Me in Studio B

Me in Studio B
If you were googling Undertone Audio and found my blog here, well...welcome! You should visit the official website, undertoneaudio.com, but here you can follow my adventures as the crew and I build these mixing consoles, EQs and other oddities. Some, most or all of my work wouldn't be very interesting to a lot of people, but for recording junkies who get excited about vintage German tube mics, cool, eccentric compressors, studio history and some of the fun ins and outs of studio life, this could be for you. Hey, make it your home page and impress chicks! I can be reached at mw@undertoneaudio.com

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Taking a Couple of Days Off

It's Christmas eve, I was going to work today, but I slept in until about noon, did laundry, did the last of my Christmas shopping and went to Roger and Tammy's house for dinner. I'll be back at work soon enough and my schedule for the next five weeks is going to be relentless. There's a whole bunch of things happening at once, but my first priority above anything else, is Greg Wells' console. Second is Studio A at Capitol. I have to keep doing my part for the rackmount EQs and Unfairchilds, but those are mainly in the hands of Larry, Eric and Garen for awhile.

The first step in building a console is sorting out the configuration. We have built three consoles and each one is a little different and this fourth one is very different. Everybody has their own work flow and when somebody wants us to build a console, it's custom from the ground up. Greg didn't want every feature, so it is easy to eliminate aux sends, group outputs and other odds and ends, but he needs sixteen channels of unity gain summing that ultimately feeds into the stereo buss, so he gets the first of this kind of set up and we will probably offer it as a product in the future.

We are able to consolidate features into parts of the console that would have been used for other purposes on the LC series (the first three consoles are LC, that stands for Large Console, but more importantly, it is a phonetic spelling of Elsie... very cute), so that means that Larry has been cleverly redesigning circuit boards specifically for this console. Soon we'll give more detailed information about his configuration and if you want a console and prefer that style, you can get the GW model/series.

The next step is ordering parts, I've mentioned this before. A lot of the parts we use are custom -they have to be made for us from scratch. Fortunately, Southern California is an extremely resourceful place; there are so many friendly, family owned businesses, some of which have been around since World War II, that offer metalwork, machining, painting and engraving. Many of these companies make parts for air and spacecraft as Boeing, Hughes and Nasa are here among others, so, when it comes to building mixing consoles, we are able to get almost everything we need nearby.

Good examples of custom parts and the steps that go into making them are knobs. First, they are machined out of aluminum by a local machine shop. We just got them in last week:


Then we take them to the anodizers where they use a proprietary two tone anodizing technique to get more than one color, for example, red or green on top, the rest of it black. Then we get the numbers laser etched through the anodizing. Each step takes a lot of time, ultimately taking about two months to get finished products to put on the consoles.

Finished knobs for rackmount EQs
While the knobs are going on in the background, other custom parts such as transformers, PC boards and our porous bronze faceplates are being made. The first PCBs came in and I started putting components in.

Putting in the first components into the tube inverter stage
We have rarely ever had any meetings, certainly not formal, scheduled ones... until recently. As we are growing into a more serious company (almost everything we have built has been strictly for Eric/Barefoot Recording, Greg Wells is our first client) we have meetings once a week to discuss parts ordering, scheduling and designs. I'm handling much of the wiring and component soldering, Roger is handling the mechanical aspects, including the frame and master section and Dre is responsible for the power supplies.

Dre and Larry going over power supply details
Meanwhile, over at Capitol... The install has begun, happening concurrently with the construction, acoustics and electrical in Studio A. The console arrived last Monday:

Neve 88R in crates
Would it have been possible to send it to the wrong address?
John Musgrave and I ordered parts on Thursday, starting with 1000 feet of cable and 12,000 Elco pins. It's a ton of work, but we're managing to have some fun.

Gutted control room, the legendary live room will not change
Tim O'Sullivan finally losing it
Patchbays and that's not even all of them
This is the first time in about twenty years that Capitol's most famous room has been taken down to go through such radical changes. Believe it or not, the control room used to be in the northeast corner of the live room and at some point it was moved to its current location in the southeast corner. We have a long way to go and not a lot of time, but we can do it.

For much of November and December at Barefoot, Slash, Todd Kerns (bass), Brent Fitz (drums) and Myles Kennedy (vocals and rhythm guitar) rehearsed in Studio A. They didn't need isolation of the amps, they just set everything up as if it were a show and ran through about fourteen songs over and over for about eight hours a day, more or less everyday. The only thing separating the tech shop from the live room is the echo chamber, which wasn't being used... I have been listening to the band play live together while I work on Greg's console and what a special treat that has been. The band is already tight from touring a year and a half together and after this extensive rehearsal/preproduction period, they are so prepared. Remember, this record is being recorded in a manner that is a little rare these days... playing live as a band, straight to analog tape. No digital. Eric is editing the old fashioned way -taking a razor blade to the 2" master tape.

During the recording, it has been necessary to isolate the amps. Barefoot is a big studio, but at these volumes (Slash plays with his amps almost completely wide open, which is extremely loud) the amps need to be far from each other while the band is in the room together. Slash's Marshall cabs are in the downstairs lounge, one bass cabinet is in the office, another bass amp is in the machine room and Myles' amp is in the Studio A iso booth. The chamber is being used now in addition to the front hallway being miked. It's tolerable in the tech shop and studio B, but you can hear the guitar and bass outside... it's that loud.

Bock Ellfet7 on Ampeg bass amp
Anyone who is a Slash fan is in for a blast and will not be disappointed... this is a real, serious rock record and the production is astounding. Slash regularly posts about the recording process on his Twitter account, including pictures, you can follow him here http://twitter.com/Slash. Todd Kerns has a blog on his website, which is fun http://www.toddkerns.com/ and the sessions are being filmed for a behind the scenes documentary.

On Thursday night, Trevor, Roger, Tim and I went to Rich Costey's studio to pick up the 24 channel console. It spent an extended period of time with Rich as he mixed The Shins' new record. We set it back up in the Studio B tracking room and I began going through it last night... just a check up. We are going to keep it there for awhile.

Now I'm tired, time to sign off.

Happy Holidays,
MW


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Blog is One Year Old

Can you believe it? It's been a year since I started this blog and I've been loving it. It is so fun to write about the people, places and events around me. It's an outlet for me and it also serves as a journal to look at older posts. Looking back, 2011 has been amazing for me... the people I have been reunited with, new friendships and a diverse and interesting variety of work. From Barefoot and UTA to Bock Audio, Jon Brion and Capitol to the amazing musicians and music surrounding me. As a person who is in love with recording studios, I am so lucky to be where I am. The past two years have been the highest points in my career. Things have been exciting and it's not slowing down. So, the second year of my blog has begun and 2012 is going to be a blast.

Mauricio has been working hard to get the Spanish version of the blog up to date and he has done an amazing job. Check it out http://lasaventurasdemikedeundertoneaudio.blogspot.com/. Thanks again, Mauricio, I appreciate everything you have been doing so much and I hope you will be able to visit us next year.

Recently, Roger and I visited Niko Bolas at Sunset Sound. He was tracking a band in Studio 1. Sunset Sound is one of the greats -there is so much history there from The Doors, Van Halen's early records to Led Zeppelin http://www.sunsetsound.com/home.html.

Niko, me and Professor Ding Dong
Last week I finished off a bunch of work for Bock Audio and I'm focusing now on UTA. Right now it's mainly ordering parts and the first PC board came in for Greg Wells' console. I'm probably going to be spending a lot of time at Capitol as they took the Neve VR out and are getting an 88R, but I haven't had any involvement with that yet, right now it's mainly acoustics and electrical. I did survive the EMI Capitol Christmas party last Thursday night. I didn't stay too long though, just had some food, said hello to people and left.

I've been doing more work on Jon's live rig. He got a rackmount effects pedal controller as we are trying to clear up the floor... there are about fifteen pedals in the set up. As I was putting the rack together, I left my phone sitting on a rack behind me. Bret Rausch grabbed my phone and called Eric Caudieux and hands it to me -I heard Eric saying, "Don't hang up, don't hang up on me!" I hung up on him. So what I did next was pretty naive, I put the phone right back down on the rack, behind my back with Bret. After about a minute, I turned around and caught him crafting a text message to Eric saying naught things, he was so close to pushing send, but I managed to wrestle my phone away from him. Never leave your Facebook logged in and with those guys, you can't even leave your phone or computer unsupervised... evil things will happen! Bret and Eric C (AKA French Eric) are both masters at messing with people and working around them you have no choice but to get involved. French Eric, by the way, has his own products- cooking spices. Check out his website, it's good stuff http://www.frencheric.com/.

Speaking of spices, Brent Fitz brought in a bottle of extremely vicious hot sauce to Barefoot. Now, I love hot sauce, I love it blazing hot, but this stuff was pretty scary. I put a drop of it on my burrito and it bit me hard. Eric V put a tiny bit on his pinky, just to get a little taste... that was enough, but he didn't wash his hands and a few minutes later he rubbed an eye -he pretty much pepper sprayed himself. Later the same day, Slash did the same thing and Brent overdosed on it. He said it overcame him and he had to lay down as he felt like it was taking over his veins.

On Friday morning, just a few blocks away, a man with a gun went on a shooting rampage at the intersection of Sunset Blvd and Vine Street. He randomly shot at people and cars, he did shoot one person, sadly that victim is in critical condition and police killed the suspect at the scene. They closed the intersection down for the investigation, which caused major traffic jams in Hollywood. That day I got an email from Capitol's archiving department asking if I could put together wiring for them. I got it done quickly, but before I could leave, I had to interrupt a meeting in Studio A to get someone to move their car and Roger had just called to warn me that traffic was a mess. Going to Capitol takes about five minutes, this time it was treachery, navigating side streets overflowing with cars. When I got there I discovered that in the chaos of car moving and everything else... I left my bag, with the cables in it, back at Barefoot. I was in a pretty sour mood by the end of that. Things can get a little strange in this city. I once overheard someone saying that they live in LA just to see what will happen next. Los Angeles has had its share of car chases and violence in the street. I just don't get it.

On a brighter note, enjoy these holiday videos sent from Roger.
One for me
One for Roger
And finally, one for Larry

Happy Holidays and thanks for all the views,
MW





Friday, November 25, 2011

We're Busy Doing Stuff & Things

That's one of our sayings, "Doing stuff & things." It's just a silly expression that means we're accomplishing something. When we order parts, send emails and make phone calls... we're doing stuff and things and I've made the mistake of writing that down as the description of what I was doing on the clock, so when it came time to invoice, I didn't remember what I was doing that day. Keeping track of what I'm doing has changed from something I do for my invoices to something I have to do to stay on top of my work load. I don't know how may times I've thought, "Did I order more of those transistors last year?" or "Where did I put those panels... they're not upstairs" so now I keep a detailed diary of my work. I had wanted to start doing that and I started just recently, this is going to help me so much as the amount of work on my plate is about to get heavy...

Big news, we sold a console. Greg Wells is our first buyer and we are custom building a board from scratch for him with new features that Barefoot doesn't even have yet. We are all excited and Greg started a thread on Gearslutz to announce it http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/666135-undertone-audio-console.html. I plan on documenting the build and posting as we go. The first step is ordering parts, particularly the stuff that is custom made for us that takes awhile, then some waiting begins. We are shooting for three months from start to finish, but I think we can beat that.

Undertone is my first priority, but here is more big news... I'm on the crew at Capitol, installing a Neve 88R in Studio A for a month to six weeks. That begins next week with powering down the room and tearing the Neve VR out of there. I have to wrap up some 251 production at Bock Audio next week and finish some stuff for Jon Brion and Greg Koller, then I'll be at Capitol almost constantly, while keeping on top of Greg Wells' console, the building of two UTA 12 channel "side cars" and doing everything I can to keep Barefoot Recording and the rackmount EQs on track. I'm going to be extremely busy doing stuff and things, but I'm not married, no kids and I don't know what to do with a day off anyway. Fortunately, Barefoot and Capitol are neighbors and I live nearby.

The Roger Fearing booblehead arrived. It spent a few days in Studio A at Barefoot and now it's on top of the Neve 8068 at Capitol (Studio B).
He looks so enlightened
And here is the picture that the people who made the bobblehead had to work from:

Slash's new live CD and DVD, "Made in Stoke" came out. Eric and Cian mixed that earlier this year in stereo for the CD and 5.1 for the DVD. It was interesting to see/hear the Studio A console being used for a 5.1 mix and it was that project that Jeff Turzo had customized six of his Overstayer compressors to be linked for the final output busses. You can buy it online, also, Rolling Stone has it streaming on their website http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/full-album-stream-slash-made-in-stoke-24-7-11-20111110.

The little 24 channel console is still across town in another studio where it is being used along side an SSL for the mixing of a record that is going to sound great... more info later.

As we are going to be juggling heavy schedules (In addition to everything going on with me, Eric is tracking a record), I'm so grateful that we have such an amazing crew at Barefoot/UTA -Daniel Balbas just joined us last week, Tim O'Sullivan came on board earlier this year and the people at Capitol are fantastic. I'm so looking forward to working with John Musgrave in Studio A, he is a great guy, we are going to have some good times. It's all a lot of work, but it's a labor of love and I'm the luckiest guy to be a part of all of this.

Happy Holidays,
MW

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Everything Seems to be Happening at the Same Time

Oh man, it has been a busy few weeks. Amazing things are happening, but unfortunately, I can't talk about the biggest things right now, but I'll make announcements as I'm able to. We have had a lot going on to say the least and it all seems to be happening at the same time. I have to say, Slash has called Barefoot Studios, "The Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of Recording." It is seriously a place where one can have an idea for a gadget and before too long, we have a working prototype.

It's been awhile since I posted on here, so I want to try to get it caught up...

We had the 24 channel console set up in the Studio B tracking room for a couple of weeks, then last weekend we took it to a studio in the valley where it is being put through the paces by a very good engineer.
UTA next to a heavily modified SSL 4000E
UTA, SSL and Neve
That console is little, but still big enough to not fit into a lot of people's studios; I don't know how many engineers have said they would love to spend time with it, but just didn't have the room. We have talked in the past about building smaller, 12 channel sidecars with no base (legs, wheels, etc.) so we started that process last week, going over what to order and when. It is going to be much easier to get these into people's hands. We get visitors in the studio to check out the big consoles, but that isn't convenient for everyone, so it's nice to be able to bring it to them and once the rack mount EQs are done, all of this will be easier for everyone.

Speaking of rackmount EQs... we built prototypes of the power boards and Larry has been testing those. The last step before production is the circuit board layout, that is almost finished... so we will be able to make a formal announcement soon. Fortunately, we don't have to go through all of this each time we build a batch of EQs, just this time... so once this is up and running, we will be able to keep the units going in the background constantly. The Unfairchild compressors may very well be ready to go out the door before the EQs. A couple of friends of ours are putting together a wood enclosure sample for the compressors this weekend and Roger is doing amazing work on the knobs (remember, he has his own business designing and building beautiful knobs for guitars).

The first three songs for the Slash record are amazing, Eric has said that one in particular is one of the best mixes to come off the console... seriously, it is one of the most amazing things I have ever heard, great song, great production. Slash has an endorsement with Monster energy drinks and the guys in the band drink that stuff almost constantly, so there is a dedicated Monster refrigerator stocked up at all times.
I want to see Roger drink all of it at once, then I'll call an ambulance
They will be back soon to resume recording. Meanwhile, Matt has been busy in Studio B, Cian has been mixing a couple of projects and we had some filming here this weekend. Eric and I went up the street to Mixfest, where Eric was a guest speaker for a live Q&A http://www.pensadosplace.tv/mixfest/. I am a fan of the show, so it was a treat to meet Dave, Herb and Drew and I ran into a few other familiar faces at the event. I meant to work yesterday, but between that and the filming at the studio, I got very little done. I did see Chris Baseford there last night, so we went out to eat with Will Thompson (Pensado's Place producer) at Fabiolus... good times.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that we moved the Studio A console about six inches toward the back of the room. The patchbay moved with the console, but when there was finally time to get in the room after the mixing was done (about two weeks ago), I disconnected everything and rerouted the wiring to and from the bay. Roger and I got the bay into it's final position and he spent the afternoon putting the back panels on the Studio B console.

I've been at Bock Audio with David and Sean working on 251s and 507s. Mics are flying out of that shop non stop and David brought over the prototype of his new fet mic, the Ellfet7. It has the same elliptical capsule as the 507 and Eric loved it so much, he bought the prototype and ordered another one. We did shootouts and the Ellfet7 won every time. It is an amazing mic and it will be used extensively on the new Slash record.

The Jon Brion crew at Capitol are unstoppable as usual. Now they are recording with Best Coast http://www.bestcoast.us/, super cool band. There is a huge amount of work to do on Jon's live rig and I've started in on the next round of work on the patchbays and racks for their arsenal of gear.
Studio B at Capitol... blanket and pillow, please
Bret Rausch with Neve 8068 and EMI TGI
I hadn't worn a Halloween costume since I was a kid, but this year I did something special... I dressed up as Alan Yoshida, the mastering engineer, and I went to Capitol for some laughs. I ran into Alan himself and he was a good sport about it. I think next year I'll dress up as Bret Rausch.
Would the real Alan Yoshida please stand up
I had mentioned a long time ago that I wanted to design a Roger Fearing paper cut out doll, but soon we will have something much better... believe it or not, a Roger Fearing bobblehead. It should be here within the next couple of weeks and when it arrives, it should spend some time at Capitol, then it will probably sit in Studio A. You will be able to order one, but they are silly expensive... so don't bother unless you are obsessed enough with Roger.

I'll keep the posts coming as we will have exciting news to post in the coming weeks.

Cheers,
MW

Friday, October 21, 2011

Surely You're Joking, Mr.Valentine

Eric wanted to move the console in Studio A toward the back of the room about six inches. It was easier than I thought it would be, as I was bracing for the worst. He wanted the mix position to be more relevant to the main monitors and it made an improvement. He will stop at nothing in his pursuit of a new level of sonic integrity. I've said it before, the tinkering must never stop...

Slash and his band were in for one week for what began as experimental test sessions to come up with the best way to record everything. There were minimal mics on the drums (four total with two of them in MS in front of the kit) and Slash doesn't like headphones, so he played in an iso booth while listening to a monitor. The bass cabinet was in the Studio B tracking room, in addition there was another bass amp in the machine room. The band plays live together and it all goes to 2 inch analog tape. No computer, no spending countless hours editing, just straight up rock & roll recorded the way it used to be done. Three songs were tracked and they are the start of the new album. Myles Kennedy left to go on tour with Alter Bridge, so the band packed up, but will return later on to continue. Eric finished mixing the first of those three songs yesterday.

I've been bouncing between Bock Audio, Capitol and Barefoot. Last week I made major changes for the 24 channel console's patchbays, packed it up and Tim and I brought it home to Barefoot for a couple of weeks. We have been working out where to bring it next, but until it goes out again, it is set up in Studio B's tracking room, which can function as a demonstration room and it can also serve as "Studio C" as Matt and Cian started to run into some scheduling conflicts for time in Studio B.

I'll get into another round of work with Jon for his live rig, Greg went over what he needs next and today Tim and I knocked out a modification to each channel of the Studio B console (improves fader resolution). Roger might make all of the knobs for the UnFairchild compressors from scratch at home, so he was over on Wednesday, going over that with Eric. Larry was in, doing some analysis on the UTA mic pre yesterday and Seymour Duncan came by.

AES is happening now in New York and it just wasn't possible to get out there, but We'll be back in San Francisco next year. Almost every day seems like an AES show. On a side note, Pacific Radio moved to a new location in Hollywood and I feel like someone moved my food bowl.

OK, I have to go downstairs to get my clothes out of the dryer and fold shirts.

Cheers!
MW

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Fate of the Capitol Records Building

This is interesting, it's a segment from the show, "Life After People"



It makes me want to store stuff in the echo chambers so when the aliens land after we are gone, they will find my secrets.

MW

Saturday, October 8, 2011

These Amps go to 11.5!

So here I am at Capitol working alone again on a Saturday night, taking a break to write a blog post. I should get out more often, working nights and weekends isn't conducive to being social. Well, I love my work, so I'd rather be in a studio than going out to a club, maybe I'm just getting too old. I'm making changes to the patchbays for the 24 channel console. We are planning on getting it out of here next week, so I wanted to get on the patchbays now. It's very quiet here, it generally is at night and on Saturdays. Greg and I went over what to start working on next for his gear, Jon's live rig is going to keep me busy for a long time and Capitol Studios had me put together several transfer cables (XLR to DB25) this week.

A few days ago Larry Jasper finished all of the designs for the rackmount units and turned in the schematics to Eric. That means that everything can move more quickly, but we have a few issues to sort out, for example, we want to play around with different kinds of transistors (different brands and stock) and we have to make sure all parts are ROHS compliant, or we won't be able to send anything to Europe. Eric needs to finalize the faceplate layout, we need to get all of the rest of the parts ordered and the Fairchild clone is undergoing some rework. I'm looking so forward to the day when I can post that EQs and compressors are ready to sell and boxed up, that will be soon, but we're trying to make things perfect.

I spent some time with David and Sean at Bock Audio building 251 head assemblies (capsules, switches and headgrilles) and I'll be back with them next week. At Barefoot we have been putting new tie line panels together, we made some custom guitar cables and Roger built a special stomp box that Larry designed. All of this has been to prepare the studio for one week of recording. These are test sessions for the next album project that will resume in December or January. Everything will go to analog tape with minimal mics. Everything, including rhythm guitars will be tracked live as a band.
Roger working on panel wiring, just seconds away from losing his temper
The sessions for the next week are to determine what mics to use, where to place the drums, which amps to use, etc. That meant an amp cabinet shoot out, which I missed -two Marshall cabs, a Hiwatt and an Orange... the Marshalls won. The cabs are in the downstairs lounge, there are bass amps in the machine room, one huge Ampeg cab in the Studio B tracking room and another marshall cab in the front hallway. There is no escape from the volume in that building right now. The Studio B control room is the quietest, but it's just a little chaotic over there right now.

Eric finished mixing Nightmare and the Cat last week and he mastered it before going into the insane set up for these sessions. After these test sessions are done and mixed, Eric will be focusing on UTA. I think Cian comes back this week as well, he has been recording a band in a cabin in the middle of nowhere for the past couple of weeks. Roger is focusing his energy on his own company, THG knobs and I'm trying to juggle the work load in front of me. On a side note, a couple of weeks ago, one of my clients bought eight laser tag guns and Roger, Brett Rausch, some of the Capitol crew and I had a laser war... that was probably the most fun I've had in a very long time.

I'll close with this, someone showed this to me yesterday and it is crazy. Last year while performing in Milan, some nut case tried to attack Slash on stage. The guy almost got him, but watch as Junior, Slash's body guard, chases him and tackles him off the stage. Slash did get hit from behind during his "Sweet Child of Mine" solo and the Les Paul got banged into a wedge monitor, breaking off the B string tuning peg. He tried to continue, but after a few bars needed a guitar change.



Time to get back to work!

Rock & Roll,
MW

Friday, September 30, 2011

It Ain't Gonna Do Nothin Wrong Wit It

Roger and I have spent almost every day at Capitol for the past two weeks. We did a massive amount of listening tests with Jon and Greg to determine the best combination of brands of cable, connectors and even solder for Jon's live rig, ordered the parts we needed and started prepping wire to replace every cable in the whole set up. We are trying to make the whole rig easier/more modular and we began setting up this afternoon at Largo at the Coronet http://www.largo-la.com/. The show was a blast, there is a second LA show tomorrow (Jon Brion plays the last Friday of every month there) and three New York City shows this coming week. I'll help tear down tomorrow night, but I will not go to the East coast.

This past week at Capitol, David Bock came by on Wednesday with one of his Bock 251s for folks to check out, the same night, Audrey Wiechman dropped in to have dinner with Roger,  French Eric and I (we had Lotería, I got the chicken mole). The 24 channel console was going to stay in the tower for just a week, but the stay has been extended and Eric (V) has been giving demonstrations there for visitors in between mixing at Barefoot, giving a demonstration there and Larry has been working to finish changes/final touches to the rackmount EQ/mic pre designs; he is adding in a couple of very cool features.

Studio B will be available for a week or two for test drives, I'll be at Bock Audio much of next week, building fourteen 251s. After tomorrow, I'll be focusing more on Barefoot, as Eric will do test/demo sessions for the next big record which is starting soon... it's going to be all analog, believe it or not and I have to take care of a few UTA chores and I'm going to try to spend more time next week updating the Spanish version of the blog, which I have neglected... sorry Mauricio!

MW

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Who Framed Roger Fearing?

Wow, what a wild time it has been... We had our 24 channel console at Greg Wells' studio for about two weeks. We picked it up on Thursday morning, took it back to Barefoot for a pit stop and we took it to Capitol Records on Friday morning and Chris Baseford came to give us a hand, thanks Chris. We set it up on one of the top floors of the building, had it up and running in about two hours, Niko Bolas came up to say hello and he suggested getting tie lines to the echo chambers up into our room, so the Capitol techs who already had their plates full took time to get that going. Eric gave a presentation to about twenty of the recording engineers, mastering engineers and studio techs, then we left it there with a 16 channel Protools rig and a patchbay for them to play with. It will be there for about a week, then we will take it to another studio for a particular producer to spend time with it.

Another engineer came in to test drive the Studio B console yesterday, Eric has been tracking and mixing Nightmare and the Cat http://nightmareandthecat.com/ in Studio A and I've been working on a pile of wiring for Jon Brion and Greg Koller, working on Jon's EMI console with Roger and Jon asked me if I would rewire his live set up. If you have never seen Jon live, oh boy, you need to. What he does is very, very unique. First of all, he is one of the most gifted and unusual musicians around and he has racks full of Gibson digital Echoplexes. He has a footswitch by a drum set, which is miked, one by the piano and more by the guitar pedals and vocal mic. He plays the drums, that gets sampled and looped, then piano, then bass, then guitar and vocals... an amazing one man show. He is surrounded by a massive amount of keyboards, guitars and strange instruments and it gets better... he has video DJ loop devices -he will put on a cartoon and score it live or he will loop riffs from instructional guitar DVDs and build a song around it. He has his live rig set up in the Studio B live room at Capitol for rehearsing and it is a sight to behold:

Roger has been out doing other things off and on the past couple of weeks, but he will be back working with me on Tuesday. I have a lot of work to, starting with Jon's EMI console tonight and I'll be working on the same floor as the little UTA console, so I'll be on hand to answer questions for anybody who may be up there trying it out. I've got to get going soon, I don't want to work until the sun comes up.

Cheers,
MW

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Roger Always Rings Twice

I finally took a day off yesterday -I went to San Diego and hung out with my family for the day and I slept in today. We've been working hard and I needed to slow down a little bit. We took the 24 channel UTA console over to another producer's studio on Thursday, so this marks the start of that console making the rounds. We loaded it into Trevor's truck, power supplies, patchbay and wiring into Roger's car, took it across town and did a temporary install. We had it up and running pretty quickly and smoothly and Eric went over the console's features with the client. We were on the west side, so we went to Versailles, my favorite restaurant, for some Cuban food.


Now that the little console is done, that makes three UTA consoles in existence -24 channels on wheels and the 48 and 60 channel consoles at Barefoot. You may have noticed that the two big consoles have a small, empty bucket on one end, those are going to have six stereo modules that don't have EQ. Those modules haven't been designed yet and they are not a big priority yet, but we will get them done one of these days. People will have the option to put those in place of modules that do have EQ, adding more inputs, and they will use the same connectors/pin out.

The main focus now is finishing up the rackmount EQ/mic pres and the compressors, but we are already going into another round of console building. This time we are making small, easily movable, 8-10 channel consoles with twelve busses and a simplified master section. The 24 channel console is mobile, but it takes four people to move it, a truck and about an hour or two to set it all up. We wanted to take it to Studio B at Capitol for Jon Brion and Greg Koller to use, but we went over there and measured... it simply will not fit in the room (unless they take that Neve out of there, but that's not going to happen anytime soon). I was disappointed, but the console is in good hands for a couple of weeks and we're excited for these guys to experience it.

Once we have finished the small, simplified consoles, more people will be able to use them and if someone wants to, they can buy them and expand them into full-sized monster consoles with all of the features later on. Our consoles are very modular, which means it is easy to add or take away channels/entire buckets (12 channels in a bucket). Eric and I discussed product ideas and we have some pretty exciting possibilities coming up.

This week, Cian will be recording a band in Studio A, Eric may be mixing in Studio B in addition to working on the UTA stuff and I'll probably be making phone calls, ordering parts, working more on Jon's EMI console at Capitol with Roger, keeping up with the wiring for those guys with Tim and I'll try to make headway on this fader pack thing that is being sold.

Cheers,
MW

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Streetcar Named Roger

What a couple of weeks it has been... we have been so busy. We've been finishing up the 24 channel console, we were slowed down by the fader faceplates, but we finally got them in, but now we're going to change the scribble strips to black and the fader caps to chrome.

Roger and I have been working on Jon Brion's EMI console at Capitol. At times we have been the only people there except for the security -it seems a little strange to be in that historic building, working in the middle of the night, seeing the sun come up and going home to try to sleep during the day.
Vintage EMI console in sections

Early morning view of Hollywood from the Capitol Records building

I've had to keep up with Undertone and Barefoot and I've been building 507s and 241s with David and Sean over at Bock Audio.

Eric has been mixing in Studio A, Matt has been mixing in Studio B, we've been doing mods to both of the big consoles (one is a change to a pair of EQs in Studio A to make them more suitable for mastering) and Larry has been laying out circuitry for the rackmount EQs.
Studio B console down for mods/upgrades

Part two of "Into the Lair" on Pensado's Place aired, showing more of the studio and the Undertone crew made an appearance. You can watch the whole episode here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dLwEl8e1dk and someone posted the ITL segments on youtube:




It's a Sunday afternoon, Dre and Roger are on their way and after I have enough coffee, I'm going to get started on the mountain of work that is waiting for me and I owe Dre dinner.

MW

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Late Nights at Barefoot Recording and Interesting Footage from Capitol Studios

Here is footage of Eva Mendez singing in Studio A at Capitol with an orchestra. The session was a couple of months ago and Greg Koller engineered, but somehow he avoided being filmed (he is like a phantom when it comes to publicity, there are no pictures/film of him anywhere online). There are some interesting highlights in here: Jon Brion walks into the room with her to applause, a shot or two of Jon at the console, Greg's Trident A Range modules in the control room and Eva singing into a beautiful vintage 251:


Roger and I will be at Capitol tonight working on Jon's EMI console, but right now I'm at Barefoot drinking my coffee and trying to get over my inertia of sitting down on a Sunday afternoon.

The past week we have been wrapping up our 24 channel console and we're expecting custom fader faceplates and the new rear console panels.


We finished putting knobs on the input modules after testing each one with the test jig... I know the sound of pink noise so well, that warm snowy shush...who came up with the name pink noise anyway? I have a lot more testing ahead the next few days, but I'll be listening to music instead of test tones. Roger has been working hard on the master section and came up with a beautiful scheme for dressing the wiring.
Master section open
Roger at work behind console

Dre, Tim (works at Capitol, has been working with me on Jon and Greg's gear projects and just started with Undertone Audio), Ian and I have been wiring up faders for the small console and the "fader pack" which Ian is buying. It's 50 faders with transformers and a UTA stereo summing buss (solid state amps), the same one that used to have Flying faders that Eric used in Studio A until the first console was up and running.
Dre (roll of heat shrink on his head), Tim and Ian
Dre and I working away

We have been working late and having some fun as usual. I'm on a diet and those knuckleheads had doughnuts in the middle of the night, I resisted their evil temptation...

Roger and I have been doing mods/updates to the Studio B console, which is powered down now and we have another guest engineer coming in tomorrow to test drive it. Recently, Adam Dorn (Moceanworker, his music is amazing -check out "Shake Ya Boogie" on his website  http://www.moceanworker.com/) and Jen Monnar come over to try out Studio B and we went out to lunch at this Thai restaurant that has pictures of Manny Pacquiao all over the walls.

Eric's question and answer section on Gearslutz has been great, it was on hiatus while he was mixing, but it is active again http://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-eric-valentine/. It has been very informative and he has been enjoying interacting with people on there. There is a thread about recording The Dwarves and Eric posted a picture of Blag recording vocals with no pants on (shot at his former, Northern California studio, HOS).

OK, time to get to work and figure out what to eat tonight. I want to eat something healthy, maybe a Happy Vegan Salad from Tender Greens, but Roger is coming over, so we'll probably eat double bacon cheeseburgers with chili and fried egg dipped in chocolate and whipped cream with raw chocolate chip cookie dough.

MW

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Eric Interviewed on Pensado's Place

Eric was Dave Pensado's guest on this weeks show and the "In The Lair" segment featured a partial tour of the studio. Next week's show will continue with more about the consoles and EQs.



Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eye of the Hurricane


We have been so busy, I don't even know where to start. Eric and Cian finished mixing this morning, Eric hadn't been home since Monday. They were working on mixing a live DVD/CD that will come out in about two months, I'll post who the artist is later. Matt Radosevich wrapped up about a month of solid work in Studio B and Trevor is out working on preproduction with Slash for the start of a new record later this year. So it's pretty quiet here today for the first time in awhile. We recorded a huge group vocal session on Monday night and it turned into quite the party:

We didn't know for sure that we would do it until Saturday, so we called our friends and picked up plenty of beer. A lot of them had never been in a studio before, let alone get to sing on a record, so it was a pretty exciting evening.

The past two weeks I've been working on a mod for the Studio A console -replacing surface mount resistors on amplifier cards, improving headroom at each output stage. We are sharpening up our surface mount component soldering skills -the large scale PC board baking is done by friends of ours who have the proper facility to do that (cold, liquid solder paste is placed on the PC boards with the components, then it is heated all at once... we tried that here a couple of years ago and we started a fire), but we visited with them recently to discuss precision soldering technique and tools and this time I got plenty of practice... I did 156 of them.

Our new knobs for the EQs and all future consoles are single pieces of aluminum with two tone anodizing, the old design, including those used on the 24 channel console require glueing little aluminum caps into each one. So I went to Roger's house last Friday and we spent the afternoon scoring the knobs and caps in his shop (remember, he has his own business, THG knobs, making fancy wood parts for guitars and basses, so he had the proper set up to handle what we needed to do).
                                       Professor Ding Dong working in his lab

Roger is almost finished with the new master section for the 24 channel console, I have to mod 84 more amplifier cards for this and I'm about to start testing. The fader faceplates are at the anodizers and we have to install knobs... TONS of knobs -installing knobs is not all that fun, we have to align each one and it will take a long time. We are aiming to have this console out the door for our friends to play with late next week and I'll try to take more pictures along the way.

Now that both Studio A and B are getting a rest from sessions, we can do more mods/upgrades and repairs and more folks can come in to test drive the consoles. David Bock/Bock Audio is going to start using the rooms here for research and development, that's fun because we're going to be miking up drums or whatever else and comparing amps and capsules. Every time we do that sort of thing, we all learn something. I've been spending time with David and Sean over in the lab in Studio City working on building 251s and 241s, keeping my capsule handling skills in shape.

The massive amount of wiring for Jon Brion and Greg Koller continues... I've been doing that and Tim O'Sullivan is on his way to work on that today. We're making XLR to XLR cables and I've been working on retrofitting their EMI console with modern connectors in some of the intersection wiring.

I need to get back to work, there are all of these input modules that need to get finished!
MW

Monday, July 25, 2011

EQ Instructional Videos

Here is an instructional on the EQ's features in three parts:

First, here are UTA EQ basics


Part 2 EQ Flexibility


Part 3 Notch Mode


Next we will have an introduction to our compressor... the UnFAIRCHILD!
Cheers,
MW

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Products Page on Undertone Audio Website

Cian added this http://www.undertoneaudio.com/products.html. The EQ instuctional video will be up very soon.

MW

New Spanish Blog... Again

Here is a link to the new Spanish version of the blog (blog en español) http://lasaventurasdemikedeundertoneaudio.blogspot.com/. It's going to take awhile for me to get it caught up, but it's going to be a lot better.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blog en español moving

The page on which I was posting the Spanish blog seems to have reached it's capacity. I'm going to set up a complete new Spanish blog with a link and I'll try to get this done quickly. In the mean time, the blog en español is going to be a little behind... sorry

MW

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Like us on Facebook and Ask Eric on Gearslutz

The Undertone Audio Facebook page has been up for awhile, but neglected, so we are going to be more active with posting on there, so be sure to "like" us http://www.facebook.com/pages/Undertone-Audio/168127246534869.

Eric now has his own section on Gearslutz where you can ask him questions http://www.gearslutz.com/board/q-eric-valentine/. Eric, who spent last weekend in Yosemite, had ordered cans of Bear Repellent spray. The cans didn't arrive until after he came back, so now they can be used as Roger Repellent:

Greg Koller and Britt Daniel (Spoon) were in Studio A with me on Monday, mixing a song for Handsome Furs. It was a fun session, cool song and Greg treated me to Sushi Hiroba for dinner!

More test drive sessions this week and Eric starts a big project next week, which will have to be kept a secret until later.

Cian gave me a copy of the photo used on Taking Back Sunday's special edition album cover -close up of Studio B's master section with custom THG knobs. I had posted a shot of this before, but this is much better:

He also found a fun shot of Eric and I from the AES show last November.


Cian just returned to work today after spending three weeks in Africa filming a documentary, we are happy to have him back and he updated the Undertone Audio website... now there is material to listen to in the "Hear it" section http://www.undertoneaudio.com/hearit.html.

As far as me and yummy food goes, I'm on a diet now... so there shouldn't be anything too exciting to write about for awhile, unless you want to see pictures of my Slim Fast bars.

MW

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Carmageddon Overrated

In case you didn't know, the 405 freeway was shut down this weekend between the 101 and 10 freeways. That stretch of the 405 is extremely busy, it's a route between the west side and the valley and it's near the airport. We were warned way ahead of time and we feared that the entire city would become one giant traffic jam called, "Carmageddon," but it has been pretty quiet and light all weekend.

Lately I've been working on the 24 channel console and trying to keep on top of vendors and parts for that and the EQs.

I've been putting together mics with David and Sean over at Bock Audio and doing more work for the guys at Capitol. I did an inventory of the wiring and patchbays I've done for them... I knew it was a lot, but it is a massive amount of stuff and more on the way.

Trevor and I recently installed new pots on Eric's Brian Setzer model Gretsch. That was interesting, because it's a hollow body -the only way to get the old pots out and new ones in was to tie them and their hardware onto string and pull them through the "f" holes. It's an old luthier trick that Trevor researched.

Someone started a new thread on Gearslutz about the production on the Taking Back Sunday record and Eric has been sharing in depth information about the process, answering people's questions http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/624071-eric-valentine-new-taking-back-sunday-self-titled.html.

Greg Koller will be in Studio A tomorrow for a mix and David Bock will be test driving that console on Saturday. He will be using 2" tape from 1985, so we have been baking them before we put them up on the machines. These sessions are going to be fun.

MW

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Taking Back Sunday Publicity

The music video that was shot in the studio for Taking Back Sunday's "Faith" is out and there are familiar shots of the Studio A tracking room and the lounge. They put in a very funny tribute to Guns n' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" video and look closely in that scene, there is an advertisement for the new record on the back of the bus... fun stuff. I remember seeing a guy in a cat costume, that's something you don't see everyday, but no shots of consoles and I didn't get to make a cameo... too bad, but they did get porn stars in this video:


Mix magazine did an article about the new record http://www.mixonline.com/recording/artists_engineers_producers/taking_back_sunday/

Here is a quote from Eric from that article:

“I was tinkering with bits of the circuitry in the console and was able to make some refinements through the process. I have a feeling the tinkering will probably never stop.”

Yes, I can confirm that first hand, the tinkering must never stop. If it does, bad things could happen to us all...

The compressor is finished, now we are getting into the finished product and I am happy to announce that the research and development for the rackmount mic pre/EQ is done... parts have been arriving, I'm testing VU meters and we will have them available very soon. If you want to be on the waiting list, contact us.

I've been doing that, putting together more 251s with David and Sean over at Bock Audio and I've been at Capitol with Greg Koller, working on the new set up over there. Tim O'Sullivan from Capitol Studios has been in giving me a hand with the work load lately, John Musgrave (also from Capitol) came by to visit yesterday -that was great to see him, I hadn't seen him in nearly twenty years, since the old, long gone Conway days, and engineer Chris Baseford came over to see the studio and have lunch.

Roger the Destructor should be here this afternoon to do more work on the 24 channel console's input modules, so my peace is going to be shattered soon enough. At least I got to eat my sandwich and write my blog entry before the chaos begins.

Kate, I don't know your last name, sorry, down in beautiful Australia, is our reader of the month. By the way, Kate, are you Sexy_Bounce, or is that someone else?

Goodday mates,
MW

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Questions and Answers

Our friend Mauricio in Bogotá emailed me awhile ago with good questions regarding recording. There were a lot of them, some I didn't have a good answer for and thought it would be better to pass those on, but I wanted to share a few of them. 

If you track/mix with lots of Neve preamps, versus, say, SSL preamps, is the difference going to be huge?

The designs are very different; SSL uses an integrated op amp and I'm pretty sure there is no output transformer while Neve (the modern stuff is so different from the vintage stuff, so I want to compare the classic era) used a discrete (meaning individual components), class A design with both an input transformer and a huge output transformer. The way the amplifiers function and the way they color the sound is completely different. It also depends on what you are recording, which mic is being used and how it will ultimately blend in the mix. One of the key points is "lots of" because there is an accumulative effect when using multiple amounts of the same thing, although Eric points out that the difference is going to be much more subtle in terms of mic pres compared to mixing on one console verses another, where so many interstage transformers, coupling caps and other amplifiers may be in the signal path.

I attended a seminar where Horacio Malvicino was the speaker. He has worked for SSL and has done many installs. He said that when you are soldering, you should put the gun under the XLR pin and wait for it to heat up, instead of putting it directly on the cable, is there any reason for that?

Horacio is absolutely right. When soldering properly, a chemical reaction happens; molecules in the connector's surface will bond to those of the wire. Solder itself is a bad conductor, even though solder and the flux in it can cause shorts. It is important to heat up the connector pin when you are soldering as well as when you tin it. Two of the most common problems resulting from improper solder technique are solder bridges (meaning the wire isn't touching the connector... it's just sitting in a pool of solder) and cold solder joints. Cold solder joints can be caused by blowing on it as it cools, not heating enough and oxidized connectors and wire. I found this great instructional video on soldering http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_NU2ruzyc4.

I always see NS10s positioned horizontally on the console, I've tried it but I prefer to place them vertically, the sound is more coherent phase-wise. Do people place them horizontally because the console bridges are just too high? This is kind of a dumb question, but I'm curious.

People place them horizontally because meter bridges are too high, they are used to listening to them that way and in some rooms, the monitors sitting on the meter bridge can block the mains.

Some people say X gear is more "3D" than Y gear. Can this be explained electronically or is it more on the esoteric/subjective side of things?

Sometimes it's esoteric, sometimes it's scientific, but it is almost always subjective. People have their vocabulary for describing what they are hearing... if they specifically describe the low end as being more defined or there seems to be more "punch," but when someone uses "3D" or "wider" to describe how a mix is sounding using such and such piece of expensive stereo something... that is a red flag. There could be serious phase problems. This is exactly what was at the heart of the recent internal/external clock Gearslutz.com slug fest. One gentleman early on in that thread described the differences between two files as being, "In one you are in the room listening to the music, in the other you are not" and he boldly stated he could pick it out in six seconds each time. He came to the studio, took a blind listening test nine times and scored roughly 55%, which on a grading scale is a fail. He was surprised, but he was very humble about it and shared the results online.

Cheers,
MW

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Trevor to the Rescue

On Friday night we went to see Taking Back Sunday at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd. and the band was great. Good show, intense and a lot of fun, but if you have seen them live, you know that Adam Lazarra likes to jump off the stage and sing somewhere else in the venue... the bar, in the back... the crowd freaks out and he likes to climb things. That night, he climbed up to the second floor balcony while he was singing, put a foot/ankle in a lighting rig to support himself and all of a sudden needed help. He reached a hand up for someone to grab him... anyone and this was happening in front of our table upstairs. Trevor grabbed him by one hand and pulled him up to safety. Adam didn't realize who it was until he had a chance to look at him... Trevor saved the night.

Taking Back Sunday, by the way, released the new album last Tuesday. Get it on CD and support the home team.

The special package cover is a close up shot of the Studio B console's master section with a burned CD of the album sitting on it.
I'll try to get a better shot of that to post.

Roger is doing better now... if you read my last post you know that he came down with a sudden, very scary case of amnesia. His memory came back and now it's Roger as usual.

I mentioned that Eric started a thread on gearslutz about blind listening tests and applying that to comparing internal/external clocks. There were people who chimed in who had very insightful, intelligent posts. There were a hand full of people who couldn't quite understand the point. There was some disappointing behavior from one or two people who should know better and finally, there was some absolute stupidity.

It is widely known that heated discussions on forums, in particular, Gearslutz, can quickly develop into childish name calling. Sadly, if you read through that thread you will find some of the worst, belligerent ranting. It's interesting how people will behave one way while having a discussion, even an argument, in person, but when someone is online and somewhat anonymous, they will go to great lengths to attack anyone and destroy their own credibility. At one point, I think around page nine or ten, it gets bizarre, then it just kept getting worse. http://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-end/622491-antelope-trinity-10m-vs-internal-clock-comparison.html

One of the main points of the tread is to listen without influence of marketing hype or other kinds of suggestion and if people, regardless of how experienced their ears are, will be unpleasantly surprised by just how unable they will be to pick out differences, despite the wild claims. In one post, someone had mentioned the McGurk Effect. This was discovered in the seventies and is demonstrated in this video. If you listen with your eyes open, your vision can lead your brain to misinterpret the auditory information. Listen to the man say, "Bah Bah Bah" with your eyes closed for the entire duration, then listen while watching. Now apply that to your approach to critical listening with music and recording gear.



We have since had discussions about the importance of listening to your mixes, A/B tests, etc. with your eyes closed. It goes without saying that people today are too dependent on looking at waveforms on a computer monitor. As a friend of mine recently said, "The listening audience doesn't get a copy of your desktop to look at when they hear your mixes."

We have been dealing with parts for the rackmount units and we continued with research and development for UTA. The new faceplates for the 24 channel console are back and they look absolutely amazing. Matt's sessions have been going on in Studio B and I spent time over at Bock Audio this week putting together 251s and 241s.

David Bock had read my blog about swapping out CK12 capsules in Eric's vintage 251 and pointed out something very interesting that I did not know; the CK12 in the 414s, C12s and ELA M251s are not exactly alike... there were variations, for example, the thickness of the back plates. The 251 in question now has a CK12 from a vintage 414, but it sounds absolutely amazing and is the most popular mic in the house. However, if the mic is going to be sold eventually, we will replace the original capsule and let any buyer know what exactly has been done to it.

We have been discussing what we want to do later this year to bring Undertone Audio to more people and it is exciting. I will announce it later when we are ready.

Cheers,
MW

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Scary Roger Situation

On Monday night, Roger, Eric and myself did another round of recording to test how these transformers would react to particular tube mics and a Queens of the Stone Age style tune. Roger played bass and during the session we would check up on the thread on Gearslutz http://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-end/622491-antelope-trinity-10m-vs-internal-clock-comparison.html (that is a whole other topic... wow).

After I got home, Roger called me at 11:00pm and this was our conversation...

ME: Hello.

ROGER: What time did we leave the studio?

ME: 10:30.

ROGER: Seriously?

ME: Well the session ended at about 9:45.

ROGER: What did we do all day?

(I thought he was asking what to put on his invoice, hours, etc.)

ME: Testing transformers in the mic pre.

ROGER: What did I do?

ME: One of those guys on the forum is posting again.

ROGER: What forum?

ME: The Gearslutz forum.

ROGER: I have no idea what you are talking about... I can't remember anything that happened today.

(Roger jokes around a lot, but he was serious)

ME: Seriously? Are you at home?

ROGER: I think this is my house, I'm pretty sure that's one of my cats.

ME: Where's Tammy?

ROGER: She's on her way home.

ME: Can you give me her number?

ROGER: It's (gives me his number).

ME: I need Tammy's number.

ROGER: It's (gives me his number again).

ME: I need Tammy's number.

ROGER: Try this one (finally gives me the right number).

ME: I'll talk to you soon, I'm calling Tammy.

I called her, she was about a block away from their house as I explained the strange conversation I had just had. He called her while driving and told her that he didn't know how to get home.

She took him to the hospital... Roger came down with a case of amnesia brought on by a bunch of different factors. His memory has been returning and he is doing better now, but that was scary.

He didn't even remember calling me.

MW

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blind Listening Test Online

Eric started a thread on Gearslutz.com asking people to participate taking an online blind A/B listening test and to state which one they prefer and which one they think was utilizing an expensive external clock. The thread was started on Friday and when enough responses are in, he will reveal which is which. http://www.gearslutz.com/board/high-end/622491-antelope-trinity-10m-vs-internal-clock-comparison.html

Give it a try!

This past week, Roger and I worked on the EQs on the small console (aka The Sidecar) and we worked on outboard wiring for Jon and Greg, taking that stuff over to Capitol on Thursday.

I thought we had a definite winner with the transformers, but I was wrong. After another round of recording, this time Motown style drums, piano and vibes -all recorded with ribbon mics, there is a favorite. We are getting closer...

MW

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Video shoot, Research & Development and the 24 Channel Console

Taking Back Sunday came in to shoot a video last Friday, along with a crew of about forty people. It was madness... cameramen, make up artists, wardrobe and catering -the full deal.


Eric and I escaped and drove across town to Santa Monica to Bob Clearmountain's studio where we did some testing on his vintage Neve console. Earlier that day we walked over to Paramount Recording and ran some tests on their SSL J9000 with Tom Doty. This is all a part of comparing our specs against other consoles and outboard gear. Eric went through a pretty big selection of his outboard mic preamps and EQs as well, compiling all of this data in one place. So far, this research has been extremely revealing and is helping us fine tune our UTA gear. On the way back we were stuck in traffic and wanted to eat, so we went to Versailles Cuban, my favorite restaurant of all time and I had the lechon asado, my favorite dish ever!

Recording is an important part of the research and development process, so to audition transformers for the mic preamp, Eric played drums (only one mic on the kit, ELA M251), bass and two guitar parts -on this very aggressive, short Jimi Hendrix style song. Each part had to be recorded every time transformers were changed and the results were fantastic. I think we have the final choice on the input transformer, now which one to use on the output has to be determined. We may post the short songs that are being recorded on the website in the "Hear it" section.

The editing on the UTA EQ instructional video is almost done, so that will be up on the website soon.

We finished sanding this round of faceplates for the 24 channel console (we were not satisfied with the way the first ones came out last year) and they are at the silk screener's for the final artwork now. We went into a round of testing the potentiometers in the EQ/filter section of each module and we are getting new faders for that console as well. We had a Flying Faders II system on it for the AES show, but now we are outfitting it without automation with custom UTA fader faceplates. Very soon that console will be available for people to borrow for evaluation.
                                            24 input modules getting tested

Today I have to follow up on parts that we ordered and work on the 24 channel console's EQs a little more. Cian and I had good old California Chicken Cafe for lunch.

MW

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Wombats live

Last Monday we had a barbecue at the studio -some of our friends came by, Cian and Inga made burgers and hot dogs, I wanted to start a food fight with Roger, but we behaved and people had fun.

On Tuesday we went to The Troubadour to see The Wombats... they were amazing, they sounded great, the club sounded good and we hung out with them for awhile after the show.

On Friday, Niall Murphy came over for lunch and to see the consoles, we had Larchmont Wine and Cheese shop sandwiches -the usual.

The transformers came in for the mic pres, so that final decision will be made soon, we're getting there. The first 100 will have bronze porous metal faceplates like the console in Studio B, it wont serve any acoustic purpose, but it will have the UTA aesthetic that people are getting used to. After that we will switch to something more traditional for the outbaord gear.

Eric and I did a round of stenciling faceplates with the new jig -the jig is great, but this time the paint clogged the holes after one or two passes and we had to clean it. The paint was oil based, so water didn't work, so we will be switching back to acrylic. I would love to just pass the whole process on to someone else, but we are going to be more picky that most people.

Matt and Cian have been recording drums, Eric has been mixing and I've been doing wiring -Roger came over and helped me out with some of that and we had Captain Thai to go.

Cian updated the Barefoot Recording website, adding a pretty complete list of the gear http://www.barefoot-recording.com/stuff.html. Cian, by the way, is June's reader of the month.


Taking back Sunday will be back in later this week to film a video, that should be fun.

MW