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

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