded in a closet, which it was. If I could change one thing about the record so far it would be to get some bigger electric tones, but we'll get there.
There'll be some judicious use of Auto-tune on this record. Very judicious, as Serge, Paul, Joyce and Cheryl are all pretty much in tune, but we'll catch anything that slips through.
Drums - I have a feeling the drum sound is going to come from a combination of tube compression (the old ART Pro VLA, still my favorite cheap two channel vactrol compressor), expansion (light gating) to bring out some transients, and some very carefully applied EQ. As of now the drums are basically dry but as we get further along we'll add some room to them. Multiband compression is also rearing it's processor-hungry head, while George Vitray (Skyway Studios) has suggested multiband expansion. We'll see.
The tracks themselves sound pretty good. There are a few performance issues I'll clear up, just some places where the band doesn't quite fall on the downbeat together. These are the things that you don't "hear" but that make the mix seem like there's something a bit off. Consistency helps sound, especially as you start to use time dependent effects like compressors and gates, whose sounds are based on attacks and releases. A few missed or not quite executed parts will be adjusted, copied, pasted.
I like the sounds of the vocals; the Neumman TLM is pretty darned good. Excellent job by the engineer (and the singers) getting this stuff to tape.
I make a CD with the three mixes for walkman evaluation. Took 'em on the subway, the real acid test, and they stood up. It's funny to be listening to "Sing to the King" on the L train out of Brooklyn, where I've done so many hardcore rap tracks, and then arrive at work, open a parcel from Hong Kong, and see the proofs for some "adult material" we're printing for a client.
Ah, the modern world.