1 Singer: 3 Mic's: Rebellious Bird

When tracking vocals for both a lead and accompanying backing parts it is great to utilise different mic's so the resulting lead and BV's have a contrasting timbre. This assists in providing a separation between the two final sounds within the mix. Additionally different vocal approaches between songs benefit from this to exploit different characteristics in a lead vocal - especially when working with a very accomplished singer - such as Erin Downie.

Thus far we've opted for my OPR Ultra-Mod Ribbon and P12 valve condenser by Peluso. Sitting in waiting is the CM7 FET condenser by Wunder but as yet has not got a guernsey. I've set up three input channels with HPF, EQ and soft-knee compression: OPR Ribbon required several dB cut around 350Hz and a subtle boost at 12kHz; the P12 is actually coming in flat - this mic' has been modified 4 times from stock and is quite sublime. The Ribbon is providing a wonderful thickness in the mids for a female lead vocal whilst the P12 has a very similar body but as one would expect from a condenser has more subtle high end making it wonderful for the more breathy takes. These then matrix out into a single master record buss, which allows Erin to simply move between mic's and audition each characteristic.

,,, and a reminder of the January 19th show to open the Skylark Room for 2018. Link for Bookings here: http://www.theskylarkroom.com/upcoming-gigs/rebelliousbird

Blue Eyes Cry: Lead Vocals

Ise Hingano and Blue Eyes Cry have had an excellent few days in the studio, culminating in the completion of all lead vocals. I thought I'd share the complete signal path and techniques incorporated to capture this talented vocalist.

Microphone was an EB version of the classic AKG 414; hyper-cardioid, -10dB Pad and HPF @ 75Hz. Pop-shield is the one I usually slip over my Peluso P12, which presented with an earth-loop no matter what power source I tried - will have Ross Giles look at this. Still the 414 has a similar timbre given that earlier models actually had the C12 capsule. Hence my choice.

Pre-amp was the sublime AWA console, with a couple of small EQ tweaks. Again the all important HPF engaged (70Hz). I took a little while to get the gain structure just right, allowing the vocalist to hit some fairly serious SPL yet remaining clean and defined with no distortion. The AWA pre's remind me of Neve 1073 in their thick mid tones; especially good for female vocalists in accentuating the body of their sound.

• The vocals were the only aspect of the tracking printed with dynamics, essentially due to the patch-bay's current configuration at Coloursound - this will be half-normalled shortly to allow full inserts across all channels. The work around was to send the vocal channel to a group, group out to compressor/limiter then into a line input of another channel, which feeds direct out into ProTools. For this task I chose my absolute favourite of Mat Robin's outboard dynamics, the Quad Eight CL22. This solid-state heavy weight from the classic 1970's consoles has been racked up by Rob Squire at Proharmonic in Adelaide (who also prepped my Harrison 3232 channel strips) and is just perfect for vocals. Fast, warm and invisible. They sort of remind me of a cleaner 1176 or EL Distressor with less distortion characteristics. The CL22 ensures the vocal remains clean and present even during gain reduction; I love it. Try finding one; they're like the proverbial hen's teeth. (PS. I'll buy it off you if you do find one!)

• The final point I want to make is the positioning of the microphone. Far too often I hear an accentuated "nasal" tone, especially in female voices. This is generally caused by avoiding the upper chest resonance, which provides us with "body" but also the "power." Note I have the top of the AKG in line with the nose of the vocalist, slightly angled upwards. This captures more of the rich body tones, not just the nasal resonance. I prefer this richer tone for vocals and also allows for the slight boosting of their "formant" frequency (Ise's is at approx 1.4kHz).

So, now on to editing, a few Backing Vocals, rhythm guitar adds then mixing. Stay tuned ...

Blue Eyes Cry: Day 4

Vocals, Vocals, Vocals ...

No fewer than eight lead vocals completed today, along with a couple of alternative guitar solos. Female vocalist Ise Hingano is the recipient of Female Artist of the Year (Victorian & Tasmanian Blues Music Awards) for 2014 and no wonder - a mighty talent. She also understands that magical results come from hard work and dedication, focus and concentration; and these were tested today. I am very impressed with this young woman's abilities as a vocalist and musician but her diligence is equally impressive. So, details on the vocal chain in my next post; for today - eight out of ten songs is more than enough. A couple of hours tomorrow late afternoon will see all the lead vocals completed for this album. Stay tuned ...


I had the absolute pleasure to record an exceptional vocalist today. Erin Downie has a wonderful tone, superb control and impeccable pitch. I wanted to emphasise the rich body in Erin's timbre so I gave the Wunder CM7 FET a run, through a NEVE 1073, NEVE soft knee Compression and an Empirical Labs Distressor at the end of the chain. I have to add my name to list of engineers raving about this microphone. If you sincerely want a classic U47 tone but don't want to buy a certain German mic' with a Chinese made capsule (such a pity) then look seriously at Wunder Audio's microphone range. The CM7 FET is hand built like the U47 used to be and sounds absolutely superb. Rich, warm and without a high-end emphasis that so many modern condensers posses. These go for around $2k so it's a serious investment, but I guarantee you'll not want for a better vocal mic' in your collection. WUNDERful.

Erin Downie & Wunder CM7 FET

Erin Downie & Wunder CM7 FET

Vocals for Jesse Valach

Take 1 great singer, 3 great microphones (2 thru Neve channels & 1 thru a Harrison), bring each into Protools via its own aux strip, send them all out to a Quad 8 hardware compressor, then back into a record track. Once you've chosen a mic for each song or part simply mute the others and record. Takes a bit to set up but then it's really quick, versatile and gives you immense control. Jesse loved it, Mat at Coloursound Studios loved it, and I have always loved it. Try it; you might too?

Tracking on the NEVE Genesys

My beloved Peluso P12 condenser, customised by Ross Giles ~ Neve 1073 preamp ~ Neve Genesys EQ ~ Insert: EL Distressor ~ then straight into Tools. Husny Thalib was putting down some BV's and we were blown away with this signal path. Rich texture, thick but in no way cumbersome, still transparent. This console is a beautiful piece of engineering and AMS-Neve need to be proud. RMIT Sound Production has to be proud too; managing to get this upgrade to a truly internationally acclaimed console for Studio 1 was a series of events governed by serendipity and the fortunate alignment of planets and finance. Loving it. Loving it.