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

Monday, May 30, 2011

The New Mic Pre Gets a Workout

Eric has a vintage ELA M251 that he has never been happy with and the problem was the capsule -it was ironic that what would be the most cherished microphone was condemned to storage. He has three vintage 414s, all with CK12 capsules (the same capsule that Telefunken used in the ELA M251 and AKG in the C12, arguably the best sounding mics of all time), so we removed each one and tried them in the 251 until we had a winner. The capsule from one of the oldest 414s (very early serial number) has a new home in the 251, so that mic may be put to use after all this time. We're going to have to swap capsules around to decide what works for that 414 and we have a spare CK12, but we'll hear what sounds best.

The new UTA mic pre (in its transformerless form) was used in the 251 capsule shootout and Every time we changed capsules and patterns (cardioid and figure 8, front and back), Eric performed this short, Zeppelin-like song on drums, guitar and shaker, so it took several hours. We were going to go into another round of Studio A wiring, but that has been bumped until later.

Something interesting happened that is a sure sign of the times -a commemorative record was delivered to celebrate the sales of The All American Rejects', "When the World Comes Down," but it wasn't gold or platinum (which would commemorate 500,000 or 1,000,000 album sales respectively)... it represented the amount of single song downloads and believe it or not, ringtone sales. I suppose most people don't buy CDs anymore and far less people buy records on vinyl, which is a shame, because both sound better than MP3s.

Cian has been transferring/archiving old DAT tapes and Eric has been listening to old projects during the acoustic experiments, so we have been hearing some pretty cool stuff. He worked on songs with Joe Satriani about twenty years ago on material that will never be released and T-Ride (that was Eric's band when he was about nineteen years old -he played drums and produced it. If you don't know about it, Google it, it's worth it) is finally getting transferred. By the way, some idiot who had their hands on unreleased T-Ride songs posted them somewhere online. I am extremely against downloading (stealing) music and file sharing, so to me, uploading unreleased material, even if it's old, and leaking songs before they come out is a sin worthy of humiliating punishment. I try to not express personal opinions on here, but hey... this is my blog.

I went to see The Dwarves live tonight I made the mistake of getting to the club early... they didn't go on until after midnight and didn't wear hearing protection for most of the show... I sleep with a fan on, so I probably won't notice the ringing in my ears.

I'm looking forward to hitting Roger in the neck with a cheeseburger tomorrow!
MW

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Prototype Mic-Pres and Rattlesnake Meat

We started building the prototype mic pres yesterday and testing began this morning. I was working on them until about 3:00am, so I'm pretty tired today. The results are great -right now they are transformerless and extremely clean, so experimentation with input and output transformers will go on for a short while to find some nice coloration until Eric is happy with it.

The final changes to the Compressor have been underway, so we are getting close with all of it...the rackmount EQ, compressor and the single mic pres.

Studio A continues to undergo acoustic manipulation and we will start another round of wiring in there tomorrow afternoon. Eric has been mixing various projects off and on while doing R&D for UTA and Matt has been in Studio B.

The bike has a permanent spot high up on the wall in Studio A's tracking room

In case you don't know the story behind the bike...here it is







This week I did a little wiring for an SM2 at Bock Audio and spent more time at Capitol going over the Trident patchbay and planning what to do next.

Blag Dahlia came by and dropped off copies of the new Dwarves record (The Dwarves are Born Again, it's good, I highly recommend it) http://www.thedwarves.com/ and I'm going to see their show on Sunday night.



We had an extremely interesting dining experience last night... we went to Wurstkuche http://www.wurstkucherestaurant.com/, it's an exotic sausage restaurant and I had rattlesnake and rabbit for dinner.

Snake meat is not one of the first things to comes to mind when I'm deciding on what to eat, but it was good and when something is in sausage form, mixed with other ingredients, you wouldn't know what you are eating anyway. Good food, but too far from Hollywood to make a regular visit.

I'm hungry now, so I'm going off to eat then heading home,

MW

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Is That Geeky?

If you have placed a mic on a guitar cabinet while someone is playing at a loud volume or had to run back and forth between a control room and a live room to adjust the positioning, you can appreciate this... we have a mic placement robot. It doesn't walk around or repair broken tape machines, but it's pretty cool:

The mic positioning is controlled remotely from the console and we put a video camera on it to see what it's doing. It was expensive to build and we're not going to make a product out of it, but apparently other people are.

I'm excited because we got a new tool chest for the shop yesterday... that's probably one of the greatest highlights of last week for me.

MW

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Wombats New Record is Out

The Wombats album, "This Modern Glitch" is officially out... so get it now on CD http://www.thewombats.co.uk/_splashpage/, you'll be supporting the home team. The songs were produced and recorded by different people -Eric did, "Tokyo," some of "Techno Fan" and "1996," which is my favorite. Here is the video for "Techno Fan."


They are a fun band, check them out and see them on tour.

MW

Friday, May 13, 2011

Taking Back Saturday and Sunday

Taking Back Sunday released another song, "Faith" from the new record and put up a video with plenty of studio footage. At one point you can see Cian swinging a mic around... I hope I don't have to fix that. The audio quality on Youtube can be bad, so be sure to check it out on iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/faith-when-i-let-you-down/id432782872?i=432782873&ign-mpt=uo%3D4


The record will be released on June 28th and you can pre-order a special package on their website that includes the demos that were mixed by Cian, autographs and other goodies http://www.takingbacksunday.com/preorder/. I'm hoping they will have a record release party in LA.

We had lots of visits from old friends this week -Persephone's Bees came by http://www.persephonesbees.com/, who were in town playing a show, Brad Cook has been in working on the acoustics in Studio A with Eric and Tom Doty came over for lunch today... we had Larchmont Wine and Cheese Shop sandwiches. I've known Tom for about twenty years, he was an engineer and a tech at Hyde Street Studios and I used to second engineer sessions with him. He is an amazing engineer, tech and musician... one of the most brilliant people I know and now he works at Paramount Recording Studios, one of our neighbors http://www.paramountrecording.com/ they are not associated with Paramount Pictures, which oddly enough is across the street from them.

Studio A's acoustic treatment is almost done and Eric is finally happy with the room for the first time. So now he's getting used to it.


Larry has been working on the rackmount EQ/mic pre, wrapping up the final circuit board layout and I've been working on Greg Koller's wiring. I think Greg and Jon may keep me busy the rest of my life... they just keep accumulating gear.

I found out that engineer Dave Pensado has a talk show, all about recording. Pretty cool, thanks for the link, Mauricio http://www.youtube.com/show?p=KogBjNZTqeA.

I'm looking forward to seeing The Dwarves live next week!

MW

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Return to the (Studio A Cable) Trenches

We rewired Studio A last week. That didn't mean starting from scratch, it meant straightening out the mess. We were in such a hurry to build the first console and just get the room up and running that we did a sloppy job with wire dressing. Now it looks great and that cleared up room for more experimentation with acoustics.

Eric has never been happy with the way Studio A's control room has sounded, calling it the worst room he has ever worked in and that's where he has spent almost every minute of every day for the past ten years. He has been trying to get the room to sound like Studio B and this time there has been huge success with the placement of materials and playing with the dimensions of the room.

We moved half of the gear from the credenza rack to other parts of the control room to allow more space (the credenza rack in the middle of the room was about ten feet long before) and we wrapped up last night with testing, sending signal to all of the outboard. Next we have to try to straighten out the wiring in the amp closet, I'm probably going to have to be on a big dose of caffeine for that one.

I haven't been over to Bock Audio in more than a week as I have been wrapped up in Studio A's changes and working a lot for the guys at Capitol Studios. Almost everything has been moved from their room upstairs to Studio B. The EMI, Greg's racks of Fairchilds and Pultecs and an arsenal of guitars and keyboards are in with the vintage Neve. As expected, the music sounds amazing.

The EMI is on the opposite side of the control room from the patchbays (a huge pile of Greg and Jon's bays sitting next to the room's bays in the wall) and the console's cable lengths didn't make it. We knew that would happen eventually, somewhere and making extensions was in the plans, but that became a crisis and a priority on Tuesday night -they needed them right away. Roger came over on short notice and helped me get it together, we finally delivered the wiring at about 2:30 in the morning. Fortunately, we are neighbors with Capitol (both on Vine Street) so it's so easy to go back and forth. I've had nightmares about cables and connectors, it's pretty obvious why.

On a side note, here is a commercial that was filmed in Studio A at Capitol. Neve VR in a bunch of shots and a U47 with Foghorn Leghorn.


For more on Capitol, go to http://www.capitolstudios.com/index.cfm?page=home

Both rooms at Barefoot are in a state of disarray, so I'll be cleaning up messes today. I don't mind doing that, it therapy. I have another patchbay to work on for Greg's Trident A range modules and the wiring to go with it -that should keep me busy tonight and one of the guys from Capitol is going to help me out.

We tried a new vegetarian restaurant (Doomies) yesterday, I wasn't crazy about it and I'm not going back. The location has changed owners and type of restaurant (it used to be amazing Argentine food, it's sad it's gone) several times in the past few years, so I think the name "Doomies" is appropriate...

Pete Karr is our reader of the month and Roger Fearing is the most offensive person I know after his inappropriate comments at Capitol Studios on Wednesday morning, next time he goes somewhere with me, I'm taping up his mouth and putting him on a leash.

I don't know what I'll eat today, it should be healthy as I have been on a steady diet of junk food lately.

MW