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Sound Advice

Miking Pianos by George Semkiw

April 18th, 2002

“When I mic a piano I use omnidirectional mics (Neumann KM56) and place them in the middle of the keyboard (1st mic closer to the bass strings, 2nd mic 1 1/2 feet away towards the higher strings; you may have to put some sponge around the mic stand to absorb vibrations after closing the lid and close the lid totally. This gives me a very present piano sound which is not muddy – usually associated with cardioid microphones. When the lid is closed, it helps me keep the leakage (incoming leakage from other instruments) down to a minimum and still allows me to get a full present piano sound. If the piano has soft actioned hammers, place mics closer to hammers; if the piano has a hard actioned hammer sesponse, place mics further away from hammers.

Placement of mics should be with individual taste in mind and how the piano actually sounds.”

George Semkiw – producer/engineer, Lou Reed, Harry Belafonte, Johnnie Lovesin, The Satallites.

Recording Toms by Earl Torono

April 18th, 2002

“In the recording of toms I try to achieve the aural impression of three dimensionality. This is created by the use of double miking each individual tom (one on the top skin, the other mic placed by the lower skin). Note: Lower mic on skin should be switched to out-of-phase position on the console. To make each pair of mics react as one, the two mics per tom are fed into two channels of a stereo gate with both channels keyed externally via a contact mic taped to the shell of the corresponding tom. In this way you will have a larger, fuller and three dimensional sounding tom.”

Earl Torono – senior engineer for Winfield Sound Recording Studio.

Roll Tape by Peter Cardinali

April 18th, 2002

“When I’m working with a live band I always roll tape as soon as they start running the song down. Spontaneity is important in music and is often lost due to repetition or excessive rehearsal. You’re there to capture the great moments and tape is practically the cheapest component in the chain…so roll tape.”

Peter Cardinali – producer of Hugh Marsh and Rick James.

Miking Snares by Hugh A. Cooper

April 18th, 2002

“When miking snares I always use Shure SM57s. I use one on the top and the other one on the bottom to give me a full top and bottom response. Always check phasing when assigning both mics to one track. (Note: One of the mics should be set out of phase from the console. This will ensure that when you assign both mics to one track the snare signal will be in phase.)”

Hugh A. Cooper – engineer/producer, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Dan Hill, Myles Hunter, The Jitters.

Miking Vocals by Terry Brown

April 18th, 2002

“Choosing the right vocal mic is the key to good lead vocal results. I record vocals flat (no EQ) into a compressor at 2.5 to 1 ratio (a dbx 160X is handy – there are only two knobs), then from the compressor straight into the machine. Each mic will behave differently in subtle ways. My current choices are the Sanken CU41 and the B&K 4000 series omnidirectional mic.”

Terry Brown – producer (Rush, Cuttung Crew, Blue Rodeo, among others).

Live Drums by Jon Erikson

April 18th, 2002

“When getting live drum sounds, I’ll use a good set of headphones (Fostex T20s) and then I’ll take the mix of the drums in the headphones and put it through the PA system, checking it against how the room sounds with a flat EQ. I’ll then take into consideration the boominess or tightness of the room, and then place the bass drum and the bass guitar according to the natural low end of the room. In a boomy room I will place the frequency of the bass guitar above a gated bass drum (the bass drum should have lots of low end). If the room has a tight bass sound I will let the bass guitar carry the weight of the low end and place the frequency of the bass drum tight and punchy. This applies to 100Hz and below.”

Jon Erikson – sound engineer (Rush), head sound technician (Audio Analysts, Kingswood), live recording engineer (Comfort Sound Mobile Studio).

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