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Sound Advice

Choosing Studios by John Punter

July 18th, 2002

“When choosing studios for my projects I try to select the one that has a natural acoustic sound about it. This can range from a vast, acoustically untreated warehouse situation as in The Metalworks Studio Two in Toronto, to a large, acoustically treated orchestral studio as in Air Studio One in London, England, to a smaller, harder and brighter studio as in Venture Studios in Vancouver.

I really like to capture the natural acoustic ambience of a studio in my recordings, not only for the drums but also for guitars, vocals and keyboards. For keyboards I send the dry signal into the soundroom via speaker(s) and using a Neumann 87 or AKG 414, mic the speaker(s) and bring the signal back into the control room. It’s very important in my productions to make the natural ambience of the room work for me, to create more of a three-dimensional effect in my recordings. This gives me a strong sound identity and character to my work.”

John Punter – producer/engineer, Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music, Japan, Nazareth, Slade, The Spoons, Boulevard.

Discipline is Wings by Ken Tobias

July 18th, 2002

“One of the most common complaints I’ve heard from engineers is lack of preparation by artists and producers – lack of homework. The studio can be a magical place, but you can’t expect technology to do it for you. Engineers are there to do their job, you must do yours. Like they say in the East, ‘Discipline is wings’. You must have a plan before entering the recording studio.”

Ken Tobias – writer/artist/producer, Corey Hart, Dan Clancy, Shahira (film) and various TVO film scores.

Live & Spontaneous by Fraser Hill and Rick Hutt

July 18th, 2002

Fraser says, “It’s important for me to go see the band performing live, get to know them and participate with them by getting them from live stage to the record – capture the live characteristic of the band in the studio by creating an atmosphere of teamwork and friendship. Enthusiasm can overcome technical shortcomings. I make a record as if I were the artist’s best fan.”

Rick says, “When recording any performance by an individual (when it’s an overdub situation), I prefer to go for the spontaneous personality of the performance. Rather than taking one track and punching in on that specific track, I record several performances on different tracks and then create a composite of the best moments of those performances. As you are often unable to judge at the moment something that is unique or unusual, this method allows the producer to survey the tracks more carefully for the unique qualities of the performance character.”

Fraser Hill and Rick Hutt (The Audio Pals) – Northern Pikes, Tom Cochrane.

In-Your-Face Guitar by Tom Treumuth

June 18th, 2002

“For that “in-your-face” rhythm guitar sound I still haven’t found a better combination than an old Les Paul going through an external Pultec EQ unit with an LA2 or LA4 compressor. I also like miking a Marshall 412 cabinet (a little off centre from the cone) usually with a Sennheiser 421 mic – this will avoid phasing problems. I will then mix the guitars very dry (very little or no reverb). This process will give me that “in-your-face” rhythm guitar sound.”

Tom Treumuth – producer, Gypsy Rose, Honeymoon Suite, Helix, The Spoons, The Look People.

Musicians & Comfort by Hayward Parrott

June 18th, 2002

“When you’re dealing with a live-off-the-floor situation you have to make sure the magic comes through the glass into your monitors. If the feel is not there in the balancing of what you are doing in the control room, what I do is, go out to the floor to hear the live balance of the instruments. If it is correct and feels good on the floor I will rethink my miking, if not, I will rethink the set-up. This is done to achieve the best feel for the musicians on the floor. This in turn will give me the best reproduction of the recording. The musicians have to be comfortable in the studio, no matter what.”

Hayward Parrott – producer/engineer, Tears Are Not Enough, Joel Feeney and The Western Front, Frank Mills, Roger Whittaker, Bryan Adams (engineer), Chris De Burgh (engineer), Agnes of God, Street Legal.

Great Snare Sound by David Bendeth

June 18th, 2002

“Want to get a great sound on a snare drum using a drum machine in the studio? Take your individual snare drum sound from the drum machine and run it into the studio to and amplifier so that the snare sound of the drum machine comes through the speaker. The amplifier should be laying flat on the ground with the speaker facing you. On top of the speaker, you should put a real snare drum with the snares facing you. Mic the snare drum from the top and bring it back to the console. Everytime your drum machine hits the snare through the amplifier, you’ll get a real snare drum, in time. (Note: You can also try different angles on the mic for desired sound.)”

David Bendeth – vice-president of A&R (BMG Canada), producer, Big House, Regatta. Co-writing credits include songs for Jeff Beck, Joe Cocker.

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