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,, 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

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 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.


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 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 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.


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!